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contribute those "Instructions how to angle for a trout or grayling in a clear stream," which Cotton, he himself tells us, wrote in about ten days, and sent back to his friend. In the same year in which the joint Compleat Angler appeared, Cotton had finished building the little fishing-house which still stands among its trees, in a bend of the Dove, sacred to anglers and ancient friendship. Mr. New's illustrations make unnecessary any more modern description than Cotton's own (Part II., Chap. III.) and indeed the place is to this day so pleasant that one may still say of it in Walton's words that "the pleasantness of the river, mountains and meadows about it, cannot be described; unless Sir Philip Sidney, or Mr. Cotton's father were alive again to do it."
Cotton survived his old friend but four years, dying of a fever on some date uncertain during 1687, but said to be February 13.
He is entirely remembered to-day by his association with Walton, and his translation of Montaigne, which have carried down to us the tradition of his handsome person and courtly manners, but which have hardly won due recognition for his poetry. Without declaring it, with Sir Aston Cockayne, "the nihil ultra of the English tongue,' we may still feel that it has charms and excellencies, real if modest, which make forgetfulness of it unjust, and which justify Cotton's long-neglected claim to a recognised place among English poets, a claim which a new edition of his poems might establish; though it is to be feared, that he would shine best in a judicious selection. His bane was fluency, and not seldom we have to plod through deserts of mediocre verse before we reach any poetry worth while. But the poetry is there, and when with Cotton the moment of literary projection did come, the product had a charming inevitability, and is marked by a rare excellence of simplicity, to which Coleridge has paid a tribute in the Biographia Literaria. The following verses from the "Contentation," one of the several poems "directed" to Walton, may be taken as an example:
'Tis contentation that alone
Can make us happy here below,
A very little satisfies
An honest and a grateful heart;
That man is happy in his share,
And bonest labour makes his bed.
Who free from debt, and clear from crimes,
Who from the busy world retires
Who with his angle and his books
This man is happier far than he,
To crooked and forbidden ways.
The world is full of beaten roads,
Untrodden paths are then the best,
It is content alone that makes
Our pilgrimage a pleasure here, And who buys sorrow cheapest, takes An ill commodity too dear.
Nor was Cotton's muse always so mild, as this manly rebuke of Waller, censure so well-deserved, will show :
To Poet E. W., occasioned for his writing a Panegyric
From whence, vile Poet, didst thou glean the wit,
Where couldst thou paper find was not too white,
A flatterer of thine own slavery?
To kiss thy bondage and extol the deed,
At once that made thy prince and country bleed?
For thy offence, my malice cannot_name
Which shall be when or wheresoever read,
Cotton's Literary Work
[This list is reprinted from Mr. R. B. Marston's "Lea and Dove" edition]
1649 An Elegy upon the Death of Henry, Lord Hastings.
1651 Verses prefixed to Edmund Prestwich's translation to the Hippolitus of Seneca.
1651 Verses on the Execution of James, Earl of Derby.
1654 Verses in which he castigates Waller for writing a panegyric on the
1664 Scarronides, or Virgil Travestie, being the first book of Virgil's Æneis, in English burlesque. 8vo.
1667 A Translation of The Moral Philosophy of the Stoics, from the French of Du Vaix.
Some verses on the Poems of his friend, Alexander Brome. 1670 Scarronides, second edition.
Translation of Gerard's History of the Life of the Duke of Espernon, dedicated to Dr. Gilbert Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury.
1671 A Translation of Corneille's Tragedy, Les Horaces.
Voyage to Ireland, in Burlesque.
1670 Translation of the Commentaries of Blaise de Montluc, Marshal of France.
The Compleat Gamester. (Attributed to him.)
The Fair One of Tunis, a novel, translated from the French.
1675 Burlesque upon Burlesque; or the Scoffer Scoffd.
The Planter's Manual, being instructions for cultivating all sorts of fruit trees. 8vo.
1676 The Second Part of The Compleat Angler; Being Instructions how to Angle for a Trout or Grayling in a clear Stream.
1681 The Wonders of the Peak. A description in verse of the natural wonders of the Peak District in Derbyshire.
1685 Translation of the Essays of Montaigne.
1687 Was engaged in translating the Memoirs of the Sieur de Pontis at the time of his death, in February 1687. This work was published in 1694, by his son, Beresford Cotton. In 1689 Poems on Several Occasions, a collection of some of his poems, was published.