1764 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charles Cotton

David Erskine Baker, in Companion to the Play-House (1764) 2:Sig. H2-H2v.



This gentleman lived in the Reigns of Charles II. and James II. and resided for the greatest Part of his Life at Beresford in Staffordshire. He wrote one dramatic Piece, or rather translated it from the French of Corneille, for the use of his Sister Mrs. Stanhope Huchinson, to whom, when it was published, which was not till many Years after the Writing of it, he thought proper to dedicate it. It is entitled Horace. T. Yet tho', on account of this Piece, I have a right to mention him as a dramatic Writer, yet his principal Fame was founded on his Merit as a burlesque Writer, in which Light he is so considerable as to stand even in Competition with the celebrated Author of Hudibras himself. — His most celebrated Poem of this Kind is his Scarronides, or Travestie of his first and fourth Books of the Aeneid. — But altho' from the Title one would be apt to imagine it an Imitation of Scarron's famous Travestie of the same Author, yet, on an Examination, it will be found greatly to excel not only that, but every Attempt of that Kind hitherto made in any Language. — He has also translated several of Lucian's Dialgoes in the same Manner, under the Title of the Scoffer scoff'd. — And written another Poem of a more serious Kind, called the Wonders of the Peak. — The exact Period of either Mr. Cotton's Birth or his Death, are not any where to my Knowledge recorded, but it is probable the latter happen'd about the Time of the Revolution. — Neither is it better known what his Circumstances were with respect to Fortune; they appear however to have been easy, if one may form any Judgment from the Turn of his Writings, which seems to be such as it is scarcely possible any one could indulge in, whose Mind was not perfectly at Ease. — Yet there is one Anecdote in relation to him, which I cannot avoid relating, and which seems to shew that his Vein of Humour could not restrain itself on any Consideration, viz. that in Consequence of a single Couplet in his Virgil travestie, wherein he has made mention of a peculiar Kind of Ruff, worn by a Grandmother of his, who lived in the Peak, he lost an Estate of four hundred Pounds per Annum, the old Lady, whose Humour and testy Disposition he could by no Means have been a Stranger to, never being able to forgive the Liberty he had taken with her, and having her Fortune wholly at her own Disposal, altho' she had before made him her sole Heir, alter'd her Will, and gave it all away to an absolute Stranger.