1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Cook

Stephen Jones, in Biographia Dramatica; or, A Companion to the Playhouse (1812) 1:147-48.



This gentleman, who is still living, is descended from an ancient and respectable family, who resided in the city and county of Chester for many generations. He was born, however, at Cork, in Ireland, and was first educated in a grammar-school in that city, and afterwards under a private tutor. He was intended to follow the business of his maternal grandfather, a manufacturer and exporter of woollen yarns; but before he had reached the age of nineteen, he married a lady of considerable fortune, on which he might have lived in ease and affluence; but entering too much into the expensive pleasures of life, and being concerned in a business which he did not understand, and had never liked, he considerably reduced his capital. His wife died about two or three years after their marriage; and a sense of this loss, and reflection on his imprudence, excited in his mind a firm determination to abridge his expenses, and endeavour to obtain some rational independent maintenance through life. Leaving, therefore, a part of his property, of which, luckily, it was not in his power to dispose, at nurse, as it is called, in Ireland, he hastened to London, and entered himself as a student of the Middle Temple.

Mr. Cooke was called to the bar about the year 1776, and went the home circuit for about two years; but having, some time before that period, married a sister of the late Major Galway (who died commander of Tritchinopoly), and having a family by this lady, he thought it too hazardous to depend entirely on the slow progress of the bar, and therefore employed his leisure hours in the pursuits of literature. With this view he attached himself to the Rockingham party, and wrote many pamphlets in support of their principles and measures, during the American war. The chief of his other works are, Elements of Dramatic Criticism; The Art of Living in London, a poem; Memoirs of Hildebrand Freeman, Esq.; A Brief Review of Parliamentary Reformation; Conversation, a didactic poem; Memoirs of Charles Macklin; and Memoirs of Samuel Foote. Beside which, he altered The Scornful Lady, of Beaumont and Fletcher, which was acted and published under the title of The Capricious Lady. Com. 1783.