1792 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Cooke

Joseph Mawbey, in "Anecdotes of Cooke" Gentleman's Magazine 62 (January 1792) 30.



His poetical works have established his name for genius, though they did not procure him much fortune, nor patrons to place him in a state of independency. There is an easy elegance in his compositions, which render them as pleasing as any in the English language. He was a well-bred, amiable man, and a chearful, witty, and entertaining, companion. About three years before his death he married Miss Jane Hamilton (whose father had a place in the palace at St. James's), a beautiful and accomplished woman; and by her he had an only son, of his own christian name....

Cooke began the world with little fortune; and he was early thrown upon the town, with strong passions, which, it is supposed, he gratified very freely, in the early part of his life; he more than hints this in his epistle to the archbishop of Canterbury, of which I shall speak hereafter. He was, when I knew him, regular and sober, though convivial. No one enjoyed the pleasures of the table more than he, nor was more entertaining at it. Though he spoke with much freedom of men and things, and we did not always think his strictures of either well founded, he had such a fund of general knowledge and anecdote, without being in reality ill-natured, that it was impossible for such as knew him thoroughly to avoid being pleased. He was, however, not unfrequently dictatorial and assuming, which often disgusted strangers, and made him feared by many. Moore, H. Hatfell, Dr. Howard, and many other lively companions, were visibly restrained by Cooke, who excelled them in learning, and whose spirits generally induced him to take the lead in company, at times, with infinite humour. At the same time, it must be allowed, few exceeded them in sprightliness and witty conversation.