Page images

Poesy, stiles Ben. Jonson the greatest man of the last age; meaning as a dramatic writer; but the moderns are by no means disposed to award him applause so pre-eminent. It is unfortunate for the fame of Jonson, that he is almost inevitably viewed in connection with Shakespeare, in comparison with whom, a giant may sink into a pigmy. But the obser vation and judgment discovered in the above remarks, prove him to have possessed a mind of no ordinary stamp:


SIR ROBERT COTTON, antiquarian and historian, son of Thomas Cotton, Esq. was descended of an ancient family, and born at Denton in Huntingdonshire, in 1570. He was of Trinity College, Cambridge, where he proceeded B. A. in 1585.

His inclination was directed early to antiquities; and removing to London, he was soon admitted into the society of antiquaries, which improved his opportunities for prosecuting his favorite studies. On the accession of James 1. he was created a knight, and during the whole of that reign, his authority was deservedly very high relative to points of history and antiquity. Sir Robert distinguished himself, too, by promoting the project of creating a new order of knights, stiled baronets, which was one of the expedients resorted to by king

James, to supply the deficiencies of the royal revenue, which had been prodigally squandered. For his exertions Cotton was rewarded with a baronetsy: and he was the twentyninth baronet that was created. He died at Westminster, in 1631.

The works of sir Robert Cotton are nume


1. "A Brief Abstract of the Question of Precedency between England and Spain." This tract was occasioned by Elizabeth expressing a desire to know the ideas of the antiquarian society relative to that point; and is still extant in the Cotton-library.

2. Being appointed in the year 1608, one of the commissioners to enquire into the state of the navy, which had been neglected since the death of Elizabeth, he drew up on this occasion, "A Memorial of their Proceedings," to be presented to the king. This piece is also reposited in the Cottonian library.

3. "A Discourse of the Lawfulness of Combats to be performed in the presence of the King or the Constable and Marshal of England," written in 1609, and printed in 1651, and in 1672.

4. The same year he wrote, "An Answer to

such Motives as were offered by certain Military Men to Prince Henry, to incite him to affect Arms more than Peace;" composed by order of that prince, and remaining still in MS. in his library.

5. "A Vindication of the Behaviour and Actions of Mary, Queen of Scots, from the Misrepresentations of Buchanan and Thuanus." This was written at the request of king James, and is supposed to be interwoven either in Camden's Annals of Queen Elizabeth, or printed at the end of Camden's Epistles.

6. In the reign of James the numbers and activity of the catholics being so formidable as to give just cause of alarm to the nation, his majesty, in 1616, commissioned Cotton to examine whether it was authorized by the laws of the land, either to imprison or put them to death? In the investigation of this subject, sir Robert displayed great legal and constitutional knowledge, and produced twentyfour arguments against proceeding to extremity with the papists. These arguments were published in 1672, among Cottoni Posthuma.

7. Probably about the same time he composed a tract relative to the same subject, still in MS. in the royal library, entitled, "ConsiFf


derations for the repressing of the Increase of Priests, Jesuits, and Recusants, without drawing blood."

8. "A Remonstrance of the Treaties of Amity," &c. This piece was written at the time when the match between prince Charles and the Infanta of Spain was in agitation, and at the instance of the House of Commons. He was desired to prove by an examination of the treaties between England and the house of Austria, the insincerity and unfaithfulness of the latter; and that in all her transactions, her sole object had been universal monarchy. This tract is printed among Cottoni Posthuma.

9. "An Answer to certain Arguments raised from supposed Antiquity, and urged by some Members of the Lower House of Parliament, to prove that Ecclesiastical Laws ought to be enacted by temporal Men." This was a vindication of our ecclesiastical constitution against the innovations of the Puritans.

10. " A Relation to prove that the Kings of England have been pleased to consult with their Peers in the great Council and Commons of Parliament, of Marriage, Peace, and War." It was written in 1621, and printed in 1651 and 1672, among. Cottoni Posthuma; also, in 1679

« PreviousContinue »