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EDMUND, called Ironside,
Edward == Agatha, Daughter of the Emperor Henry III.
Malcolm = Margaret (Saint) Cean-mohr, King of Scotland
Cotton (2nd son
Thomas Cotton = Eleanor Knightley.
Thomas Cotton = June Paris.
Joan Bruce = Sir Nicholas Greene.
Boot i, Robert Cotton was educated at Trinity College in Camunm bridge, where he took the degree of B.A. towards the close Coitohtm1 of 1585.* Of his collegiate career very little is discoverable, save that it was an eminently studious one. Long before he left Trinity, he had given unmistakeable proofs of his love for archaeology. Some among the many conspicuous and lifelong friendships which he formed with men likeminded took their beginnings at Cambridge, but most of them were formed during his periodical and frequent sojourns in London. John Josceline, William Dethick, Lawrence Nowell, William Lambarde, and William Camden were amongst his earliest, and closest friends. Most of them were much his seniors. Whilst still in the heyday of youth he married Elizabeth Brocas, daughter and eventually coheir of William Brocas of Thedingworth in Leicestershire. Soon after his marriage he took a leading part in the establishment of the first Society of Antiquaries.
* Here, if we accepted Cotton's authorship of the Twenty-four Arguments, whether it be more expedient to suppress Popish Practices, &c., published in the Cottoni Posthuma, by James Howell, we should have to add that' he travelled on the Continent and passed many months in Italy.' But that tract is not Cotton's—though ascribed to him by so able and careful an historian as Mr. S. R. Gardiner (Archceologia, vol. xli. Comp. Prince Charles and the Spanish Marriage, &c, vol. i, p. 32). That its real author was in Italy is plain, from his own statement' I remember that in Italy it was often told me,' &c.; and, again: 'In Rome itself I have heard the English fugitive taxed,' &c., Posthuma, pp. 126, seqq. Dr. Thomas Smith put a question as to this implied visit of Sir Robert to Italy to his grandson, Sir John Cotton, who assured him that no such visit was known to any of the family; by all of whom it was believed that their eminent antiquary never set foot out of Britain. Smith's words are these:—
'D. Joannes Cottonus hac de re a me Uteris consultus, se de
isthoc avi sui itinere Italico ne verbum quidem a Patre suo edoctum
fuisse respondit Cottonum usum et cognitionem lingua,' Italics;
a Joanne Plorio .... anno 1610 addidicisse ex ejusdem Uteris ad Cottonum scriptis, mihi certo constat.' Vita, p. xvii.
Some of Cotton's fellow-workers in the Society are known Booki,
* that good Earl, once President
at a time when such praise could seldom be given
Before the close of the sixteenth century, his collections Gsowth or
of Manuscripts and of Antiquities had already become so Tomiam large and important as to win for him a wide reputation J^g". in foreign countries, as well as at home. His correspondence indicates, even at that early period, a generous recognition of the brotherhood of literature, the world over, and proves the ready courtesy with which he had learned to bear somewhat more than his fair share of the obligations thence arising. In later days he was wont to say to his intimates: 'I, myself, have the smallest share in myself.' From youth, onwards, there is abundant evidence that the saying expressed, unboastingly, the simple facts of his daily life.
Camden was amongst the earliest of those intimates, Fmehdship and to the dying day of the author of the Britannia the TM" °A"" close friendship which united him with Cotton was both unbroken and undiminished. The former was still in the
Book i, full vigour of life when Cotton had given proof of his Likoi worthiness to be a fellow-labourer in the field of English co^fo""" antiquities. In 1599 they went, in company, over the northern counties; explored together many an old abbey and many a famous battle-field. When that tour was made, the evidences of the ruthless barbarism with whjch the mandates of Henry The Eighth had been carried out by his agents lay still thick upon the ground, and may well have had their influence in modifying some of the religious views and feelings of such tourists. Not a few chapters of the Britannia embody the researches of Cotton as well as those of Camden; and the elder author was ever ready to acknowledge his deep sense of obligation to his younger colleague. For both of them, at this time, and in subsequent years, the storied past was more full of interest than the politics, howsoever momentous or exciting, of the day. But, occasionally, they corresponded on questions of policy as well as of history. There is evidence that on one stirring subject, about which men's views were much wont to run to extremes, they agreed in advocating moderate courses. In the closing years of the Queen, Cotton, as well as Camden, recognised the necessity that the Government should hold a firm hand over the emissaries of the Church and Court of Rome, whilst refusing to admit that a due repression of hostile intrigues was inconsistent with the honourable treatment of conscientious and peaceful Romanists.
It was, in all probability, almost immediately after Cotton's return from the Archaeological tour to the North which he had made with his early friend, that he received a message from the Queen. Elizabeth had been told of his growing fame for possessing an acquaintance with the mustiest of records, and an ability 'to vouch precedents'