COTTON, CHARLES (1630-1687), an English translator, poet, and wit, was born at Beresford in Staffordshire. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and afterwards spent some time on the Continent. At the age of twenty-eight he succeeded to an estate greatly encumbered through his father's extravagance, and the rest of his life was that of a country gentleman. He gained the friendship of Izaak Walton, whose fishing expeditions to the Dove he was privileged to accompany ; and to the Complete Angler he added Instructions how to angle for a Trout or Grayling in a Clear Stream. His second wife, the countess of Ardglass, had a jointure of £1500 a year, but it was secured from his extravagance, and at his death in 1687 he was insolvent. Cotton is the author of a good deal of verse, much of which is jocular. Though his love songs are frequently quaint and frigid, they are sometimes exceedingiy gay and spirited, as are also most of his bacchic verses.
His chief works are - Translations of the Horace of Corneille, the Life of the Duke d'Espernon, and the Fair One of Tunis, and above all his famous and often published translation of Montaigne (1683, 1869, &c.); the Scarronides, or Vigil Trarestie, a coarse parody of the first and fourth books of the .,Eneid, which ran through fifteen editions ; a humorous poem, the Voyage to Ireland; and a serious poem of small merit, the Wonders of the Peak.