Charles Colton

Biography

(1780-1832)

Charles Caleb Colton, clergyman, author, gambler, sportsman, and alleged wine-merchant, graduated with a B.A. in 1801 and an M.A. in 1804 from King’s College. He was known as a gifted clergyman with an eccentric, indulgent disposition. Colton spent over a decade as curate in the town of Tiverton in Devon. He was then appointed to the vicarage in Kew, London. He left the Church of England and the United Kingdom after two decades of service, allegedly fleeing from charges claiming he was a wine-merchant. These charges were never investigated, and he spent two years wandering through the United States of America. He eventually settled in Paris up until his death in 1832. Colton’s estate consisted of a one room apartment with no servants. He was an incurable gossip, and he took this with him to the page. His most famous work, Lacon, or Many Things in Few Words, is a scathing analysis of political, religious, and social leaders. Among his favorite subjects were Napoleon, Samuel Johnson, Oliver Cromwell, and Nero. He also grossly criticized the entire classes of politicians, lawyers, doctors, and priests. His other works include Lacon vol. II, Napoleon, “The Conflagration of Moscow,” “An Ode on the Death of Lord Byron,” and in 1835, “Modern Antiquity” was published posthumously. Colton became widely popular in his time. However, he is known today for his many aphorisms, and is more likely to be found on an Internet quotations page than any anthology.

Essays by Charles Colton

Ancient and moderns

We may lay a juster claim to the title of being the ancients, even than our forefathers themselves; for they inhabited the world when it was young, but we occupy it now that it is old.

War and warriors

With one solitary exception, all warfare is built upon hypocrisy, acting upon ignorance.

On writing

It is extremely easy to be as egotistical as Montaigne, and as conceited as Rousseau; but it is extremely difficult to be as entertaining as the one, or as eloquent as the other.
Patrick Madden's New Book
Quotidiana by Patrick Madden

Quotidiana site founder Patrick Madden has just published a book of his own personal essays, including pieces formerly published in the Best American Spiritual Writing and Best Creative Nonfiction anthologies. If you enjoy the classical essays on this site, you'll enjoy these contemporary ruminations as well. Soon there'll be a web page here with further information, but for now, you can find out more (and perhaps purchase a copy) at Amazon.com.

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2011 Symposium on the Essay
Welcome Table Press Symposium on the Essay

Friend of Quotidiana Kim Dana Kupperman's Welcome Table Press is hosting a one-day symposium at Fordham University on Saturday, October 15th, 2011. In Praise of the Essay: Practice & Form will feature talks and discussions by Phillip Lopate, Robin Hemley, Barbara Hurd, and more.

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