London: Printed by H. Hughs, for J. Dodsley, 1755. First edition of a highly-regarded book on elocution. Dedicated to David Garrick. Half-title and last page of text a bit soiled, lower corner of last leaf torn. Overall a very good, crisp copy. Recently rebound in quarter calf over brown cloth boards, gilt burgundy morocco label. Octavo. xx, 152 pp. Item #12971
Cockin (1736-1801) was writing master and accountant at Lancaster grammar school, where he influenced the broadening of the curriculum and originated a poetic tradition, and later taught at Nottingham Academy. He was also a sometime poet, and the author of a mathematical textbook, A Rational and Practical Treatise of Arithmetic (1766). He published articles in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society which caught the attention of Joseph Priestley. The present work is his most important. In it he “examines both speech and written language as forms of expression. He classified two kinds of speech: that which expresses sentiments original to the speaker; and that which repeats sentiments which have been expressed to the speaker. The two corresponding classes of speakers, ‘original speakers’ and ‘repeaters’, use language in different ways. The former draw more upon nature, and the latter from art: mimicry is the form which ‘repeaters’ use to make themselves sound more like ‘original speakers.’ From this basis, Cockin goes on to discuss speech in drama and the theatre generally” (Dictionary of Eighteenth-Century British Philosophers).