whole employ and amusement for these twenty or thirty years; and though I really and sincerely think the greatest part of them stuff and trash, and deserve no other treatment than the fire, yet the collections which I have made towards an "History of Cambridgeshire," the chief points in view of them, with an oblique or transient view of an "Athenæ Cantabrigienses," will be of singular use to any one who will have more patience and perseverance than I am master of to put the materials together. These therefore I should be much concerned should fall into the hands of the French king's officers.' Moreover in the course of his travels he was shocked at the prevailing spirit of irreligion (Ellis, Original Letters, 2nd series, iv. 483; Walpole, Letters, ed. Cunningham, iv. 329). He therefore determined not to make France his home. There is a journal of his tour in vol. xxxiv. of his collections.
He left Bletchley in November 1767, and on Lady day in the following year he very honourably resigned the rectory in favour of Browne Willis's grandson, the Rev. Thomas Willis, merely because he knew it was his patron's intention so to bestow the living if he had lived to effect an exchange. Cole now went into a hired house at Waterbeach, five miles from Cambridge. This house, little better than a cottage, was very uncomfortable (Addit. MS. 5824, f. 36b). To make matters worse, he discovered that he had got into a parish which abounded with fanatics of almost all denominations. Writing about this period to his friend Father Charles Bonaventure Bedingfeld, a Minorite friar, he says: 'My finances are miserably reduced by quitting the living of Bletchley, and by half my own estate being under water by the breaking of the Bedford river bank at Over after the great snow in February was twelvemonth;' and he proceeds to remark: 'Yet I am not disposed to engage myself in any ecclesiastical matters again, except greater should be offered than I am in expectation of. I have already refused two livings, one in Glamorganshire, the other in Oxfordshire; for I have no inclination to the duty and do not love to be confined.' He still had a hankering after a semi-monastic life, for he wrote to Bedingfeld on 20 April 1768: 'Could I have my books and conveniences about me, I should nowhere like better than to finish my days among my countrymen in a conventual manner,' though not, he takes care to explain, as a monk or friar, because he had no religious vocation (ib. 5824, f. 41b). A second overflow of the Hundred Foot river at Over still further diminished the value of his estate, and on 18 Feb. 1769 he wrote to the Rev. John Allen: 'I hardly ever now really enjoy myself for three days together, as the continued wet weather alarms me constantly; so that I am come to a resolution to sell my estate and purchase elsewhere, or buy an annuity' (ib. f. 51 b). At Michaelmas 1769 he had his first attack of gout, which complaint afterwards caused him severe and frequent suffering. About May 1770 he removed from Waterbeach to a small house at Milton, a village on the Ely road, three miles and a half from Cambridge. Here he spent the remainder of his days, and was familiarly distinguished as 'Cole of Milton,' though he was sometimes spoken of jocularly as 'Cardinal Cole.' In May 1771, by Lord Montfort's favour, he was put into the commission of the peace for the borough of Cambridge. In the following year Bishop Keene, without any solicitation, sent him an offer of the vicarage of Madingley, near Cambridge, but he civilly declined it. He was, however, on 10 June 1774 instituted by Dr. John Green, bishop of Lincoln, on the presentation of Eton College, to the vicarage of Burnham, Buckinghamshire, vacant by the cession of his uterine brother, Stephen Apthorp, D.D. He still continued to reside at Milton, where he died on 16 Dec. 1782, his constitution having been shattered by repeated attacks of gout. He lies buried in St. Clement's Church, Cambridge, under the steeple, which bears on its front his motto, 'Deum Cole.' On the right hand of the entrance to the church is a monument, with an inscription stating that the steeple was erected with money left by him for the purpose,
A half-sheet print of Cole, from a drawing by Kerrich, was engraved by Facius. A portrait of him was also published in Malcolm's collection of 'Letters to Mr. Granger,' 1805, and is reproduced in Nichols's ' Literary Anecdotes.'
He numbered among his friends and correspondents some of the most learned men of his time, including Horace Walpole, who called him his 'oracle in any antique difficulties,' the poet Gray, Dr. Michael Lort, Steevens, the Shakespearean commentator, Dr. Farmer, master of Emmanuel College, Dr. William Bennet, bishop of Cloyne, John Nichols, Richard Gough, and Alban Butler. Although he published no separate work of his own, he rendered substantial assistance to many authors by supplying them either with entire dissertations or with minute communications or corrections. He wrote the account of Pythagoras's School at Cambridge in 'Grose's Antiquities;' and he was a great contributor