Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

In 1783, Mr. Nichols had the satisfaction of presenting to the publick (what Mr. Bowyer had long

ings have delighted him, with whom he has ever been acquainted, but of whom no life has hitherto been written. Let him minute down the result of his recollection; and he will immediately perceive how deficient the narrative will appear in facts and dates. He may apply to some common acquaintance, who will add a single circumstance; a second will suggest that an enquiry of some third person, who lives, perhaps, at the extremity of the kingdom, may lead to information. Here some light appears to dawn; but, when an answer comes, the distant correspondent recollects nothing with certainty; and is perhaps offended at being troubled with what he considers as an impertinent enquiry. After much difficulty, the Biographer learns where the deceased Author was buried, and dispatches a request to the minister of the parish, for the date of his interment, and a copy of the monumental inscription. When this can be obtained, it is a great acquisition. But now the labour of research begins again. Discovering by the epitaph, that the man of eminence was born in such a town, and was educated at such a college, recourse must be had to the place of his nativity, for the history of his birth, family, and early habits; and to Oxford or Cambridge, for the dates of his admission, his degrees, &c.; when a new enquiry arises, after ecclesiastical or civil preferments; and another, more useful, but not quite so difficult, after the various books he has published. This is not an ima ginary process. By such kind of laborious perseverance only can a work like the Anecdotes of Mr. Bowyer' be compiled. And we wish any gentleman, who may doubt this assertion, to try the experiment with some of the lives that have been enquired after in our Magazine; for example, with that of Mr. Martin, the celebrated Optician and Lecturer, whom every body knew, who has published an infinity of curious treatises, and who died so lately as within the present year" [1782.]

Should these be suspected to have been somewhat biassed by friendship, let us turn to the re:marks of other Critics, to whom I was then an utter stranger. A Writer in the "Critical Review," (the Rev. Joseph Robertson, as I afterwards accidentally discovered), says, "We have now before us a Work of a singular kind, the Memoirs of an eminent Printer, accompanied with a biographical account of almost all the learned men who were connected with him, either by friendship, or the casual intercourse of business in his profession. In the Text, the Compiler has chiefly confined himself to the Life of Mr. Bowyer, and a chronological detail of the Works of others, which he printed. In the Notes, he has inserted all the authentic Anecdotes, which could be collected by a long, diligent, and expensive enquiry, relative to every author, and every person of note, whom he had occasion to mention in the course of the

narra

[ocr errors]

wished to see accomplished) a handsome volume in quarto, under the title of "Novum Testamentum narrative."On the passage relating to Layer's head (vol. V. p. 497) Mr. Robertson remarks, Imagine this venerable Antiquary and his companion awaking out of their slumber, how would the former be amazed and mortified on his perceiving, that he had been taking to his bosom, not the head of a counsellor, but the worthless pate of some strolling mendicant, some footpad, or some superannuated harlot! There is a memorable story of the same kind, relating to the bones of Livy. In the year 1413, the citizens of Padua, in digging for the foundation of a chapel, found a sort of coffin, on which was inscribed, "T. Livius," &c. The whole city, imagining that it contained the remains of the celebrated Historian of that name, was, on this event, a scene of universal exultation; and these supposed illustrious relicks were removed with great pomp and solemnity to the most conspicuous and honourable situation in the city, where a statue was erected to the memory of Livy, with a suitable inscription. In 1451, Alphonsus V. king of Arragon, hearing of this wonderful discovery, employed an ambassador to request that the Magistrates of Padua would send him, upon any terms, the bone of that arm with which their famous countryman had written his history. Upon obtaining this favour, he caused the bone to be conveyed to Naples with the greatest ceremony, and preserved as a most valuable relick. But many years afterwards the celebrated Gudius, on an accurate examination of the inscription which was originally placed over the body, incontestably demonstrated, that the bones which had been preserved with so much veneration, were nothing more than the remains of one Halys, who had been a slave, and on receiving his freedom, had, as usual, annexed to his own the name of his master, T. Livius, which had belonged to many persons at Padua, besides the celebrated Historian. Yet, notwithstanding the detection of this gross mistake, several modern writers have gravely told us, that the bones of Livy were discovered at Padua in the year 1413! Such deceptions should put Antiquaries on their guard against a weak and ridiculous credulity..... The limits of our Review oblige us to conclude this Article, though we could extend it much farther with pleasure to ourselves and advantage to our readers; for it is but justice to the accurate and ingenious Author to declare, that this Work contains a copious treasure of biographical information; and may he said to form a valuable history of the progress. and advancement of Literature in this kingdom, from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the end of the year 1777."

The Compiler of the article on "Domestic Literature" in the "New Annual Register for 1782," p. 328, says, "The lovers and the writers of Biography are under no small obligation to Mr. Nichols for his Biographical and Literary Anecdotes of William Bowyer, Printer, and of many of his learned Friends.' This

work,

Græcum, ad fidem Græcorum solùm Codicum MSS. expressum, adstipulante Joanne Jacobo Wetstenio; work, besides giving a full account of Mr. Bowyer, contains the lives of nearly all the men of Literature who have flourished during the present contury. It is, in fact, the History of Learning for a period of more than seventy years. So large a body of biographical materials hath not been collected together for a long time. Mr. Nichols may be considered as the Anthony Wood of the age, but not in petulance and bigotry. It is only in the excellencies of Wood that the resemblance holds: in diligence of collection, and in an ardent zeal to perpetuate the memory of our English writers."

To this hour I know not the Author of the following critique: "The life of a private Tradesman, however distinguished as a Scholar, cannot be expected to abound with adventure. Our industrious Biographer is fully aware of the objections that may be made to his undertaking, from the want of curious and important incidents in the life of a man of so retired a character; and acknowledges that the Anecdotes of Mr. Bowyer are few, when compared to the many that are introduced of his learned Friends. Without the latter, the former would have afforded little information, and less entertainment, as the Anecdotes which more immediately respect Mr. Bowyer consist chiefly of details relating to the trade of publication, which are calculated to afford amusement but to a very small class of readers. The principal figure of the piece stands, however, every where fore most on the canvass; and the other persons, of whom anecdotes are occasionally introduced, were connected with him by the tics of friendship or of business. In this view the work before us acquires some degree of consequence; is curious and amusing and contains a vast store of literary and biographical information . . . . . . From this immense storehouse we are at a loss what to make choice of for the amusement and information of our Readers. We have anecdotes on anecdotes: for it is the disposition of the indefatigable Compiler of these Memoirs rather to give too much than too little; and, to gratify a hungry hunter of Biography with all the sport he can desire, starts more game than a person less keen in the chace hath any inclination to pursue, or any appetite to partake of. Amidst a multitude of curious and original papers relating to the Literature of the Eighteenth Century, we are presented with Anecdotes of some of the most distinguished Authors who have figured in it :- the bare recital of whose names would fill many pages of our Review.... Mr. Nichols's resources have been very numerous, and very respectable. He tells us, that he had once an intention of giving an alphabetical List of all the Friends who have afforded him assistance in this elaborate undertaking; but, says he, they are now so numerous, that to name them would certainly be considered as ostentation; and to some of them (to Sir John Pringle, Dr. Richardson, Dr. Fothergill, and Mr. Costard) those thanks

would

juxta Sectiones Jo. Alberti Bengelii divisum ; et novâ Interpunctione sæpiùs illustratium. Editio secunda.

would come too late, which to the surviving Contributors are nevertheless very cordially paid.' Some anachronisms have unavoidably arisen from the Work's having been so long passing through the press. Many of them, however, are corrected in an Appendix, which is exceedingly copious, and abounds with fresh stores of literary information and entertainment; and in which the Author chooses rather to appear triflingly minute, than to suffer articles to remain which it was in his power to correct or improve. From the multifarious matter which lies before us, we will select, for the amusement of our Readers, the account given of that truly great Scholar, and original Writer, Dr. Warburton, the late Bishop of Gloucester." In a subsequent number the Reviewer thus proceeds: "Having given a brief view of the materials of which this elaborate work is composed, and of the various kinds of entertainment and information which it will afford to the curious and inquisitive Reader, we now proceed to the specimens of Literary History promised in our last. The first of these specimens is the account here given of that very eminent writer, the late Bishop Warburton [which is accordingly given].-"We are informed by Mr. Nichols, that a complete and elegant Edition of this learned Prelate's Writings is intended for the Publick, by his all-accomplished friend, the Bishop of Worcester. A tribute due to such distin guished merit and we doubt not but that it will be discharged in a manner every way worthy of the memory of one great Prelate, and the abilities of another. Nor is this only the tribute of justice to learning, but of gratitude to friendship.-We shall conclude our extracts of this Work with the account which the Editor hath given us of two persons of far different fame; viz. William Lauder and Auditor Benson-both of them Editors of Johnston the old Scotch Physician's Latin Version of David's Psalms: the former immortalized by his own infamy, and the latter by Pope's Dunciad."-"The Author is entitled to the thanks of the curious for the pains he takes to gratify them in matters which lie out of the reach of common instruction; and we wish him success and encouragement in his future enquiries and pursuits." Monthly Review, 1782, vol. LXVII. pp. 270-339. I shall subjoin a short Letter or two from Mr. Walpole : "April.. 1782. As it is said to be so much desired, the Author consents to let the whole of the Letter on Chatterton be printed in the Gentleman's Magazine; but not in a separate pamphlet." "SIR, Berkeley-squat, June 19, 1782. [This was Mr. Walpole's Letter on Chatterton; originally printed at Strawberry Hill. See it in Gent. Mag. vol. LII. ) 189.247.300. 347.]

3

1. pp.

"Just this moment, on opening your fifth volume of Miscellaneous Poems, I find the Translation of Cato's Speech into Latin, attributed (by common fame) to Bishop Atterbury. I

can

Londini,Curâ,Typis,et SumptibusJohannis Nichols." "Reverendo doctissimoque Viro, Henrico Owen, S. T. P. hanc Editionem, ipsius auxilio concinnatam, Amicitiæ & Gratitudinis ergô, dat, dicat, dedicatque J. Nichols."

In the same year was published, a small pamphlet, intituled, "An Apology for Mr. Hooke's Observations concerning the Roman Senate; with an Index to the Observations*; by Mr. Bowyer."

In 1785, a quarto volume was published, under the title of "Miscellaneous Tracts, by the late William Bowyer, Printer, F. S. A. and several of his learned Friends; including Letters on Literary Subjects, by Mr. Markland, Mr. Clarke, &c. &c. Collected and illustrated with occasional Notes, by John Nichols, Printer, F. S. A. Edinb. 1785.

can most positively assure you, that that Translation was the work of Dr. Henry Bland, afterwards Head-master of Eton School, Provost of the College there, and Dean of Durham. I have more than once heard my father Sir Robert Walpole say, that it was he himself who gave that Translation to Mr. Addison, who was extremely surprized at the fidelity and beauty of it. It may be worth while, Sir, on some future occasion, to mention this fact in some one of your valuable and curious publications. I am, Sir, with great regard, HOR. WALPOLE."

"June 30. "Mr. Walpole is much obliged to Mr. Nichols for the prints, and will beg another of Mr. Bowyer for his Collection of Heads, as he shall put the one he has received to Mr. Bowyer's Life. Mr. Walpole has no objection to being named for the anecdote of Dr. Bland's translation, as it is right to authenticate it." "Strawberry Hill, Aug. 18, 1782.

"Mr. Walpole is extremely obliged to Mr. Nichols for the books and prints; and begs, when he sees Mr. Gough, to thank him for his obliging present of Mr. Brown's tract.”

"Nichols, Typographus Anglus, successor celeberrimi Bowyeri, cui neque artis peritià neque doctrinâ & diligentiâ impar est, edidit Bowyeri Apologiam Opinionum Hookii quoad Senatum Romanum, & Anecdota Literaria de Bowyero." Annales Literarii, Helmstad, by Bruns, June 1783, p. 571.

"Little is necessary to be said to introduce a Collection of Miscellanies which claim for their author the last of learned Printers. The Publick have been sufficiently apprized of Mr. Bowyer's early attention to every department of Literature, and to every book which came under his Father's or his own press, while finishing a learned education at the University, and while applying the store of knowledge there treasured up, to improve the classic authors which he printed, or to criticize those pub

« AnteriorContinuar »