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upon our own habits and our own conveniences, and follow the impulse of a public, who, without experience on the matter, can feel no sympathy and have no just calculation about the peculiarities of clerical employment—then should we be robbed of this second element altogether. We should lie under the malignity of an Egyptian bondage—bricks are required of us, and we have no straw. The public would like to see all the solidities of argument, and all the graces of persuasion, associated with the cause of sacred literature. But then they would desolate the sanctuaries of literature. They would drag away mind from the em
ployments of literature. They would leave not one moment of time or of tranquillity for the pursuits of literature. They would consume by a thousand preposterous servilities all those energies of the inner man, which might, every one of them, be consecrated with effect, to the advancement of literature. In one word, they would dethrone the guardians of this sacred cause from the natural eminency of their office altogether;—and, weighing them down with the burden of other services, they would vulgarise them out of all their taste and all their generous aspirings after literature.”
Notices or RF PRINts or cuRIous old hooks,
Though at the end of the “ Short Memoir of the Author” we observe the initials, J. B. N., yet we have no doubt that we owe this, which is beyond all comparison the most amusing reprint we have been called upon to notice, to the excellent and venerable Mr Nichols, whose genuine love for literary history has already been so well displayed in the productions which have issued from his press. The publisher of the Gentleman's Magazine, and the compiler of the Literary Anecdotes, could not possibly have amused a portion of his old age with any occupation more congenial to his own taste than with the superintendence of this new edition of the Autobiography of the once celebrated, or at least notorious, though now forgotten, John Dunton. Neither, unless we are much mistaken, could he easily have drawn out from the neglected mines of our minor literature, any thing more likely to find favour in the eyes of those readers who are penetrated with some portion of the love of antiquarianism. Nay, we might go much farther than this; for those who enjoy gossip, scandal, slander, quaintness, humour, and extravagant self-conceit, all will find abundant gratification in their departed bibliopole's delineation of himself, his friends, his enemies,—and above all, in his solemn commemoration of “all the spurns his patient merit took” from the government and the people of
England at the beginning of the last century. The period in which the Livery of London could name John Dunton among its members, was indeed a very remarkable one; and its history, civil, political, military, ecclesiastic, and even literary, may in general be conceived to be pretty well known. In the midst, however, of all the innumerable treatises which have preserved for us so much minute information concerning all the great personages of that age, from Queen Anne and George I. up to Swift, Addison, and Steele, it is not to be denied that there still remain many, very many points, in regard to which a common reader is left to complete for himself the unfinished picture that has come down to us. Those who take the trouble to peruse the two comely octavos which have now been given to us by Mr. Nichols, will perhaps have little difficulty in confessing that a certain part of the vacuum has been supplied by the indefatigable self-love of the institutor of the “Athenian Club,” and the author of “the Dublin Scuffle.” We would fain hope that the example of this eminent individual may not be altogether thrown away on his successors, our own contemporary bibliopoles; and should have much pleasure could we imagine that our conmendations of him and his works might add any additional stimulus to excite some among their number to
* The Life and Errors of John Dunton, citizen of London, with the Lives and Char.
acters of more than a thousand contemporary Divines, and other persons of literary emi
nence; to which are added, Dunton's Conversations in Ireland—Selections from his other
genuine Works—and a faithful portrait of the author. 2 vols 8vo. Nichols, Son, and 7
Bentley, London. 1818.
do for their age what Dunton has done for his. To say the truth, we are not acquainted with any class of men whose opportunities are more favourable for the collecting of valuable materials of anecdote, than the worthy “fathers of the Row.” There are no traffickers, with whose minutest and most peculiar objects of interest so large a portion of readers must at all times be found to sympathize. The autobiography of any other tradesman or merchant would attract few but those of his own particular calling; but we venture to say, that few books of that species would present a more agreeable amusement to many great masses of the reading public, in the year 1919, than a Sketch of the Life and Errors of William Blackwood, or Archibald Constable, or John Ballantyne, citizens of Edinburgh, or of William Davies, or John Murray, citizens of London,< written in true Duntonian fulness and freedom, by any one of these intelligent heads of the profession. But, to begin from the beginning,
as our author himself has done.—John Dunton, the hero of this his own long story, was born at Graffham, in Huntingdonshire, the 14th of May, 1659; of which place his father, the Rev. Mr John Dunton, was rector. The particulars of his birth are detailed by theautobiographer as minutely as if he could have accurately remembered every thing that occurred ; for, as he sagaciously insinuates, there is nothing so small in itself which it is not interesting to know concerning a great man. Who is not delighted to read in Plutarch how the bees clustered around the cradle of Alexander P Who does not sympathize with the distress of the midwife, who at first thought that John Dunton had come a dead manchild into the world,—and her joy when the infant Worthy began, at the sprinkling of a little cold water, to exhibit some symptoms of that vigour which was destined in after days to keep Paternoster-Row in a ferment? “The first appearance I made,” says our candid historian, “was very mean and contemptible; and, as if Nature
had designed me to take up only some insignificant and obscure corner in the universe, I was so diminutive a creature that a quart pot could contain the whole of me with ease.” “From such beginnings mighty things arise; So small a star can brighten all the skies.”
“ In this condition,” he continues, “ and long before I had any articulate use of my tongue, I gave the world sufficientevidence of a child of Adam, and the certain tokens of corrupt nature and passion were more and more apparent as I made advances in age and strength.”—We cannot pretend to offer any conjecture what sinful symptoms these might be, that typified at so early a period the after offences of John Dunton's life and conversation—the disturbance he created among his own family and relations by the fretfulness of his dispositions—and the many sheets which his future Cacoethes scribendi was destined to cover withits impurities.
The incidents of the tender years of our hero are not in general, however, of a very extraordinary mature. We shall only take notice of one or two remarkable persecutions which the “non sine diis animosus infans” experienced. —He once fell into the water, and had like to be drowned ; “ but, as Providence would have it, my cousin John Reading was lying on the bank, and saved me.”—Another time he swallowed a leaden bullet, and just when the family have given up all hopes of him, “behold ! up it bolted;”—“ and here,” he goes on, “that I may not prove ungrateful to a preventing Mercy, I shall add a third danger that my childish curiosity exposed me to.” He was amusing himself, it seems, with chewing a bearded ear of corn, when it stuck in his throat, and he could not get rid of it. In this extremity, says he, “ some of my relations, viz. Malmesey of Chesham, aunt Reading, her daughter Anne, Mrs Mary Gossam, Sarah Randal, &c. &c. who were walking in the fields, found me, speechless and gasping, and with much difficulty set me to rights again.” John confesses, notwithstanding of all these events, that he still continued to be a true child of Adam. He has no diffidence in owning, that it was more easy for him to utter a lie than a truth, and remarks, that he has reason to be thankful to Providence for having made him a coward—but for which circumstance, he owns, he would have been the foremost in all pranks of petty pilfering. When the boys of the school robbed an orchard, John Dunton was always placed sentinel at a considerable distance, till on one occasion his fears for himself got the better of his sense of duty, and by a o precipitate flight he left all his associates in the lurch. After this, John had no apples to roast at night, and grew very sulky with every body about him. John was a bad scholar—the natural difficulties of the Greek tongue, and “what worse,” says he, “a silent passion for a virgin in my father's house quite unhinged all my resolutions of study.” His father, however, was determined still to give him a chance of “ some affinity to the muses:” so at the age of fifteen years he was bound apprentice to Mr Thomas Packhurst, bookseller in London, “a religious and just man.” Here, as he says, he might at least have the opportunity of becoming skilled in “ the outside of erudition—the shell and casks of learning.” The confinement of the shop sickened him at first, and being quizzed by the other apprentices, he once fairly ran off to his father in the country. But there the gravity of paternal admonition, and John's own good sense soon restored him to his right mind—and he returned to Mr Packhurst, after an absence of a few days, with a settled purpose, which was soon changed into a settled love of application; nor from this time does it appear that he ever had any doubt for a moment that the highest, as well as the most delightful of all human occupations is that of a bookseller. Henceforth, Piso seemed in his eyes a greater man than twenty Horaces—and Pope himself was scarcely regarded as any thing better Han a piece of the furniture of Lintot's shop. The only interruption to which his professional avocations were now exposed, arose out of his old tendre for La Belle Passion. The origin of his first apprentice flame is somewhat whimsical—although very much we can believe in the course of apprentice life. . One of his fellow apprentices forged a love-letter to him, in the name of a certain “young virin,” then a boarder with Mr Packurst—as follows:
“I was strangely surprised,” says he, “a this #. more ; : in: o had all the little and the charming pretti. messes both of wit and beauty that might easily have gained her as many conquests as she pleased; in short, so licentious and extravagant was my folly, that I gave her a billet the same day, in which I made an appointment to meet her in Grocers' Garden the next evening, where we both attended; but so soon as I revealed the occasion, she told me she was ignorant of it. However, this romantic courtship gave both of us a real passion; but my Master, making a timely discovery of it, sent the lady into the country; and absence cooled our passions for us, and by little and little we both of us regained our liberty.” At the expiration of the apprenticeship, which was spent in this manner, John gave an entertainment to no less than a hundred apprentices, to celebrate the funeral. It must be observed, however, that John was no ordinary apprentice when he was guilty of this piece of extravagance. He had made himself conspicuous as a principal leader on the part of the whigs; i. e. the whig apprenticeswhen they on one occasion made an address to Sir Patience Ward, Lord Mayor of London. John having been one of the first in the procession which carried this address, was of course one of the first who heard the Lord Mayor's excellent advice in reply, “Go home and mind your business, boys,”—but he could not help regard: ing himself already as a party-man of some consequence—and, indeed, in a petition to George II. written a grea: many years after, we find him still returning to the whiggery of his apprenticeship, as one of his greatest merits. However, he now became a bookseller on his own account, but to avoid too large a rent he took only half a shop, a warehouse, and a fashionable chamber.
“PRINTING was now the uppermost in my thoughts, and Hackney Authors began to ply me with “Specimens,” as earnestly, and with as much passion and concern, as the Watermen do Passengers with Oars and Scullers.
“I had some acquaintance with this Ge: neration in my Apprenticeship, and had never any warm affection for them ; in regard I always thought their great concern lay more in how much a Sheet, than in any generous respect they bore to the Commonwealth of Learning; and, indeed, the Learning itself of these Gentlemen lies very often in as little room as their Honesty; though they will pretend to have studied you six or seven years in the Bodleian Library, to have turned over the Fathers, and to have read and digested the whole compass both of Human and Ecclesiastic History—when, alas ! they have never been able to understand a single page of Saint Cyprian, and cannot tell you whether the Fathers lived before or after Christ. And as for their Honesty, it is very remarkable: they will either persuade you to go upon another man's Copy, to steal his Thought, or to abridge his Book, which should have got him bread for his life-time. When you have engaged them upon some Project or other, they will write you of three or four sheets perhaps; take up three or four pounds upon an urgent occasion; and you shall never hear of them more. I have offered thus much, as a character of these Scribblers, that may give the caution to Booksellers, and take off a most wretched scandal from the trade in general. However, though I have met with temptations enough of this nature, to grow rich by knavery, and a learned kind of theft; yet this I can say for myself (and I neither have, nor shall be too lavish in my own praise,) that I never printed another's Copy, went upon his Project, nor stole so much as his Title-page, or his Thought.” His views of the profession on which he had now entered, are sufficiently amusing. “A man should be well furnished with an honest policy, if he intends to set out in the world now-a-days. And this is no less necessary in a Bookseller than in any other Tradesman for in that way there are plots and counterplots, and a whole army of Hackney Authors that keep their grinders moving by the travail of their pens. These Gormandizers will eat you the very life out of a Copy so soon as ever it appears; for, as the times go, Original and Abridgement are almost reckoned as necessary as man and wife; so that I am really afraid that a Bookseller and a good conscience will shortly grow some strange thing in the earth. I shall not carry the reflection any farther, but only make this single remark, that he who designs to be the best Christian, must dip himself the least in business.” The moment he had opened his shop, and made a little money by publishing “ the Reverend Mr Doolittle's Sufferings of Christ”—his elderly female acquaintances seem all to have very busily set about providing him with a wife. One Mrs Seaton recommended Miss Sarah Day of Greenwich—Sarah Doolittle was the next, and apparently a more tempting proal. “ “There is Sarah Doolittle,” says another person. “ will make a better wife for you by ten degrees, and then you will have her Father's Copies for nothing; and his
Book on the Sacrament, you know, has sold to the twentieth edition, which would have been an estate for a Bookseller.” This design was quite lost in the novelty of another ; and Sam Crook being too fortunate a Rival, I would not so much as attempt the matter.” At last, however, John's time was conne. “One Lord's-day (and I am very sensible of the sin) I was strolling about just as my fancy led me ; and stepping into Dr. Annesley's Meeting-place, where, instead of engaging my attention to what the Doctor said, I suffered both my mind and my eyes to run at random (and it is very rare but Satan can throw in a temptation when the sinner lies open for it), I soon singled out a young lady that almost charmed me dead; but having made my inquiries, I found to my sorrow she was pre-engaged. However, my friends, to keep up the humour I was in, advised me to make an experiment upon her elder Sister (they both being the Daughters of the Reverend Dr. Annesley); and the hint they gave me, as Providence would have it, made a deeper impression upon me than all the recommendations they had given me before. I disposed all matters to carry on the design with all possible dispatch. But I steered by another compass than I had done in all my former amours. And was resolved, in regard the Reverend Dr. Annesley was a man of so much sincerity and religious prudence, to mention the matter first of all to him ; and taking Mr. Isaac Brinly along with me, and Mr. Obadiah Mariat to second the proposal, the Doctor sent for Mr. Packhurst, who gave me a character that was favourable enough ; so that, having received all reasonable satisfaction of that nature, the Doctor told me, ‘ I had his free consent, if I could prevail upon his Daughter for her's ; which was more than Mr. Cockeril (deceased) could ever obtain, after a long courtship.’”
The modest Bibliopole seems never to have been troubled with any misgivings in regard to his own qualifications for gaining the affections of Miss Annesley, on whom and himself, from the commencement of their flirtation, he bestows the Arcadian names of Iris and Philaret. After a few months of delay, during which it seems to have been Dunton's custom to sup every evening at the doctor's—the fair Iris at length consented to make him the happiest of men—they were married on the 3d of August, 1682, in All-hallow's church, by Dr William Lewis—having listened the same morning to a preparatory sermon preached by the bride's father. We cannot afford room for Mr Dunton's abstract
of this sermon; but shall only mention that the text was Ephesians, v. 32. “This is a #. mystery.” The posy of the wedding-ring was this,
Virtue, Wit, and Beauty may
“ the sign of the Black Raven,” in front of a sénement entirely his own. Here Iris soon exhibited her perfect possession of all the faculties most precious in the lady of a Bibliopole. She kept Dunton's cash—she balanced his books for him—she darned his stockings, and gave her opinion of MSS. In short, as Dunton says—“they were now on their own legs, and every thing prospered;” when of a sudden, there came an universal damp upon trade, occasioned by the defeat of Monmouth ; and Dunton becoming involved in pecuniary difficulties by reason of some imprudent advances to his friends—found it expedient to get together as many books as he could, and sail for New England with the speculation. The parting with Iris is dwelt upon in the most affecting terms for many pages—but at last we find John at sea—and very sick he is, and very cowardly, as might have been expected.
Myself and four more of the Passengers belonged to the Captain's mess; but very often, when we were soberly sat down to dinner, one blast of wind would lay all our provisions in common. When we came about 50 leagues off the Lizard, and in 86 fathom of water, and beginning to sail by the Log, we were all on a sudden surprized with the cry of “ A sail 1 a saill” which they mistook for a Sallee-man: orders were given immediately to make ready to engage; and I was resolved among the rest, to lose the last drop of life. But soon after we lost sight of the Sallee-man, under the covert of a mist ; though, about two o'clock next morning, we were rouzed with the shout, “Arise ! arise ! the Sallee-man's upon us.” Upon this second alarm, every man was set to his gun in an instant; but as for myself, I kept out of sight as well as I could, till I heard them asking “Where is Mr Dunton, that was so valiant over night?” This, I confess, put me into a cold sweat, and I cried, * Coming ! coming ! I am only seeking my ruffles;” a bad excuse, you know, is better than none. I made my appearance at last, but looked nine ways at once ; for I was afraid Death might come in amongst the boards, or nobody knew where. This is the only instance I can give, when my courage failed me. The danger was im: mediately blown over; for our pirate proved no more than a Virginia Merchant, that was equally afraid of our Ship. Upon this news, my courage returned; and I seemed very much dissatisfied, that I should lose the satisfaction of being engaged at sea.
He arrives in safety at Boston—and immediately commences a most elaborate description of the Rev. Mr In