Isaac Disraeli.

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History of the Stage and Actors in his own Time, for these
forty or ^y jesijrs past, as he told me he had composed, is
likely to prove, whenever it shall appear, a more perfect
work." I might proceed with many similar gratuitous con-
tributions with which he assisted his contemporaries. Oldys
should have been constituted the reader for the nation. His

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Comptes Rendus of books and manuscripts are still held pre-
cious ; but his useful and curious talent had sought the public
patronage in vain I From one of his " Diaries,** which has .
escaped destruction, I transcribe some interesting passages
ad verhum.

The reader is here presented with a minute picture of
those invisible occupations which pass in the study of a man
of letters. There are those who may be surprised, as well as
amused, in discovering how all the business, even to the very
disappointments and pleasures of active life, can be trans-
ferred to the silent chamber of a recluse student ; but there
are others who will not read without emotion the secret
thoughts of him who, loving literature with its purest passion,
scarcely repines at being defrauded of his just fame, and
leaves his stores for the after-age of his more gifted heirs.
Thus we open one of Oldys's literary days : —

" I was informed that day by Mr. Tho. Odell's daughter, that her father,
who was deputy inspector and licenser of the plays, died 24 May, 1749, at
his house in Chappel-street, Westminster, aged 58 years. He was writing
a history of the characters he had observed, and conferences he had had
with many eminent persons he knew in his time. He was a great observator
of every thing curious in the conversations of his acquaintance, and his
own conversation was a living chronicle of the remarkable intrigues, ad-
ventures, sayings, stories, writings, &c. of many of the quality, poets, and
other authors, players, booksellers, &c. who flourished especially in the
present century. He had been a popular man at elections, and sometimes
master of the playhouse in Goodman's Fields, but latterly was forced to
live reserved and retired by reason of his debts. He published two or three
dramatic pieces, one was the Patron, on the story of Lord Romney.

" Q. of his da. to restore me Eustace Budgell's papers, and to get a sight
of her father's.

" Have got the one, and seen the other.

"July 81. — Was at Mrs. Odell's; she returned me Mr. BudgeU's papers.
Saw some of her husband's papers, mostly poems in favour of the ministry,
and against Mr. Pope. One of them, printed by the late Sir Robert Wal-
pole's encouragement, who gave him ten guineas for writing and as much
for the expense of printing it; but through his advice it was never pub-
lished, because it might hurt his interest with Lord Chesterfield, and some
other noblemen, who favoured Mr. Pope for his fine genius. The tract I
liked best of his writings was the history of his playhouse in Goodman's
Fields. (Remember that which was published against that playhouse,

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which I have entered in my London CataJogae. Letter to Sir Ric. Brocas,
lord mayor, &c. 8vo. 1730.)

" Saw nothing of the history of his conversations with ingenious men ;
his characters, tales, jests, and intrigues of them, of which no man was
better furnished with them. She thinks she has some papers of these, and
promises to look them out, and also to inquire after Mr. Grifl&n of the lord
chamberlain's office, that I may get a search made about Spenser.

So intent was Oldjs on these literary researches that we
see, by the last words of this entry, how in hunting after one
sort of game, his undivided zeal kept its eye on another.
One of his favourite subjects was the realizing of original
discoveries respecting Spenser and Shakspeare ; of whom,
perhaps, to our shame, as it is to our vexation, it may be said
that two of our master-poets are those of whom we know the
least! Oldys once flattered himself that he should be able
to have given the world a life of Shakspeare. Mr. John
Taylor informs me, that " Oldys had contracted to supply ten
years of the life of Shakspeare unknown to the biographers^
with one Walker, a bookseller in the Strand ; and as Oldys
did not live to fulfil the engagement, my father was obliged
to return to Walker twenty guineas which he had advanced
on the work." TTiat interesting narrative is now hopeless for
us. Yet, by the solemn contract into which Oldys had en-
tered, and from his strict integrity, it might induce one to
suspect that he had made positive discoveries which are now

• We may observe the manner of his anxious inquiries about
Spenser : —

" Ask Sir Peter Thompson if it were improper to try if Lord Effingham
Howard would procure the pedigrees in the Herald's office, to be seen for
Edmund Spenser's parentage or family? or how he was related to Sir John
Spenser of Althorpe, in Northamptonshire ? to three of whose daughters, who
all married nobility, Spenser dedicates three of his poems.

" Of Mr. Vertue, to examine Stowe's memorandum-book. Look more
carefully for the year when Spenser's monument was raised, or betwe^
which years the entry stands — 1623 and 1626.

" Sir Clement Cottrell's book about Spenser.

" Captain Power, to know if he has heard from Capt. Spenser about my
letter of inquiries relating to Edward Spenser.

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" Of Whiston, to examine if my remarks on Spenser are complete as to
the press — Yes.

Remember, when I see Mr. W. Thoippson, to inquire whether he has
printed in any of his works any other character of our old poets than those
of Spenser and Shakspeare ; * and to get the liberty of a visit at Kentish
Town, to see his OoUection of Robert Greenest Works^ in about four large
volumes quarto. He commonly published a pamphlet every term, as his
acquaintance Tom Nash informs us."

Two or three other memorials may excite a smile at his
peculiar habits of study, and unceasing vigilance to draw from
original sources of information.

" Dryden's dream^ at Lord Exeter's, at Burleigh, while he was translat-
ing Virgil, as Siguier Verrio, then painting there, related it to the York-
shire painter, of whom I had it, lies in the parchment book in quarto^ designed
for his life."

At a subsequent period Oldys inserts, " Now entered
therein." Malone quotes this very memorandum, which he
discovered in Oldys's Langbaine, to show Dryden had some
confidence in Oneirocriticism, and supposed that future events
were sometimes prognosticated by dreams. Malone adds,
" Where either the loose prophetic leaf, or the parchment
hook now is, I know not" f

Unquestionably we have incurred » great loss in Oldys's
collections for Dryden's Life, which are very extensive ; such
a mass of literary history cannot have perished unless by
accident ; and I suspect that many of Oldys^s manuscripts
are in the possession of individuals who are not acquainted
with his handwriting, which may be easily verified.

" To search the old papers in one of my large deal boxes for Dryden's
letter of thanks to my father, for some communication relating to Plutarch,
while they and others were publishing a translation of Plutarch's Lives,

♦ William Thompson, the poet of " Sickness," and other poems ; a warm
lover of our elder bards, and no vulgar imitator of Spenser. He was the
revivor of Bishop Hall's Satires, in 1753, by an edition which had been
more fortunate if conducted by his friend Oldys, for the text is unfaithful,
though the edition followed was one borrowed from Lord Oxford's library
^ probably by the aid of Oldys.

t Malone's Life of Dryden, p. 420.

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In five volumes 8vo. 1683. It is copied in the yellow booh for Dryden's Life,
in which there are about 150 transcriptions in prose and verse, relating to
the life, character, and writings of Dryden." — " Is England's Remem-
brancer extracted out of my obit, (obituary) into my remarks on him in
the poetical bag t^*

" My extracts in the parchment budget about Denham's seat and family
in Surrey."

" My white vellum pocket-book^ bordered with gold, for the extract from
* Groans of Great Britain ' about Butler."

" See my account of the great yews in Tankersley's park, while Sir R.
Fanshaw was prisoner in the lodge there; especially Talbot's yew, which
a man on horseback might turn about in, in my botanical budget."

'* This Donald Lupton I have mentioned in my catalogue of all the books
and pamphlets relative to London in folio, begun anno 1740, and in which
I have now, 1746, entered between 300 and 400 articles, besides remarks,
&c. Now, in June, 1748, between 400 and 600 articles. Now, in October,
1750, six hundred and thirty-six." *

There remains to be told an anecdote, which shows that
Pope greatly regarded our literary antiquary. " Oldys," says
my friend, " was one of the librarians of the Earl of Oxford,
and he used to tell a story of the credit which he obtained as
a scholar, by setting Pope right in a Latin quotation, which
he made at the earl's table. He did not, however, as I re-
member, boast of having been admitted as a guest at the
table, but as happening to be in the room." Why might not
Oldys, however, have been seated, at least, below the salt I
It would do no honour to either party to suppose that Oldys
stood among the menials. The truth is, there appears to

* This is one of Oldys' 8 Manuscripts ; a thick folio of titles, which has
been made to do its duty, with small thanks from those who did not care
to praise the service which they derived from it. It passed from Dr.
Berkenhout to George Steevens, who lent it to Gough. It was sold for five
guineas. The useful work of ten years of attention given to it ! The an-
tiquary Gough alludes to it with his usual discernment. "Among these
titles of books and pamphlets about London are mscaj purely historical^ and
many of too low a kind to rank under the head of topography and history."
Thus the design of Oldys, in forming this elaborate collection, is condenmed
by trying it by the limited object of the topographer's view. This cata-
logue remains a desideratum, were it printed entire as collected by Oldys,
not merely for the topography of the metropolis, but fA* its relation to its
manners, domestic annals, events, and persons connected with its history.

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have existed a confidential intercourse between Pope and
Oldjs ; and of this I shall give a remarkable proof. In
those fragments of Oldys, preserved as " additional anecdotes
of Shakspeare," in Steevens's and Malone's editions, Oldys
mentions a story of Davenant, which he adds, " Mr. Pope
told me at the Earl of Oxford's table ! " And further relates
a conversation which passed between them. Nor is this all ;
for in Oldys's Langbaine he put down this memorandum in
the article of Shakspeare — " Remember what I observed to
my Lord Oxford for Mr. Pope's use out of CJowley's preface."
Malone appears to have discovered this observation of Cow-
ley's which is curious enough and very ungrateful to that
commentator's ideas : it is " to prune and lop away the old
withered branches " in the new editions of Shakspeare and
other ancient poets ! " Pope adopted," says Malone, " this
very unwarrantable idea; Oldys was the person who sug-
gested to Pope the singular course he pursued in his edition
of Shakspeare." Without touchmg on the felicity or the
danger of this new system of republishing Shakspeare, one
may say that if many passages were struck out, Shakspeare
would not be injured, for many of them were never composed
by that great bard ! There not only existed a literary intimacy
between Oldys and Pope, but our poet adopting his suggestions
on so important an occasion, evinces how highly he esteemed
his judgment ; and unquestionably Pope had often been de-
lighted by Oldys with the history of his predecessors, and the
curiosities of English poetry.

I have now introduced the reader to Oldys sitting amidst
his "poetical bags," his "parchment biographical budgets,"
his " catalogues," and his " diaries," often venting a solitary
groan, or active in some fresh inquiry. Such is the Silhouette
of this prodigy of literary curiosity !

The very existence of Oldys's manuscripts continues to be
of an ambiguous nature ; referred to, quoted, and transcribed,
we can but selcjom turn to the originals. These masses of
curious knowledge, dispersed or lost, have enriched an after-

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race, who have often picked up the spoil and claimed the
victory, but it was Oldys who had fought the battle !

Oldys affords one more example how life is often closed
amidst discoveries and acquisitions. The literary antiquary,
when he has attempted to embody his multiplied inquiries,
and to finish his scattered designs, has found that the labor
ABSQUE LABORE, "the labour void of labour," as the in-
scription on the library of Florence finely describes the re-
searches of literature, has dissolved his days in the volup-
tuousness of his curiosity ; and that too often, like the hunter
in the heat of the chase, while he disdained the prey which
lay before him, he was still stretching onwards to catch the

ftigitive !

TransvolcU in medio pottta^ et fugimda capiat.

At the close of every century, in this growing world of
books, may an Oldys be the reader for the nation ! Should
he be endowed with a philosophical spirit, and combine the
genius of his own times with that of the preceding, he will
hold in his hand the chain of human thoughts, and, like an-
other Bayle, become the historian of the human mind I

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Abelard, ranks among the heretics,
i. 212; book condemned as his writ^
ten by another, 213 ; absolution grant-
ed to, ib. ; wrote and sung finely, 214;
raises the school of the Paraclete, 216.

ABKAM-MEN, iii. 47, and note, lb.

Abridgeks, objections to, and recom-
mendations of, ii. 67 ; Bayle's advice
to, 68; now slightly regarded, ib.;
instructions to, quoted from the Book
of Maccabees, 69.

ABSEif C£ of mind, anecdotes of, i. 284,

Absolute monarchy, search for prece-
dents to maintain, iv. 389, note.

Abstraction of mind, instances of,
amongst great men, ii. 221-224;
sonnet on, by Metastasio, 223, 224.

Academy, the French, some account
of, ii. 86-89 ; visit of Christina Queen
of Sweden to, 86; of Literature, de-
signed in the reign of Queen Aiine,
iii. 158 ; abortive attempts to estab-
lish various, ib.; disadvantages of,
ib. ; arguments of the advocates for,
ib. ; should be designed by individu-
als, 159; French origin of, 159-162;
origin of the Royal Society, 162-164;
ridiculous titles of Italian, 242 ; some
account of the Arcadian, and its ser-
vice to literature, 245 ; derivation of
its title, 247 ; of tfie Colombaria, ib. ;
indications of, in England, 248 ; early
rise of among the Italians, 249; es-
tablishment of, the ** Academy," 250 ;
suppressed, and its members perse-
cuted, 250-251 ; of the "Oziosi," 252 ;
suppression of many, at Florence and
Sienna, 253; considerations of the
reason of the Italian fantastical titles
of, &c. 255.

Acajou and Zirphile, a whimsical fairy
tale, iii. 43-46.

AccADEMiA of Bologna originated with
Lodovico Caracci, iii. 149.

Accident, instances of the pursuits
of great men directed by, i. 142.

AcEPHALi, iv. 79, and note, ib.

Acrostics, i. 388.

VOL. IV. 29

Actora, tragic, i. 884; who have died
martyrs ro their tragic characters,
836, should be nursed in the laps of
queens, 336 ; anecdotes of, 336, 337.

Addison, silent among strangers, i.l66.

Adriani, his continuation of Guicciar-
dini's History, iv. 65.

Advice, good,6f a literary sinner, ii. 12.

Agates, presenting representations of
natural forms, i. 330.

AoREDA, Maria, wrote the Life of the
Virgin Mary, ii. 31.

Albertus Magnus, his opinion con-
cerning books of magic, iv. 180; his
brazen man, 182 ; his entertainment
of the Earl of Holland, 191.

Alchymists, results of their opera-
tions, iv. 184 ; their cautious secrecy,
ib; discoveries by, 184, 185.

Alchymy, anecdotes of professors of.
i. 874, 875 ; Henry VL endeavoured
to recruit his coffers bv, 375 ; pro-
fessors of, called multipliers, 376;
books of, pious frauds, ib.; Klias
Ashmole rather the historian of, than
an adept in, 377 ; opinions of modern
chemists on, 379.

Alexandria, library of, i. 49, 50; De-
metrius Phalereus, its industrious
and skilful librarian, 50; original
manuscripts of jEschylus, Sopho-
cles, and Euripides prociu-ed for, ib. ;
destruction of, 101, 102.

Ambassadors, anecdotes of frivolous
points of etiquette insisted on by,
li. 876-388.

Amilcar, the author of the Second
Punic War, iv. 20.

Amphigouries, i. 391.

Amusement, periodical, during study,
a standing; rule among the Jesuits,
i. 90; various, practised by different
celebrated men, 90-93.

AifAGRAMS, ii. 389, ii. 416, are classed
among the Hebrews with the caba-
listic sciences, 416; Platonic notions
of, ib.; jrpecimens of Greek, 417;
several examples of curious, 417-
419; amusing anecdotes concerning,

Andrkini, an actor and author of ir-

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regular Italian comedies, !i. 814; a
drama o( his gave the first idea to
Milton of his *"Paradise Lost," ib.

Anecdotes, literary, their impor-
tance, iii. 34; Dr. Johnson's defence
of, 36 ; the absurdity of many trans-
mitted by biographers, ib. ; general
remarks on, 36, 37.

Anglksea, Earl of, his MSS. sup-
pressed, iii. 205.

Animals, influence of music on, L

Annius of Viterbo published seventeen
books of pretended antiquities, iv.
207 ; and afterwards a commentary,
208 ; caused a literary war, ib.

Antediluvian researches, i. 394, 896.

Anti, a favourite prefix to books of
controversy, i. 413.

Antiquaries, Society of, inquiry into
its origin and progress, iii. 164-167.

Antony, Marc, anecdote of, ii. 163.

Apparei^ excess in, proclamation
against, by Elizabeth, iv. 288.

Apples grafted on mulberry stocks,
ii. 332, note.

Archestratus, a celebrated culinary
philosopher, ii. 434.

Arguments, invented by a machine,
iii. 171.

Ariosto, his merits disputed in Italy,
ii. 64 ; public preference given to, b^
the Accademia della Crusca, ib. ; his
verses sung by the gondoliers, 66.

Aristocrat, a nickname, iii. 412.

Aristotle, account of criticisms on, i.
76 ; fate of his library, 108 ; Arabic
commentaries on, 116; rage for, ib.;
his opinions on sneezing, 192; letter
of Philip of Macedon to, 209; de-
scription of the person and manners
o^ lb.; will of, 210; studied under
Plato, ib. ; parallel between him and
Plato, by Rapin, ib. ; anecdote con-
cerning nim and Plato, 211; raises a
school, ib. ; attacked b^ Xenocrates,
ib. ; his mode of pointing out a suc-
cessor, 212 ; writers against and for,
408 ; bonmot on his precepts, ii. 78.

Armstrong, Archibald, jester to
Charles I. ii. 423, note.

Arnauld, one of the most illustrious
members of the Port Royal Society,
i. 154; anecdotes of. 166, 167; was
still the great Arnauld at the age of
eighty-two, 167.

Ash MOLE, Elias, his Theatrum Chem-
icum Britannicum, i. 877.

Astr.ea, D' Urf^'s romance of the, ii.
130; sketch of, 130-133.

Astrologers, faith in, by celebrated

characters, i. 869; Lilly cciwulted by
Charles I., ib.; Nostrodaraus, by
Catherine de' Medici, 870; several
have suffered death to verify their
skill, ib. ; shifts and impostures of, ib.

Astrology, greatly flourished in the
time of the Civil Wars, i. 371 ; at-
tacks on and defences of, 371, 372.

ATELLANiE Fabulffi, Atellan farces, ii.
304, and note.

Atticus, employed to collect for Cice-
ro, iii. 146 ; traded in books and gla-
diators, 148.

Aubrey, John, extract from his corre-
spondence, iv. 196 ; his search after
gold, ib. ; his idea of universal € duca-
tion, 197.

AuDLEY, a lawyer and usurer, ii. 332 ;
his commencement of life, and means
of rising in, 335 ; anecdote of him and
a draper, ib. ; his maxims of political
economy, 336 ; his reply to a borrow-
ing lord, 337 ; his manners and opin-
ions, 342-344; his death, 346; his
general character, 346, 846.

Autographs, indications of character,
iv. 44; of English sovereigns, 46, 47.


Babington's conspiracy, some ac-
count of its progress, and of the noble
youths concerned in it, ii. 347 ; trial
and defences of the conspirators, 349 ;
their execution, 351, 352.

Bacchus, ancient descriptions of, and
modem translations of them, iii. 24.

Bacon, Lord, sketch of his life as a
philosopher, iv. 224-232 ; more val-
ued abroad than at home, 233.

Baker, Sir Richard, author of the
Chronicle, died in the Fleet, iii. 211 ;
his papers burnt, ib.

Bales, Peter, a celebrated caligrapher,
i. 866.

Ballard, the Jesuit, concerned in
Babington's conspiracy, ii. 847 ; ex-
pression of his on his trial, 349.

Baptista Porta, founded the Acca-
deraie of the Oziosi and Segreti, iv.
190 ; considered himself a prognos-
ticator, ib. ; his magical devices, 190,

Barbier, Louis, anecdote relating; to,
ii. 164.

Barthius, Gaspar, a voluminous au-
thor, iii. 305; an infant prodigy, 306:
published a long list of unprinted
works, 807 ; its fate, 308.

Basnage, his Dictionary, iv. 122.

Baylb, publishes his fiouveUes de la

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BeptAUque des Lettres^ i. 63 ; his Crit-
ical Dictionary, remarks on its
character, iii. 129-132; Gibbon's,
remarks on, 132 ; publication of, 133 ;
his originality, how obtained, 134;
account of his death, ii. 60; his con-
duct to his friend, ib. ; read much
by his fingers, 61 ; amusements of,
ib. ; anecdotes, relating to, ib. ; his
errors, iii. 135; his characteristics,
186 ; changes his religion twice, 137 ;
extract from his diary, 188 ; his me-
thods of study, 139 ; appointed to a
professorship, ib.; deprived of it, ib.;
laments his want of books, 140; an-
ecdotes of the effects of his works,
141 ; a model of a literary character,

BfiARDS, various fashions in, i. 300.

Beaussol, M. Peyraud de, his pref-
ace to his condemned tragedy, iii.

Ben Jonson, assisted Rawleigh in his
history of the world, iv. 9, and note.

Benevolences, iv. 85, 86.

Bentley, notice of his criticisms on
Milton, ii. 85-38.

Bettekton, anecdote of, i. 836.

Beza, Theodore, an imitator of Calvin
in abuse, i. 403 ; effect of his work
against toleration, iv. 142.

Biblk, the prohibition of, ii. 175; vari-
ous versions of, 177-179 ; a family
one, 179 ; comipt state of the Eng-
lish, formerly, iv. 349; printing of,
an article of open trade, 850 ; shame-
ful practices in the printing of, 850-
852, and note ; privilege of printing
granted to one Bentley, 852 ; Field's
Pearl Bible contained 6,000 faults,
853; division of, into chapter and
verse, 355.

BiBUOMANE, iv. 249.

Bibliomania, i. 57.

BiBLioGNosTE, iv. 249.

BiBLIOGRAPHE, iv. 249.

BiBLioGKApiiY, remarks on its import-
ance, iv. 249.

Bibliophile, iv. 249.

BiBLioTAPHE, iv. 249.

Biographical parallels, iv. 846; a
book of, proposed by Hurd, ib. ; be-
tween Budaeus and Erasmus, 847 ;
instances of several, 848, 849.

Biography, remarks on, iv. 302 ; sen-
timental, distinguished from chrono-
logical, ib. ; of Dante, by Boccaccio
and Aretino, 834-340 ; domestic,
840-345; customary among the Ro-
mans, 345 ; comparative, a series of,
projected by Elizabeth Hamilton, ib.

Birch, Dr., his great services to his-
tory, iv. 801.

Birkenhead, Sir John, a newspaper
writer and pamphleteer during the
great rebellion, i. 229.

Black Cloaks, a political nickname
for a party in Naples, iii. 412.

Blenheim, secret history of the build-
ing of, iii. 435-444 ; drawn from MSS.
485, note.

Bona VENTURE de Perriers, speci-
men of his stories, i. 194.

Botanic Garden, Darwin's remarks
on, i. 439

Bouts Rimes, i. 888.


Bourgeois, Pfere, one of the Chinese
missionaries, account of his attempt
at preaching in Chinese, i. 356, 357.

Book of Sports, effect of, ii. 822.

Books, collections o^ see Libraries;
collectors of. see Collectors; re-
views of. ana criticisms on, see Lit-
erary Journals and Sketches op
Criticism ; destruction of, see title ;
lost, L 112-114; prices of. in early
times, 133; treatise on tne art of
reading printed, 134; curious adver-

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