Page images

No. XII. EPHRAIM CHAMBERS. EPHRAIM CHAMBERS * was born at Kendal, in the county of Westmoreland, of Quaker parents, who bred him up in the principles of the sect; which, however, as he advanced in life, he shewed no attachment to, if he even did not abandon them. He was put apprentice to Mr. Senex, the globemaker; and, during his connexion with that skilful mechanick, acquired the taste for learning, which continued his prevailing passion during the remainder of his days. His principal work, the “Cyclopædia," was the result of many years application. It was first published in two volumes folio, 1728, by a subscription of four guineas, and has a very respectable list of subscribers. The dedication to the King is dated Gray’s-Inn, Oct. 15, 1727. second edition, with corrections and additions, was printed in 1738*; a third in 1739; a fourth in


* The particulars of the life of this useful and laborious author were originally inserted at the desire of a friend, who received some of the information from the late William Ayrey, esq.

+ In an advertisement to the second edition, he obviates the complaints of such readers as might, from his paper of “Considerations” published some time before, have expected a new work instead of a new edition. A considerable part of the copy was prepared with that view, and more than twenty sheets were actually printed off, with design to have published a volume in the winter of 1737, and to have gone on publishing a volume yearly till the whole was completed; but the booksellers were alarmed by an act then agitating in parliament, which contained a clause obliging the publishers of all improved editions of books to print their improvements separately. The bill passed the Commons, but failed in the House of Lords.

“While the second edition of Chambers's Cyclopædia, the pride of Booksellers, and the honour of the English Nation, was in the press, I went to the author, and begged leave to add a single syllable to his magnificent work; and that, for Cyclopædia, he would write Encyclopædia. To talk to the writer of à Dica tionary, is like talking to the writer of a Magazine; every thing adds to his parcel: and, instead of contributing one syllable, I was the occasion of a considerable paragraph. I told him that the addition of the preposition en made the meaning of the UU 2


1741; and a fifth in 1746 *. Mr. Chambers's attention was not wholly devoted to this undertaking. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society Nov. 6, 1729 ; and joined in a translation and abridgement of “The Philosophical History and Memoirs of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris; or an Abridgement of all the Papers relating to Natural Philosophy, which have been published by the Members of that illustrious Society, 1742," 5 vols. 8vo. His share in this work has been much censured by his coadjutor and assistant Mr. John Martyn, F.R.S. and Professor of Botany at Cambridge. He likewise was concerned in a periodical work, called “ The Literary Magazine," which was begun in 1735, and wrote many articles therein, particularly the Review of Dr. Morgan's book.

Mr. Ayrey, who was his amanuensis from the age of 12 in 1728 to 1733, said, that in that time he copied near 20 folio volumes, which, Mr. Chambers used to say, comprehended materials for more than 30 volumes in that size, though, he at the same time added, they would neither be sold nor read if printed. He was represented as a man equally indefatigable, perspicacious, and attentive ; yet never acquired

word more precise; that Cyclopædia might denote the instruction of a circle, as Cyropædia is the instruction of Cyrus, the ou, in composition, being twined in o; but that, if he wrote Encyclopædia, it determined it to be from the dative of Cyclus, instruction in a circle. I urged, secondly, that Vossius bad observed, in his book de Vitiis Sermonis, that ‘Cyclopædia was used by some authors, but Encyclopædia by the best. This deserved some regard, and he paid to it the best he could: he made an article of his title to justify it.

W. BOWYER." Mr. Bowyer had conceived some extensive idea of improving this valuable Dictionary, on a plan which does not appear to have been put in practice. Mr. Clarke observes, in a letter to Mr.Bowyer, “Your project of improving and correcting Chambers is a very good one ; but, alas! who can execute it? You should have as many undertakers as professions; nay, perhaps, as many Antiquaries, as there are different branches of antient learning."

* It was also re-published in 1782, and since again and again, in weekly numbers, with a success unexampled in the annals of modern literature, + Preface to his “ Dissertation on Virgil, 1770," 12mo, p. 361.


much money by his labours; very cheerful, but hasty and impetuous; free in his religious sentiments; kept little company; and had but few acquaintance.

He was also very exact in money matters. He made a will shortly before his death (which was never proved) in which he declared he owed no debts, except to his taylor for a rocquelaure. He lived at chambers in Gray's-Inn, but died at Canonbury-house, Islington; and was buried in the cloyster of Westminster Abbey ; with the following inscription, written by himself;

* Multis pervulgatus,

paucis notus ;
qui vitam, inter lucem et umbram,

nec eruditus nec idiota,
literis deditus, transegit; sed ut homo
qui humani nihil à se alienum putat.
Vitâ simul, et laboribus functus,

hic requiescere voluit,

Obiit xv Mart. MDCCXL." Ile had two brothers: Nathaniel, the elder, was an eminent solicitor in Chancery, and married the daughter of Mr. Woolley, secretary to the EastIndia Company, and widow of

Newsham, a captain of one of their ships, by whom he had a son, who died young, and two daughters. The second, Zachary, was bred a writing-master, and became steward to Sir Harry Gough's grandfather and father, and afterwards deputy-surveyor of the Crown lands for near 50 years, in which place his son-in-law officiated for him till a short time before the death of Mr. Chambers, who was dispossessed of it for his last year. He died Dec. 20, 1780, aged 86, at Kensington, leaving, by a second wife, a daughter, who married (1765) to Sir William Wolsley, bart. by whom she had several children. Mr. Zachary Chambers married to his first wife another daughter of Mr. Woolley before-mentioned, widow of Lomax, esq.


Mr. BAKER's Preface to Bp. Fisher's Sermon, containing some account of the History of Learned Men of his own College, is observed to be excellent in its kind. He afterwards carried on this History through a succession of its Masters, from the foundation to the end of Bishop Gunning's mastership *; which, together with many other volumes of Collections made towards a History of the University in general, he presented to his friend and patron Lord Oxford, the Treasurer's son f... They lay in the

[ocr errors]

*“The original History of St. John's in the British Museum is said to be fit for the press. The transcript in St. John's is not ; the foreign Scribe having inserted the references in wrong places. I have corrected many faults in it. Nobody can publish from that copy who doth not know our History well himself. The History of St. John's sets out just as unluckily as Carte's History of England. The reflection in the first paragraph is enough to deter a candid Reader from going any farther. What was the cure of the King's-evil to the beginning of an History of England ? or the principles of the Old House to the Nonjuring ones of Baker's times ? This early declaration of party spirit made Dr. Powell adverse to its publication, though I remember nothing more of the kind in the sequel. His character of Bp. Gumning differs toto cælo from that given by Dr. Edwards.

That the people of St. John's should have highly respected Mr. Baker, is surely much to the credit of the Society, especially if we consider how little people not actually members are liked for staying and taking up room." T. F.

# The following memorandum is prefixed to the First Volume of Mr. Baker's Collections, in the Harleian MSS. 7028.

“Know all men by these presents, that I Thomas Baker, of St. John's College in Cambridge, Batchelor in Divinity, have bargained and sold, and by these presents do bargain, sell, and deliver, unto the Right Honourable Edward Lord Harley, for and in consideration of 11. ls. 6d. of lawful money of Great Britain to me in hand paid by the said Edward Lord Harley (the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged by me the said Thomas Baker, and thereof the said Edward Lord Harley is for ever ac. quitted and discharged by these presents) all and singular my Books of Collections written by the hand of me the said Thomas Baker, being particularly specified, enumerated, and described, in a schedule hereunto annexed; to have and to hold the said prebargained premises, with their appurtenances, unto the said Edward Lord Harley, from and after my decease : but in case I happen to survive the said Edward Lord Harley, then to have and to hold the said prebargained premises, with their appurte


custody of his Lordship's Relict, with many others of extraordinary value, till they were purchased, with the Harleian Manuscripts, by the Parliament, in 1753; and now make a part of the British Museum.

T'he remainder of his Collections, namely, sixteen volumes in folio, and three in quarto, he bequeathed to the University *; in hopes that a more favourable opportunity might offer, a more suitable encouragement be given to some other, for setting about so great a work of nances, to me the said Thomas Baker during my natural life; and, after my decease, to the said Executors and Administrators of the said Edward Lord Harley for ever. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal, the 6th day of December, in the 3d year of our Sovereign Lord King George, &c. anno Domini 1716.

THOMAS BAKER. “ Seated and delivered, after the triple stamping thereof, in

the presence of John BILLER, HUMFREY WANLEI. “ Seal: On a saltire, five escalops, with crescent of difference; Crest, a lion passant.

After the schedule of the XXI Volumes, on another leaf :

"This is to satisfy my Executor, and all others whom it may concern, that, whereas I did heretofore sell and convey, to the use of the Right Honourable Edward Lord Harley, all my XXI Books of Collections, written with mine own hand, by him to be received speedily after my decease: And whereas I have since written with mine own band Two other Volumes in folio, one of them beginning with these words, “Collectanea è vet. Reg. Col. Regin."--and ending, “to perfytt felicitie;" and the other beginning, “Status Coll. S. et Indiv. Trin."--and ending, “where he is buried:” My will and intent is, that, in consideration of one guinea unto me now paid by Mr. Huinfrey Wanley, the said Two MSS. are now by me sold to the said Lord Harley, and are to come under the same regulation with the XXI Booke above mentioned; and shall be actually delivered to the said Lord Harley, or his agent, on the first demand made by his Lordship after my decease. Witness my hand, Dec. 24, 1719. THOMAS Baker.**

* Mr. Masters, after mentioning those given to Lord Oxford, says, "Those given to Cambridge are as valuable: or vice versa. Dr. Ross turned over those at Cambridge, and assured me they were not valuable. It was much that he should give his History of a College from that University. I do not know that a single piece has been published from all these XXXIX Volumes; which does not bespeak much merit in them. He and Mr. Cole of Milton would transcribe any thing."

T. F. + “Mr. Cole left money to perpetuate the memory of him on the stone wbich covers his remains. I had left College three or four years; but was applied to by the Master, Dr. Chevalier, to write a short epitaph : but it was not accepted."



« PreviousContinue »