« PreviousContinue »
Rev. Charles Wesley, M. A..
“THE curiosity of the publick seems to demand the history of every man who has by whatever means risen to eminence; and few lives would have more readers than that of the Compiler of The Gentleman's Magazine, if all those who received improvement or entertainment from him should retain so much kindness for their Benefactor as to enquire after his conduct and character.
EDWARD CAVE was born at Newton in Warwickshire, Feb. 29, 1691. His father was the youngest son of Mr. Edward Cave, of Cave's in the Hole, a lone house, on the Street-road in the same county, which took its name from the occupier ; but, having concurred with his elder brother in cutting off the intail of a small hereditary estate, by which act it Vol. V.
was lost from the family, he was reduced to follow in Rugby the trade of a shoe-maker. He was a man of good reputation in his narrow circle, and remarkable for strength and rustic intrepidity. He lived to a great age, and was in his latter years supported by his son.
It was fortunate for Edward Cave, that, having a disposition to literary attainments, he was not cut off by the poverty of his parents from opportunities of cultivating his faculties. The school of Rugby, in which he had, by the rules of its foundation, a right to be instructed, was then in high reputation, under the Rev. Mr. Holyock, to whose care most of the neighbouring families, even of the highest rank, entrusted their sons. He had judgment to discover, and, for some time, generosity to encourage the genius of young Cave; and was so well pleased with his quick progress in the school, that he declared his resolution to breed him for the University, and recommend him as a servitor to some of his scholars of high rank. But prosperity which depends upon the caprice of others is of short duration. Cave's superiority in literature exalted him to an invidious familiarity with boys who were far above him in rank and expectations; and, as in unequal associations it always happens, whatever unlucky prank was played, was imputed to Cave. When any mischief, great or small, was done, though perhaps others boasted of the stratageun when it was successful, yet upon detection or miscarriage the fault was sure to fall upon poor Cave.
At last his mistress, by some invisible means, lost a favourite cock. Cave was with little examination stigmatized as the thief or murderer ; not because he was more apparently criminal than others,' but because he was more easily reached by vindictive justice. From that time Mr. Holyock withdrew his kindness visibly from him, and treated him with harshness, which the crime in its utmost aggravation could scarcely deserve, and which surely he would have
forborne, had he considered how hardly the habitual influence of birth and fortune is resisted; and how frequently men, not wholly without sense of virtue, are betrayed to acts more atrocious than the robbery of a hen-roost, by a desire of pleasing their superiors.
Those reflections his master never made, or made without effect; for, under pretence that Cave obstructed the discipline of the school, by selling clandestine assistance, and supplying exercises to idlers, he was oppressed with unreasonable tasks, that there might be an opportunity of quarreling with his failure ; and when his diligence had surmounted them, no regard was paid to the performance. Cave bore this persecution for a while; and then left the school, and the hope of a literary education, to seek some other means of gaining a livelihood.
He was first placed with a Collector of the Excise. He used to recount with some pleasure a journey or two which he rode with him as his clerk, and relate the victories that he gained over the Excisemen in grammatical disputations. But the insolence of his mistress, who employed him in servile drudgery, quickly disgusted him; and he went up .
to London in quest of more suitable employment.
He was recommended to a timber-merchant at the Bank side, and, while he was there on liking, is said to have given hopes of great mercantile abilities. But this place he soon left, I know not for what reason, and was bound apprentice to Mr. Collins, a printer of some reputation, and deputy alderman.
This was a trade for which men were formerly qualified by a literary education, and which was pleasing to Cave, because it furnished some employment for his scholastic attainments. Here therefore be resolved to settle, though his master and mistress lived in perpetual discord, and their house could be no comfortable habitation. From the inconveniences of these domestic tumults he Was soon released, having in only two years at