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article would rather relate to the character of the man as a Writer, and of his Writings, than to any particulars of his Life.
As to Ben Jonson, I take it to be as you say, that his Life is very defectively and inconsistently told; but, not having any of his Historians by me, it is impossible for me to say any thing on that head much to your purpose. And I conceive that neither in that article, nor any other, could I be of use to you, unless I had the article as you have drawn it up to peruse, or your particular queries on what sticks with you, to answer. And this the rather, because not having had an opportunity to see the numbers of your Work as they came out, I can but imperfectly judge, from the extreme few articles I can see, and which I highly approve, of the taste in which you carry them on; whether you confine yourself in an Historical manner to the text after the way of Mr. Des Maizeaux in his Lives of Chillingworth and Hobbes: or whether, in the cast of Bayle, you give a loose to any moral, philosophic, or philologic reflection, that can be started out of the circumstances of the text.
I beg you, dear Sir, to believe that I esteem your correspondence as a great honour; and shall be always proud of your commands, and of using every opportunity of shewing how much I am, dear Sir, Your very affectionate and most obedient humble servant,
to Oriental History. The whole design was completed in ten volumes, folio; the first of which appeared in 1734, and the last in 1741. It is universally allowed, that this work contains a very extensive and useful body of biographical knowledge. We are not told what were the particular articles written by Mr. Birch; but there is no doubt of his having executed a great part of the Dictionary: neither is it any disparagement to his co-adjutors, to say, that he was superior to theun in abilities and reputation, with the exception of Mr. Sale, who was, without controversy, peculiarly qualified for the department he had undertaken. See p. 19.
To the Rev. Mr. BIRCH. Dear Sir, Newarke-upon-Trent, Aug. 17, 1737.
Mr. Gyles informs me that you left with him for me the fine edition of Greaves's Works *: for which favour I esteem myself highly obliged to you. But he told me at the same time that you had not received a letter which I did myself the honour to write to you immediately on the receipt of yours. He has given me your address; but whether it be the same I had before, I have forgot.
I had the pleasure of hearing of your health when I was last at Cambridge from one whom I dare say we have an equal esteem for. I mean, my excellent friend Dr. Middleton, whom, on my return out of Suffolk from Sir Thoinas Hanmer, I found just come home from London.
Pray how goes on your Literary Society *? What books are you printing? and are any of
poor Sale'st or Professor Blackwell's in the number? I was sincerely grieved at the death of the former gentleman, both for the sake of his family, and of learning. He would have proved the English Herbelot.
I have expected some time to hear of Professor Blackwell. I think he is in Scotland; but, if he be in London, I should be obliged to you to let me know it.
There is a book called “ The Moral Philosopher,” lately published. Is it looked into ? I should hope not, merely for the sake of the taste, the sense, and * See p.71.
t of the institution and progress of this Society, see the “ Literary Anecdotes," vol. II. p. 90.
+ “Mr. George Sale translated the Koran of Mahomet; was one of the Authors of the Universal History, also of the General Dictionary, which includes Bayle, in translating of whom he exerted himself, as being a Work agreeable to his own genius, He was reckoned to understand the Oriental Languages better than any man in England. He died, in Surrey-street in the Strand, Nov. 15, 1736." Gent. Mag. vol. VI. p. 684.
learning learning of the present age; for nothing could give me a worse idea of them than that book's being in any degree of esteem as a composition of a man of Letters. I have some knowledge of the Author *. An afternoon's conversation, when I was last in town, gave me the top and bottom of him; and though I parted from him with the most contemptible opinion both of his candour and his sense, he has had the art, in this book, of writing even below himself. It is composed principally of scraps ill put together from “ Christianity as old as the Creation,” Iarded with some of the most stupid fancies of his own that ever entered into the head of man. Such as Moses's scheme for an universal Monarchy, This, I take it, was a simple genuine blunder from Toland, who had said, with something more pretence, that Moses aimed at a perpetual Monarchy; and, by a true Irish blunder, this blockhead took perpetual to signify universal.
I hope nobody will be so indiscreet as to take notice publicly of his book, though it be only in the fag end of an objection. It is that indiscreet conduct in our Defenders of Religion, that conveys so many worthless books from hand to hand.
I beg, Sir, you will be assured that I shall have no greater pleasure than hearing of you from time to time at your leisure. It will be but charity to let me, who live out of the world, know now and then the literary state of it; and it will be a double satisfaction to hear of it from one so excellently qualified to
I hope to give one Volume of my Defence of Moses this winter, but this between you and me. I have sent both to French and Englislı booksellers for Melchior Zeidler's “ Tractatus de
* Thomas Morgan, M. D. Author of “The Moral Philosopher ; in a Dialogue between Philalethes a Christian Deist, and Theophanes a Christian Jew," and several other Tracts, died at his house in Broad-street, Jan. 14, 1742-3, « with a true Christian resignation." Gent. Mag. ral, XIII. p. 5).
gemino veterum docendi modo exoterico et acroamatico. Regiom. 1685," 4to; and cannot get it. As it is a book I much want, if you could lend it me, or buy it for me, it would be a great obligation.
I beg my humble service to your friend, that very worthy gentleman you did me the favour to bring me to the knowledge of, and who was so good last year to enquire of me by a friend, as he passed through Newarke. I desire too you would assure Mr. Dickson of my best respects.
I oft wish myself with you at the Coffee-house in the Temple on a Thursday night; but, whether there or bere, I desire you to believe that I am, with great truth, dear Sir, your very faithful and affectionate humble servant,
For the Rev. THOMAS BIRCH.
DEAR SIR, [Received Oct. 24, 1737.]. I have your favour of the 23d of August to acknowledge. Since my last, I have read over Greaves's Tracts * He is a very learned and very judicious
* Mr. Birch was the Editor of " Greaves's Miscellaneous Works, 1737," 2 vols. 8vo; and was also the Author of the Life of that learned Professor in the "General Dictionary;" in which, after noticing Greaves's quitting England for Leghorn in 1657, with the intent of proceeding thence “ to explore the venerable remains of Antiquity in the Eastern Countries," Birch observes, “ Mr. Wood,
who is grossly mistaken in placing our Author's voyage to the East in 1633, informs us, that the Archbishop sent him to travel into the Eastern parts of the world to obtain Books of the Languages for him ;' and Dr. Smith observes, that Mr. Greaves furnished himself with quadrants and other instruments necessary for taking the altitudes and distances of the Stars and the latitudes of Cities, for in asuring the Pyramids, and making observations of the Eclipses, at his own expence, having in vain applied himself for the patronage and assistance of the Magistrates of the City of London, whose honour and advantage he designed to consult in this voyage; but that he was very probably assisted by the Archbishop
Writer ; and I think the world much indebted to you for this edition of them. But as I am above measure fond of all that relates to the Literary History of such men, your excellent Life of him could not but afford me a great deal of entertainment. There are two circumstances in it that give me a worse opinion of the City of London, and a better of Archbishop Laud, than I was wont to entertain.
I am glad that the Society for the Encouragement of Learning is in so hopeful a condition ; though methinks it is a little ominous to set their press a going with the errantest Sophist that ever wrote, prepared by as arrant a Critic*.
You are pleased to enquire about Shakespeare. I believe (to tell it as a secret) I shall, after I have got the whole of this work out of my hands which I am now engaged in, give an Edition of it to the World. of Canterbury, who gave him Letters of Recommendation to Sir Peter Wyche, Ambassador from King Charles I. to the Porte, and a full power to purchase at whatever price he thought proper any Manuscripts of value, especially in the Arabic Language;" and afterwards subjoins a letter from Greaves ; in which, after acknowledging his obligations to the Archbishop, for whose use he had obtained some valuable Greek and Arabie MSS. he adds, It is true, many more very choice ones night be procured with enquiry, and watching after opportunities, if they would give the price. Some few of those, which they thought to be overvalued, I have purchased at excessive rates. You may wonder how I have been able to do it, since the City of London hath failed me in my expectations of their conuributions towards niathematical instruments, I have been necessitated to sell most of the Books I brought with me. But the love and care of my brothers straining their own occasions to supply mine have enabled me, in despite of the City, to go on with my designs."
* The Edition of “ Maximus Tyrius,” by Dr. John Davis. See the" Literary Anecdotes," vol. II. pp. 96. 134.
† The Life of Shakespeare, in the “ General Dictionary," augmented by Mr. Birch from materials furnished by Mr. Warburton, contains the whole of those Remarks, which are thus introduced : “Shakespeare's Dramatic Writings were first published together in folio in 1623, and, since republished by Mr. Rowe, Mr. Pope, and Mr. Lewis Theobald. But we may expect a much more correct edition of them from the reverend and learned Mr. William Warburton, Author of The Divine Legation of Moses demonstrated,' who, in his Edition, besides a ge