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EDWARD CAVE was born at Newton in Warwickshire, Feb. 29, 1691. His father (Joseph) was the younger 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 was lost from the family, he was reduced to follow in Rugby the trade of a shoemaker. He was a man of good reputation in his narrow circle, and remarkable for strength and rustick 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
* This Life first appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1754, and is now printed from a copy revised by the author, at the request of Mr. Nichols, in 1781.
high reputation, under the Rev. Mr. Holyock, to whose care most of the neigbouring 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 recommended 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 stratagem 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 forborn, 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 henroost, by a desire of pleasing their superiours.
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 quarrelling with his failure; and when his diligence had surmounted them, no regard was paid to the performance. Cave bore this persecution 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 Bankside, 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 scholastick attainments. Here, therefore, he resolved to settle, though his master and mistress lived in perpetual discord, and their house was therefore no comfortable habitation. From the inconveniencies of these domestick tumults he was soon released, having in only two years attained so much skill in his art, and gained so much the confidence of his master, that he was sent without any superintendent to conduct a printing-house at Norwich, and publish a weekly paper. In this undertaking he met with some opposition, which produced a publick controversy, and procured young Cave the reputation of a writer.
His master died before his apprenticeship was expired, and he was not able to bear the perverseness of his mistress. He therefore quitted her house upon a stipulated allowance, and married a young
widow with whom he lived at Bow. When his apprenticeship was over, he worked as a journeyman at the printing-house of Mr. Barber, a man much distinguished, and employed by the Tories, whose principles had at that time so much prevalence with Cave, that he was for some years a writer in Mist's Journal ; which, though he afterwards obtained by his wife's interest a small place in the Post-office, he for some time continued. But as interest is powerful, and conversation, however mean, in time persuasive, he by degrees inclined to another party; in which, however, he was always moderate, though steady and determined.
When he was admitted into the Post-office, he still continued, at his intervals of attendance, to exercise his trade, or to employ himself with some typographical business. He corrected the Gradus ad Parnassum; and was liberally rewarded by the company of Stationers. He wrote an Ac. count of the Criminals, which had for some time
a considerable sale; and published many
pamphlets that accident brought into his hands, of which it would be very difficult to recover the memory. By the correspondence which his place in the Post-office facilitated, he procured country newspapers, and sold their intelligence to a Journalist in London, for a guinea a week.
He was afterwards raised to the office of clerk of the franks, in which he acted with great spirit and firmness; and often stopped franks, which were given by members of parliament to their friends, because he thought such extension of a peculiar right illegal. This raised many complaints, and having stopped, among others, a frank given to the old duchess of Marlborough by Mr. Walter Plummer, he was cited before the house as for breach of privilege, and accused, I suppose very unjustly, of opening letters to detect them. He was treated with great harshness and severity, but declining their questions by pleading his oath of secrecy, was at last dismissed. And it must be recorded to his honour, that, when he was ejected from his office, he did not think himself discharged from his trust, but continued to refuse to his nearest friends any information about the management of the office.
By this constancy of diligence and diversification of employment, he in time collected a sum sufficient for the purchase of a small printing-office, and began the Gentleman's Magazine, a periodical pamphlet, of which the scheme is known wherever the English language is spoken. To this undertaking he owed the affluence in which he passed the last twenty years of his life, and the for