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The craftsman
Vol. XXIII, Number 2 (November 1912)

An unsuspected literary ancestor,   pp. 249-252 PDF (1.9 MB)


Page 249


AN UNSUSPECTED LITERARY ANCESTOR
AN UNSUSPECTED LITERARY
ANCESTOR
FEW          weeks ago a stranger called
         at our office and said he had some-
         thing rather curious to show us.
         He pulled out a little old volume-
 leathcr-covered, brown  and  worn-and
 opened it at the title page. There, to our
 amazement, opposite a quaint, mildewed en-
 graving of the signing of the Magna
 Charta, we read these words:      "THE
 CRAIFTS.AI - - by Caleb   D'Anvers, of
 Gray's-Inn, Esq." And underneath was
 the inscription: "London, Printed for R.
 Francklin, in Russell-Street, Convent-Gar-
 den, MDCCXXXI."
   Seventeen hundred   and  thirty-one--a
 hundred and eighty-one years ago!
   "This," explained our visitor, who had
 introduced himself as Mr. Max E. Schmidt,
 of Convent, New Jersey, "is the first of a
 set of fourteen bound volumes in which was
 reprinted a series of old English papers.
 The first of these papers was published De-
 cember 5, 1726, and the last is dated April
 17, 1736. I happened to pass your door
 the other day, and seeing that copper sign
 of yours I remembered my fourteen little
 volumes at home and decided to bring one
 in to show vou."
   Needless to say, our surprise was only
 equaled by our pleasure. After imagining
 our magazine to be the first of its title, and
 more or less original in its point of view,
 here we were suddenly confronted with an
 unsuspected literary ancestor. It was like
 meeting a comrade, shaking hands with one
 of the old pioneers!
 Noting the genuine interest which the
 discovery had given us, Mr. Schmidt was
 kind enough to leave the book in our hands
 so that we might look through it more at
 leisure. This we did, with more interest,
 amusement and admiration than can be
 readily expressed.
 The "dedication" of the volume captured
 our sympathy at once. "To the People of
 England," it was headed.  The people-
 these, to Caleb D'Anvers' democratic mind,
 were his "most proper patrons."    The
 Craftsman: he goes on, "thinks it would be
 a sort of Derogation from that publick
 Cause, in which He hath been so long en-
gaged, if He should offer his Incense at the
Shrine of any single Man, or particular
Body of Men, however great They may be,
either by their own real Merit, or the ad-
TITLE PAGE OF OLD ENGLISH MAGAZINE "THE CRAFTS-
MAN."
ventitious Circumstances of Wealth and
Power."
  The author of these papers, as he de-
scribes himself in a short autobiographical
notice, was "the second Son of Abraham
D'Anvers, Esq., .a Gentleman of an ancient
Family and no inconsiderable Estate in the
North of England." After his courses at
Westminster School and Christ Church
College, he studied for the bar; but as he
puts it. "having before taken a Disgust to
the Chicanry of that Business, and the pre-
vailing Practice of the Courts, I resolved to
live a retired Life, and indulge my natural
Inclination to the politer Arts." Then,
with a subtle sarcasm which might apply
even today, he observes: "As I quitted the
long Robe early it gave me an Opportunity
of furnishing myself with some Degree of
Knowledge in most Arts and Professions.
                                    249


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