Impartial Memorials of the Life and Writings of Thomas Hearne, M.A. by several Hands.

London: Printed in the Year 1736.

8vo., pp. [2], iv, 66, with an engraved portrait vignette on the title-page, surrounded by four lines adapted from Pope’s Dunciad, referring to Hearne; traces of blue wrappers stuck to the title, small hole at foot of final leaf (not touching text); a good copy, disbound.


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Impartial Memorials of the Life and Writings of Thomas Hearne, M.A. by several Hands.

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First separate edition (based on John Bilstone’s hostile preface to Hearne’s Vindication of those who take the Oath of Allegiance, 1731, and first printed in this form as part of volume III of Curll’s edition of Mr. Pope’s Literary Correspondence, 1735).

Amusing but in no way ‘impartial’, this brief biography of the age’s leading antiquary Thomas Hearne (1678-1735) searches out the ‘gross Errors’ in Hearne’s many publications, and concludes: ‘Thus after wasting, not employing, a Life of Fifty odd Years, on the Tenth Day of June 1735, this Studier and Preserver of Monkish-Trumpery gave up the Ghost. He was a most sordid poor Wretch; had a universal Mistrust of the Generality of Mankind; lived in a slovenly, niggardly Manner, and died possessed of what he had not the Heart to enjoy’. Also included are several long letters from Curll to Hearne concerning the publication of the works of Walter Moyle, satires on Hearne taken from Pope’s Dunciad and other Scriblerian sources, and a copy of Hearne’s will.

Though Hearne was a remarkable scholar, appointed assistant at the Bodleian Library in 1701, his career was hindered by his outspoken nonjurism and Jacobitism. As an independent publisher of annals and historical collections his output was impressive, but his ‘difficult personality and outspoken writings about contemporaries and contemporary issues gave him the reputation of an incorrigible, over-confident, naïve, and even cold-hearted person, someone who invited condescension, satire, and ridicule’ (Oxford DNB).

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