Calder, John (DNB00)

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CALDER, JOHN, D.D. (1733–1815), author, was a native of Aberdeen, and educated at the university there. At an early period he obtained the patronage of the Duke of Northumberland, who employed him as private secretary both at Alnwick Castle and in London. Subsequently he for some time had charge of the library bequeathed by Dr. Williams for the special use of nonconforming clergy, and he also officiated at a meeting-house near the Tower. On resigning this charge he declined to exercise for the future any part of the ministerial function. When a new edition of the ‘Cyclopædia’ of Chambers was proposed, he was engaged as tentative editor, and besides drawing out a plan wrote some articles. One of the articles was submitted to Dr. Johnson, who excised large portions, expressing the opinion at the same time that the ‘redundance’ was not the ‘result of inability’ but of ‘superfluous diligence.’ In the discussion which ensued with the publisher, Calder, in the opinion of Dr. Johnson, displayed an improper degree of ‘turbulence and impatience,’ and, declining to accede to the wishes of the publisher, was deprived of the editorship, which was conferred on Dr. Rees. In 1776 Calder drew up a plan of a periodical work called the ‘Selector.’ He also projected a ‘Foreign Intelligencer.’ While at Alnwick he made the acquaintance of Thomas Percy, afterwards bishop of Dromore, whom he assisted in preparing a new edition of the ‘Tatler,’ ‘Spectator,’ and ‘Guardian,’ with notes and illustrations. When Calder removed to London, the materials collected by Percy were relinquished into his hands, and afterwards used in various editions of these works published by Nichols, especially the ‘Tatler’ published in 6 vols. in 1786, in which Annotator means Calder. In 1789 he translated from the French Courayer's ‘Declaration of his last Sentiments on the different Doctrines of Religion,’ to which he prefixed a memoir of Courayer. To the new edition of the ‘Biographia Britannica’ he contributed an elaborate article on the Courten family. About 1789 he removed from Furnival's Inn to Croydon, where he formed an intimacy with Dr. Apthorp, of whom he contributed to Nichols several interesting particulars which were inserted in ‘Literary Anecdotes.’ He formed an extensive library, especially of classical and numismatic works, and also possessed a large cabinet of Greek and Roman coins. His last years were spent at Lisson Grove, London, where he died 10 June 1815.

[Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ix. 805, &c.; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. iv. 799–848, &c.; Gent. Mag. lxxxv. (1815), 564.]

T. F. H.