Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 42.djvu/116

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Oldham
Oldham
110

wittiest of his pieces, ending with a spirited rush. Pope's 'Epistle to Arbuthnot' may have owed something to this 'Letter.' There is more bitterness, but equal vivacity, in his 'Satire addressed to a Friend about to leave the University and come abroad in the World,' which closes with a fable, excellently told. More ambitious, but really inadequate and low in tone, is the 'Satire' in which Spenser is introduced, 'dissuading the Author from the Study of Poetry.' The passage referring to the calamities of authors has been often quoted.

While in 'original' satire Oldham cannot be said to have reached the height to which he was desirous of climbing, he is memorable in our poetic literature as one of the predecessors of Pope in the 'imitative' or adapting species of satirical and didactic verse. Boileau (certain of whose imitations were in their turn imitated by Oldham) had revived the popularity of the device of paraphrasing Latin satirical poetry while applying to modern instances its references and allusions. Oldham's first attempt in this direction seems to have been his 'Horace's Art of Poetry, imitated in English, addressed by way of Letter to a Friend,' 1681 (see the ' Preface '). But the same 'libertine' way, as he calls it, was more lightly and yet more completely pursued by him in his imitation of Horace's 'Satires,' i. ix. ('Ibam forte via sacra' — ' As I was walking in the Mall of late '), and in the other Horatian paraphrases and similar pieces published by him in the same year. Most of these, which include reproductions of Horace, Juvenal, Virgil, Ovid, Catullus, Martial, as well as of Bion and Moschus, the Psalms, and Boileau, are in the heroic couplet ; but some of the lyrics are translated in Pindaric, i.e. irregular, metre.

Oldham's verse lacks finish, a defect specially noticeable in a looseness of rhyme and in what Dryden censured as

 The harsh Cadence of a rugged Line.

Of prose Oldham left behind him nothing beyond the 'Character of a certain Ugly Old Priest,' an unpleasing effort in the grotesque, and a skotch entitled 'A Sunday Thought in Sickness,' which contains certain resemblances, probably unintentional, to the closing scene of Marlowe's 'Doctor Faustus.'

An edition of ' Poems and Translations ' by Oldham was published in 1683, and one of his ' Remains in Verse and Prose,' with a series of commendatory verses (including Dryden's ), in the following year. Subsequent editions of his works are dated 1685, 1686, 1688, 1703, and 1722 ; but some of these may be merely made up by booksellers. Those of 1685 and 1686 are identical, except as to the date. The most complete edition is that cited in the text, by the eccentric

' half-pay poet ' Edward Thompson, in 3 vols. 12mo, 1770. It is prefaced by a brief memoir, and a statement of the editors 'point of view.' The notes are meagre and inaccurate.

[The Compositions in Prose and Verse of Mr. John Oldham, to which are added Memoirs of his Life ... by Edward Thompson, 3 vols. 1770; Granger^s Biog. Hist. 1779, if. 48; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iv. 119; Biog. Brit. ; Seward's Anecdotes, ii. 167 ; Pope's Works, ed. Elwin and Courthope, passim; Wood's Life and Times (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), iii. 82- 83 ; Dunton's Life and Errors ; Chalmers s Biog. Diet.]

A. W. W.

OLDHAM, JOHN (1779-1840), engineer, born in 1779 in Dublin, was apprenticed to an engraver there, but subsequently became a mmiature-painter. Having a strong inclination formecnanic8,he invented a numbering machine, which in 1809 he unsuccessfully offered to the bank of Newry for numbering their bank-notes. In 1812 the machine was adopted by the Bank of Ireland, and he received the appointment of engineer and chief engraver. In 1837 he entered the service of the Bank of England, where he introduced many improvements in the machineryfor printing and numbering banknotes. This machinery continued in use until 1852-3, when the system of surface-printing was adopted. He paid much attention to marine propulsion, and in 1817 he obtained a patent (No. 4169) for propelling ships by means of paddles worked by a steam-engine, an endeavour being made to imitate the motion of a paddle when used in the ordinary way. In 1820 he patented a further improvement (No. 4249), the paddles being placed on a shaft across the ship, and caused to revolve, being feathered by an adaptation of the gearing used in the former patent. Though a very imperfect contrivance, it has an interest from the fact that it was used in the Aaron Manby, the first sea-going iron ship ever constructed [see Manby, Aaron]. a further development of the idea resulted in the construction of a feathering paddle-wheel, which was patented in 1827 (No. 5455). His system of warming buildings, introduced into the Bank of Ireland, and subsequently into the Bank of England, is described in the 'Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal,' 1839, p. 96. He died at his house in Montagu Street, Russell Square, on 14 Feb. 1840, leaving, it is said, a family of seventeen children.