Roche, Michael de la (DNB00)

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ROCHE, MICHAEL de la (fl. 1710–1731), French protestant refugee and author, was threatened while young with persecution in France—probably on the revocation of the edict of Nantes. He was in ‘continual fear,’ for a whole year, of being imprisoned, and forced ‘to abjure the Protestant religion.’ He escaped to England with great difficulty. Unlike the great majority of his fellow refugees, he became almost immediately a member of the church of England. De la Roche had been a student of literature from youth, and when he settled in London obtained employment from the booksellers, mainly devoting himself to literary criticism. Imitating some similar ventures that had been made in Holland, he commenced in 1710 to issue in folio a periodical which he entitled ‘Memoirs of Literature.’ Afterwards, ‘for the convenience of readers,’ he continued it in quarto, but it was brought to an end in September 1714, when, he says, ‘Mr. Roberts, his printer,’ advised him ‘to leave off writing these papers two months earlier than he designed.’ The ‘Memoirs’ were begun again in January 1717, and continued till at least April 1717. De la Roche, according to his own account, was a friend of Bayle, and doubtless paid frequent visits to Holland. Early in 1717 he arranged to edit a new periodical, ‘Bibliothèque Angloise, ou Histoire littéraire de la Grande Bretagne,’ which was written in French and published at Amsterdam. De la Roche apologised for the inelegancies of his French style. He was still living for the most part in London. The fifth volume of the ‘Bibliothèque Angloise,’ dated 1719, was the last edited by De la Roche. The publisher transferred the editorship in that year to De la Chapelle, giving as a pretext that De la Roche's foreign readers accused him of anti-Calvinism, hostility to the Reformation, and a too great partiality to Anglicanism (see Avertissement, dated January 1720, to vol. i. of Mémoires Littéraires). Shortly afterwards De la Roche began to edit yet another periodical, the ‘Mémoires Littéraires,’ which was published at The Hague at intervals till 1724. In 1725 he started ‘New Memoirs of Literature,’ which ran till December 1727, and finally, in 1730, ‘A Literary Journal, or a continuation of the Memoirs of Literature,’ which came to an end in 1731.

These various publications appeared at monthly or quarterly intervals. The prices for those published in England varied from 1s. to 6d. for each part, but they apparently brought little profit to the editor. They were the prototypes of literary magazines and reviews.

[See Avertissement to Mémoires Littéraires, and vol. iii. of a Literary Journal, dated 1731; Agnew's Protestant Exiles from France, ii. 150–154, and iii. 166; Smiles's Huguenots; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iii. 507, iv. 94, ix. 385.]

F. T. M.