Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Blount, Edward

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

BLOUNT or BLUNT, EDWARD (fl. 1588–1632), stationer and translator, son of Ralph Blount or Blunt, merchant tailor of London, ‘put himself apprentice’ for a term of ten years to William Ponsonby, a London stationer, on 24 June 1578. On 25 June 1588 he was duly admitted a freeman of the Stationers' Company. The first work published by him and registered in the extant Stationers' Books is Joshua Sylvester's ‘The Profitt of Imprisonment’ (25 May 1594; and cf. entry 30 Jan. 1598–9); the next is John Florio's ‘Dictionarye in Italian and Englishe’ (2 March 1595–6). In 1598 Blount, out of respect (as he tells us) for the memory of Marlowe, who had died five years before, brought out the poet's ‘Hero and Leander’ (printed by Adam Islip for Edward Blunt); and in a well-written dedication to Sir Thomas Walsingham, Blount speaks of himself as one of Marlowe's intimate friends. In 1600 Thomas Thorpe edited Marlowe's translation of ‘Lucan's first booke,’ and dedicated it ‘to his kind and true friend, Edward Blunt,’ in an address which begins: ‘Blunt, I purpose to be blunt with you.’ It was in the same year that Blount published and dedicated to the Earl of Southampton a translation by ‘a respected friend,’ entitled ‘The Uniting of the Kingdom of Portugall to the Crowne of Castill.’ Blount has also been credited on doubtful grounds with the authorship in the same year of the very curious ‘Hospitall of Incvrable Fooles: Erected in English, as neer the first Italian modell and platforme as the vnskilful hand of an ignorant Architect could deuise. Printed by Edm. Bollifant for Edward Blount, 1600.’ In 1603 Blount issued Florio's translation of ‘Montaigne's Essays,’ and in 1607 ‘Ars Aulica, or, The Courtier's Arte,’ translated by himself from the Italian of Lorenzo Ducci, and dedicated to the brothers William, earl of Pembroke, and Philip, earl of Montgomery, the patrons of the first folio of Shakespeare. In 1620 he issued, with an introduction signed by himself, a series of essays entitled ‘Horæ Subsecivæ: Obseruations and Discovrses;’ he states in the preface that he did not know who the author was [see Brydges, Grey]. In the same year he also published Shelton's first English translation of ‘Don Quixote.’ The book is in two parts, and Blount prefaces the second with a dedication by himself to George Villiers, marquis of Buckingham. In 1623 Blount joined with another stationer, Isaac Jaggard, in producing, under Heming and Condell's direction, the great first folio of Shakespeare. His name (‘Ed. Blount’) appears as one of the printers on the title-page and in the colophon. The immediate supervision which Blount exercised in the preparation of all his books for the press has led to the reasonable inference that Blount was the active, although not very careful, editor of this edition of Shakespeare's plays. Another translation of the same date (by James Mabbe) edited by Blount is ‘The Rogue: or the Life of Guzman de Alfarache, written in Spanish by Matheo Aleman, printed for Edward Blount, 1623.’ It includes commendatory verses by Ben Jonson and Leonard Digges, and characteristic addresses by Blount himself. Blount played ‘the mid-wife's part’ (as he terms it) in the production of Bishop Earle's ‘Microcosmographie’ in 1628. The original edition bears no author's name, but contains an amusing address to the reader signed ‘Ed. Blovnt.’ The book was printed ‘by William Stansby for Robert Allot.’ But although he did not publish this work Blount had not yet retired from business. In 1632 he collected for the first time John Lyly's ‘Sixe Court Comedies,’ 12mo, and had them printed by William Stansby for publication by himself. Blount signs both ‘the Epistle Dedicatorie’ addressed to Lord Lumley, and the notice ‘to the reader,’ in which he speaks in high praise of Lyly not only as a dramatist but as the originator of ‘Euphueisme.’ Blount appears to have had access to Lyly's manuscripts; in no earlier editions of the separate plays were any of Lyly's lyrics inserted. It was also in 1632 that R. Collins published Blount's ‘Christian Policie,’ a translation from the Spanish of Juan de Santa Maria, dedicated by the translator to James Hay, earl of Carlisle. Nothing is known of Blount in later years. His shop in earlier days had been ‘in Paul's Churchyard at the signe of the Black Beare.’ According to a document in the archives of the city of London, Blount married, before 2 Dec. 1623, Elizabeth, widow of a London stationer named Richard Bankworth (Overall's Remembrancia, p. 318).

[An Elizabethan Bookseller, by S. Lee, in Bibliographica, 1895, i. 474–98; Arber's Stationers' Registers, ii. 86, 702; Ames's Typog. Antiq. (ed. Herbert), p. 1214; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. iii. 6–8; Cat. of Early Books in Brit. Museum. Sir Alexander Croke, in his Genealogical History of the Croke Family surnamed Le Blount, ii. 284–7, represents Blount as the son of a John Blount of St. Philip's, Bristol, and grandson of John Blount of Eldersfield, but the Stationers' Registers' opposing statement does not admit of question.]

S. L. L.