Lemoine, Henry (DNB00)

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LEMOINE, HENRY (1756–1812), author and bookseller, born in Spitalfields 14 Jan. 1756, and baptised in the French Huguenot church De La Patente in Brown's Lane, Spitalfields, 1 Feb. 1756, was the only son of Henry Lemoine, a French protestant refugee who had escaped from Normandy to Jersey, and subsequently settled in Spitalfields, London, dying in April 1760. Henry's mother, Anne I. Cenette, was a native of Guernsey (Bapt. Reg.) He was educated at a free school belonging to the French Calvinists in the east-end of London. In 1770 he was apprenticed to a stationer and rag merchant in Lamb Street, Spitalfields, where, in spite of the severity of his master, he found means of indulging an omnivorous appetite for books. From Spitalfields he removed about 1773 to the shop of Mr. Chatterton, who combined the trades of baker and bookseller. While with Chatterton he wrote for an amateur dramatic club two ‘satirical’ pieces, ‘The Stinging Nettle’ and ‘The Reward of Merit,’ which are described by a contemporary critic as in Churchill's best manner. Neither appears to be extant in its original form, but large extracts from the ‘Reward of Merit’ are given in the ‘London Magazine,’ July and August 1780. On leaving Chatterton, Lemoine became for a time French master in a boarding-school at Vauxhall, kept by one Mannypenny, and led the master and scholars to believe him incapable ‘of speaking a word of English, but the constraint was too much for him long to bear, and imparting the secret of his disguise to the maids in the kitchen he received his dismissal.’ On coming of age in 1777 he inherited some property in Jersey, under the will of an aunt, Ann le Moine, who had died in 1766. Accordingly he purchased a bookstall in the Little Minories, and devoted his leisure to writing for the magazines. He also dispensed drugs and specifics of various kinds, especially a freely advertised ‘bug-water,’ the recipe of which he obtained from a Dr. Thomas Marryat (Granger, New Wonderful Museum, p. 2222).

In 1780 he removed to a stand in Bishopsgate Churchyard, and became acquainted with David Levi [q. v.], the Jewish apologist, whom he supplied with materials for his controversy with Dr. Priestley. About this time he frequently supped with Levi and other minor literati at the house of George Lackington [q. v.] in Chiswell Street, and he is probably the ‘Mr. L——e’ mentioned in Lackington's ‘Autobiography’ (13th edition, p. 185). Under the pseudonym of ‘Allan Macleod’ he subsequently attacked Lackington in his ironical ‘Lackington's Confessions rendered into Narrative,’ London, 1804, sm. 8vo.

In 1786 he published anonymously ‘The Kentish Curate, or the History of Lamuel Lyttleton,’ a narrative romance in four 12mo volumes; the lubricity of the work is scarcely atoned for by its ‘moral’ distribution of punishments and rewards. About this time he also issued a reprint of Cleland's ‘Fanny Hill,’ and on 8 Oct. 1788 was admitted a freeman of the Leathersellers Company by redemption. In 1790 he published a rhymed version of Blair's ‘Grave,’ which has been described as a ‘great improvement’ on the original, and two years later he started the ‘Conjurors' Magazine,’ in which was embodied a translation of Lavater's famous ‘Treatise on Physiognomy.’ The magazine had for a time a phenomenal sale, but by 1793, when it became known as the ‘Astrologer's Magazine,’ Lemoine's connection with it had practically ceased, although it included reprints of some stories of his from the ‘Arminian Magazine’ and elsewhere. In 1791 he compiled ‘Visits from the World of Spirits, or interesting anecdotes of the Dead … containing narratives of the appearances of many departed spirits;’ a second edition was published at Glasgow in 1845. In 1793 he edited a herbal on the lines of Culpeper's well-known treatise, entitled ‘The Medical Uses of English Plants,’ and in the same year he started the ‘Wonderful Magazine and Marvellous Chronicle,’ to which he contributed several important lives, notably that of Baron d'Aguilar. In 1794 he was ‘engaged in the copperplate printing business,’ but sustained serious losses through the defalcations of two booksellers, ‘which circumstance, connected with some domestic disagreements, terminated in his confinement for debt, and separation from his wife’ (Gent. Mag. 1812, i. 673). In 1795 he had to give up his bookshop and ‘commence business as pedestrian bookseller,’ or colporteur of pamphlets and chapbooks. Simultaneously he did much hack-work in the way of translation and compilation for the London booksellers, eventually becoming the recognised doyen of his profession. His studies were generally carried on in the streets, and his books ‘mostly written on loose papers at the public house.’ In 1795 he supplied much verse on Charlotte and Werther to the ‘Lady's New and Elegant Pocket Magazine.’ In 1797 he published the work, of considerable curiosity and original merit, by which he is chiefly remembered, ‘Typographical Antiquities: the History, Origin, and Progress of the Art of Printing … also a … complete History of the Walpolean Press … at Strawberry Hill … a … Dissertation on the Origin and Use of Paper … a … History of the Art of Wood-cutting and Engraving on Copper with the Adjudication of Literary Property … a Catalogue of remarkable Bibles and Common Prayer Books,’ &c., pp. 156, London, 12mo; 2nd edit., with slightly altered title, 1801 (Reuss. Regist. ii. 15).

He subsequently, from 1803 to 1806, did much work upon the bibliographical dictionary of Dr. Adam Clarke [q. v.] About 1807 he again set up in Parliament Street a small stand of books. Towards the end of his life he became an inmate in the house of a Mr. Broom in Drury Lane, but he was still active with his pen, wrote a pseudonymous life of Abraham Goldsmid [q. v.], and started the ‘Eccentric Magazine,’ before the conclusion of the first volume of which he died on 30 April 1812 in St. Bartholomew's Hospital.

Besides the works mentioned above, nearly all of which were issued anonymously, Lemoine was doubtless the author of numerous books and pamphlets, few of which can be with certainty identified. He was a frequent contributor to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ and there are numerous panegyrical odes by him upon his fellow ‘booksellers' fags,’ a list of whom, with some account of their lives, is given in Granger's ‘New Wonderful Museum.’ Though extremely industrious, Lemoine was of improvident and too convivial habits (cf. Eccentric Mag. vol. i. Pref.) Smeeton, who credits him with a noble disregard for money, describes him as one of the best judges of old books in England, and an authority on foreign and Jewish literature.

[Smeeton's Biog. Curiosa, pp. 50, 51; Granger's New Wonderful Museum, v. 2218–40 (with portrait); Gent. Mag. 1809 pt. i. p. 158, pt. ii. p. 749, 1810 passim, and 1812 pt. i. pp. 493, 673; Wilson's Wonderful Characters, iii. 260–4; Timperley's Encycl. pp. 106, 110, 847; Miller's Fly Leaves, i. 50; Evans's Cat. i. 207; Lackington's Memoirs; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ii. 729, iii. 692, 727, ix. 517, 551; Watt's Bibl. Brit. art. ‘Moine;’ Brit. Mus. Cat.; private information.]

T. S.