Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/377

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Grosart
Grosart
365

ceived a call from the first congregation of Kinross, on the shores of Loch Leven, he was ordained there on 29 Oct. following. The church was large and influential. He soon won a reputation as a preacher, and at the same time became well known as an author of religious manuals and a literary antiquary. In January 1862 he declined a call to Woolwich, but early in 1865 accepted one from the newly formed congregation of Princes Park, Liverpool. On 4 March 1868 he was translated to Mount Street Presbyterian church, Blackburn. Shortly after his induction he removed with the majority of the congregation to a new church in Preston New Road, called St. George's church. The membership of this church was nearly tripled during Grosart's ministry. The building, which had cost 8,000l. as an initial outlay, was freed from debt, and a new church was started in the Whalley Range district of Blackburn in 1884. Notwithstanding his literary occupations, Grosart was diligent and sympathetic in the performance of his pastoral duties. Failing health compelled him to resign his charge at Blackburn in November 1892. He retired to Dublin, where he died on 16 March 1899, and was buried in Mount Jerome cemetery. While in Liverpool he married Miss McDowall, daughter of a builder and contractor of Dublin.

Grosart's claim to remembrance rests on his reprints of rare Elizabethan and Jacobean literature, but it was his strong interest in puritan theology that originally led him to devote himself to the study of sixteenth and seventeenth century poets and prose writers. The writers, whose works he first edited, were the puritan divines Richard Sibbes (1862–4) and Thomas Brooks (1866–7), together with Herbert Palmer's 'Memorials of Godliness' (1865), Michael Bruce's 'Poems,' with memoir (1865), and Richard Gilpin's 'Demonologia Sacra' (1867). A bibliography of Richard Baxter's writings followed in 1868. He had then already foreshadowed the special bent of his future labours in two pamphlets, 'Lord Bacon not the Author of the Christian Paradoxes' (1865) and 'Who wrote Britain's Ida?' (1869), a poem previously assigned in error to Edmund Spenser, and ascribed by Grosart to Phineas Fletcher. After 1868 he concentrated his energies on the reissue, by private subscription, of secular literature. Between 1868 and 1876 he printed privately for subscribers a series of thirty-nine volumes, which he entitled the Fuller Worthies library. The series included Thomas Fuller's 'Poems and Translations in Verse,' the works in prose and verse of Sir John Davies (3 vols.), Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke (4 vols.), Henry Vaughan (4 vols.), Andrew Marvell (4 vols.), and George Herbert (3 vols.), besides the poems of Richard Crashaw, John Donne, Robert Southwell, Sir Philip Sidney, and others. The series was completed by four volumes of miscellanies, containing the poems of many less known authors, whose published work was small in quantity and quite inaccessible.

Before the Fuller Worthies Library was completed Grosart began another series of reprints, in 1875, under the title of 'Occasional Issues of Unique and very Rare Books.' All the volumes of the 'Occasional Issues,' which numbered thirty-eight, the last appearing in 1881, are of the highest bibliographical interest; they include Robert Dover's 'Annalia Dubrensia,' Robert Chester's 'Love's Martyr' (an edition of which he provided for the New Shakspere Society), 'Willobie his Avisa,' and Clerke's 'Polimanteia.'

A third series of reprints, 'The Chertsey Worthies Library' (1876-81), was in fourteen volumes, and supplied reprints of the complete works of Nicholas Breton, John Davies of Hereford, Joshua Sylvester, Francis Quarles, Dr. Joseph Beaumont, Dr. Henry More, and Abraham Cowley. A fourth series of equal interest was projected in 1881, under the title of the 'Huth Library,' after the name of the great book collector, Henry Huth [q. v.], in whose library original copies of the volumes which it was Grosart's intention to reprint were to be found. The Huth Library came to a close in 1886 after the issue of the works of Robert Greene in fifteen volumes, Thomas Nashe in six volumes, Gabriel Harvey in three volumes, and Thomas Dekker's prose tracts in five volumes. Promised reprints of the prose works of Sir Philip Sidney, with the works of George Whetstone, Henry Chettle, Anthony Munday, and many smaller writers, were abandoned. Meanwhile Grosart embarked in two other ventures of interest, editions of the complete works of Samuel Daniel and of Edmund Spenser. The edition of Spenser reached ten volumes (published between 1880 and 1888), and included a memoir by Grosart and critical essays by Professor Dowden, Professor Palgrave, and other well-known writers. The edition of the works of Daniel reached five volumes, the last two appearing as late as 1896.

In addition to these undertakings, Grosart was responsible for the printing for the first time from the original manuscripts of the Towneley Hall MSS. 1897 (2 vols.), Sir John Eliot's 'Works,' 1879-82 (6 vols.), and the 'Lismore Papers' of Sir Richard Boyle,