Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 39.djvu/200

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

spirited cavalier lyrics. His essentially superstitious temperament, clinging to the Scottish mythology that amused Bunis, specially qualified him for writing weird lyrics like his 'Demon Lady' and such a successful fairy ballad as 'Elfinland Wud.'

Motherwell's range and grasp are very considerable. His pathetic lyrics—notably 'Jeanie Morrison' and 'My Head is like to rend, Willie'—show genuine feeling. This class of his work drew special praise from Miss Mitford in her 'Literary Recollections.' He was the first aft«r Gray strongly to appreciate and utilise Scandinavian mythology, and his three ballads from this source are energetic yet graceful. Professor Wilson said of Motherwell: 'All his perceptions are clear, for all his senses are sound; he has fine and strong sensibilities and a powerful intellect' (Blackwood, xxxiii. 670).

A revised and enlarged edition of his poems, with biography by James M'Conechy, appeared in 1846, and in 1848 it was further supplemented and re-edited by William Kennedy [q. v.] A reprint based on these was published in 1881. M*Conechy says that Motherwell was, when he died, preparing materials for a biography of Tannahill. A portrait of Motherwell by Andrew Henderson and two busts by Fillans are in the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh.

[M'Conechy's Life prefixed to Poems of 1846; Whistle Binkie. vol. i. ed. 1853; Rogers's Modern Scottish Minstrel; Robert Brown's Paisley Poets.]

T. B.

MOTTE, BENJAMIN (d. 1738), bookseller and publisher, appears to have been originally a printer. He set up a publishing business at Middle Temple Gate, London, and in 1713 was among the subscribers to make up William Bowyer's losses after the great fire on his premises. In 1721, with the aid of his brother Andrew (see below), he edited, in three volumes, an 'Abridgment of the Royal Society's Transactions, from 1700 to 1720,' London, 4to. This abridgment was very incorrect, and was severely handled by a rival editor, Henry Jones, fellow of King's College, Cambridge. Motte rejoined in 'A Reply to the Preface published by Mr. Henry Jones with his Abridgment of the Philosophical Transactions,' London, 1722 (see Nichols, Lit. Anecd. i. 482). He was early in the century described by Samuel Negus as a 'high-flyer,' and he gradually obtained the succession to most of Benjamin Tooke's business with Pope and the leading men of letters on the tory side. In 1726 Swift sent the manuscript of 'Gulliver's Travels' to Motte from Twickenham, where he was staying with Pope. His intermediaries were Charles Ford, who left the book at Motte's office late one night in November, and Erasmus Lewis [q. v.], to whom, writing under the disguised name of Sympson, Swift asked Motte to deliver a bank-bill of 200l. on undertaking publication. Motte cautiously demurred to immediate payment, but agreed to pay the sum demanded in six months, 'if the success would allow it.' In April 1727 Swift sent Lewis to demand the money for his 'cousin Gulliver's book,' and it appears to have been promptly paid. An interesting letter from Swift to Motte suggesting the passages in Gulliver' best fitted for illustration is given in the 'Gentleman's Magazine' for February 1855. In March 1727 Motte agreed to pay 4l. a sheet for the 'Miscellanies in Prose and Verse,' by Swift, Pope, Arbuthnot, and Gay. One volume had already been undertaken by Tooke; he published the second and third, but before the appearance of the fourth had quarrelled with his authors. In spite, however, of some differences on the subject of Irish copyright, Swift seems to have constantly maintained friendly relations with Motte, and to have utilised him as a sort of London agent. In 1733 Motte was deceived by a counterfeit 'Life and Character of Dean Swift, written by himself,' in verse, probably the work of Pilkington, who sold It to him on the plausible pretext that he was Swift's agent in the matter. On the other hand he obtained almost all the profits resulting from 'Gulliver' and Swift's other publications.

At his death, on 12 March 1738, Motte was succeeded by Charles Bathurst (1709-1786), who had for a short while previous been his partner. Bathurst published in 1768 the first collective edition of Swift's 'Works,' edited in sixteen volumes by Dr. Hawkesworth. It appears that he and Motte had both married daughters of the Rev. Thomas Brian, head-master of Harrow School.

Motte's younger brother, (d. 1730), a mathematician of some ability, was a member of the Spalding Club, and, for a brief period previous to 1727, lecturer in geometry at Gresham College. He issued in 1727 'A Treatise of the Mechanical Powers, wherein the Laws of Motion and the Properties of those Powers are explained and demonstrated in an easy and familiar Method' (2nd edit. 1733, London, 8vo), and two years later 'The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (1729) (the "Principia"), by Sir Isaac Newton, translated into English … to which are added the Laws of the Moon's Motion according to Gravity, by John Machin' (2 vols. 1729, 8vo.; 2nd edit. 1732).