Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/79

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headed student of the drama may derive much amusement and some profit.

In ‘Martin Scriblerus’ Pope classed Rymer with Dennis as one of those ‘who, beginning with criticism, became afterwards such poets as no age hath parallel'd’ (cf. Pope, Works, ed. Courthope and Elwin, iv. 82, v. 48). Rymer wrote three poems to the memory of Edmund Waller, which were published in a volume of elegies in 1688, as well as in Dryden's ‘Miscellany Poems;’ and he is said to have written the Latin inscription for Waller's tomb at Beaconsfield. In 1689 he published a poem on Queen Mary's arrival, and in 1692 a translation of one elegy in Ovid's ‘Tristia’ (bk. iii. elegy 6; reissued in Dryden's ‘Miscellanies,’ 2nd edit. p. 148). Further specimens of his verse, which was on occasion sportively amorous, appear in Nichols's ‘Select Poems,’ 1780, and two pieces figure in Mr. A. H. Bullen's ‘Musa Proterva’ (1895, pp. 125–7). A contemporary caricature scornfully designates him ‘a garreteer poet’ (Caulfield, Portraits, 1819, i. 50). Other contributions by Rymer to literature consisted of a translation of Plutarch's ‘Life of Nicias’ in the collection of Plutaroh's ‘Lives’ (1683–1686), and he is supposed to be author of the preface to Thomas Hobbes's posthumous ‘Historia Ecclesiastica carmine elegiaco concinnata’ (1688). ‘A Life of Thomas Hobbes’ (1681), sometimes attributed to Rymer, is almost certainly by Richard Blackburne [q. v.] ‘An Essay concerning Critical and Curious Learning, in which are contained some short Reflections on the Controversie betwixt Sir William Temple and Mr. Wotton, and that betwixt Dr. Bentley and Mr. Boyl, by T. R., Esqr.,’ 1698—a ‘very poor and mean performance’—is attributed to Rymer by Hearne (Collections, ii. 256–7).

In the meantime Rymer's interests had been diverted to history. In 1684 he published a learned tract ‘of the antiquity, power, and decay of parliaments’ (other editions in 1704 and 1714). In 1692 he received the appointment of historiographer to the king, in succession to Shadwell, at a salary of 200l. a year (Luttrell, ii. 623).

Shortly afterwards the government of William III determined, mainly at the suggestion of Lord Somers, to print by authority the public conventions of Great Britain with other powers. On 26 Aug. 1693 a warrant was issued to Rymer appointing him editor of the publication, which was to be entitled ‘Fœdera,’ and authorising him to search all public repositories for leagues, treaties, alliances, capitulations, confederacies, which had at any time been made between the crown of England and other kingdoms. Rymer took as his model Leibnitz's recently published ‘Codex Juris Gentium Diplomaticus’ (Hanover, 1693), and founded his work on an Elizabethan manuscript ‘Book of Abbreviations of Leagues’ by Arthur Agard [q. v.] He corresponded with Leibnitz and with Bishop Nicolson, and benefited by their suggestions. The warrant enabling him to continue his researches was renewed to Rymer on 12 April 1694. His expenses were large, and he was inadequately remunerated by the government. On 23 April 1694 he was granted, on his petition, a sum of 200l., ‘seized at Leicester on the conviction of a Romish priest,’ Gervas Cartwright. But up to August 1698 he had expended 1,253l. in transcription and the like, and only received 500l. From May 1703 a salary of 200l. was paid him for his editorial labours, but he suffered extreme poverty until his death. Many importunate petitions, which Lord Halifax supported with his influence, were needed before any money was set aside by the government for printing his work. The first volume was at length published on 20 Nov. 1704, with a turgid dedication in Latin to the queen. It opens with a convention between Henry I and Robert, earl of Flanders, dated 17 May 1101. Only two hundred and fifty copies were printed. The second volume appeared in 1705, and the third in 1706. In 1707, when the fourth volume was issued, Robert Sanderson [q. v.] was appointed Rymer's assistant, and the warrant empowering searches was renewed on 3 May. The fifth and sixth volumes followed in 1708; the seventh, eighth, and ninth in 1709, the tenth and eleventh in 1710, the twelfth in 1711, the thirteenth and fourteenth in 1712, and the fifteenth, bringing the documents down to July 1586, in 1713, the year of Rymer's death. The sixteenth volume, which appeared in 1715, was prepared by Sanderson, ‘ex schedis Thomæ Rymeri potissimum.’ By a warrant dated 15 Feb. 1717 Sanderson was constituted the sole editor of the undertaking, and he completed the original scheme by issuing the seventeenth volume in 1717 (‘accurante Roberto Sanderson, generoso’). Here the latest treaty printed was dated 1625. There were appended an index and a ‘Syllabus seu Index Actorum MSS. quæ lix voluminibus compacta (præter xviii tomos typis vulgatos) collegit ac descripsit Thomas Rymer.’ The syllabus consists of a list of all the manuscripts Rymer had transcribed during the progress of the undertaking. These papers, which dealt with the period between 1115 and 1698, are now among the Additional MSS. at the British Museum (Nos. 4573–4630 and No. 18911). Of the two hundred