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by [?]

CAVE [59]

The curiosity of the publick seems to demand the history of every man who has, by whatever means, risen to eminence; and few lives would have more readers than that of the compiler of the Gentleman’s Magazine, if all those who received improvement or entertainment from him should retain so much kindness for their benefactor, as to inquire after his conduct and character.

Edward Cave was born at Newton, in Warwickshire, Feb. 29, 1691. His father (Joseph) was the younger son of Mr. Edward Cave, of Cave’s-in-the-Hole, a lone house, on the Street road, in the same county, which took its name from the occupier; but having concurred with his elder brother in cutting off the entail of a small hereditary estate, by which act it was lost from the family, he was reduced to follow, in Rugby, the trade of a shoemaker. He was a man of good reputation in his narrow circle, and remarkable for strength and rustick intrepidity. He lived to a great age, and was, in his latter years, supported by his son.

It was fortunate for Edward Cave, that, having a disposition to literary attainments, he was not cut off by the poverty of his parents from opportunities of cultivating his faculties. The school of Rugby, in which he had, by the rules of its foundation, a right to be instructed, was then in high reputation under the reverend Mr. Holyock, to whose care most of the neighbouring families, even of the highest rank, intrusted their sons. He had judgment to discover, and, for some time, generosity to encourage, the genius of young Cave; and was so well pleased with his quick progress in the school, that he declared his resolution to breed him for the university, and recommended him, as a servitor, to some of his scholars of high rank. But prosperity which depends upon the caprice of others, is of short duration. Cave’s superiority in literature exalted him to an invidious familiarity with boys who were far above him in rank and expectations; and, as in unequal associations it always happens, whatever unlucky prank was played was imputed to Cave. When any mischief, great or small, was done, though, perhaps, others boasted of the stratagem, when it was successful, yet, upon detection, or miscarriage the fault was sure to fall upon poor Cave.

At last, his mistress, by some invisible means, lost a favourite cock. Cave was, with little examination, stigmatised as the thief and murderer; not because he was more apparently criminal than others, but because he was more easily reached by vindictive justice. From that time, Mr. Holyock withdrew his kindness visibly from him, and treated him with harshness, which the crime, in its utmost aggravation, could scarcely deserve; and which, surely, he would have forborne, had he considered how hardly the habitual influence of birth and fortune is resisted; and how frequently men, not wholly without sense of virtue, are betrayed to acts more atrocious than the robbery of a hen-roost, by a desire of pleasing their superiours.

Those reflections his master never made, or made without effect; for, under pretence that Cave obstructed the discipline of the school, by selling clandestine assistance, and supplying exercises to idlers, he was oppressed with unreasonable tasks, that there might be an opportunity of quarrelling with his failure; and when his diligence had surmounted them, no regard was paid to the performance. Cave bore this persecution awhile, and then left the school, and the hope of a literary education, to seek some other means of gaining a livelihood.

He was first placed with a collector of the excise. He used to recount, with some pleasure, a journey or two which he rode with him as his clerk, and relate the victories that he gained over the excisemen in grammatical disputations. But the insolence of his mistress, who employed him in servile drudgery, quickly disgusted him, and he went up to London in quest of more suitable employment.