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He was recommended to a timber-merchant at the Bankside, and, while he was there on liking, is said to have given hopes of great mercantile abilities; but this place he soon left, I know not for what reason, and was bound apprentice to Mr. Collins, a printer of some reputation, and deputy alderman.

This was a trade for which men were formerly qualified by a literary education, and which was pleasing to Cave, because it furnished some employment for his scholastick attainments. Here, therefore, he resolved to settle, though his master and mistress lived in perpetual discord, and their house was, therefore, no comfortable habitation. From the inconveniencies of these domestick tumults he was soon released, having, in only two years, attained so much skill in his art, and gained so much the confidence of his master, that he was sent, without any superintendant, to conduct a printing-office at Norwich, and publish a weekly paper. In this undertaking he met with some opposition, which produced a publick controversy, and procured young Cave the reputation of a writer.

His master died before his apprenticeship was expired, and he was not able to bear the perverseness of his mistress. He, therefore, quitted her house upon a stipulated allowance, and married a young widow, with whom he lived at Bow. When his apprenticeship was over, he worked, as a journeyman, at the printing-house of Mr. Barber, a man much distinguished, and employed by the tories, whose principles had, at that time, so much prevalence with Cave, that he was, for some years, a writer in Mist’s Journal; which, though he afterwards obtained, by his wife’s interest, a small place in the post-office, he for some time continued. But, as interest is powerful, and conversation, however mean, in time persuasive, he, by degrees, inclined to another party; in which, however, he was always moderate, though steady and determined.

When he was admitted into the post-office, he still continued, at his intervals of attendance, to exercise his trade, or to employ himself with some typographical business. He corrected the Gradus ad Parnassum; and was liberally rewarded by the company of stationers. He wrote an account of the criminals, which had, for some time, a considerable sale; and published many little pamphlets, that accident brought into his hands, of which it would be very difficult to recover the memory. By the correspondence which his place in the post-office facilitated, he procured country newspapers, and sold their intelligence to a journalist in London, for a guinea a week.

He was afterwards raised to the office of clerk of the franks, in which he acted with great spirit and firmness; and often stopped franks, which were given by members of parliament to their friends, because he thought such extension of a peculiar right illegal. This raised many complaints, and having stopped, among others, a frank given to the old dutchess of Marlborough by Mr. Walter Plummer, he was cited before the house, as for a breach of privilege, and accused, I suppose very unjustly, of opening letters to detect them. He was treated with great harshness and severity, but, declining their questions, by pleading his oath of secrecy, was at last dismissed. And it must be recorded to his honour, that, when he was ejected from his office, he did not think himself discharged from his trust, but continued to refuse, to his nearest friends, any information about the management of the office.

By this constancy of diligence and diversification of employment, he in time collected a sum sufficient for the purchase of a small printing-office, and began the Gentleman’s Magazine, a periodical pamphlet, of which the scheme is known wherever the English language is spoken. To this undertaking he owed the affluence in which he passed the last twenty years of his life, and the fortune which he left behind him, which, though large, had been yet larger, had he not rashly and wantonly impaired it, by innumerable projects, of which I know not that ever one succeeded.