1842 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Chalmers

C. H. Timperley, in Encyclopaedia of Literary and Typographical Anecdote (1842) 2:936.



1834, Dec. 10. Died, ALEXANDER CHALMERS, F.S.A., an eminent biographer, and for many years connected with the periodical press of London, in the General Advertiser, St. James's Chronicle, Morning Chronicle, and as editor of the Morning Herald. He was the youngest son of James Chalmers, the original proprietor of the Aberdeen Journal, and born in that city, March 29, 1759: after receiving a classical and medical education, he left his native place about the year 1777, and, what is remarkable, never returned to it. He had obtained the situation of surgeon in the West Indies, and had arrived at Portsmouth to join his ship, when he suddenly altered his mind, and proceeded to the metropolis. He soon became connected with the periodical press, and was engaged in business with Mr. George Robinson, the celebrated publisher in Paternoster-row. The work on which Mr. Chalmer's fame as an author chiefly rests, is the General Biographical Dictionary, containing an historical and critical account of the most eminent men in every nation, particularly the British and the Irish, in 32 vols. 8vo. 1812-17. The total number of articles exceed 9000.

SONNET To Alexander Chalmers, on his Lives of English Poets.
Chalmers, I read thy biographic lore
With the fond pleasure of a friend sincere,
Thy judgment sound and moral worth revere,
And still, the more I read, admire the more
The vast abundance of thy mental store.
Thy comments are sagacious, just and clear;
Candour and truth in every page appear,
And canst thou each poet's due explore.
Combine these proofs of literary pow'r,
In which thy talents with such lustre shine,
Then wilt thou nobly charm the studious hour,
Enlarge our knowledge and our taste refine,
For thou with JOHNSON'S pious zeal canst tower,
His pure devotion not surpassing thine.
JOHN TAYLOR.

Mr. Chalmers was most indefatigable and laborious in the cause of literature. No man conducted so many works for the booksellers of London; and his attention to accuracy of collation; his depth of research as to facts, and his discrimination as to the character of the authors, under his review, cannot be too highly praised. With most of the principal printers and booksellers he lived on terms of the greatest intimacy for fifty years, and has frequently recorded his esteem for them in the pages of the Gentlemen's Magazine. He was in the strictest sense of the word, an honest, honourable man, a warm and affectionate friend, and a delightful companion. In 1783, he married Elizabeth, the widow of Mr. John Gillett, printer; she died June, 1816. Mr. Chalmers died at London, aged seventy-five years. He left a very valuable library, principally relative to biography and literary history, which was disposed of by auction.