1825 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Frognall Dibdin

Anonymous, "Rev. Thomas Dibdin, F.A.S" A New Biographical Dictionary of 3000 Cotemporary Public Characters (1825) 2:503-04.



THE REV. THOMAS DIBDIN, F.A.S. a gentleman who has turned to a very beneficial account one of the lowest species of knowledge, that of the various editions of old and scarce books. He is a most accurate measurer of margins, and chronicler of rarities in black letter. In fact, he stands high amongst the notable tribe of bibliomaniacs. His first publication, however, was a volume of poems, or rather of rhymes; for it did not contain a single line of poetry. This work, which was published in 1797, he has since prudently done all that is in his power to suppress. In the following year he printed, a Chart of an Analysis of the Rights of Persons. It was in 1800 that he commenced the career which he has since so successfully run. His first work of the Bibliographical kind was entitled Specimen of a Bibliographical Dictionary, 1800. Since then he has produced Introduction to a Knowledge of the rare and valuable editions of the Greek and Roman Classics, 1802, which has reached a third edition, and forms a very considerable supplement to Harwood; A Treatise on Education of Daughters, from the French of Fenelon; Specimen Bibliothecae Britannica; or a Digested Catalogue of curious and useful Books in the English Language, or appertaining to British Literature and Antiquities, 8vo. (This was not published, and only sixty copies printed). Morii Utopia, with Notes, 2 vols. The Bibliomania, or Book Madness; an Epistle in Prose to Richard Heber, Esq. which has reached a second edition; Typographical Antiquities, or the History of Printing in England, Scotland, and Ireland. This was begun by Ames, and formed only one volume; Mr. Herbert published the second edition, which was enlarged to three volumes; and Mr. Dibdin has made very many useful additions.

Mr. Dibdin is librarian to Earl Spencer, and for his lordship he has compiled and published Bibliotheca Spenceriana, or a Descriptive Catalogue of the Books printed in the fifteenth Century, and of many valuable first editions in the library of George John Earl Spencer, 3 vols. imperial 8vo. 1805: five hundred copies were printed of that size, and fifty-five in 4to. This is a splendid specimen of beautiful typography, containing facsimiles of various types and typographical ornaments of our ancient printers. It is said to have cost his lordship 3000.

The last work of Mr. Dibdin has recently been published, and is entitled A Bibliographical, Antiquarian, and Picturesque Tour in France and Germany. It is published at the enormous price of eleven guineas, and contains a number of beautiful engravings; but much of the literary part is uninteresting to all those who have not a passion for scarce editions, and for "all such reading as was never read."