Posts Tagged ‘William Beloe’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Starling Norgate
20 August 1772 – 7 July 1859

Thomas Starling Norgate was the son of Elias Norgate, a surgeon, and Deborah, daughter of Alderman Thomas Starling, he was born at Norwich, on 20 August 1772. From 1780 to 1788 he attended Norwich Grammar School, under Samuel Parr as headmaster until 1785. In 1789 he was sent to Hackney New College, and then entered at Lincoln’s Inn. Although he kept his terms there, he gave up on a legal career, and returned to Norwich without plans.

Norgate became involved in periodical writing, through a number of personal contacts. In 1829 he founded the Norfolk and Norwich Horticultural Society. In 1830 he, with Simon Wilkin and another friend, established the East-Anglian, a weekly newspaper published at Norwich (1830–3).

Norgate died at Hetherset, 7 July 1859, in his 87th year.

While in London Norgate knew William Beloe, and then contributed to an early volume of the British Critic. A year or two later, William Enfield invited him to write for the minister at the Octagon Chapel in Norwich, he became a regular contributor to the Analytical Review, which he did until it closed down in 1799; and he supplied a few papers to The Cabinet, a Norwich periodical published (1794–5) by Charles Marsh, William Taylor, and others. He was a writer on various topics in the Monthly Magazine, and supplied the Half-yearly Retrospect of Domestic Literature from 1797 to 1807, when the publication was discontinued. To Arthur Aikin’s Annual Review (1803–8) Norgate was a major contributor. His close friend William Taylor introduced him to Ralph Griffiths, the editor of the Monthly Review, for which he wrote for a time while living in retirement on his estate at Hetherset in Norfolk.

In 1829 Norgate wrote the introductory chapter on the Agriculture of the County for John Chambers’s General History of Norfolk.

Norgate’s eldest son Elias assisted him as editor, and with the Horticultural Society. His fourth son, Thomas Starling Norgate, was born 30 December 1807.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

William Beloe
1756–April 11, 1817

He was born at Norwich in 1756, and was the son of a respectable tradesman. His ‘pruriency of parts,’ as he expresses it, led to his receiving a liberal education. After an unsuccessful experiment at a day school in his native city he was placed under the care of the Rev. Matthew Raine, and subsequently under “a dragon of learning”, no other than Dr. Samuel Parr, whom he describes as “severe, wayward, and irregular”. His departure from Parr’s school at Stanmore was hastened by quarrels with his schoolfellows, and at Benet College, Cambridge, where his education was completed, he got into considerable trouble by writing ill-advised epigrams. His university career, nevertheless, was in the main so creditable that his old instructor Parr, upon becoming head master of Norwich grammar school, offered him the assistant mastership. Beloe held this situation for three years, but, from the manner in which he usually speaks of Parr, apparently without much satisfaction to his principal or himself.

During his residence at Norwich he married, and after resigning his appointment came to London, where he soon obtained abundance of employment from the publishers. One of his commissions was to translate Parr’s preface to Bellendenus into English, and the skill displayed in dealing with this choice but crabbed piece of latinity recommended him to the acquaintance of Porson, of whom he has preserved many interesting particulars in his Sexagenarian. He successively brought out translations of Coluthus, Alciphron, in which he was assisted by the Rev. T. Monro, Herodotus, and Aulus Gellius, the preface to which was written by Parr; and co-operated in Tooke’s ‘Biographical Dictionary,’ published (1795) three volumes of miscellanies, and in 1793 established, in conjunction with Archdeacon Nares, the British Critic, the first forty-two volumes of which were partly edited by him. He also, according to his biographer in the Gentleman’s Magazine, “gave his assistance in editing various books of considerable popularity and importance, which it is less expedient to specify”, doubtless because the reputed authors’ obligations to him were too extensive.

In 1796 he was presented to the rectory of Allhallows, London Wall, and in 1803 became keeper of printed books at the British Museum. He did not long retain this appointment. In those days the prints and drawings, equally with the printed books, were under the care of the keeper of the latter department, and Beloe’s misplaced confidence opened the way to extensive thefts by a person named Dighton, who is said to have insinuated himself into the good graces of the easy-going and somewhat bon vivant custodian by sending him delicacies for his table. The detection of Dighton’s depredations in 1806 inevitably led to Beloe’s dismissal, and he never recovered the blow. He was not deterred, however, from prosecuting his Anecdotes of Literature and Scarce Books, which he had been induced to undertake by his appointment at the Museum. Two volumes, chiefly derived from his researches in the national library, appeared in 1806; and by the assistance of Earl Spencer, the Bishop of Ely, and other patrons, he was enabled to publish four more, the last appearing in 1812. He died on 11 April 1817, his latter days having been embittered by ill-health and other circumstances not precisely stated.

His last work, The Sexagenarian, or Recollections of a Literary Life, had just passed the press at the time of his decease, and was published immediately afterwards under the editorship of the Rev. Thomas Rennell. It excited much unfavourable comment. Dr. Butler, head master of Shrewsbury School, criticised it severely in the Monthly Review, and Dr. Parr, in the catalogue of his library, felt “compelled to record the name of Beloe as an ingrate and a slanderer”. The modern reader may feel rather disposed to complain that there is not ill-nature enough to preserve some portions from insipidity, and that it is hardly worth consulting, except in one of the numerous copies where blanks left for names have been filled up in manuscript. With this assistance, however, it is in the main very entertaining reading, and preserves many traits and anecdotes with sufficient flavour of human nature to interest, even when the particular individuals mentioned have ceased to excite public curiosity.

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