Edward Cave (1691-1754), printer

Edward Cave most well-known as the editor of "The Gentleman's Magazine", for many years.


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See Also: The Gentleman's Magazine

Dictionary of National Biography, Volume IX, page 338
"Cave, Edward (1691-1754)", printer born at Newton near Rugby 27Feb 1691 was son of Joseph a younger son of Edward Cave of the lone house on the Witling Street Road called Cave's Hole The entail of the family estate being cut off Joseph Cave was reduced to follow the trade of a cobbler at Rugby The son had a right of admittance to Rugby grammar school which he entered in 1700 Dr Holyoke the principal thought him fit for a university education but he was charged with robbing Mrs Holyoke's henroost and clandestinely assisting fellow scholars brought into discredit and compelled to leave the school. Cave was next a clerk to a collector of excise but he soon left his place to seek employment in London. After working with a timber merchant at Bankside he was apprenticed to Deputy alderman Collins a well Known London printer. In two year his ability was recognised and he was sent to Norwich to manage a printing office and conduct a weekly paper the 'Norwich Courant.'  His master died before his articles and not being able to bear the perversities of his mistress he quitted her house and at Bow where he married a young woman with a little money. He then became journeyman to Alderman afterwards lord mayor Barber and for years was a writer in Weekly Journal When about thirty he obtained a position in the post office by his wife's interest but continued his occupation as a printer He corrected the Gradus Parnassum for the Stationers Company wrote an Account of the Criminals as several pamphlets on current topics was shortly afterwards appointed clerk of franks. With the knowledge gained from his position Cave about this time 1725 country news to a London journal in were called news letters for a guinea a week He then began to convey news to country papers at Gloucester Stamford and Canterbury Caves position led him into intercourse with members of the houses and he would retire to a coffee shop and work up a news letter In 1727 he and Robert Raikes of the Gloucester Journal were taken into custody for breach of privilege Cave suffered ten days imprisonment but on expressing contrition and paying fines he was released with a reprimand strictness as clerk of the franks had enemies and he was cited before the of Commons for another breach of in stopping a frank given by a member to old Duchess of Marlborough He was with opening letters to obtain news dismissed from his post although the statements made were never proved Cave had saved enough to purchase a printing office at St John's Gate Clerkenwell in 1731 Here in the gateway of the old priory of the knights of St John he started business as a printer under the name of R Newton and began the Gentleman's Magazine His intention was to form a collection or magazine the first use of the name in this sense to contain the essays and intelligence which appeared in the two hundred sheets which the London press then threw monthly and in probably as many more half sheets printed elsewhere in the three kingdoms The periodical was to comprise varieties of all kinds He had talked of his plan for years but every bookseller refused to join him although he had numerous followers The first number of the Gentleman's Magazine or Traders Monthly Intelligencer by Sylvan us Urban Gent appeared in January 1730 1 Some of the early numbers were said to be printed by Edward Cave  jun an imaginary nephew others printed for R Newton and sometimes he falsely described himself as Sylvanus Urban of Alder manbury Gent His magazine was a vast improvement upon the gossiping and abusive papers of the time Johnson say s its sale was over ten thousand in 1739 and every effort was made to keep up its circulation Cave scarcely ever looking out of his window but with a view to its improvement A few years afterwards it had risen to fifteen thousand Though without literary ability Cave was an able editor In 1732 he began the publication of a regular series of the parliamentary debates of both houses giving only the initials and finals of personal names He had friends posted in each house to watch the proceedings and fix important speeches in the memory Reports were afterwards put together from these materials by William Guthrie qv Members at times privately forwarded copies of their own speeches The reports grew to be very lengthy and at every year's end a supplement nad to be published The London Magazine and Scots Magazine followed the Gentleman's Magazine The London Magazine which lasted from 1732 to 1781 was his most successful rival In April 1738 occurred the debate on the publication of proceedings in parliament in consequence of Cave having given the king's answer to an address of parliament before it had even been reported from the chair and the commons passed a resolution of high indignation The Gentleman's Magazine and London Magazine hit upon very similar evasions The debates were attributed to a parliament of the empire of Lilliput in the Gentleman's Magazine or the proceedings of a Roman literary club in the London Magazine Quaint pseudonyms were adopted The proceedings were also thrown out of chronological order In November 1740 Johnson succeeded Guthrie and reported for about three years Johnson's account of his first visit to St John's Gate in 1738 when he beheld it with reverence is well known For years until Cave died with his hand gently pressing John sou's their friendship survived In 1747 Cave along with Astle of the London Magazine was again in trouble for printing accounts of the trial of Lord Lovat On paying fees and begging pardon on their knees the offenders were discharged with a reprimand The reports however had to be given up and they were not resumed until 1752 Cavespresswas not stopped again When the officers threatened to stamp the last half sheet of magazines as if it were a newspaper and the rival editors were about to give way he stood out and the idea was relinquished From 1742 to 1748 Cave published an occasional magazine entitled Miscellaneous Correspondence which nine numbers only appeared From 1744 to 1753 he issued a second work Miscellanea Curiosa Mathematical 4to Both these are very scarce and a complete set t he G entleman's Magazine of the first edit i on would be difficult to find in any library In the British Museum copy the first two volumes alone are made up of six editions some printed twenty three years after the first issue and with the most varied imprints Besides the magazine Cave published Johnson's Rambler His press also Dr Halde's History of China in weekly numbers forming 2 vols fol 1736 Macke rell's History and Antiquities of King's Lynn 1738 8vo Debates of the House Commons by the Hon Anchitel Grey 10 vols 1745 8vo Dr Newton's Compleat Herbal 1752 8vo an edition of the works of Sydenham the physician several of Dr Johnson's books London Irene Life Savage &c and other works Cave bought an old coach and a pair of older horses and in lieu of a coat of arms or simple crest he had a representation of St John's Gate painted on the door panels his plate bore the same picture In 1740 Cave purchased a machine to spin wool or cotton into thread yarn or worsted and had a mill erected to work on the Turn mill Brook near the river Fleet Lewis Paul of Birmingham the patentee undertook the management but it was never brought into proper working order or it would nave anticipated the labours of Arkwright and Peel He set up a water wheel and machinery at Northampton with fifty pairs of hands and the use ot Paul's carding cylinder patented in 1748 but this was also neglected and fiiiled He was very friendly to Benjamin Franklin and in 1750 placed one of his electric spires or lightning conductors on the eastern tower of St John's Gate On the same gate he mounted four portable cannons of his own invention They were so light as to be carried on the shoulder and yet could discharge either a large ball or a number bullets From one of the Poetical Epistles it appears that his wife was named Milton and her first husband Newton She signs another humorous poem as Su Urban She died of asthma in 1751 Cave travelled much in his later years for health's sake to Gloucester Northampton and Reading and loved to announce himself to school friends as old Cave the cobbler He died at St John's Gate 10 Jan 1754 and was buried at St James's Olerkenwell the long and interesting epitaph on a tablet in Rugby churchyard to him and his father who died 1747 was by Hawkesworth Cave was over six feet in height and bulky In early life he was very healthy and fond of feats of strength and agility Later in life he suffered much from gout took the Bath waters in 1736 for twenty years before his death his only beverage was milk and water and for four vears he adopted a vegetarian diet His sedentary habits were remarkable writing during breakfast and supper and taking at times only a little shuttlecock exercise in the gateway with a friend or two He was reserved but generous and not without humour Cave's portrait etched by Wor lidge from Kyte's oil painting 1740 is in Gent Mag 1754 p 55 A second portrait was produced when Worlidge's was worn out There is a third by Grignon surrounded with emblematical devices and with a four line inscription a fourth by Basire is the frontispiece to vol v of Nichols's Literary Anecdotes 1812 and a fifth by E Scriven is in Murray's edition of Boswell's Johnson Mr B Foster a tenant of St John's Gate when it had become a tavern found in an old room a three quarter length portrait said to be Hogarth s This was placed along with Goldsmith's and Johnson's in the rooms of the Urban Club The Gentleman's Magazine was Cave's sole propertv till his death It was continued by David fienry a printer who married Cave's sister Mary in 1734 and by Richard Cave a nephew Henry's connection with it lasted till 1792 when he died John Nichols having obtained a share in 1778 edited it from that time till his death in 1816 Up to 1781 it was published at St John's Gate In 1850 great alterations were made In 1856 it passed from the Nichols family to the Parkers of Oxford and in 1865 to Bradbury & Evans It still exists in a changed form Nichols's Lit Anecd vii 66 7 S31 Boswell's Johnson Croker's 101 21 TimperlcVs Lit andTypogr Anecd 624 636,643 656 688 775 806 Andrews's British Journalism i 140 ii 206 269 271 West's Warwickshire p 107 Gratton The Gallery p 19 Rugby School Register p 15 Hawkins's Life of Johnson p 27 Journal of House of Commons xxi 85 118 119 127 xxiii 148 Journal of House of Lords xxvii 94 100 107 9 Gent Mag 1735 p 3 1754 p 57 1792 pt i 578 1856 pp 3 131 267 531 667 1857 pp 3 149 282 379 Quarterly Review cvii 52 Coxe's Memoirs of Walpole i 673 Harl MS 4302 Add MS 5972 3 Foster's Priory and Gate of St John JW G