Holland, Philemon (DNB00)

HOLLAND, PHILEMON (1552–1637), translator, born at Chelmsford, Essex, in 1552, was a remote descendant of the Hollands of Denton, Lancashire. His grandfather was Edward Holland of Glassthorpe, Northamptonshire. His father, John Holland, was a protestant clergyman, who fled to the continent with Miles Coverdale [q. v.] in Mary's reign, and, returning home after Elizabeth's accession, became rector of Dunmow Magna, Essex, on 26 Sept. 1564, and died there in 1578 (Newcourt, Repert. ii. 225). Philemon was educated at Chelmsford grammar school, and afterwards became a scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was a pupil of Whitgift; graduated B.A. in 1570–1 and M.A. in 1574, and was elected a minor fellow 28 Sept. 1573, and a major fellow 3 April 1574. He was incorporated M.A. of Oxford on 11 July 1585; subsequently studied medicine, and is said to have graduated M.D. about 1595. This degree, which Holland was fond of parading, was probably conferred by a Scottish or foreign university: no mention of it is made in the registers of Oxford or Cambridge universities. Soon after 1595 Holland settled at Coventry, where he remained for the rest of his life. His medical practice seems to have been small, and he chiefly occupied himself with translations of the classics. In 1608 he became usher of the Coventry free school, and in 1613 George, lord Berkeley, eighth baron [q. v.], was his pupil there. He was admitted to the freedom of the city on 30 Sept. 1612. On 2 Sept. 1617 James I visited Coventry on his return from Scotland, and Holland, acting as deputy to the recorder, delivered in his presence a eulogistic oration, which was published, along with a sermon by Samuel Buggs, B.D., in 1622 (London, by John Dawson for John Bellamie), and was reprinted in Nichols's ‘Progresses of James I,’ iii. 424–6. On 23 Jan. 1627–8 Holland, then aged 76, was appointed headmaster of the Coventry free school, but ten months later he applied for permission to resign on account of his age, 26 Nov. 1628. A successor assumed office at Lady-day, 1629. He suffered much from poverty and debility in his last years. As early as 1609 the corporation of Coventry seems to have made him gifts of money (cf. his transl. of Ammianus Marcellinus, ded.), and the council purchased many of his translations, paying 4l. in 1609 for his version of Ammianus, and 5l. for his rendering of Camden's ‘Britannia.’ On 24 Oct. 1632 the city gave him a pension of 3l. 6s. 8d. for three years, on account of his bodily weakness and the decay of his estate. On 11 April 1635 Henry Smyth, president of Magdalene College, Cambridge, authorised him to receive such charitable benevolence as the masters and fellows of the colleges in the university might bestow, in consideration of his ‘learning and worthy parts,’ and want of means. For sixty years, Smyth remarked, Holland had ‘kept good hospitality. Sic tota Coventria testis’ (Cole MSS.; cf. Brydges, Restituta, iii. 41), but when Smyth added, ‘He wrote the Lepanto battle very finely,’ he confused Holland with his son Abraham [q. v.] Holland died of old age, after being bedridden for a year, at Coventry, on 9 Feb. 1636–7, aged 85, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church. A Latin epitaph penned by himself is still extant on the south wall of the choir. He never wore spectacles in his life, and until his last illness was ‘most indefatigable in his study.’

Holland married in 1579 Ann, daughter of William Bot, alias Peyton, of Perry Hall, Staffordshire. She died in 1627, aged 72, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Coventry, where a Latin epitaph by her son Henry is still legible. On 21 Dec. 1639 a Mrs. Holland was granted by the corporation a small sum ‘in respect of her poverty,’ and the recipient has been assumed to be Holland's second wife; but this seems improbable, and the lady, if a member of the doctor's family, may have been a widow of one of his sons. Holland was father of seven sons and three daughters. All his sons, except Henry, died before him. The sixth son, William (1592–1632), was a surgeon at Coventry, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, near the grave of his father. Of his other sons, Abraham and Henry are separately noticed, and Compton Holland seems to have engaged in printselling in London with his brother Henry. A daughter, Elizabeth, married William Angell, merchant, of London (Visitation of London, 1633–1635, Harl. Soc. i. 18).

Holland's earliest translation—‘the first-fruits of a few years' study’—was the ‘Romane Historie’ of Livy, with the breviaries of Florus, and a ‘summarie’ of Roman topography by J. Bartholomew Marlian of Milan. It was published in 1600 by Adam Islip, in folio, with a dedication to Queen Elizabeth. Holland claimed to have written the whole manuscript with the same pen—‘a monumental pen,’ says Fuller, which ‘he solemnly kept,’ and which ultimately was enclosed in silver by a lady of his acquaintance. In 1601 appeared Holland's most popular translation, ‘The Historie of the World, commonly called the Naturall Historie of C. Plinius Secundus,’ London, by Adam Islip, fol. 2 vols., dedicated to Sir Robert Cecil. The labour involved was exceptionally great, but a new edition (carefully revised, according to a note at the close of vol. ii.) appeared in 1634; vol. i., in some copies of the second issue, bears the date 1635. ‘The Philosophie, commonly called the Morals, written by the learned philosopher Plutarch of Chæronea, translated out of Greek into English, and conferred with Latin and French,’ followed in 1603, with a dedication to James I (London, by Arnold Hatfield, fol.). A ‘newly revised and corrected’ edition appeared in 1657. While the plague raged at Coventry in 1605–6, Holland translated Suetonius's ‘Historie of Twelue Cæsars, Emperours of Rome … with a arginall glosse and other briefe annotations thereupon’ (London, for Matthew Lownes, 1606, fol.), dedicated to the wife of John, first lord Harington [q. v.] A reprint, edited by Charles Whibley, appeared in ‘Tudor Translations,’ 1899 (2 vols.). To the corporation of Coventry Holland dedicated his ‘Roman Historie … of Ammianus Marcellinus’ (London, by Adam Islip, 1609, fol.). In 1610 Holland's English translation of Camden's ‘Britannia’ was published, again in folio, by George Bishop. Camden corrected the proof-sheets, and Holland laid before him his difficulties as the work proceeded. Holland, in an extant letter to Camden, dated from Coventry, 25 Aug. 1609 (Brit. Mus. MS. Cotton. Jul. cv. 28), calls him his ‘loving and affectionate friend,’ and invites his opinion as to the meaning of many phrases. In 1637 Holland's son Henry published a new edition of the translation, and, according to Nicolson and Gough, many injurious alterations were introduced. But Hearne asserts that the second edition ‘was revised and approved of, long before it went to the press, by Mr. Camden himself’ (Reliquiæ Hearnianæ, ed. Bliss, ii. 191). John Davies of Hereford supplied the new edition with verses in Holland's praise; and another panegyrist, Thomas Merial, M.A., states that the work was begun at the wish of Elizabeth, wife of Sir Thomas Berkeley, and mother of Holland's pupil, George, lord Berkeley. Holland's latest large undertaking was an English rendering of Xenophon's ‘Cyrupædia, or the Institution and Life of Cyrus, King of Persians.’ Although not published till 1632 (London, for Robert Allot, fol.), it was completed 8 Feb. 1620–1, and was recast 5 April 1629. The labour of seeing the volume through the press was borne by Henry Holland, who dedicated it to Charles I. Thomas Farnaby and Thomas Heywood (among others) supply commendatory verses. Heywood supplies two sets, one addressed to Henry Holland. After his father's death, Henry issued the doctor's Latin rendering of Bauderon's French ‘Pharmacopœia,’ with Dubois's ‘Observations’ (London, Edward Griffin, at the expense of Richard Whitaker, 1639, fol.), and dedicated it to the president and fellows of the London College of Physicians. Alexander Reid, M.D., supplied a recommendatory letter. A manuscript copy of Holland's rendering belonged to Mr. Thomas Sharp of Coventry in 1871. In 1649 Henry Holland also prepared for the press, with appendices by various writers, ‘Regimen Sanitatis Salerni, or the Schoole of Salernes Regiment of Health … dedicated unto the late high and mighty King of England from that University. … Reviewed, corrected, and inlarged, with a Commentary by P. H., Dr in Physicke, deceased,’ London, 1649, 4to. Other translations of the work had already been published in 1579 and 1607. Henry Holland dedicated his father's translation to Sir Simonds D'Ewes; it was reprinted in Sir John Sinclair's ‘Code of Health and Longevity’ (1806), iii. 3–47.

Holland is also credited with a translation into Latin for continental use of Speed's ‘Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine,’ and with ‘Paralipomena,’ a supplement to Thomasius's ‘Dictionarium,’ Cambridge, 1615, 4to. A manuscript of Euclid's ‘Harmonics’—a beautiful specimen of Greek caligraphy—written by Holland, is in the library of the free school at Coventry. Baskerville borrowed it when preparing his Greek fount. In the lower panel of the engraved title-page to Holland's translation of Xenophon's ‘Cyrupædia’ is a fine portrait of the translator, ‘ætatis svæ 80.’

Holland's translations are faithful and readable. Fuller designates him the ‘translator generall in his age,’ and asserts that ‘these books alone of his turning into English will make a country gentleman a competent library.’ ‘Dr. Holland,’ writes Hearne, ‘had a most admirable knack in translating books … several of the most obscure books being translated by him, one of which was Plutarch's “Morals”’ (Reliq. Hearn. ii. 191). A worthless epigram on Holland's voluminousness, which Fuller quotes, seems to have first appeared in ‘A Banquet of Jeasts’ (1630), absurdly assigned to Shakespeare (Collier, Bibl. Cat. ii. 337–8). Almost all his translations were issued in heavy folio volumes. Pope, in the ‘Dunciad,’ bk. i., describes ‘the groaning shelves’ bending under the weight of his works. Southey says that ‘Philemon, … for the service which he rendered to his contemporaries and to his countrymen, deserves to be called the best of the Hollands.’

[Colvile's Warwickshire Worthies, pp. 413 sq.; Thomas Sharp's Illustrative Papers of the History and Antiquities of the City of Coventry, 1871, reprinted by W. G. Fretton, pp. 178 sq.; Dugdale's Warwickshire, ed. Thomas, i. 174–5; Fuller's Worthies; Wood's Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 233; Aubrey's Lives, in Letters from the Bodleian, ii. 396; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

S. L.