great abilities, and might have been an Ornament to his Country.’ Spence remarked of Oldisworth that he had extraordinary fluency in extempore Latin verse, and would ‘repeat twenty or thirty verses at a heat’ (Anecdotes, p. 267); while Pope said of him that he could translate an ode of Horace ‘the quickest of any man in England’ (Works, ed. Elwin and Courthope, x. 207).
To Oldisworth are attributed:
- ‘The Cupid,’ a poem, 1698.
- ‘The Muses Mercury; or the Monthly Miscellany,’ consisting of poems, prologues, songs, &c., never before printed. January 1707 to January 1708, both inclusive. But the epistles dedicatory are signed J. O.
- ‘A Dialogue between Timothy and Philatheus, in which the Principles and Projects of a late whimsical Book, “The Rights of the Christian Church” [by Matthew Tindal, 1706], are fairly stated and answered. Written by a Layman,’ vol. i. 1709, ii. 1710, and iii. 1711. The last volume has numerous supplements, each with title-page. From Lintot's ‘Pocket-book’ (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. viii. 298) it appears that Oldisworth received 75l. for the three volumes. The title was probably suggested by John Eachard's ‘Dialogue between Philautus and Timothy,’ attacking Hobbes.
- ‘Vindication of the Bishop of Exeter, occasioned by Mr. Benjamin Hoadly's Reflections on his Lordship's two Sermons of Government,’ 1709. This was answered by Hoadly in ‘The Divine Rights of the British Nation and Constitution Vindicated,’ 1710, pp. 81–8.
- ‘Annotations on the “Tatler,” written in French by Monsieur Bournelle, and translated into English by Walter Wagstaff,’ 1710, 2 pts. They were marked by great eccentricity.
- ‘Essay on Private Judgment in Religious Matters’ (anon.), 1711. Lintot paid 15l. 1s. for it.
- ‘Reasons for restoring the Whigs’ (anon.), 1711. Probably satirical. The sum paid for it by Lintot was 2l. 12s.
- ‘The Iliad of Homer,’ a prose translation, with notes, 1712, 5 vols.; 1714 and 1734, 5 vols. Oldisworth translated books 16 to end; his coadjutors were John Ozell [q. v.] and William Broome [q. v.]
- ‘The Odes, Epodes, and Carmen Sæculare of Horace, in Latin and English. With a translation of Dr. Bentley's Notes. To which are added Notes upon Notes, done in the Bentleian stile and manner’ (24 pts., 6d. each), 1712–13, 3 vols. Reissued with title-page dated 1713, 2 vols., as ‘by several hands,’ though some of the parts are dated 1725. The translations were published separately as ‘The Odes, Epodes, and Carmen Sæculare of Horace in English verse. By Mr. William Oldisworth,’ 2nd edit. 1719. These versions are described in ‘Notes and Queries,’ 3rd ser. viii. 229, as ‘uniformly good, and frequently very elegant.’ Monk, however, in his ‘Life of Bentley,’ condemns the ‘Notes upon Notes’ as ‘miserably vapid; and their unvaried sneer is tiresome and nauseous.’
- ‘State Tracts,’ 1714.
- ‘Works of late Edmund Smith. With his Character by Mr. Oldisworth,’ 1714; embodied by Johnson in the ‘Lives of the Poets’ as written ‘with all the partiality of friendship,’ though, he adds, ‘I cannot much commend the performance. The praise is often indistinct, and the sentences are loaded with words of more pomp than use.’
- ‘State and Miscellany Poems, by Author of “Examiner,”’ 1715.
- ‘Callipædia; or the Art of getting pretty children. Translated from Latin of Claudius Quilletus,’ 1729.
- ‘Delightful Adventures of Honest John Cole, that Merry Old Soul’ (anon.), 1732.
- ‘The Accomplished Senator; from the Latin of Bishop Laurence Grimald Gozliski,’ 1733. In an elaborate preface Oldisworth defends his character and asserts his independence.
[Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. i. 151–2; Hearne's Collections, ed. Bliss, ii. 837, 849, ed. Doble, ii. 190, 395, 463; Rawlinson MSS. (Bodl. Libr.), v. 108, per Mr. F. Madan.]
OLDMIXON, JOHN (1673–1742), historian and pamphleteer, was a member of an ancient family which had been settled at Axbridge, Somerset, as early as the fourteenth century, and afterwards held the manor of Oldmixon, near Bridgwater. The historian's father, John Oldmixon of Oldmixon, gentleman, by his will of 1675, proved in April 1679 by his daughters Hannah and Sarah Oldmixon, left to his son John his best cabinet; and when Elinor Oldmixon of Bridgwater, widow, died in 1689, letters of administration were granted to her children, John Oldmixon and Hannah Legg. Oldmixon's mother seems to have been sister to Sir John Bawden, knight and merchant, whose will was proved in the same year (Crisp, Abstracts of Somerset Wills, copied from Collections of the Rev. F, Broum, 3rd ser. p. 24, 4th ser. p. 106, 6th ser. p. 5; Weaver, Visitations of Somerset, p. 56, and Somerset Incumbents, pp. 76, 109, 223, 281.
In his 'History of the Stuarts' (pp. 421), Oldmixon, speaking of the disinterment of the remains of Admiral Blake, a native of Bridgwater, says that he lived while a boy with Blake's brother Humphrey, who afterwards emigrated to Carolina. Mr. John Kent of Funchal has pointed out that Oldmixon was in all probability author of the 'History and Life of Robert Blake … written by a