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Osborne
Osborne
304

cation to Lord Carteret, and William Oldys [q. v.], who had been secretary to the Earl of Oxford, was responsible for most of the remainder of the work. Booksellers complained that a charge of five shillings was made for each of the first two volumes of this catalogue, and they said that the prices charged for the books were high. The prices asked for rare English books now appear to be absurdly small, yet the sale was so slow that Osborne did not gain much by the transaction. The third volume of the catalogue contained proposals for the 'Harleian Miscellany; or a Collection of scarce, curious, and entertaining Pamphlets and Tracts found in the late Earl of Oxford's Library,' Six sheets at one shilling were to be published every Saturday, beginning with 24 March 1744. The 'Miscellany' was published in eight quarto volumes, 1744-6, the first volume (of which there was a second edition in 1753) being dedicated to the king by Osborne. This important work was reissued in 1808-13, with two additional volumes edited by Thomas Park.

In the new edition of the 'Dunciad,' issued in 1743, Pope substituted Osborne's name for that of Chapman in bk. ii. lines 167 sq.

Osborne and Curll accept the glorious strife
(Tho' this his son dissuades, and that his wife).

Pope complained that Osborne had pretended to sell the subscription books of Pope's 'Iliad' at half the price, whereas he really cut down the common folio copies to the size of the subscription quartos. Johnson (Life of Pope) remarks that 'Osborne was a man entirely destitute of shame, without sense of any disgrace but that of poverty. He told me, when he was doing that which raised Pope's resentment, that he should be put into the "Dunciad" ; but he had the fate of Cassandra. I gave no credit to his prediction, till in time I saw it accomplished. The shafts of satire were directed' in vain against Osborne's 'impassive dulness.' It was commonly reported that Johnson had once knocked Osborne down in his shop with a folio, and put his foot on his neck. Johnson gave Boswell the true version: 'Sir, he was impertinent to me, and I beat him. But it was not in his shop: it was in my own chamber' (Boswell, ed. Croker, pp. 46, 613). The Rev. A. M. Toplady (Memoirs, by W. Winters, p. 45) says that the volume thrown was Johnson's 'Dictionary,' while the doctor was on a ladder in his room. Mrs. Piozzi adds that Johnson remarked that Osborne, being a blockhead, told of his beating: others who had been beaten by Johnson had the wit to hold their tongues (Piozzi, Anecdotes, p. 233).

In 1754 Osborne was in partnership with J. Shipton, and took a house at Hampstead, having, as Nichols puts it, 'contrived such arbitrary prices as raised him to his country house and dog and duck huntings' {Lit. Anecd. iii. 625). At the suggestion of Captain Pratten, who acted as master of the ceremonies at the Long Room, Hampstead, Osborne agreed to give on 10 Sept. 1754 a public breakfast for the ladies and a duck hunt for the gentlemen, as well as a lunch and a dance later in the day. Subsequently a fan was engraved and a specimen presented to each lady visitor. On one side was represented the field with the breakfast marquees and duck-pond; on the other, Osborne's house and the tent for dancing. Impressions of both views are in the Banks collection at the British Museum.

Osborne died on 21 Aug. 1767, and was buried on the 27th at St. Mary's, Islington (Lewis, History of Islington, 1843, p. 250). By his will, made 8 July and proved 26 Aug. 1767, he left to his wife Mary the leasehold messuage in Warwick Court, Gray's Inn, where he then lived, together with all household goods and furniture. To his brother-in-law William Smith he left a leasehold messuage in Fulwood's Rents, then occupied by Smith, on the condition that such portion of Osborne's stock-in-trade as was in that house should remain there until it could conveniently be sold. The benchers, doctor, and afternoon preacher of Gray's Inn had mourning rings. The stock-in-trade and residue of the estate went to the wife, William Smith, and nephew William Toll. Osborne's stock was sold in 1768-9.

Though the principal bookseller of his time, Osborne is said to have been very ignorant of books. He was, however, skilled in all the tricks of his trade. He is charged with being very insolent to his customers, affronting them if they would not buy some publication of his own ; but Toplady says that Osborne, who was his own bookseller, was a very respectable man. When Toplady was about to take orders, Osborne offered him a number of sermons (originals) for a trifle, adding that he had sold ready-made sermons to many a bishop (Memoirs, p. 23). He was short and thick in stature, and often spoke in a domineering manner to inferiors. He improved, however, in his later years, and would ask into his little parlour young booksellers who called when he was taking wine after dinner. 'Young man,' he would say, 'I have been in business more than forty years, and am now worth more than 40,000l. Attend to your business, and you will be as rich as I am.' He was for many years one