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Rymer
Rysbrack
68

and fifty copies printed of each of the seventeen volumes, two hundred only were for sale at 2l. each. The cost of printing the seventeen volumes amounted to 10,615l. 12s. 6d. Three supplemental volumes by Sanderson brought the total number to twenty, of which the last appeared in 1735. The latest document included was dated 1654.

As the successive volumes issued from the press, the great design attracted appreciative attention, both at home and abroad. Each volume was, on its publication, abridged by Rapin in French in Le Clerc's ‘Bibliothèque Choisie,’ and a translation of this abridgment was published in English as ‘Acta Regia’ by Stephen Whatley in 1731 in 4 vols. 8vo (originally issued in twenty-five monthly parts). Hearne highly commended Rymer's industry, and welcomed every instalment with enthusiasm (cf. Collections, ii. 296). Swift, who obtained the volumes for the library of Dublin University, wrote in his ‘Journal to Stella’ on 22 Feb. 1712: ‘Came home early, and have been amusing myself with looking into one of the volumes of Rymer's records.’ Though defective at some points, and defaced by errors of date and by many misprints, Rymer's ‘Fœdera’ remains a collection of high value and authority for almost all periods of the middle ages and for the sixteenth century. For the period of the Commonwealth the work is meagre, and Dumont's ‘Corps Universel Diplomatique’ (8 vols. 1726) is for that epoch an indispensable supplement.

A corrected reprint, issued by Jacob Tonson at the expense of government, under the direction of George Holmes (1662–1749) [q. v.], of the first seventeen volumes, appeared between 1727 and 1730, and was sold at 50l. a set; this was limited to two hundred copies (Reliquiæ Hearnianæ, ed. Bliss, iii. 23). A new edition in ten volumes, published by John Neaulme at The Hague, 1737–45, is of greatly superior typographical accuracy, and supplies some new documents. A third edition of the ‘Fœdera’ was undertaken in 1806 by the Record Commission. Dr. Adam Clarke [q. v.] was appointed editor, and he was subsequently replaced by John Caley [q. v.] and Frederick Holbrooke; but after 30,388l. 18s. 4½d. had been spent, between 1816 and 1830, on producing five hundred copies of parts i.–vi. (forming vols. i.–iii. and bringing the work to 1383), the publication was finally suspended in 1830. A valuable syllabus of the ‘Fœdera,’ containing many corrections, was prepared by Sir Thomas Hardy, and was issued in three volumes (vol. i. appearing in 1869, 4to, vol. ii. in 1873, and vol iii. in 1885).

While engaged on the ‘Fœdera’ Rymer found time to deal with some controverted historical problems. In 1702 he published a first letter to Bishop Nicolson ‘on his Scotch Library,’ in which he endeavours to free Robert III of Scotland from the imputation of bastardy. A second letter to Bishop Nicolson contained ‘an historical deduction of the alliances between France and Scotland, whereby the pretended old league with Charlemagne is disproved and the true old league is ascertained.’ Sir Robert Sibbald [q. v.], in a published reply, disputed Rymer's accuracy. Rymer, in a third letter to Nicolson (1706), vindicated the character of Edward III.

Rymer died in poor circumstances at his house in Arundel Street, Strand, on 14 Dec. 1713, and was buried in the parish church of St. Clement Danes. He left all his property to Mrs. Anna Parnell, spinster; she sold his ‘Collectanea’ to the treasury for 215l. He seems to have been unmarried. After his death was published, in a volume called ‘Curious Amusements, by a Gentleman of Pembroke-hall in Cambridge’ (1714, 12mo), ‘Some Translations [attributed to Rymer] from Greek, Latin, and Italian Poets, with other Verses and Songs never before printed.’

[An unfinished life of Rymer, by Des Maizeaux, is among Thomas Birch's manuscripts (Add. MS. 4423, f. 161). This and all other accessible sources of information have been utilised by Sir Thomas Duffus Hardy in the elaborate memoir which he prefixed to vol. i. of his Syllabus of Rymer's Fœdera (1869). See also Chalmers's Biogr. Dict.; Rymer's Works; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. xi. 490; Diary of Ralph Thoresby, ed. Hunter; Gardiner's and Mullinger's Introduction to English History.]

S. L.

RYSBRACK, JOHN MICHAEL (JOANNES MICHIEL) (1693?–1770), sculptor, is usually stated to have been born in Antwerp on 24 June 1693, but the date and place both seem uncertain. He was son of Pieter Andreasz Rysbrack, a landscape-painter of Antwerp, who, after working in England for a short time in 1675, went to Paris, where he married a Frenchwoman, Geneviève Compagnon, widow of Philippe Buyster, by whom he had, besides the sculptor, two sons, Pieter Andreas and Gerard. A strong leaning to French models in the sculptor's work may be traced to the French origin of his mother. Rysbrack studied at Antwerp under Theodore Balant, one of the leading sculptors there, and in 1714–15 was ‘meester’ of the guild of St. Luke in that city. According to another account, his master from 1706 to 1712 was the sculptor, Michiel Van der Vorst.