Thomas Rymer (c. 1643 – 14 December 1713) was an English poet, critic, antiquary and historian. His lasting contribution was to compile and publish 16 volumes of the first edition of Foedera, a work in 20 volumes conveying agreements between The Crown of England and foreign powers since 1101. He held the office of English Historiographer Royal from 1692 to 1714. He is credited with coining the phrase "poetic justice" in The Tragedies of the Last Age Consider'd (1678).
Although Rymer was still at Cambridge in 1662 when he contributed Latin verses to a university volume to mark the marriage of Charles II and Catherine of Braganza, there is no record of his taking a degree. This may have been due to financial problems his father was suffering at the time, or to his father's arrest on 13 October 1663 — he was executed the following year for involvement in the Farnley Wood Plot, an intended uprising in Yorkshire against Charles II. Although Thomas's elder brother Ralph was also arrested and imprisoned, Thomas was not implicated. On 2 May 1666 he became a member of Gray's Inn. He was called to the bar on 16 June 1673.
To Ovid's Epistles Translated by Several Hands (1680), prefaced by Dryden, Rymer contributed Penelope to Ulysses.[lower-alpha 3] He was also one of those who Englished the so-called Dryden's Plutarch of 1683–1686 (5 vols.): the life of Nicias fell to his share. Rymer wrote a preface to Whitelocke's Memorials of English Affairs (1682), and in 1681 A General Draught and Prospect of the Government of Europe, reprinted in 1689 and 1714 as Of the Antiquity, Power, and Decay of Parliaments, where ignorant of a future dignity that would be his, he had the misfortune to observe, "You are not to expect truth from an historiographer royal."
Rymer's next piece of authorship was to translate the sixth elegy of the third book of Ovid's Tristia for Dryden's Poetical Miscellanies. The only version to contain Rymer's rendering seems to be the second edition of the second part of the Miscellanies, subtitled Silvae (1692).[lower-alpha 9]
Rymer's lasting contribution to scholarship was the Foedera, a collection of "all the leagues, treaties, alliances, capitulations, and confederacies, which have at any time been made between the Crown of England and any other kingdoms, princes and states." Documents were presented in Latin with summaries in English. Begun under a royal warrant in 1693, it was "an immense labour of research and transcription on which he spent the last twenty years of his life".
The first edition of the Foedera consisted of 20 volumes dated 1704–1735. Sixteen were prepared by Rymer, of which the last two were published posthumously by his assistant Robert Sanderson, who himself compiled the remaining volumes, the last three being supplementary.
George Holmes revised the first 17 volumes, published from 1727 to 1735, and a single folio in 1730 of corrections to the first edition.
The "Hague edition" was published from 1737 to 1745 in "ten closely-printed folio volumes".[lower-alpha 10] The first nine reprinted the London edition, with the tenth combining Paul de Rapin's French-language synopsis and an index to the Foedera. Rapin's text had been translated into English in 1733.
The Record Commission in 1800 proposed a "Supplement and Continuation" to the Foedera; in 1809 it decided instead to make a complete revision. Seven parts were prepared before the project was abandoned due to dissatisfaction with the editing by Dr Adam Clarke and others. Six parts in three volumes were published from 1816 to 1830 and the seventh in 1869, along with miscellaneous notes.[lower-alpha 11] The work was thus revised up to the year 1383. A three-volume English-language summary and index of the complete Foedera by Sir Thomas Duffus Hardy followed. The Victoria County History recommends citing the Record Commission (RC) edition where available and the Hague edition otherwise.
Rymer died on 14 December 1713 and was buried four days later in St Clement Danes' Church in the Strand in London. He appears not to have left any immediate family.
Related Research Articles
Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher, considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy. Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book Leviathan, in which he expounds an influential formulation of social contract theory. In addition to political philosophy, Hobbes contributed to a diverse array of other fields, including history, jurisprudence, geometry, theology, and ethics, as well as philosophy in general.
John Dryden was an English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who was appointed England's first Poet Laureate in 1668.
Aphra Behn was an English playwright, poet, prose writer and translator from the Restoration era. As one of the first English women to earn her living by her writing, she broke cultural barriers and served as a literary role model for later generations of women authors. Rising from obscurity, she came to the notice of Charles II, who employed her as a spy in Antwerp. Upon her return to London and a probable brief stay in debtors' prison, she began writing for the stage. She belonged to a coterie of poets and famous libertines such as John Wilmot, Lord Rochester. Behn wrote under the pastoral pseudonym Astrea. During the turbulent political times of the Exclusion Crisis, she wrote an epilogue and prologue that brought her into legal trouble; she thereafter devoted most of her writing to prose genres and translations. A staunch supporter of the Stuart line, she declined an invitation from Bishop Burnet to write a welcoming poem to the new king William III. She died shortly after.
This article contains information about the literary events and publications of 1693.
Abraham Cowley was an English poet and essayist born in the City of London late in 1618. He was one of the leading English poets of the 17th century, with 14 printings of his Works published between 1668 and 1721.
Thomas Creech was an English translator of classical works, and headmaster of Sherborne School. Creech translated Lucretius into verse in 1682, for which he received a Fellowship at Oxford. He also produced English versions of Manilius, Horace, Theocritus, and other classics.
Charles Gildon, was an English hack writer who was, by turns, a translator, biographer, essayist, playwright, poet, author of fictional letters, fabulist, short story author, and critic. He provided the source for many lives of Restoration figures, although he appears to have propagated or invented numerous errors with them. He is remembered best as a target of Alexander Pope's in both Dunciad and the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot and an enemy of Jonathan Swift's. Gildon's biographies are, in many cases, the only biographies available, but they have nearly without exception been shown to have wholesale invention in them. Because of Pope's caricature of Gildon, but also because of the sheer volume and rapidity of his writings, Gildon has come to stand as the epitome of the hired pen and the literary opportunist.
Jacob Tonson, sometimes referred to as Jacob Tonson the Elder (1655–1736), was an eighteenth-century English bookseller and publisher.
Samuel Wesley was a clergyman of the Church of England, as well as a poet and a writer of controversial prose. He was also the father of John Wesley and Charles Wesley, founders of Methodism.
William Walsh of Abberley Hall, Worcestershire was an English poet and critic and a Whig politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons from 1698 to 1708.
Charles Blount was an English deist and philosopher who published several anonymous essays critical of the existing English order.
Fables, Ancient and Modern is a collection of translations of classical and medieval poetry by John Dryden interspersed with some of his own works. Published in March 1700, it was his last and one of his greatest works. Dryden died two months later.
Richard Duke was an English clergyman and poet, associated with the Tory writers of the Restoration era.
Gondibert is an epic poem by William Davenant. In it he attempts to combine the five-act structure of English Renaissance drama with the Homeric and Virgilian epic literary tradition. Davenant also sought to incorporate modern philosophical theories about government and passion, based primarily in the work of Thomas Hobbes, to whom Davenant sent drafts of the poem for review.
Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.
Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.
John Bancroft was an English dramatist, by profession a surgeon. He was buried in St. Paul's Church, Covent Garden.
The Treaty of York (1464) was made between England and Scotland on 1 June 1464 at York and was intended to establish 15 years of peace. Previously Scotland had supported the defeated House of Lancaster in the English civil War of the Roses.
George Holmes (1662–1749) was an English archivist, best known as the editor of Thomas Rymer's Fœdera.
Awnsham Churchill (1658–1728), of the Black Swan, Paternoster Row, London and Henbury, Dorset, was an English bookseller and radical Whig politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons from 1705 to 1710.
↑ A 1688 translation into English of William Bellenden's Ciceronis Princeps (first published anonymously in Paris in 1608) sometimes said to be Thomas Rymer's first publication, has been shown by Curt Zimansky to be the work of Thomas Ross (1620–1675), courtier, poet and tutor to the first Duke of Monmouth.
↑ "Thomas Rymer: Reflections on Aristotle's Treatise of Poesie: The Preface of the Translator". English Poetry 1579-1830: Spenser and the Tradition. Retrieved 26 March 2019. This page includes thoughts of other critics about Rymer, expressed in George Saintsbury (1911) History of English Criticism, pp. 133–134, Herbert E. Cory (1911) Critics of Edmund Spenser, pp. 120–121, Harko Gerrit De Maar (1924), History of Modern English Romanticism, p. 34, and H. T. Swedenberg (1944), Theory of the Epic in England, p. 47.
↑ This went through numerous expanding editions: e. g. Ovid; Rymer, Thomas (1776). "Penelope to Ulysses". In Dryden, John (preface) (ed.). Ovid's Epistles: with his Amours. Translated into English Verse by the Most Eminent Hands. London: Printed for T. Davies, W. Strahan, W. Clarke, et al.
↑ The poems are: On Mr. Waller. T. Rymer (p. 4); Monsieur St. Euremon. 1684 (In French). In English, by T. R. (p. 10); To Mr. Riley, Drawing Mr. Waller's Picture. T. R. (p. 26). "It is not improbable that the initials T. R., signed to several of the pieces, are those of Thomas Rymer, who is believed to have edited the volume and who signed one of the poems in full."
↑ The poems are again On Mr. Waller By Mr. T. Rymer (pp. 223–225); Monsieur St. Euremon. 1684. In English, by T. R. (p. 234); To Mr. Riley, Drawing Mr. Waller's Picture. By Mr. T. Rymer (p. 267). The attribution of the Riley poem is 'By Mr. Rymer', rather than 'T. R.' in the 1688 version.
↑ William Molesworth, in his 1845 edition of Hobbes says that the preface is by Rymer and that the original title page and motto must be ascribed to him. Patricia Springborg also says the introduction is by Rymer.
↑ See Blackburne, Richard by Arthur Henry Grant in DNB, Volume 5: "Dr. Blackburne certainly wrote a Latin supplement to the short "Life", entitled "Vitae Hobbianie Auctarium", the first sentence of which supplies the chief evidence of his authorship of the "Life". Both these works would seem to have been derived from a larger and fuller "Life" in manuscript, written in English by John Aubrey and used with the knowledge and consent of the latter, and possibly with the assistance of Hobbes himself."
↑ Dryden and Jacob Tonson's Poetical Miscellanies has a somewhat involved publishing history of numerous editions with various titles, reprints and bindings. The second edition of the second part (1692) seems to be the only one to contain Rymer's translation, and was apparently only published bound up with some copies of the second edition of the first part (also 1692). The first edition of the second Ppart appeared as Sylvæ: or the Second Part of Poetical Miscellanies (1685). A second edition of Sylvae was published in 1692 and was bound with the second edition of part one of the Miscellany Poems (1692) (Part One, 1st ed. published 1684, reissued 1685). This second edition of the first and second Parts was published in 1692 (Dryden 1692). It seems to be the only version to contain Rymer's translation. There are online copies or text-only versions, but none seem to be freely available. In addition, some copies of the first edition of Sylvæ (not containing Rymer's Ovid) were bound with the second edition of the Miscellany Poems. Rymer's Ovid does not seem to appear in the third edition of the first part of the Miscellany Poems (1702) or in the fourth edition of the second part of the Miscellany Poems. The third part (or volume) is Examen Poeticum (1693).
Bond, Christopher (September 2009). "The Phœnix and the Prince: The Poetry of Thomas Ross and Literary Culture in the Court of Charles II". The Review of English Studies. 60 (246): 588–604. doi:10.1093/res/hgn169.
Hobbes, Thomas (1722). Rymer, Thomas (ed.). English paraphrase, A True Ecclesiastical History From Moses to the time of Martin Luther, in Verse. Made English from the Latin original. Translated by an unknown hand. London: Printed for E. Curll. hdl:2027/njp.32101073248617.
Oppenheimer, Carl H. (1940). The Carl H. Pforzheimer Library. 3. New York: Privately Printed.
Plutarch (1693). "Nicias". The third volume of Plutarch's lives. Translated from the Greek, by several hands. Translated by Thomas Rymer. (Early English Books Online – text only). London: Printed by R. E. for Jacob Tonson, at the Judges Head in Chancery-Lane, near Fleet-street.
Rymer, Thomas (1688a). "Preface". In Hobbes, Thomas (ed.). Historia ecclesiastica carmine elegiaco concinnata Authore, Thoma Hobbio Malmesburiensi. (Early English Books Online – text only) (in Latin). Augustae Trinobantum (London).
Rymer, Thomas (1853) . "Preface to the first edition". In Whitelocke, Bulstrode (ed.). Memorials of the English affairs from the beginning of the reign of Charles the First to the happy restoration of King Charles the Second, Vol. 1. (4 vols.) (Repr. of 2nd, 1732ed.). Oxford University Press.
Irving Ribner: "Dryden's Shaksperian criticism and the neo-classical paradox", The Shakespeare Association Bulletin Vol. 21, No. 4 (October 1946), pp. 168–171. Published by: Oxford University Press Published by Jacob Tonson, Bookseller
Keith Walker: The American Scholar Vol. 61, No. 3 (Summer 1992), pp. 424–430. Published by The Phi Beta Kappa Society . On p. 429 Walker mentions a preface by Rymer to some lewd poems by the Earl of Rochester: Poems on several occasions by the E... of R... (1680), but the Online books page of University of Michigan seems not to have the preface .