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THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.
ESSAYS AND ILLUSTRATIONS.
REV. CAESAR DE-MISSY.
Cæsar De-Missy, born at Berlin, June 2, 1703, was eldest son of Charles De-Missy, merchant at Berlin, native of the province of Saintonge, by his wife Susanna Godeffroy, grand-daughter of John Godeffroy, esq. Lord of Richal, who was mayor and captain general of the government of Rochelle, when besieged by Lewis XIII. He studied first at the French college at Berlin, and from thence removed to the University of Francfort on the Oder*.
*This article is formed out of a communication which I received in 1782, with the following letter:
Jan 29, 1782.
"Mr. Woide having informed me that you wished for some biographical account of my worthy and ever regretted husband,
thought that which was published about four years ago at Berlin might not be unacceptable, and the more as the foreign publications find their way with great difficulty to London : therefore (having only one copy of the printed sheets, which a Relation sent me at the time by the post) I have transcribed it you. You have, Sir, my free consent to print the whole, or any part thereof, either in its present language, or in English, if you see any impropriety in inserting French in your work: and should desire to know any thing more, relative to Mr. De Missy, whatever intelligence may be in my power, I shall very willingly impart.-I return you my hearty and most grateful acknowledgments for your kind attention to my dear Mr. De Missy's memory; and join my thanks with those of the publick, for the solicitude you have more than once shewn to preserve from oblivion' names which deserve to be remembered with esteem. I am, Sir, Your obliged humble servant, E. DE MISSY," VOL. III.
He was examined for the degree of Candidat at Berlin, and his letters of reception were dated 1725: but, by a kind of ecclesiastical tyranny, the candidates for the ministry were obliged to sign an act of orthodoxy peculiar to the Prussian dominions ; which certain scruples entertained by Mr. De-Missy and Mr. Franc, another candidate, who had been examined and received with him, not permitting them to do without reserve, it was eleven months before they could obtain their letters, at the end of which time they were allowed to sign with every restriction they could wish. To avoid the inconvenience of this act which ministers were then obliged to sign also when they were called on to serve a church, notwithstanding some eminent ministers at that time at Berlin had never signed, Mr. De-Missy resolved to quit the country; and, after having preached about five years in different towns of the United Provinces, from whence, as well as from Berlin, he brought the most flattering testimonies of approbation and esteem, he was invited to London in 1731, and ordained to serve the French Chapel in the Savoy; and in 1762 he was named by the Bishop of London to succeed Mr. Serces as one of the French chaplains to his Majesty in his Chapel at St. James's, a preferment which he held for many years. Several little poetical pieces, some of which have been set to musick, essays both in sacred and profane literature, epitomes of books, memoirs, dissertations, &c. &c. by Mr. De-Missy, with his
* Candidat is the title given at Berlin to such gentlemen as, after examination, are acknowledged capable of the holy ministry, but have not yet any living or ecclesiastical preferment.
This time was passed in examinations and altercations; and the affair probably would not have terminated as it did, had it not been for the death of a prime minister, who was uncommonly strenuous for the act, which was peculiarly distressing to delicate consciences, even though orthodox. There yet exists (in some copies of letters written at the time) a full account of this petty persecution, which is curious enough, but perhaps not an object of attention here.
initials C. D. M. or some assumed name, and frequently anonymous, appeared in different collections and periodical journals in Holland, France, and England, from 1721. He seldom published any thing except occasionally, or in consequence of certain unforeseen engagements, or the importunity of friends. Such was a little piece printed in March 1722, on the recovery of Lewis XV. composed by the author while at college at the solicitation of his music-master; some pieces in the "Mercure de France," and Mr. Jordan's " Recueil de Literature, de Philosophie, et d'Histoire, 1730;" the verses to Voltaire in Jordan's "Voyage Literaire, fait en 1733," printed in 1735; the Addresses to the Queen of England and the Princess of Wales, printed in the Dutch Gazette, 1736; the four poetical pieces in the French Translation of Pamela, 1741, and some in the "Bibliotheque Britannique," and the "Magazin François de Londres;" a Greek epigram, with a translation and letters relating to it, in the Public Advertiser, May 31, June 4, 15, 21, 1763. In 1725, at the invitation of Mess. De Beausobre, he wrote a little poem on the tragical affair at Thorn *, which, after having been printed by their order in Holland, with their translation of Jablonski's "Thorn affligée," was suppressed without their knowledge before the book was published. The same year he transcribed and translated, for the elder De Beausobre, some old MS German letters for his History of the Reformation in Germany, which still remains in MS. probably because no bookseller (notwithstanding the author's reputation) has been found willing to engage in it on liberal
In 1728 or 1729, being at Amsterdam, he assisted his friend Mr. De Chevriere in his History of England. Among other authors who are indebted to him
* The persecution there of the Protestants was, at the time, thought so remarkable, that it was said to have been foretold in the Revelations,
were, Professor Wetstein in his splendid edition of the Greek Testament*; Dr. Jortin, in his Life of Erasmus ; Mr. Bowyer and the Writer of these Anecdotes, in "Two Essays on the Origin of Printing, 1774," and the new edition with additions, 1776; throughout the Appendix to which many of his valuable remarks are scattered.
In 1728 a bookseller at Amsterdam proposed to him to undertake a quarto volume, to connect the History of the Councils by Lenfant and Father Paul; but from this he excused himself, and recommended Mr. De Beausobre, senior, whose critical Essay on the History of Manicheism was the fruit of this negotiation.
In 1735 Mr. De-Missy was appointed to preach in the French church, called the Patente, in Soho, on the Anniversary of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (for a pastor of that church, who a month before had broke his leg); and he was requested to publish a sermon, which is now out of print, but has passed through several editions, the best of which is that of 1751.
Among Dr. Birch's MSS. is a letter, in French, from Mr. De-Missy, in 1736, recommending his Brother to some employment in one of the Mediterranean Islands.
Some Criticks have very bitterly reproached him for a little quarto piece, intituled," Remarques de Pierre le Motteux sur Rabelais, traduites librement de l'Anglois par C. D. M. et accompagnées de diverses Observations du Traducteur. Edition revue, &c. à Londres, 1740," or rather 1741; in which work he engaged from motives of pure friendship and honour, of which he had no more
*See Tom. I. p. 46. n. 12. p. 50. n. 44. p. 53. n. 69. p. 58. n. 106. Tom. II. p. 271.
† See Vol. II. pp. 26. 89. 414.
Concerning the first, see Biblioth. Brit. Tom. VII. where is also a Dissertation on the 137th Psalm, whence the text is taken; and on the latter, the Journal Brit. Tom. V. p. 226.
reason to be ashamed than of the work itself *. In the "Bibliotheque Britannique" are several other pieces by Mr. De-Missy, as critiques on new books, dissertations, and pieces in verse; and in the "Journal Britannique," among others, some letters on the Vatican MS. cited by Father Amelot, concerning the three that bear record in heaven; one by way of answer to a kind of anonymous criticism, which, after having appeared in the additions to the Dutch edition of the "Journal des Sçavans," and in a certain periodical paper printed at the Hague, still fuller of falsehoods and the greatest abuse, appeared a little divested of these ornaments even in Dr. Maty's Journal, which falsehoods and abuse Mr. Prosper Marchand, or his editor, thought proper to re-print in his note under the name of David Martin, in his "Dictionaire Historique," 1758. In 1749 and 1750 appeared two little English Poems by Mr. De-Missy, on the political feuds of the time, composed while a pretty severe fit of the gout forbad him any great application: one intituled, "Dick and Tim" the other "Bribery, a Satire."
Towards the close of 1765 he was consulted by his learned friend Mr. Bowyer about a Preface, which the latter undertook to draw up for Mr. Vaillant
*On this see Biblioth. Brit. Tom. XVII. p. 420. and Journa Brit. XI. 92-95.
†The good people at the Hague, who printed these things, went so far as to send copies by the post to London, accompanied with a letter written in the name of a respectable lady, whose signature they were not ashamed to forge. But this proceeding met with the treatment it deserved. A late learned English prelate, who sometimes spent an hour in Mr. De-Missy's library, and had been informed of the whole affair, said to him, taking him by the hand, "Make yourself easy, sir; it is the lot of men of merit to be attacked by those who have none: good men will esteem you the more."
Of these see the "Nouvelles Litteraires," in the " Magazin François de Londres,” 1. 113–116.
§ Paul Vaillant, Esq. an opulent and respectable bookseller in the Strand. He died Feb. 1. 1802, in his 87th year; being at that time Father of the Company of Stationers, of which he had been a Liveryman 64 years. He left two sons; one of them in