Kuster, Ludolf

, a learned critic, was born in the month of Feb. 1670 at Blomberg, a little town in Westphalia, where his father was a magistrate. He learned polite literature under his elder brother, who taught it in | the college of Joachim at Berlin. He distinguished himself so early in life, that on the recommendation of baron Spanheim, he was appointed tutor to the two sons of the count de Schewerin, prime-minister of the king of Prussia. He had also the promise of a professorship in the college of Joachim at Berlin but, till that should be vacant, Kuster, who was then but about five-and-twenty, resolved to travel into Germany, France, England, and Holland. He went first to Francfort upon the Oder, where he studied the civil law for some time; and thence to Antwerp, Ley den, and Utrecnt, where he remained a considerable time, and wrote several works. In 1699, he passed over into England, and the year following into France, where his chief employment was to collate Suidas with three manuscripts in the king’s library. About the end of this year he returned to England, and in four years finished his edition of Suidas, on which he may be said to have meditated day and night. He relates himself, that, being one night awaked by thunder and lightning, he became so alarmed for this work, that he rose immediately, and carried it to bed with him, as his most valuable treasure. It was published at Cambridge in 1705, and is by far the best edition of that valuable Lexicon; and Le Clerc tells us, that the university furnished part of the expence of it. The Bodleian library has lately become possessed of a copy, covered from one end to the other with manuscript notes by D’Orville and others. Kuster was honoured with the degree of doctor by the university of Cambridge, and had several advantageous offers made him to continue there; but was obliged to wave them, being recalled to Berlin, to take possession of the professorship, which had been promised him. He afterwards resigned this place, and went to Amsterdam; where, in 1710, he published an edition of “Aristophanes,” in folio, whicb the public had been prepared some time to expect by an account as well as a specimen of that work, given by LeClerc in his “Bibliotheque choisie,” for 1708. This excellent edition, emphatically called editio optima, coi.‘t.tins for the first time some new Scholia on the “Lysistrata,” some notes of Isaac Casaubon on the “Equites,” and of Spanheim and Bentley, on a few of the earlier plays. It is, upon the whole, a noble production, and has been long esteemed by the first literary characters abroad and at home. Kuster gave an edition also of “Mill’s | Greek Testament” the same year; in which he had compared the text with twelve manuscripts which Mill never saw. Of these twelve there were nine in the king of France’s library; but, excepting one, which has all the books of the New Testament, the rest contain no more than the four Gospels. The tenth manuscript belonged to Carpzovius, a minister of Leipsic, and contains the four Gospels. The eleventh was brought from Greece by Seidel, of Berlin; but it has not the four Gospels. The last, which Kuster most highly valued, was communicated to him by Bornier, who bought it at the public sale of the library of Francius, professor of rhetoric at Amsterdam. After Kuster’s preface, follows a letter of Le Clerc concerning Mill’s work. From Amsterdam he removed to Rotterdam, and went some time after to Antwerp, to confer with the Jesuits about some doubts he had in religious matters; the consequence of this was his being brought over to the Roman catholic religion, and his abjuring that of the Protestants July 25, 1713, in the church of the noviciates belonging to the Jesuits. The king of France rewarded him with a pension of 2000 livres; and as a mark of "distinction, ordered him to be admitted supernumerary associate of the academy of inscriptions. But he did not enjoy this new settlement long; for he died October 12, 1716, of an abscess in the pancreas, aged only forty-six.

Kuster’s other works, not hitherto mentioned, were: 1. “Historia Critica Homeri,” Francfort, 1696, 8vo, a work which he did not value much afterwards, when he had made a greater progress in learning. He thought that he had begun too early the character of an author. In this tract he took upon him the name of Neocorus, which in Greek signifies a sexton, as Kuster does in High Dutch. 2. “Bibliotheca Librorum collecta a L. Neocoro, 77 Utrecht, 5 tomes in 8vo. This work was continued from the month of April 1697, to the end of 1699. Mr. Kuster was at.first employed alone in this journal; but took into his assistance Mr. Henry Sike, who was afterwards professor of Hebrew in the university of Cambridge. They wrote in conjunction till June 1699, when Mr. Kuster left this work to Mr. Sike, who continued it no longer than the last six months of that year. 3.” Jamblichi de Vita Pythagoras Liber, Grsece & Latine, cum nova Versione, Emendationibus, & Notis L. Kusteri. Accedit Porphyrius de Vit& Pythagoras cum notis L. Holstenii &-C. Hittershusii; itemque | Anonymus apud Photium de Vita Pythagorse,“Amsterdam^ 1707, in 4to. Dr. Kuster’s notes are merely criticd, in which he restores a prodigious number of passages in his authors. 4.” Diatriba L. K. in qu& Editio Suidae Cantabrigiensis contra Cavillationes J. G. Aristarchi Leydensis defenditur,“inserted in M. Le Clerc’s Bibliotheque Choisie, torn. XXIV. p. 49, & seqq. and published separately, in 12mo. A new edition of it, with additions, was published under the title of” Diatriba Anti-Gronoviana,“at Amsterdam, 1712, in 8vo. 5.” De Musseo Alexaudrino Diatriba,“inserted in the 8th tome of Gronovius’s collection of Greek Antiquities. 6.” Ludovici Savoti Dissertationes de Nummis antiquis lingua Gallica in Latinam translate a. L. Neocoro,“inserted in the llth tome of Graevius’s Roman Antiquities. 7.” Picturae antiquse sepulchri Nasoniorum in Via Flaminia delineate & incisee a Petro Sancto Bartaeriolo, explicates a Joanne Petro Hellene; ex Italics. Lingua in Latinam transtulit L. Neocorus,“inserted in the 12th volume of GraDvius. 8” Epistola, in qua Praefatio quarn v. c. J. P. [Jacobus Perizonius] novissimae Dissertationi suae de aere gravi praeposuit, refellitur,“Leyden, 1713, 8vi. 9.” De vero usu Verborum Mediorum apud Graecos, eorumque differentia u Verbis Activis & Passivis. Annexa est Epistola de Verbo Cerno ad virum clar. J. P. Auctore Ludolpho Kustero, Regias Inscriptionum Academiae socio,“Paris, 1714, in 12mo. 10.” Explication d’une Inscription Greque envoy^e de Smyrne,“inserted in the Memoirs de Trevoux for September, 1715. 11.” Examen Criticum Editionis novissimae Herodoti Gronovianae,“inserted in Le Clerc’s Bibliotheque ancienne &, moderne, torn. V. p. 383 & seqq. There has been published in Holland under the name of Graevius, and with the title of” Nova Conors Musarum," a little tract of Kuster, written in 1699, for the instruction of some young noblemen. Our author published a specimen of a new edition of Robert Stephens’s Thesaurus, with great improvements in La Roche’s Memoirs of Literature, vol. V. p. 298 & seqq

Kuster’s chief excellence was his skill in the Greek language, to which he devoted himself with an enthusiasm which undervalued every other pursuit. He thought the history and chronology of Greek words the most solid entertainment of a man of letters, and despised all other branches of learning. It is reported of him, that one day | taking up Bayle’s “Commentaire Philosophique,” in a bookseller’s shop, he threw it down, and said, “This is nothing but a book of reasoning; non sic itur ad astra.” But many of his characteristic peculiarities will be best understood from the following letter from Joseph Wasse, the learned editor of Sallust.

Dr. Raster, a tall, thin, pale man, seemingly unable to bear fatigue, was nevertheless indefatigable, and of an uncommon application to letters. He formed himself under Graevius. I was acquainted with him from 1700 to 1714-. Upon my collecting the remains of Anacreon for Mr. Barnes, about 1702, he introduced me to Dr. Bentley. You must be known, says he, to that gentleman, whom I look upon, not only as the first scholar in Europe, but as the best of friends. I only hinted to him the difficulty I lay under in relation to the officers of the customs; and, presently after, he accommodated that troublesome affair to my entire satisfaction, without so much as once letting me know he had any hand in it till near a year after: unde satis compertum mihi Bentleium esse re officiosum non verbis. Many an excellent emendation upon Suidas have I received from him. I the rather mention this, says Mr. Wasse, because when that Lexicon was in the press, Kuster with indignation shewed me an anonymous letter in Latin, addressed to him, wherein he was advised not to treat the doctor with that distinction, if he intended his book should make its way in the learned world. But to proceed; when he came to write upon Suidas, he found himself under a necessity of making indices of all the authors mentioned by the ancients; Eustathius particularly, and nineteen volumes of Commentaries upon Aristotle, &c. of the history, geography, and chronological characters occasionally mentioned. Dr. Bentley prevailed upon me to give him some assistance. Those that fell to my lot were chiefly Eustathius on the Odyssey, seven or eight Scholiasts, Plutarch, Galen. You may judge of Kuster’s dispatch and application, when I tell you I could by no means keep pace with him, though I began the last author Jan. 9, 1703, and finished him March the 8th of the same year, and in proportion too, the remainder. Though I corrected all the sheets of the first volume, yet I never perceived he had omitted some less material words, nor ever knew the true reason. I have heard him blamed too for mentioning the names of one or two persons who sent | him a few notes; but this was occasioned, I am confident, by the hurry he was always in, and the great number of letters, memorandums, and other papers he had about him. As I remember, he translated cle novo in a manner five or six sheets a week, and remarked upon them; so that the work was hastily executed, and would have been infinitely more perfect, had he allowed himself time. Some people thought they assisted him when they did not. A person of figure took him into his closet after dinner, and told him he would communicate something of mighty importance, a xfi/xiiMov, which in all difficulties had been his oracle. In an ill hour I met Kuster transported with delight. We found it was Bndaeus’s Lexicon, large paper, with only the names of the authors he quotes written in the margin, without one single remark or addition. Kuster, the best-natured man alive, was terribly put to it how to treat one that meant well, and continually inquired what service it did him, and triumphed that he was able to contribute so largely to the worthy edition of Suidas. Towards the close of the work, Kuster grew very uneasy, emaciated to the last degree, cold as a statue, and just as much alive as a man three parts dead. Sure I was to hear, every time I called upon him, * O utinam illuce.scat ille dies, quo huic operi manum ultimam imponam' It may now be proper to acquaint you in what manner this gentleman used to relax, and forget his labours over a bottle, for even Scipio and Luelius were not such fools as to be wise always; and that was generally in the poetical way, or in conversations that turned upon antiquities, coins, inscriptions, and obscure passages of the ancients. Sometimes he performed on the spinnet at our music-club, and was by the connoisseurs accounted a master. His chief companions were, Dr. Sike, famous in oriental learning; Davies and Needham; Mr. Oddy, who wrote Greek pretty well, and has left notes upon Dio, and a version of Apollonius Rhodius, which are reposited in lord Oxford’s library; he is the person whose conjectures upon Avienus were printed by Dr. Hudson at the end of his Geographers; and Mr. IJarnes, the Greek professor. Upon the publication of his Suidas, Kuster in a little time grew very fat; and, returning into Prussia, found his patrons retired from court, and his salary precarious. What is more, his principles, which inclined to what is now called Arianism, rendered him not very | acceptable to some persons. In a little time measures were taken to make him uneasy, and he retired to Amsterdam. Here he reprinted Dr. Mill’s New Testament, and published Aristophanes, and some additional remarks upon Suidas, under Mr. Le Clerc’s cover. But his banker failing, he was reduced to extreme poverty; and, happening at that very juncture to be invited to Paris by his old friend l’abbe Bignon, was unfortunately prevailed upon to join himself to the Gallican church. He desired me to write to him, as usual, but never on the article of religion; declaring, at the same time, how he had not been obliged to make a formal recantation, or condemn the reformed by an express act of his, but merely to conform. How far this is true I know not; what is certain is, only that he was promised all the favour and distinction any convert could expect. He was presently admitted a member of the royal academy of inscriptions; and in 1714, in return for a paper of verses I sent him, made me a present of his book c De vero usu verborum mediorum; xpvesa %ataW The last 1 had from Kuster contained only queries upon Hesychius; on whom, before he left England, he had made about 5000 emendations. His queries were not over difficult and thence I guessed his health much impaired. And it proved so indeed for we heard soon after, that he had been blooded five or six times for a fever, and that, upon opening his body, there was found a cake of sand along the lower region of his belly. This, I take it, was occasioned by his sitting in a manner double, and writing on a very low table, surrounded with three or four circles of books placed on the ground, which was the situation we usually found him in. He had a clear head, cool and proper for debate: he behaved in a very inoffensive manner; and I am persuaded, the last error of his life was almost the only one, and by charitable persons will be placed in a good measure to the account of his deplorable circumstances; for if oppression, which only affects a part, will, why shall not the loss of all one’s fortunes, purchased with so much labour, ‘make a wise man mad.’1


Gen. Dict. Biog, Brit. Supplement. —Moreri. - Dibdin’s Classics.