Bowle, John

, an ingenious scholar, who, from his Attachment to Spanish literature, was usually called by his friends Don Bowle, was a descendant from Dr. John Bowle, bishop of Rochester in the early part of the seventeenth century. He was born in 1725, and educated at Oriel college, Oxford, where he took his master’s degree in 1750, and having entered into holy orders, was presented to the vicarage of Idmiston, Wiltshire. In 1776 he was elected F. S. A. He was a man of great erudition, and muca respected for his various researches in antiquity, and varios other lucubrations in obscure literature. He had the honour or being one of the first detectors of Lauder’s forgeries, and according to Dr. Douglas’s account, had the juste-st claim to be considered as the original detector o! thai unprincipled impostor. In 1765, he was editor of “Miscellaneous pieces of ancient English Poesie,” containing Shakspeare’s “King John,” and some of the satires of Marston. To a very accurate and extensive fund of classical learning, he had added a comprehensive knowledge of most of the modern languages, particularly of the Spanish, Italian, and French; and in the course of his reading contracted a fondness for Cervantes’ admirable romance, which could scarcely be said to be kept within reasonable bounds. Don Quixote himself did not sally forth with more enthusiasm than Mr. Bowie, when in 1777 he published “A Letter to the rev. Dr. Percy, concerning a new and classical edition of Historia del valoroso CavaU lero Don Quixote de la Mancha, to be illustrated by | annotations and extracts from the historians, poets, and romances of Spain and Italy, and other writers ancient and modern, with a glossary and indexes, in which are occasionally interspersed some reflections on the learning and genius of the author, with a map of Spain adapted to the history, and to every translation of it,” 4to. He gave also an outline of the life of Cervantes in the Gent. Mag. for 1731, and circulated proposals to print the work hy subscription at three guineas each copy. It appeared accordingly in 1781, in six quarto volumes, the first four consisting of the text, the fifth of the annotations, and the sixth is wholly occupied by the index, but the work did not answer his expectations. The literary journals were either silent or spoke slightingly of his labours; and the public sentiment seemed to be that annotations on Cervantes were not quite so necessary as on Shakspeare. He appears, however, to have taken some pains to introduce them to the public in a favourable light. In 1784 (Gent. Mag. LIV. p. 565) we find him lamenting certain “unfair practices respecting the admission of an account of the work into two periodical publications to which he had some reason to think he was entitled.” He adds, that the perpetrators of these practices were “a false friend, and another, whose encomium he should regard as an affront and real slander the one as fond of the grossest flattery, as the other ready to give it, and both alike wholesale dealers in abuse and detraction.” Nor was this all; in 1785 he published “Remarks on the extraordinary conduct of the Knight of the Ten Stars and his Italian Squire, to the editor of Don Quixote. In a letter to I. S. D. D.” 8vo. This produced an answer from the “Italian Squire,” Baretti, not of the most gentleman-like kind, entitled “Tolondron. Speeches to John Bowie, about his edition of Don Quixote,” 8vo, 1786, and with this the controversy ended. Mr. Bowie contributed many valuable hints and corrections to Granger’s History, and many criticisms and illustrations to Johnson and Steevens’s edition of Shakspeare, and Warton’s History of Poetry. His course of reading well qualified him for literary aid of this description. In the Archaeologia, vol. VI. VII. and VIII. are four papers by him, on the ancient pronunciation of the French language; on some musical instruments mentioned in “Le Roman de la Rose;” on parish registers; and on cards. He was also, under various signatures, a frequent contributor to the | Gentleman’s Magazine, but as a divine he was not known to the public. He died Oct. 26, 1788. 1


Nichols’s Life of Bowyer. Granger’s Letters, p. 37 i7. Wood’s Life of Warton, p. 399, 402.