Dunton, John

, bookseller and miscellaneous writer, was born at Graff bam, in Huntingdonshire, the 14th of May, 1659; the son of John Dunton, fellow of Trinity-college, Cambridge, and rector of Graft ham, whose works he published in 8vo, embellished with very curious engravings. Dunton was in business upwards of twenty years, during which time he traded considerably in the Stationers’ company; but, about the beginning of the last century, he failed, and commenced author; and in 1701, was amanuensis to the editor of a periodical paper called the “Post Angel.” He soon after set up as a writer for the entertainment of the public; and projected and carried on, with the assistance of others, the “Athenian Mercury,” or a scheme to answer a series of questions monthly, the querist remaining concealed. This work was continued to about 20 volumes; and afterwards reprinted by Bell, under the title of the “Athenian Oracle,” 4 vols. 8vo. It forms a strange jumble of knowledge and ignorance, sense and nonsense, curiosity and impertinence. In 1710 he published his “Athenianism,” or the projects of Mr. John Dunton, author of the “Essay on the hazard of a deathbed repentance.” This contains, amidst a prodigious variety of matter, six hundred treatises in prose and verse, by which he appears to have been, with equal facility, a philosopher, physician, poet, civilian, divine, humourist, &c. To this work he has prefixed his portrait, engraved by M. Vander Gucht; and in a preface, which breathes all the pride of self-consequence, informs his readers he does not write to flatter, or for hire. As a specimen of this miscellaneous farrago, the reader may take the following heads of subjects: 1. The Funeral of Mankind, a paradox, proving we are all dead and buried. 2. The spiritual hedge-hog; or, a new and surprising thought. 3. The double life, or a new way to redeem time, by living over to-morrow before it comes. 4. Dunton preaching to himself; or every man his own parson. 5. His creed, or the religion of a bookseller, in imitation of Brown’s Religio Medici, which h.is some humour and merit. This he dedicated to the Stationers’ company. As a satirist, he | appears to most advantage in his poems entitled the “Beggar mounted” the “Dissenting Doctors;” “Parnassus hoa!” or frolics in verse “Dunton’s shadow,” or the character of a summer friend but in all his writings he is exceedingly prolix and tedious, and sometimes obscure. His “Case is altered, or Dunton’s remarriage to his own wife,” has some singular notions, but very little merit in the composition. For further particulars of this heterogeneous genius, see “Dunton’s Life and Errors,” a work now grown somewhat scarce, or, what will perhaps be more satisfactory, the account of him in our authority. Dunton died in 1733. 1


Nichols’s Bowyer, vol. V. a very amusing article.