Marchand, Prosper

, an author to whom the curious in literary history are greatly indebted, was probably a native of Paris, and born towards the conclusion of the seventeenth century. He was bred up as a bookseller in that city, a business which always requires some knowledge of books, but which he carried to an extent very unusual, and for forty years employed almost the whole of his time in inspecting the works of eminent authors, inquiring into their history, their editions, differences, and every species | of information which forms the accurate bibliographer. During the time that Mr. Bernard published the “Nouvelles de la Republiques des Lettres,” Marchand was his constant correspondent, and contributed all the literary anecdotes from Paris, which appeared in that journal. Being, however, a conscientious protestant, and suspecting that in consequence of the repeal of the edict of Nantz, he might be interrupted in the exercise of his religion, he went to reside in Holland, and carried on the bookselling trade there for some time, until meeting with some lack of honesty among his brethren (pen de bonne-foi qiCil avoit trouvej, he relinquished business, and devoted his time entirely to literary history and biography. In both his knowledge was so conspicuous, that the booksellers were always happy to avail themselves of his opinion respecting intended publications, and more happy when they could engage his assistance as an editor. In the latter character, we find that he superintended an edition, 1. of Bayle’s “Dictionary,” and “Letters,” both which he illustrated with notes. 2. “Satyre Menippee,” Ratisbonne (Brussels), 1714, 3 vols. 8vo. 3. “Cymbalum mundi,” by Bonaventure de Perrieres, Amst. 1732, 12mo. 4. Fenelon’s “Direction pomla conscience d’un roi,Hague, 1747, 8vo and 12mo. 5. The abbe Brenner’s “Histoire des Revolutions de Hongrie,” ibid. 1739, 2 vols. 4to, and 6 vols. 12mo. 6. “Lettres, Memoires, et Negociations du comte d’Estrades,London (Hague)^ 1743, 9 vols. 12mo. 7. “Histoire de Fenelon,Hague, 1747, 12mo. 8. “Oeuvres de Brantome,” ibid. 1740, 15 vols. 12mo. 9. “Oeuvres de Villon,” ibid. 1742, 8vo, &c. &c.

Marchand was also one of the principal writers in the “Journal Litteraire,” which was reckoned one of the best of the kind, and he contributed occasionally to other periodical works. He maintained at the same time a regular and extensive correspondence with the most learned men in different parts of Europe; to whom he communicated, and from whom he received communications, and often had it in his power to assist them from the stores of his ow, curious and well-chosen library.

Besides the “Anti-Cotton, ou Refutation de la lettre declaratoire du P. Cotton, avec un dissertation,” printed at the Hague in 1738, at the end of the history of Don Inigo de Guipuscoa, and the “Chef-d‘oeuvre d’un inconnu,” often reprinted, he published in 1740Histoire de | PImprimerie,Hague, 4to, a work of great research, and often consulted by typographical antiquaries, but deficient in perspicuity of arrangement. A valuable supplement to it was published by Mercier, the abbé of St. Leger, 1775, 2 vols. 4to, which French bibliographers say is better executed than Marchand’s work, and certainly is more correct. But the vvork which best preserves the name of Marchand, was one to which we have taken many opportunities to own our obligations, his “Dictionnaire Historique, ou Memoires Critiques et Litteraires, concernant la vie et les outrages de divers personnages distingués, particulierement dans la republique des-lettres,1758 9, 2 vols. folio. This has been by his editor and others called a Supplement to Bayle; but, although Marchand has touched upon a few of the authors in Bayle’s series, and has made useful corrections and valuable additions to them, yet in general the materials are entirely his own, and the information of his own discovering. The articles are partly biographical, and partly historical; but his main object being the history of books, he sometime*enlarges to a degree of minuteness, which bibliographers only can pardon, and it must be owned sometimes brings forward inquiries into the history of authors and works which his utmost care can scarcely rescue from the oblivion in which he found them. With this objection, which by no means affects the totality of the work, we know few volumes that afford more satisfaction or information on the subjects introduced. His accuracy is in general precise, but there are many errors of the press, and the work laboured under the disadvantage of not being handed to the press by the author. He often intended this, and as often deferred it, because his materials increased so that he never could say when his design was accomplished; and at length, when he had nearly overcome all his scruples, and was about to print, a stroke of palsy deprived him of the use of his right hand, and unfitted him for every business but that of preparing to die, and the settlement of his affairs. This last took up little time. He was a man of frugal habits, content with the decent necessaries of life, and laid out what remained of his money in books. The items of his will, therefore, were few, but liberal. He left his personal property to a society established at the Hague for the education of the poor; and his library and Mss. to the university of Leyden. He died, at an advanced age, June 14, 1756. | His “Dictiormaire” he consigned to the care of a friend, who has given us only the initials of his name (J. N. S. A.) to whom he likewise intrusted a new edition of his “History of Printing,” which has never appeared. This friend undertook to publish the Dictionary with the. greater alacrity, as Mart-hand assured him that the manuscript was ready. Ready it certainly was, hut in such a state as frightened the editor, being all written upon little pieces of paper of different sizes, some not bigger than one’s thumb-nail, and written in a character so exceeding small, that it was not legible to the naked eye. The editor, therefore, said perhaps truly, that this was the first book ever printed by the help of a microscope. These circumstances, however, may afford a sufficient apology for the errors of the press, already noticed; and the editor certainly deserves praise for having so well accomplished his undertaking amidst so many difficulties. 1

1 Preface to the Dictionnairr. —Dict. Hist.