A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature, by John W. Cousin


James I., King of Scotland (1394–1437). — Poet, the third son of Robert III., was born at Dunfermline. In 1406 he was sent for safety and education to France, but on the voyage was taken prisoner by an English ship, and conveyed to England, where until 1824 he remained confined in various places, but chiefly in the Tower of London. He was then ransomed and, after his marriage to Lady Jane or Joan Beaufort, daughter of the Duke of Somerset, and the heroine of The King’s Quhair (or Book), crowned at Scone. While in England he had been carefully ed., and on his return to his native country endeavoured to reduce its turbulent nobility to due subjection, and to introduce various reforms. His efforts, however, which do not appear to have been always marked by prudence, ended disastrously in his assassination in the monastery of the Black Friars, Perth, in February, 1437. J. was a man of great natural capacity both intellectual and practical — an ardent student and a poet of no mean order. In addition to The King’s Quhair, one of the finest love poems in existence, and A Ballad of Good Counsel, which are very generally attributed to him, he has been more doubtfully credited with Peeblis to the Play and Christis Kirke on the Greene.

James, George Payne Rainsford (1801–1860). — Novelist and historical writer, son of a physician in London, was for many years British Consul at various places in the United States and on the Continent. At an early age he began to write romances, and continued his production with such industry that his works reach to 100 vols. This excessive rapidity was fatal to his permanent reputation; but his books had considerable immediate popularity. Among them are Richelieu (1829), Philip Augustus (1831), The Man at Arms (1840), The Huguenot (1838), The Robber, Henry of Guise (1839), Agincourt (1844), The King’s Highway (1840). In addition to his novels he wrote Memoirs of Great Commanders, a Life of the Black Prince, and other historical and biographical works. He held the honorary office of Historiographer Royal.

Jameson, Mrs. Anna Brownell (Murphy) (1794–1860). — Writer on art, daughter of Denis B.M., a distinguished miniature painter, married Robert Jameson, a barrister (afterwards Attorney–General of Ontario). The union, however, did not turn out happily: a separation took place, and Mrs. J. turned her attention to literature, and specially to subjects connected with art. Among many other works she produced Loves of the Poets (1829), Celebrated Female Sovereigns (1831), Beauties of the Court of Charles II. (1833), Rubens (translated from the German), Hand Book to the Galleries of Art, Early Italian Painters, Sacred and Legendary Art (1848), etc. Her works show knowledge and discrimination and, though now in many respects superseded, still retain interest and value.

Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse (1841–1905). — Born at Dundee, and ed. at St. Columba’s College, Dublin, Charterhouse, and Cambridge, at the last of which he lectured on the classics, and was in 1869 elected Public Orator. After being Prof. of Greek at Glasgow, he held from 1889 the corresponding chair at Cambridge, and for a time represented the University in Parliament. He was one of the founders of the British School of Archæology at Athens. Among his works are The Attic Orators, An Introduction to Homer, Lectures on Greek Poetry, Life of Richard Bentley (English Men of Letters Series), and he ed. the works of Sophocles, and the Poems and Fragments of Bacchylides, discovered in 1896. J. was one of the most brilliant of modern scholars.

Jefferies, Richard (1848–1887). — Naturalist and novelist, son of a farmer, was born at Swindon, Wilts. He began his literary career on the staff of a local newspaper, and first attracted attention by a letter in the Times on the Wiltshire labourer. Thereafter he wrote for the Pall Mall Gazette, in which appeared his Gamekeeper at Home, and Wild Life in a Southern County (1879), both afterwards repub. Both these works are full of minute observation and vivid description of country life. They were followed by The Amateur Poacher (1880), Wood Magic (1881), Round about a Great Estate (1881), The Open Air (1885), and others on similar subjects. Among his novels are Bevis, in which he draws on his own childish memories, and After London, or Wild England (1885), a romance of the future, when London has ceased to exist. The Story of My Heart (1883) is an idealised picture of his inner life. J. died after a painful illness, which lasted for six years. In his own line, that of depicting with an intense sense for nature all the elements of country and wild life, vegetable and animal, surviving in the face of modern civilisation, he has had few equals. Life by E. Thomas.

Jeffrey, Francis (1773–1850). — Critic and political writer, son of a legal official, born in Edinburgh, ed. at the High School there, and at Glasgow and Oxford, where, however, he remained for a few months only. Returning to Edinburgh he studied law, and was called to the Bar in 1794. Brought up as a Tory, he early imbibed Whig principles, and this, in the then political state of Scotland, together with his strong literary tendencies, long hindered his professional advancement. Gradually, however, his ability, acuteness, and eloquence carried him to the front of his profession. He was elected Dean of the Faculty of Advocates in 1829 and, on the accession to power of the Whigs in 1830, became Lord Advocate, and had a large share in passing the Reform Bill, in so far as it related to Scotland. In 1832 he was elected M.P. for Edinburgh, and was raised to the Bench as Lord Jeffrey in 1834. His literary fame rests on his work in connection with the Edinburgh Review, which he edited from its commencement in 1802 until 1829, and to which he was a constant contributor. The founding of this periodical by a group of young men of brilliant talents and liberal sympathies, among whom were Brougham, Sydney Smith, and F. Horner, constituted the opening of a new epoch in the literary and political progress of the country. J.’s contributions ranged over literary criticism, biography, politics, and ethics and, especially in respect of the first, exercised a profound influence; he was, in fact, regarded as the greatest literary critic of his age, and although his judgments have been far from universally supported either by the event or by later critics, it remains true that he probably did more than any of his contemporaries to diffuse a love of literature, and to raise the standard of public taste in such matters. A selection of his papers, made by himself, was published in 4 vols. in 1844 and 1853. J. was a man of brilliant conversational powers, of vast information and sparkling wit, and was universally admired and beloved for the uprightness and amiability of his character.

Jerrold, Douglas William (1803–1857). — Dramatist and miscellaneous writer, son of an actor, himself appeared as a child upon the stage. From his 10th to his 12th year he was at sea. He then became apprentice to a printer, devoting all his spare time to self-education. He early began to contribute to periodicals, and in his 18th year he was engaged by the Coburg Theatre as a writer of short dramatic pieces. In 1829 he made a great success by his drama of Black-eyed Susan, which he followed up by The Rent Day, Bubbles of the Day, Time works Wonders, etc. In 1840 he became ed. of a publication, Heads of the People, to which Thackeray was a contributor, and in which some of the best of his own work appeared. He was one of the leading contributors to Punch, in which Mrs. Caudle’s Curtain Lectures came out, and from 1852 he ed. Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper. Among his novels are St. Giles and St. James, and The Story of a Feather. J. had a great reputation as a wit, was a genial and kindly man, and a favourite with his fellow littérateurs, who raised a fund of £2000 for his family on his death.

Jesse, John Heneage (1815–1874). — Historical writer, ed. at Eton, was a clerk in the Admiralty. He wrote Memoirs of the Court of England, of G. Selwyn and his contemporaries (1843), of the Pretender (1845), etc., and Celebrated Etonians (1875).

Jevons, William Stanley (1835–1882). — Logician and economist, born in Liverpool, son of an iron merchant, his mother was the daughter of W. Roscoe (q.v.). He was ed. at the Mechanics Institute High School, Liverpool, and at University College, London. After studying chemistry for some time he received in 1853 the appointment of assayer to the mint at Sydney, where he remained until 1859, when he resigned his appointment, and came home to study mathematics and economics. While in Australia he had been a contributor to the Empire newspaper, and soon after his return home he published Remarks on the Australian Goldfields, wrote in various scientific periodicals, and from time to time published important papers on economical subjects. The position which he had attained as a scientific thinker and writer was recognised by his being appointed in 1863 tutor, and in 1866, Prof. of Logic, Political Economy, and Mental and Moral Philosophy in Owen’s College, Manchester. In 1864 he published Pure Logic and The Coal Question; other works were Elementary Lessons in Logic (1870), Principles of Science (1874), and Investigations in Currency and Finance (1884), posthumously. His valuable and promising life was brought to a premature close by his being drowned while bathing. His great object in his writings was to place logic and economics in the position of exact sciences, and in all his work he showed great industry and care combined with unusual analytical power.

Jewsbury, Geraldine Endsor (1812–1880). — Novelist, wrote several novels, of which Zoe, The Half–Sisters, and Constance Herbert may be mentioned. She also wrote stories for children, and was a contributor to various magazines.

John of Salisbury (1120?-1180?). — Born at Salisbury, studied at Paris. He became secretary to Theobald Archbishop of Canterbury, and retained the office under Becket. In 1176 he was made Bishop of Chartres. He wrote in Latin, in 8 books, Polycraticus, seu De Nugis Curialium et Vestigiis Philosophorum (on the Trifles of the Courtiers, and the Footsteps of the Philosophers). In it he treats of pastimes, flatterers, tyrannicide, the duties of kings and knights, virtue and vice, glory, and the right of the Church to remove kings if in its opinion they failed in their duty. He also wrote a Life of Anselm. He was one of the greatest scholars of the Middle Ages.

Johnson, Lionel (1867–1902). — Poet and critic. Ireland and other Poems (2 vols.) (1897), The Art of Thomas Hardy, and miscellaneous critical works.

Johnson, Samuel (1649–1703). — Political writer, sometimes called “the Whig” to distinguish him from his great namesake. Of humble extraction, he was ed. at St. Paul’s School and Cambridge, and took orders. He attacked James II. in Julian the Apostate (1682), and was imprisoned. He continued, however, his attacks on the Government by pamphlets, and did much to influence the public mind in favour of the Revolution. Dryden gave him a place in Absalom and Achitophel as “Benjochanan.” After the Revolution he received a pension, but considered himself insufficiently rewarded by a Deanery, which he declined.

Johnson, Samuel (1709–1784). — Moralist, essayist, and lexicographer, son of a bookseller at Lichfield, received his early education at his native town, and went in 1728 to Oxford, but had, owing to poverty, to leave without taking a degree. For a short time he was usher in a school at Market Bosworth, but found the position so irksome that he threw it up, and gained a meagre livelihood by working for a publisher in Birmingham. In 1735, being then 26, he married Mrs. Porter, a widow of over 40, who brought him £800, and to whom he was sincerely attached. He started an academy at Ediol, near Lichfield, which, however, had no success, only three boys, one of whom was David Garrick (q.v.), attending it. Accordingly, this venture was given up, and J. in 1737 went to London accompanied by Garrick. Here he had a hard struggle with poverty, humiliation, and every kind of evil, always, however, quitting himself like the true man he was. He contributed to the Gentleman’s Magazine, furnishing the parliamentary debates in very free and generally much improved form, under the title of “Debates of the Senate of Lilliput.” In 1738 appeared London, a satire imitated from Juvenal which, published anonymously, attracted immediate attention, and the notice of Pope. His next work was the life of his unfortunate friend Savage (q.v.) (1744); and in 1747 he began his great English Dictionary. Another satire, The Vanity of Human Wishes, appeared in 1749, and in the same year Irene, a tragedy. His next venture was the starting of the Rambler, a paper somewhat on the lines of the Spectator; but, sententious and grave, it had none of the lightness and grace of its model, and likewise lacked its popularity. It was almost solely the work of J. himself, and was carried on twice a week for two years. In 1752 his wife, “his dear Tetty” died, and was sincerely mourned; and in 1755 his Dictionary appeared. The patronage of Lord Chesterfield (q.v.), which he had vainly sought, was then offered, but proudly rejected in a letter which has become a classic. The work made him famous, and Oxford conferred upon him the degree of M.A. He had become the friend of Reynolds and Goldsmith; Burke and others were soon added. The Idler, a somewhat less ponderous successor of the Rambler, appeared in 1758–60, and Rasselas, his most popular work, was written in 1759 to meet the funeral expenses of his mother, who then died at the age of 90. At last the tide of his fortunes turned. A pension of £300 was conferred upon him in 1762, and the rest of his days were spent in honour, and such comfort as the melancholy to which he was subject permitted. In 1763 he made the acquaintance, so important for posterity, of James Boswell; and it was probably in the same year that he founded his famous “literary club.” In 1764 he was introduced to Mr. Thrale, a wealthy brewer, and for many years spent much of his time, an honoured guest, in his family. The kindness and attentions of Mrs. T., described by Carlyle as “a bright papilionaceous creature, whom the elephant loved to play with, and wave to and fro upon his trunk,” were a refreshment and solace to him. In 1765 his ed. of Shakespeare came out, and his last great work was the Lives of the Poets, in 10 vols. (1779–81). He had in 1775 published his Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland, an account of a tour made in the company of Boswell. His last years were darkened by the loss of friends such as Goldsmith and Thrale, and by an estrangement from Mrs. T., on her marriage with Piozzi, an Italian musician. Notwithstanding a lifelong and morbid fear of death, his last illness was borne with fortitude and calmness, soothed by the pious attentions of Reynolds and Burke, and he died peacefully on December 13, 1784. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, and a monument in St. Paul’s was erected by the “club.” Statues of him were also erected in Lichfield and Uttoxeter. He had received from Oxford and Dublin the degree of LL.D.

Though of rough and domineering manners, J. had the tenderest of hearts, and his house was for years the home of several persons, such as Mrs. Williams and Levett, the surgeon, who had no claim upon him but their helplessness and friendlessness. As Goldsmith aptly said, he “had nothing of the bear but his skin.” His outstanding qualities were honesty and courage, and these characterise all his works. Though disfigured by prejudice and, as regards matters of fact, in many parts superseded, they remain, as has been said, “some excellent, all worthy and genuine works;” and he will ever stand one of the greatest and most honourable figures in the history of English literature. Boswell’s marvellous Life has made J.’s bodily appearance, dress, and manners more familiar to posterity than those of any other man — the large, unwieldy form, the face seamed with scrofula, the purblind eyes, the spasmodic movements, the sonorous voice, even the brown suit, metal buttons, black worsted stockings, and bushy wig, the conversation so full of matter, strength, sense, wit, and prejudice, superior in force and sparkle to the sounding, but often wearisome periods of his written style. Of his works the two most important are the Dictionary, which, long superseded from a philological point of view, made an epoch in the history of the language, and the Lives of the Poets, many of them deformed by prejudice and singularly inadequate criticism, others, almost perfect in their kind, and the whole written in a style less pompous and more natural and lively than his earlier works.

Summary. — Born 1709, ed. Oxford, usher and hack writer, starts academy at Ediol, goes to London 1737, reports parliamentary debates, published London 1738, Life of Savage 1744, began Dictionary 1747, published Vanity of Human Wishes and Irene 1749, conducts Rambler 1750–52, published Dictionary 1755, Idler appears 1758–60, published Rasselas 1759, receives pension 1762, became acquainted with Boswell 1763, published ed. of Shakespeare 1765, and Lives of Poets 1779–81, died 1784.

Recollections, etc., by Mrs. Piozzi, Reynolds, and others, also Johnsoniana (Mrs. Napier, 1884), Boswell’s Life, various ed., including that of Napier, 1884, and Birkbeck Hill, 1889.

Johnston, Arthur (c. 1587–1641). — Poet in Latin, born near Aberdeen, studied medicine at Padua, where he graduated. After living for about 20 years in France, he returned to England, became physician to Charles I., and was afterwards Rector of King’s College, Aberdeen. He attained a European reputation as a writer of Latin poetry. Among his works are Musæ Aulicæ (1637), and a complete translation of the Psalms, and he ed. Deliciæ Poetarum Scotorum, a collection of Latin poetry by Scottish authors.

Johnstone, Charles (1719?-1800). — Novelist. Prevented by deafness from practising at the Irish Bar, he went to India, where he was proprietor of a newspaper. He wrote one successful book, Chrysal, or the Adventures of a Guinea, a somewhat sombre satire, and some others now utterly forgotten.

Jones, Ebenezer (1820–1860). — Poet, wrote a good deal of poetry of very unequal merit, but at his best shows a true poetic vein. He was befriended by Browning and Rossetti. His chief work was Studies of Sensation and Event (1843). His most widely appreciated poems were “To the Snow,” “To Death,” and “When the World is Burning.” He made an unhappy marriage, which ended in a separation.

Jones, Ernest Charles (1819–1869). — Poet, novelist, and Chartist, son of Major J., equerry to the Duke of Cumberland, afterwards King of Hanover, was born at Berlin. He adopted the views of the Chartists in an extreme form, and was imprisoned for two years for seditious speeches, and on his release conducted a Chartist newspaper. Afterwards, when the agitation had died down, he returned to his practice as a barrister, which he had deserted, and also wrote largely. He produced a number of novels, including The Maid of Warsaw, Woman’s Wrongs, and The Painter of Florence, also some poems, The Battle Day (1855), The Revolt of Hindostan (1857), and Corayda (1859). Some of his lyrics, such as The Song of the Poor, The Song of the Day Labourers, and The Factory Slave, were well known.

Jones, Sir William (1746–1794). — Orientalist and jurist, was born in London, and ed. at Harrow and Oxford He lost his father, an eminent mathematician, at 3 years of age. He early showed extraordinary aptitude for acquiring languages, specially those of the East, and learned 28. Devoting himself to the study of law he became one of the most profound jurists of his time. He was appointed one of the Judges in the Supreme Court of Bengal, knighted in 1783, and started for India, whence he never returned. While there, in addition to his judicial duties, he pursued his studies in Oriental languages, from which he made various translations. Among his original works are The Enchanted Fruit, and A Treatise on the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India. He founded the Bengal Asiatic Society. He left various works unfinished which, with his other writings, were collected and ed. by Lord Teignmouth. He died universally beloved and honoured at the early age of 48. His chief legal work was The Institutes of Hindu Law or the Ordinances of Manu.

Jonson, Ben or Benjamin (1573–1637). — Poet and dramatist, was probably born in Westminster. His father, who died before Ben was four, seems to have come from Carlisle, and the family to have originally belonged to Annandale. He was sent to Westminster School, for which he seems to have been indebted to the kindness of W. Camden (q.v.), who was one of the masters. His mother, meanwhile, had married a bricklayer, and he was for a time put to that trade, but disliking it, he ran away and joined the army, fighting against the Spaniards in the Low Countries. Returning to England about 1592 he took to the stage, both as an actor and as a playwright. In the former capacity he was unsuccessful. In 1598, having killed a fellow-actor in a duel, he was tried for murder, but escaped by benefit of clergy. About the same time he joined the Roman Catholic Church, in which he remained for 12 years. It was in 1598 also that his first successful play, Every Man in his Humour, was produced, with Shakespeare as one of the players. Every Man out of his Humour (1599), Cynthia’s Revels (1600), and The Poetaster (1601), satirising the citizens, the courtiers, and the poets respectively, followed. The last called forth several replies, the most notable of which was the Satiromastix (Whip for the Satirist) of Dekker (q.v.), a severe, though not altogether unfriendly, retort, which J. took in good part, announcing his intention of leaving off satire and trying tragedy. His first work in this kind was Sejanus (1603), which was not very favourably received. It was followed by Eastward Ho, in which he collaborated with Marston and Chapman. Certain reflections on Scotland gave offence to James I., and the authors were imprisoned, but soon released. From the beginning of the new reign J. devoted himself largely to the writing of Court masques, in which he excelled all his contemporaries, and about the same time entered upon the production of the three great plays in which his full strength is shown. The first of these, Volpone, or the Fox, appeared in 1605; Epicæne, or the Silent Woman in 1609, and The Alchemist in 1610. His second and last tragedy, Catiline, was produced in 1611. Two years later he was in France as companion to the son of Sir W. Raleigh, and on his return he held up hypocritical Puritanism to scorn in Bartholomew Fair, which was followed in 1616 by a comedy, The Devil is an Ass. In the same year he collected his writings — plays, poems, and epigrams — in a folio entitled his Works. In 1618 he journeyed on foot to Scotland, where he was received with much honour, and paid his famous visit to Drummond (q.v.) at Hawthornden. His last successful play, The Staple of Newes, was produced in 1625, and in the same year he had his first stroke of palsy, from which he never entirely recovered. His next play, The New Inn, was driven from the stage, for which in its rapid degeneracy he had become too learned and too moral. A quarrel with Inigo Jones, the architect, who furnished the machinery for the Court masques, lost him Court favour, and he was obliged, with failing powers, to turn again to the stage, for which his last plays, The Magnetic Lady and The Tale of a Tub, were written in 1632 and 1633. Town and Court favour, however, turned again, and he received a pension of £100; that of the best poets and lovers of literature he had always kept. The older poets were his friends, the younger were proud to call themselves, and be called by him, his sons. In 1637, after some years of gradually failing health, he died, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. An admirer caused a mason to cut on the slab over his grave the well-known inscription, “O Rare Ben Jonson.” He left a fragment, The Sad Shepherd. His works include a number of epigrams and translations, collections of poems (Underwoods and The Forest); in prose a book of short essays and notes on various subjects, Discoveries.

J. was the founder of a new style of English comedy, original, powerful, and interesting, but lacking in spontaneity and nature. His characters tend to become mere impersonations of some one quality or “humour,” as he called it. Thus he is the herald, though a magnificent one, of decadence. He painted in general with a powerful, but heavy hand; in his masques, however, he often shows a singular gracefulness, especially in the lyrics which he introduces. His character, as given by Drummond, is not a particularly attractive one, “a great lover and praiser of himself, a contemner and scorner of others, given rather to lose a friend than a jest, jealous of every word and action of those about him, especially after drink . . . a dissembler of ill parts which reign in him, a bragger of some good that he wanteth . . . passionately kind and angry . . . oppressed with fantasy which hath ever mastered his reason.” There must, however, have been far other qualities in a man who could command, as J. undoubtedly did, the goodwill and admiration of so many of the finest minds of his time. In person he was tall, swarthy, marked with small-pox, and in later years burly.

Summary. — Born 1573, ed. Westminster School, serves in Low Countries, returns to England 1592, and takes to stage, kills actor in brawl 1598, a Romanist c. 1598-c. 1610, Every Man in his Humour 1598, Every Man out of his Humour 1599, and other plays till 1633, collected works published 1616, visits Drummond 1618, loses and recovers Court favour, died 1637.

Among the ed. of J.’s works may be mentioned those of Gifford (9 vols., 1816), re-issued (1875), selected plays Mermaid Series (3 vols., 1893–5), Morley (1884), and Symonds (1886). Lives and studies by Symonds (English Worthies), and Swinburne (1890).

Jortin, John (1698–1770). — Ecclesiastical historian, ed. at Cambridge, and entering the Church held various benefices, becoming in 1764 Archdeacon of London. He published Remarks on Ecclesiastical History (1751–54), a Life of Erasmus, and various miscellaneous pamphlets and tracts; 7 vols. of sermons appeared after his death. All his works show learning, and are written in a lively style.

Jowett, Benjamin (1817–1893). — Scholar, was born at Camberwell, and ed. at St. Paul’s School and Balliol College, where he had a distinguished career, becoming Fellow 1838, Tutor 1840, and Master 1870. He held the Regius Professorship of Greek 1855–93, though for the first 10 years he was, owing to the opposition of his theological opponents in the University, deprived of a large part of the usual emoluments. He was a keen and formidable controversialist, and was usually found on what was, for the time, the unpopular side. His contribution (an essay on The Interpretation of Scripture) to the famous Essays and Reviews, which appeared in 1860, brought him into strong collision with powerful sections of theological opinion, to which he had already given offence by his commentaries on the Epistles to the Thessalonians, Galatians, and Romans. His views were, indeed, generally considered to be extremely latitudinarian. Latterly he exercised an extraordinary influence in the University, and was held in reverence by his pupils, many of whom have risen to eminence. His chief works are translations, with learned introductions, of The Dialogues of Plato, of Thucydides, and of the Politics of Aristotle. He also, in conjunction with Prof. Campbell, brought out an ed. of The Republic of Plato. He held the degree of LL.D. from the University of Edinburgh (1884), and Cambridge (1890), and Doctor of Theology of Leyden (1875).

Judd, Sylvester (1813–1853). — Novelist, born at Westhampton, Mass., studied for the ministry at Yale, and became a Unitarian pastor. He published Philo, a religious poem, followed by Margaret, a Tale of the Real and the Ideal (1845), Richard Edney, A Rus–Urban Tale (1850). He also produced some theological works. His work is very unequal, but often, as in Margaret, contains fine and true descriptive passages both of nature and character.


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