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


Vanbrugh, Sir John (1664–1726). — Dramatist and architect, born in London of Flemish descent, was in France from 1683 to 1685, studying architecture, for which he had early shown a taste. The next year he got a commission in the army, and in 1690 he was a prisoner first at Vincennes and then in the Bastille. In 1696 he began his dramatic career with The Relapse, which had great success. Æsop followed in 1697, and The Provoked Wife in the same year. The latter was severely handled by Jeremy Collier (q.v.) in his Short View, etc., which produced a vindication by the author. In addition to these he wrote or collaborated in various other plays. His leading features as a dramatist are the naturalness of his dialogue and his lively humour. Like all his contemporaries he is frequently extremely gross. He obtained great fame as an architect, as well as a dramatist. Among his most famous designs are Castle Howard, Blenheim Palace, and Dalkeith Palace. He was knighted by George I., was controller of the Royal works, and succeeded Wren as architect to Greenwich Hospital. In addition to the plays above mentioned V. wrote The Confederacy and The Country House. He was a handsome and jovial person, and highly popular in society.

Vaughan, Henry (1622–1695). — Poet, born in the parish of Llansaintffraed, Brecknock, and as a native of the land of the ancient Silures, called himself “Silurist.” He was at Jesus College, Oxford, studied law in London, but finally settled as a physician at Brecon and Newton-by-Usk. In his youth he was a decided Royalist and, along with his twin brother Thomas, was imprisoned. His first book was Poems, with the Tenth Satire of Juvenal Englished. It appeared in 1646. Olor Iscanus (the Swan of Usk), a collection of poems and translations, was surreptitiously published in 1651. About this time he had a serious illness which led to deep spiritual impressions, and thereafter his writings were almost entirely religious. Silex Scintillans (Sparks from the Flint), his best known work, consists of short poems full of deep religious feeling, fine fancy, and exquisite felicities of expression, mixed with a good deal that is quaint and artificial. It contains “The Retreat,” a poem of about 30 lines which manifestly suggested to Wordsworth his Ode on the Intimations of Immortality, and “Beyond the Veil,” one of the finest meditative poems in the language. Flores Solitudinis (Flowers of Solitude) and The Mount of Olives are devout meditations in prose. The two brothers were joint authors of Thalia Rediviva: the Pastimes and Diversions of a Country Muse (1678), a collection of translations and original poems.

Vaughan, Robert (1795–1868). — A minister of the Congregationalist communion, Prof. of History in London University, 1830–43, and Pres. of the Independent College, Manchester, 1843–57. He founded, and for a time ed. the British Quarterly. He wrote, among various other works, A History of England under the Stuarts, Revolutions of History, and a Life of Wycliffe.

Veitch, John (1829–1894). — Philosophic and miscellaneous writer, born at Peebles, ed. at University and New College, Edinburgh, was assistant to Sir Wm. Hamilton (q.v.), 1856–60, Prof. of Logic at St. Andrews, 1860–64, and Glasgow, 1864–94. He was a voluminous and accomplished writer, his works including Lives of Dugald Stewart (1857) and Sir W. Hamilton (1869), Tweed and other Poems (1875), History and Poetry of the Scottish Border (1877), Feeling for Nature in Scottish Poetry (1887), Merlin and other Poems (1889), Border Essays (1896), and Dualism and Monism (1895).

Very, Jones (1813–1880). — Essayist and poet, born at Salem, Mass., where he became a clergyman and something of a mystic. He published one small volume, Essays and Poems, the latter chiefly in the form of the Shakespearian sonnet. Though never widely popular, he appealed by his refined, still thoughtfulness to a certain small circle of minds.


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