Gibson, James Young (DNB00)

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GIBSON, JAMES YOUNG (1826–1886), translator from the Spanish, born at Edinburgh 19 Feb. 1826, was the fourth son of William Gibson, a merchant of that city. In his sixteenth year he entered the Edinburgh University, in which he completed his full course of study, though he took no degree, and proceeded in 1847 to the divinity hall of the united presbyterian church, where he remained till 1852. During the vacations of 1851–2 he studied at the university of Halle in Germany. On the completion of his theological course in 1853 he was licensed by the Edinburgh presbytery, and about that time became tutor in the family of Henry Birkbeck of Keswick Hall, Norfolk. Having placed his name for some months on the probationers' roll, he received three nearly simultaneous offers of ministerial work. He finally accepted an appointment at Melrose, and accordingly in July was ordained to the ministry. His health broke down, and in 1859 he resigned his appointment. The next few years he devoted to study and foreign travel, and to recruiting his strength. In 1865 he travelled to Cairo and visited the Holy Land. In 1871 he accompanied Mr. Alexander J. Duffield, the translator of ‘Don Quixote,’ on a tour of inspection among the iron mines in Spain. They spent 1872 in travelling over the country. Gibson became interested in Spanish poetry, and after Mr. Duffield's return home proceeded to Madrid, where he began the first of his translations. He settled in London in 1872. In 1878 he was again invalided. While recovering he corrected the proof-sheets of Mr. Duffield's translation of ‘Don Quixote,’ in the first two volumes of which his poetical renderings were inserted. The translation was published in 1881. The unexpected success of this first essay led to Gibson's translation of the ‘Viage al Parnaso,’ which appeared in 1883. In 1883 he married, at Wildbad in Germany, after a three years' engagement, Margaret Dunlop, daughter of John Smith, solicitor, of Irvine in Ayrshire. In 1884 he settled with his wife at Long Ditton, near Surbiton. Here he completed the translation of ‘Numantia,’ published in 1885. Gibson died suddenly at Ramsgate, 2 Oct. 1886. He was buried in the Dean cemetery, Edinburgh. A number of his unpublished translations were printed after his death, with a memoir by his sister-in-law, Agnes Smith.

His published works are: 1. ‘Journey to Parnassus, composed by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, translated into English tercets with preface and illustrative notes … to which are subjoined the antique text and translation of the letter of Cervantes to Mateo Vazquez,’ London, 1883, 8vo. 2. ‘Numantia. A Tragedy by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Translated from the Spanish, with introduction and notes by James Y. Gibson,’ 1885, 8vo. 3. ‘The Cid. Ballads and other poems and translations from Spanish and German, by the late James Young Gibson. Edited by M. D. Gibson. With Memoir by Agnes Smith,’ 2 vols. London, 1887, 8vo.

[Memoir by Agnes Smith; Times, 15 Oct. 1887; Athenæum, 16 Oct. 1887; Academy, 16 Oct. 1887; Sonnets of Europe, Canterbury Poets Series; Mr. Duffield's translation of Don Quixote.]

W. F. W. S.