Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 01.djvu/47

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Abel
Abel
33

of the ‘orang-outang’ and the boa, and his observations on the geology of the Cape have been highly praised. Dr. Abel was subsequently appointed physician to Lord Amherst, the governor-general of India, and died in that country on 24 Nov. 1826. The immediate cause of his death was a fever, but he had been in feeble health for some time, and his constitution was never robust. He was a fellow of the Linnean and Geological Societies of London, and a member of the Asiatic Society and Medical and Physical Society of Calcutta. Robert Brown dedicated a genus to him, Abelia, founded on one of the plants formerly presented to Sir George Staunton.

[Biog. Nouv. Univ. i. 109; Abel's Narrative; Asiatic Journal, xxiii. (1827) 669; Gent. Mag. xcvii. pt. ii. (1827) 644.]

B. D. J.

ABEL, JOHN (1577–1674), was a distinguished architect of timber houses. He built the old town halls of Hereford and Leominster; the former destroyed in 1861, the latter in 1858. Both are illustrated by John Clayton in his ‘Ancient Timber Edifices of England,’ fol. 1846. The Hereford building was finished in the time of James I; that of Leominster in 1633. The following account of Abel is given by Price (Historical Account of Leominster, 1795): ‘The most noted architect in this country of his time; he built the market houses of Hereford, Brecknock, and Kington, and did the timber work of the new church at Abbey Dore. The said John Abel being in Hereford city at the time when the Scots besieged it, in the year 1645, made a sort of mills to grind corn, which were of great use to the besieged; for which contrivance and service King Charles the 1st did afterwards honor him with the title of one of his majesty's carpenters. This architect, after he was ninety years of age, made his own monument, which is in Sarnesfield churchyard, and engraved his own effigy, kneeling with his two wives, and the emblems of his occupation, the rule, compass, and square, and he made the following epitaph:—

This craggy stone or covering is for an architect's bed,
That lofty buildings raised high; yet now lyes down his head:
His line and rule, so death concludes, are locked up in store,
Build they who list, or they who wist, for he can build no more.
    His house of clay could hold no longer:
    May Heavens frame him a stronger.
John Abel.
        Vive ut vivas in vitam æternam.’

He died in 1674, aged 97.

Price's Historical Account of Leominster, 1795; Nagler's Allgemeines Künstler-Lexicon; Duncomb's History and Antiquities of the County of Hereford, 1804.

E. R.

ABEL, KARL FRIEDRICH (1725–1787), a celebrated player on the viol-di-gamba, was the son of a musician, Christian Ferdinand Abel. He was born at Cöthen in 1725, received his first musical education from his father, and subsequently entered the Thomas Schule at Leipzig, where he was probably a pupil of J. S. Bach. In 1748 he entered the court band at Dresden, remaining there until 1758. He left Dresden ‘with three thalers in his pocket and six symphonies in his bag,’ and his talent as a performer maintained him during his wanderings until he reached England in 1759. Here he found a patron in the Duke of York, and on the establishment of the queen's private band was appointed one of her chamber musicians, with a salary of 200l. a year. At his first concert Abel was announced to play his own compositions on the viol-di-gamba, the harpsichord, and an instrument of his own invention, which he called the Pentachord; but after 1765 he only performed on the viol-di-gamba. On the arrival in 1762 of John Christian Bach the two musicians joined forces, and in 1765 started their celebrated concerts. Abel was in Paris in 1772 and also in 1783, in which year he returned to Germany to visit his brother Leopold August, who was also a musician of eminence. He returned to London in 1785, and occasionally played at concerts until his death, which took place, hastened by his habits of intemperance, June 20, 1787. Abel's compositions chiefly consist of instrumental music. As a player he was remarkable for the beauty of his execution on an instrument which was even in his days almost obsolete, but to which he was nevertheless devoted. It is said that he declared the viol-di-gamba to be ‘the king of instruments;’ and when challenged to play by Richards, the leader of Drury Lane orchestra, exclaimed, ‘What, challenge Abel! No, no, there is but one God and one Abel!’ He was a great admirer of the fine arts, and completely covered the walls of his rooms with drawings by Gainsborough, which the painter used to give him in exchange for his music. In person he was big and portly. He was twice painted by Gainsborough; a portrait of him by Robineau is at Hampton Court Palace, and another by an anonymous artist in the Music School at Oxford.

[Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, i. 4; Mendel's Musikalisches Conversations-Lexicon, i. 5; Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, i. 13; P. Spitta's J. S. Bach, i. 616, 985; Burney's History of Music, iv. 678; Busby's History

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