Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 02.djvu/315
sity of Edinburgh. Here he was in his element; and he made his lectures so attractive that he raised the number of students from 30 in 1846 to upwards of 1,850 in 1864. His professorial duties did not interfere with his position at the bar, and in 1852, when the tory party came into power, they requited his services as a political writer by appointing him sheriff of Orkney. In the following year Oxford conferred on him the honorary degree of D.C.L. The duties of Aytoun's sheriffship did not engross much of his time. These, and his work as professor, both most conscientiously discharged, left him leisure for literary work. In 1854 he produced the dramatic poem ‘Firmilian,’ perhaps the most brilliant of his works, which was written in ridicule of the extravagant themes and style of Bailey, Dobell, and Alexander Smith. It was, however, so full of imagination and fine rhythmical swing, that its object was mistaken, and what was meant for caricature was accepted as serious poetry. In 1856 Aytoun published ‘Bothwell,’ a poetical monologue, dealing with the relations between the hero and Mary Queen of Scots. It contained many fine passages, and three editions of it were published. In 1858 he published a collection, in two volumes, of the ‘Ballads of Scotland,’ carefully collated and annotated, of which four editions, the last in 1860, have been published. In 1861 his novel of ‘Norman Sinclair’ was published; it had already appeared in ‘Blackwood's Magazine,’ and is interesting for its pictures of society in Scotland, as Aytoun saw it in his youth, and for many passages which are, in fact, autobiographical. About this time Aytoun's health began to fail, and his spirits had sustained a shock, from which he never wholly recovered, in the death (15 April 1859) of his wife, the youngest daughter of Professor Wilson (Christopher North), whom he had married in April 1849, and to whom he was devotedly attached. He sought relief in hard work, but life had thenceforth lost much of its zest for him. Being childless, its loneliness became intolerable, and in December 1863 he married again. But by this time his constitution was seriously shaken, and on 4 Aug. 1865 he died at Blackhills, near Elgin, whither he had gone to spend the summer in the hope of recruiting his health. Aytoun's life had been, upon the whole, a happy one. He was of a genial, kindly disposition, full of playfulness, and of original and cultured humour, warmly esteemed by his friends, and constant in his attachments to them. Nature and education fitted him for a man of letters, and he took delight in the very varied literary labours by which his free and facile pen enriched the pages of ‘Blackwood's Magazine,’ and added a few books to literature of permanent interest.
His published works are:—1. ‘Poland, Homer, and other Poems,’ Edinburgh, 1832. 2. ‘The Life and Times of Richard the First,’ London, 1840. 3. ‘Lays of the Cavaliers,’ Edinburgh, 1848, 29th edition 1883. 4. ‘Bon Gaultier's Ballads’ (jointly with Theodore Martin), London, 1855, 13th edition 1877. 5. ‘Bothwell,’ London, 1856. 6. ‘Firmilian,’ 1854. 7. ‘Poems and Ballads of Goethe’ (jointly with Theodore Martin), London, 1858. 8. ‘Ballads of Scotland,’ 2 vols. London, 1858, 4th edition 1870. 9. ‘Nuptial Ode to the Princess Alexandra,’ London, 1863. 10. ‘Norman Sinclair,’ 3 vols. London, 1861.[W. E. Aytoun's Life, by Theodore Martin, 1867.]
BAALUN, or BALUN, JOHN de (d. 1235), justice itinerant, was a baron who possessed estates in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Wiltshire, and was descended from one Hameline de Baalun, who came over with the Conqueror, built the castle of Abergavenny, and died in 1089. His father was Reginald de Balun, and in 1207 John de Balun paid a fine for the lands of Hameline, on behalf of his father, to Geoffrey Fitz-Ace and Agnes, his wife, and 100 marks and a palfrey to the king. In 12 John (1210–11) Balun accompanied the king to Ireland, but at the end of John's reign lost his lands for taking part in the barons' attack upon the king. On the accession of Henry III he was restored on returning to his allegiance, and in 9 Henry III (1224–5) was appointed a justice itinerant for Gloucestershire along with Matthew de Pateshull, archdeacon of Norfolk, Richard de Veym, and the abbot of Tewkesbury. He died in 1235. His son John paid 100l. for his relief, and did homage for his inheritance, and, dying in 1274, was succeeded by another of John's sons, Walter (Abb. Rot. Orig. i. 24). A justice itinerant who was appointed 9 Henry III and died in the following year (1226) bore the name of Roger de Baalun