Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 15.djvu/217

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


time a partner in his father's Edinburgh business. He died on 16 Dec. 1830. Donaldson was very benevolent, and perhaps rather eccentric. Once a week he caused money to be distributed to a large number of beggars, and on another night of the week the ‘waits’ or street musicians used to play in the lobby of his house; he invariably dressed in the costume of the eighteenth century.

Donaldson left the bulk of his fortune, about 220,000l., for the maintenance and education of three hundred poor children, much to the annoyance of some of his relatives, who attempted to set aside the will on the plea of madness. The building known as the Donaldson Hospital is in the Elizabethan style, and was designed by Mr. W. H. Playfair. In 1848 the governors decided that one side of the hospital, consisting of ninety-six beds, should be fitted up for the reception of deaf and dumb children, and it was opened in 1851. The ultimate fate of the charity is uncertain; but it has been proposed by the Scottish educational endowments commission that both the funds and the hospital should be devoted to the secondary education of women.

[Information from Mr. Donaldson's nephews, Mr. James Gillespie, M.D., and Mr. William Wood; Documents relating to Donaldson's Hospital, Edinburgh, 1851.]

L. C. S.

DONALDSON, JOHN (d. 1865), professor of music at Edinburgh, was called to the Scottish bar in 1826. In 1845 he was elected to the Reid professorship of music. Donaldson found the chair inadequately paid, and the funds originally intended for its support diverted to other purposes. He received only 300l. a year, and could obtain no money for the necessary outlay for making the professorship practically useful. In 1850 the matter was brought before the court of session, which decided in Donaldson's favour. His salary was raised to 420l., with allowances for an assistant, yearly musical performances, and class expenses. A music room was built containing a fine organ, and Donaldson gathered together a remarkable collection of instruments, illustrating the history of music and acoustics. His lectures were, however, unsuccessful, for he was not a practical musician, but devoted himself chiefly to the investigation of more obscure questions of acoustics, to which less attention was then paid than now. Latterly his health became very bad, and he died at his house, Marchfield, near Edinburgh, 12 Aug. 1865.

[Scotch newspapers for August 1865.]

W. B. S.

DONALDSON, JOHN WILLIAM, D.D. (1811–1861), philologist, born in London on 7 June 1811, was second son of Stuart Donaldson, Australian merchant, and brother of Sir Stuart Donaldson [q. v.] His grandfather, Hay Donaldson, was town clerk of Haddington, and his mother was Betty, daughter of John Cundale of Snab Green, Arkholme, Lancashire. He was educated privately, and at fourteen was articled to his uncle, a solicitor. In 1830, while in his uncle's office, he went up for an examination at University College, London, and gained the first prize in Greek. His ability attracted the attention of the examiner, George Long, by whose advice he was sent to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he matriculated in 1831. He soon gained a scholarship, and in 1834 was second in the classical tripos (Dr. Kennedy being first) and senior optime. He was elected fellow and tutor of Trinity, and up to his marriage in 1840 devoted himself to lecturing, teaching, and making himself master of the results of German philology. The fruits of his studies appeared in 1839, when he published his ‘New Cratylus, or Contributions towards a more accurate knowledge of the Greek Language,’ ‘the only complete treatise on inflected language then in existence either in England or on the continent.’ ‘This work,’ said his biographer in the ‘Athenæum,’ ‘marks an era in English scholarship, and was the first attempt to present in a systematic form to the English student the philological literature of the continent, or to point out the great importance of comparative philology in exploring the grammatical forms of the Greek language.’ ‘It is,’ says the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica,’ ‘mainly founded on the comparative grammar of Bopp, but a large part of it is original, and it is but just to observe that the great German's grammar was not completed till ten years after the first edition of the “Cratylus.”’ In 1844 appeared ‘Varronianus,’ defined by the author in the preface to the third edition as ‘an attempt to discuss the comparative philology of the Latin language on the broad basis of general ethnography.’ It involved him in a violent controversy with Professor T. H. Key, who accused him of plagiarism. ‘It is enough to state,’ says the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica,’ ‘that though the obligations of Donaldson to Key ought in the first instance to have been more explicitly acknowledged, yet the strictures of the latter were needlessly sweeping and aggressive.’

In 1840 Donaldson married firstly Eleanor, daughter of Sir John Mortlock, banker at Cambridge, and thus losing his fellowship took pupils for a time at Winfrith in Dor-