Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 46.djvu/288

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


imaginary president of the ‘King of Clubs,’ supposed to conduct the paper. Charles Knight (1791–1873) published the ‘Etonian,’ which lasted for ten months. Praed was a member of the debating society during his last year at school, and helped to found the boys' library. He acted in private theatricals; was chosen by his senior schoolfellow, Edward Bouverie Pusey, as a worthy competitor in chess; and, though too delicate for rougher exercises, was the best fives-player in the school.

In October 1821 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, with a high reputation, and read classics with Macaulay, who was two years his senior. He cared little for mathematics, and only just avoided the ‘wooden spoon.’ He failed, though he only just failed, to win the university scholarship; but he won the Sir William Browne medals for Greek ode in 1822 and 1823, and for epigrams in 1822 and 1824. He won the college declamation prize in 1823, and chancellor's medal for English poem in 1823 (‘Australasia’) and 1824 (‘Athens’). He was bracketed third in the classical tripos for 1825. His classical verses, specimens of which are preserved in the ‘Musæ Etonenses’ (Series Nova, tom. ii. 1869), show, besides good scholarship, unusual facility and poetic feeling. Praed was especially distinguished at the union, where his seniors, Macaulay and Charles Austin, were then conspicuous and his only superiors. He generally took the radical side in opposition to Macaulay. In the autumn of 1822 Knight started and edited his ‘Quarterly Magazine,’ to which Praed was the chief contributor. Macaulay and some of the old contributors to the ‘Etonian’ also wrote. Praed's contributions were in the first three or four numbers; and he took no part in a continuation afterwards attempted. In 1823 he published, through Charles Knight, ‘Lillian, a Fairy Tale,’ a jeu d'esprit written at Trinity in October 1822. In 1826 Knight started, with Praed's help, a weekly paper called ‘The Brazen Head,’ which lasted only for four numbers. After graduating B.A. in 1825, Praed became private tutor at Eton to Lord Ernest Bruce, younger son of the Marquis of Ailesbury. He read for a fellowship at Trinity, to which he was elected in 1827, and in 1830 he won the Seatonian prize-poem. He finally left Eton at the end of 1827. On 29 May 1829 he was called to the bar at the Middle Temple, and joined the Norfolk circuit. His ambition, however, was for parliamentary life. He was no longer a liberal, though in 1829 he was on the committee of William Cavendish (afterwards seventh Duke of Devonshire) when the latter was the whig candidate for Cambridge University. The statesman whom he most admired was his fellow Etonian, Canning. After Canning's death in 1827 he became alarmed at the democratic tendencies of the reformers; and his fastidious and scholarly temperament made contempt for demagogues more congenial than popular enthusiasm. At an earlier period he had been strongly in favour of Roman catholic emancipation; but when that question was settled, his political sympathies were completely conservative. Overtures were made to him to accept a seat in the House of Commons with a view to opposing him to Macaulay, who had recently entered parliament. Praed said that he would not accept a post which involved ‘personal collision with any man;’ but was otherwise ready to support the conservative government. The negotiation dropped; but in December 1830 he bought the seat of St. Germans for two years for 1,000l. He made a successful maiden speech on the cotton duties; and though his next speech, on the Reform Bill, brought some disappointment, he improved as a debater. He proposed an amendment in favour of ‘minority representation,’ according to which each constituent was to vote for two candidates only when three places were to be filled. Another amendment, providing that freeholds in a borough should give votes for the borough and not for the county, was proposed by him in a very successful speech, and led to friendly attentions from Sir Robert Peel. St. Germans was disfranchised by the Reform Bill, and Praed stood, unsuccessfully, for St. Ives, Cornwall, near which a branch of the Praeds lived in the family seat of Trevethow. He published, at Penzance, anonymously, in 1833, ‘Trash dedicated without respect to James Halse, esq., M.P.,’ his successful rival. Praed remained out of parliament till 1834; and during this period wrote much prose and verse in the ‘Morning Post,’ which became the leading conservative paper, a result attributed to his contributions (Preface to Political Poems, by Sir G. Young, 1888, p. xviii). In 1833 the Duke of Wellington furnished him with materials for a series of articles in opposition to some changes in the ordnance department, and subsequently requested Praed to defend him in the ‘Morning Post’ against an attack in the ‘Times.’ The duke invited Praed to Walmer Castle, and treated him with great confidence. At the general election at the end of 1834 Praed was returned for Great Yarmouth, and was appointed secretary to the board of control by Peel during his short administration. His father died in 1835, and in the same summer he married Helen,