Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 48.djvu/236
fellow-commoner on the same day. He obtained the degree of M.A. by diploma on 28 Feb. 1780. In the following year he became a member of the Middle Temple. He died about 1811.
Richardson's first oriental publication was ‘A Specimen of Persian Poetry,’ consisting of a selection from Hâfiz, with historical and grammatical illustrations (1774, reprinted 1802); but he had previously rendered some assistance to Sir William Jones in the preparation of his ‘Persian Grammar’ (1771). In 1776 appeared Richardson's ‘Grammar of the Arabic Language,’ which went to a second edition in 1801 and a third in 1811, and has long since retired into oblivion. But the work with which his name is chiefly connected is his ‘Dictionary of Persian, Arabic, and English,’ printed in two volumes at the Clarendon Press in 1777, and apparently reissued in 1800. As a later editor, Francis Johnson [q. v.], remarked, this dictionary was little else than an abridgment of Meninski's ‘Oriental Thesaurus,’ with the omission of the Turkish words and some additions from Golius and Castell (F. Johnson, Pref. to Pers. Arab. Engl. Dict. 1852). The second volume was the converse of the first, English into Persian and Arabic, and was less successful. ‘The first volume of Richardson's “Dictionary” was reprinted in 1806, and the second volume in 1810, by the late distinguished oriental scholar, Sir Charles Wilkins [q. v.], who on that occasion compared the English version of Meninski with the original. In doing this, many alterations and numerous additions were made, and many mistakes corrected.’ In 1829 the work was again revised and greatly improved, especially on the Arabic side, by Francis Johnson, who in 1852 still further expanded the dictionary, which has finally been ‘reconstructed’ by Dr. Steingass . In its various forms the ‘Dictionary’ has proved of very great service to several generations of students of Persian. The prefatory ‘Dissertation on the Languages, Literature, and Manners of Eastern Nations,’ was separately issued in 1777, and republished in the following year with additions, including ‘Further Remarks’ in criticism of the opinions of Jacob Bryant [q. v.] on ancient mythology.
[Foster's Alumni Oxon. (1715–1888); Brit. Mus. Cat.; Lit. Memoirs of Living Authors, 1791, ii. 195; Gardiner's Wadham Reg. p. 14.]
RICHARDSON, JOHN (1767?–1837), itinerant showman, began life in the workhouse at Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire, in which town he subsequently filled several menial situations. Starting to try his fortune in London, he obtained employment at a shilling a day with an Islington cowkeeper named Rhodes. Here he formed theatrical tastes and aspirations, joining in 1782 in a club-room in the Paviour's Arms, Shadwell, the travelling company of a Mrs. Penley. With little success the company travelled from town to town, until Richardson, returning to London, started in a small way as a broker. Having thus accumulated some money, he took in 1796 the Harlequin public-house, opposite the stage-door of Drury Lane, frequented by theatrical folk. In the same year he made at Bartholomew fair his first experiment as a showman, exhibiting a rude dramatic performance on a platform built out of a first-floor window, which was approached by a flight of stairs from the street; stalls for the sale of gingerbread stood beneath the structure. Twenty-one performances a day are said to have been given. Encouraged by his success, he went on tour. At Edmonton he appeared with Tom Jefferies, a clown of high repute from Astley's. Among those he engaged were Mrs. Carey and her sons Edmund (Kean) and Henry. Mrs. Carey appeared as Queen Dollalolla in ‘Tom Thumb,’ and Kean apparently as Tom Thumb. He also engaged Oxberry from a private theatre in Queen Anne Street, Saville Faucit, Barnes, the favourite pantaloon, Wallack, and many others who subsequently rose to distinction.
Although uneducated, Richardson was shrewd and clever, and knew how to hit public tastes. Bartholomew fair and Greenwich were his favourite haunts. Mark Lemon describes a somewhat cheerless performance he once saw, with the rain coming through the canvas, of the ‘Wandering Outlaw, or the Hour of Retribution,’ concluding with the ‘Death of Orsina, and the Appearance of the Accusing Spirit.’ Richardson employed as scene-painters Grieve and Greenwood. His dresses compared in excellence of material with those at the patent theatres. He tried once to sell them, but bought them in at 2,000l., as he held them worth 3,000l. The front of his show when it was in its meridian glory cost 600l. In Richardson's later days his performance consisted of a tragedy, a comic song usually by a person in rustic dress, and a pantomime. The tragedies, which were changed every day, consisted of ‘Virginius,’ ‘The Wandering Outlaw,’ and ‘Wallace, the Hero of Scotland.’ When the fair lasted four days ‘The Warlock of the Glen,’ taken in some sort from Scott's ‘Black Dwarf,’ was given. The ghost was the great effect in ‘Virginius.’ ‘Dr. Faustus, or the Devil will have his own,’ was the title of one of the pantomimes. The nominal prices of admis-