Redding, Cyrus (DNB00)
|←Reddie, James||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 47
REDDING, CYRUS (1785–1870), journalist, born at Penryn on 2 Feb. 1785, was son of Robert Redding (1755–1807), a baptist minister, first at Falmouth and then at Truro, where he died on 26 March 1807. Cyrus was educated mainly at home by his father, and, developing literary aspirations, had some juvenile verses printed at his own expense. His earliest recollections included one of John Wesley preaching from a stack of Norway timber upon Falmouth quay. One of his youthful companions was Henry Martyn [q. v.] the missionary. For a time he seems to have attended the classes at Truro grammar school. He settled in London about 1806, took rooms in Gough Square, dined frequently at the ‘Cheshire Cheese,’ and settled down to a life of continuous industry as a journalist. For a time he served on the staff of the ‘Pilot,’ founded in 1807 to ventilate East Indian questions, but in 1808 returned to the west of England, and edited the weekly ‘Plymouth Chronicle.’ In June 1810 he started and edited the ‘West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser.’ In 1814 he went to Paris, where from 1815 to 1818 from 18 Rue Vivienne he edited ‘Galignani's Messenger;’ in the former year he wrote the Paris correspondence for the ‘Examiner.’ During 1818–19 he travelled in France, and acquired information which proved of service in his ‘History of Wines.’ From 1821 to 1830 Redding was working editor of the ‘New Monthly Magazine,’ started, under the nominal editorship of Thomas Campbell, to rival the ‘Monthly’ of Sir Richard Phillips [q. v.] Redding, who also contributed numerous articles, was indefatigable in the management of the magazine, Campbell being a mere figure-head, and for ten years, says Patmore, ‘the public got a better magazine for the money than they had ever obtained before.’ From 1831 to 1833 he edited, again in conjunction with Campbell, the ‘Metropolitan, a monthly journal of literature, science, and art,’ and, on its failure to realise expectations, he recruited the ranks of provincial editors, directing in succession the ‘Bath Guardian’ (1834–5) and the ‘Staffordshire Examiner’ (1836–40). In 1841 he started in succession two abortive ventures, ‘The English Journal’ and ‘The London Journal.’ From this date he devoted himself more exclusively to bookmaking, his versatility and industry being alike remarkable. His best book was his ‘History and Description of Modern Wines,’ based upon careful personal observation and gleanings from many sources. By advocating the reduction of the duties on French wines it did much to educate public opinion on this subject, and to prepare the way for the rectification of the tariff in 1860. Redding's work owed something to the ‘Treatise’ of John Croft [q. v.], York, 1787, and it is now largely superseded by J. L. W. Thudichum's ‘Treatise on Wines,’ 1894. Christopher North emphatically praised Redding's ‘Gabrielle,’ while several generations of boys have read with unqualified approval his ‘Shipwrecks and Disasters at Sea.’
In politics Redding was a staunch and consistent upholder of the Fox tradition. His services to the whig party were numerous and confidential, but his sole reward was a civil list pension of 75l., which he accepted in 1863. During his long life he came into contact with many notabilities. Besides Campbell, he was intimate with Beckford and John Wilson, and he gives glimpses in his rambling autobiographical volumes of O'Connell, Madame de Stael, Canning, J. W. M. Turner, Talma, Dr. Parr, Horace Smith, Schlegel, and Dr. Wolcot. Redding outlived his generation, and died, half forgotten, at Hill Road, St. John's Wood, on 28 May 1870. He was buried at Willesden on 3 June. He married, at Kenwyn, on 8 May 1812, a Miss Moyle of Chacewater, who survived him with two daughters, one married and settled in San Francisco (West Briton, 14 May 1812). Redding's library was sold by Puttick & Simpson on 4 July 1870 (Cat. London, 1870, 8vo).
Redding's chief works were: 1. ‘Gabrielle, a Tale of the Swiss Mountains [and miscellaneous pieces],’ London, 1829, 12mo; dedicated to Campbell; some of the verses had already appeared in the ‘New Monthly’ and ‘Blackwood.’ 2. ‘A History of Shipwrecks and Disasters at Sea, from the most authentic sources,’ London, 1833, 2 vols. 12mo; 2nd ser. 1835, 2 vols. 12mo; a very popular compilation, which has undergone many modifications and abridgments. 3. ‘A History and Description of Modern Wines,’ London, 1833, 8vo; 2nd edit., with considerable additions and a new preface developing the system of the port-wine trade, London, 1836, 8vo; 3rd edit., with additions [Bohn], London, 1851; 4th edit. 1860. 4. ‘The Life of King William IV,’ London, 1837, 8vo; published anonymously, and written hastily in anticipation of the king's death (cf. Fifty Years' Recollections, 1858, iii. 163). 5. ‘Every Man his own Butler,’ London, 1839, 12mo; 2nd edit. 1852; 3rd edit., enlarged, with important wine statistics, 1860, 12mo. 6. ‘An Illustrated Itinerary of the County of Cornwall,’ London, 1842, 4to, with map and woodcuts; dedicated to a local magnate and patron, Sir Charles Lemon. The illustrations are good and the text attractive; it was intended to pilot a series of illustrated county histories under Redding's general editorship, but the series only advanced as far as vol. ii. (Lancashire). 7. ‘Velasco [or memoirs of a page: a novel],’ 1846, 3 vols. 8vo. 8. ‘Remarks on the Invasion Mania’ (privately printed), 1848, 8vo. 9. ‘The Stranger in London, or Visitors’ Companion to the Metropolis and its Environs, with an Historical and Descriptive Sketch of the Great Exhibition,’ London, 1851, 8vo. 10. ‘Fifty Years' Recollections, with Observations on Men and Things,’ 1858, 3 vols. 8vo; 2nd edit. 1858. 11. ‘Memoirs of William Beckford of Fonthill, author of “Vathek,”’ 1859, 2 vols. 8vo; an account of Redding's conversations with Beckford had previously appeared in the ‘New Monthly Magazine’ (1844–5), and some of the material had already appeared in ‘Fifty Years' Recollections.’ 12. ‘French Wines and Vineyards, and the way to find them,’ London, 1860, 8vo. 13. ‘Literary Reminiscences and Memoirs of Thomas Campbell,’ 1860, 2 vols. 8vo. 14. ‘Keeping up Appearances,’ a novel of English life, 1861, 3 vols. 8vo. 15. ‘Memoirs of Remarkable Misers,’ London, 1863, 2 vols. 8vo. 16. ‘Yesterday and To-day,’ being a sequel to ‘Fifty Years' Recollections,’ 1863, 3 vols. 8vo. 17. ‘Past Celebrities whom I have known,’ London, 1866, 2 vols. 8vo. 18. ‘A Wife and not a Wife,’ a novel, 1867, 3 vols. 8vo. 19. ‘Personal Reminiscences of Eminent Men,’ London, 1867, 3 vols. 8vo.
Redding edited, among other works, ‘Pandurang Hàrì, or Memoirs of a Hindoo’ (London, 1826, 3 vols. 12mo), writing up the rough notes sent from India by William Browne Hockley (cf. Fifty Years' Recollections, ii. 331). In the same way he put together from rough notes supplied by Captain Joseph Andrews ‘A Journey from Buenos Ayres through the Provinces of Cordova, Tucuman, and Salto, to Potosi … in 1825–6,’ London, 2 vols. 1827, 8vo. In 1828 he edited the first collected edition of ‘The Poetical Works of Thomas Campbell,’ 2 vols. 8vo. In 1837 he wrote a continuation of William Russell's ‘History of Modern Europe,’ and he wrote a portion of the ‘supplement’ to John Gorton's ‘General Biographical Dictionary,’ 1851. Redding contributed several lives (including Shelley, Keats, Coleridge, Wilson, Rogers, and Campbell) to Galignani's ‘Complete Edition of the Poets’ (Paris, 1829–30), and the article on ‘Wine,’ together with several geographical articles, to the ‘Encyclopædia Metropolitana,’ 1817–45. He also contributed, between 1817 and 1830, to the ‘Literary Gazette,’ the ‘London Magazine,’ the ‘Literary Museum,’ the ‘Times,’ and ‘Fraser's Magazine.’ Later, in 1847, he wrote diverting ‘Essays by an Ex-editor’ for Douglas Jerrold's ‘Weekly News;’ and in 1852, from notes and observations supplied by J. W. Oldmixon during a tour in the United States, he constructed, under the pseudonym of J. W. Hengiston, an amusing miscellany called ‘A Yankee Steamer on the Atlantic’ (London, 8vo). His translations include ‘Leonora’ (from the ‘Lenore’ of Gottfried Bürger, the translator of Raspe's ‘Munchausen's Travels’), privately printed about 1810, and one of his earliest literary essays (see Yesterday and To-day, ii. 7); also a translation of Thiers's ‘History of the Consulate and the Empire,’ a very hasty piece of work, executed in 1846.[Boase and Courtney's Bibliotheca Cornubiensis and supplement (containing a full bibliography, which is the more valuable inasmuch as the collection of Redding's works in the British Museum is very incomplete); Boase's Collectanea Cornubiensia; Allibone's Dict. of English Literature; Men of the Reign; Men of the Time, 7th ed.; Fox Bourne's Hist. of English Newspapers, i. 366; Andrews's Hist. of British Journalism, ii. 68–9; Patmore's My Friends and Acquaintances, i. 107, 111; Clayden's Rogers, ii. 135; Illustrated London News, 11 June 1870; Athenæum, 1870, i. 742, 775; Douglas Jerrold's Weekly News, 1847; Morning Post, 2 June 1870; Baptist Magazine, 1854, p. 600; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. v. 550; St. James's Mag. 1870, pp. 444–8; Wilson's Noctes Ambrosianæ, 1866, iii. 458; Maclise Port. Gall. ed. Bates, p. 4; Addit. MSS. 28512, ff. 17–18 (Griffin's Contemporary Biography).]