Reeve, Henry (1813-1895) (DNB00)
|←Reeve, Henry (1780-1814)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 47
Reeve, Henry (1813-1895)
|Reeve, John (1608-1658)→|
REEVE, HENRY (1813–1895), man of letters, was born at Norwich on 9 Sept. 1813. His father was Henry Reeve, M.D. (1780–1814) [q. v.]; his maternal grandmother (Mrs. John Taylor), his aunt (Mrs. Sarah Austin), and his first cousin (Lady Duff Gordon) are the representative figures in Mrs. Ross's ‘Three Generations of Englishwomen.’ In 1817 Mrs. Barbauld read stories to him at Stoke Newington; in 1820 his mother took him abroad, and he saw Talma at the Théâtre-Français. From 1821 to 1828 he was a pupil, at Norwich school, of Dr. Edward Valpy (1764–1832) [q. v.] His education was completed at Geneva, where he knew Sismondi, Bonstetten, De Candolle, De Saussure, De la Rive, Rossi, Mrs. Marcet, and was intimate with the Polish exiles Adam Czartoriski, Ladislas Zamoiski, Krasinski the poet, and Mickiewicz, whose ‘Faris’ he translated. During a visit to England in 1831 he made the acquaintance of Godwin, Carlyle, Thackeray, and Kemble; and at Paris in 1832 was introduced to Victor Hugo, Cousin, Ballanches, and went with Mendelssohn to see Taglioni. ‘Das ist Gliedermusik!’ his companion exclaimed. After a tour in Italy with Krasinski, he took up his abode in Munich, attended Schelling's lectures, and frequented court society. He nursed Michel Beer, father of Meyerbeer, through his last illness in 1833, and at Dresden heard Tieck read ‘Romeo and Juliet.’
Having already written much for German periodicals, Reeve entered, at the age of twenty-one, upon his literary career in London as a contributor to the ‘British and Foreign Quarterly Review.’ Again in Paris in 1835 and 1836 he was an habitué of Madame de Circourt's salon, and became intimate or acquainted with Lamartine, Lacordaire, Léon Faucher, De Vigny, Thiers, Rio, Montalembert, and De Tocqueville. At Prague he studied the military art under General Krineszki in 1836, and, proceeding to Cracow, described his tour in letters published in the ‘Metropolitan Magazine.’ In November 1837 he was appointed by Lord Lansdowne clerk of appeal to the judicial committee of the privy council; was promoted to the registrarship in 1843, and retired, after fifty years' service, in 1887. In this capacity he exercised much influence, and laid down permanent lines of procedure.
Reeve joined the staff of the ‘Times’ in 1840, and during the ensuing critical fifteen years guided its foreign policy, in which delicate business his confidential relations with Guizot, Bunsen, and Clarendon gave him singular advantages. His resignation, on 4 Oct. 1855, was due to the publication in the newspaper of an offensive article on the marriage of the princess royal. In July 1855 he succeeded Sir George Cornewall Lewis [q. v.] as editor of the ‘Edinburgh Review.’ His cosmopolitan training, intimacy with the most distinguished men of his time, brilliant social position, acquaintance with the innermost springs of politics, wide literary sympathies, and marked ability as a writer, well fitted him for the post. During the forty years of his sway, the ‘Review’ bore the impress of his strong individuality; he strenuously maintained its traditions of independence, and made it an organ of high critical thought. In politics he was a liberal of the old type, never deviating from unionist principles. Few men were more trusted. He was the medium of private negotiations between the English and French governments, and successive French ambassadors to this country looked to him for guidance. Edward John Littleton, first baron Hatherley (1791–1863) [q. v.], confided to his discretion, on 27 Nov. 1862, his ‘Memoir and Correspondence.’ Charles Cavendish Fulke Greville [q. v.] placed in his hands, in January 1865, a more important deposit. The ‘Greville Memoirs’ appeared in three instalments under Reeve's careful and conscientious editorship, in 1875, 1885, and 1887. They have had an immense circulation, and proved a most valuable literary property.
From 1838 to 1841 Reeve lived with Henry Fothergill Chorley [q. v.] in Chapel Street, Grosvenor Place. They entertained the best company, including Prince Louis Napoleon, Count D'Orsay, the Grotes, Carlyles, Austins, Thackeray, Rio, &c.; and Liszt, Ole Bull, Moscheles, and Benedict were heard at their parties. He travelled to Constantinople in 1853, and during his frequent trips to the continent was everywhere received with distinction. He corresponded regularly with Guizot, Thiers, St.-Hilaire, Victor Cousin, De Rémusat, and the Duc de Broglie. His friendship with the princes of the house of Orleans, begun by his presentation to Louis-Philippe in 1843, outlasted all vicissitudes, and he spent his eightieth birthday at Chantilly as the guest of the Duc d'Aumale. From 1876 he divided his time mainly between London and Foxholes, a charming residence built by him on the coast of Hampshire, within view of the Needles. There, on 21 Oct. 1895, he died at the age of eighty-two, and was buried in Brookwood cemetery, near Woking. He had just published No. 374 of the ‘Edinburgh Review,’ the hundred and sixty-first issued under his editorship. Reeve married, first, on 27 Dec. 1841, Hope, daughter of John Richardson, of Kirklands, Roxburghshire, who died eleven months later; secondly, Christina Georgina Jane, eldest daughter of George Tilly Gollop, of Strode House, Dorset, who survives him. He left one daughter by his first wife.
An honorary degree of D.C.L. was conferred upon him by the university of Oxford in 1869; he became in 1871 a companion of the Bath, and subsequently a commander of the military order of Portugal. He was a member of the Philobiblon Society, joined the Society of Antiquaries in 1852, and acted as vice-president in 1879–82. Elected in 1865 a corresponding member of the French Institute by the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques, he was honoured in 1888 with the foreign membership of that body. A high eulogium was pronounced upon him before the academy on 16 Nov. 1895 by the Duc d'Aumale, who designated him ‘one of those by whose friendship I have felt most honoured.’ The only notable extant likeness of him is a marble bust by John Bell.
Reeve translated De Tocqueville's ‘Democracy in America,’ the first part appearing in two volumes in 1835, the second in 1840; Guizot's ‘Washington’ in 1840; and in 1876 De Tocqueville's ‘State of Society in France before the Revolution of 1789,’ of which the third edition was published in 1888. He edited in 1855 Whitelocke's ‘Journal of the Swedish Embassy in 1653–1654;’ Meadows Taylor's ‘Story of my Life,’ in 1877; and Count Vitzthum's ‘Reminiscences,’ in 1887. The chief of his other writings are: 1. ‘Graphidæ, or Characteristics of Painters,’ a small volume of verse, privately printed in 1838 and reissued in 1842. 2. ‘Royal and Republican France,’ a collection of admirable essays on eminent Frenchmen, 2 vols. 1872. 3. ‘Petrarch,’ in Mrs. Oliphant's series of ‘Foreign Classics for English Readers,’ 1878. He also contributed extensively to the ‘Edinburgh Review.’[(Sir) J. K. Laughton's Memoirs and Correspondence of Reeves, 1898, 2 vols.; autobiographical notes; Times, 22 Oct. 1895; Academy, 26 Oct. 1895; Athenæum, 26 Oct. 1895; Foster's Men at the Bar, 1885; Men of the Time, 1895; Edinburgh Review, January 1896.]