St. John, Bayle (DNB00)

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ST. JOHN, BAYLE (1822–1859), author, second son of James Augustus St. John [q. v.], and brother of Horace Stebbing Roscoe St. John [q. v.] and Percy Bolingbroke St. John [q. v.], was born in Kentish Town, London, on 19 Aug. 1822. He accompanied his father on visits to France and Switzerland during 1829–34, and then studied, with the intention of becoming an artist, until 1839. When scarcely thirteen he sent an article to a monthly magazine which was accepted. For a long time he was employed in assisting his father in his work on the ‘History of the Manners and Customs of Ancient Greece,’ 1842, 3 vols. At the same time he contributed regularly to the ‘Sunday Times’ and the ‘Penny Magazine,’ and furnished occasional articles to many periodicals. In 1834 he wrote for ‘Fraser's Magazine,’ besides some poetry, a series of articles entitled ‘De re Vehiculari, or a Comic History of Chariots,’ which were popularly attributed to Dr. Maginn. In 1845 he published a novel in three volumes called ‘The Eccentric Lover.’ In 1843 he helped to form the Ethnological Society, and contributed a paper on the Mongols to its ‘Journal’ (1848, i. 86–102). In the following year he helped to establish the Syro-Egyptian Society. As a contributor to the ‘Foreign Quarterly Review’ he discussed the political questions of the day, and received the thanks of the London Missionary Society for his treatment of the subject of Tahiti (October 1844, pp. 165–94) [see Pritchard, George]. In 1846 he went to Egypt, where he studied Arabic, explored many unknown districts, and journeyed to the oasis of Siwah, in order to study the route of Alexander the Great. No Englishman excepting George Browne (1768–1813) had previously crossed that dangerous desert. St. John published a narrative of the expedition in ‘Adventures in the Libyan Desert and the Oäses of Ammon,’ 1849, forming a volume of ‘Murray's Home and Colonial Library.’ This work was made the basis of ‘Five Views in the Oasis of Siwah, accompanied by a Map of the Libyan Desert,’ 1850. In June 1848 he took up his residence in Paris, and witnessed the coup d'état of 2 Dec. 1851. While in Paris he wrote his charming ‘Two Years' Residence in a Levantine Family’ for Chapman and Hall's series of ‘Works of Fiction,’ 1850—it was reissued in 1856—and he began contributing to ‘Chambers's Journal’ and to ‘Household Words.’ In 1851 he returned to Egypt for another year, visiting the valley of the Cataracts, and collecting materials for his ‘Village Life in Upper Egypt, with Sketches of the Said,’ 2 vols. 1852. After a subsequent visit to Italy he published ‘The Sub-alpine Kingdom, or Experiences and Studies in Savoy, Piedmont, and Genoa,’ 1856, 2 vols., a work containing new information, derived from unpublished documents, respecting the life of Rousseau. During a further residence in Paris, where he acted for a time as correspondent for the ‘Daily Telegraph,’ he projected, but did not live to write, a ‘History of the Establishment of the Empire in France.’ He died at 13 Grove End Road, St. John's Wood, London, on 1 Aug. 1859.

He was also author (among other works) of: 1. ‘The Fortunes of Francis Croft,’ 1852, anon. 2. ‘The Turks in Europe, a Sketch of Manners and Politics in the Ottoman Empire,’ 1853. 3. ‘Purple Tints of Paris, Character and Manners in the New Empire,’ 1854, 2 vols. 4. ‘The Louvre, or Biography of a Museum,’ 1855. 5. ‘Legends of the Christian East,’ 1856. 6. ‘Maretimo: a Story of Adventure,’ 1856, in ‘Select Library of Fiction,’ new edit. 1884. 7. ‘Montaigne the Essayist: a Biography,’ 1858, 2 vols. He translated ‘Sketches of the Hungarian Emigration into Turkey, by a Honved,’ 1853.

[Men of the Time, 1857, pp. 665–7; Gent. Mag. September 1859, p. 317; Sala's Life and Adventures, i. 397; Athenæum, 6 Aug. 1859, p. 177.]

G. C. B.