Cook, John Douglas (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

COOK, JOHN DOUGLAS (1808?–1868), editor of the ‘Saturday Review,’ was born at Banchory-Ternan in Aberdeenshire, probably in 1808, though, according to his own belief, he was born in 1811. At an early age he obtained an appointment in India, probably through an uncle, one of the Sir George Roses. He quarrelled with his employers in India, returned, as he used to relate, on foot for a great part of the way, and found himself in destitution in London. He tried literature, and at last sent an article without his name to the ‘Times.’ Upon its acceptance he made himself known, and became a friend of Walter, the proprietor. He was also known to Murray, for whom he indexed the early volumes of the ‘Quarterly Review,’ and through Murray he became known to the fifth Lord Stanhope. When Walter was elected for Nottingham as a tory in 1841, Cook accompanied him to help in the election. He there made acquaintance with Lord Lincoln (afterwards fifth duke of Newcastle), who became chief commissioner of woods and forests in Peel's administration. Lord Lincoln sent a commission into Cornwall to inquire into the revenues of the duchy, and made Cook its secretary. The work came to an end about 1848. Some of the ‘Peelite’ party, to which Lincoln belonged, had bought the ‘Morning Chronicle’ to be their organ, and Cook was appointed to the editorship. He showed great ability, and spent money lavishly. The paper, though of the highest character, did not pay; and in 1854 Cook ceased to be editor on its sale to other proprietors. He had collected many able contributors, who supported him in the ‘Saturday Review,’ started in November 1855 on a new plan. The ‘Saturday Review’ under his editorship almost immediately took the first place among weekly papers, and in some respects the first place in periodical literature. Many of the contributors have since become eminent in various directions. Though not possessed of much literary culture, Cook had a singular instinct for recognising ability in others and judgment in directing them, which made him one of the most efficient editors of his day. In his later years he had a house at Boscastle, Cornwall, where he spent brief vacations; but he was seldom absent from London. He continued to edit the ‘Saturday Review’ till his death, 10 Aug. 1868.

[Information from the Right Hon. A. J. B. Beresford Hope.]