Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Mudie, Robert

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MUDIE, ROBERT (1777–1842), miscellaneous writer, born in Forfarshire on 28 June 1777, was youngest child of John Mudie, weaver, by his wife Elizabeth Bany. After attending the village school he worked at the loom, until he was drawn for the militia. From his boyhood he devoted his scanty leisure to study. At the expiry of his militia service of four years he became master of a village school in the south of Fifeshire. In 1802 he was appointed Gaelic professor and teacher of drawing in the Inverness academy, although of Gaelic he knew little. About 1808 he acted as drawing-master to the Dundee High School, but was soon transferred to the department of arithmetic and English composition. He contributed much to the local newspaper, and conducted for some time a monthly periodical. Becoming a member of the Dundee town council, he engaged eagerly in the cause of burgh reform in conjunction with R. S. Rintoul, afterwards editor of the London ‘Spectator.’ In politics he was ‘an ardent reformer.’ In 1820 Mudie removed to London, where he was engaged as reporter to the ‘Morning Chronicle,’ and in that capacity went to Edinburgh on George IV's visit to that city, which he described in a volume entitled ‘Modern Athens.’ He was subsequently editor of the ‘Sunday Times,’ and also wrote largely in the periodicals of the day.

About 1838 he migrated to Winchester, where he was employed by a bookseller named Robbins in writing books, including a worthless ‘History of Hampshire,’ which formed the letterpress to accompany some pretentious steel engravings. The speculation failed, and Mudie returned to London, in impaired circumstances and broken health. He conducted the ‘Surveyor, Engineer, and Architect,’ a monthly journal, commenced in February 1840, which did not last through the year. He died at Pentonville on 29 April 1842, leaving the widow of a second marriage in destitution, one son, and four daughters.

His more important writings are: 1. ‘The Maid of Griban, a Fragment,’ in verse, 8vo, Dundee, 1810. 2. ‘Glenfergus, a Novel,’ 3 vols. 12mo, Edinburgh, 1819. 3. ‘A Historical Account of His Majesty's Visit to Scotland,’ 8vo, London, 1822. 4. ‘Things in General, being Delineations of Persons, Places, Scenes, and Occurrences in the Metropolis, and other parts of Britain, &c., by Laurence Langshank,’ 12mo, London, 1824. 5. ‘Modern Athens’ [a description of Edinburgh], 8vo, London, 1824. 6. ‘The Complete Governess,’ 12mo, London, 1824. 7. ‘Session of Parliament,’ 8vo, London, 1824. 8. ‘Babylon the Great, a Dissection and Demonstration of Men and Things in the British Capital,’ 2 vols. 12mo, London, 1825; another edit. 1828. 9. ‘The Picture of India; Geographical, Historical, and Descriptive,’ 2 vols. 12mo, London, 1827; 2nd edit. 1832. 10. ‘Australia,’ 12mo, London, 1827. 11. ‘Vegetable Substances,’ 18mo, London, 1828. 12. ‘A Second Judgment of Babylon the Great,’ 2 vols. 12mo, London, 1829. 13. ‘The British Naturalist,’ 8vo, London, 1830. 14. ‘First Lines of Zoology,’ 12mo, London, 1831. 15. ‘The Emigrant's Pocket Companion,’ &c., 8vo, London, 1832. 16. ‘First Lines of Natural Philosophy,’ 12mo, London, 1832. 17. ‘A Popular Guide to the Observation of Nature’ (‘Constable's Miscellany,’ vol. lxxvii.), 12mo, Edinburgh, 1832 (also New York, 1844, 12mo). 18. ‘The Botanic Annual,’ 8vo, London, 1832. 19. ‘The Feathered Tribes of the British Islands,’ 2 vols. 8vo, London, 1834; 2nd edit. 1835; 4th edit., by W. C. L. Martin, in Bohn's ‘Illustrated Library,’ 1854. 20. ‘The Natural History of Birds,’ 8vo, London, 1834. 21. ‘The Heavens,’ 12mo, 1835. 22. ‘The Earth,’ 12mo, London, 1835. 23. ‘The Air,’ 12mo, London, 1835. 24. ‘The Sea,’ 12mo, London, 1835. 25. ‘Conversations on Moral Philosophy,’ 2 vols. 8vo, London, 1835. 26. ‘Astronomy,’ 12mo, London, 1836. 27. ‘Popular Mathematics,’ 8vo, London, 1836. 28. ‘Spring,’ 12mo, London, 1837 (edited by A. White, 8vo, 1860). 29. ‘Summer,’ 12mo, London, 1837. 30. ‘Autumn,’ 12mo, London, 1837. 31. ‘Winter,’ 12mo, London, 1837. 32. 'The Copyright Question and Mr. Serjeant Talfourd's Bill,' 8vo, London, 1838. 33. 'Hampshire, its Past and Present Condition and Future Prospects,' 3 vols. 8vo, Winchester [1838]. 34. 'Westley's Natural Philosophy,' re-written, 3 vols. 8vo, London, 1838. 35. 'Gleanings of Nature,' containing fifty-seven groups of animals and plants, with popular descriptions of their habits, 4to, London, 1838. 36. ' Man in his Physical Structure and Adaptations,' 12mo, London, 1838. 37. 'Domesticated Animals popularly considered,' 8vo, Winchester, 1839. 38. 'The World,' 8vo, London, 1839. 39. 'England,' 8vo, London, 1839. 40. 'Companion to Gilbert's" New Map of England and Wales,"' 8vo, London, 1839. 41. ' Winchester Arithmetic,' 8vo, London, 1839. 42. 'Man in his Intellectual Faculties and Adaptations,' 12mo, London, 1839. 43. 'Man in his Relations to Society,' 12mo, London, 1840. 44. 'Man as a Moral and Accountable Being,' 12mo, London, 1840. 45. 'Cuvier's Animal Kingdom arranged according to its Organisation. The Fishes and Radiata by R. Mudie,' 8vo, London, 1840. 46. 'Sheep, Cattle,' &c., 2 vols. 8vo, London, 1840. 47. 'China and its Resources and Peculiarities, with a View of the Opium Question, and a Notice of Assam,' 8vo, London, 1840. 48. 'Historical and Topographical Description of the Channel Islands, 8vo, London, Winchester [printed 1840]. 49. 'The Isle of Wight, its Past and Present Condition, and Future Prospects,' 8vo, London, Winchester [printed 1841]. Mudie furnished the volumes on 'Intellectual Philosophy' and 'Perspective' for improved editions of 'Pinnock's Catechisms' (1831, 1840), the greater part of the natural history section of the 'British Cyclopaedia' (1834), the letterpress to 'Gilbert's Modern Atlas of the Earth' (1840), and a topographical account of Selborne prefixed to Gilbert White's * Natural History of Selborne' (ed. 1850).

[Gent. Mag. 1842, pt. ii. 214-15; Anderson's Scottish Nation, iii. 212-13 ; Hannah's Life of T. Chalmers, i. 22, and Appendix.]

G. G.