Page:Cousins's Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature.djvu/29

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Dictionary of English Literature

Diophantus and Charidora; Inconstancy Upbraided is perhaps the best of his short poems. He is credited with a little poem, Old Long Syne, which probably suggested Burns's famous Auld Lang Syne.

Aytoun, William Edmonstone (1813-1865).—Poet and humorist, s. of Roger A., a Writer to the Signet, was b. in Edinburgh and ed. there, and was brought up to the law, which, however, as he said, he "followed but could never overtake." He became a contributor to Blackwood's Magazine in 1836, and continued his connection with it until his death. In it appeared most of his humorous prose pieces, such as The Glenmutchkin Railway, How I Became a Yeoman, and How I Stood for the Dreepdaily Burghs, all full of vigorous fun. In the same pages began to appear his chief poetical work, the Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers, and a novel, partly autobiographical, Norman Sinclair. Other works were The Bon Gaultier Ballads, jointly with Theodore Martin, and Firmilian, a Spasmodic Tragedy, under the nom-de-plume of T. Percy Jones, intended to satirise a group of poets and critics, including Gilfillan, Dobell, Bailey, and Alexander Smith. In 1845 A. obtained the Chair of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in Edinburgh University, which he filled with great success, raising the attendance from 30 to 150, and in 1852 he was appointed sheriff of Orkney and Shetland. He was married to a dau. of Professor Wilson (Christopher North).

Bacon, Francis, Lord Verulam, And Viscount St. Alban's (1561–1626).—Philosopher and statesman, was the youngest s. of Sir Nicholas B., Lord Keeper, by his second wife, a dau. of Sir Anthony Cooke, whose sister married William Cecil, Lord Burghley, the great minister of Queen Elizabeth. He was b. at York House in the Strand on Jan. 22, 1561, and in his 13th year was sent with his elder brother Anthony to Trinity Coll., Cambridge. Here he first met the Queen, who was impressed by his precocious intellect, and was accustomed to call him "the young Lord Keeper." Here also he became dissatisfied with the Aristotelian philosophy as being unfruitful and leading only to resultless disputation. In 1576 he entered Gray's Inn, and in the same year joined the embassy of Sir Amyas Paulet to France, where he remained until 1579. The death of his f. in that year, before he had completed an intended provision for him, gave an adverse turn to his fortunes, and rendered it necessary that he should decide upon a profession. He accordingly returned to Gray's Inn, and, after an unsuccessful attempt to induce Burghley to give him a post at court, and thus enable him to devote himself to a life of learning, he gave himself seriously to the study of law, and was called to the Bar in 1582. He did not, however, desert philosophy, and pub. a Latin tract, Temporis Partus Maximus (the Greatest Birth of Time), the first rough draft of his own system. Two years later, in 1584, he entered the House of Commons as member for Melcombe, sitting subsequently for Taunton (1586), Liverpool (1589), Middlesex (1593), and Southampton (1597). In the Parliament of 1586 he took a prominent part in urging the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. About this time he seems again to have approached his powerful uncle, the result of which may possibly be traced in his rapid progress at the Bar, and in his receiving, in 1589, the reversion to the Clerkship of