Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/84

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Cowden-Clarke
Cowen
72

Although the subject he taught was not available for graduation, he had attracted classes varying in number from thirty to seventy-eight. Towards the end of his tenure of office, however, he appears to have lectured only in alternate years, 'persuading persons who wished to attend him during any session when he was to be absent to put off doing so, and to attend the classes of chemistry and botany in the meantime.' The royal commission, which concluded its labours in 1830, recommended among other reforms that the chair of agriculture should be abolished 'unless a class could be provided for it, and taught regularly.'

Coventry, who was now sixty-three, accordingly resigned, and was succeeded by David Low (1786–1859) [q. v.] on 16 March 1831. He died in the next year.

He wrote, in addition to the thesis referred to above:

  1. 'Remarks on Live Stock and relative Subjects,' 1806 (not in British Museum, but in library of Faculty of Advocates).
  2. 'Discourses explanatory of the Object and Plan of the Course of Lectures on Agriculture and Rural Economy,' 1808.
  3. 'Notes on the Culture and Cropping of Arable Land,'1811.

The treatises attributed to him by Grant, on 'Dairy Produce' and 'The Succession of Crops and the Valuation of Soils,' are not to be found either in the British Museum or in the library of the Faculty of Advocates. They are perhaps identical with (1) and (3) above.

The Andrew Coventry who in 1829 edited, and presented to the Bannatyne Club, Petruccio Ubaldini's 'Descrittione del regno di Scotia' was a different person, in spite of the direct statement made against his name in the British Museum Catalogue; he was an advocate, and would appear, from the list of members of the Bannatyne Club published in 1846, to have been still living in that year. A third Andrew Coventry, also declared in the British Museum Catalogue to be the professor of agriculture, delivered the Ulbster Hall lecture 'On some of the most curious inventions and discoveries in recent times,' which was printed for private circulation in 1856.

[Alex. Grant's Story of the University of Edinburgh, 1884, i. 345-7, ii. 456; Cat. of the Library of the Faculty of Advocates; authorities cited above.]

E. C.-e.

COWDEN-CLARKE, Mrs. MARY (1809–1898), writer on Shakespeare. [See Clarke.]


COWEN, JOSEPH (1829–1900), politician and journalist, born at Stella Hall, Blaydon-on-Tyne, on 9 July 1831, was eldest son of Sir Joseph Cowen, who represented Newcastle in parliament from 1865 to his death in 1873, and was knighted for personal services extending over many years on the River Tyne commission with the result of rendering the river navigable for sea-going ships instead of for coal barges merely. His ancestors came from Lindisfarne, and they lived, laboured, and died on Tyneside during three centuries, many being employed at Winlaton in Sir Ambrose Crowley's factory for smith's wares. Their employer is believed to be the Sir John Anvil of Addison's 'Spectator.'

Cowen's grandfather was the last member of the Cowen family in Sir John's employment, and, on the closing of the factory in 1816, this grandfather began business on his own account at Blaydon Burn. The works there were devoted to making fire-bricks and gas retorts; Sir Joseph Cowen greatly enlarged them. Cowen himself, who derived a very large income from them, sold them shortly before his death.

Cowen was educated, first at a private school in Ryton, and secondly at the university of Edinburgh. His university career was chiefly remarkable for his pre-eminence in the debating society. While a student he interested himself in the revolutionary movements on the continent in 1848, and made Mazzini's acquaintance by letter. He took no degree.

After leaving the university Cowen joined his father in business; but he still continued to promote revolution throughout Europe. His movements were closely watched by spies in the service of foreign police in order that they might discover how revolutionary documents were imported into their respective countries. These papers were really smuggled among the shipments of fire-bricks which were made from Blaydon Burn to foreign parts. Cowen numbered among his guests and friends Mazzini, Kossuth, Louis Blanc, and Ledru Rollin; Wysocki, who was a leader of the insurgent Hungarians; Mieroslawski and Worcell, who were Poles in revolt against Russia; and Herzen and Bakunin, who were Russians and the declared enemies of the Russian government. Without his aid the lot of many foreign refugees in England would have been far harder, his purse being always open to help them, while his pen was always ready to advocate their cause and encourage their efforts. At home Cowen sympathised with chartists, and strenuously laboured on their behalf. He was an active member of the northern reform league, which was founded on 3 Jan. 1858, and existed till 1862. In