Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 35.djvu/59

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

came over to England and challenged Macdonnell's supremacy. Then commenced at the Westminster Club in Bedford Street, in the presence of a large concourse of amateurs, a famous series of encounters, the interest of which has remained unrivalled in the history of chess. La Bourdonnais spoke no English and Macdonnell no French, and the only word that passed between them was ‘check.’ The struggle began with three phenomenally long games, which were all drawn. Slowly, however, the Frenchman obtained the advantage, and of the eighty-eight games played won forty-four, fourteen games being drawn. The play of both men increased in brilliancy as this great contest proceeded. The duel was at length interrupted by Labourdonnais's recall to Paris, and before the antagonists could again meet Macdonnell died, at the boarding-house in Tavistock Square where he had long resided, on 14 Sept. 1835 (Gent. Mag. 1835, ii. 442). He was buried in Kensal Green cemetery, where five years later his great opponent was also interred. Macdonnell was unmarried.

With the exception of Howard Staunton [q. v.] there is perhaps no native British player who has displayed such a strong innate faculty for chess as Macdonnell, who is entitled to rank with Morphy, Paulsen, and Labourdonnais among the greatest masters of the game in modern times. A large number of his games are extant. A selection, including eighty-five of his games with Labourdonnais, was published by William Greenwood Walker, ‘the most enthusiastic of chess recorders,’ in 1836. Fifty of the match games had previously been issued by William Lewis (1835, 8vo), but Walker's version is the more trustworthy.

[Materials kindly furnished by the Rev. W. Wayte; Chess-Player's Chronicle, 1843, pp. 369–81; Chess-Player's Magazine, 1864, pp. 161–6; Le Palamède, 1836, vol. i. freq.]

T. S.

McDONNELL, Sir ALEXANDER (1794–1875), commissioner of national education in Ireland, eldest son of James McDonnell, M.D., was born at Belfast in 1794. He gained a king's scholarship at Westminster school in 1809, and was elected in 1813 to Christ Church, Oxford, where he held a studentship till 1826. He graduated B.A. 1816, and M.a. 1820, and won four univerisity prizes—those for Latin and Engligh verse and for the Latin and English essays—an accumulation of honours only once before achieved. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn, 23 Nov. 1824, went the midland circuit, attended the Leicester and Northampton sessions, and served as a commissioner of inquiry into public charities. Of an exceedingly sensitive temperament, he broke down in pleading a case before a committee of the House of Lords, and, mortified beyond expression, renounced the bar, returned to Ireland, and accepted the position of chief clerk in the chief secretary's office under Thomas Drummond (1797–1840) [q. v.] In 1839 he was appointed resident commissioner of the board of education, of which he became the presiding genius. While himself an ardent protestant, he persistently sought to provide for his poorer countrymen the religious instruction of their choice. He was made a privy councillor of Ireland in 1846, resigned his commissionership in December 1871, and was created a baronet 20 Jan. 1872. Study of the classics and history formed the chief solace of his retirement. He was deeply attached to Ireland, which he desired to see drawn closer to England by means of just and generous government. He died at 32 Upper Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin, 21 Jan. 1875, and was buried at Kilsharvan, near Drogheda. He married in 1826 Barbara, eldest daughter of Hugh Montgomery of Benvarden, co. Antrim, and widow of Richard Staples. She died at Kilsharvan, 6 April 1865, leaving no issue.

[Welch's Alumni Westmon. p. 476; Times, 25 Jan. 1875, p. 7; Webb's Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878, p. 311; Illustrated London News, 1875, lxvi. 115; Spectator, 20 Feb. 1875, pp. 240–1.]

G. C. B.

MACDONNELL, JOHN (1691–1754), Irish poet, called in Irish Seaghan Clárach MacDomhnaill, was born near Charleville, co. Cork, in 1691, and obtained the cognomen of Clárach, either because he was fostered in Clare, or because he was related to the MacDonnell family of Clare. He was persecuted as a Jacobite, and hated the English. He knew Greek, Latin, and Irish, and lived by poetry and by teaching. Among his pupils was Sylvester O'Halloran [q. v.], author of a ‘History of Ireland.’ He kept up sessions of the native poets, and presided over them at Rath Luirc, as Charleville is called in Irish. He began a translation of Homer into Irish and a ‘History of Ireland.’ He was encouraged by the MacNamara family in Clare. Many of his poems circulated in manuscript, and were stored in the memories of the peasantry of Munster till the general decay of Irish literature which followed the famine of 1847. The following have been printed: 1. ‘Aisling ar Eire,’ a dream, in which Ireland appears as a fairy, and the poet follows her to Cruachan, the Brugh na Boinne, Craebh ruadh, Tara, and other famous