Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 40.djvu/173

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


tales illustrative of romantic passages in English history, one of a series of works on the histories of the chief nations of the world, composed by various authors as commissions from the publishing firm of Edward Bull. The ‘Romance’ of France was by Leitch Ritchie [q. v.], of Italy by Charles Macfarlane [q. v.], of Spain by Don T. de Trueba, and of India by John Hobart Caunter [q. v.] The five have been republished in the Chandos Classics. Notwithstanding the extent of Neele's contributions, it was written in six months, and the overstrain of composition and research was believed to have been the cause of the untimely fate of the author, who was found dead in bed on 7 Feb. 1828, having cut his throat in an access of insanity, under the delusion that his private affairs had become hopelessly embarrassed. No symptom of a disordered mind appears in his writings, which, although tinged with poetical melancholy, are always lucid and coherent; and his conversation is represented to have been cheerful and vivacious, while he was irreproachable in every relation of life. His ‘Literary Remains,’ published in one volume in 1829, included his ‘Lectures on English Poetry’ and a number of tales and poems, some never before published, others collected from the ‘Monthly Magazine,’ ‘Forget me not,’ and other periodicals.

As a poet, Neele can hardly claim higher rank than that of an elegant and natural versifier, whose compositions are the fruit of a genuine poetical impulse, but who has neither sufficient originality of thought nor force of expression to produce any considerable effect. His sincerity and spontaneity plead in his favour so long as he confines himself to lyric; his dramatic attempts are grievously defective in truth of representation. His short stories frequently exhibit considerable power of imagination and description, especially one in which the legends of the Wandering Jew and Agrippa's Magic Mirror are very happily combined. His romantic illustrations of English history were popular in their day, and might please in ours were not the curious dialect which was then considered to represent mediæval English now entirely out of date. A portrait, engraved by Neele after Archer, was prefixed to the ‘Literary Remains.’

[Memoir prefixed to Neele's Literary Remains, 1829; Georgian Era, vol. iii.; Times, 11 Feb. 1828; Gent. Mag. 1828, i. 276; Nathan Drake's Winter Nights.]

R. G.

NEELE or NEALE, Sir RICHARD (d. 1486), judge, was son of Richard Neele, who was elected member of parliament for Leicester on 21 Dec. 1441 (Official Returns, i. 333), and died in the following year. Before 1461 Neele had evidently received grants from the crown, as he was specially exempted from the Act of Resumption passed on Edward IV's accession (Rolls of Parl. v. 475 a). In 1463 he was a member of Gray's Inn, whence he was called serjeant on 7 Nov. On 12 Aug. 1464, according to Dugdale (Chron. Ser. p. 69), he was appointed king's serjeant, but the ‘Calendar of Patent Rolls’ records this promotion in 1466. When Henry VI was restored on 9 Oct. 1470, Neele was made a justice of the king's bench; but on Edward's return he was, on 29 May, transferred to the common pleas. To this post he was reappointed on the accession of Edward V, Richard III, and Henry VII. Before 1483 he was knighted, and in that year served as a trier of petitions from England, Wales, and Ireland. He died on 11 June 1486, and was buried in Prestwold Church, Leicestershire, where an alabaster monument was raised to his memory. He married Isabella Butler of Warrington, Lancashire, by whom he had two sons, Christopher and Richard, whose great-grandson married a sister of Chief-justice Coke. Prestwold, which was acquired by Neele, became the family seat.

[Cal. Rot. Pat. pp. 308, 312 b, 316, 316 b; Rolls of Parl. v. 475 a; Dugdale's Origines, p. 47, and Chron. Ser. pp. 67, 70, 72; Burton's Description of Leicestershire, pp. 211–12; Gough's Monuments, ii. 94; Foss's Judges of England, v. 69.]

A. F. P.

NEGRETTI, ENRICO ANGELO LUDOVICO (1817–1879), optician, was born at Como in Italy in 1817, and came to London in 1829. As a glass-blower and thermometer maker, in partnership with M. Pizzi, he established himself at 19 Leather Lane, Holborn, in 1843, and thence removed to 9 Hatton Garden in 1848. In 1850 he took Joseph Warren Zambra into partnership. At the Great Exhibition of 1851 they received prize medals as opticians, spectaclemakers, and constructors of almost every kind of scientific or mathematical instruments, and were then appointed meteorological instrument makers to the queen, Greenwich Observatory, and the British Meteorological Society. In 1852 Negretti took out a patent, No. 14002, for thermometers and barometers. The firm obtained a world-wide reputation for the excellence of their work and the uprightness of their dealing. In 1858 they removed to 107 Holborn Hill, and in 1869 to Holborn Circus. Among the Italians in London Negretti enjoyed an almost patriarchal popularity: his purse was open to the poor, and his time, already overtaxed by his business, was never wanting in their service.