Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 41.djvu/17

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

care, as curate in sole charge, of the enormous parish of Bedminster, near Bristol. From 1 Feb. 1834 to 31 March 1839 he was minister of the church of St. James, Bath; for twelve months he was stationed at Trinity Church, Bath; he was then in charge of a district church near Ottery St. Mary, Devon; and from 1846 to 1851 he held on his own nomination the rectory of Buckland Monachorum, near Plymouth. Nichols then returned to Bath, where he dwelt in the east wing of Lansdown Crescent, collected a valuable library, and acquired a great knowledge of literature. In 1858, and for several years afterwards, he lived at the Wyke, on Grasmere. For two or three years before 1870 he resided at the old Manor House, Keynsham, but from that date until his death his home was at the Woodlands, on the borders of the Quantocks, in Somerset, and midway between Nether Stowey and Alfoxden. Nichols travelled frequently in foreign countries, and was well acquainted with the scenery and antiquities of Spain, Italy, Sicily, Greece, and Palestine. He died at the Woodlands on 25 Sept. 1889, and was buried with his parents in the family vault in Gosport churchyard on 2 Oct. By his will he left the parish the funds for the completion of a campanile, or bell-tower, which he had begun to erect. It cost, with the bells, the sum of 2,500l.

Nichols had great knowledge of literature, and frequently contributed to periodicals. He published at Bath in 1838 a pamphlet entitled ‘Horæ Romanæ, or a Visit to a Roman Villa,’ which was suggested by the discovery, during the formation of the Great Western Railway, of the site of a Roman villa at Newton St. Loe, near Bath. The account of the excavations was followed by a poem of 120 lines in blank verse (cf. Scarth, Aquæ Solis, pp. 114–15). Nichols edited in 1866 the ‘Remains of the Rev. Francis Kilvert’ [q .v.] He was elected F.S.A. on 2 Feb. 1865. He printed at Bath for private circulation in 1873 a paper on ‘The Quantocks and their Associations,’ which he read before the Bath Literary Club on 11 Dec. 1871. It was interesting to the lovers of Coleridge, Wordsworth, Sir Humphry Davy, Thelwall, and Charles Lloyd. A second edition, revised and enlarged, with map and eleven illustrations, came out in 1891. Among the illustrations were photographs of the author and of his house, The Woodlands.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Guardian, 2 Oct. 1889, p. 1464; Bath Chronicle (by Mr. Peach and the Rev. H. M. Scarth), 3 and 10 Oct. 1889; Peach's Historic Houses in Bath, 2nd ser. p. 7.]

W. P. C.

NICHOLSON. [See also Nicolson.]

NICHOLSON, BRINSLEY, M.D. (1824–1892), Elizabethan scholar, born in 1824 at Fort George, Scotland, was the eldest son of B. W. Hewittson Nicholson, of the army medical staff. After a boyhood passed at Gibraltar, Malta, and the Cape, where his father was stationed, he entered Edinburgh University in 1841, in due time took his degree, and finished his medical studies in Paris. Becoming an army surgeon he spent some years in South Africa, and saw service in the Kafir wars in 1853 and 1854. His careful observation and knowledge of the native tribes were shown in the genealogical tables of Kafir chiefs contributed by him to a ‘Compendium of Kafir Laws and Customs’ printed by the government of British Kaffraria at Mount Coke in 1858. During his long rides and lonely hours in these years the study of Shakespeare proved a constant solace. He was in China during the war of 1860, and present at the famous loot of the Summer Palace at Pekin; and in New Zealand took part in the Maori war, which ended in 1864. About 1870 he retired from the army, and, settling near London, he devoted himself seriously to Elizabethan literature.

In 1875 he edited, for the then recently formed New Shakspere Society, the first folio and the first quarto of ‘Henry the Fifth,’ and began the preparation of the ‘Parallel Texts’ of the same play, issued in 1877. This he was prevented from completing by severe illness. He afterwards read several papers at meetings of the New Shakspere Society, and, encouraged by his friend and fellow-student, Professor W. T. Gairdner of Glasgow, he brought out in 1886 an excellent reprint of Reginald Scot's ‘Discoverie of Witchcraft’ (1584). He subsequently worked on editions of Jonson, Chapman, and Donne; but he succeeded in bringing near completion only his edition of ‘The Best Plays of Ben Jonson,’ which was published posthumously in 1893, with an introduction by Professor C. H. Herford, in the Mermaid Series (2 vols.). His edition of Donne's poems was completed for the Muses' Library in 1895. He was an occasional contributor to ‘Notes and Queries,’ the ‘Athenæum,’ ‘Antiquary,’ and ‘Shakespeariana.’ Without being brilliant, his habits of accuracy and his full acquaintance with the literature of the period gave value to his criticism, and he was always ready to help a fellow scholar. He died 14 Sept. 1892. He had married in 1875, and his wife survived him.

[Private information.]

L. T. S.