PONSARD, FRANÇOIS (1814-1867), French dramatist, was born at Vienne, department of Isére, on the 1st of June 1814. He was bred a lawyer, and his first performance in literature was a translation of Manfred (1837). His play Lucréce was represented at the Thédtre Frangais on the 1st of April 1843. This date is a kind of epoch in literature and dramatic history, because it marked a reaction against the romantic style of Dumas and Hugo. He received in 1845 the prize awarded by the Academy for a tragedy “ to oppose a dike to the waves of romanticism.” Ponsard adopted the liberty of the romantics with regard to the unities of time and place, but he reverted to the more sober style of earlier French drama. The tastes and capacities of the greatest tragic actress of the day, Rachel, suited his methods, and this contributed greatly to his own popularity. He followed up Lucréce with A gnés de Méramle (1846), Charlotte Corday (1850), and others. Ponsard accepted the empire, though with no very great enthusiasm, and received the post of librarian to the senate, which, however, he soon resigned, fighting a bloodless duel with a journalist on the subject. L'Honneur et l'argent, one of his most successful plays, was acted in 1853, and he became an Academician in 1855. For some years he did little, but in 1866 he obtained great success with Le Lion amoureux, another play dealing with the revolutionary epoch. His Galilée, which excited great opposition in the clerical camp, was produced early in 186']'. He died in Paris on the 7th of July of the same year, soon after his nomination to the commander ship of the Legion of Honour. Most of Ponsard's plays hold a certain steady level of literary and dramatic ability, but his popularity is in the main due to the fact that his appearance coincided with a certain public weariness of the extravagant and unequal style of 1830.
His (Eur/res completes were published in Paris (3 vols., 1865-1876). See La Fin du thédtre nrmantique et Frangots Pomard d'aprés des documents inédits (1899), by C. Latreille.
PONSONBY, JOHN (1713-1789), Irish politician, second son of Brabazon Ponsonby, 1st earl of Bessborough, was born on the 29th of March 1713. In 1739 he entered the Irish parliament and in 1744 he became first commissioner of the revenue; in 1746 he was appointed a privy councillor, and in 1756 Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. Belonging to one of the great families which at this time monopolized the government of Ireland, Ponsonby was one of the principal “ undertakers, ” men who controlled the whole of the king's business in Ireland, and he retained the chief authority until the marquess Townshend became lord-lieutenant in 1767. Then followed a struggle for supremacy between the Ponsonby faction and the party dependent on Townshend, one result of this being that Ponsonby resigned the speaker ship in 1771. -He died on the 12th of December 1789. His w'ife was Elizabeth, daughter of William Cavendish, 3rd duke of Devdnshire, a connexion which was of great importance to the Ponsonbys.
Ponsonby's third son, George Ponsonby (1755-1817), lord chancellor of Ireland, was born on the 5th of March 1755 and was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. A barrister, he became a member of the Irish parliament in 1776 and was chancellor of the Irish exchequer in 1782, afterwards taking a prominent part in the debates on the question of Roman Catholic relief, and leading the opposition to the union of the parliaments. After 1800 Ponsonby represented Wicklow. and then Tavistock in the united parliament; in 1806 he was lord chancellor of Ireland, and from 1808 to 1817 he was the official leader of the opposition in the House of Commons. He left an only daughter when he died in London on the 8th of July 1817. George Ponsonby's elder brother, William Brabazon Ponsonby, 1st Baron Ponsonby (1744-1806), was also a leading Whig politician, being a member of the Irish, and after 1800, of the British parliament. In 1806 shortly before his death he was created Baron Ponsonby of Imokilly. Three of his sons were men of note. The eldest was John (c. 1770-1855), who succeeded to the barony and wa.s created a viscount in 1839; he was ambassador at Constantinople from 1832 to 1837 and at Vienna from 1846 to ISSO. The second son was Major General Sir William Ponsonby (1772-1815), who, after serving in the Peninsular War, was killed at the battle of Waterloo whilst leading a brigade of heavy cavalry. Another son was Richard Ponsonby (1772-1853), bishop of Derry. Sir William Ponsonby's posthumous son William (1816-1861) became 3rd Baron Ponsonby on the death of his uncle John, Viscount Ponsonby; he died childless and was succeeded by his cousin William Brabazon Ponsonby (1807-1866), only son of the bishop of Derry, on whose death the barony of Ponsonby became extinct. Among other members of this family may be mentioned Major-General Sir Frederick Cavendish Ponsonby (1783-1837), son of the 3rd earl of Bessborough, a soldier who distinguished himself at the battles of Talavera, Salamanca and Vittoria, in the Peninsular War, and was wounded at Waterloo; he was governor of Malta from 1826 to 1835. His eldest son, Sir Henry Frederick Ponsonby (1825-1895), a soldier who served in the Crimea, is best remembered as private secretary to Queen Victoria from 1870 until a few months before his death.
PONSON DU TERRAIL [Pierre Alexis de Ponson], Vicomte de (1829-1871), French romance writer, was born at Montmaur (Isére) on the 8th of July 1829. He was a prolific novelist, producing in the space of two years some seventy three volumes. Among his most successful productions were Les Coulisses du monde (1853), Exploits de Rocambole (1859), Les Drames de Paris (1865) and Le Forgeron de la Cour-Dieu (1869). He died at Bordeaux on the 20th of January 1871.
PONT (or Kylpont), ROBERT (1524-1606), Scottish reformer, was educated at St Andrews. In 1562 he was appointed minister at Dunblane and then at Dunkeld; in 1563, commissioner for Moray, Inverness and Banff. Then in succession he became minister of Birnie (1567), provost of Trinity College near Edinburgh (1571), a lord of session (1572), minister of St Cuthbert's, Edinburgh (1573) and at St Andrews (1581). Pont was a strenuous champion of ecclesiastical independence, and for protesting against parliamentary interference in church government he was obliged to leave his country. From 1584 to 1586 he was in England, but returning north he resumed his prominence in church matters and kept it until his death in 1606. His elder son Timothy Pont (1560?-1614?) was a good mathematician, surveyor, and “the first projector of a Scottish atlas.”
PONTA DELGADA, the capital of an administrative district, comprising the islands of St Michael's and St Mary in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores. Pop. (1900), 17,620. Ponta Delgada is built on the south coast of St Michael's, in 37° 40' N. and 25° 36' W. Its mild climate, and the fine scenery of its mountain background, render it very attractive to visitors; it is the commercial centre, and the most populous city of the archipelago. Besides the cathedral, it contains several interesting churches and monasteries, and an observatory. Formerly its natural inner harbour only admitted vessels of light draught, while larger ships were compelled to anchor in an open roadstead, which was inaccessible during the prevalence of southerly gales. But great improvements were effected after 1860 by the construction of a breakwater 2800 ft. long.
PONT-À-MOUSSON, a town of northern France in the department of Meurthe-et-Moselle, 17 m. N.N.W. of Nancy by rail. Pop. (1906), 12,282. The Moselle, which is canalized, divides the town into two quarters, united by a bridge of the late 16th century. The church of St Martin, dating from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, has a handsome façade with two towers, and in the interior a choir screen and Holy Sepulchre of the 15th century. The lower ecclesiastical seminary occupies the building of an old Premonstratensian convent. There are several interesting old houses. The town has a communal college and engineering workshops, blast furnaces, and manufactures of lacquered ware, paper, cardboard, cables and iron-ware. Dating from the 9th or 10th century, Pont-à-Mousson constituted a lordship, which was made a marquis ate in 1354. It was from 1572 to 1763 the seat of a well-known university.
PONTANUS, JOVIANUS (1426-1503), Italian humanist and poet, was born in 1426 at Cerreto in the duchy of Spoleto,