The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Horne, Richard Henry

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Horne, Richard Henry, or Hengist, as he preferred to be called, was born on Jan. 1st, 1803, was educated at Sandhurst, and entered the Mexican navy as a midshipman. He was present at the bombardment of Vera Cruz, the capture of the fortress of San Juan, Ullva, and followed the fortunes of the Mexican-Spanish war to its close. He next went to the United States, visiting several Indian encampments, and experiencing many adventures. Returning to England, he devoted himself to literature. Among his published works are "The Spirit of Peers and People," "The Death of Marlowe," "Cosmo de Medici," "Gregory VII.," dramas on the Elizabethan model, and "Orion," the poem by which he is mainly known. This latter work, an epic poem, was originally published at a farthing, partly with the view of obtaining a wide circulation for the first three editions of the work, of which no one was allowed to buy more than one copy. In 1846 Mr. Horne published "Ballads and Romances." He was also a prolific prose-writer, and edited and partly wrote "Spirits of the Age," which comprises accounts of some of the leading characters of the day. To this work Mrs. Barrett Browning was a contributor. Mr. Horne left England in 1852 for Victoria with William Howitt, and for some time commanded the gold escort between Ballarat and Melbourne. He also became one of the champion swimmers of Australia, and it is stated that he once swam bound hand and foot. He held various positions in the Victorian Civil Service. He was a member of the Board of Commissioners of Sewers and Water Supply, which planned and constructed the reservoir at Yan Yean, nineteen miles from Melbourne, whence the city still draws its water supply. At a déjeuner given when the Yan Yean works were in a forward state, he made an elaborate speech, and subsequently recorded these and other of his colonial experiences in a work entitled "Australian Facts and Prospects," published by Smith, Elder & Co. in 1859. Mr. Horne returned to England in 1869, and was awarded a civil list pension of £100 per annum in 1874. In 1877 he collected and published the letters addressed to him by Mrs. Barrett Browning, and this is the only correspondence of Mrs. Browning's that has been given to the public. Mr. Horne died at Margate on March 13th, 1884.