Melville, George John Wiiyte
sporting novels hunting whyte melvill
MELVILLE, GEORGE JOHN WIIYTE (1S21-1878), has a right to be regarded as the founder of a school of fashionable novels, - the fashionable sporting novel.. He was lamented on his death as the Tyrtmus of the hunting field, the laureate of fox-hunting ; all his most popular and distinctive heroes and heroines, Digby Grand, Tilbury Nogo, the Honourable Crasher, Mr Sawyer, Kate Coventry, Mrs Lascelles, are or would be mighty hunters. The eldest son of Major Whyte Melville, of Mount Melville, Fifeshire, he received his school education, like so many of his heroes, at Eton, entered the army in 1839, became captain in the Coldstream Guards in 1846, and retired in 1849. His first appearance in literature was made soon after, with a translation of Horace into fluent and graceful verse, published in 1850. His first novel was Digby Grand, published in 1853. Although this first effort has a good deal more in it of Lytton's early high-flying style than Whyte -Melville's later works, the unflagging verve and intimate knowledge with which lie described sporting scenes and sporting characters at once drew attention to him as a novelist with a new vein. His power of sustaining interest in hunting and the things connected with hunting appeared more markedly in his next novel, Tilbury Xogo, contributed to the Sporting Magazine in 1853. He showed in the adventures of Mr Nogo, what became more apparent in his later works, that he had a surer hand in humorous narrative than in pathetic description ; there are many pathetic scenes in his novels, but the pathos is sometimes rather forced, intended to point a moral - rather the pathos of the preacher than the poet. The hero of General Bounce, his next novel in order of publication (Fraser's Magazine, 1854), little as one would expect it from the title, ends in a painful manner, somewhat out of keeping with the lively middle and beginning. When the Crimean War broke out, Whyte Melville took part in it as a volunteer in the Turkish contingent ; but this was the only break in his literary career from the time that he began to write novels till his death in 1878. By a strange accident, he lost his life in the hunting-field, the hero of many a stiff ride meeting his fate in galloping quietly over an ordinary ploughed field.
Twenty-one novels appeared from his pen after his return from the Crimea : - Kate Coventry, 1856 ; The Interpreter, 1858 ; Holmby House, 1860 ; Good for Yothing, 1861 ; Market Harborough, 1861 ; The Gladiators, 1863 ; Brookes of Bridlemere, 1864; The Queen's Maries, 1864; Cerise, 1865 ; Bones and I, 1868 ; The White Rose, 1868; Al or N, 1869 ; Contraband, 1870; Sarchedon, 1871 ; Satanella, 1872 ; Uncle John, 1874 ; Sister Louise, 1875 ; Katerfelto, 1875 ; Rosine, 1876 ; Roy's Wife, 1878 ; Black but Comely, 1878. Several of these novels are historical, the Gladiators being perhaps the most famous of them. As an historical novelist Whyte Melville cannot be put on a level with Harrison Ainsworth for painstaking accuracy and minuteness of detail ; he makes his characters live and move with great vividness, but he obviously did not know at first hand the history of the periods chosen by hiM. It is on his portraiture of contemporary sporting society that his reputation as a novelist must rest ; and, though now and then a character reappears, such as the supercilious stud-groom, the dark and wary steeple-chaser, or the fascinating sporting widow, his variety in the invention of incidents is amazing. Whyte Melville was not merely the annalist of sporting society for his generation, but may also be fairly described as the principal moralist of that society; he exerted a considerable and a wholesome influence on the manners and morals of the gilded youth of his time. His Songs and Verses and his metrical Legend of the True Cross, though respectable in point of versification, are hardly worth mentioning on their own merits.
MELVILL VAN CARNBEE, PIETER, BARON, an eminent Dutch geographer, was born at the Hague 20th May 1816, and died October 24, 1856. He traced his descent from an old Scotch family, originally it is said of Hungarian extraction. Destined for the navy, in which his grandfather had won distinction, Melvill imbibed a taste for hydrography and cartography as a student under Pilaar in the college of I'dedemblik, and he showed his capacity as a surveyor on his very first voyage to the Dutch Indies (1835). 110839 he was again in the East, and was now attached to the hydrographical bureau at Batavia-. With the assistance of the long-neglected documents collected by the old company, be completed in wonderfully short time his first great hydrographical work - a map of Java in five sheets, accompanied by sailing directions (Amsterdam, 1842 ; 2d revised edition, 1 8 4 9 ), - which was received with great applause. Melvill remained in India till 1845 collecting materials for his second great hydro-graphical work, the chart of the waters between Sumatra and Borneo (two sheets, 1845 and 1846, revised edition of first sheet 1847; compare the descriptive memoir in Tindal and Swart's Journal, 1846). On his return to Holland Melvin was attached to the naval department with the special charge of studying the history of the hydrography of the Dutch Indies. He also undertook, in connexion with Von Siebold, the publication of the ilioniteur des _fades, a valuable series of scientific papers, mainly from his own pen, on the foreign possessions of Holland, which was continued for three years. In 1850 Melvill returned to India as lieutenant of the first class and adjutant to Vice-Admiral Van den Bosch ; and after the premature death of this commander he was again appointed keeper of the charts at Batavia. He was one of the founders and for a time the president of the new society for natural science (1850). In 1853 he obtained exemption from active naval service that he might devote himself to a general atlas of the Dutch Indies ; and under the most unfavourable circumstances he prosecuted the task with incredible energy. But he was not to see its completion. Just after he had lost his young wife and new-born son he was called in 1856 to be director of the marine establishment of OnrusWand there he soon fell a victim to climate, dying after much suffering in the hospital of Weltevreden, only forty years of age. In spite of delays caused by the engraving of the maps yin Holland, no fewer than twenty-five sheets were already finished, but it was not till 1862 that the whole plan, embracing sixty sheets, was ably brought to a close by Lieutenant-Colonel W. P. Versteeg. The premature loss of Melvill was severely felt not only in Holland but in foreign countries, where, as shown by his connexion with the geographical societies of Paris, London, Berlin, and Bergen, his labours were highly esteemed. His industry and energy were equalled only by the benevolence and warmth of his heart. In 1843 he received the decoration of the Netherlands Lion, in 1849 that of the Legion of Honour.