A Sketch of the Career of Richard F. Burton

Alfred Bate Richards, Andrew Wilson and St. Clair Baddeley
Waterlow and sons: London, 1886.

PDF Page images.

Corrected from sources at http://books.google.com

The first edition of this work was published in 1880 by Alfred Bate Richards (almost invariably miscalled Alfred Bates Richards.) Bate Richards had been a contemporary of Burton's at Oxford, and had written an anonymous pamphlet Oxford Unmasked while still at the university.  Later this was reprinted under his own name (see his "Minstrelsy of War").

DNB entry (1896):

Richards, Alfred Bate 1820-1876, dramatist, journalist, and a  chief promoter of the volunteer movement of 1859, was born on 17  Feb. 1820 at Baskerville House, Worcestershire, where his father was  then residing. He was eldest son of John Richards, esq., of Wassell  Grove near Stourbridge, in that county, who was M.P. for  Knaresborough in the West Riding of Yorkshire from 1832 to 1837.  Alfred was educated at the Edinburgh high school and Westminster  School, where he was admitted on 18 Jan. 1831. He matriculated at  Exeter College, Oxford, on 19 Oct. 1837, and entered his name as a  law student at Lincoln's Inn on 16 May 1839. He graduated B.A. in  1841, and on 18 Nov. brought out an anonymous pamphlet entitled  ‘Oxford Unmasked,’ in which he denounced abuses in the organisation  of the university, which were afterwards removed by parliament. This  brochure rapidly passed through five editions. On its authorship  becoming known, Richards deemed it prudent to close his academic  career and move to London. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn  on 20 Nov. 1845, and for a brief time he went on circuit, but soon  devoted himself entirely to literature. His maiden work, published in  1845, was a five-act tragedy called ‘Cresus, King of Lydia.’ Four other  five-act dramas followed -- namely, ‘Runnymede’ in 1846, ‘Cromwell’  in 1847, ‘Isolda, or Good King Stephen’ in 1848, and ‘Vandyck, a Play  of Genoa,’ in 1850. In 1846 there appeared his first volume of poems,  called ‘Death and the Magdalen,’ and in 1848 another, entitled ‘The  Dream of the Soul.’

From 1848 to 1850 he gained his earliest experience as a  journalist by editing a weekly newspaper named ‘The British Army  Despatch.’ Of patriotic temperament and strongly opposed to the  Manchester school of politicians, he issued in 1848, in the form of a  letter addressed to Richard Cobden, a fierce denunciation of the  peace-at-any-price party, under the title of ‘Cobden and his Pamphlet  considered,’ as well as a volume called ‘Britain Redeemed and Canada  Preserved,’ in which he foreshadowed, some thirty years before its  actual construction, the interoceanic railway between the Atlantic and  the Pacific.

On 3 Aug. 1850 he started a new weekly journal called ‘The Mirror  of the Time,’ which lasted only a year. His chief contributions to it he  reissued under the titles of ‘Poems, Essays, and Opinions’ (2 vols.),  and ‘Essays and Opinions’ (2 vols.). During the Crimean war he  brought out, in 1854, a collection of lyrics called ‘The Minstrelsy of  War.’ From 29 June to 31 Dec. 1855 he held the office of first editor  of the ‘Daily Telegraph.’

Already Richards had advocated at every opportunity the enrolling  of rifle corps throughout the three kingdoms as a precaution against  invasion; and, when editor of the ‘Daily Telegraph,’ he brought the  subject prominently into public notice. In 1858 he was appointed  secretary of the National and Constitutional Defence Association,  which was formed to give effect to the scheme. A public meeting was  held, through his energy, in St. Martin's Hall, Long Acre, on 16 April  1859; Admiral Sir Charles Napier [q.v.] presided, and, as a result, the  war office issued, on 12 May 1859, a circular which authorised the  enrolling all over the United Kingdom of rifle volunteers. On the  publication of that circular, Richards hired rooms in the city of  London, and enlisted one thousand working-men volunteers, who were  formed into the 3rd city of London rifle corps. Of this corps Richards  was at once appointed major, and soon afterwards colonel. He held his  commission until 1869, when a testimonial was presented to him in  recognition of his efforts. The poet laureate, Alfred (afterwards lord)  Tennyson, wrote to Richards: ‘I most heartily congratulate you on  your having been able to do so much for your country, and I hope you  will not rest from your labours until it is the law of the land that every  man-child born in it shall be trained to the use of arms.’ The  rifle-volunteer movement grew rapidly; 337,072 volunteers were  enrolled in 1907, when the force was absorbed in the territorial army.

In 1869 Richards published ‘Medea,’ a poetic rhapsody on the  well-known picture by Frederick Sandys, R.A.; a photograph of the  painting formed the frontispiece to the volume. In 1870 Richards was  appointed editor of the ‘Morning Advertiser,’ in succession to James  Grant, and held that position until his death. In 1871 his only novel,  ‘So very Human,’ was published, its title having been suggested by a  chance phrase from the lips of Charles Dickens. He died on 12 June  1876, in his fifty-seventh year, at 22 Brunswick Square, London, and  was buried in St. Peter's churchyard, Croydon.

Besides the five dramas enumerated, Richards produced four  others. One of these, his tragedy of ‘Norma,’ founded upon the  libretto of Bellini's opera, was performed for the first time on 5 Feb.  1875 at Belfast, Miss Wallis impersonating the title rôle. His other  dramatic works, which were not published, were ‘The Prisoner of  Toulon,’ ‘King Pym, or the Great Rebellion,’ and ‘Love and Patience.’


Personal recollections; Payne's Proofs of A. B. Richards's Claim  to be Chief Promoter of the Volunteer Movement of 1859;  Westminster School Register, 1764-1883; Morning Advertiser, 14  and 15 June 1876; Athenæum, 1876, i. 832.