1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Morison, James Augustus Cotter

MORISON, JAMES AUGUSTUS COTTER (1832–1888), British author, was born in London on the 20th of April 1832. His father, who had made a large fortune as the inventor and proprietor of “ Morison's Pills,” settled in Paris till his death in 1840, and Cotter Morison thus acquired not only an acquaintance with the French language, but a profound sympathy with France and French institutions. In later life he resided for some years in Paris, where his house was a meeting-place for eminent men of all shades of opinion. He was educated at Highgate grammar school and Lincoln College, Oxford. Here he fell under the influence of Mark Pattison, to whom his impressionable nature perhaps owed a certain over-fastidiousness that characterized his whole career. He also made the acquaintance of the leading English Positivists, to whose opinions he became an ardent convert. Yet he retained a strong sympathy with the Roman Catholic religion, and at one time spent several weeks in a Catholic monastery. One other great influence appears in the admirable Life of St Bernard, which he published in 1863—that of his friend Carlyle, to whom the work is dedicated, and with whose style it is strongly coloured. Meanwhile he had been a regular contributor, first to the Literary Gazette, edited by his friend John Morley, and then to the Saturday Review at its most brilliant epoch. In 1868 he published a pamphlet entitled Irish Grievances shortly stated. In 1878 he published a volume on Gibbon in the “ Men of Letters ” series, marked by sound judgment and wide reading. This he followed up in 1882 with his Macaulay in the same series. It exhibits, more clearly perhaps than any other of Morison's works, both his merits and his defects. Macaulay's bluff and strenuous character, his rhetorical style, his unphilosophical conception of history, were entirely out of harmony with Morison's prepossessions. Yet in his anxiety to do justice to his subject he steeped himself in Macaulay till his style often recalls that which he is censuring. His brief sketch, Mme de Maintenon: une étude (1885), and some magazine articles, were the only fruits of his labours in French history. Towards the close of his life he meditated a work showing the application of Positivist principles to conduct. Unfortunately, failing health compelled him to abandon the second or constructive part: the first, a brilliant piece of writing which attempts to show the ethical inadequacy of revealed religion and is marked in parts by much bitterness, was published in 1887 under the title of The Service of Man. He died in London on the 26th of February 1888.