Costello, Dudley (DNB00)

COSTELLO, DUDLEY (1803–1865), author and journalist, was born in Sussex in 1803. His father, James Francis Costello, who became a captain in the 14th regiment 25 May 1803, was born in the barony of Costello, county Mayo, and died at an early age, leaving his wife and two children in impoverished circumstances. The son Dudley was educated for the army at Sandhurst, and received a commission from that college as ensign in the 34th regiment on 4 Oct. 1821, but his regiment being in India and continuing there, he was placed on half-pay on 27 Sept. 1823. He joined the 96th regiment on 29 Jan. 1824, served on the staff in North America and the West Indies, and as an ensign went on half-pay on 10 Sept. 1828. While residing in Bermuda he showed much early literary talent by editing and writing, in a hand like print, a weekly journal entitled ‘The Grouper,’ which he continued with small means for a considerable period. After his return to England he joined his mother and sister in Paris with hopes that through the interest of Mr. Canning, to whom he was related through that statesman's mother, he might obtain some appointment which would prevent the necessity of a return to his regiment, but by the death of Canning his chance of preferment came to an end. For some months he was associated as an artist with the labours of the ichthyological department of the ‘Règne Animal’ under Baron Cuvier. After this he devoted himself to copying illuminated manuscripts in the Bibliothèque Royale. His copies of the work of King René of Sicily on ‘Tournaments and their Laws’ are most accurate and beautiful, and were much admired in Paris. He continued for some years to draw in this manner, and he and his sister [see Costello, Louise Stuart] were in fact the first to call public attention to manuscript copying both in Paris and in the British Museum. He helped his sister in her works on the ‘Early Poetry of France’ and the ‘Persian Rose Garden,’ which they enriched with curious illustrations laboriously executed by hand. He returned to London in 1833. In 1838 he accepted the place of foreign correspondent to the ‘Morning Herald,’ being a very good linguist, and for some time lived at Hanover. Paris and London afterwards divided his time, and in 1846 he was the foreign correspondent of the ‘Daily News.’ For thirty years he was a contributor to many of the periodicals of the day, including ‘Bentley's Miscellany,’ ‘The New Monthly Magazine,’ ‘Household Words,’ and ‘All the Year Round,’ and was also connected with the ‘Examiner’ from 1845. As an author, his charming ‘Tour through the Valley of the Meuse’ is still much appreciated in Belgium. The drawings in it are executed by himself, and are done with his usual delicacy. His industry and his talents did not, however, serve to make him rich, and on 19 April 1861 he was glad to accept a civil list pension of 75l. a year. He married, on 23 Sept. 1843, Mary Frances, widow of J. D. Tweedy of Warley House, near Halifax. Her death, on 1 May 1865, contributed to his end, for an insidious malady declared itself when his broken spirits could not afford him the means of rallying. He tried a journey through Spain to divert his melancholy, but it failed of its effect, and a work on Spain which he had projected was not even attempted by him. He died of granular degeneration of the kidneys at 54 Acacia Road, St. John's Wood, London, on 30 Sept. 1865, aged 62. He was the author of:

  1. ‘A Tour through the Valley of the Meuse, with the Legends of the Walloon Country and the Ardennes,’ 1845.
  2. ‘Stories from a Screen,’ 1855.
  3. ‘The Joint-Stock Bank,’ 1856.
  4. ‘The Millionaire of Mincing Lane,’ 1858.
  5. ‘Faint Heart never won Fair Lady,’ 1859.
  6. ‘Holidays with Hobgoblins,’ 1861.
  7. ‘Piedmont and Italy, from the Alps to the Tiber, illustrated with a series of views taken on the spot,’ 1859–61.

[Gent. Mag. November 1865, p. 659; Bentley's Miscellany, November 1865, pp. 543–50; Examiner, 7 Oct. 1865, p. 637.]

G. C. B.