Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cunningham, Francis

CUNNINGHAM, FRANCIS (1820–1875), commentator on Ben Jonson, born in 1820, was the youngest son of Allan Cunningham (1784–1842) [q. v.] In 1838 he joined the Madras army as ensign in the 23rd light infantry. He won distinction as field-engineer at the defence of Jellalabad, and after the withdrawal of the army from Afghanistan he was placed by Lord Ellenborough on the Mysore commission. He retired from the service in 1861. In 1870 he published an edition of Marlowe, and in the following year an edition of Massinger. He also published an edition of Ben Jonson in three vols. (1871), and revised the reprint of Gifford's Ben Jonson (1875). It had been his intention to edit Ben Jonson elaborately, and he had many qualifications for the task. His admiration for Gifford did not blind him to that great scholar's shortcomings, and his corrections of Gifford are much to the point. The text of Cunningham's Marlowe is not remarkable for accuracy, but he made some useful notes and happy emendations. He died 3 Dec. 1875. In his interesting library, which was dispersed shortly after his death, was Charles Lamb's famous copy of Beaumont and Fletcher, now in the library of the British Museum.

[Athenæum, 18 Dec. 1875.]

A. H. B.