Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Buckley, Theodore William Alois

BUCKLEY, THEODORE WILLIAM ALOIS (1825–1856), classical scholar, was born on 27 July 1825, and was a protégé of the well-known Greek scholar, George Burges. He regularly attended the British Museum Library, where he is described as ‘a fresh-coloured youth, with flaxen and slightly curling hair, poring over works of which some of the best scholars knew little more than the name.’ One of the earliest subjects on which he was here engaged was an edition of ‘Apuleius de Deo Socratis,’ for which he was collecting material with a view to publication. For this he had no means. He was very poor. From the age of twelve he was self-taught. His library, which when transferred to Oxford weighed a ton and a half, was picked up at old bookstalls at the cheapest prices. In this manner he had collected a set very nearly complete of the 4to Dutch Latin classics. He was fortunate in his purchases. It is told of him, for instance, that he procured an Aldine ‘Aristophanes’ for 4s., the title-page of which was supposed wanting, but was afterwards discovered by him to be merely misplaced. The expense of printing his ‘Apuleius de Deo Socratis’ was defrayed by the Rt. Hon. Thomas Grenville, to whom it was dedicated, in 1844. Some friends conceived the idea of sending young Buckley to Oxford, and made intercession with the dean of Christ Church, who promised him a servitorship. He distinguished himself at the university. His Latin prose was acknowledged by the dean the purest he had ever met. He was made one of the chaplains of Christ Church. In addition to his classical knowledge, he possessed considerable musical talent, inherited from his mother, who had performed at public concerts with success, and was a daughter of the celebrated Dussek. Organic disease is supposed to have induced a recourse to opium, and subsequently to alcohol. He came to London, and wrote for the booksellers. His ode to Miss Florence Nightingale, inserted in ‘Punch,’ and subsequently copied into the ‘Times,’ is remarkable as being probably the only instance remaining of his poetic power. He died of fever on 30 Jan. 1856, and was buried in Woking cemetery. Besides contributions to many periodicals, as Dickens's ‘Household Words,’ ‘Eliza Cook's Journal,’ ‘Sharpe's Magazine,’ ‘Freemason's Journal,’ ‘Parker's Miscellany,’ and ‘The Press,’ he revised for H. G. Bohn's series of classical authors translations of Homer, Æschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristotle's ‘Rhetoric and Poetry,’ Horace and Virgil, of which the second volumes of Homer and Euripides were first translated into literal prose by him, and the whole published in the years 1849–53. For Routledge he edited Chaucer's ‘Canterbury Tales,’ Foxe's ‘Book of Martyrs,’ Milton's ‘Poetical Works,’ ‘New Elegant Extracts’ in verse, and abridged Calmet's ‘Biblical Dictionary,’ and translated the ‘Catechism of the Council of Trent’ and the ‘Decrees of the Council of Trent.’ He also composed for Routledge ‘The Girl's First Help to Reading,’ ‘The Boy's First Help to Reading,’ and the ‘Exhibition Guide to the Crystal Palace.’ He edited for other publishers Pope's ‘Iliad and Odyssey,’ with Flaxman's designs, six plays of Æschylus, Demosthenes ‘On the Crown,’ and Sallust, and translated the Latin notes of Wunder's ‘Sophocles’ into English. He edited Taylor's ‘History of the Life and Death of Jesus Christ’ in 1851, and Trollope's ‘Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles’ in 1853; he also wrote ‘The Natural History of Tufthunters and Toadies,’ Lond. 1848, 32mo; ‘The Great Cities of the Ancient World in their glory and their desolation’ (of which the articles on Pekin, America, and Scandinavia were contributed by K. R. H. Mackenzie), London, 1852, 8vo; ‘A History of the Council of Trent,’ compiled from a comparison of various writers, with a Chronological Summary,’ London, 1852, 8vo; ‘The Dawnings of Genius exemplified and exhibited in the early lives of distinguished men,’ London, 1853, 8vo; ‘The Great Cities of the Middle Ages, or the Landmarks of European Civilisation,’ London, 1853, 8vo; ‘The Adventures of Mr. Sydenham Greenfinch,’ London, 1854.

[Gent. Mag. 1856, p. 315; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. vii. 534, viii. 255.]

J. M.