Johnstone, Charles (DNB00)


JOHNSTONE, CHARLES (1719?–1800?), novelist, descended from a branch of the Johnstones of Annandale, Dumfriesshire, born at Carrigogunnel in the county of Limerick about 1719, was educated in the university of Dublin, where, however, he does not appear to have taken a degree. He was called to the bar, but extreme deafness prevented his practice except as a chamber lawyer, and not succeeding in that branch of the profession, he had recourse to literature for his support. His chief work, entitled ‘Chrysal, or the Adventures of a Guinea,’ and frequently reprinted, appeared in 4 vols., London, 1760–5. The first and second volumes had been written during a visit to the Earl of Mount-Edgcumbe in Devonshire. The book pretended to reveal political secrets, and to expose the profligacy of well-known public characters. It soon attracted attention as ‘the best scandalous chronicle of the day.’

In May 1782 Johnstone sailed for India, and very narrowly escaped death by shipwreck on the voyage. He found employment in writing for the Bengal newspaper press, under the signature of ‘Oneiropolos.’ He became in time joint proprietor of a journal, and is said to have acquired considerable property. He died at Calcutta about 1800.

Johnstone was also the author of: 1. ‘The Reverie, or a Flight to the Paradise of Fools,’ 2 vols. London, 1762. 2. ‘The History of Arbases, Prince of Betlis,’ 2 vols. 1774. 3. ‘The Pilgrim, or a Picture of Life,’ 2 vols. 1775. 4. ‘History of John Juniper, Esq., alias Juniper Jack,’ 3 vols. 1781.

[Gent. Mag. 1794 pt. ii. 591, 1807 pt. ii. 631, 1810 pt. i. 311; Ryan's Worthies of Ireland; Webb's Compendium of Irish Biography, p. 267.]

B. H. B.