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Houghton, Richard Monckton Milnes, 1st Baron

HOUGHTON, RICHARD MONCKTON MILNES, 1ST BARON (1800-1885), English poet and man of letters, son of Robert Pemberton Milnes, of Fryston Hall, Yorkshire, and the Hon. Henrietta Monckton', daughter of the fourth Lord Galway, was born in London on the 19th of June 1809. He was educated privately, and entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1827. There he was at once drawn into a literary set, and became a member of the famous " Apostles " Club, which then included Tennyson, Hallam, Trench, J. W. Blakesley, afterwards dean of Lincoln, and others. After taking his degree, Milnes travelled abroad, spending some time at Bonn University. Thence he went to Italy and Greece, and published in 1834 a volume of Memorials of a Tour in some Parts of Greece, describing his experiences. He returned to London in 1837, and was in that year elected to Parliament as member for Pontefract. His parliamentary career was marked by much strenuous activity. He interested himself particularly in the question of copyright and the conditions of reformatory schools. He left Peel's party over the Corn Law controversy, and was afterwards identified in politics with Palmerston, at whose instance he was made a peer in 1863. His literary career was industrious and cultured, without being exceptionally distinguished. Church matters had always a claim upon him: he wrote a striking tract in 1841, which was praised by Newman; and took part in the discussion about " Essays and Reviews," defending the tractarian position in One Tract More (1841). He published two volumes of verse in 1838, Memorials of Residence upon the Continent and Poems of Many Years, Poetry for the People in 1840 and Palm Leaves in 1844. He also wrote a Life and Letters of Keats in 1848, the material for which was largely provided by the poet's friend, Charles Armitage Brown. Milnes also contributed largely to the reviews. His poetry is meditative and delicate; some of his ballads were among the most popular of their day, and all his work was marked by refinement. But his chief distinctions were his keen sense of literary meriUn others, and the judgment and magnanimity with which he fostered it. He was surrounded by the most brilliant men of his time, many of whom he had been the first to acclaim. His chief title to remembrance rests on the part he played, as a man of influence in society and in moulding public opinion on literary matters, in connexion with his large circle of talented friends. He secured a pension for Tennyson, helped to make Emerson known in Great Britain, and was one of the earliest champions of Swinburne. He helped David Gray and wrote a preface for The Luggie. He was, in the old sense of the word, a patron of letters, and one who never abused the privileges of his position. Milnes married in 1851 the Hon. Annabel Crewe (d. 1874). He died at Vichy on the nth of August 1885, and was buried at Fryston. His son, the second Baron Houghton, was created Earl of Crewe (q.v.) in 1895.

See The Life, Letters and Friendships of Richard Monckton Milnes, first Lord Houghton (1890), by Sir T. Wemyss Reid.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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