Dionysius Lardner

Life
1793-1859; b. 3 April, Dublin, ed. TCD, MA 1819, LLD, 1827; took holy orders; m. Cecilia, 1815 and sep. 1820, by which time he has fathered Dion Boucicault with Miss Anne Boursiquot; Professor of Natural Philosphy & Astronomy at London Univ. (Univ. College), 1827, moving to that city; FRS and MRIA, as well as member of Linnean, Zoological and Astronomical Societies; natural father of Dion Boucicault (q.v.); seduced and subsequently married Cecily, wife of cavalry officer, and was sued for £8,000; ed. Cabinet Encyclopaedia, initiated in 1829 and complete in 1849 [133 vols.], with eminent contributors incl. Thomas Moore, who wrote the ‘History of Ireland’ [Vol. IV]; lectured in USA and Cuba, earning a reported 340,000 on his tours; cited in Heaviside divorce, with damages of 38,000 to Capt. Heaviside, the marriage being dissolved in 1845; settled in Paris; d. 29 April, in Naples. CAB ODNB PI DIB [RAF] OCIL WJM

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Works
Lardner’s Cabinet Cyclopædia, A Series of Original Works, sold together or separately (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans; and John Taylor [Feb. 1846]; History, Biography, the Sciences, Ats and Manufactures: Distinct works comprised in Lardner’s Cabinet Cyclopædia: HISTORY, ANTIQUITIES, &c. Macintosh’s History of England [Sir James Macintosh, W. Wallace, Esq., and Robert Bell, Esq., 10 vols.]; Moore’s History of Ireland from the earliest Kings of that Realm down to its last Chief; by Thomas Moore, Esq., 4 vols.; Fergus’s History of the United States of America from the discovery of America to the Election of General Jackson to teh Presidency in 1829, by the Rev. H. Fergus, 2 vols.; Crowe’s History of France, from the Earliest Period to the Abdication of Napoleon, by Eyre Evans Crowe, Esqu., 3 vols; Grattan’s History of the Netherlands, from the Invasion of the Romans to the Belgian Revolution in 1830, by T. Colley Grattan, Esq., new edn., 1 vols.; History of Switzerland, from the Earliest Period to 1830, 1 vol. (compress[ed] within the smallest possible compass hose parts ... which seem of merely local importance ... dwell[ing] ... on points of national character or European interest); Dunham’s History of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, by Dr. Dunham, 3 vols.; Dunham’s History of Poland, from the Earliest period ; Dunham’s History of the Germanic Empire, by S. A. Dunham, LLD, 3 vols. (Middle Ages; Religious and Intellectual History ... during Middle Ages; Modern History .. to Leopol II); Dunham’s History of Spain and Portugal, 4 vols.; Bell’s History of Russia from the Earliest Period to the Treaty of Tilset, 1807, by Robert Bell, 3 vols..; Dunham’s History of Europe During the Middle Ages, 4 vols; Dr. De Sismondi’s History of the Italian Republics, or, of the Origin, Proress, and Fall of Freedom in Italy, from a.d. 476-1805, by J. C. L. De Sismondi, 1 vol. De Sismondi’s History of the Fall of the Roman Empire, comprising a View of the Invasion and Settlement of the Barbarians, by J. C. L. De Sismondi, 2 vols.; Thirlwallis History of Greece, by the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of St. David’s (Connop Thirwall, D.D.), 8 vols.; The History of Rome from the earliest Times to the Founding of Constantinople, 2 vols.; Fosbrooke’s History of the Grecian and Roman antiquities, A treatise on Arts, Manufactures and Institutions of the Greek and Romans, by the Rev. T. D. Fosbrooke, 2 vols.; [Rev. Henry] Stebbing’s History of the Reformation,2 vols.; Cooley’s History of Progress and Discover, 3 vols.; [Thomas] Keightley’s Outlines of History, 1 vl.; Nicholas’s Chronology of History, 1 vol.; BIOGRAPHY: Roscoe’s Lives of the British Lawyers; Forster’s Lives of British Statesmen; Macintosh’s Life of Sir Thomas More; Gleig’s Lives of British Military Commanders, 3 vols; Southey and Bell’s Lives of British Naval Commanders, 5 vols.; Bell’s Lives of the British Poets,2 vols.; Dunham’s Lives of British Dramatists, 2 vols. [incl. Congreve, Farquhar, Centlivre, Arth. Murphy]; Dunham’s Livesof Early British Writes [incl. S. Columba]; James’s Lives of Foreign Statesmen [with . E. Crowe]; Shelley’s Lives of Authors of France, by mrs Shelley [Montaigne to Mme de Stael]; Montgomery’s Lives of Authors of Italy, Spain & Portugal]; NATURAL PHILOSOPHY &c. Powell’s History of Natural Philosophy; [Sir John] Herchel’s Astronomy, new. edn., 1 vol.; Kater & Lardner on Mechanics, new. edn., 1 vol.; [Sir David] Brewster’s Optics, 1 vol.; ; Lardner on Heat, a Treatise ..., 1 vol.; [Michael] Donovan’s Chemistry, MRIA, A Treatise ..., 4th edn., 1 vol.; Lardner on Hydrostatics and Pneumatics, A Treatise ..., new. edn., 1 vol.; [Aug.] De Morgan’s Essay on Probabilities; Lardner’s Geometry, A Treatise ..., 1 vol.; Lardner’s and [C. V.] Walker’s Electricity, Magnetism, and Meteorology, A Manual ..., 2 vols. ARTS & MANUFACTURES, [G. R.] Porter on the Manufacture of Silk; Porter on the Manufactures of Porecelain and Glass; Holland on the Manufactures in Metal; Donovan’s Domestic Economy. NATURAL HISTORY, [w.] Swainson on the Study of Natural History; Swainson on the Habits and Instincts of Animals; Swainson on the Classification of Animals; Swainson on Ornithology, 2 vols.; Swainson’s History of Domesticated Animals; Swainson on Fish, Amphibians, and Reptiles, 2 vols.; Swainson on Insects; Swainson on Shells; Swainson’s Taxidermy and Bibliography; [John] Phillips’s Geology, 2 vols.; [J. S.] Henslow’s Botany.

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Commentary
Richard Fawkes, Dion Boucicault (1979), ‘a lecture on the steam engine, his greatest passion after women, earned him a TCD gold medal; DD, 1827; 134 vol. Cabinet Cyclopaedia, Mary Shelley a contributor; there was an air of spuriousness surrounding much of his work, which led to William Makepeace Thackeray satirizing him as Dr Dionysius Diddler; in 1836 in Newcastle he delivered an extravagant eulogy of George Stephenson, referring to him as ‘Father of the Locomotive’, a phrase which stuck; had previously attacked Liverpool and Manchester Railway for becoming so “fascinated” with Stephenson; appeared to damn Brunel’s Bath tunnel scheme in 1834; likewise dampened enthusiasm for Brunel’s iron steamship; Charles Dickens called Lardner ‘that prince of humbugs’, and Samuel Hall denounced him as ‘an ignorant and impudent empiric’. Eloped to Paris with the wife of Capt. Richard Heaviside, a director of the London and Brighton Railway; sued for 8,000; set up in Paris, d. in Naples. Lardner met Anne Boursiquot while he was living with his wife and daughters at in Blackrock and she at Bray; spotted straightening his clothes as he came from the back door and presented himself at the front as if arriving, in 1820; his wife Cecilia left him; moved to Middle Gardiner St. as a lodger, and later - after the birth of Dion - to 47 Lr Gardiner St.; Cecilia lived with a family called Murphy, and had a child by Mr. Murphy; when Lardner sued for divorce, Cecilia countercharged, citing Anne Boursiquot as co-respondent; as Boursiquot’s fortunes fell, Lardner was appointed to the first chair of Natural Philosophy an Astronomy at the newly created Univ. College, London, leaving Dublin in 1827; Anne stayed with him at Golden Square, and found a house in Tavistock St., sending for her children in February, and there she remained with Dion and three others of them until 1836. (Op. cit., pp.4-12).

Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English, The Romantic Period, 1789-1850, Vol 1 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), p.49-50: Mahony [Father Prout]’s satire on Dionysius Lardner and his “Encyclopédie des Cabinets” [i.e., toilets], translating Béranger’s “L’Epée de Damocles” as “The Dinner for Dionysius” [‘O! who hath not heard of the sword / which old Dennis / Hung over the head of a Stoic? / and how the stern sage bore that / terrible menace / With a fortitude not quite heroic? / there’s a Dennis the “tyrant of / Cecily” hight, / Most sincerely I pity his lady, ah! ... now this Dennis is doomed for his / sins to indite / A Cabinet Cyclopaedia.’ Further, Thackeray satirised Dionysius Lardner in The History of Dionisius Diddler.

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References
Dictionary of National Biography calls him a ‘scientific writer’; professor of natural philosophy and astronomy at newly founded London University, now Univ. Coll., 1827; Cabinet Cyclopaedia, 133 vols. [sic], 1849; Edinburgh Cabinet Library, 1830-44; lectured in US and Cuba, 1840-5; settled Paris, [?186?-5]; wrote at Paris on railway economy and natural philosophy; d. Naples.

Charles Read, A Cabinet of Irish Literature (3 vols., 1876-78), contains extract from The Universal Agency of Heat. d. Naples.

Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English: The Romantic Period, 1789-1850, 2 vols. (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980) calls him a mathematician; his paternity of Dion Boucicault was demonstrated by W. J. Lawrence in Ireland Saturday Night (Oct. 28 1922). See Rafroidi, Irish Lit. Vol. 2 (1972), p. 67.

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Notes
Variations: The Cabinet is variously listed Lardner’s Cabinet Encyclopaedia, initiated in 1829 and complete in 1849 [133 vols], with eminent contributors; Dr. Lardner’s Cabinet Library, 9 vols, 1830-1832; Edinburgh Cabinet Library, 38 vols, 1830-32.

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