Wilson, John (17851854)

Wilson, John, the well-known “Christopher North,” born in Paisley, son of a manufacturer, who left him a fortune of £50,000; studied at Glasgow and Oxford; a man of powerful physique, and distinguished as an athlete as well as a poet; took up his abode in the Lake District, and enjoyed the society of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey; wrote two poems, the “Isle of Palms,” and the “City of the Plague”; lost his fortune, and came to settle in Edinburgh; was called to the Scottish bar, but never practised; became editor of Blackwood's Magazine, and was in 1820 elected over Sir William Hamilton professor of moral philosophy in Edinburgh University; his health began to fail in 1840; resigned his professorship in 1851, and received a pension from the Crown of £300; he is described by Carlyle as “a tall, ruddy, broad-shouldered figure, with plenteous blonde hair, and bright blue flashing eyes, and as he walked strode rapidly along; had much nobleness of heart, and many traits of noble genius, but the central tie-beam seemed always wanting; a good, grand ruined soul, that never would be great, or indeed be anything” (17851854).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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