Caspar Melehior De Jovellanos, a Spanish poet, born in Gijon, Jan. 5, 1744, died at Vega, Nov. 27, 1811. He was originally destined to the church, and received his first tonsure at the age of 13. But after having studied philosophy at the university of Oviedo, his friends in Madrid persuaded him to change, and he was appointed a magistrate of the criminal court of Seville in October, 1767. In 1774 he became judge of the same court, and four years later alcalde of the royal household and court at Madrid. The friend and protector of Cabarrus, he shared in the persecutions visited upon the latter by Godoy. Cabarrus was cast into prison, and Jovellanos banished from court, under the pretext of a mission to explore the province of Asturias, and report upon the state of its natural resources. On the restoration of Cabarrus to Godoy's favor Jovellanos was recalled (1797), and appointed ambassador to Russia; but before he had time to set out he was made minister of justice. But Godoy soon sent him once more to Asturias, and in 1801 had him dragged from his bed by night, hurried to Barcelona, and transported to Majorca, whence he did not return until after the downfall of Charles IV. in 1808. He rejected a portfolio tendered him by Joseph Bonaparte, but represented his native province in the first central junta, and was its leading spirit in the darkest moments of his country's struggle for existence.
When the junta was dissolved, on the approach of the French troops, he succeeded in reassembling the dispersed members, and prevailed upon them to yield their power to the regency. He then returned to Gijon, whence upon the occupation of the town by the French in 1811 he escaped to Vega. Distinguished alike as a patriot and a scholar, he materially aided Llorente in his endeavors for the introduction of such reforms into the tribunal of the holy office as should insure the publicity of its proceedings, and strove sedulously for the reform of the Spanish drama. His complete works (7 and 5 vols., Madrid), with a biography prefixed, comprise lyrical and didactic poems, epistles, odes, and other minor compositions in verse, both grave and gay; a drama, El delin-cuente honrado, a discourse on the study of history; a paper on the agrarian law, etc. Jovellanos was versed in English literature, and translated the first book of " Paradise Lost." - See Memorias para la vida de Jovellanos, by Cean-Bermudez (12mo, Madrid, 1814).