A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature, by John W. Cousin


Earle, John (1601–1665). — Divine and miscellaneous writer, born at York, and ed. at Oxford, where he was a Fellow of Merton. He took orders, was tutor to Charles II., a member of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, 1643, Chaplain and Clerk of the Closet to Charles when in exile. On the Restoration he was made Dean of Westminster, in 1662 Bishop of Worcester, and the next year Bishop of Salisbury. He was learned and eloquent, witty and agreeable in society, and was opposed to the “Conventicle” and “Five Mile” Acts, and to all forms of persecution. He wrote Hortus Mertonensis (the Garden of Merton) in Latin, but his chief work was Microcosmographie, or a Piece of the World discovered in Essays and Characters (1628), the best and most interesting of all the “character” books.

Eastlake, Elizabeth, Lady (Rigby) (1809–1893). — daughter of Dr. Edward Rigby of Norwich, a writer on medical and agricultural subjects, spent her earlier life on the Continent and in Edinburgh In 1849 she married Sir Charles L. Eastlake, the famous painter, and Pres. of the Royal Academy. Her first work was Letters from the Shores of the Baltic (1841). From 1842 she was a frequent contributor to the Quarterly Review, in which she wrote a very bitter criticism of Jane Eyre. She also wrote various books on art, and Lives of her husband, of Mrs. Grote, and of Gibson the sculptor, and was a leader in society.

Echard, Laurence (c. 1670–1730). — Historian, born at Barsham, Suffolk, and ed. at Cambridge, took orders and became Archdeacon of Stow. He translated Terence, part of Plautus, D’Orleans’ History of the Revolutions in England, and made numerous compilations on history, geography, and the classics. His chief work, however, is his History of England (1707–1720). It covers the period from the Roman occupation to his own times, and continued to be the standard work on the subject until it was superseded by translations of Rapin’s French History of England.

Edgeworth, Maria (1767–1849). — Novelist, only child of Richard E., of Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford, was born near Reading. Her father, who was himself a writer on education and mechanics, bestowed much attention on her education. She showed early promise of distinction, and assisted her father in his literary labours, especially in Practical Education and Essay on Irish Bulls (1802). She soon discovered that her strength lay in fiction, and from 1800, when her first novel, Castle Rackrent, appeared, until 1834, when her last, Helen, was published, she continued to produce a series of novels and tales characterised by ingenuity of invention, humour, and acute delineation of character. Notwithstanding a tendency to be didactic, and the presence of a “purpose” in most of her writings, their genuine talent and interest secured for them a wide popularity. It was the success of Miss E. in delineating Irish character that suggested to Sir W. Scott the idea of rendering a similar service to Scotland. Miss E., who had great practical ability, was able to render much aid during the Irish famine. In addition to the works above mentioned, she wrote Moral Tales and Belinda (1801), Leonora (1806), Tales of Fashionable Life (1809 and 1812), and a Memoir of her father

Edwards, Jonathan (1702?-1758). — Theologian, son of a minister, was born at East Windsor, Connecticut, ed. at Yale College, and licensed as a preacher in 1722. The following year he was appointed as tutor at Yale, a position in which he showed exceptional capacity. In 1726 he went to Northampton, Conn., as minister of a church there, and remained for 24 years, exercising his ministry with unusual earnestness and diligence. At the end of that time, however, he was in 1750 dismissed by his congregation, a disagreement having arisen on certain questions of discipline. Thereafter he acted as a missionary to the Indians of Massachusetts. While thus engaged he composed his famous treatises, On the Freedom of the Will (1754), and On Original Sin (1758). Previously, in 1746, he had produced his treatise, On the Religious Affections. In 1757 he was appointed Pres. of Princeton College, New Jersey, but was almost immediately thereafter stricken with small-pox, of which he died on March 22, 1757. E. possessed an intellect of extraordinary strength and clearness, and was capable of sustaining very lengthened chains of profound argument. He is one of the ablest defenders of the Calvinistic system of theology, which he developed to its most extreme positions. He was a man of fervent piety, and of the loftiest and most disinterested character.

Edwards, Richard (1523?-1566). — Poet, was at Oxford, and went to Court, where he was made a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and master of the singing boys. He had a high reputation for his comedies and interludes. His Palaman and Arcite was acted before Elizabeth at Oxford in 1566, when the stage fell and three persons were killed and five hurt, the play nevertheless proceeding. Damon and Pythias (1577), a comedy, is his only extant play.

Egan, Pierce (1772–1849). — Humorist, born in London, he satirised the Prince Regent in The Lives of Florizel and Perdita (1814), but is best remembered by Life in London: or the Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn and his elegant friend, Corinthian Tom, a collection of sketches which had great success at the time, and which gives a picture of the sports and amusements of London in the days of the Regency. It was illustrated by George Cruikshank.

Eggleston, Edward (1837–1902). — Novelist, born at Vevay, Indiana, was a Methodist minister. He wrote a number of tales, some of which, specially the “Hoosier” series, attracted much attention, among which are The Hoosier Schoolmaster, The Hoosier Schoolboy, The End of the World, The Faith Doctor, Queer Stories for Boys and Girls, etc.

Eliot, George,” see Evans.

Elizabeth, Queen (1533–1603). — Was one of the scholar-women of her time, being versed in Latin, Greek, French, and Italian. Her translation of Boethius shows her exceptional art and skill. In the classics Roger Ascham was her tutor. She wrote various short poems, some of which were called by her contemporaries “sonnets,” though not in the true sonnet form. Her original letters and despatches show an idiomatic force of expression beyond that of any other English monarch.

Elliot, Miss Jean (1727–1805). — Poetess, daughter of Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto, has a small niche in literature as the authoress of the beautiful ballad, The Flowers of the Forest, beginning, “I’ve heard the lilting at our yowe-milking.” Another ballad with the same title beginning, “I’ve seen the smiling of fortune beguiling” was written by Alicia Rutherford, afterwards Mrs. Cockburn.

Elliot, Ebenezer (1781–1849). — Poet, born at Masborough, Yorkshire, in his youth worked in an iron-foundry, and in 1821 took up the same business on his own account with success. He is best known by his poems on behalf of the poor and oppressed, and especially for his denunciations of the Corn Laws, which gained for him the title of the Corn Law Rhymer. Though now little read, he had considerable poetic gift. His principal poems are Corn Law Rhymes (1831), The Ranter, and The Village Patriarch (1829).

Ellis, George (1753–1815). — Miscellaneous writer, son of a West Indian planter, gained some fame by Poetical Tales by Sir Gregory Gander (1778). He also had a hand in the Rolliad, a series of Whig satires which appeared about 1785. Changing sides he afterwards contributed to the Anti–Jacobin. He accompanied Sir J. Harris on his mission to the Netherlands, and there collected materials for his History of the Dutch Revolution (1789). He ed. Specimens of the Early English Poets (1790), and Specimens of the Early English Romances, both works of scholarship. He was a friend of Scott, who dedicated the fifth canto of Marmion to him.

Ellwood, Thomas (1639–1713). — A young Quaker who was introduced to Milton in 1662, and devoted much of his time to reading to him. It is to a question asked by him that we owe the writing of Paradise Regained. He was a simple, good man, ready to suffer for his religious opinions, and has left an autobiography of singular interest alike for the details of Milton’s later life, which it gives, and for the light it casts on the times of the writer. He also wrote Davideis (1712), a sacred poem, and some controversial works.

Elphinstone, Mountstuart (1779–1859). — Fourth son of the 11th Lord E., was ed. at Edinburgh, and entered the Bengal Civil Service in 1795. He had a very distinguished career as an Indian statesman, and did much to establish the present system of government and to extend education. He was Governor of Bombay (1819–1827), and prepared a code of laws for that Presidency. In 1829 he was offered, but declined, the position of Governor–General of India. He wrote a History of India (1841), and The Rise of the British Power in the East, published in 1887.

Elwin, Whitwell (1816–1900). — Critic and editor, son of a country gentleman of Norfolk, studied at Cambridge, and took orders. He was an important contributor to the Quarterly Review, of which he became editor in 1853. He undertook to complete Croker’s ed. of Pope, and brought out 5 vols., when he dropped it, leaving it to be finished by Mr. Courthope. As an ed. he was extremely autocratic, and on all subjects had pronounced opinions, and often singular likes and dislikes.

Elyot, Sir Thomas (1490–1546). — Diplomatist, physician, and writer, held many diplomatic appointments. He wrote The Governor (1531), a treatise on education, in which he advocated gentler treatment of schoolboys, The Castle of Health (1534), a medical work, and A Defence of Good Women (1545). He also in 1538 published the first Latin and English Dictionary, and made various translations.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1803–1882). — Philosopher, was born at Boston, Massachusetts. His father was a minister there, who had become a Unitarian, and who died in 1811, leaving a widow with six children, of whom Ralph, then aged 8, was the second. Mrs. E. was, however, a woman of energy, and by means of taking boarders managed to give all her sons a good education. E. entered Harvard in 1817 and, after passing through the usual course there, studied for the ministry, to which he was ordained in 1827, and settled over a congregation in his native city. There he remained until 1832, when he resigned, ostensibly on a difference of opinion with his brethren on the permanent nature of the Lord’s Supper as a rite, but really on a radical change of view in regard to religion in general, expressed in the maxim that “the day of formal religion is past.” About the same time he lost his young wife, and his health, which had never been robust, showed signs of failing. In search of recovery he visited Europe, where he met many eminent men and formed a life-long friendship with Carlyle. On his return in 1834 he settled at Concord, and took up lecturing. In 1836 he published Nature, a somewhat transcendental little book which, though containing much fine thought, did not appeal to a wide circle. The American Scholar followed in 1837. Two years previously he had entered into a second marriage. His influence as a thinker rapidly extended, he was regarded as the leader of the transcendentalists, and was one of the chief contributors to their organ, The Dial. The remainder of his life, though happy, busy, and influential, was singularly uneventful. In 1847 he paid a second visit to England, when he spent a week with Carlyle, and delivered a course of lectures in England and Scotland on “Representative Men,” which he subsequently published English Traits appeared in 1856. In 1857 The Atlantic Monthly was started, and to it he became a frequent contributor. In 1874 he was nominated for the Lord Rectorship of the University of Glasgow, but was defeated by Disraeli. He, however, regarded his nomination as the greatest honour of his life. After 1867 he wrote little. He died on April 27, 1882. His works were collected in 11 vols., and in addition to those above mentioned include Essays (two series), Conduct of Life, Society and Solitude, Natural History of Intellect, and Poems. The intellect of E. was subtle rather than robust, and suggestive rather than systematic. He wrote down the intuitions and suggestions of the moment, and was entirely careless as to whether these harmonised with previous statements. He was an original and stimulating thinker and writer, and wielded a style of much beauty and fascination. His religious views approached more nearly to Pantheism than to any other known system of belief. He was a man of singular elevation and purity of character.

Ercildoun, Thomas of, or “Thomas the Rhymer(fl. 1220–1297). — A minstrel to whom is ascribed Sir Tristrem, a rhyme or story for recitation. He had a reputation for prophecy, and is reported to have foretold the death of Alexander III., and various other events.

Erigena, or Scotus, John (fl. 850). — Philosopher, born in Scotland or Ireland, was employed at the Court of Charles the Bald, King of France. He was a pantheistic mystic, and made translations from the Alexandrian philosophers. He was bold in the exposition of his principles, and had both strength and subtlety of intellect. His chief work is De Divisione Naturæ, a dialogue in which he places reason above authority.

Erskine, Ralph (1685–1752). — Scottish Divine and poet, was born near Cornhill, Northumberland, where his father, a man of ancient Scottish family, was, for the time, a nonconforming minister. He became minister of Dunfermline, and, with his brother Ebenezer, was involved in the controversies in the Church of Scotland, which led to the founding of the Secession Church in 1736. He has a place in literature as the writer of devotional works, especially for his Gospel Sonnets (of which 25 ed. had appeared by 1797), and Scripture Songs (1754).

Erskine, Thomas (1788–1870). — Theologian, son of David E., of Linlathen, to which property he succeeded, his elder brother having died He was called to the Bar in 1810, but never practised. Having come under unusually deep religious impressions he devoted himself largely to the study of theology, and published various works, including The Internal Evidence for the Truth of Revealed Religion (1820), Unconditional Freeness of the Gospel, and The Spiritual Order. He was a man of singular charm of character, and wielded a great influence on the religious thought of his day. He enjoyed the friendship of men of such different types as Carlyle, Chalmers, Dean Stanley, and Prévost Paradol. His Letters were ed. by Dr. W. Hanna (1877–78).

Etherege, Sir George (1635?-1691). — Dramatist, was at Cambridge, travelled, read a little law, became a man-about-town, the companion of Sedley, Rochester, and their set. He achieved some note as the writer of three lively comedies, Love in a Tub (1664), She would if she Could (1668), and The Man of Mode (1676), all characterised by the grossness of the period. He was sent on a mission to Ratisbon, where he broke his neck when lighting his guests downstairs after a drinking bout.

Evans, Mary Ann or Marian (“George Eliot”) (1819–1880). — Novelist, was born near Nuneaton, Warwickshire, daughter of Robert E., land agent, a man of strong individuality. Her education was completed at a school in Coventry, and after the death of her mother in 1836, and the marriage of her elder sister, she kept house for her father until his death in 1849. In 1841 they gave up their house in the country, and went to live in Coventry. Here she made the acquaintance of Charles Bray, a writer on phrenology, and his brother-inlaw Charles Hennell, a rationalistic writer on the origin of Christianity, whose influence led her to renounce the evangelical views in which she had been brought up. In 1846 she engaged in her first literary work, the completion of a translation begun by Mrs. Hennell of Strauss’s Life of Jesus. On her father’s death she went abroad with the Brays, and, on her return in 1850, began to write for the Westminster Review, of which from 1851–53 she was assistant-editor. In this capacity she was much thrown into the society of Herbert Spencer and George Henry Lewes (q.v.), with the latter of whom she in 1854 entered into an irregular connection which lasted until his death. In the same year she translated Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity, the only one of her writings to which she attached her real name. It was not until she was nearly 40 that she appears to have discovered the true nature of her genius; for it was not until 1857 that The Sad Fortunes of the Rev. Amos Barton appeared in Blackwood’s Magazine, and announced that a new writer of singular power had arisen. It was followed by Mr. Gilfil’s Love Story and Janet’s Repentance, all three being reprinted as Scenes from Clerical Life (1857); Adam Bede was published in 1859, The Mill on the Floss, in its earlier chapters largely autobiographical, in 1860, Silas Marner, perhaps the most artistically constructed of her books, in 1861. In 1860 and 1861 she visited Florence with the view of preparing herself for her next work, Romola, a tale of the times of Savonarola, which appeared in 1863 in the Cornhill Magazine. Felix Holt the Radical followed in 1866. Miss E. now for a time abandoned novel-writing and took to poetry, and between 1868 and 1871 produced The Spanish Gipsy, Agatha, The Legend of Jubal, and Armgart. These poems, though containing much fine work, did not add to her reputation, and in fact in writing them she had departed from her true vocation. Accordingly, she returned to fiction, and in Middlemarch, which appeared in parts in 1871–72, she was by many considered to have produced her greatest work. Daniel Deronda, which came out in 1874–76, was greatly inferior, and it was her last novel. In 1878 she published The Impressions of Theophrastus Such, a collection of miscellaneous essays. In the same year Mr. Lewes died, an event which plunged her into melancholy, which was, however, alleviated by the kindness of Mr. John Cross, who had been the intimate friend of both L. and herself, and whom she married in March, 1880. The union was a short one, being terminated by her death on December 22 in the same year.

George Eliot will probably always retain a high place among writers of fiction. Her great power lies in the minute painting of character, chiefly among the lower middle classes, shopkeepers, tradesmen, and country folk of the Midlands, into whose thoughts and feelings she had an insight almost like divination, and of whose modes of expression she was complete mistress. Her general view of life is pessimistic, relieved by a power of seizing the humorous elements in human stupidity and ill-doing. There is also, however, much seriousness in her treatment of the phases of life upon which she touches, and few writers have brought out with greater power the hardening and degrading effects of continuance in evil courses, or the inevitable and irretrievable consequences of a wrong act. Her descriptions of rural scenes have a singular charm.

Life, ed. by J.W. Cross (1885–6). Books on her by Oscar Browning, 1890, and Sir Leslie Stephen (Men of Letters), 1902.

Evelyn, John (1620–1706). — Diarist, and miscellaneous writer, was of an old Surrey family, and was ed. at a school at Lewes and at Oxford He travelled much on the Continent, seeing all that was best worth seeing in the way of galleries and collections, both public and private, of which he has given an interesting account in his Diary. He was all his life a staunch Royalist, and joined the King as a volunteer in 1642, but soon after repaired again to the Continent. After 1652 he was at home, settled at Sayes Court, near Deptford, where his gardens were famous. After the Restoration he was employed in various matters by the Government, but his lofty and pure character was constantly offended by the manners of the Court. In addition to his Diary, kept up from 1624–1706, and which is full of interesting details of public and private events, he wrote upon such subjects as plantations, Sylva (1664), gardening, Elysium Britannicum (unpub.), architecture, prevention of smoke in London, engraving, Sculptura (1662), and he was one of the founders of the Royal Society, of which he was for a time secretary The dignity and purity of E’.s character stand forth in strong relief against the laxity of his times.

Ewing, Mrs. Juliana Horatia (Gatty) (1842–1885). — Writer of children’s stories, daughter of Mrs. Alfred Gatty (q.v.), also a writer for children. Among her tales, which have hardly been excelled in sympathetic insight into child-life, and still enjoy undiminished popularity, are: A Flat Iron for a Farthing, Jackanapes, Jan of the Windmill, Mrs. Overtheway’s Remembrances, and The Story of a Short Life.


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