Coles, Elisha

, author of a Dictionary once in much reputation, was born in Northamptonshire about 1640. Towards the end of 1658, he was entered of Magdalencollege, in Oxford, but left it without taking a degree; and retiring to London, taught Latin there to youths, and English to foreigners, about 1663, with good success in Russel-street, near Covent-garden, and at length became one of the ushers in merchant-taylors’ school. But being there guilty of some offence, he was forced to withdraw into Ireland, from whence he never returned. He was, says Wood, a curious and critical person in the English and Latin tongues, did much good in his profession, and wrote several useful and necessary books for the instruction of beginners. The titles of them are as follows: 1. “The Complete English Schoolmaster or, the most natural and easy method of spelling and reading English, according to the present proper pronunciation of the language in Oxford and London, &c.” Lond. 1674, 8vo. 3. “The newest, plainest, and shortest Short-hand; containing, first, a brief account of the short-hand already extant, with their alphabets and fundamental rules. Secondly, a plain and easy method for beginners, less burdensome to the memory than any other. Thirdly, a v new invention for contracting words, with special rules for contracting sentences, and other ingenious fancies, &c.| Lond. 1674, 8vo. 3. “Nolens Volens or, you shall make Latin, whether you will or no; containing the plainest directions that have been yet given upon that subject,” Lond. 1675, 8vo. With it is printed: 4. “The Youth’s visible Bible, being an alphabetical collection (from the whole Bible) of such general heads as were judged most capable of Hieroglyphics; illustrated with twenty-four copper-plates, &c.” 5. “An English Dictionary, explaining the difficult terms that are used in divinity, husbandry, physic, philosophy, law, navigation, mathematics, and other arts and sciences,” Lond. 1676, 8vo, reprinted several times since. 6. “A Dictionary, English-Latin, and Latin-English; containing all things necessary for the translating of either language into the other,” Lond. 1677, 4to, reprinted several times in 8vo; the 12th edition was in 1730. 7. “The most natural and easy Method of learning Latin, by comparing it with English: Together with the Holy History of Scripture-War, or the sacred art military, c.” Lond. 1677, 8vo. 8. “The Harmony of the Four Evangelists, in a metrical paraphrase on the history of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” Lond. 1679, 8vo, reprinted afterwards. 9. “The Young Scholar’s best Companion: or an exact guide or directory for children and youth, from the A B C, to the Latin Grammar, comprehending the whole body of the English learning, &c.” Lond. 12mo. Cole’s Dictionary continued to be a schoolbook in very general use, for some time after the publication of Ainswdrth’s Thesaurus. But it has fallen almost into total neglect, since other abridgments of Ainsworth have appeared, by Young, Thomas, and other persons. The men, however, who have been benefactors to the cause of learning, ought to be remembered with graiitude, though their writings may happen to be superseded by more perfeet productions. It is no small point of honour to be the means of paving the way for superior works. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. II.- Biog. Brit.