Eachard, John

, master of Catharine-hall, in the university of Cambridge, and author of several ingenious works, was descended from a good family in the county of Suffolk, and born about 1636. Having been carefully instructed in grammar and classical literature, he was sent to Catharine-hall, in the university of Cambridge, where he was admitted on the 10th of May, 1653. He took the degree of B. A. in 1656, was elected fellow of his college 1 in 1658, and in 1660 became M. A. We meet with no farther particulars about him till 1670, when he published, but without his name, “The Grounds and Occasions of the Contempt of the Clergy and Religion enquired into. In a letter to R. L.” This piece had a very rapid sale, and passed through many editions. It was attacked by an anonymous writer the following year, in “An Answer to a Letter of Enquiry into the Grounds,” &c. and by Barnabas Oley, and several others; particularly the famous Dr. John Owen, in a preface to some sermons of W. Bridge. Eachard replied to the first of his answerers in apiece entitled “Some Observations upon the Answer to an Enquiry into the Grounds and Occasions of the Contempt of the Clergy: with some additions. In a second letter to R. L.” In 1671 he published, “Mr. Hobbes’s State of Nature considered: in a dialogue between Philautus and Timothy. To which are added, five letters from the author of The Grounds and Occasions of the” Contempt of | the Clergy.“In these letters he animadverted, with his usual facetiousness, on several of the answerers of his first performance. He soon after published some farther remarks on the writings of Hobbes, inA second Dialogue between Philautus and Timothy." On the death of Dr. John Lightfoot, in 1675, Mr. Eachard was chosen in his room master. of Catharine-hall; and in the year following he was created D. D. by royal mandamus. It does not appear that he produced any literary works after being raised to this station; but it is said that he executed the trust reposed in him, of master of his college, with the utmost care and fidelity, and to the general satisfaction of the whole university. He was extremely desirous to have rebuilt the greatest part, if not the whole, of Catharine-hall, which had fallen ipto decay: but he died before he could accomplish any part of that design, except the master’s lodge. He contributed, however, largely towards rebuilding the whole; and was very assiduous in procuring donations for it from his learned or wealthy friends. He died on the 7th of July, 1697, and was interred in the chapel of Catharine-hall, with an elegant Latin inscription, said to have been more recently added by the late Dr. Farmer.

Dr. Eachard’s pieces, excepting his second Dialogue on, the writings of Hobbes, have been several times printed together in one volume, 8vo; but the most complete edition, and which contains that Dialogue, is that published by T. Davies, in 1774, in 3 vols. 12mo, with a life of him, written by Davies, with the assistance of Dr. Johnson and Dr. Farmer.

Though Dr. Eachard’s works abound with wit and humour, he is said to have failed remarkably when he attempted to write in a serious manner. Mr. Baker, of St. John’s college, Cambridge, in a blank leaf of his copy of Kachard’s “Letter to R. L.” observes, that he went to St. Mary’s with great expectation to hear him preach, but was never more disappointed. And dean Swift says, “I have known men happy enough at ridicule, who, upon grave subjects, were perfectly stupid; of which Dr. Eachard, of Cambridge, who writ `The Contempt of the Clergy,' was a great instance.” It is remarked by Mr. Granger, and Dr. Warton, that the works of Dr. Eachard had been evidently studied by Swift. Dr. Eachard’s wit, however, was applied to the best of purposes; for although some | parts of his “Grounds of the Contempt, &c.” may be mistaken, he cannot be too highly praised for turning the philosophy of Hobbes into contempt.

In the catalogue of the printed books in the British museum, a piece is attributed to Dr. Eachard, which was published in 1673, in 12mo, under the following title: “A free and impartial enquiry into the causes of that very great esteem and honour that the Nonconforming Preachers are generally in with their followers. In a letter to his honoured friend, H. M. By a lover of the church of England and unfeigned piety.” But if written by Dr. Eachard, it certainly has not his wit, or his manner. 1

1 Life prefixed to his works. Biog. Brit.