1876 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Love Peacock

Robert Carruthers, in Chambers's Cyclopaedia of English Literature, 3rd ed. (1876; 1879) 6:244.



THOMAS LOVE PEACOCK was born at Weymouth, the son of a London merchant. He was an accomplished classical scholar, though self-taught from the age of thirteen. He was long connected with the East India Company, and in 1816 came to be Chief Examiner of Indian correspondence, as successor to James Mill, the historian. On Peacock's retirement in 1856, John Stuart Mill took his place. Peacock was the author of some lively, natural, and descriptive novels, with little plot or story, but containing witty and sarcastic dialogues, with copies of verses above mediocrity and sketches of eccentric character. Headlong Hall was produced in 1816; Nightmare Abbey in 1818; Maid Marian in 1822; Misfortunes of Elphin in 1829; Crochet Castle in 1831; and Gryll Grange in 1860 — the last, though written when its author was seventy-two, is as full of humour and clever dialogue as his earlier tales. Besides these works of fiction, Peacock wrote several poetical satires and other poems, and contributed to Fraser's Magazine Memoirs of Shelley, with whom he was on terms of close intimacy. Conjointly with Byron, he was named as Shelley's executor, with a legacy of 1000. To Peacock we owe a clear and authentic account of the most interesting passages of Shelley's life and domestic history. In 1875 the collected works of Peacock were published in three volumes, with a Preface by Lord Houghton, and a biographical notice by Peacock's granddaughter, Edith Nicholls.