A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Lecky, William Edward Hartpole

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A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature by John William Cousin
Lecky, William Edward Hartpole

Lecky, William Edward Hartpole (1838-1903). -- Historian, the s. of a landed gentleman of Carlow, was b. near Dublin, and ed. at Cheltenham and Trinity Coll., Dublin. Originally intended for the Church, he devoted himself to a literary career. His first work of importance was Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland (1861) (essays on Swift, Flood, Grattan, and O'Connell). The study of Buckle's History of Civilisation to some extent determined the direction of his own writings, and resulted in the production of two important works, History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe (1865), and History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne (1869), both remarkable for learning, clearness, and impartiality. Both, however, gave rise to considerable controversy and criticism. His principal work is The History of England in the Eighteenth Century (1878-90). Characterised by the same sterling qualities as his preceding books, it deals with a subject more generally interesting, and has had a wide acceptance. His view of the American war, and the controversies which led to it, is more favourable to the English position than that of some earlier historians. Other works are Democracy and Liberty (1896), and The Map of Life (1899). Though of warm Irish sympathies, L. was strongly opposed to Home Rule. He sat in Parliament for his Univ. from 1895 until his death. He received many academical distinctions, and was a Corresponding Member of the Institute of France, and one of the original members of the Order of Merit.