Eglisham, George (DNB00)

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EGLISHAM, GEORGE, M.D. (fl. 1612–1642), a Scotch physician and poet, was introduced at the age of three to the favourable notice of James VI by the Marquis of Hamilton, who said at the time that Eglisham's father was the best friend he ever had. He was brought up with Hamilton's son (afterwards second marquis, d. 1625), who as long as he lived remained his friend and patron. He was sent abroad and studied at Leyden, where he probably obtained his M.D. degree. While there he engaged in a one-sided controversy with Conrad Vorst, whom he accused of atheism, and published 'Hypocrisis Apologeticæ Orationis Vorstianæ, cum secunda provocatione ad Conradum Vorstium missa; auctore Geo. Eglisemmio, Scot. Phil. et Medico Vorstium iterato Atheismi, Ethneismi, Judaismi, Turcismi, hæreseos schismatiet ignorantiæ apud illustrissimos ordines accusante,' Delft, 1612. The preface to this work is dated from the Hague, 1 June 1612. Eglisham obtained leave from the authorities at Leyden to invite vorst to a public discussion, but Vorst declined to take up the challenge. Returning to Scotland, Eglisham was appointed one of the king's personal physicians in 1616, and continued to receive many tokens of favour from James, who, according to Eglisham, 'daily augmented them in writ, in deed; and accompanied them with gifts, patents, offices' (Prodromus Vindictæ). But of these honours no record remains. In 1618 Eglisham published 'Duellum poeticum contendentibus G. Eglisemmio medico regio, et G. Buchanano, regio preceptore pro dignitate paraphraseos Psalmi civ,' In an elaborate dedication to the king he undertook to prove that Buchanan, who died in 1582, had been guilty of 'impiety towards God, perfidy to his prince, and tyranny to muses.' Eglisham gave a pedantic verbal criticism of Buchanan's Latin version of the psalm in question, which he printed in full, with his own translation opposite. Included in the volume are a number of the author's short Latin poems and epigrams. Eglisham vainly appealed to the university of Paris to decide that Buchanan's version was inferior. He succeeded in attracting notice to himself, and drew from his colleague Arthur Johnston a mock 'Consilium collegii medici Parisiensis de mania G. Eglishemii,' a Latin elegiac poem republished as 'Hypermorus Medicaster;' and from his friend William Barclay a serious judgment on the question at issue, which he decided strongly in favour of Buchanan. Eglisham further published in 1626 'Prodromus Vindictæ,' a pamphlet in which he openly accused the Duke of Buckingham of having caused the deaths, by poison, of the Marquis of Hamilton and the late king, and petitioned Charles I and the parliament severally to have the duke put on his trial. A German translation appeared the same year, but the earliest English edition known of the 'Forerunner of Revenge' bears date 1642, though a letter of the period (Cal. of State Papers, Dom. 1625-6, p. 337) mentions the work as an English publication, 20 May 1626. Proceedings were instituted against Eglisham and his assistants, but the former had retired to Brussels, where he remained for some years, perhaps till his death, the date and place of which are unknown. He was apparently still alive in 1642. Another letter (ib. 1627-8, p. 192) says that for some years Dr. Eglisham had an only companion at bed and board in Captain Herriot, a mere mountebank, adding that 'they coined double pistolets together, and yet both unhanged.' Eglisham married Elizabeth Downes on 13 Sept. 1617 'in the Clink,' and had a daughter (ib. 1629-1631, p. 168).

[Eglisham's works as above.]

A. V.