Eustace, John Chetwode (DNB00)

EUSTACE, JOHN CHETWODE (1762?–1815), classical antiquary, was born in Ireland about 1762. His mother was descended from the ancient Cheshire family of Chetwode. It is said that as early as 1767 he was sent to Sedgley Park school, Staffordshire, where he remained till 1774 (Catholic Magazine, 1833, iii. 32). He then proceeded to the English Benedictine convent of St. Gregory at Douay. After receiving the habit he left without making his profession, though he always retained a warm attachment to the order. Afterwards he went to Maynooth College, taught rhetoric there for some time, and was ordained priest. Bishop Milner states that Eustace, after provoking the indignation of the prelates of Ireland, came to England and settled in the midland district, where he not only associated with the protestant clergy, but encouraged his fellow-believers to attend their services. ‘This conduct was so notorious and offensive to real catholics that I was called upon by my brethren to use every means in my power to put a stop to it’ (Husenbeth, Life of Milner, p. 399).

Eustace was the intimate friend of Edmund Burke, his confidential adviser, and his companion in his last illness. For some time he assisted Dr. Collins in his school at Southall Park, and when Mr. Chamberlayne retired from the mission Eustace succeeded him at Cossey Park, the seat of Sir William Jerningham, near Norwich. He was resident at different periods in both the universities as tutor to two young relatives of Lord Petre (Clayton, Sketches in Biography, p. 383). In 1802 he travelled through Italy with John Cust (afterwards Lord Brownlow), Robert Rushbroke of Rushbroke Park, and Philip Roche. In 1805 he was resident in Jesus College, Cambridge, with George Petre, and there he associated with the most eminent literary men in the university, especially Dr. Edward Daniel Clarke, who recommended him to publish the manuscript journal of his tour through Italy. Afterwards he took a journey with his pupil, George Petre, through part of Dalmatia, the western coast of Greece, the Ionian Islands, Sicily, and Malta. In 1813 his ‘Tour through Italy’ was published. This book acquired for its author a sudden and a wide reputation. His acquaintance was sought by almost all persons in this country distinguished by rank or talents (Gent. Mag. vol. lxxxv. pt. ii. p. 372).

In June 1814, during the short peace, he accompanied Lords Carrington and Essex on an excursion to France, and on his return published a remarkable description of the changes made by war and revolution in that country. He went again to Italy in 1815, and was collecting materials for a new volume of his ‘Tour’ when he was attacked by malaria, and died at Naples on 1 Aug. 1815, aged 52. He was buried in the church of the Crocelle (Catholic Mag. 1832, ii. 200).

His works are:

  1. ‘A Political Catechism, adapted to the present moment,’ 1810, 8vo (anon.), written in the spirit of a legitimate whig.
  2. ‘An Answer to the Charge delivered by the Bishop of Lincoln to the Clergy of that Diocese, at the Triennial Visitation in 1812,’ Lond. 1813 and 1819, 4to, republished in the ‘Pamphleteer,’ vol. ii., 1813.
  3. ‘A Tour through Italy, exhibiting a View of its Scenery, Antiquities, and Monuments, particularly as they are objects of Classical Interest, with an account of the present state of its Cities and Towns, and Occasional Observations on the Recent Spoliations of the French,’ 2 vols. Lond. 1813, 4to, 2nd edit. Lond. 1814; 3rd edit. entitled ‘A Classical Tour through Italy,’ 4 vols. Lond. 1815, 8vo; 4th edit. 4 vols. Lond. 1817, 8vo; 6th edit., with an additional preface and translations of the quotations from ancient and modern authors, 4 vols. Lond. 1821, 8vo, reprinted at Paris in 1837 in vols. ccii. and cciii. of a series entitled ‘Collections of Ancient and Modern English Authors;’ 8th edit. 3 vols. Lond. 1841, 8vo, forming part of the ‘Family Library.’ Great praise has been deservedly bestowed on this work, but John Cam Hobhouse, afterwards Lord Broughton, in his ‘Historical Illustrations of the fourth canto of “Childe Harold,”’ 1818, criticises it with extreme severity, calling Eustace ‘one of the most inaccurate, unsatisfactory writers that have in our times attained a temporary reputation.’ A vindication of Eustace from these charges appeared in the ‘London Magazine,’ 1820, i. 532. To his co-religionists Eustace gave great offence in consequence of some of his sentiments. Bishop Milner maintained that his ‘Tour’ was pervaded by an ‘uncatholic and latitudinarian spirit,’ more dangerous than open heresies. Monsignor Weedall states that Eustace when on his deathbed bitterly bewailed to all his friends who visited him the erroneous and irreligious tendency of several passages in the publication (Catholic Mag. 1832, p. 97). Eustace's projected supplementary volume was executed by Sir Richard Colt Hoare, bart., who published ‘A Classical Tour through Italy and Sicily, tending to illustrate some districts which have not been described by Mr. Eustace,’ 2nd edit. Lond. 1819, 8vo. 4. ‘A Letter from Paris, with Critical Observations and Remarks on the State of Society, and the Moral Character of the French People,’ Lond. 1814, 8vo. Eight editions were sold in a short time.
  4. ‘The Proofs of Christianity,’ Lond. 1814, 12mo.
  5. A course of rhetoric. Manuscript preserved at Downside.
  6. An unfinished didactic poem on ‘The Culture of the Youthful Mind.’

[Addit. MS. 22976, f. 273; Biog. Dict. of Living Authors, pp. 110, 427; Byron's Poetical Works, 1850, p. 785; Catholic Mag. 1832–3, i. 366, 398; Catholicon, 1817, v. 205; Gillow's Bibl. Dict.; Hoare's Classical Tour, preface and dedication; Husenbeth's Life of Milner, pp. 398, 401–5; Knight's Cyclopædia (biography), suppl. p. 507; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), p. 763; Oliver's Catholic Religion in Cornwall, p. 513; Webb's Compendium of Irish Biography, p. 174.]

T. C.