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at a loss for parallel cases. Indeed, write what
Bunyan would, the baseness and cruelty of the lawyers of those times “sinned up to it still,” and even went beyond it. The maginary trial of Faithful before a jury composed of personified vices, was just and merciful, when comared with the real trial of Lady Alice Lisle fore that tribunal where all the vices sat in the person of Jeffries. The style of Bunyan is delightful to every reader, and invaluable as a study to every person who wishes to obtain a wide command over the English language. The vocabulary is the vocabulary of the common people. There is not an expression, if we except a few technical terms of theology, which would puzzle the rudest peasant. We have observed several pages which do not contain a single word of more than two syllables. Yet no writer has said more exactly what he meant to say. For magnificence, for pathos, for vehement exhortation, for subtle disquisition, for every purpose of the poet, the orator, and the
divine, this homely dialect, the dialect of plain workingmen, was perfectly sufficient. There is no book in our literature on which we could so readily stake the same of the old unpolluted English language; no book which shows so well how rich that language is in its own proper wealth, and how little it has been improved by all that it has borrowed.
Cowper said, forty or fifty years ago, that he dared not name John Bunyan in his verse, for fear of moving a sneer. To our refined fore. fathers, we suppose, Lord Roscommon's Essay on Translated Verse, and the Duke of Buck. inghamshire's Essay on Poetry, appeared to be compositions infinitely superior to the alle gory of the preaching tinker. We'live in better times; and we are not afraid to say that, though there were many clever men in England during the latter half of the seventeenth century, there were only two great creative minds. One of those munds pro duced the Paradise Lost, the other the Pil grim's Progress.
END OF WOL. I. M
CROKER'S EDITION OF BOSWELL’S LIFE OF JOHNSON."
[EDINBURGH Review, 1831.]
This work has greatly disappointed us. Whatever faults we may have been prepared to find in it, we fully expected that it would be a valuable addition to English literature, that it would contain many curious facts and many judicious remarks; that the style of the notes would be meat, clear, and precise; and that the typographical execution would be, as in new editions of classical works it ought to be, almost faultless. We are sorry to be obliged to say, that the merits of Mr. Croker's performance are on a par with those of a certain leg of mutton on which Dr. Johnson dined, while travelling from London to Oxford, and which he, with characteristic energy, pronounced to be, “as bad as bad could be; ill-fed, ill-killed, ill-kept, and ill-dressed.”f That part of the volumes before us, for which the editor is responsible, is ill-compiled, ill-arranged, ill-expressed, and ill-printed. Nothing in the work had astonished us so much as the ignorance or carelessness of Mr. Croker with respect to facts and dates. Many of his blunders are such as we should be surprised to hear any well-educated gentleman commit, even in conversation. The notes absolutely swarm with misstatements, into which the editor never would have fallen, if he had taken the slightest pains to investigate the truth of his assertions, or if he had even been well acquainted with the very book on which be undertook to comment. We will give a few instances. Mr. Croker tells us, in a note, that Derrick, who was master of the ceremonies at Bath, died very poor, in 1760.4 We read on; and, a few pages later, we find Dr. Johnson and Boswell talking of the same Derrick as still living and reigning, as having retrieved his character, as possessing so much power over his subjects at Bath, that his opposition might be fatal to Sheridan's lectures on oratory. And all this in 1763. The fact is, that Derrick died in 1769. In one note we read, that Sir Herbert Croft, the author of that pompous and foolish account of Young, which appears among the Lives of the Poets, died in 1805. Another note in the same volume states, that this same Sir Herbert Croft died at Paris, after residing abroad for fifteen years, on the 27th of April, 1816.1 Mr. Croker informs us, that Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, the author of the life of
* The Life of Samuel Johnson,
LL.D.; including a Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides. By
Esq. As JWere Edition, weith numerous Additions and sates. By Jonx Wilson Caoxxn, LL.D., F.R.S. 5. vols. 8vo. London, 1831. W. 184. 1. 394. * I. 404. iv. 321. iv. 428
Beattie, died in 1816.” A Sir William Forbes undoubtedly died in that year; but not the Sir William Forbes in question, whose death took place in 1806. It is notorious, indeed, that the biographer of Beattie lived just long enough to complete the history of his friend. Eight or nine years before the date which Mr. Croker has assigned for Sir William's death. Sir Walter Scott lamented that event, in the introduction, we think, to the fourth canto of Marmion. Every school-girl knows the lines: “Scarce had lamented Forbes paid The tribute to his Minstrel's shade; The tale of friendship scarce was told, Ere the narrator's heart was coldFar may we search before we find A heart so manly and so kind:” In one place, we are told, that Allan Ramsay the painter, was born in 1709, and died in 1784;f in another, that he died in 1784, in the seventy-first year of his age.: Is the latter statement be correct, he must have been born in or about 1713. In one place, Mr. Croker says, that at the commencement of the intimacy between Dr. Johnson and Mrs. Thrale, in 1765, the lady was twenty-five years old. In other places he says, that Mrs. Thrale's thirty-fifth year coincided with Johnson's seventieth. Johnson was born in 1709. If, therefore, Mrs. Thrale's thirty-fifth year coincided with Johnson's seventieth, she could have been only twenty-one years old in 1765. This is not all. Mr. Croker, in another place, assigns the year 1777 as the date of the complimentary lines which Johnson made on Mrs. Thrale's thirtyfifth birthday." If this date be correct, Mrs. Thrale must have been born in 1742, and could have been only twenty-three when her acquaintance with Johnson commenced. Two of Mr. Croker's three statements must be false. We will not decide between them; we wis. only say, that the reasons which he gives for thinking that Mrs. Thrale was exactly thirtyfive years old when Johnson was seventy, appear to us utterly frivolous. Again, Mr. Croker informs his readers that “Lord Mansfield survived Johnson full ten years.” Lord Mansfield survived Dr. John son just eight years and a quarter. Johnson found in the library of a French lady, whom he visited during his short visit to Paris, some works which he regarded with great disdain. “I looked,” says he, “into the books in the lady's closet, and, in conteinpf, showed them to Mr. Thrale—Prince Titi; Biblothèque des Fées, and other books.”ft “The
history of Prince Titi,” observes Mr. Croker, “was said to be the autobiography of Frederic
Prince of Wales, but was probably written by
Ralph, his secretary.” A more absurd note never was penned. The history of Prince Titi, to which Mr. Croker refers, whether written by Prince Frederic or by Ralph, was eertainly never published. If Mr. Croker had taken the trouble to read with attention the very passage in Park's Royal and Noble Authors, which he cites as his authority, he would have seen that the manuscript was given up to the government. Even if this memoir had been printed, it was not very likely to find its way into a French lady's bookcase. And would any man in his senses speak contemptuously of a French lady, for...having in her possession an English work so curious and interesting as a Life of Prince Frederic, whether written by himself or by a confidential secretary, must have been 4 The history at which Johnson laughed was a very proper companion to the Bibliothèque des Fées—a fairy tale about good Prince Titi and naughty Prince Violent. Mr. Croker may find it in the Magasin des Enfans, the first French book which the little girls of England read to their governesses. Mr. Croker states, that Mr. Henry Bate, who afterwards assumed the name of Dudley, was proprietor of the Morning Herald, and fought a duel with George Robinson Stoney, in consequence of some attacks on Lady Strathmore, which appeared in that paper." Now Mr. Bate was connected, not with the Morning Herald, but with the Morning Post, and the dispute took place before the Morning Herald was in existence. The duel was fought in January, 1777. The Chronicle of the Annual Register for that year contains an account of the transaction, and distinctly states that Mr. Bate was editor of the Morning Post. The Morning Herald, as any person may see by looking at any number of it, was not established till some years after this affair. For this blunder there is, we must acknowledge, some excuse: for it certainly seems almost incredible to a person living in our time, that any human being should ever have stooped to fight with a writer in the Morning Post. “James de Duglas,” says Mr. Croker, “was requested by King Robert Bruce, in his last hours, to repair with his heart to Jerusalem, and humbly to deposit it at the sepulchre of our Lord, which he did in 1829.”f Now it is well known that he did no such thing, and for a very sufficient reason—because he was killed by the way. Nor was it in 1329 that he set out. Robert Bruce died in 1329, and the expedition of Douglas took place in the follow. ing year, “quand le printems vint et la saison,” says Froissart, — in June, 1330, says Lord Hailac, whom Mr. Croker cites as the author. ity for his statement. Mr. Uroker tells us that the great Marquis of Montrose was beheaded in Edinburgh in 1650.4 There is not a forward boy at any scnoc. in England who does not know that the - marquis was hanged.
execution is one of the finest passages in Lord
Clarendon's History. We can scarcely sup: pose that Mr. Croker has never read that passage; and yet we can scarcely suppose that any person who has ever perused so noble and pathetic a story can have utterly forgotten all its most striking circumstances. “Lord Townshend,” says Mr. Croker, “was not secretary of state till 1720.” Can Mr. Croker possibly be ignorant that Lord Townshend was made secretary of state at the accession of George the First, in 1714, that he continued to be secretary of state till he was displaced by the intrigues of Sunderland and Stanhope at the close of 1716, and that he returned to the office of secretary of state, not in 1720, but in 1721? Mr. Croker, indeed, is generally unfortunate in his statements respecting the Townshend family. He tells us that Charles Townshend, the chancellor of the exchequer, was “nephew of the prime minister, and son of a peer who was secretary of state,
and leader of the House of Lords.”f Charles
Townshend was not nephew, but grand-nephew of the Duke of Newcastle—not son, but grandson of the Lord Townshend who was secretary of state and leader of the House of Lords. “General Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga,” says Mr. Croker, “in March, 1778.”f General Burgoyne surrendered on the 17th of October, 1777. “Nothing,” says Mr. Croker, “can be more unfounded than the assertion that Byng fell a martyr to political party. By a strange, coinci. dence of circumstances, it happened that there was a total change of administration between his condemnation and his death; so that one party presided at his trial and another at his execution; there can be no stronger proof that he was not a political martyr.”$ ow, what will our readers think of this writer when we assure them that this statement, so confidently made respecting events so notorious, is absolutely untrue? One and the same administration was in office when the court-martial on Byng commenced its sittings, through the whole trial, at the condemnation, and at the execution. In the month of November, 1756, the Duke of Newcastle and Lord Hardwicke resigned; the Duke of Devonshire became first lord of the treasury, and Mr. Pitt secretary of state. This administration lasted till the month of April, 1757. Byng's court-martial began to sit on the 28th of December, 1756. He was shot on the 14th of March, 1757. There is something at once diverting and provoking in the cool and authoritative manner in which Mr. Croker makes these random assertions. We do not suspect him of intentionally falsify. ing history. But of this high literary misdemeanor we do without hesitation accuse him —that he has no adequate sense of the obligation which a writer, who professes to relate facts, owes to the public. We accuse him of a negligence and an ignorance analogous to that crassa negligentia and that crassa ignorantia on which the law animadverts in magistrates
The account of the and surgeons even when malice and corrup. tion are not imputed. We accuse him of hav. Macpherson's Ossian. “Many men,” he said,
ing undertaken a work which, if not performed with strict accuracy, must be very much worse than useless, and of having performed it as if the difference between an accurate and an inaccurate statement was not worth the trouble of looking into the most common book of reference. But we must proceed. These volumes contain mistakes more gross, if possible, than any that we have yet mentioned. Boswell has recorded some observations made by Johnson on the changes which took place in Gibbon's religious opinions. “It is said,” cried the doctor, laughing, “that he has been a Mahometan.” “This sarcasm,” says the editor, “probably alludes to the tenderness with which Gibbon's malevolence to Christianity induced him to treat Mahometanism in his history.” Now the sarcasm was uttered in 1776, and that part of the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire which relates to Mahometanism was not published till 1788, twelve years after the date of this conversation, and nearly four years after the death of Johnson. “It was in the year 1761,” says Mr. Croker, “that Goldsmith published his Vicar of Wakefield. This leads the editor to observe a more serious inaccuracy of Mrs. Piozzi than Mr. Boswell notices, when he says Johnson left her table to go and sell the Vicar of Wakefield for Goldsmith. Now Dr. Johnson was not acquainted with the Thrales till 1765, four years after the book had been published.”f Mr. Croker, in reprehending the fancied inaccuracy of Mrs. Thrale, has himself shown a degree of inaccuracy, or, to speak more proper}; a degree of ignorance, hardly credible. The raveller was not published till 1765; and it is a fact as notorious as any in literary history that the Vicar of Wakefield, though written before the Traveller, was published after it. It is a fact which Mr. Croker may find in any common life of Goldsmith; in that written by Mr. Chalmers, for example. It is a fact which, as Boswell tells us, was distinctly stated by Johnson in a conversation with Sir Joshua Reynolds. It is therefore quite possible and probable that the celebrated scene of the landlady, the sheriff's officer, and the bottle of Madeira, may have taken place in 1765. Now Mrs. Thrale expressly says that it was near the beginning of her acquaintance with Johnson, in 1765, or at all events not later than 1766, that he left her table to succourhis friend. Her accuracy is therefore completely vindicated. The very page which contains this monstrous blunder contains another blunder, if ossible, more monstrous still. Sir Joseph awbey, a foolish member of Parliament, at whose speeches and whose pig-styes the wits of Brookes's were fifty years ago in the habit of laughing most unmercifully, stated, on the authority cf Garrick, that Johnson, while sitting in a coffee-house at Oxford about the time of his doctor's degree, used some contemptucas expressions respecting Home's play and
“many women, and many children might have written Douglas.” Mr. Croker conceives that he has detected an inaccuracy, and glories over poor Sir Joseph in a most characteristic manner. “I have quoted this anecdote solely with the view of showing to how little credit hearsay anecdotes are in general entitled. Here is a story published by Sir Joseph Maw. bey, a member of the House of Commons, and a person every way worthy of credit, who says he had it from Garrick. Now mark:-Johnson's visit to Oxford, about the time of his doctor's degree, was in 1754, the first time he had been there since he left the university. But Douglas was not acted till 1756, and Ossian not published till 1760. All, therefore, that is new in Sir Joseph Mawbey's story is false.” Assuredly we need not go far to find ample proof that a member of the House of Commons may commit a very gross error.” Now mark, say we, in the language of Mr. Croker. The
*fact is; that Johnson took his Master's degree
in 1754, and his Doctor's degree in 1775. In the spring of 17765 he paid a visit to Oxford, and at this visit a conversation respecting the works of Home and Macpherson might have taken place, and in all probability did take place. The only real objection to the story Mr. Croker has missed. Boswell states, apparently on the best authority, that as early at least as the year 1763, Johnson, in conversation with Blair, used the same expressions respecting Ossian which Sir Joseph represents him as having used respecting Douglas. Sir Joseph or Garriek confounded, we suspect, the two stories. But their error is venial compared with that of Mr. Croker. We will not multiply instances of this scan dalous inaccuracy. It is clear that a writer who, even when warned by the text on which he is commenting, falls into such mistakes as these, is entitled to no confidence whatever. Mr. Croker has committed an error of four years with respect to the publication of Goldsmith's nove"; an error of twelve years with respect to the publication of Gibbon's history; an error of twenty-one years with respect to one of the most remarkable events of Johnson’s life. Two of these three errors he has committed while ostentatiously displaying his own accuracy, and correcting what he represents as the loose assertions of others. How can his readerstake on trust his statements concerning the births, marriages, divorces, and deaths of a crowd of people whose names are scarcely known to this generation? It is not likely that a person who is ignorant of what almost everybody knows can know that of which almost everybody is ignorant. We did not open this book with any wish to find blemishes in it. We have made no curious researches. The work itself, and a very common knowledge of literary and political history, have enabled ūs to detect the mistakes which we have pointed out, and many other mistakes of the same kind. We must say, and we say it with regret, that we do not consider the authority of Mr. Croker, unsupported by other evidence,
* III.336. Wall. II.
+ v. 400. + iv. 180