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history of Prince Titi,” observes Mr. Croker, 'execution is one of the finest passages in Lord
“James de Duglas,” says Mr. Croker, “was signed; the Duke of Devonshire became first requested by King Robert Bruce, in his last lord of the treasury, and Mr. Pitt secretary of hours, to repair with his heart to Jerusalem, state. This administration lasted till the month and humbly to deposit it at the sepulchre of of April, 1757. Byng's court-martial began to our Lord, which he did in 1329.”+ Now it is sit on the 28th of December, 1756. He was weil known that he did no such thing, and for shot on the 14th of March, 1757. There is a very sufficient reason-because he was killed something at once diverting and provoking in by the way. Nor was it in 1329 that he set the cool and authoritative manner in which
Robert Bruce died in 1329, and the ex- Mr. Croker makes these random assertions. pedition of Douglas took place in the follow. We do not suspect him of intentionally falsifjing year,—" quand le printenis vint el la saison," ing history. But of this high literary misde. says Froissart, — in June, 1330, says Lord meanor we do without hesitation accuse him Hailms, whom Mr. Croker cites as the authors that he has no adequate sense of the obliga. ity for his statement.
lion which a writer, who professes to relate Mr. Croker eus us that the great Marquis fac:s, owes to the public. We accuse him of of Montrose was beheaded in Edinburgh in a negligence and an ignorance analogous 10 1650.6 There is not a forward boy at any that crassa negligentia and that crassa ignoruntia scavi in England whn does not know that the on which the law animadverts in magistrates marquis was hanged. The account of the and surgeons even wnen matice and corruq
• V. 196.
4 IV, 29.
► 111. 32.
f 111. 368.
tion are not imputed. We accuse him of hav- Macpherson's Ossian. “Many men,” he said, ing undertaken a work which, if not performed “many women, and many children might have with strict accuracy, must be very much worse written Douglas.” Mr. Croker conceives that than useless, and of having performed it as he has deiected an inaccuracy, and glories if the difference between an accurate and an over poor Sir Joseph in a most characteristic inaccurate statement was not worth the trouble manner. “I have quoted this anecdote solely of looking into the most common book of re- with the view of showing to how little credit ference.
hearsay anecdotes are in general entitled. But we must proceed. These volumes con- Here is a story published by Sir Joseph Mawtain mistakes more gross, it possible, than any bey, a inember of the House of Commons, and that we have yel mentioned. Boswell has re- a person every way worthy of credit, who says corded some observations made by Johnson on he had it froin Garrick. Now mark:-Johnthe changes which took place in Gibbon's re- son's visit to Oxford, about the time of his docligious opinions. “It is said,” cried the doc- tor's degree, was in 1754, the first time he had for, laughing, “ that he has been a Mahome been there since he left the university. But lan."
" This sarcasm," says the editor, “pro- Douglas was not acted till 1756, and Ossian bably alludes to the tenderness with which not published till 1760. All, therefore, that is Gibbon's malevolence to Christianity induced new in Sir Joseph Mawbey's story is false.* him to treat Mahometanism in his history."* | Assuredly we need not go far to find ample Now the sarcasm was yttered in 1776, and proof that a member of the House of Commons that part of the History of the Decline and may commis a very gross error.” Now mark, Fall of the Roman Empire which relates to say we, in the language of Mr. Croker. The Mahometanism was not published till 1788, fact is, that Johnson took his Master's degree twelve years after the date of this conversa. in 1754,+ and his Doctor's degree in 1775. In tion, and nearly four years after the death of the spring of 1776ş he paid a visit to Oxford, Johnson.
and at this visit a conversation respecting the “It was in the year 1761,” says Mr. Croker, works of Home and Macpherson might have " that Goldsmith published his Vicar of Wake- taken place, and in all probability did take field. This leads the editor to observe a more place. The only real objection to the story Mr. serious inaccuracy of Mrs. Piozzi than Mr. Bos- Croker has missed. Boswell states, apparentwell notices, when he says Johnson left her ly on the best authority, that as early at least table to go and sell the Vicar of Wakefield for as the year 1763, Johnson, in conversation with Goldsmith. Now Dr. Johnson was not ac- Blair, used the same expressions respecting Os. quainted with the Thrales till 1765, four years sian which Sir Joseph represents him as havafter the book had been published.”+ Mr. ing used respecting Douglas. Sir Croker, in reprehending the fancied inaccu- Garrick confounded, we suspect, the two storacy of Mrs. Thrale, has himself shown a de-ries. But their error is venial compared with gree of inaccuracy, or, to speak more proper- that of Mr. Croker. is, a degree of ignorance, hardly credible. The We will not multiply instances of this scan Traveller was not published till 1765; and it dalous inaccuracy. It is clear that a writer is a fact as notorious as any in literary his who, even when warned by the text on which tory that the Vicar of Wakefield, though writ- he is commenting, falls into such mistakes as ien before the Traveller, was published after these, is entitled to no confidence whatever. it. It is a fact which Mr. Croker may find in Mr. Croker ha's committed an error of four any common life of Goldsmith; in that written years with respect to the publication of Gold by Mr. Chalmers, for example. It is a fact smith's novel; an error of twelve years with which, as Boswell tells us, was distinctly respect to the publication of Gibbon's history; stated by Johnson in a conversation with Sir an error of twenty-one years with respect to Joshua Reynolds. It is therefore quite possi- one of the most remarkable events of Johnble and probable that the celebrated scene of son's life. Two of these three errors he has the landlady, the sheriff's officer, and the bottle committed while ostentatiously displaying his of Madeira, may have taken place in 1765. own accuracy, and correcting what he repreNow Mrs. Thrale expressly says that it was sents as the loose assertions of others. How can near the beginning of her acquaintance with his readers take on trust his statements concernJohnson, in 1765, or at all evenis noi later than ing the births, marriages, divorces, and deaths 1766. that he left her table to succour his friend. of a crowd of people whose names are scarceHer accuracy is therefore completely vindi- ly known to this generation? It is not likely cated.
that a person who is ignorant of what almost The very page which contains this mon- everybody knows can know that of which alstrous blunder contains another blunder, if' most everybody is ignorant. We did not open pressible, more monstrous still. Sir Joseph this book wiih any wish to find blemishes in Mawbey, a foolish member of Parliament, at it. We have made no curious researches. whose speeches and whose pig-styes the wits The work itself, and a very common knowof Brookes's were fifty years ago in the habit ledge of literary and political history, have enof laughing most unmercifully, stated, on the abled us to detect the mistakes which we have anchurity ci Garrick, that Jolinson, while sit- pointed out, and many other mistakes of the ling in a cuffee-house at Oxford about the time same kind. We must say, and we say it with of his doctor's degree, used some contemptu- regres, that we do not consider the authority Ca expressi jus respecting Home's play and of Mr. Croker, unsupported by other evidence,
* V. 409.
|| I 403
as sufficient to justify any writer who may fol- | happy term to express the paternal and kindly low him, in relating a single anecdote, or in as- authority of the head of the clan ?"* The signing a date to a single event.
composition of this eminent Latinist, short as Mr. Croker shows almost as much ignorance it is, contains several words that are just as and heedlessness in his criticisms as in his much Coptic as Latin, to say nothing of the statements concerning facts. Dr. Johnson said, incorrect structure of the sentence. The word very reasonably as it appears to us, that some Philarchus, even if it were a happy term exof the satires of Juvenal are too gross for imi- pressing a paternal and kindly authority, would tation. Mr. Croker, who, by the way, is angry prove nothing for the minister's Latin, whatwith Johnson for defending Prior's tales against ever it might prove for his Greek. But it is the charge of indecency, resents this aspersion clear that the word Philarchus means, not a on Juvenal, and indeed refuses to believe that man who rules by love, but a man who loves the doctor can have said any thing so absurd. rule. The Attic writers of the best age use the "He probably said-sonne passages of them word danexos in the sense which we assign to for there are none of Juvenal's satires to which it. Wouid Mr. Croker translate Piasecous, a the same objection may be made as to one of man who acquires wisdom by means of love; Horace's, that it is altogether gross and licen- or Placxagdns, a man who makes money by means tious."* Surely Mr. Croker can never have of love ? In fact it requires no Bentley or Ca. read the second and ninth satires of Juvenal. saubon to perceive that Philarchus is merely
Indeed, the decisions of this editor on points a false spelling for Phylarchus, the chief of a of classical learning, though pronounced in a tribe. very authoritative tone, are generally such, tha! Mr. Croker has favoured us with some if a schoolboy under our care were lo utter | Greek of his own. “At the altar,” says Dr. them, our soul assuredly should not spare for i Johnson, “I recommend my f. p." These lethis crying. It is no disgrace to a gentleman, ters,” says the editor, “ (which Dr. Strahan who has been engaged during nearly thirty seems not to have understood,) probably mean years in political life, that he has forgotten Tentu panas, departed friends.”+ Johnson was not his Greek and Latin. But he becomes justly a first-rate Greek scholar; but he knew more ridiculous, if, when no longer able to construe Greek than most boys when they leave school; a plain sentence, he affects to sit in judgment and no schoolboy could venture to use the on the most delicate questions of style and word funtor in the sense which Mr. Croker metre. From one blunder, a blunder which ascribes to it without imminent danger of a no good scholar would have made, Mr. Croker flogging. was saved, as he informs us, by Sir Robert Mr. Croker has also given us a specimen of Peel, who quoted a passage exactly in point his skill in translating Latin. Johnson wrote from Horace. We heartily wish that Sir Ro- a note in which he consulted his friend, Dr. bert, whose classical attainments are well Lawrence, on the propriety of losing some known, had been more frequently consulted. blood. The note contains these words :-“Si Unhappily he was not always at his friend's per te licet, imperatur nuncio Holderum ad me elbow, and we have therefore a rich abundance deducere.” Johnson should rather have writ. of the strangest errors. Boswell has preserved ten “imperatum est.” But the meaning of the a poor epigram by Johnson, inscribed “Adwords is perfectly clear. “ If you say yes, the Lauram parituram.” Mr. Croker censures messenger has orders to bring Holder to me." the poet for applying the word puella to a lady Mr. Croker translates the words as follows: in Laura's situation, and for talking of the “ If you consent, pray tell the messenger to beauty of Lucina. “Lucina,” he says, “was bring Holder to me.”+ If Mr. Croker is renever famed for her beauty.”+ If Sir Robert solved to write on points of classical learning, Peel had seen this note, he probably would we would advise him to begin by giving an have again refuted Mr. Croker's criticisms by hour every morning to our old friend Cordean appeal to Horace. In the secular ode, Lu- rius. cina is used as one of the names of Diana, Indeed, we cannot open any volume of this and the beauty of Diana is extolled by all the work in any place, and turn it over for two most orthodox doctors of the ancient mytholo- minutes in any direction, without lighting on gy, from Homer, in his Odyssey, to Claudian, a blunder. Johnson, in his Life of Tickell, in his Rape of Proserpine. În another ode, stated that the poem entitled “The Royal Pro Horace describes Diana as the goddess whó gress," which appears in the last volume of assists the “ laborantes utero puellas." But we the Spectator, was written on the accession of are ashamed to detain our readers with this George I. The word "arrival” was after. fourth-form learning.
wards substituted for “accession." “ The Boswell found, in his tour to the Hebrides, an reader will observe,” says Mr. Croker, " that inscription written by a Scotch minister. It runs the Whig term accession, which might imply inus:"Joannes Macleod, &c., gentis suæ Philar- legality, was altered into a statement of ihe chus, &c., I'loræ Macdonald matrimoniali vin- simple fact of King George's arrival."$ Now culo conjugatus turrem hanc Beganodunensem Johnson, though a bigoted Tory, was not quite proævorum habitaculum longe vetustissimum, such a fool as Mr. Croker here represents diu penitus labefactatam, anno æræ vulgaris him to be. In the Life of Granville, Lord MDCLXXXVI., instauravit.” – “The minister," Lansdowne, which stands next to the Life of says Mr. Croker,“seems to have been no con. Tickell, mention is made of the accession of temptible Latinist. Is not Philarchus a very Anne, and of the accession of George I. The
. 1. 167.
• II. 458,
* V. 17.
& TV. 425
BOSWELL'S LIFE OF JOHNSON.
word arrival was used in the Life of Tickell of the old physiologists. Dryden made a simi. for the simplest of all reasons. It was used lar allusion to the dogma before Johnson was because the subject of the “Royal Progress" born. Mr. Croker, however, is unable to under. was the arrival of the king, and not his acces- stand it. “The expression,” he says, “ seems sion, which took place nearly two months be- not quite clear." And he proceeds to talk fere his arrival.
about the generation of insects, about bursting The editor's want of perspicacity is indeed into gaudier life, and Heaven knows what.* very amusing. He is perpetually telling us There is a still stranger instance of the edi. that he cannot understand something in the tor's talent for finding out difficulty in what is text which is as plain as language can make perfectly plain. "No man,” said Johnson, it. “Mattaire,” said Dr. Jolinson, wrote * can now be made a bishop for his learning Latin verses from time to time, and published and piety.” “From this too just observation,” a set in his old age, which he called Senila, in says Boswell, “ there are some eminent excepwhich he shows so little learning or taste in tions." Mr. Croker is puzzled by Boswell's writing, as to make Carteret a dactyl."* Here very natural and simple language. “That a upon we have this note: “The editor does not general observation should be pronounced tou understand this objection, nor the following just, by the very person who admits that it is observation.” The following observation which not universally just, is not a little odd.”+ Mr. Croker cannot understand is simply this : A very large portion of the two thousand five “In matters of genealogy,” says Johnson, “it hundred notes which the editor boasts of hav. is necessary to give the bare names as they ing added to those of Boswell and Malone, are. But in poetry, and in prose of any ele consists of the flattest and poorest reflections gance in the writing, they require to have reflections such as the least intelligent reader inflection given to them.” If Mr. Croker had is quite competent to make for himself, and told Johnson that this was unintelligible, the such as no intelligent reader would think it doctor would probably have replied, as he re-worth while to utter aloud. They remind us plied on another occasion, “I have found you of nothing so much as of those profound and a reason, sir; I am not bound to find you an interesting annotations which are pencilled by understanding." Everybody who knows any sempstresses and apothecaries' boys on the thing of Latinity knows that, in genealogical dog.eared margins of novels borrowed from tables, Joannes Baro de Carteret, or Vice- circulating libraries—" How beautiful !”comes de Carteret, may be tolerated, but that “cursed prosy”—“I don't like Sir Reginald in compositions which pretend to elegance, Malcolm at all.”—“I think Pelham is a sad Carteretus, or some other form which admits dandy.” Mr. Croker is perpetually stopping of infection, ought to be used.
us in our progress through the most delightful All our readers have doubtless seen the two narrative in the language, to observe, that distichs of Sir William Jones, respecting the really, Dr. Johnson was very rude; that he division of the time of a lawyer. One of the talked more for victory than for truth; that his distichs is translated from some old Latin taste for port-wine with capillaire in it was lines, the other is original. The former runs very odd ; that Boswell was impertinent; that
it was foolish in Mrs. Thrale to inarry the “Six hours to sleep, to law's grave study six,
music-master; and other “merderies” of the Foar spend in prayer, the rest on nature fix.” same kind, to borrow the energetic word of
We cannot speak more favourably of the "Bix bours to law, to soothing slumbers seven, manner in which the notes are written, than of Ten to the world allot, and all to heaven."
the matter of which they consist. We find in The second couplet puzzles Mr. Croker every page words used in wrong senses, and strangely. “Sir William," says he, “has constructions which violate the plainest rules shortened his day to twenty-three hours, and of grammar. We have the low vulgarism of the general advice of all to heaven,' destroys mutual friend,” for “common friend.” We the peculiar appropriation of a certain period have “fallacy” used as synonymous with to religious exercise.”+ Now, we did not "falsehood,” or “misstatement." We have think that it was in human dulness to miss the many such inextricable labyrinths of pronouns meaning of the lines so completely. Sir Wil- as that which follows: "Lord Erskine was liam distributes twenty-three hours among va- fond of this anecdote; he told it to the editor rious employments. One hour is thus left for the first time that he had the honour of being devotion. The reader expects that the verse in his company.” Lastly, we have a plentiful will end with—"and one to heaven.” The supply of sentences resembling those which whole point of the lines consist in the unex- we subjoin. “Markland, who, with Jartin and pected substitution of “all” for “one.” The Thirlby, Johnson calls three contemporaries conceit is wretched enough; but it is perfectly of great eminence.” “Warburton himself did intelligible, and never, we will venture to say, not feel, as Mr. Boswell was disposed to think perplexed man, woman, or child before. he did, kindly or gratefully of Johnson ?"$" It
Poor Tom Davies, after failing in business, was him that Horace Walpole called a man tried to live by his pen. Johnson called him who never made a bad figure but as an au"an author generated by the corruption of a thor.”! We must add that the printer has bookseller.” This is a very obvious, and even done his best to fill both the text and notes a commonplace allusion to the famous dogma with all sorts of blunders; and he and the
* IV. 323. III. 228. (IV. 377. e.V. 415. !|II. 46L
+ V. 233.
* IV. 335.
editor have between them made the book so crease would have been discernible. The
"Ut per læve severos
Effundat junctura unglies. Croker to the work of our old friend Boswell, we find it not only worse printed than in any This is not the case with Mr. Croker's in. other edition with which we are acquainted, sertions. They are not chosen as Boswell but mangled in the most wanton manner. would have chosen them. They are not introMuch that Boswell inserted in his narrative duced as Boswell would have introduced them. is, without the shadow of a reason, degraded They differ from the quotations scattered to the appendix. The editor has also taken through the original Life of Johnson, as a upon himself to alter or omit passages which withered bough stuck in the ground differs he considers as indecorous. This prudery is from a tree skilfully transplanted, with all its quite unintelligible to us. There is nothing life about it. immoral in Boswell's book-nothing which Not only do these anecdotes disfigure Bos. tends to inflame the passions. He sometimes well's book; they are themselves disfigured uses plain words. But if this be a taint which by being inserted in his book. The charm of requires expurgation, it would be desirable to Mrs. Thrale's little volume is utterly destroyed. begin by expurgating the morning and evening The feminine quickness of observation, the lessons. Mr. Croker has performed the deli- feminine softness of heart, the colloquial incorcate office which he has undertaken in the rectness and vivacity of style, the little amus: most capricious manner. A strong, old-fashion-ing airs of a half-learned lady, the delightful ed, English word, familiar to all who read their garrulity, the “dear Doctor Johnson," the "it Bibles, is exchanged for a softer synonyme in was so comical,” all disappear in Mr. Croker's some passages, and suffered to stand unaltered quotations. The lady ceases to speak in the in others. In one place, a faint allusion made first person; and her anecdotes, in the process by Johnson to an indelicate subject-an allu- of transfusion, become as flat as champagne sion so faint that, till Mr. Croker's note pointed in decanters, or Herodotus in Beloe's version. it out to us, we had never noticed it, and of Sir John Hawkins, it is true, loses nothing; which we are quite sure that the meaning and for the best of reasons.
Sir John had nowould never be discovered by any of those for thing to lose. whose sake books are expurgated—is alto- The course which Mr. Croker ought to have gether omitted. In another place, a coarse taken is quite clear. He should have reprinted and stupid jest of Doctor Taylor, on the same Boswell's narrative precisely as Boswell wrote subject, expressed in the broadest language- it; and in the notes or the appendix he should almost the only passage, as far as we remem- have placed any anecdotes which he might ber, in all Boswell's book, which we should have thought it advisable to quote from other have been inclined to leave out-is suffered to writers. This would have been a much more remain.
convenient course for the reader, who has now We complain, however, much more of the constantly to keep his eye on the margin in additions than of the omissions. We have order to see whether he is perusing Boswell, half of Mrs. Thrale's book, scraps of Mr. Mrs. Thrale, Murphy, Hawkins, Tyers, Cra. Tyers, scraps of Mr. Murphy, scraps of Mr. dock, or Mr. Croker. We greatly doubt whe. Cradock, long prosings of Sir John Hawkins, ther even the Tour to the Hebrides ought 10 and connecting observations by Mr. Croker have been inserted in the midst of the Life. himself, inserted into the midst of Boswell's There is one marked distinction between the text. To this practice we most decidedly ob- two works. Most of the Tour was seen by ject. An editor might as well publish Thucy- Johnson in manuscript. It does not appear dides with extracts from Diodorus interspers- that he ever saw any part of the Life. ed, or incorporate the Lives of Suetonius with We love, we own, to read the great produce the History and Annals of Tacitus. Mr. Croker tions of the human mind as they were written. tells us, indeed, that he has done only what We have this feeling even about scientific Boswell wished to do, and was preverted from treatises; though we know that the sciences doing by the law of copyright. We doubt this are always in a state of progression, and thai greatly. Boswell bas studiously abstained the alterations made by a modern editor in an from availing himself of the information con- old book on any branch of natural or political tained in the works of his rivals, on many oc- philosophy are likely to be improvements. casions on which he might have done so with Many errors have been detected by writers of out subjecting himself to the charge of piracy. this generation in the speculations of Adam Mr. Croker has himself, on one occasion, re- Smith. A short cut has been made to much marked very justly that Boswell was very knowledge, at which Sir Isaac Newton arrived reluctant to owe any obligations to Hawkins. through arduous and circuitous paths.
Yet But be this as it may, if Boswell had quoted we still look with peculiar veneration on the from Sir John and from Mrs. Thrale, he would Wealth of Nations and on the Principia, and have been guided by his own taste and judg- should regret to see either of those great works inent in selecung his quotations. On what he garbled even by the ablest hands.
But in gustel, he would have commented with perfect works which owe much of their interest to the freedom, and the borrowed passages, so se character and situation of the writers, the case lected, and accompanied by such comments, is infinitely stronger. What man of taste and would have become original. They would feeling can endure harmonies, rifacimentos lave duvetailed into the work: no hitch, no abridgments, expurgated editions?