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the slightest pains to investigate the truth of his assertions, or if he had even been well acquainted with the book on which he 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.* We read on; and, a few pages later, we find Dr. Johnson and Boswell talking of this 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.t And all this is 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 1816.3
Mr. Croker informs us, that Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, the author of the Life of 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 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,
In one place, we are told, that Allan Ramsay, the painter, was born in 1709, and died in 1784; * in another, that he died in 1784, in the seventy-first year of his age.t
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 thirty-fifth birth-day || 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. Mr. Croker therefore gives us three different statements as to her age.
Two of the three must be incorrect. We will not decide between them; we will only say, that the reasons which Mr. Croker gives for thinking that Mrs. Thrale was exactly thirty-five 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." I Lord Mansfield survived Dr. Johnson just eight years and a quarter.
Johnson found in the library of a French lady,
* IV. 105.
IV. 271, 322. | III. 463.
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 contempt, showed them to Mr. Thrale. Prince Titi, Bibliothèque des Fées, and other books." * “ The History of Prince Titi," observes Mr. Croker, “ was said to be the autobiography of Frederick Prince of Wales, but was probably written by Ralph his secretary.” A more absurd note never was penued. The history of Prince Titi, to which Mr. Croker refers, whether written by Prince Frederick or by Ralph, was certainly never published. If Mr. Croker had taken the trouble to read with attention that 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 is 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 Frederick, whether written by himself or by a confidential secretary, must have been? 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.f Now Mr. Bate was then connected, not with the Morning Herald, but with the Morning Post; and the
* III. 271.
+ V. 196
dispute took place before the Morning Herald was ju 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, quested 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 1329.” 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 following year, “Quand le printems vint et la saison," says Froissart, in June, 1330, says Lord Hailes, whom Mr. Croker cites as the authority for his statement.
Mr. Croker tells us that the great Marquis of Montrose was beheaded at Edinburgh in 1650.f There is not a forward boy at any school in England who does not know that the marquis was hanged. The account of the execution is one of the finest passages in Lord Clarendon's History. We can scarcely suppose 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 pos# IV, 29. $ II. 526.
# III. 52.
sibly be ignorant that Lord Townshend was made secretary of state at the accession of George I. 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 offiee 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.” * Charles Townshend was not nephew, but grandnepbew, 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," Mr. Croker," in March, 1778.” | General Burgoyne surrenderei 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 coincidence of circumstances, it happened that there was a total change of administration between his condemnation and bis 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.” ” Now 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;
* III. 368.
+ IV. 222.
# I. 298.