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CROKER'S EDITION OF BOSWELL'S LIFE OF
[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 neat, 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.' + That part of the volumes before us, for which the editor is responsible, is ill-compiled, ill-arranged, ill-expressed, and ill-printed.
The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL. D.; including a Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides. 'By James Boswell, Esq. A New Edition, with numerous Additions and Notes. By John Wilson CROKER, LL. D. F. R. S. 5 vols. 8vo. London. 1831.
+ V. 184.
Nothing in the work has 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 mistatements, 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 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.
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
* I. 394.
I IV. 321.
S IV. 428.
|| II. 262.