Famous Reviews eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 560 pages of information about Famous Reviews.

We will not multiply instances of this scandalous 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 five years with respect to the publication of Goldsmith’s novel, an error of twelve years with respect to the publication of part of Gibbon’s History, an error of twenty-one years with respect to an event in Johnson’s life so important as the taking of the doctoral degree.  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 readers take 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 us 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, as sufficient to justify any writer who may follow him in relating a single anecdote or in assigning a date to a single event.

Mr. Croker shows almost as much ignorance and heedlessness in his criticisms as in his statements concerning facts.  Dr. Johnson said, very reasonably as it appears to us, that some of the satires of Juvenal are too gross for imitation.  Mr. Croker, who, by the way, is angry with Johnson for defending Prior’s tales against the charge of indecency, resents this aspersion on Juvenal, and indeed refuses to believe that the doctor can have said anything so absurd.  “He probably said—­some passages of them—­for there are none of Juvenal’s satires to which the same objection may be made as to one of Horace’s, that it is altogether gross and licentious."[1] Surely Mr. Croker can never have read the second and ninth satires of Juvenal.

[1] I. 167.

Indeed the decisions of this editor on points of classical learning, though pronounced in a very authoritative tone, are generally such that, if a schoolboy under our care were to utter them, our soul assuredly should not spare for his crying.  It is no disgrace to a gentleman who has been engaged during near thirty years in political life that he has forgotten his Greek and Latin.  But he becomes justly ridiculous if, when no longer able to construe a plain sentence, he affects to sit in judgment on the most delicate questions of style and metre.  From one blunder, a blunder which no good scholar would have made, Mr. Croker was saved, as he informs us, by Sir Robert

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