Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

EURI

Tere

De

him, grasped the arm of his friend in agony, exclaiming, Ah! she has still her fine black eyes !”-turned away, and never saw her more.

About this time it was that he began a work, the execution of which must have been a special antidote to the pangs of disappointed love, or to any other mental uneasiness whatsoever, namely, a Concordance to the Old and New Testament. Such of our readers as know what a Concordance is, will duly estimate the pains and labour requisite for the compilation of such a work-and the hitherto uninitiated will form some idea of the toil which this industrious scholar must have bestowed on the book in question, when they are informed, that a Concordance is an index which indicates every passage in which a word of any moment is used in the Holy Scriptures. For example, as honest Cotton says, “ if any one remember that he hath heard or read this phrase in the Scriptures, ‘He will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea,' and desireth to find it for his future comfort, let him take a Concordance, and search the words sea, or depths, or sins, and at Micah, Ch. vii. v. 19, he shall meet with what he seeks for."

The first edition of Cruden's Concordance was published in 1737, and was dedicated to Queen Caroline, who was, as all the world knows, an amateur in theology. Alexander expected to have received from her majesty a handsome gratuity in return for his dedication. Perhaps his expectations were not unreasonable, and possibly they might have been fulfilled, had the queen lived to ascertain the merits of his performance : but the sanguine hopes of the compiler were frustrated by the death of her majesty, which took place a few days after she had received the presentation copy, and before the publication of the work.

To a mind which has a tendency to insanity, a sudden cessation from stated and assiduous labour is a most dangerous crisis. Soon after the publication of the Concordance, the mental malady of Cruden recurred with such violence, that his friends deemed it expedient to confine him in a private mad-house, kept by one Matthew Wright, at Bethnal Green. In this receptacle of woe, if we may give credit to his own account, he was, according to the erroneous practice of the medical men of that day, very harshly treated. He had not, however, been long in confinement, before he contrived to make his escape. It is difficult to decide whether the following passage from his Adventures alludes to an investigation on a writ de lunatico inquirendo, or to a private consultation held by his friends and some medical practitioners, on the question of the propriety of his being remanded into seclusion. We transcribe it for the consideration of our readers.

“ June 27th, 1738. The London Citizen having understood that the Judges of the Blind Bench were assembled at the bookseller's at the Rose and Crown in the Poultry, he went thither, and attacked the cloudy heads with great resolution and undaunted courage. The Corrector," (this appellation Alexander had assumed in reference to his double office of corrector of the press, and reformer of public morals,] “the Corrector said that they had no business with him or his affairs ; and that they were a set of asses, a company of blockheads, and a bench of blind justices. He addressed himself particularly to Dr. Monro, senior, their chairman, and desired him to mind his own business, for that with him he had no concern; which Monro forthwith obeyed, and left the room. From that time the Blind Bench was entirely dissolved, for the other judges soon after followed Monro's example, and never ascended the bench any more.”

Exulting in the recollection of his prowess on this important occasion, Alexander remarks,

“ It may be supposed that it will be the general opinion of the London citizens, that Alexander the Corrector had as good a right and as full authority to dissolve this Blind Bench in the Poultry, as the great Oliver Cromwell had to dissolve the House of Commons, April 20th, 1653."

Like other sufferers in the cause of freedom, personal and political, Cruden deemed it of high importance that the public should be acquainted with his wrongs. He, accordingly, stated his grievances in a pamphlet, with the following portentous title: The London Citizen exceedingly injured, giving an Account of his Adventures during the time of his severe and lung Campaign at Bethnal Green, for nine Weeks and six Days, the Citizen being sent thither in March, 1738, by Robert Wightman, a notoriously conceited whimsical Man, where he was chained, hand-cuffed, strait-waistcoated, and imprisoned ; and he would probably have been continued and died under his confinement, had he not most providentially made his escape, by cutting with a Knife the Bedstead to which he was chained. With a History of Wightman's Blind Bench, which was a sort of Court that met in Wightman's room at the Ruse and Crown in the Poultry, and unaccountably pretended to pass decrees in relation to the London Citizen : particularly this blundering and illegal Blind Bench decreed that the London Citizen should be removed from Bethnal Green to Bethlehem Hospital, the audacious men thinking by that means to screen Wightman and the Criminals from punishment, for confining the Citizen : but Providence frustrated their designs.

The punishment to which Cruden alludes at the conclusion of this lengthy title, as brother Jonathan would call it, is the penalties which he was confident he should inflict on his supposedpersecutors, by the result of actions for damages, which

he had instituted against Wightman and Monro. His cause against the latter was tried in the Court of Common Pleas, before Lee, Chief Justice, and a verdict given for the defendant. In consequence of the issue of this trial, Cruden's law advisers, to his great displeasure, declined to proceed against Wightman, and he was left to the unavailing vengeance of public remonstrance. His narrative of this transaction is curious and original.

“ Alexander the Corrector brought an action against Wightman in the Court of King's Bench, to be tried in Guildhall. The witnesses were subpoena'd, and attended June 27th, 1739. But it being an afternoon's sitting, and the cause being supposed to be uncommon, and that it would last long, the court inclined to fix a day for trying it, namely, July 23rd, 1739.

“ This occasioned the action of Alexander the Corrector against Dr. Monro and other defendants, which was tried before a chief bencher at Westminster-hall, to come on before the other. The bencher spoke in favour of Monro, and even threatened to commit the plaintiff for pleading his own cause; and he also threatened the plaintiff's attorney, whereby he was so much frightened, that he acted most unaccountably; for, without the plaintiff's knowledge or consent, he gave notice to Wightman's attorney, that the cause against Wightman was not to be tried July 23rd. This greatly shocked the Corrector, and he went to the chief bencher's house, and also spoke to Mr. Denison, one of his counsel; but he was not regarded, which was owing, he imagines, to his having lost his cause in the Court of Common Pleas.

“ The chief bencher of the Common . Pleas greatly favouring Monro, was the true cause that the Corrector had no verdict against the criminals. The chief bencher is not an ignorant man, and wanted the Corrector to consent that the jury should withdraw, and give no verdict; but he refused it with indignation, being fully convinced that he had a right to a verdict, and, therefore, he would not approve of their unjust proceedings. The bencher afterwards directed, or rather commanded, the jury, by saying, 'you are to bring in a verdict for the defendants;' which they did. The Corrector made a speech in court before the verdict; and after the verdict meekly said, I trust in God.' The chief bencher replied, ' I wish you had trusted more in God, and not have come hither.'

Notwithstanding his professed meekness, the Corrector gave vent to his indignation at the issue of this trial, in a pamphlet entitled," Mr. Cruden exceedingly injured ; or, a Trial between Alexander Cruden, Plaintiff, Bookseller to the late Queen Caroline, and Doctor James Monro, Matthew Wright, John Oswald, and John Davis, Defendants, in the Court of Common Pleas in Westminster-hall, July 17, 1739, on an Action of Trespass, Assault, and Imprisonment : the said Plaintiff, though in

his right Senses, having been unjustly confined, and barbarously used, in Matthew Wright's private Mad-house at Bethnal Green. To which is added, a surprising Account of several other Persons, who have been most unjustly confined in private Mad-houses. The whole tending to shew the great necessity for the Legislature to regulate private Mad-houses in a more effectual manner than at present.

This pamphlet Cruden dedicated to his Majesty King George the Second. The period of his life immediately subsequent to this transaction was passed in tranquillity. His mind being become tolerably settled, he resumed his occupation of corrector of the press, and superintended the printing of several classic authors, both Greek and Latin; and it is stated, by very competent judges, that he executed this task with great accuracy. His present calm lasted for some years; but in the year 1753 his infirmity again manifested itself in his paying his addresses, with persevering and troublesome importunity, to a widow lady, a zealous dissenter of great fortune, to whom, in his Adventures, he gives the fictitious name of Whitaker. On one occasion, having obtained admission into her house, he admonished the lady's steward to behave well, “ for he ought to reverence the rising sun.” The steward appears to have humoured the unwelcome visitor with much skill. Pointing out to him the extent and beauty of the mansion and its garden, he said to him, “ are you not an ambitious man that would have all this?” But Cruden had his answer ready, “it is not,” said he, “ ambition of riches, but only usefulness that the Corrector aims at.” When the lady, upon many applications, refused to see him, and returned his letters, he issued what he styled a declaration of war against her. “ It was written," says he, “ with red ink; but there was nothing bloody in it except the colour.” It is, in truth, nothing but a rambling and incoherent sort of a love-letter. At length his malady recurred to such a degree, that he was again consigned to custody in a private lunatic asylum. On his liberation from thence, he commenced an action against the parties who were instrumental in his confinement ; but, as our readers will, no doubt, anticipate, a verdict was given for the defendants. This result of his appeal to the law, Cruden attributed to the “ unfaithfulness” of his counsel. In point of fact, finding their ground of action untenable, those learned gentlemen threw up their briefs ; which their client shrewdly remarks, was “ a new fashioned way of trying causes.”

“Perhaps," says he, “some persons may think Alexander did not pay his generals well; therefore he begs leave to mention their pay. Mr. Hume and Sir Richard were his retained counsel. The 1st

of November, 1753, upon the writs being taken out against the defendants, for the cause being important, Alexander secured two generals or barristers that were in esteem, by a golden English piece, which is the common retaining fee; and upon the delivery of the brief, a few days before the trial, each of them had four pieces. Mr. Naires, a younger barrister, who was pitched upon to open the action, which was never done, had three pieces. The Corrector was not for starving the cause, and gave very handsome fees ; because the cause was of great importance to him; and he supposed it would have lasted a whole day, as his cause in the Court of Common Pleas did, in July, 1739; but Mr. Hume allowed it to come to an end in two hours time; and if the Corrector had not been present, it had probably been over in one hour.”

What the gentlemen of the long robe of the present day will think of the conduct of one of Alexander's counsel upon the unsuccessful issue of his cause, we know not. We shall state the case in Cruden's own words; and leave it to themselves to determine whether, under similar circumstances, they will “ go and do likewise.”

« The Corrector,” says Alexander, “is sincerely inclined to do justice to every man; and, therefore, acquaints his readers that at the end of the trial, Mr. Hume was pleased to return his fee of four pieces to the plaintiff's attorney” “But,” continues he, with as much chagrin as his temper was capable of feeling, “ was Mr. Hume's returning his fee, an adequate satisfaction for his criminal desertion? If a soldier deserts his captain-general, he is ordered to be shot. What punishment shall be inflicted on a barrister for the desertion of his exceedingly-injured plaintiff ?”

Thus persuaded of the infidelity of his law advisers, Cruden determined to take his case into his own management. He accordingly went to the Court of King's Bench, for the purpose of moving for a new trial. On his rising for that purpose, one of the judges told him, that he should be heard after the counsel had made their motions. He accordingly waited till the motions had been gone through, and again presented himself to the notice of the court: but was told, that it was too late in the day, as one of the judges had departed ;" for it may be supposed,” says Alexander, “he was not fond to hear his conduct enquired into.” After the usual delays, however, the complainant made his motion, which he supported by a long speech. “ The Corrector was favoured by Sir Dudley, the chief bencher, with a long hearing, and he thanks Sir Dudley for that liberty; but the chief bencher did not pretend to give an answer to his reasons; but, contrary to his usual custom, barely said, 'I have heard your reasons, and do not think then sufficient to grant a new trial. Then the Corrector immediately said, with a loud

« ПредишнаНапред »