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ing rendered us "the envy
and admiration" of a little knot of brother collectors, who have assembled in close divan to inspect our purchase. As an instance of our good luck in this particular, we may be permitted to state, that it was from the profane hands of a minor dealer in salt butter, that we rescued the long-titled pamphlet which we now introduce as a stranger to our readers, and which was written by Alexander Cruden, the compiler of that most elaborate work, The Concordance to the Old and New Testament.
This extraordinary man was born in the town of Aberdeen, in the year 1701, and was the second son of William Cruden, "Merchant," of that place. Such of our readers, however, as have not had the good fortune to visit the "Land o' Cakes," must not allow this appellation of "Merchant" to lead them to imagine that the father of our hero had, or professed to have, extensive dealings in foreign parts, or that he possessed half-adozen ships, and extensive warehouses well stored with the commodities of the East and West Indies. A Scotch Merchant," (the word is derived immediately from the French Marchand) is no more than a shop-keeper; and if Mr. Baring has ever travelled into Caledonia, his mercantile pride must, on his making his grand entrée into Annan, have been wounded on his seeing the title of "Merchant" inscribed in rudely formed characters over many a half door, leading to a room some eight feet by seven, where sits a shrewd pains-taking wight, whose returns from his trading operations do not amount to more than fifty shillings and four-pence per week. Nay, if the said Mr. Baring has beheld on the border, a stout raw-boned chield, walking firmly on beneath the pressure of a portable shop, ycleped a "pack," be it known to him that this chield in Scotland, participates with him in the designation of a" travelling merchant."
That William Cruden, however, was not a "travelling merchant," but what is called a respectable shopkeeper, may be inferred from the fact, that, like the immortalized Jarvie, he served the office of Baillie in the town which he had fixed upon as the seat of his business.
The facility of obtaining a good and useful education, has long been an incalculable advantage to the natives of Scotland. In this respect, the town of Aberdeen possessed superior privileges, of which the father of young Cruden faithfully availed himself for the improvement of his son. He sent him, at an early age, to the grammar school of his native place, where he laid an excellent foundation of classical knowledge, and afterwards entered him as a student in Marischal college. Though the fact cannot be now ascertained, we may perhaps be justified in regarding it as extremely probable, that it was
intended by his father that young Alexander should exhibit his talents in a pulpit. And certain it is, that for the office of a clergyman of the Scottish church he was well fitted, by the exemplariness of his diligence, the piety of his principles, and the kindness-and we will venture to add, without fear of giving offence where no offence is intended-the simplicity of his character. But he had hardly finished his collegiate studies, when his prospects were clouded by manifest symptoms of insanity, which his friends imagined, but evidently erroneously, to be occasioned by the bite of a mad dog. Whilst he laboured under this malady, he fell deeply in love with the daughter of a clergyman, to whom he paid his addresses in form. His suit was of course rejected; but such was the ardour of his passion, that he persevered in his attempts to visit his fair one, and was so violent in his efforts to force his way to her, that her friends were obliged to have recourse to the civil power, and the poor student was sent to expiate his impetuosity by imprisonment in the town jail. Soon after his liberation from "durance vile," his feelings were exquisitely wounded by the discovery that another lover had made too deep an impression on the susceptibility of his inamorata, who was suddenly withdrawn from society, and sent away, nobody knew whither, to avoid the shame of the "cutty stool."
This unpleasant incident was, in all probability, the cause of Alexander's quitting Aberdeen; for we find that he left that place in the year 1722, and fixed his residence in London. Here he contrived for some years to gain a subsistence by giving instructions in the classics, as a private tutor. He next appears to have been settled for a short time in the Isle of Man, where he pursued the same employment. Finding this too narrow a sphere for his energies, he returned to London in the year 1732. He now opened a bookseller's shop under the Royal Exchange, and filled up his leisure time, and added to his scanty emolument, by acting as corrector of the press for different printers; an occupation which his varied knowledge, his minute accuracy, and his strict punctuality, enabled him to turn to good account.
During the time of his occupying the shop above-mentioned, a friend called upon him, and proposed to introduce him to one of his countrymen, whose acquaintance, he said, would be both pleasant and profitable to him. Cruden consented to accompany him, to make a call on the individual in question. On their knocking at the door of his residence, it was opened by the ci-devant object of Alexander's affections, who, it should seem, had fled to shelter her disgrace in the crowd of the English metropolis. Poor Cruden started with horror at the sight of her who was once so dear to
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 long 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 Rose 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