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himself, and exhibited before the court of Mantua, "he is said to have personated fifteen different characters; in all which he might succeed without great difficulty, since he had such power of reten
tion, that once hearing an oration of an hour, he 'would repeat it exactly, and in the recital follow
the speaker through all his variety of tone and gerI ticulation.
Nor was his skill in arms less than in learning, or his courage inferior to his skill: there was a
prize-fighter in Mantua, who travelling about the ' world, according to the barbarous custom of that
age, as a general challenger, had defeated the most ' celebrated masters in many parts of Europe ; and ' in Mantua, where he then resided, had killed three
that appeared against him. The duke repented that he had granted him his protection ; when Crichton,
looking on his fanguinary success with indignation, soffered to stake fifteen hundred pistoles, and mount
the stage against him. The duke, with some re
luctance, consented, and, on the day fixed, the com'batants appeared: their weapons seem to have 'been fingle rapier, which was then newly intro'duced in Italy. The prize-fighter advanced with
great violence and fierceness, and Crichton con' tented himself calmly to ward his passes, and suffered him to exhaust his vigour by his own fury: Crichton
then became the assailant; and pressed upon hiin with such force and agility, that he thrust him • thrice through the body, and saw him expire: hre
then divided the prize he had won, among the i widows whose husbands had been killed.
< The death of this wonderful man I should be willing to conceal, did I not know that every rea
der will enquire curiously after that fatal hour, (which is common to all human beings, however
distinguished from each other by nature or by « fortune,
* The duke of Mantua having received so many proofs of his various merit, made him tutor to his • fon Vincentio di Gonzaga, a prince of loose man
ners and turbulent disposition. On this occasion it
was, that he composed the comedy in which he exhibited so many different characters with exact
propriety. But his honour was of short continuance, ' for as he was one night in the time of Carnival
rambling about the streets with his guitar in his < hand, he was attacked by six men masked. Nei'ther his courage nor skill, in this exigence deserted
him : he opposed them with such activity and spirit, " that he soon dispersed them, and disarmed their
leader, who throwing off his mask, discovered him'self to be the prince his pupil. Crichton falling
on his knees, took his own sword by the point, and ' presented it to the prince, who immediately seized ' it, and instigated, as some say, by jealousy, accord
ing to others, only by drunken fury and brutal resentment, thrust him through the heart. · Thus was the Admirable Crichton brought into that ftate, in which he could excel the meanest • of mankind only by a few empty honours paid to ' his memory : the court of Mantua testified their
esteem by a public mourning; the contemporary wits were profuse of their encomiums; and the
* palaces of Italy were adorned with pictures repre
senting him on horseback, with a lance in one hand and a book in the other.'
The above account is so defective in the evidences of historical verity, that it has been by some suspected to be fabulous. It is true, that in essays of such a kind as that which contains this eulogium, it is not usual, for that would be to incur the charge of pedantry, to cite authorities ; nevertheless, the circumstances of time and place seem so necessary in the relation of every uncommon event, and in the description of every extraordinary person, that the omission of both in this instance, as also the christian name of the person celebrated, can hardly be excused.
To supply these defects I might refer the reader to authorities, that fix the place of his birth at Clunie in the shire of Perth in Scotland, the year thereof at 1551, and that of his death 1583; and that tell us also, that Crichton's name of baptism was James; and as to the facts enumerated in the Adventurer, they seem to be sufficiently authenticated to all the purposes of historical information, in a book written in 1652, by Sir Thomas Urquhart *, bearing this
* This fingular person, whose name is sometimes written Urchard, was a physician of the house of Cromarty in Scotland, a man of learning, and the first translator into Englith of the works of Rabelais. In the time of the rebellion in Scotland, Temp. Car. 1. he was a fierce opponent of the presbyterian eftablishment, and taking, as we may suppose, an active part against it, was made a prisoner of war, and though enlarged on his parole, endured many hardships. Besides the book above-mentioned, he wrote fundry practs, which have lately been collected and published in one vo
strange title, 'EKEKYBAAAYPON, or the discovery • of a most exquisite jewel more precious than dia
monds inchased in gold, the like whereof was never ' seen in any age; found in the kennel of Worcester• streets, the day after the fight, and six before the • autumnal equinox 1651.'
In this book is contained a memorial of sundry illustrious persons of Scotland, serving to vindicate the honour of that nation, but written in such a style of learned tumidity and bombast, as is not to be paralleled in any book now extant. I here cite from it two passages respecting Crichton as specimens thereof, and as proofs of Johnson's discretion in veiling the effulgence of a character too bright to be viewed in its genuine lustre.
• It happening on a Shrove-Tuesday at night, that this ever-renowned Crichtoun, (who, in the after
lume octavo, one whereof is intitled, " The true pedigree and • lineal descent of the most ancient and honourable family of • Urquhart in the house of Cromarty, from the creation of the • world till the year 1652,' in which we are not more astonished to meet with a long succession of names, for the most part purely Greek, than to find such minute particulars recorded, as neither history nor tradition was ever before known to obtrude upon pofterity.
For instance, speaking of one of his ancestors named Eformun, who he says lived A. M. 810, and married Narfefia; he tells this most incredible tale : ' He was sovereign prince of Achaia. For « his fortune in the wars, and affability in conversation, his subjects • and familiars surnamed him éqozágros, that is, fortunate and well
beloved. After which time, his posterity ever since hath ac• knowledged him the father of all that carry the name of Ur QuHART. He had for his arms three banners, three ships, and
noon of that day, at the desire of my lord duke (the whole court striving which should exceed other in foolery, and devising of the best sports to
excite laughter; neither my lord, duchess, nor prince, • being exempted from acting their parts, as well as
they could) upon a theatre set up for the purpose, begun to prank it (à la Venetiana) with such a flourish of mimick, and ethopoetick geslures, that all
the courtiers of both sexes, even those that a little s before that, were fondest of their own conceits, ‘at the sight of his so inimitable a garb, from ravish
ing actors, that they were before, turned then ra'vished spectators. O! with how great
liveliness did 'he represent the conditions of all manner of men !
how naturally did he set before the eyes of the be• holders the rogueries of all professions, from the ' overweening monarch to the peevish fwaine, through * all intermediate degrees of the superficial courtier
or proud warrior, dissembled churchman,' doting old
• three ladies, in a field Or, with the picture of a young lady above • the waist, holding in her right hand a brandished sword, and a • branch of myrtle in her left for the crest; and for supporters, • two javanetes, after the soldier habit of Achaia, with this motto • in the scrole of his coat-armour, Taūta ý zgía á too beta :--
:-.-that • is, these three are worthy to behold. Upon his wife Narfesia, • who was sovereign of the Amazons, he begot Cratynter.' OF Litoborus, another pretended ancestor of the Urquhart family, who lived A. M. 1930, he says, he married two wives, Pasena and Emphaneola ; and adds, yet had he, besides these two ladies, seve• ral others, both wives and concubines, as the fashion was over • the whole world for the space of above a thousand years there
after.' And of Phrenedon, another, who lived about fixty years ter, he roundly asserts, that he was in the house of the patriarch Abraham, at the time of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.'