1912 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Wilson Croker

Oliver Elton, in Survey of English Literature 1780-1830 (1912) 1:401.



The Quarterly Review, after parleyings between Murray, Canning, and Scott, was founded in1809, with Gifford for editor, in order to countervail the Edinburgh, rally the Tories, and establish a rival oracle. Its four pillars were to be politics, literature, scholarship, and science. So strong a staff was soon enlisted, that we wonder to-day at the dimness of the old articles as we turn them over. In politics, one of the controlling spirits and most profuse contributors — who during forty-five years produced no fewer than two hundred and fifty-eight articles — was John Wilson Croker, secretary to the Admiralty. A rasping satirist, a narrow-souled critic of letters, an acrimonious partisan, Croker was nevertheless a minute and often accurate investigator, and an able expounder and disputant. He was also a more disinterested an useful person than was long supposed. The enmity, not altogether worthy, of Macaulay and Benjamin Disraeli has done him some wrong. But Croker does not survive in literature, although his edition of Boswell's Johnson, assailed by Macaulay and defended by Lockhart, has served later scholars well.