1835 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. George Croly

John Wilson Croker to Lord Lyndhurst, 3 February 1835; The Croker Papers, ed. Louis J. Jennings (1884) 2:60-61.



West Moulsey, February 3rd, 1835.

MY DEAR LORD,

If by "Croley" you mean George Croly, D.D., I know him longer and less than anybody. We were at college together, but very little acquainted, as he was rather my senior, and not in the same society. He was also there what he has been through life, and what I suppose he still is, a shy, reserved man. About twenty years ago he published some poems, which I looked over, and I believe touched here and there previous to publication. They possessed great power, but were, "like the father who begot them," — somewhat stiff and ungainly. Soon after, Lord Liverpool resolved to set up a weekly paper, and knowing Croly's talents and principles, and having a kindness for him, I recommended him for the editorship, at 300 a year; but his talents did not lie that way, and eventually the thing failed. Even this did not make me better acquainted with this strange, shy, awkward man. I should have suspected that I, in some over frankness, had offended him, or that I had not handled with sufficient delicacy that over-nice instrument, a poor, proud scholar; but I am told that this was not the case, and that his temper is the same to all men. He has latterly been writing a very bad class of books (by bad I only mean visionary and useless) on the Prophecies, and mixing politics and theology. I have not read any of them, but hear that they are ingenious, eloquent, and absurd; but on the whole he has a literary reputation and a character as a clergyman that will justify anything that you can do for him, and I heartily entreat you to do something.

Indeed I should have mentioned his name both to Peel and you as deserving of recollection in the distribution of literary favours, if I had not heard and believed that Brougham had given him a living. Nay, in writing to Peel on a similar subject, I instanced as an example to be followed Brougham's patronage of Tory Croly. It turns out now that, like all the rest of Brougham's merits, all was false and hollow. But I believe the whole literary world is now under an impression that Dr. Croly is enjoying a comfortable preferment "ex dono" Brougham; and if anything about that man could surprise me, your letter would have done so. At all events, I do most strongly urge you to do the thing. It is right in itself, and I should have pressed it had I dreamed of Brougham's roguery; but it is now on every account desirable that the disappointment should be repaired.

As you have given me this opportunity, I would implore you to employ your, I fear, too short-lived patronage, in aid of the Church and literature, at present exclusively. If your reign is to be long, there will be plenty of time to attend to other interests and claims (which I know cannot be altogether neglected), but now the great object should be to do whatever may best tend to make us popular with that great and important class, who will be more struck by a judicious and high-minded use of Church patronage than by another circumstance.

I perhaps should not have ventured to give this advice, if I did not know that I speak to willing ears, and that personally as well as politically you are disposed to illustrate yourself and the Government, by giving good things to good men, in preference to any other considerations.