The Life and Times of Henry Crabb Robinson

The Life and Times of Henry Crabb Robinson

The Life and Times of Henry Crabb Robinson

The Life and Times of Henry Crabb Robinson

Excerpt

Two years after the death of Henry Crabb Robinson, in the year 1869, there were published three volumes of his Diary, Reminiscences and Correspondence. The editor, Dr. Thomas Sadler, had done his work extremely well. He had sifted and condensed the enormous amount of manuscript material entrusted to him, and produced a book which has remained to the present day the only full and adequate memorial of his subject. Sadler's work is in some ways old-fashioned, and his methods are not those of modern scholarship. But his book is unlikely to be superseded by any modern version attempting to fulfil the same purpose. Sadler allowed Crabb Robinson to speak for himself, and, in the published work, seldom intervened, except in so far as he selected, re-worded, and arranged his material in order 'to preserve interesting particulars respecting distinguished men, both in England and on the Continent, and, secondly, to keep unbroken the thread of Mr. Robinson's own life.'

But to-day, necessarily with the lapse of time, our interest in some incidents and persons is fainter and in others more pronounced than when Sadler published his volumes. Very few are still living who knew Crabb Robinson personally, comparatively few are anxious to make his acquaintance as an individual, but probably, while the man himself and the incidents of his life are becoming of less interest, increasing importance is attached to every detail which enables us to see his surroundings and his friends with our own eyes. No one has ever claimed that Crabb Robinson was in the front rank as a thinker, a critic, or a writer--least of all did he make any such claim for himself. But he lived an exceptionally long life, from 1775 to 1867, in a period full of great changes, political and social, and rich in great personalities in almost every sphere of human activity. And it so happened, not . . .

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