Cruden, Alexander

, author of an excellent “Concordance of the Bible,” was born in 1701 at Aberdeen, where he received his grammar learning: he afterwards studied at Marischal college, with a view of entering the church. Unfortunately, before the period arrived when he could be admitted to officiate as a public instructor, such decided symptoms of insanity appeared in his conduct, as rendered confinement necessary. This afterwards settled in a kind of belief that he was delegated by Heaven to reform a guilty world; and his conduct in a thousand instances demonstrated an ardour and zeal for the good of his fellow-creatures, that merited the highest applause. Thrice, however, he was shut up in a private madhouse, in which, if the nature of his disease did not lead him to exaggeration, he was cruelly treated. Once indeed he brought his action against a respectable physician, and other persons connected with him; the cause was tried, and Cruden was unable to make out a case. The verdict was given in favour of the defendants; and his appeal to the public was not of a kind to set aside that verdict, although he certainly suffered much more harsh treatment than was necessary. On his release from his first confinement, which was in his native place, he came to London, and engaged in some respectable families as private tutor. In the same employment he spent some years in the isle of Man; and in 1732 he opened a shop in London, under the Royal Exchange, as bookseller, and employed all his vacant time as a corrector of the press. In the following year he began to compile his great work, viz. “A complete Concordance of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament.” We can scarcely conceive any literary work that required more patient labour than this, and few have been executed with greater accuracy. He had nearly executed the whole before he looked for public remuneration. The first edition was published in 1737, and dedicated to queen Caroline, who had led the | editor to expect her patronage but her majesty unfortunately died a few days before the work could be got ready. The author’s affairs were now embarrassed; he had none to look to for assistance, and in a fit of despondence he gave up his trade, and became a prey to melancholy. Shortly after this, he assumed the title of “Alexander the Corrector,” maintained that he was divinely commissioned to reform the manners of the age, and restore the due observance of the sabbath, appealing to prophecy, in which he fancied he saw his own character delineated. He sought, however, for earthly honours, and requested of his majesty the dignity of knighthood, and earnestly solicited his fellow-citizens to elect him member for the city of London. Both were deaf to his entreaties, and he turned from public offices to duties for which he was better qualified. He laboured almost incessantly, sometimes in works of pure benevolence, and at others as corrector of the press, and seldom allowed himself more than four or five hours for sleep. In 1770, after paying a visit to Aberdeen, he returned to London, and took lodgings at Islington, where he died November the first. In private life Mr. Cruden was courteous and affable, ready to assist all that came within his reach, as well with his money as with his advice, and most zealous in serving the distressed. One of his boldest efforts of this kind was in the case of Richard Potter, a poor ignorant sailor, who was condemned at the Old Bailey for uttering a forged seaman’s will, and who, in Mr. Cruden’s opinion, was so justly an object of the royal clemency, that he never ceased his applications to the secretary of state until he had obtained a pardon. The following year, 1763, he published a very interesting account of this affair, under the title of “The History of Richard Potter,” 8vo. His other publications were, “An Account of the History and Excellency of the Scriptures,” prefixed to a “Compendium of the Holy Bible,” 24-mo; and “A Scripture Dictionary, or Guide to the Holy Scriptures,Aberdeen, 2 vols. 8vo; printed a short time after his death. He also compiled that very elaborate Index which belongs to bishop Newton’s edition of Milton, an undertaking inferior only to that of his “Concordance,” and which he undertook at the request of auditor Benson. Of his Concordance an edition was published in 1810, which may be justly pronounced the most correct that has appeared since the | author’s time, every word with its references having been most carefully examined by Mr. Deodatus Bye, formerly a respectable printer in St. John’s gate, who voluntarily employed some years in this arduous task, for which he is richly entitled to the thanks of the public. 1


Life of Craden prefixed to his Concordance, edit. 1810, and originally written for the Biog. Brit, by the editor of this Dictionary.