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an easy game to play, and played it without shame; not even taking the trouble to hide his marked cards or to load his dice in private. In spite or in consequence of this rapacity and mendacity, Cromek was evidently of
- It appears that some effort, laudable if wholly sincere, and not condemnable if partly coloured by personal feeling, has been made to rebut the charges brought against Stothard and Cromek by the biographer of Blake. What has been written in the text is of course based upon the assumption that Mr. Gilchrist has given an account of the matter as full and as fair as it was assuredly his desire to make it. As junior counsel (so to speak) on behalf of Blake, I have followed the lead of his biographer; for me in fact nothing remained but to revise and restate, with such clearness and brevity as I could, the case as laid down by him. This, finding on the face of it nothing incoherent or incredible, I have done; whether any man can disprove it remains to be seen. Meantime we are not left to our own choice in the matter of epithets. There is but one kind of phrase that will express such things and the doers of such things. Against Stothard no grave charge has been brought; none therefore can be refuted. Any reference to subsequent doings or sufferings of his must be unspeakably irrelevant to the matter in hand. Against Cromek a sufficiently heavy indictment has been laid; one which cannot be in the least degree lightened by counter-charges of rash violence on Blake's part or blind hastiness on Mr. Gilchrist's. One thing alone can avail him in the way of whitewash. He is charged with theft; prove that he did not steal. He is charged with breach of contract; prove that his contract was never broken. He is charged with denying a commission given by him; prove that he did not deny it. For no man, it is to be feared, will now believe that Blake, sleeping or waking, forged the story of the commission or trumped up the story of the contract. That point of the defence the counsel for Cromek had best give up with all convenient speed; had better indeed not dream at all of entering upon it. Again: he is charged, as above, with adding to his apparent perfidy a superfetation of insolence, an accretion or excrescence of insult. Prove that he did not write the letter published by Mr. Cunningham in 1852. It is undoubtedly deplorable that any one now living should in any way have to suffer for the misdoings of a man, whom, were it just or even possible, one would be willing to overlook and to forget. But time is logical and equable; and this is but one among many inevitable penalties which time is certain to bring upon such wrong-doers in the end; penalties, or rather simple results of the thing done. Had this man either dealt honestly or while dealing dishonestly been but at the pains to keep clear of Walter Scott and William Blake, no writer would have had to disturb his memory. But now, however strong or sincere may be our just sense of pity for all to whom it may give pain, truth must be spoken; and the truth is that, unless the authorities cited can be utterly upset and broken down by some palpable proof in his favour, Cromek was what has been stated. Mr. Gilchrist also, in the course of his fair and lucid narrative, speaks once of "pity." Pity may be good, but proof is better. Until such proof come, the