Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 12.djvu/449

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

and James Gibson (his original name) not be even tried.’

Craig was soon recognised as the natural leader of the Scotch whigs, and in Scotland no one bore so great a part in the struggles of the pre-reform era. His personal appearance harmonised with the mental qualities by which he impressed himself on his contemporaries. A giant frame and massive features were the complement of a courageous, enthusiastic, and energetic nature. It was remarked of him that the very tramp of his top boots seemed to inspire confidence and the hope that springs from resolute exertion. When public discussion was necessary he generally avoided all prominent positions: he was content by previous management to insure that the practical outcome was to the purpose. All the needy patriots in Scotland resorted to him; he helped them alike with money and personal influence. Craig and Jeffrey, though staunch friends and colleagues, had their differences; Jeffrey did not always sympathise with Craig's zeal, and Cockburn records that he had not infrequently, especially when lord advocate, to check his ‘interference.’ Craig was, indeed, somewhat wilful and fond of his own way, though his wilfulness was tempered by sound judgment.

He was one of the victims of the scurrilous ‘Beacon’ newspaper, whose quarrels, taken up by the ‘Sentinel,’ led to the fatal duel between James Stuart and Sir Alexander Boswell [see Boswell, Sir Alexander]. Shortly before this event, on the discovery of the prominent members of the tory party who had provided funds for the ‘Beacon,’ Stuart opened a plainly hostile correspondence with the lord advocate, and this Craig followed by a communication of a similar character to Sir Walter Scott. A duel in the latter case was only prevented by Scott's friends, who came forward with ‘a proposal that this and all similar calls should be abandoned on an assurance that Scott had no personal accession to any of the articles complained of, and that the paper should be discontinued’ (Cockburn, Memorials). Nine years later (1830) Craig is found in a more gratifying relation to Scott by taking a leading part in restoring to him, after his bankruptcy, his library furniture and other personal possessions at Abbotsford.

After the passing of the first Reform Bill Craig's political activity abated. The government of Lord Grey made him (1831) a baronet—the only reward he ever received for his services. During the remainder of his life his public appearances were infrequent, and some of the questions that prompted his intervention were local, though involving important principles. He thus found occasion to maintain with equal tenacity the claims of protestant dissenters and Roman catholics to all the privileges and honours of citizenship. In the controversy which ended in the disruption of the church of Scotland in 1843 he separated himself from his political friends, not on the original question (the appointment of ministers contrary to the wishes of congregations), but because he thought the ‘spiritual independence’ claimed by the free church party a danger to the state. He died at Riccarton on 6 March 1850, in his eighty-fifth year. His sons William and James are separately noticed.

[Scotsman, 9 March 1850; Encyclop. Brit. 8th ed. vii.; Cockburn's Life of Jeffrey, i. 250–2; Cockburn's Memorials of his Time, pp. 381–3; Lockhart's Life of Scott, chap. lxxix.; Allen's Inquiry into the Rise and Growth of the Royal Prerogative in England, 1849 (biographical sketch prefixed to).]

J. M. S.

CRAIG, Sir JAMES HENRY (1748–1812), general, was the son of Hew Craig, for many years civil judge at Gibraltar and judge-advocate-general to the forces stationed there, who was a member of the family of the Craigs of Costarton and Dalnair. He did not enter the army as a private in the guards, as has been falsely asserted, but was gazetted to an ensigncy in the 30th regiment at the age of fifteen, on 1 June 1763. This regiment was then stationed at Gibraltar, but Craig was allowed to go on leave to complete his military education, which he did in the best military schools on the continent. On returning to Gibraltar he was appointed aide-de-camp to General Sir Robert Boyd, K.B., the lieutenant-governor of the fortress, and was promoted lieutenant in his own regiment on 19 July 1769, and captain into the 47th on 14 March 1771. He resigned his staff appointment in 1774 to accompany his regiment to America, and was severely wounded in his first action, the battle of Bunker's Hill. In 1776 the 47th was transferred to Canada, and Craig commanded his company in the action of the Trois Rivières and the advanced guard of the English army in the expulsion of the American troops after their failure before Quebec. In 1777 he was present at the capture of Ticonderoga and of Hutchestown, where he was again wounded, as he was in the action at Freeman's Farm, and he distinguished himself so much in the early part of Burgoyne's advance upon Saratoga, that the general sent him home with the despatches announcing his early successes. For this news he was promoted