CRICHTON, JAMES, commonly called the Admirable,' son of Robert Crichton of Eliock, who was lord-advocate to king James VI., was born in Scotland in the year 1561. The precise place of his birth is not mentioned, but he received the best part of his education at St. Andrews, at that time the most celebrated seminary in Scotland, where the illustrious Buchanan was one of his masters. At the early age of fourteen he took his degree of Master of Arts, and was considered a prodigy not only in abilities but iu actual attaiuments. It was the custom of the time for Scotchmen of birth to finish their education abroad, and serve in some foreign army previously to entering that of their own country. When he was only sixteen or seventeen years old, Crichtou's father sent him to the contffirnt. He had scarcely arrived in Paris, which, whatever may have been its learning, was then a gay and spleudid city, fampus for jousting, fencing, and dancing, when ho publicly challenged all scholars and philosophers to a disputation at the College of Navarre, to be carried on in any one of twelve specified languages, "in any science, liberal art, discipline, or faculty, whether practical or theoretic ;" and, as if to show iu how little need he stood of preparation, or how lightly he held his adversaries, he spent the six weeks that elapsed between the challenge and the contest in a con tinue' round of tilting, hunting, and dancing. On the appointed day however he is said to have encountered all "the gravest philosophers and divines," to have acquitted himself to the astonishment of all who heard him, and to have received the public praises of the president and four of the most eminent professors. The very next dry he appeared at a tilting match in the Louvre, and carried off the ring from all his accomplished and experienced competitors. Enthusiasm was now at Re height, particularly among the ladies of the court; and from the versatility of his talents, his youth, the gracefuluess of his manners, and the beauty of his person, ho was named ' L'Admirable? After serving two years in the army of lIenri III., who was engaged
in a civil war with his Huguenot or Protestant. subjects, Crichton repaired to Italy, and repeated at Rome, In the presence of the pope and cardinal., the literary challenge and triumph that had gained him so much honour in Paris. From Rome he went to Venice, at which gay city he arrived in a depressed state of spirits. None of his Scottish biographer. are very willing to acknowledge the fact, but It appears quite certain that, spite of his noble birth and connections, he was miserably poor, and became for some time dependent on the bounty and patronage of a Venetian printer—the celebrated Aldus Manutius. After a residence of four months at Venice, where his learning, engagiug manners, and various accomplishments excited universal wonder, ea is made evident by several Italian writers who were living at the time, and whose lives of him were published, Crichton went to the neighbouring city of Padua, in the learned university of which he reaped fresh honours by Latin poetry, scholastic disputation, an exposition of the errors of Aristotle and his commentators, and (as a playful wind.up of the day's labour) a declamation upon the happiness of Ignorance. Another day was fixed for a public disputation in the palace of the Bishop of Padua, but this being prevented from taking place, gave some incredulous or envious men the opportunity of asserting that Crichton was a literary impostor, whose acquirements ware totally superficial. His reply was a public challenge—the contest, which included the Aristotelian and Platonic philosophies, and the mathematics of the time, was prolonged during three days, before an iunumerable concourse of people. His friend Aldus Manutius, who was present at what he calls "this miraculous encounter," says he proved completely victorious, and that be was honoured by such a rapture of applause as was never before heard.