CRICHTON, kri'ton, JAMES (1560-c.85), called THE ADMIRABLE CRICHTON. A Scotch man famous for his versatility and his universal ac complishments. He was the son of Crich ton, of Eliock, Dumfriesshire, who was joint Lord Advocate of Scotland from 1562 to 1573, and from 1573 to 1581. Ou his mother's side he claimed descent from the old Scottish kings. Be was educated at Saint Andrews University. Be fore he reached his twentieth year he had, it seems, "run through the whole circle of the sciences," mastered ten different languages, and perfected himself in every knightly accomplishment. In Paris, Rome, Venice, Padua, and Mantua, lie achieved the most extraordinary victories in dis putation on all branches of human knowledge, and excited universal amazement and applause. The beauty of his person and the elegance of his manners also made him a great favorite; while, as if to leave no excellence unattained, he van quished a famous swordsman in a duel at Man tua (1582). The Duke of :Mantua appointed him preceptor to his son, Vincenzo di Gonzaga, a dissolute and profligate youth. One night, be
tween 1585 and 1591, during a carnival, Crichton was attacked in the streets of Mantua by six masked men. He pushed them so hard that their leader pulled off his mask, and dis closed the features of Vincenzo. With an excess of loyalty, Crichton threw himself upon his knees and begged the young prince's pardon, at the same time presenting him with his sword, which the heartless youth plunged into the body of his tutor. What degree of truth there may be in the eulogies of his biographers it is impossible to determine, but he is known to have associated himself with the Venetian publisher Aldus Manutius, who is the authority for many other wise unauthenticated biographical details. W. H. Ainsworth wrote a romance founded on the story of Crichton in 1837. Consult Tytler, The Life of James Crichton (London, 1S19; revised ed. 1823).