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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Admirable Crichton

A prodigy of the Renaissance, James Crichton grew up at Clunie Castle with his father, Bishop Crichton. Dunkeld Royal School had not yet been founded so he was sent to Perth Grammar School where Latin, French, Hebrew and Greek were taught. Thus when he went to St Andrews University at the age of ten he was already proficient in these languages. He left, at 15, a Master of Arts and was admitted to share James Vi’s studies under the learned George Buchanan. In addition to scholastic attainment Crichton was also an accomplished sportsman. fencer and dancer. At the age of seventeen he challenged the learned men of Paris to a disputation ranging over the whole field of knowledge. He had a photographic memory, he had a great readiness and choice of language, and could improvise poems in Latin, Greek or French in any metre proposed. At the end of the day he was universally acclaimed as The Admirable Crichton. After 2 years in the French Army he continued his travels to Italy. Here he visited Venice, Padua and Mantua where he gained reknown as an intellectual. In Mantua he killed a man in a duel and was eventually treacherously murdered by the young Prince of Mantua. He was only 22 when he died and it is difficult to predict what his future would have been. Perhaps he had already reached the height of his achievements.

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