The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XII. The Romantic Revival.

XI. Lesser Novelists

§ 6. George Croly

Though the fiction of George Croly deals but little with the supernatural, it has, on one side, a distinct affinity with the novel of terror. The principal aim of his chief novel, Salathiel (1829), is to overwhelm the reader with monstrous visions of terror and dismay. The theme of the story is the destruction of Jerusalem by Romans under Titus; and here, as in Marston (1846), a romance of the French revolution and the subsequent European warfare, Croly touches, on another side, the historical novelists. But he has not more affinity with Scott than with Mrs. Radcliffe. His models are two: Byron, from whom he takes the character of his heroes, persons who do terrific deeds and seldom cease complaining of their dark and tragic fate; and De Quincey, on whom he modelled his prose. Often turgid, often extravagant, often vulgar in its display, like that of his exemplar, Croly’s prose not seldom succeeds in impressing the reader by its weight and volume; and he had a large vision of his subject. A dash of humour might have made him a great novelist. Yet it will remain strange that anyone writing historical romances in the heyday of the fame of Walter Scott could write so wholly unlike Scott as did Croly. The difference between them was due partly to a sturdy and pugnacious independence in Croly of which there is much further evidence in his life and writings.