LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life and Letters of John Gibson Lockhart
Chapter 10: 1821-24

Vol. I. Preface
Vol. I Contents.
Chapter 1: 1794-1808
Chapter 2: 1808-13
Chapter 3: 1813-15
Chapter 4: 1815-17
Chapter 5: 1817-18
Chapter 6: 1817-19
Chapter 7: 1818-20
Chapter 8: 1819-20
Chapter 9: 1820-21
‣ Chapter 10: 1821-24
Chapter 11: 1817-24
Chapter 12: 1821-25
Chapter 13: 1826
Vol. II Contents
Chapter 14: 1826-32
Chapter 15: 1828-32
Chapter 16: 1832-36
Chapter 17: 1837-39
Chapter 18: 1837-43
Chapter 19: 1828-48
Chapter 20: 1826-52
Chapter 21: 1842-50
Chapter 22: 1850-53
Chapter 23: 1853-54
Chapter 24: Conclusion
Vol. II Index
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CHIEFSWOOD, 1821-1824
Life at Chiefswood.—Border Scenes.—“Valerius.”—Criticism of the book.—Its failure.—Letter to Christie.—Hogg, Rose, and wild-ducks.—Lockhart’s love of children.—Hugh Littlejohn.—Boswell slain by Dunearn.—“Adam Blair.”—Origin of the tale.—Criticism.—“Adam Blair” and “Faublas!”—George IV. in Edinburgh.—Scott’s energy.—Crabbe.—Crabbe on Lockhart.—Lockhart on Crabbe.—Abbotsford.—Lockhart edits “Don Quixote.”—Begins an edition of Shakespeare.—Melrose in July 1823.—“Leal Tories.”—“Reginald Dalton.”—Letters from Christie.—Christie on Hunt and Byron.—Report of Williams’s death.—“Quentin Durward” unpopular.

The uneventful life of a man of letters is seldom, happily, interrupted by striking personal incidents. Whether in Edinburgh or at Chiefswood, Lockhart’s literary industry must now have been mainly given to reading for, and writing, his Roman novel, “Valerius.” These were the days of The Beacon, a Tory Edinburgh paper of violent character and of huddled-up, discreditable end. Concerning this journal, I find a correspondent, Sir Alexander Boswell, informing Sir Walter that it was “too much of a gentleman’s paper!” Lockhart has given his account of Sir Walter’s conduct, in what Scott
himself calls “a blasted business;” Lockhart,1 fortunately, was not one of the “young hot-bloods” concerned with the journal.

The death of John Ballantyne occurred in June, and Lockhart has recorded how he himself attended the funeral, and was told by Scott, “I feel as if there would be less sunshine for me from this day forth.” There were summer visits to Chiefswood, where “Sophia is getting stout and pretty, and is one of the wisest and most important little mammas that can be seen anywhere. Her bower is bigged in gude green wood, and we went last Saturday in a body to enjoy it, and to consult about furniture,” Scott says to Miss Baillie.2 Creepers from the old cottage at Abbotsford, were planted by Scott’s own hands round the little porch at Chiefswood. Lockhart has described, in a familiar passage, the manner of life in that “bower,” and Scott’s occasional flight thither, on Sibyl Grey, with Mustard and Spice, the dandies, and “his own joyous shout of reveille under our windows.” The cottage being so small, they often dined in the open air, on the lawn where the burn murmurs on its way from the Rhymer’s Glen to pay its tiny tribute to “the great fisc and exchequer” of the Tweed. Among these memories it is that Lockhart, for one moment half forgetful of his cognisance, gives his heart its liberty, and speaks of “the chief ornament and delight at all

1Life,” vi. 426, 430.

2 June 11, 1821. “Life,” vi. 337.

these simple meetings,—she to whose love I owed my own place in them—Scott’s eldest daughter, the one of all his children who, in countenance, mind, and manners, most resembled himself, and who, indeed, was as like him in all things as a gentle innocent woman can ever be to a great man deeply tried and skilled in the perplexities of active life—she, too, is no more (1837). But enough—and more than I had intended.”

The Pirate” was being written, and Scott’s dear friend, William Erskine, would read chapters of it aloud, under the great tree on the slope that climbs towards the Rhymer’s Glen. Scott was even more than commonly busy; editing a quaint old angling book by one who thought poorly of our father Izaak as a sportsman,—and amusing himself with the “Private Letters” of the reign of James VI., afterwards abandoned for “Nigel.” As for Lockhart’s lighter labours, since the names of Wastle and Peter Morris were now abandoned, I renounce the ungrateful and practically impossible task of trying to follow him through the old numbers of Blackwood.

In summer Mr. Christie’s health was so bad that he expected, as he says, “soon to know the great secret,” a quotation from a person then very notorious. His native air restored him, and in September he accepted an invitation to Chiefswood. Traill also was expected. “We have room enough in a very humble sort,” Lockhart wrote, “so I trust you
will bring your brother along with you also. . . .
Sir Walter is always inquiring for you, and desiring to be remembered. It is worth while to travel some miles, I assure you, to see the Minstrel in his glory. . . . My wife has got a donkey-cart, in which she will drive you in great style.” Meanwhile, Williams (who was tutor to Charles Scott in Wales) had been married, and was reported to be flourishing greatly. Mrs. Lockhart, according to Sir Walter (August 7, 1821), was “ordering old Cocka-Pistol” (the gardener) about, and directing all things “with the solemn fuss of an old managing dowager.”1

At about this time, Sir Walter returned the proof sheets of “Valerius” to Lockhart. “They are most classical and interesting at the same time, and cannot but produce a very deep sensation. I am quite delighted with the reality of your Romans.”2

The “sensation” produced by “Valerius” was not wide, whether it was deep or not, and the “reality” of the Romans probably was not in their favour. No novel of classical times, except “Hypatia,” has ever been popular, and “Hypatia” (as Mr. Saintsbury observes) “makes its interests and its personages daringly modern.”3

Valerius,” on the other hand, reads like a

1 Cock-a-Pistol was so called from his cottage, on the site of the last great clan battle of the Border.

2Letters,” ii. 125.

3The Last Days of Pompeii” is another exception.

translation from the Latin, as it purports to be, an admirable translation, but remote in style from all that the novel-reader knows and likes. In
Sir Walter’s own novels, the historical characters, when they do not speak Scots, or converse in a kind of conventional lingua franca of mediævalism, discourse in the style of Sir Walter’s own period. But a mind like Lockhart’s was almost certain to aim at a manner not too distant from that of the Latin classics. In fact, as one reads “Valerius,” one is always turning it into Latin prose!

The story tells how the son of a Roman officer and a British bride leaves the paternal villa in Albion, and visits Rome. He sups with a patrician, who says, “You would observe the palm-branches at my door. They were won to-day by a five hours’ harangue before the Centumviri.” Now the Centumviri (according to the Dictionary) were a bench of judges who decided in civil suits. The novel-reader does not care to pursue his studies in fiction with the aid of a Latin Dictionary. “Local colour” does not excite him, when it is borrowed from Horace, Juvenal, Tacitus, and Petronius Arbiter. A Stoic, who is present at the supper, accidentally strikes the corner of the table with his knee, “which elicited from his stubborn features a sudden contortion.” It must, indeed, have been pleasant to watch a professional Stoic, when suddenly obliged to recognise that “whatsoever is agreeable to the universe,”—as a knock on the knee-pan and the
resulting sensation—may be highly disagreeable to a philosophic citizen of the universe. But, in a romance of classic times, the novel-reader is constantly thrown out by want of knowledge,—Pour entendre il fallait avoir cette lumière—and the more learned the romance the less is the novel-reader entertained. The slave of old Roman comedy, and his amorous young master, reappear in “
Valerius,” but, if they now enliven only a few readers in Plautus, in a modern work of fiction their chance of success is slight indeed. The pleaders in the Forum may be Jeffreys and Cranstouns in togas, but the long sermon of an Epicurean philosopher in an arbour, has no merit beyond resembling the long sermons of Epicurean and other philosophers. They are fatiguing in Plutarch’s essays, and in a novel they fatigue, though they are needed as a contrast to the early Christian views of the heroine.

Once interested in her, and by the gallant bearing of a condemned Christian, the hero has no heart for the gladiatorial sports of the arena, where the ladies eat comfits above the butchery, and the philosophers perorate and quote Greek, and the early Christian dies for his creed, after delivering an address of considerable length.

The many pictures of Roman life which follow are, in essence, correct, but somewhat cold and far away. Though the book was hardly “damned,” as Lockhart briefly expresses it, still, he had not
wholly succeeded, where, practically, every one has failed. He does not lend to his hero the psychological interest, so rare and to many minds so winning, of
Mr. Pater’sMarius the Epicurean.” The book is faultlessly written, but to say that of a novel is equivalent to confessing a succès d’estime.1

Lockhart took his literary fortunes lightly. Here is his letter to Christie on “Valerius,” and other matters:—

My dear Christie,—My brother William has just left us after spending a couple of days, and telling us all the grand story of the coronation. He vexed me a great deal by saying that you are still looking but poorishly, but rejoiced me by his confirmation of your intended Scottish trip twice, because I think that will inevitably do you much good, and because I am sure it will do me much good to see you, of which pleasure I hope it is not possible I am to be deprived, if you do turn your nose northwards. Is it quite fixed that Mrs. Christie can’t come with you? Might she not venture in the steamboat at least thus far? I mean to Edinburgh?—for the journey from thence to this retirement is but a bagatelle. If she and the bairns could, I need not say how happy it would make Sophia and myself. At all events,

1 Mr. Hayward, in later years, told Lockhart that “Valerius” was used as a handbook at Harvard College in America. A sagacious reviewer described it as “a religious tale by an American.”

you will come. If you come hither first, I will, I think, contrive some very nice trips for you, and I shan’t care how far north I go with you afterwards. Within very easy rides of this are Yarrow, Ettrick, Hermitage Castle, Hume Castle—I know not how many fields of battle, clannish and royal. Even my gardener derives his title of ‘Cock-a-Pistol’ from having his cottage on the place where a certain knight of Buccleuch, or Cessford, was slain. The field in front of the house is ‘Charge-law.’ In short, ’tis all haunted or holy ground. Melrose is within half a mile, Dryburgh four miles off, Jedburgh fourteen. I am sure you could spend days here very tolerably, and sheep’s head and whisky toddy would cut short the evenings.
Sir Walter says he won’t allow me to have you all the while, but we shall not fight about that matter, for he is but two or three miles off. Won’t Traill and you come together? William tells me he gave you a copy of ‘Valerius’ and abuses me for not having sent one myself. I put one up to be carried (with a letter for you, and a baby’s cap from Sophia for Mrs. Christie’s last gift) by Robert Buchanan—shortly after the book was published. But Buchanan sent back the parcel, being obliged to defer his journey to London till some time after. In the meantime I had gone into the country, and the book had been damned, so you will pardon me for not being very anxious to find another method of conveyance. William says Theodore Hook men-
tioned my being the writer. This must have been some guess of
Croker’s, for (unless Blackwood played false) nobody could know but Sir Walter Scott and my brothers. All this is non tanti. I had quite forgot the book, and all that to it pertained, until William revived my recollection. At least, I was trying as much as possible to forget it and the disappointment I had met with, part of which (but this may be the merest vanity) I cannot help attributing to the frigidity of my publisher.

Mr. W. S. Rose is at Abbotsford. I am going up the water of Yarrow with him to-morrow to see Hogg and the wild-ducks (for Rose is a great sportsman for a palsied man, to say nothing of a poetaster); as for myself, of course I have merely an eye to the hodge-podge and the absurdity of such a juxtaposition as the most sensitive of bels esprits, and the roughest of all possible diamonds. If I had thought there was any possibility of seeing the coronation, I would have come up, but without question there will be more of them in our day. The Queen is, I suppose, at Edinburgh by this time. I suppose the Jeffreys will, for Brougham’s sake, make a slight attempt, but on the whole I believe this part of the country was never in better humour.—Yours, most affectionately,

J. G. Lockhart.”

Young authors are apt to attribute their disappointments to “the frigidity of the publisher,”
and perhaps
Mr. Blackwood was not warmly in love with “Valerius.” Lockhart, none the less, appears to have held to his belief in the possibility of the classical novel.1

Lockhart had consolations enough, if “Valerius” did not rival the success of his father-in-law’s romances. Probably about this time Mr. Christie had an opportunity of observing a taste of his which he shared with that Prince whose memory he drank to at Oxford on St. Andrew’s Day. “The love of children,” says Mr. Christie, “was stronger in Lockhart than I have ever known it in any other man,—it was womanly love. He delighted to dandle and play with an infant in arms,” like his own Hugh Littlejohn. “It was an early characteristic of his, and he never lost it. A little girl of four or five years of age, the child of one of the college servants, used to be his companion in his rooms for hours at a time. . . . I never saw so happy a father as he was, while dancing his firstborn child in his arms. His first sorrow in life was the breaking of the health and ultimate death of this child.”3

Indeed he had known other sorrows, the estrangement with Sir William Hamilton, the poignant distress of a few months before. But through the ill-health and the deaths of those nearest to him came “that expression of deep melancholy which

1 See the Quarterly Review, lxvii. p. 352.

2 Quarterly Review, vol. cxvi.

not unfrequently overspread his face, and in his later years habitually settled there.”1

The days, however, had not yet come when he should say, “There is no pleasure in them.” There was coursing, and the Abbotsford Hunt, and leistering of salmon by torchlight (a picturesque pastime not then illegal); and he writes to his brother Lawrence, “I have been making myself something of a woodman, earning my dinner by the axe.” Nor did he despise the dinner when earned, bidding his brother “put his hand in the best binn,” at Germiestoun. He adds some practical lessons in woodcraft, learned from Sir Walter, who had great pleasure in forestry.

These years (1821-1825) were presumably happy, for they have scarce any history. Lockhart’s letters at this date are not many, or few have been preserved. We hear that the baby is “twice the weight he was,” and other items of domestic intelligence, not more surprising. Letters to Lockhart’s parents contain only reports of his family’s health, expressions of affection, and repeated invitations to Chiefswood. Like all Scottish homes, it was very elastic, and could hold a surprising number of guests. About Hugh Littlejohn we hear that he is already a distinguished creeper, but that his ambition has not soared to walking. He is content to go on all fours, imitating the dogs, of which there are so many about the place.

1 Mr. Christie, in the Quarterly Review, vol. cxvi. p. 448.


On February 13, 1822, Lockhart writes to a relation who was aiming at some appointment unnamed. Sir Walter would do nothing, some application of a similar sort lately made by him had been unsuccessful. “I wish you were as independent of favours as I make myself, but cheer up and hope the best,” says Lockhart. It may be gathered from his letter that attempts had lately been made in his own favour, and not with fortunate results. The reason given for not gratifying him with a legal appointment was, that he rarely appeared in the courts. He had not the gift of speaking in public, and till he distinguished himself professionally, professional rewards could not come in his way. Such, at least, was the verdict of the givers of patronage.

In the waste places of the innumerable letters to Sir Walter, letters from English folk and foreign, from poetasters, peers, beggars, and bores of every species known to science,—the bore who wants information, the bore who sends information that is not wanted, the bore who encloses poetry, the bore who “will be frank, and tell his private history”—there is, in 1822, but one letter from Lockhart. It speaks of the death of Sir Alexander Boswell, in a duel with Mr. Stuart of Dunearn. This arose from some ballads written by Sir Alexander in a Glasgow Tory paper, the Sentinel. He had dined at Scott’s in Castle Street; “the evening was, I think, the gayest I ever spent there,” Charles Matthews and
Boswell being full of jest and song. “It turned out that he had joined the party whom he thus delighted, immediately after completing the last arrangements for his duel.” Several of the circumstances of the combat are “exactly reproduced in the duel scene in ‘
St. Ronan’s Well.’” Lockhart’s letter (dealing solely with matters no longer of interest) ends by thanks for Scott’s counsel, which had kept him and Wilson out of these newspaper wars. Scott says as much in a letter of September 30, 1821, to Archibald Constable. “I expect daily to hear that some one is killed. The Scotsman and Review have much to answer for. I have kept Lockhart out of the scrape, in which some of the young men are knee-deep.” The sins of the Tory papers are remembered, those of the Whig journals, (if Scott is right) are forgotten.

In February 1822, we get the first hint of Lockhart’s best novel, “Adam Blair,” in a note to his brother Lawrence. “By-the-bye, you must know that I have since I was with you converted a story the doctor told us after dinner one day, into a very elegant little volume, under the name of ‘Some Passages in the Life of Mr. Adam Blair.’ You will receive a copy one of these days. I am afraid the doctor may disapprove of some things: so take care you warn him to hold his tongue, i.e., in case he suspects me (which he will do). I took it to Ebony when it was done, and he thought so highly of it that he offered me £300 at present, and £200 more
on the second edition for the copyright. This I accepted modestly.”

Some Passages in the Life of Mr. Adam Blair, Minister of the Gospel at Cross-Meikle” (in the middle ward of Lanarkshire), is certainly by far the best of Lockhart’s four novels. Unlike “Valerius,” which demands an effort, it may still be read with pleasure, and even with that excited curiosity which only a good story can arouse. It has been said, by a friendly critic, that Lockhart had all the gifts necessary for a novelist, except the gift of novel-writing. The verdict on this point must, of course, vary pro captu lectoris. To myself the characters appear to be living, and powerfully drawn, while the incidents more than once, even amidst a certain exaggeration, prove a real genius for romance. The Edinburgh Review (October 1824) criticised “Valerius,” and “Adam Blair,” with six of Galt’s works, and two of Wilson’s, as “Secondary Scottish Novels.” The Edinburgh had no reason to love books published by the Blackwoodians, and its notice was not enthusiastic. “They are pathetic, for the most part, by the common recipes, which will enable any one almost to draw tears who will condescend to employ them.” Lockhart, of all men and writers, is perhaps least liable to the charge of “wallowing naked in the pathetic,” as a great novelist freely expresses himself. “They are mighty religious, too, but . . . their devotional orthodoxies seem to tend, now and then, a little towards cant.” This
accusation, again, does not strike Lockhart. In all his works, from “
Peter’s Letters” to the “Life of Burns,” and thence to his Quarterly articles, and his great Biography, Lockhart shows how unaffectedly he was impressed by the high, bare, austere, and heartfelt devotion of the old Scottish type. As Scott arranged a grassy walk and rural seat that he might be within hearing of “Pate’s evening hymn,” so, by all the traditions of early training and family legend, Lockhart was earnestly attached to a religion which makes little appeal to taste, and rejects every allurement of art.

In Lockhart, as a man of letters, nothing is more remarkable than his universal ability. Except his éreintements of contemporaries (and for these I confess the utmost antipathy), he did nothing which he did not do well. His criticism of classical writers in any language is warm with sympathy, acute with appreciation, and excellent, at times nobly eloquent, in style. His verse is, on occasion, nothing less than masterly, and of Biography, on any scale, he is a confessed master. It may, therefore, be worth while to point out that, in fiction too, his gifts were far indeed from commonplace, far from imitative: that he could feel with passion, and communicate what he felt with power.

The story of Adam Blair opens with the waning happiness of his married life. He has already lost several children, one little girl only surviving, and he loses his wife. His emotion, in the chamber of
death, the contrast of the beautiful and cheerful scene viewed from the windows, and his one violent struggle in the lonely wood by midnight, where, as it were, he meets Apollyon, and fights for the very life of his faith, all these things are described with astonishing force and delicacy. The author’s purpose is to show, beneath the black coat and Geneva bands, and the subsequent self-mastery of Adam Blair, a nature capable of sudden, violent, and overwhelming passion. The funeral, its cold naked formalities, the affection of the old elder, John Maxwell, the sympathy of that truly Scottish character, the dry, sarcastic, tender-hearted Dr. Muir, the silent kindness of the parishioners, form excellent foils to the night of spiritual conflict, and are remote from exaggeration of effect. The bereaved and desolate life of the young minister, and the gradual re-entrance into it of ordinary things and social pleasures beneath the hospitable roof of Semplehaugh, are depicted with a perfect naturalness.

One sentence is sadly prophetic. “From time to time, indeed, Mr. Blair betrayed in his manner something of that abstraction of thought with which those who have ever had misery seated at the root of their heart are acquainted, and the appearance of which furnishes at times so much amusement to the thoughtless people of the world.”

These words do but anticipate Mr. Christie’s description of the “deep melancholy” which, in
later years, was wont to steal over their author’s face.

Nothing can be better, in its way, than the portrait of the kind Mrs. Semple of Semplehaugh, with her truly Scottish hospitality. When she leaves the country for Edinburgh, the cloud falls again on the minister, and is broken by a visit thrust on the recluse by a lady who had once been ready enough to fall in love with him, and who had been the most intimate friend of his wife. Lockhart draws a “woman with a history,”—she has made a foolish marriage, has been deserted, has got (like Hazlitt) an easy Scottish divorce, has married “one of that numerous division of the human species which may be shortly and accurately described as answering to the name of Captain Campbell.” This typical Captain leaves the Dutch service, buys a lonely chateau on Loch Fyne, wearies of it, returns to Holland, and his wife, as a “grass widow,” settles herself in the manse of Cross-Meikle.

A woman sinned against, and, probably, sinning, Charlotte Campbell is affectionate, winning, passionate, and beautiful, a brebis égarée to be reclaimed, and Mr. Blair reclaims her. The process has its perils, and, indeed, it seems unlikely that, about 1770, any parochial society would have permitted the situation, the fair lady dwelling with the widowed minister. But even Mrs. Semple, who wishes the minister to marry the pretty daughter of Dr. Muir,
makes no objection to the very unconventional arrangement, nor does the
Edinburgh Reviewer mark the blot.

After a not quite plausible scene, in which Charlotte rescues the minister and his child from the river at Semplehaugh, and he, half unconsciously, kisses both of them, the pair, “quite safe, but very wet,” have to dress in clothes from the Semplehaugh wardrobes. The minister, a handsome figure, is brave in brown kerseymere, with a very slight edging of silver, and a rich lace cravat, instead of a linen stock, while the lady seems another woman, “in pale green satin, wrought over with silken fleurs de lis of the same colour,” and with a veil of lace over her wet black hair. So attired they are driven home, after dinner, where they sit in the warm evening, beneath an old thorn tree on the lawn, heavy with fragrance of the blossom. Thus each looks on the other, in their changed aspect, and after their hour of violent emotion, with new eyes, and in this scene there is, undoubtedly, the essence of what we call romance. Next morning an emissary from Captain Campbell carries away Charlotte to the chateau of Uigness. The minister leaves home, apparently with the purpose of seeing this emissary, a brutal person, in Edinburgh, and rebutting his calumnies. But “a spirit in his feet” leads him straight to the mouth of Clyde; he charters a boat for Loch Fyne, and is landed at Uigness, Captain Campbell’s castle. In this second con-
flict of a wildly passionate nature, Apollyon prevails. The minister is only too kindly welcomed: awakes to a frenzy of remorse, is smitten with a fever, and when aroused to life, hears a lament played on the pipes. Charlotte, who has died of the same fever, caught in nursing him, is being borne down to the loch to her rest in a Holy Isle.

The rest of the story, except for the conduct of Captain Campbell (unexpectedly honourable) deals with the minister’s confession, repentance, and final restoration to his parish, a man untimely old and white-haired.1

Such, in rude outline, is the story of “Adam Blair.” It has a faint analogy with Hawthorne’sScarlet Letter” (of course a later work), but is distinctly uninfluenced, in any degree, by the Waverley Novels. A brief tale, of times practically modern, with a moral and psychological situation for its pivot, with no happy humour, with no chivalrous deeds, is as unlike Sir Walter’s glowing romances as any work can be. The characters of Adam and Charlotte, of Dr. Muir and John Maxwell, and the rough, yet finally forgiving and equitable Captain Campbell, are all excellent and veracious. The passion and the pity of this “true story,” and the clear fervent language, give an interest which changes of taste and manner have

1 An objection was taken to this restoration as impossible, but a precedent of 1748 was produced!

not yet had power to destroy. In truth, far from relying on Scott and the past, the spirit and sense of “Adam Blair” tend onwards into the future, and to more modern developments of the art of fiction.

On March 20, 1822, Lockhart writes to Christie (the last letter preserved, except a few very many years later), asking him to Chiefswood. “Would to God we could see Mrs. Christie and the bairns here with you.” He himself, having legal business at Inverary, means to ride thither “for health’s sake.” Traill is reported to be flourishing at York.

“‘Adam Blair,’ which I am glad you liked, and which I wish had been more worthy your liking, has created a good deal of rumpus, and some of the low cattle here1 are saying, and printing, that it is fit for the same shelf with ‘Faublas,’” and another book unmentionable. “If it be immoral I did not write it with an immoral intention, or in a culpable spirit, but quite the reverse. The story is a true, and, I think, a tragic and moral one, and old Henry Mackenzie, on one side, and Sir Harry Moncreiff on the other, laud it highly. The former has sent Ebony a review of it, which I hope he will insert. . . . No new romance or drama can escape the old boy. I wish you were in Edinburgh, that I might have the pleasure of showing you the Ultimus Romanorum. He is, in conversation, very unlike what his books would lead one to expect, a most brilliant

1 Probably the Stot is alluded to.

story-teller—keen, sarcastic, witty, anything but a sentimentalist. I am sorry to add, his health begins to droop of late.
Scott is at Abbotsford. My wife and boy go thither when I go to the West country for a few weeks.”

That “Adam Blair” should have been ranked with “Faublas” shows the length to which party spirit was ready to go. But, as the proverb saith, “people who play at bowls must look for rubs,” and Lockhart had indulged freely in that pastime. He does not seem to have valued at a plack the abuse of his critics; indeed, his own indifference to such attacks was an element in his readiness to assail others.

In July and August 1822, Lockhart was a spectator, obviously an amused and critical spectator, of the visit paid by George IV. to Edinburgh. “The King is coming to Scotland at the end of next month,” he writes, in an undated note about buying horses, to his brother Lawrence, “and the Minstrel’s aid is wanted to arrange things for his reception, and I suppose everything will be done to make Holyrood as splendid as possible.” He calls these splendours “a grand terryfication of the Holyrood chapters in ‘Waverley;’ George IV., anno ætatis LX., being well content to enact Prince Charlie, with the Great Unknown for his Baron Bradwardine.” But, though he cannot restrain a smile at the stout Hanoverian masquerading with Sir William Curtis in the Stuart tartans, while Sir Walter appeared in
the sombre Campbell colours (his great-grandmother having been a Campbell), in no part of his work does Lockhart show a more loyal admiration of Scott, and of his powers in managing men. He had to compose the differences of the Highland chiefs, which, at least in
Glengarry, were as keen and bellicose as ever. He had to direct and organise everything, and to pass, from feasts and revels, to the deathbed of William Erskine, Lord Kinnedder, who was dying of a cruel and undeserved wound to his personal honour. Meanwhile Mr. Crabbe, the poet, had arrived in Castle Street, and was much discomposed in a levy of bucklers and tempest of plaids. Lockhart seems to have been attached to Crabbe’s suit and service, when he was not obliged to play his own part, in a review of yeomanry. Lockhart could not “live in fantasy” like Scott, who seems to have been able to believe that the “auld Stuarts were come again.” He could not chant—
“To see King George at Edinburgh Cross,
With fifty thousand foot and horse,
And the right restored where the right should be—
Oh! that’s the thing that would wanton me!”
But he watched, with pride and affection, Sir Walter’s immense unconscious energy, his mastery over men. “I do not think that he had much in common with the statesmen and diplomats of his own age and country; but I am mistaken
if Scott could not have played in other days either the
Cecil or the Gondomar; and I believe no man, after long and intimate knowledge of any other great poet, has ever ventured to say, that he could have conceived the possibility of any such parts being adequately filled on the active stage of the world, by a person in whom the powers of fancy and imagination had such predominant sway, as to make him in fact live three or four lives habitually in place of one. . . . Compared to him, all the rest of the poet species that I have chanced to observe nearly—with but one glorious exception—have seemed to me to do little more than sleep through their lives, and at best to fill the sum with dreams;” and he is persuaded that Scott’s peers can only be found “in the roll of great sovereigns and great captains, rather than in that of literary genius.”

Unluckily Crabbe and Scott had but one quiet walk together with Lockhart, whose charge was “the excellent old Crabbe.”1 They visited Muschat’s Cairn, renowned in “The Heart of Midlothian.” “The hour in which the fine old man gave us some most touching anecdotes of his early struggles, was a truly delightful contrast to the bustle and worry of miscellaneous society, which consumed so many of his few days in Scotland.”

Crabbe himself, after praising Sir Walter, writes, “I am disposed to think highly of his son-in-law,

1 “Letters,” ii. 147.

Mr. Lockhart—of his heart, his understanding will not be disputed by any one.” To Lockhart’s heart, that organ whose very existence has been doubted, his letter to Crabbe’s son (December 26, 1833), bears ample evidence. As far as I have observed, Lockhart’s kind respect for the aged equalled his affection for children. He speaks in the most pleasant and genial terms of a gentleman whom Mr. Blackwood and Wilson less humanely styled “The Old Driveller.” Of Crabbe he writes that, while his recollection of the Edinburgh “mummeries” is vague, “the image of your father, then first seen, but long before admired and revered in his works, remains as fresh as if the years that have passed were but so many days. His noble forehead, his bright beaming eye, without anything of old age about it—though he was then, I presume, above seventy—his sweet, and, I would say, innocent smile, and the calm mellow tones of his voice—all are reproduced the moment I open any page of his poetry; and how much better have I understood and enjoyed his poetry, since I was able thus to connect it with the living presence of the man.”1

Whoever, like Lockhart, has these tender and reverent feelings for childhood and age, for babies, and for “venerable and secluded men,” should be free from the imputation of want of heart.

In the autumn Chiefswood and Abbotsford re-

1Crabbe’s Works,” vol. i. pp. 275-279, 1834.

ceived the weary entertainers of the King, the poet, and “a’ the wild M’Craws.” They dined with the weavers at Galashiels, and the “Tividale poet,”
Thomson, really a fluent writer of Scots verse. The “plenishing” of Abbotsford was the great affair of these months, and Lockhart records his suspicion that, consequent on Scott’s fatigues, he had endured and concealed “a slight attack of apoplectic nature.”

In this year was finished and published a work on which Lockhart had been engaged in 1821, a new edition of “Don Quixote,” with notes, and translations of the Spanish Ballads alluded to in the romance. Sir Walter himself had begun this book, “but Lockhart, being a much better Spaniard, and I having never been, I gave him my materials.”1 Constable expressed his readiness to publish Lockhart’s “Don Quixote,” which appeared as “Printed for Hurst, Robinson & Co., London, and Archibald Constable & Co., Edinburgh, 1822.” On February 16 of this year, Scott writes about the book to Constable—“The notes are most curious, and I think it cannot but supersede every other; besides, Lockhart will blaze one day; of that, if God spare him, there can be little doubt. It is good to have an early interest in a rising author.”

Lockhart (who did not put his name on the title-page) added a Life of Cervantes. He made but

1 Scott to Constable, September 30, 1821. “Archibald Constable,” iii. 158.

few literary criticisms. “I refer to the Editor of the Spanish Academy’s Edition all those who are unwilling to admire anything without knowing why they admire it.” The Don “is the symbol of Imagination, continually struggling and contrasting with Reality—he represents the eternal war between Enthusiasm and Necessity—the eternal discrepancy between the aspirations and the occupations of man, the omnipotence and the vanity of human dreams.” Cervantes wrote, not to ridicule “the old and stately prose romances of chivalry,—which are among the most interesting relics of the rich, fanciful, and lofty genius of the Middle Ages,—but to extirpate the race of slavish imitators. . . .”

Lockhart incidentally remarks, that “nobody has ever written successful novels when young, but Smollett,” forgetting, among others, Miss Burney, and not informed, perhaps, about Miss Austen. He adopts Motteux’s translation as “the most spirited,” for the modern reader might shrink from “the obsolete turns of phraseology” of Shelton. The notes are very copious, but, necessarily, in part superseded by modern knowledge of ancient Celtic sources, and of the Chansons de Geste.

I fancy that this edition met with scant success, and a Shakespeare, to be edited by Scott, aided by Lockhart, is said to have been sold (at least the three printed volumes) for waste paper, after the
commercial ruin of 1826.1 Scott speaks of having “my son Lockhart’s assistance for the fag,” and Lockhart, in a later letter, mentions his pleasure in his task. But I have never been able to find any trace of the three wasted volumes. The notes were to be by Lockhart (who highly approved of
Constable’s plan), the introductory volume was the charge of Sir Walter.2 The enterprise was one for which Lockhart, with his admiration of Shakespeare, and his knowledge, was well adapted, and, when all failed, he might have said, with the Man who was Crafty, “Verily my fine gold hath perished.”

The year 1823 has left no records of events in Lockhart’s life, beyond those which he casually introduces into his Biography of Scott, and the appearance of his own novel “Reginald Dalton,” and his volume of Spanish Ballads. He has told us how Will Laidlaw suggested to Scott a novel on “Melrose in July 1823,” as the three rode along the crest of Eildon, above the little town. He has chronicled the happy days spent during Miss Edgeworth’s visit to Abbotsford, and reported how he, with Scott, explored the ruined castles of upper Tweed, and upper Clyde, and how the Ettrick Shepherd, though verging on sixty, distinguished himself at the St. Ronan’s Games. “We were a’ leal Tories then,” said the Galashiels poet, nor would leal

Archibald Constable,” iii. 241. I am not persuaded that this statement is correct. 2 Ibid., iii. 246, 247.

Tories ever have been scarce, if there had been many lairds like Scott. What Lockhart does not tell us, Sir Walter does—“The Lockharts are now living on the smiles and babble of their single hope, which sometimes gives me uneasiness, for a failure, where a failure is so easy and probable, will make them too miserable.”1 Hogg and Lockhart were at this time on very good terms, Lockhart bringing the Shepherd to stay at Abbotsford. Hogg had, probably, a good deal to forgive, in the possible author of “O Sus, quando te aspiciam!” and other pleasantries: if so, he forgave freely. Lockhart was constant in efforts to befriend him.

Little incidents such as these alone remain out of four or five years of happiness. As to work, “Reginald Dalton” is not a success in the same sort as “Adam Blair.” Though still current at railway bookstalls, it is, on the whole, a conventional novel. The descriptions of Oxford have been already cited; for the rest, the career of Reginald, whether as a “fast,” or as a reading man, whether engaged in a duel, or adopting, in debt and repentance, a servitor’s gown, is, no doubt, exaggerated. The Scottish characters are not at all worthy of Lockhart’s skill, and the complicated intrigue is a thing which lay outside his province. He had little gift of invention, but, given a powerful moral situation, he could do it justice. In “Reginald Dalton” the piety of the relations

1Letters,” ii. 164.

between a wild lad and a father is perhaps the feature in which Lockhart’s genius may most clearly be recognised. The book had some success, and possesses more vitality than most of the novels of its day. Lockhart received £1000 for the book from
Mr. Blackwood.

A few side lights on Lockhart’s thoughts and works at this time (1823), may be gleaned from Mr. Christie’s letters to him. These have been more successfully preserved than Lockhart’s letters to Christie. On January 24, 1823, he writes from Limoges, “Among your virtues that of being a regular correspondent is not the least.” A friendship can, indeed, be kept up without frequent correspondence, but no doubt letters are rain about its roots. Christie assures Lockhart that he will “get something” by way of a legal appointment. We have seen, however, that the Scottish bestowers of loaves and fishes thought him an idle apprentice. At this moment, none the less, Christie congratulates him on “getting some business in the courts,” where, at best, he was not more successful than Sir Walter had been in his day. He moralises on the outrages committed by The Beacon, and remarks on the unsuccessful alliance of Byron and Leigh Hunt in The Liberal, which they were trying to conduct from Italy. “Byron’s talents, his rank, and that spirit of accusing, not complaining, will save him. . . . Leigh Hunt and he must make a strange couple, Byron as proud as H——, Hunt
as vain as a peacock: Byron perpetually doing or saying something to wound Leigh Hunt’s self-love. . . .” And then Christie prophesies, with much clairvoyance, the end of the connection. The men quarrelled, and Leigh Hunt, after Byron’s death, wrote the history of their alliance.

Postage and news were then very vague. Christie heard in France of “the great stir made by ‘Reginald Dalton,’” but to get the book was past hope; and he was distressed by false news of Williams’s death. “I cannot believe the thing, he was made to live eighty years, and be the first Radical Bishop.” At last, in July 1824, Christie does obtain “Reginald Dalton,” and thinks it “the most interesting novel he has read for years,” probably with a mental reservation in favour of “Quentin Durward,” which people abuse, he says, much to his, and indeed to our amazement. “Quentin Durward” was only revived by its success in France.