LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Life and Letters of John Gibson Lockhart
Chapter 11: 1817-24

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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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
EDINBURGH, 1817-1824
Lockhart’s Poems.—Spanish Ballads.—Sources.—Weak lines.—Song of the Galley.—The Wandering Knight.—Serenade.—“The Mad Banker.”—Verses on Jeffrey.—On Holyrood.—On the Stuarts.—Queen Mary.—Scott’s reference to these verses.—“Take thou the Vanguard of the Three.”—Criticism of Lockhart’s verse.—His reserve.—Reasons why he wrote little.—His comic verse.—“Captain Patten.”—The Odontist.—Trooper lyrics.—His skill in caricature.—Examples.—Fenella.—A wet day.—Charles Scott.—Miss Violet Lockhart.—A Presbytery.—A cock-fighter.—Analogy with Thackeray in verse and caricature.—Lockhart almost abandons the Art.

The work which probably made Lockhart’s name best and most widely known to the world of readers at that day, was published in 1823, his “Ancient Spanish Ballads.”1 His other writings had all been anonymous, and his novels were confused with those of Galt and Wilson.2 The Ballads were acknowledged, and obtained a wide success, above all with the young. The printed collection of old Spanish “Lieder,” mainly used by Lockhart, was that of Depping, published at Leipzig in 1817.

1 Blackwood’s.

2 On the title-page of a copy of “Adam Blair” (1822), I find the blank for author’s name filled up, in an old hand, with the words “By Professor Wilson”!

He also examined, I think, the early printed volumes, as the “Cancionero,” of Ferdinand de Castillo (1510), containing pieces reckoned antiguos at that date, after which the Spaniards frequently published specimens of their mediæval verse. The natives of the Peninsula were certainly either richer in ballads than their neighbours, or preserved more freshly their interest in their popular or semi-popular lays. Like the other peoples, French, English, and so on, the Spaniards were well contented in their folk-songs with assonance (the similarity of terminal vowel sounds), without rhyme. Following “the distinguished German antiquary,
Mr. Grimm,” Lockhart treated each stanza of four short lines as a verse of two long lines, which Grimm supposed to have been the original form. His preface is an excellent account of the development of the Spanish language, people, and character, and he especially insists on the chivalrous and honourable character of the hostility between the Moors and the native race. The collection is divided into historical ballads, Moorish ballads, and romantic ballads. I shall not attempt, for lack of the necessary qualifications, to decide on the literal accuracy of Lockhart’s versions, being content with the favourable verdict of a judge so competent as my friend Mr. David Hannay. It was my own misfortune never to see the book when I was young, and, on the other hand, to be very fond of “Bon Gaultier,” so that “Don Fernando Gomersalez” and the lay of Silas Fixings come
between me and Lockhart’s poems. Therefore I am peculiarly ill-fitted to defend such lines as these, in the first piece—
“It was a sight of pity to look on Roderick,
For, sore athirst and hungry, he stagger’d faint and sick.”
The sword of the hero, “hack’d into a saw” suggests, by no fault of Lockhart’s, a weapon in the same serrated condition, described by
Mr. W. S. Gilbert—(I quote from memory)—
“And all the people noticed that the engine of the law
Was not half so like a hatchet as a dissipated saw.”

On the other hand, many passages have a knightly speed and spirit, in fact this is their general characteristic. The movement of the verse is almost too catching and facile, though this comes from a strict following of the original, and Scott himself, in one of his letters, drops into a parody. Much more agreeable is the versification of some ballads written in other measures, such as the following:—

“Ye mariners of Spain,
Bend strongly on your oars,
And bring my love again,
For he lies among the Moors.

(This is from a song in the Cancionero of Valencia, 1511.

“Galeristas de Espana
Parad los remos,” &c.)
“Ye galleys fairly built,
Like castles on the sea,
O great will be your guilt,
If ye bring him not to me.
“The wind is blowing strong,
The breeze will aid your oars;
O swiftly fly along,
For he lies among the Moors.
“The sweet breeze of the sea,
Cools every cheek but mine;
Hot is its breath to me,
As I gaze upon the brine.
“Lift up, lift up your sail,
And bend upon your oars;
O lose not the fair gale,
For he lies among the Moors.
“It is a narrow strait,
I see the blue hills over;
Your coming I’ll await,
And thank you for my lover.
“To Mary I will pray,
While you bend upon your oars;
’Twill be a blessed day,
If ye fetch him from the Moors.”

Here we have a genuine lyrical note, the words sing themselves with a strange yearning accent. In this metre, in all metres of short lines, Lockhart most excelled. The pearl of the volume, a flawless thing, worthy of Coleridge or Poe in its music, is—

“My ornaments are arms,
My pastime is in war,
My bed is cold upon the wold,
My lamp yon star:
“My journeyings are long,
My slumbers short and broken;
From hill to hill I wander still,
Kissing thy token.
“I ride from land to land,
I sail from sea to sea;
Some day more kind I fate may find,
Some night kiss thee.”

The following serenade also cannot well be omitted; like the others, it has a natural singing quality very rare in modern poetry—

1 (In the Cancionero of Antwerp, 1555.

Mis arreos son las armas
Mi descanso el pelear.)
“While my lady sleepeth,
The dark blue heaven is bright,
Soft the moonbeam creepeth
Round her bower all night.
Thou gentle, gentle breeze,
While my lady slumbers,
Waft lightly through the trees
Echoes of my numbers,
Her dreaming ear to please.
“Should ye, breathing numbers
That for her I weave,
Should ye break her slumbers
All my soul would grieve.
Rise on the gentle breeze,
And gain her lattice height
O’er yon poplar trees,
But be your echoes light
As hum of distant bees.
“All the stars are glowing
In the gorgeous sky,
In the stream scarce flowing
Mimic lustres lie:
Blow, gentle, gentle breeze,
But bring no cloud to hide
Their dear resplendencies;
Nor chase from Zara’s side
Dreams bright and pure as these.”

1 (From the Romancero General of 1604.—Mientras duerme mi mina, &c).


The poem is not unworthy in lightness and finish of Theophile Gautier.

The Ballads were cited in the Edinburgh Review, and, of course, praised in Blackwood, where the critic bade Lockhart attempt original poetry. “Some of the translations I have got by heart,” Gifford wrote to Scott, on February 13, 1823. “Where to look for a review of the book I hardly know,” he adds. “Southey declines poetry and has from the first; Reginald (Heber) the Rector would have been instantly in my thoughts, but Reginald the Bishop is out of the question.”1

The “Spanish Ballads,”like his comic pieces, prove Lockhart’s command of the vehicle of verse. His very nature forbade him to be a lyrist, to express himself, his own emotions in poetry, the ancestral fetterlock was on his heart, and to this rule I know but one beautiful exception. His self-criticism, again, prohibited him from rushing in where, during his youth, so many poets, so much greater than he, were on their own enchanted ground. From a rambling set of rhymes written for Blackwood, in the ottava rima of “Beppo” and “Whistlecraft,” called “The Mad Banker of Amsterdam,” I extract a few stanzas. He is describing the castle of Mr. Wastle—

“No skies have we of that unmingled blue,
In whose rich light Italian meadows beam:
But skies far dearer to a Scottish view,
Where thin fleet clouds for ever rack and stream.

1 Abbotsford MSS.

While here and there, the wavering mantle through
Small spots of azure tremulously gleam,
Grey windy skies o’ercanopying well
The dark pine wood, the linn, the loch, the fell.”

Later he says, showing his own opinion of his own poetry—

“To speak the truth, I neither wish nor pray
For fame poetic. Once upon a time
Perchance so high might young ambition stray,
My reason’s mended now, if not my rhyme.”

This was a true statement, and Lockhart’s letters, even in boyhood, show no trace of aspirations which, at twenty-four, he thus renounces (February 1819). He turns to Jeffrey, who really occupied his mind, against his will, exactly as Sir Walter, to be praised warmly or attacked bitterly, but never to be exorcised, haunted the mind of Hazlitt

“Alas for Jeffrey!—if my fancy dreams,
Let not that dream’s delusion pass away,—
For still ’midst all his poverty it seems
As if a spark of some ethereal ray,
Some fragment of the true Promethean beams,
Had been commingled with his infant clay,
As if for better things he had been born
Than transient flatteries and eternal scorn.
“Alas for Jeffrey! for he might have clomb
To some high niche in glory’s marble fane;
But he, vain man, preferred a lowlier home,
An easier triumph and a paltrier reign.
Therefore his book is blotted from the tome
Of Fame’s enduring record, and his gain
Hath in his life been given him, and the wreath
That his youth won scarce waits the wintry breath
“Of the destroyer, to shed all its bloom
And dissipate its fragrance in the air. . . .”

There is Tory prejudice here, but there is a measure of truth. Jeffrey’s laurels withered with his life.

The following stanza, on Edinburgh, is not unworthy of Byron:—

“For lo! even in the shadow of the hills
Our fathers have their deep foundations laid,
And their old city, like a lioness, fills
The shade that gives her shelter, and that shade
Is proud of her whose low voice wakes and thrills
Her echoes, whose majestic couch is made
Where all things round free nature’s power express,
The sea, the mountains, and the wilderness.”

What follows, on Holyrood, is not less admirable.1

“Ay here—where narrowest is her valley’s case,
And highest is the mountain of her shade—
Here stands the mansion of that reverend race,
Like them forgotten, and like them decayed;
Their memory is departed, and the place
Knows them no longer, where their power displayed
Wise splendour—where the monarch’s pious pride
Adorned a shrine—a palace sanctified.”

1 From Blackwood, vol. iv. p. 730.


It would be unfair in any attempt to disengage the charm of Lockhart’s poetry, to omit his stanzas on that hapless Royal race, of which we may say, like Monsieur Coppée of its latest, most charming, and most unhappy scion, l’Ecosse ne pent pas te juger, elle t’aime.

“Alas! shall ne’er your glory be renewed,
Ye palaces of antique splendour, where
Were cradled the young shoots of that high brood—
Linlithgow, thou the pleasant—Falkland fair—
Snawdon, high throned above thy peerless flood
Of winding glittering waters?—O shall ne’er
St. Peter’s shrine restore that Druid stone1
To its old haunted hermitage of Scone?
“Royal in all things! O what kingly grace
Sat pale upon their features,—what sad brows
O’erhung the mild eyes of the pensive race,—
O well did Nature teach them to espouse
Dejected majesty in that high place;
O wise and well that coming fate allows
Dim forethought of her sorrows; wisely she
Paints in the fruit the ruin of the tree.
“And so, even he, the merriest of them all,2
Whose blythe wit charmed the haughty Lewis’ ear,
He, the glad reveller in bower and hall,
Gay, gallant, courteous, all without a peer—

1 The Coronation stone, now in Westminster Abbey.

2 James IV.

Even he, amidst his brightest festival,
Elate his royal visage—scan ye near
Those bodily lineaments, and mark ye not
The dim hereditary boding blot,
“Of misery musing over evils gone
And evils coming, in that dark deep eye!
That forehead high and proud—it is the throne
Of other thoughts than pride, though it be high;—
A pining gloom sits half unseen thereon,
That speaks of treasons past and Flodden nigh;
And blends faint memory of the bloody heart
Of rebel Douglas, with the visioned dart,
“Piercing his lion on the Howard’s shield—
Even ’mid the softest, most elysian notes
Which Heron’s harp’s luxurious strings may yield,
A small still voice of mingling sadness floats—
Surrey’s far cry upon the blasted field—
The savage murmurings of mailed throats,—
The rush of bloody waters—and the gloom
Of the wild wind above a nameless tomb.
“Pass over one—he died before his time1
And look on her whose beauty hath become
A bye-word to all nations—in the prime
And flush o’ her days—the rose of Christendom,2
Shedding such lustre over this cold clime
As never southern knew—she struck men dumb
With the sun-like dazzle of her regal charms,
And stooped a goddess to young Darnley’s arms.

1 James V.2 Queen Mary.

“Fairer than eye may see or tongue express;—
The sweep of centuries hath not ta’en off
The freshness of her famous loveliness,
The savage scowl of party hate—the scoff
Of black-souled bigots have not made her less
Than when she first was taught the queen to doff,
And beamed, all woman, on these halls antique,
Love’s liquid eye, and mantling maddening cheek.
“No—not all woman—woman, and yet queen
Amidst the very faintness of her sighs—
Wearing her majesty as it had been
A thing she fain would quit, but in her eyes
Enthroned immoveable, sublime, serene,
Woven in her essence by her destinies,
Awing her lover even in the soft hour
Of heart-dissolving passion’s prime and power.
“It makes man giddy but to think upon
Such pride of beauty in a queen’s caresses;
Yet deem not Mary’s eye untroubled shone
Beneath yon glorious canopy of tresses;
Ah no! the household fiend his curse had blown
Upon her radiance, and those old distresses
Had dropt their shadow on her fairest day—
Thy spectre-presage, woeful Fotheringay!
. . . . . . . . . . .
“Alas, on cold and heartless days she fell,
When men threw charity from faith away;
And even her heavenly face possest no spell,
The demon of their bigot rage to lay;
And she was left to one who loved full well1
And practised all the privilege of sway—
And erred, perchance, as much as Mary did,
Albeit her better craft her errors hid,
“And rivalry of charms, and love, and fame
Kindled such wrath in that proud woman’s soul,
That, when the spark had found a vent to flame,
Nor policy nor mercy might controul
Its furious bursting, and she felt no shame
The smouldering torrent of her ire to roll
Full on the Lord’s anointed, and begun
That work of sacrilege which hath undone
“Old honour—which hath given men heart to ope
The sacred sluice of the rich blood of kings,
When uninspired prophets nurse mad hope
Which from impatient ignorance outsprings:
And popular phrenzy’s shroud doth envelope
Man’s quiet light of soul; and baser things
Are lifted higher by the pluckers down,
Irreverent of crosier and of crown.
“Oh! noble is the death from noble foe
In the free field received, when the broad star
Of day is high in heaven—yet more when slow
The golden West receives his sinking car—
For then those mild majestic beams bestow
Their softest splendours on the bed of war—
And soldiers close their eyelids on the scene,
Even like the sun, sad, solemn, and serene.

1 Elizabeth.

“But there is meekness lodged within thy heart,
Most lovely Mary (fervid tho’ thou be),
Which, when the agony cometh, shall impart
A more than evening of tranquillity—
Tho’ gloomy walls shut heaven from where thou art,
And inward only the last light to thee,
With smiles amidst those lordlings shalt thou go,
Who come to see the blood of monarchs flow.
“High in her hand the silver cross she rears,
The Lord of life is imaged there in dying—
Well pitied He another Mary’s tears—
Upon His grace, be sure, is she relying;
Stilled every tumult—vanquished all her fears—
With what repose she all around is eyeing;
O see, amidst her maidens’ sobs and shrieks,
O see, the blood deserts not her calm cheeks.
“A Woman, and a Christian, and a Queen—
What could she more or less? she did not bare
Her neck unto the axe with the high mien
Of pride, which mantles dying man’s despair;
Nor on her upward eyelids was there seen
That radiant light of faith—that scorn of care—
That joy of love which virgin saints display,
When rude men take their spotless lives away.
“She was nor glad, nor sorrowing, proud nor cold;
Yet did her sex, her station, and her creed
A mingled mild serenity unfold
Upon her forehead, when she knelt to bleed,
Such as became her nobly; less than bold—
And yet in nothing seemed she terrified—
As were her life not much to be laid down,
Being already stripped of her fair crown.”

I cannot doubt that these gallant stanzas won the heart of Scott, whose Toryism is firmly and fully rendered in this lament.

“But what avails to waste a world of sighs
Upon the ruins of a royal pile?
What—but perchance to tempt new blasphemies
From men who wear one cold eternal smile
For all beyond their vulgar ken that lies—
For all the ancient honours of our isle—
For all that sanctified in the old day
The high resolves of men more pure than they?”

These lines, of course, strike at the Whigs, who, in the Edinburgh Review, were eternally taunting the unhappy and, one might have thought, sacred memory of Marie Antoinette with pitiless derision and “cold eternal smile.” To them her sorrows, literally “too great for tears,” were matter for jibe and scandal. Lockhart’s verses, just cited, appeared in Blackwood on March 20, 1819. In a note to the poem he quoted—
“My wound is deep, I fain would sleep,
Take thou the vanguard of the three,
And hide me by the bracken bush
That grows on yonder lily lee.”

Scott’s letter to Lockhart, written in tormentis, wherein he bequeathes to him the banner and baton
“of ancient faith and loyalty,” and quotes those very words of Douglas from the old ballad, is dated March 23, 1819. Doubtless the rich, melancholy music of the stanzas on
Mary Stuart and Holyrood, with the ballad burden, “Take thou the vanguard of the three,” had reached Sir Walter, and haunted him in his almost mortal agonies: hence the cry which “made the women think I was growing light-headed, as they heard me repeat a rhyme apparently so little connected with my situation.” In such a state of body and mind, anguished and exalted, he did not, of course, reflect that Lockhart’s verses were dramatic; that they were attributed to an imaginary character, Wastle, the last of the Cavalier Tories, whose politics and learned love of things old are borrowed from Scott himself, while his bodily aspect is that of Lockhart “come to forty year.” It was enough that the poetic imagination of Lockhart could interpret and body forth (as certainly no other living man could have done), one of the several lives of fantasy in which Sir Walter, as Lockhart tells us, habitually lived. On a later day of dark heat and brooding storm, Scott when old, and near his death, was again to quote to Lockhart, “My wound is deep, I fain would sleep.”

Why, it may be asked, did Lockhart contemptuously throw away his admirable stanzas, in a fantastic, irregular, planless contribution to a magazine, in place of writing, for example, “Holyrood, A Poem”? I suppose that, first, the sentiments of
Wastle were really dramatic, not fully his own; next, that his criticism of his own powers was too lucid and severe; and, finally, that he had no mind to be a follower of
Byron, as he might at least have seemed to be, from his use of the ottava rima, afterwards employed for serious purposes by Keats in his “Isabella.” The poet, if he would make people believe in him, must take himself with a seriousness which, to do him justice, he usually finds no difficulty in assuming. But this implies the lack of that diffidence which Scott, no bad judge of men, remarked in Lockhart. Not unfrequently it also implies an absence of humour, which was not one of Lockhart’s defects. This is illustrated by Mrs. Gordon’s story of a stanza on Wilson in “The Mad Banker.” “It is said,” remarks Mrs. Gordon, “that my father chanced to see the proof-sheet by accident before it went to the press, and instantly dashed in—not a little to the chagrin of the author—the following impromptu lines:—
“‘Then touched I off friend Lockhart (Gibson John),
So fond of jabbering about Tieck and Schlegel,
All high Dutch quacks, like Spurzheim and Feinagle.
Him the Chaldee yclept The Scorpion,
The claws but not the pinions of the Eagle
Are Jack’s; but though I do not mean to flatter,
Undoubtedly he has strong powers of satire.’”

Mr. Gleig says, “We cannot tell by whom this may have been (said), but we know that it is entirely
untrue. The poem was read by
Lockhart to Wilson before it went to press, in a lodging which the former then occupied in the west of Atholl Crescent, of which we have forgotten the name.” (It was in Maitland Street that Lockhart then lived.) “Wilson laughed heartily at the stanza devoted to himself, and wrote on the instant, and read to Lockhart, both laughing all the while, his counter-portraiture of the individual who is assumed by Mrs. Gordon to have aimed a secret blow at his friend, and to have been very much chagrined at the exposure of his malignity.”1

Lockhart contributed to an article by Gillies, some fragments of translation from Goethe’sFaust.” Here is the Song of the Spirit of the Earth, from the opening scene of the play:—

“In the currents of Life, in the tempests of motion,
Hither and thither,
Over and under,
Wend I and wander,
Birth and the grave,
A limitless ocean
Where the restless wave
Undulates ever,—
Under and over
In the toiling strife
I mingle and hover,
The spirit of life;
And hear the murmuring wheel of time, unawed,
As I weave the living mantle of God!”

1Christopher North,” i. 275, 276. Quarterly Review, vol. cxiii. p. 229.


The volkslied of Margaret at the wheel is also very well rendered, and the blank verse throughout is worthy of the lyrics.

Of Lockhart’s comic verse the most popular and best known at the time cannot well be omitted; it is the Odontist’s wail for a fine old half-pay officer in Glasgow.

By James Scott, Esq.
“Touch once more a sober measure, and let punch and tears be shed,
For a prince of good old fellows, that, alack-a-day! is dead;
For a prince of worthy fellows, and a pretty man also,
That has left the Saltmarket in sorrow, grief, and wo.
Oh! we ne’er shall see the like of Captain Paton no mo!
“His waistcoat, coat, and breeches were all cut off the same web,
Of a beautiful snuff-colour, or a modest genty drab;
The blue stripe in his stocking round his neat slim leg did go,
And his ruffles of the cambric fine they were whiter than the snow.
Oh! we ne’er shall see the like of Captain Paton no mo!
“His hair was curled in order, at the rising of the sun,
In comely rows and buckles smart that about his ears did run;
And before there was a toupee that some inches up did grow,
And behind there was a long queue that did o’er his shoulders flow.
Oh! we ne’er shall see the like of Captain Paton no mo!
“And whenever we foregathered, he took off his wee three-cockit;
And he proffered you his snuff-box, which he drew from his side-pocket;
And on Burdett or Bonaparte, he would make a remark or so,
And then along the plainstones like a provost he would go.
Oh! we ne’er shall see the like of Captain Paton no ma
“In dirty days he picked well his footsteps with his rattan,
Oh! you ne’er could see the least speck on the shoes of Captain Paton;
And on entering the coffee-room about two, all men did know,
They would see him with his Courier in the middle of the row.
Oh! we ne’er shall see the like of Captain Paton no mo.
“Now and then upon a Sunday he invited me to dine,
On a herring and a mutton chop which his maid dressed very fine;
There was also a little Malmsey, and a bottle of Bourdeaux,
Which between me and the Captain passed nimbly to and fro.
Oh! I ne’er shall take the pot-luck with Captain Paton no mo!
“Or if a bowl was mentioned, the Captain he would ring,
And bid Nelly run to the West Port and a stoup of water bring;
Then he would mix the genuine stuff, as they made it long ago,
With limes that on his property in Trinidad did grow.
Oh! we ne’er shall taste the like of Captain Paton’s punch no mo!
“And then all the time he would discourse so sensible and courteous,
Perhaps talking of last sermon he had heard from Dr. Porteous,
Or some little bit of scandal about Mrs. So and so,
Which he scarce could credit, having heard the con but not the pro.
Oh! we ne’er shall hear the like of Captain Paton no mo!
“Or when the candles were brought forth and the night was fairly setting in,
He would tell some fine old stories about Minden-field or Dettingen—
How he fought with a French major, and despatched him at a blow,
While his blood ran out like water, on the soft grass below.
Oh! we ne’er shall hear the like of Captain Paton no mo!
“But at last the Captain sickened, and grew worse from day to day,
And all missed him in the coffee-room from which now he stayed away;
On Sabbaths, too, the Wee Kirk made a melancholy show,
All for wanting of the presence of our venerable beau.
Oh! we ne’er shall see the like of Captain Paton no mo!
“And in spite of all that Cleghorn and Corkindale could do,
It was plain, from twenty symptoms, that death was in his view;
So the Captain made his test’ment, and submitted to his foe,
And we layed him by the Rams-horn-kirk—’tis the way we all must go.
Oh! we ne’er shall see the like of Captain Paton no mo!
“Join all in chorus, jolly boys, and let punch and tears be shed,
For this prince of good old fellows, that, alack a-day! is dead;
For this prince of worthy fellows, and a pretty man also,
That has left the Saltmarket in sorrow, grief, and wo!
For it ne’er shall see the like of Captain Paton no mo!”

It was my intention to quote some lively pieces from “Songs of the Edinburgh Troop” (1821-1825). But Dean Burgon has attributed them to Mr. Patrick Fraser Tytler, and the doubt makes it wise to abstain.

A singular addition to Lockhart’s efforts in verse is an incomplete translation of the Iliad into English hexameters. In one of the last of his Quarterly Review articles, a criticism of Colonel Mure’sHistory of Greek Literature,” he says: “We are sorry to say that we have never been able to lay our hands upon Wolf’s specimen of a translation of Homer, which remains buried in some old magazine. . . . In this tour de force, we are told, Wolf not only renders line for line and word for word, which Voss gives us, but he gives foot for foot, dactyle for dactyle, and above all, cæsura for cæsura—things Voss never dreams of attempting,—and yet in life, spirit, and poetry, is conspicuously above his able and industrious rival.”1

Now in March 1843, a contributor, signing himself N. N. T., published in Blackwood a version, in English hexameters, of the twenty-fourth book of the Iliad. That contributor was Lockhart. He mentions Wolf’s specimen, which he has never been able to procure; nor had he Voss’s own translation when he made his attempt. He had not heard of the small specimen in Guest’sHistory of English Rhythms.” Lockhart ends thus: “Should this experiment be

1 Quarterly Review, vol. lxxxvii. p. 443.

received with any favour, the writer has in his portfolio a good deal of Homer, long since translated in the same manner, and he would not be reluctant to attempt the completion of an
Iliad in English hexameters, such as he can make them.”

Mr. Matthew Arnold, when composing his “Lectures on Homeric Translation,” was manifestly unaware that he had been anticipated by Lockhart in his theory that the English hexameter is the proper vehicle. That opinion, or heresy, does not commend itself to me; indeed I despair, and say with Lockhart in “Peter’s Letters,” “properly speaking, there are no such things as translations.” Verse in quantity is at least as much opposed to the genius of the English, as verse in rhyme to the genius of the Greek language. We have no fixed quantity, and our clashing consonants lack the dactylic fluidity. Mr. Matthew Arnold’s own specimens gave one word (fire), now as a dissyllable, now as a monosyllable, and his hexameters were harsh:
“These lame hexameters, the strong-winged music of Homer!
Never did frog coarser croak upon our Helicon!”

In the following example from Lockhart, the first syllable of “Never” is short, and is long in the same line. It is the dirge of Helen for Hector:—

“Hector, dearest to me above all in the house of my husband!
Husband, alas! that I name him, oh better that death had befallen!
Summer and winter have flown, and the twentieth year is accomplished
Since the calamity came, and I fled from the land of my fathers;
Yet never word of complaint have I heard from thee, never of hardness,
But if another reproached, were it brother or sister of Paris,
Yea, or his mother (for mild evermore as a father was Priam),
Them didst thou check in their scorn and the bitterness yielded before thee,
Touched by thy kindness of soul and the words of thy gentle persuasion.
Therefore I weep, both for thee and myself, to all misery destined,
For there remains to me now in the war-swept wideness of Troia,
None either courteous or kind, but in all that behold me is horror.”

It is a beautiful rendering of the words of the fairest of women. The English hexameter, as Longfellow’sEvangeline” proves, is not distasteful itself to the popular mass of readers. But how it “runs in the head!” The last line here is an unwitting hexameter—
Not distasteful itself to the popular mass of readers!
James Macpherson, Ossian Macpherson, writes a hexameter by accident in his prose version of Helen’s dirge.

Doubtless to the Greeks, certainly to the Roman writers, hexameters sometimes occurred involuntarily, as in Tacitus
Urbem Romam a principio Reges habuere.”
I have confessed to a dislike, perhaps pedantic, of
the English hexameter, yet in what translation—
Pope’s, Cowper’s, Lord Derby’s—could we find Helen’s lament rendered at once so literally, and with such spirit and poetry, as in Lockhart’s specimen? Or take these lines on Niobe, after the slaying of her children by Artemis and Apollo—
“Yet still, far among rocks, in some wilderness lone of the mountains,
Sipylus holds her, they say, where the nymphs in the desert repose them,—
They that in beauty divine lead dances beside Achelous,—
There still, stone though she be, doth she brood on her harm from the godheads.”

On a close comparison of Lockhart’s version with the original, one finds, as must always be the case, passages where one would prefer an altered phrase, and, occasionally, a needless embellishment of the original, as (in Helen’s lament), “The war-swept wideness of Troia.”

Homer has only—
“In wide Troia.”
Lockhart’s phrases are the phrases of a poet. He is remarkably skilled in transferring the Greek into the English idiom. Except, perhaps, Charles Kingsley in lines like—
“As when an osprey aloft, dark-eyebrowed, royally crested,”
I know no English poet who writes English hexameters more dulcet, and more rapid. Had Lock-
hart finished and published his task, and refined it into perfect accordance with scholarly requirements, certainly
Mr. Arnold, at least, need have looked no further for his ideal Homer in English. Quod petis hic est. We cannot perhaps expect a great poet to desert original work for translation. Even if he does, his version of an author will necessarily contain too much of himself. Lord Tennyson, in his blank verse, made Homer Tennysonian. Pope made him Popeian, and only shone in the rhetorical parts, as the speech of Achilles in book ix. Lockhart had precisely the due qualifications for a translator, in sympathy, poetic feeling, and severe yet genial taste. He would have left a name for a popular yet close and spirited version of the Iliad. But he stole out a specimen or two, anonymously and unrecognised, and there left the matter, yielding to that diffidence of his which Scott had observed.1

These examples of Lockhart’s muse may prove that he had much more of the poetic gift than many men who, in all literary periods, “commence poet,” and win some few laurels. These men always take themselves, their work, and their claims with extreme seriousness. Lockhart never could do

1 “Delta,” the late accomplished Dr. Moir, quotes, with high praise, a poem of Lockhart’s, “Napoleon,” which, to speak the truth, does not rise above the vein of Mrs. Hemans. See “Poetical Literature of the Last Half Century,” p. 299. Edinburgh, third edition, 1856. Lockhart refers to this “bookie” of Delta’s in a letter to Wilson, in 1851.

this, and of poetry he had a very high conception and ideal. With no lofty opinion of himself and his merits, with a rarely high notion of what poetry and the poet are and should be, he could not present himself as a candidate for true poetical distinction. He rhymed for his pleasure, and only once he expressed his soul in verse. When we look round on the press of pushing poets, so concerned about themselves and their place, so avid of praise and recognition, we may admire the not untempted moderation and reserve of a better poet than most of them.

Concerning Lockhart as a caricaturist, I have scarcely the materials necessary for a judgment. To one large collection of his drawings I have been denied access. From this portfolio were taken some of the designs in Mrs. Gordon’sLife of Christopher North.” It was the property of Lockhart’s life-long friend, Mr. Cay. In a little old note-book of 1817, Lockhart has scrawled a few sketches in pen and ink of German students and of “meerschaumed Professors.” At this time he either could not draw hands, or did not take the trouble. The stolid transcendental complacency of a Teutonic scholar, with pipe and beer, is happily rendered. Another is smoking in his night-shirt, standing, and off his balance, a fault also in Lockhart’s hasty sketch of Tom Purdie, Scott’s forester. The same volume contains notes for Scott’s Life, and notes of law cases in which Lockhart was
engaged at Inverary, Highland hamesucken and violent assaults and batteries.

At Abbotsford there is a little collection of his drawings, made on wet days, to amuse the family. Some are in colour, for example, Fenella meeting Charles II. in St. James’s Park; the extremely artificial figurante bounds dancing in air at an impossible height; the courtiers and the cheerful monarch look on. One is reminded, by Fenella, of Thackeray’s Flore et Zephyre, indeed Lockhart’s powers in verse, and with the pencil, are related to his genius in general much as Thackeray’s poems and caricatures stand related to his literary work. They are pleasant parerga. Thackeray had tried far harder than Lockhart to learn to draw, but Lockhart (as in his illustrations to “Peter’s Letters”) was wont to take more pains over the execution of a portrait. Thackeray dealt more in general fantasy, Lockhart in personal caricature. Each was fond of caricaturing himself: Thackeray often drew the flat-nosed, melancholy humourist; Lockhart, the sour, close-lipped Spanish scholar or hidalgo. Thackeray sketched beautiful faces, or, at least, one beautiful face, easily recognised. One has seen it again and again, in the collection at Clevedon Court, and in “Vanity Fair.” From Lockhart’s pencil (having had little luck in recovering his drawings), I only know two sketches of a woman, first, Miss Scott playing on the harp, a rather timidly executed but interesting piece in pencil,
heightened with white, on brown paper. In a collection given by
Tom Hamilton to Lady Brewster, there is a charming design of Lockhart’s sister, Scott’spretty Violet,” executed in sepia with the brush. In the same portfolio are the Odontist, in colour on a dark ground; a brilliantly tinted group of Dons reading the Edinburgh Review; a laughable drawing of a frequenter of the Oxford Cockpit; several caricatures of Sir William Hamilton (in one, he is overloading a porter with books), and a large view of the Glasgow Presbytery, denouncing a Catholic Chapel. Among them—not burlesqued—is the strong, handsome profile of Dr. Lockhart.1 In the Abbotsford set, there is also a large rough drawing in colour, of Lockhart, Scott (apparently), and another, riding in a dark rainy day, within three miles of Selkirk, as a road-post indicates. There is also a sketch of Charles Scott, as a lad, on brown paper; a little colour is used, there is a likeness to Sir Walter. Two comic old-fashioned figures of men, rather elaborately coloured, a still more finished head of a barrister in wig and gown, and a few scraps, make up the little Abbotsford collection. Lockhart had a good deal of faculty and skill in catching a likeness: there is a drawing by him of Wilson much inspired by punch, which is said to be curious, but I have not seen it, nor have I seen any caricatures of his that any but a very dull and pre-

1 This fine collection is now the property of Mr. Brewster Macpherson, to whom I owe a view of it.

judiced person could call ill-natured. As
Mr. Christie informs us, he gave up the practice of caricature altogether about the time when he went to London. Perhaps he knew that “fules,” as the Shepherd says, dreaded his “keelavine pen,” and so abstained from a source of offence. But the Dean of Salisbury says that he went on drawing, and remembers a sketch of Lady Eastlake at a party. A reference of his own to his powers of portraiture will be found in a letter to Wilson, of 1851. It is a pity that he did not leave a larger collection of his drawings of the family at Abbotsford. His colour is always very vivid and clever: reproductions in black and white do him no justice.