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The Life and Letters of John Gibson Lockhart
Chapter 12: 1821-25
Sir Walter Scott to John Gibson Lockhart, 20 December 1825

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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Produced by CATH
Edinburgh, 20th December 1825.

My dear Lockhart,—I had your letter this morning, and observe with great pleasure that you are settled, or in the act of being so. It is better you have got a good house, for there is scarce anything in London so necessary to comfort and credit. . . .

1 Satiety.

2 Mr. Murray, however, writes, “Mr. Croker has given up the ‘Pepys’ Papers,’ and Mr. Bankes, the Member for Cambridge, wrote to undertake them a few days ago. Of course you will induce Sir Walter to persist in his kind intentions.”—November 23, “Scott’s Letters,” ii. 415.


“I observe, with very great interest, what you say concerning Tom Moore and Sheridan. It will be one of the most noble opportunities for an opening and leading article which you could have had. You will, I know, give Tom his full merits, and treat him with that sort of liberality which may show that the censure which you bestow comes out of no narrow party feeling, but is called forth by the occasion. I would have you take an opportunity to consider briefly his poetical rank. He may be considered as reformed in the point of his Erotiques, and I would not rake up old sins. There is one especial reason for candour in respect to his merits, because in order to blame him (which there is every reason for doing) for lending himself to circulate calumnies respecting the King, you must show that you are neither an enemy of genius, nor the tool of a party. I am aware that high-flying Tories will not be pleased with this. Nevertheless, fair pleading is the real way to serve a good cause. If a critic were to begin by treating Moore as a passing singing poet of the boudoir, whose works were to be considered as trifles or worse, and then to bring a charge of calumny against him, it would be blending falsehood with truth in such a manner that your argument would lose the benefit of the one, without gaining any credit from the other. Everybody will be sensible that the frivolity is not proved because the critic cries trifler, and will therefore argue that the calumny is as little proved when he cries slander.

‘A critic was of old a glorious name,
Whose sanction handed merit up to fame;
Beauties as well as faults he brought to view;
His judgment great, and great his candour too.’

Constable goes up to town in next week to launch his ‘Miscellany,’ by which I have no doubt he will make a great deal of money. . . .

“When I read your letter, I missed an important fact, videlicet, that the article on Tom Moore is not to be yours. I am very, very sorry for it. I do not like Croker’s style in such things in the least; he is a smart skirmisher, but wants altogether the depth of thought and nobleness of mind where the character of a sovereign is to be treated. If you can get it into your own hands, or can modify this article your own way, I shall be much better pleased. He blunders about his facts too, and indeed will never be more than a very clever confused sort of genius.—Yours always,

Walter Scott.

“The more I think of Moore’s article the more I wish you would do it yourself. At any rate, let no condescension to Croker or any one else prevent you from shaping it your own way. I foresee from your natural modesty of nature you will have difficulty in ruling your contributors, but you must in some cases be absolute.”