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The Life and Letters of John Gibson Lockhart
Chapter 2: 1808-13

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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OXFORD, 1808—1813
The journey to Oxford described in “Reginald Dalton.”—Prince Charles at Derby.—Companions on the way.—Letter to Dr. Lockhart.—Mr. Jenkyns.—The Oxford of 1809.—Lockhart’s College friends.—Sir William Hamilton.—Constancy of Lockhart’s friendships.—Mr. Jonathan Christie.—His description of Lockhart as an undergraduate.—Letters to Mrs. Lockhart.—Balliol sermons.—No Fellowships for Scots.—Hamilton’s kindness.—A wine party.—St. Andrew’s Day.—The Prince’s memory.—Lockhart “crossed.”—His wish to join the Spaniards against Napoleon.—His linguistic studies.—Letters to Mr. Christie.—Hamilton’s studies in magic.—Lockhart in The Schools.—Dinners at Godstowe.—“No Scotch Need Apply.”—Gets a First-Class.—Leaves Oxford.—His acquirements.

It was to an Oxford and a Balliol very unlike those of our time that Lockhart took his way, and by a very different and more expensive mode of travelling. In “Reginald Dalton” he describes the drive from Carlisle to Oxford, in “one of the largest and heaviest, but also one of the gayest and gaudiest, of all possible stage-coaches. It bore the then all-predominant name of the hero of Trafalgar, and blazing daubs of Neptunes, Bellonas, and Britannias illuminated every panel that could be spared from a flourishing catalogue of inns and proprietors.”

A “beer-faced conductor” patronised the ale
offered, in a foaming can, by the rural waiting wench, wherever the “Admiral Nelson” stopped. A senior man, going up to Christ Church, would take the reins, and perhaps cause one of these collisions in which, at least, “you know where you are,” while, in a railway accident, “where are you?” “There is always some one either to laugh with or at . . . . and you have excellent meals three times a day, and snowy sheets every night. . . . . We never hear the horn blowing without envying those that are setting out,—above all, those that, like our friend Reginald, are starting for the first time.”

So we may imagine Lockhart starting, “eager-hearted as a boy when first he leaves his father’s” manse. He was obviously impressed most of all by “the richest, and perhaps grandest too, of all earthly prospects, a mighty English plain,” when, following the route of Prince Charles, “he saw it in all its perfection from the hill of Haynam, that spot where Charles Edward, according to local tradition, stood below a sycamore, and gazing with a feeling of admiration which even rising despair could not check, uttered the pathetic exclamation, ‘Alas! this is England!’”

It was not the Prince who despaired, nor the men who sharpened their claymores at Derby, and who would have followed him to death or victory, had their chiefs not flinched. So Lockhart may have mused on the scene of lost opportunity. However,
he probably forgot that sad memory, in the bustle of the road, “the charming airy country towns,” “the filthy large towns with manufactories and steam engines,” “the stately little cities, with the stately little parsons walking about them, two or three abreast, in well-polished shoes, and blameless silk aprons, some of them; and grand old churches, and spacious well-built closes, and trim gardens; and literary spinsters,” such as
Miss Anna Seward, in Lichfield. Like his hero, Reginald, Lockhart visited the house where Samuel Johnson’s father sold books, “and walked half a mile further, on purpose to see the willow which surly Sam himself planted in Tetsy’s daughter’s garden.” He met the “men” going up, talking of “Classes, the Newdigate, Coplestone’s pamphlets, and the B.N.C. Eight-oar,” for already that distinguished College was famed on the river.

In the “Admiral Nelson” fared “the young tutors, in tight stocking pantaloons and gaiters, endeavouring to show how completely they can be easy, well-bred, well-informed men of the world,” or unbending to sing the All Souls’ ditty of “the Swapping, Swapping Mallard.” Before reaching Oxford, Lockhart may have heard, as his hero does, about his own college tutors, especially the recluse with whom, a solitary pupil, Sir William Hamilton read for a short time, “the most learned man in all our college, but he lives retired.”

To the picture of a first journey to Oxford, as
drawn in “
Reginald Dalton,” we may add the sketch in an early letter home (Oct. 21, 1810).

“My Dear Father,—I have the pleasure of informing you that I arrived here last night, about twelve o’clock, in all the safety that you could wish. I wrote from Macclesfield, the stage on this side Manchester, but I had not time then to inform you of any of the particulars of my journey. From Glasgow to Manchester I had the company of Charles Hagen, Doctor of Philosophy, and Professor of Agriculture in the University of Koenigsberg: Mr. Plau, a merchant in Memel, &c.: and a Cumberland traveller of whom I know nothing. Mr. Plau came with me so far as Birmingham, but I know nothing of my other companions from Manchester to Birmingham, except that one was a Welsh student, who more patrio wore a Welsh wig, and a Londoner of very dignified appearance, who passed himself off for a personage of no small dignity.

“I had every reason to be well pleased with my journey and everything concerning it. Upon the whole I was very much amused, and derived not only amusement but a great deal of instructive information from my two continental companions, both of whom have favoured me and all my friends with an invitation to take up our residence with them whenever we happen to visit their respective cities.


“I have just been drinking tea with Jenkyns” (later Master of Balliol), “who is exceedingly gracious, and desires to be particularly remembered to you all. Hamilton” (Sir William) “has been in college all summer, has read through Aristotle’s Organon, and all the works of Hippocrates. I wish I could say that I had done as much, but I hope to make up for my idle summer by my diligent winter. I need not bid you write, for you know your letters are my greatest comfort in my progress. My travelling expenses were exactly £10 after I left you.—Ever your affectionate and dutiful son,

J. G. Lockhart.”

To return to the old coaching days as described in “Reginald Dalton.” At last, they drive into Oxford, “everything wearing the impress of a grave, peaceful stateliness—hoary towers, antique battlements, airy porticoes, majestic colonnades, lofty poplars and elms, . . . wide, spacious, solemn streets, . . . everywhere a monastic stillness and Gothic grandeur.” Alas, in the words of minstrel Burne, which Lockhart liked to quote, alas!—
“To see the changes of this age
Which fleeting Time procureth!”

We may readily imagine how fair Oxford seemed after the black quadrangle and heavy air of Glasgow. In one of October’s crystal days, with the elms not
yet stripped of their gold, and with the crimson pall of red leaves swathing the towers of Magdalene, Oxford looks almost as beautiful as in the pomp of spring. To the freshman care is unknown, and the shadow of the schools does not overcast his new liberty.

Lockhart, in his novel, makes his hero fall in with a town and gown row, such as his own soul delighted not in, also with a Catholic Scottish priest, Father Leslie, sketched from a friend of his own. The priest had been out in the ’45, according to the novel; if he really fought for the Prince he must have been a very old man in 1809, but many of the Highland army were boys. In any case Father Leslie could remember how “the Honourable James Talbot was tried in an English court, tried like a felon, for being in Catholic orders,” and “good Mr. Maloney was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment because he pleaded guilty.” The novel introduces us also to the actual Balliol recluse, with “the meagre extenuated hand,” who read no modern and few English books, who saw no newspapers, and had no pupil but Lockhart’s senior and friend, William Hamilton, not yet recognised as baronet. Lockhart shows us also the large dining-room in the Master’s lodgings, still extant, and very familiar, not only to Balliol men, but to Mr. Jowett’s many guests from all quarters. The Master’s surroundings, his parrot and poodle, gown, “grand canonicals and grizzle-wig,” may not have
been those of
Dr. Parsons, the actual head, but these details help to mark the differences in costume and manners between our Oxford and that of 1809.

The boy who came up to Balliol in 1809 did not, of course, enter the huge, polyglot, cosmopolitan college which Balliol has become. Except the Scotch set, in which he chiefly lived, the men were not industrious, nor perhaps much distinguished, as a rule, in any way. The modern activity is the result of the exertions of Dr. Jenkyns (Lockhart’s tutor), of Dr. Scott, and of Mr. Jowett. Lockhart’s friends were Mr. J. H. Christie (and a better friend no man ever had), Mr. James Traill, of the old Orcadian family (father of Mr. Traill, the well-known and accomplished living wit), Mr. Alexander Scott, a son of Scott of Benholme, and Mr. Alexander Nicoll, later Regius Professor of Hebrew, and Canon of Christ Church. Archdeacon Williams (“Caradoc,” “Taffey,” and so forth), who performed Sir Walter’s funeral service, the Rev. G. R. Gleig (Chaplain General to the Forces), and Sir William Hamilton were also among Lockhart’s intimates.

All Lockhart’s undergraduate companions except Scott, who died early, and Sir William Hamilton, remained his close and constant friends for life. From Sir William Hamilton alone he was estranged, for some reason which neither could ever bear to mention. Yet in Hamilton, Lockhart never lost
interest; both “retained,” says
Professor Veitch, Sir William’s biographer, “warm feelings towards each other.” “I know not what miserable provincial differences ultimately broke their friendship,” says Mr. Christie.1 The estrangement must apparently have occurred before the writing of “Peter’s Letters” (1819), in which Sir William Hamilton is not mentioned. “Lockhart more than once began to tell me the story, but the subject was too painful to him, and he always broke off without finishing. Hamilton, as far as I know, was the only friend that Lockhart ever lost, but his admiration and his real affection for him, I well know, never ceased.”2 The cause of estrangement, according to Mr. Lawrence Lockhart, was trivial: a hasty word of Hamilton’s.

This is very strong testimony to Lockhart’s power of gaining affection, and to his own loyalty. The man is indeed both true-hearted and fortunate, whom neither death bereaves, nor temper or circumstance deprives, of these friends who made the happiness of his youth, and with whose memory, when death divides us, it is dearer to dwell than in

1Memoir of Sir William Hamilton,” p. 40.

2 So writes Christie, who knew Lockhart for forty years. Miss Martineau, who did not know Lockhart, avers that his friendships “were formed in flattery, and broken off by treachery. . . . Free and constant friendship he never enjoyed, nor seemed to desire”—(“Biographical Sketches,” pp. 349-350). This was published as soon as Lockhart was dead. Mr. Charles Sumner is in the same tale. “Lockhart has not a friend,” he writes in his correspondence.

the society of the living. For they are never to be replaced,—although
“The primrose yet is dear,
The primrose of the later year
As not unlike the flower of spring.”

Among these Balliol friends, the central friendship was quadrilateral, as in Dumas’s famous novel. There was Lockhart, “the Hidalgo,” who might stand for Athos; the clerical Williams was the amatory Aramis of the four, and, if Traill was the Porthos, Christie was the d’Artagnan of the little band. It is touching to see how, throughout life, they who had met as boys at Balliol stood by each other in good and evil, “fall back, fall edge,” ever helpful, loyal, and united.

In the Quarterly Review, vol. cxvi. pp. 447-449, Mr. Christie thus describes Lockhart:—

“I first saw our common friend John Lockhart at Balliol College, in, I think, the year 1809, I being his senior at the college by one year, and two years his senior in age. But we were both boys; for I, the elder of the two, had not completed my seventeenth year. At that age we are not critical observers of character; we judge of those with whom we associate by the pleasure we take in their companionship, and look no further. But I recollect that Lockhart was an excellent Greek and Latin scholar when he came to college, and immediately made his general talents felt by his tutor and by his companions. His most remarkable charac-
teristic, however, was the exuberant animal spirits which found vent in constant flashes of merriment, in season and out of season, brightened and pointed with wit and satire, at once droll and tormenting. Even a lecture-room was not exempt from these irrepressible sallies, and our tutor, who was formal and wished to be grave, but had not the gift of gravity, never felt safe or at ease in the presence of his mercurial pupil.

Lockhart with great readiness comprehended the habits and tone of the new society in which he was placed, and was not for a moment wanting in any of its requirements; but this adaptive power never interfered with the marked individuality of his own character and bearing. He was at once a favourite and formidable; his tongue and his pen were alike ready, and both employed for merriment and keen satire. In those days he was an incessant caricaturist; his papers, his books, and the walls of his rooms were covered with portraitures of his friends and himself—so like as to be unmistakable, with an exaggeration of any peculiarity so droll and so provoking as to make the picture anything but flattering to the self-love of its subject. This propensity was so strong in him, that I was surprised when in after life he repressed it at once and for ever. In the last thirty years of his life I do not think he ever drew a caricature. In those days—I mean in college days—he was a frequent writer of verses, sometimes in Latin, sometimes in English, and not unfrequently in both. Though Lockhart
partook with thorough relish of all the pleasures and amusements of an undergraduate, he was far from neglecting the proper business of the place. He was always a diligent reader—made himself thoroughly acquainted with the Greek Theatre,
Homer, Pindar, Herodotus, and Thucydides. I mention these, because his diligent and careful study of them fell under my own personal knowledge—not as stating the limits of his acquaintance with Greek literature. He was, in fact, an excellent classical scholar, and also read French, Italian, and Spanish in the days of which I now speak: German was a later acquisition. He was curious in classical and also in British antiquities, and much attached to heraldic and genealogical questions. I think his first publication was an article on heraldry, in the ‘Edinburgh Encyclopædia.’ County histories were favourite reading with him. I remember his telling me of his being placed at dinner by an American lady, who explained to him that her husband (a gentleman of good position in the States) was descended from an ancient Scotch family of great distinction. ‘Little,’ said he, ‘did the worthy lady suspect that I was a good enough Scotch genealogist to know that her husband’s name was never borne by any gentleman’s family in Scotland.’

“But though Lockhart was an excellent scholar and a man of great and various knowledge, he was not, I apprehend, what would be called ‘a learned man.’ We had only one learned man in our (in those days) small college: I mean the late
William Hamilton. He was already pursuing those studies which ultimately gave him a high place among those who dwell in the higher regions of learned speculation.”

On December 4, 1809, Lockhart praises Hamilton, in a letter to his mother:—

My dear Mother,—Since I wrote last, nothing, I am afraid, has occurred here worth the telling you. I still continue to like this place much better than I could have expected, and, indeed, as well as I could any situation whatever, which places me at a distance from my best and dearest friends. The first term of my Oxonian course ends to-morrow or next day. The six weeks have fled over my head since I came here, and I can assure you, on looking back, they appear to be hardly equal to so many hours. We have next the prospect of a six weeks’ vacation, during which, if we except attendance on Mr. Jenkyns’ lectures, no change whatever will take place in my mode of spending my time.

“Most of my English acquaintances leave college next week for a considerable time, and I must say that I shall have some reason to regret their absence, though the best friend I have got here, Mr. Hamilton, is more to me than all the rest put together ten times over, and I am happy to say he does not intend to be more than a few days with his mother in London during this vacation. I am just expecting a long letter from Lawrence and
Johnnie, and if they knew how happy every letter from home makes me, I am persuaded they would not delay the fulfilment of their promises.

“Yesterday the Sacrament was dispensed here. Mr. Jenkyns had a little conversation with me, according to papa’s desire, in the morning. In answer to his request that I should say something about the sermons here, I have to tell you that the only sort of religious instruction which I think at all worth attending to is, the two lectures on the Creed, which Mr. Mouseley (? Mozley) gives every Saturday and Sunday evening in the chapel. They are, on the whole, excessively good and sensible; as for the sermons in St. Mary’s, I think there is hardly one good out of ten. We had one last Sunday on the Catholic Bill, and another the day before on the Greek of Augustine!

Mr. Jenkyns also lectures to us a little on the Sunday forenoons, but I am sorry to say milk and water are the articles which chiefly compose his instructions, though, I am sure, he is really a good man, and has been as yet exceedingly kind to me. I have dined once and drunk tea once at Mr. Ireland’s—he is very kind and polite. He made me a very obliging offer of supplying me with money if I at any time should stand in need of his assistance in that way. Certainly his family is as original a picture as one could see. . . .

Hamilton expects his brother Tom down to spend a few days this week. . . . If he be as agree-
able as his brother we shall have a very pleasant time of it.1 . . . I hope you will excuse this desultory scrawl, as I am very much pressed with some troublesome analyses.—Believe me, your ever affectionate and dutiful son, ”

John G. Lockhart.

On February 20, 1810, he writes to a Glasgow collegian:—

“I mentioned in my letters already that the Scotchmen now are not in general so much to my mind as the others—the fact is, if I except myself and two others, they are all connected with the Episcopal Church of Scotland, and a great deal more bigoted than any Englishman I have yet met with. Edinburgh and Glasgow they view in no other light than as so many nurses of infidelity and scepticism. They are all very civil to me, however, and I am very happy with one of them, a son of M’Farlane, the Bishop of Ross. I rather think you will remember a son of Cocky’s—John Young—who was an exhibitioner in this college, and has now a curacy in Yorkshire. I met with him here very often in the month of December, and think him a very pleasant man indeed. His father has always behaved to him with his accustomed sourness, and I daresay he is very ill off, with a small salary of £80 or so, for not a farthing will the old boy give him, although we all know that with his wife’s portion,

1 Tom Hamilton, author of “Cyril Thornton;” the original Ensign O’Doherty in Blackwood.

&c., &c., he might spare him a good deal more than he would require.
Dr. Hutchinson’s son is a curate in Norfolkshire, and esteemed stark mad by every man in Oxford. He made his appearance here at the election, and behaved in a most absurd manner. The truth is, there cannot be a more foolish thing than for any Scotchman in ordinary circumstances to enter into the English Church. If he does, he has little chance for any better lot than a chapel in Scotland or a curacy in England. All college preferment (and in many instances a great deal of patronage, vested in the Master and Fellows) is greedily swallowed up by those who have it to dispose of, and it would be a thing quite contrary to etiquette to make a Scotchman a Fellow. Their reason for this, they say, is, that such is the known partiality all Scotchmen have for their own country, that if they once got a footing in any college they would elect none but Scotchmen, and the whole power would shortly be confined to them.

“Nearly half of the time is now spent during which I must remain here. I have spent it much more happily than I could have expected, but I must now begin to be very anxious for the month of July. . . . —Yours affectionately,

J. G. Lockhart.”

Scotch Fellows are no longer ruled out at Balliol, where the Master himself is a Scot of distinction (1896).


Lockhart’s earliest known letter from Oxford was dated November 1, 1809. With the usual bad luck of his early correspondence it seems no longer to be extant, though, in 1869, extracts from it, and from several other epistles from Oxford, were published in Mr. Veitch’sLife of Sir William Hamilton.”1 Lockhart says “to his father,” (?) “I don’t know how I should have managed here at all had it not been for W. Hamilton.” Six years his senior in age, and considerably his senior in standing, Hamilton, says Lockhart, “has behaved to me with all the affection of a brother. Since papa left us I have been always with him or he with me, at breakfast, tea, &c. He makes me carry over my book after evening prayers, and read it beside him all night,”—quiet work for a freshman. Hamilton advised him as to his associates, advised him in the purchase of books, and against attending balls given “to country Jennies.”

In November 1810 Lockhart chronicles Hamilton’s success in the schools. According to Mr. Gleig, there was a time when Lockhart took to hunting (as we might guess from “Reginald Dalton”), and probably spent a good deal of money with the Charley Symonds of the period. Hamilton remonstrated, and communicated with Dr. Lockhart, thus “diverting his friend from pursuits which might have spoiled such a nature as his.” He even joined a boat club, as every one does now, but

1 Of these letters only one is known to the biographer.

he does not seem to have been distinguished on the river, and his letters to
Mr. Christie say nothing about hunting.

In “Reginald DaltonLockhart describes fast life at Oxford, the dinner in hall, anything but fast; the gorging of periwigged Dons (how unlike the ascetic meal of the modern high table at Balliol!); the wine in a man’s rooms,—“from eighteen to twenty-two is the prime of a man’s life as far as the bottle is concerned;” the “sconcing” in a silver fox-head cup, the supper of oysters and brawn; the bowl of bishop, and the final heroic feat of blocking up the chapel gate with a cart-load of coals,—they used snow in the biographer’s time.

This was an out-college man’s wine. Lockhart’s letters tell of no such achievements, but the public expects riot in a University novel. One St. Andrew’s Day he does commemorate, in a letter to Christie, then at Bristol:—

Balliol, Monday.

My dearest Christie,—I thought to have answered your letter by our friend Tom Cornish, but a paucity of the ready detains him here, so I shall send down songs (and what not?) by him, but must allow myself to describe our St. Andrew’s Eve—I forget minutiæ. I believe we went there individually without any great expectations as to the matter of fun. For (old Leslie, Hamilton, Baillie, yourself, and the Traills being gone—besides
Annan, who was hurried to London that very day, and Hannay, whom nobody missed), we looked out in reality for an evening of port and dulness. But di meliora. A man named Taylor of Brazennose came there, and M’Donald, and MacGowan of University; and Jack Jenkyns, to make a display of his boarding-school-governess sort of authority, issued his mandate against dining in college; so we took to Dickesons’,—where nine men had a famous dinner for the small sum of £8, 8s. We went on with great harmony till about eight o’clock. Taylor, who is a bachelor and a true blue, proposed drinking in solemn silence this toast, ‘The illustrious memory of the greatest champion of Scottish liberty, civil and religious,—the Rev. John Knox, minister of the gospel in the Tolbooth Kirk, Edinburgh.’ Jack looked blue, and harangued talis. ‘Sir’ (on his legs)—‘I hope, sir, I have lived long enough, sir, in the world to drink out of respect to you the devil—if you give it. But, sir, I would rather drink all the devils in hell than John Knox, who dung down the cathedral kirks and braw houses of all the Bishops in Scotland. For, sir, I, though not a member of this University, in so high a situation as the other members of this glorious assembly—I am an antiquarian—a very lover of antiquities! Yet I will drink John Knox, if you on this insist.’

“Taylor replied, and after rejoinders, replies, and replications unnumbered, changed his toast to ‘The
Brigs of Ayr.’ My turn came, and I gave ‘The memory of the
Prince,’” and I understand, spoke upon him and the merits of his cause with unbounded applause—for I forgot all this in the morning. And the whole party drunk this upon their knees, and Jack reeled home, and so did we all, about half-past eleven.

Nicoll went off at half-past seven crying—
‘Oh me when shall I sober me!’

“Tom can expatiate on all these things.

“I heard from Hamilton the other day, he is reading law at Edinburgh.”

A prank played by Lockhart on a tutor is remembered and recorded by Mr. Gleig in his Quarterly article. The worthy tutor made a show of Oriental knowledge, so Lockhart wrote some English squibs on him in Hebrew characters, and handed them in as college exercises. The tutor did not discover the fraud, but the Master did. The pupil was once set, as an imposition, a long chapter in the Spectator, to do into Latin. This he accomplished at great speed, neither missing lecture nor depriving himself of his amusements. He once mentions being “crossed” thrice, crossed in hall and buttery, so that he was cut off from meat and drink. Men were usually “crossed” if they

1 The Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

failed to attend the Dean when “drawn.” The old English custom of drawing (or “hauling”) is conducted under the following rules: You do not attend chapel, or lecture, or you commit some similar offence. The Dean then sends the messenger for you, and he draws you, if he can, and you go before the Dean, and there make such excuses for your sins as circumstances dictate, or fancy suggests. But if you, detecting the approach of the messenger, sport your oak, or hide in a cupboard or under a table, he cannot legally draw you, but returns bredouillé. The Dean’s next move is to cross you, and starve you into submission, and if that fails, he can “gate” you. Such are the conditions of crosses, and in accumulating three at once Lockhart gives proof of a certain lack of discipline.

Of ladies’ society he probably saw very little: nobody did in Oxford till recently. He did not care for what he did see at parties where the men wore cap and gown, and played cards (the Dons, that is) in enormous wigs and flowing bands. The fair were either elderly, or had learned “cold cautiousness” by many transitory flirtations. In “Peter’s LettersLockhart talks of “spending all the mornings after lecture in utter lounging, eating ice at Jubb’s, flirting with Miss Butler, bathing in the Cherwell.” After dinner (for which, at Merton at least, they dressed) men drank wine in the gardens, and then took a boat “at Mother Hall’s,” and rowed improvised races to Iffley, or Sandford. Cheese
and bread, and lettuces, with a bowl of bishop (mulled port), were the modest supper. Cricket was not what it is now: there was no University match. Runs across country, with leaping poles, were a common amusement.
Hamilton once rigged up a perfectly normal and “supraliminal” ghost, visible to the least sensitive, with a skull and a sheet.

Studious men read very widely and freely, especially in Aristotle and Greek philosophy at large. Lockhart also studied English, the Elizabethans in particular, Italian, French, German, and Spanish. In fact, he qualified himself for the profession of letters in a manner now very unusual. His knowledge was already such as befits a critic.

Mr. Gleig says, on the authority of Mr. Lawrence Lockhart—but the scantiness of Lockhart’s correspondence does not illustrate the subject—that he wished to join the Spanish in their struggle against the French. He even offered to take Anglican orders, and go out as a chaplain, if his father would consent. But Dr. Lockhart had a son in the army already, and refused his permission. Lockhart’s distaste for arms was confined to those of the flesh, which are used at town and gown rows.

The following letter to his mother displays no martial sympathy for Spain, or for Mr. Gleig, who did take up arms in the Iberian cause:—

[Postmark, Dec. 3, 1812.]

My dear Mother,— . . . My life goes on in the old way—to which I am now quite accustomed, and in which I believe I may be as happy as I am capable of being anywhere, unless when certain homeward-formed recollections obtrude on the privacy. My summer sojourn here has, I hope, been very useful to me. I have acquired the Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese languages; the two former so as to read with the utmost ease, and the last more slightly, only from the want of books; and I am now busily engaged in Greek and Latin for my examination. I have already read everything which I mean to take up, but must do this often before I venture. . . . Who is likely to succeed Gleig here? That gentleman has embarked into the military life, by grasping at a pair of colours in the 3rd garrison battalion, stationed at the Cove of Cork.—Believe me, as ever, your affectionate dutiful son,

“J. G. L.
“Balliol, Nov. 28.”

Here is a rather earlier epistle:—

[Postmark, Oxford, Oct. 3] 1812.

My dearest Mother,—I would have been unwilling to delay writing to some of you so long, but have put off day by day in the expectation of letters from you. . . . Our term commences this day fort-
night, and
Jenkyns has already made his appearance. I have no pleasure in the prospect, for excepting one or two friends, for whom I have every reason to entertain the most sincere affection, few places contain so few desirable to me as Balliol. At present we have nothing here but electioneering in all its glories—you are happily spared all such spectacles in the North. A namesake of ours, a glib lawyer—a silly country gentleman, who is just about to complete his folly by a hopeless effort—a young noble in the Marlborough interest, and a worthy Burdettite, summoned hither by the suffrages of a few blackguards, are the four candidates, and among them they continue at least to din our ears day and night with drums and fifes, and drunken halloos.

“I was not a little astonished to see advertised, in the end of the last Edinburgh Review, ‘Documents in favour of the Rev. D. D., junr., St. Cuthbert’s, as touching the late election for a Hebrew Professor in Edinburgh.’ Mr. Murray, who has succeeded, I have long heard mentioned as absolutely one of the very first Oriental scholars in Europe. Could the fat descendant of the —— be so presuming as to stand against such a man on the strength of a little ill-digested Greek and Latin, and about as much Hebrew, I daresay, as his Aunty Betty? O vanity! If I might quote Latin to you, Ne sutor, &c. Let Mr. Davy stick to the West Kirk, and the auld wifies, and the Religious
Monitor. But Hebrew professorships, worthy man! I beg you would, by some means, contrive among you to let me hear a little more frequently from you; and when you do write, I wish you would give me more domestic news. I am very sure
Lawrence’s marrow bones need not prevent him from finding abundance of time to write me, at least every fortnight.—Yours most affectionately,

“J. G. L.”

Of Lockhart’s letters from Oxford, very few seem to be extant, and most of these are addressed to Mr. Christie. The date is seldom given, and the post-mark is usually illegible. In 1812 he writes—“I am going on gloriously with the Italian. I expect in about a week to attack Ariosto; meantime I have read several novels of Boccaccio and Macchiavel, and am now at the ‘Del Principe’ of the latter, which certainly is one of the most wonderful productions I ever read. . . . Our races are going on, but it is wet, and I could see nothing so well worth looking at as Nancy Hodges.”

From Balliol (no date) he complains of Christie’s absence. “Perhaps Knight is with you. Heavens! a small degree of Germanic sentimentality would be enough to make me crazy at the idea. You two, talking, spouting, scandalising, discussing and debating, and reading Southey—I, pining in a corner, without one soul worth twopence within a mile of me, that is, except Nicoll. . . . I make
myself very busy, and verily believe that I shall say, olim, ‘meminisse juvat.’”

If we possessed more of Lockhart’s letters to his family, written during his residence at Oxford, or his letters to Hamilton, after Hamilton went down, many details might be added to the story of his college life. But eighty years after date, the epistles of a man’s salad days are hard to come by. They must usually contain much the same sort of matter, records of work and play, of freaks and friendships, of studies, literary tastes, aspirations towards the future. We do see Lockhart, by instinct, qualifying himself to be, what he became, a man of letters. His linguistic studies were wide, perhaps in modern Oxford unexampled. The language and literature of the Latin races are now little read in Oxford, with the exception of French. The new organisation of examinations is thought to discourage wide general reading, and to make a man the slave of his note-book, the echo of a tutor’s or a coach’s lectures. In some opinions this restriction is little more than an excuse made by students who have no instinctive bent towards letters. But in Lockhart’s time men were certainly left more to themselves, and were less fretted with lectures, examinations, college exercises. Lockhart excuses himself to Christie as a bad correspondent by reason of the scarcity of writing materials.

“It is not so easy to supply oneself with such things at a moment’s notice, as it is when a hundred
careless divils like yourself leave open doors. But now I need not say with what unpillageable neighbours I have to do, and this beautiful sheet, natty pen, and delightful Japan ink, are borrowed, aperto die, from that superabundant store of stationery dedicated to the manufacture of the ‘Theatrum Naturæ.’

“Oh how I sympathise with all your groans! I wish the ‘Miseries’ had never been written” (he refers to a then popular work on the minor Miseries of Life). “You and I might have done famously as Sensitive and Testy.”

He complains that, if he asks Nicoll to tea and talk, Nicoll brings three folios, and remains absorbed in them, asking with an insipid smile, “What puts you out of humour?” so that you have no resource but “sitting in the most joyless state of malignity and spleen.”

So here we have an early confession to the truth of that literary commonplace, “the malignity of Lockhart!”

“I don’t know what good genius whispered in my ear to begin Italian, but I am sure I owe to him every enjoyment of the last six weeks.” This hard-hearted being, in fact, was pining like the poetic dove in the absence of his mate. Bristol, where Christie was living, he illiberally calls “an abominable stinking stye of artisans.” “I have read two-thirds of Tasso, and a few cantos of the Inferno, besides several
sonnets of
Petrarch. I am sure if you will just commence, you will swear that you never read poetry so bewitching. Spells and magicians, knights and damsels, woods, castles, and enchanted palaces pass before my eyes in such hasty succession that I am most happily enabled to forget, for hours together, the many nibbling worthless cares which continue to render me at times the most miserable of promeneurs solitaires. My dearest Christie, if you have any compassion in you, don’t let your letters any longer be, like angels’ visits, few and far between.—Yours most affectionately,

J. G. Lockhart.”

The gilded sand is still shining on “the delightful Japan ink” of “these fallen leaves that keep their green,” the letters of the dead, and of the undying affection.

On a dateless Saturday of March, Lockhart sends to Christie “a copy of the ‘Gerusalleme Liberata,’ as a small mark of my affection, in the same manner that Mr. Random presented to Mr. Morgan his sleeve buttons, and I hope you will, notwithstanding that I don’t admire some of Wordsworth’s sonnets so much as you, admire as much as I do the Italian gentleman.” He announces a friend’s engagement to “Miss Sophy,” and declares that she is too pretty for a single life. “You will know that, however delightful it may have been to hear Greek comedies, or Greek tragedies, acted at Athens
(which fact, like most other things, I take on trust), there is little of fun or ecstasy either in the repeated perusal of these gentlemen’s writings nowadays, still less in reading long prosy accounts about skirmishes between armies, which could with difficulty mount even a corporal’s guard at St. James’s, and least amusement of all, in devouring Commentaries about morality and politics, subjects so much better understood since the days of Christ and the French Revolution.”

From these derogatory observations on the great writers of antiquity, he turns to scandal about the Prince Regent and his wife. The schools were clearly drawing nigh, and the note, at least, indicates the books then read for the schools.

Christie seems to have suggested a venture in publishing a magazine at Bristol. But, on hearing that money would be needed, Williams and Nicoll withdrew, and Lockhart remarked that he “already owed more than anything less than a Dowager or a miracle can enable me to discharge. . . .
Hi motus animorum atque haec tentamina tanta
Pulveris exigui jactu compressa quiescunt.
Any mention of coming down with the dust is enough.”

In September 1812, Lockhart apprises Christie of the death of Alexander Scott. “We must all be of one mind that for him—afflicted as he was, and good as he was—death was the best fate which his
most tender friends could wish.” “Lose no time in coming up hither,” he writes to Christie, ill in Bristol, “where you may at least have the comfort of affectionate friends. Your arrival would be to me a most precious relief, for I am left totally alone,” the death of his mother having caused
Williams to go home. “This sort of misfortune makes most of our grievances appear trifles. I am sure to go home after such an event would be enough to unman any of us.” He again entreats Christie to come up—“I really consider it altogether impossible to read much, without a suitable seasoning of talk, and talk is scarce. . . . I look for Hamilton to be here in a week or two. Would that we might all spend a little time, after the furnace is past, in our old habits, lounging, bathing, port, tea, and then the long, long nights, and every kind of jaw, palaver, criticising, laughing, and so forth. My dearest Christie, do come up, if it is but a month or less, till you must come here to be examined, and do let us have the pleasure of your company for that little space before it.” He writes of having received a visit from Signor Belzoni, whom he did not find amusing. This, of course, was years before Belzoni’s famous discoveries in Egypt. He chronicles the vanity of “Cadwallader” (Williams), and his tales of ladies who fell in love with him “long before I thought of it.” Hamilton, he says, has just read through all the “Scholia” on Homer, and is perusing ancient books on magic. These are an empty
study, but Sir William, in later life, declared that in mesmerism “there is a reality which deserves far more investigation than it has hitherto received at the hands of men of science,” and he quotes “
Die Seherin von Prevorst,” as “a very curious book,” which it undeniably is. “He seriously considers it as worth his while,” says Lockhart, “to pore over Wierus and Bodinus, and all the believers in witchcraft from St. Augustine downwards.” A fellow student in re magica may agree with Lockhart, who seems to have had no sympathy for pursuits which attracted Hamilton as they attracted Scott.

One Balliol letter describes a coolness with a friend, followed by too great heat. “He getting fiery insulted me most grossly. I was so fortunate as to keep my temper all the time, and he called on me next morning after breakfast, and made every apology. . . . I confess I thought myself ill-treated—but it shall not be my fault.” In fact, this college friendship was only ended by Lockhart’s death. “My reading has been such as gains no credit here, for modern literature is here, as you well know, a dead letter.” He wishes he could get congenial work, and fears “his good father” thinks him extravagant. He wishes to support himself, while reading for the English bar. Williams has passed a triumphant examination, as Lockhart himself did in 1813. He caricatured the examiners in the schools, but this was not “unparalleled audacity,” as Mr. Gleig supposed. The Master and his tutor were
full of congratulations, but there was no chance of a Fellowship. Indeed Lockhart is said by legend to have inscribed, beneath a notice of a Balliol Fellowship Examination—
No Scotch Need Apply!

He had, by the end of his nineteenth year, in which he got his first class, read widely in the Classics. His habit of writing “lady’s Greek without the accents” would now be reckoned unscholarly; and, though a rapid and elegant writer of Latin, he never was a classical scholar in the strict Oxford, still less in the Cambridge sense. But he had learned to know the Greek mind, the Greek thought; he had been in Armida’s bowers, and had laid, at least, the foundation of his Spanish and German lore. Already, it seems, literature was being contemplated by him, not as the task of a life, but as a pleasant gagne-pain till he had qualified himself for the bar. He had shown sense and discretion in his Oxford life—industry, and the power of making and retaining friends. His letters as yet do no justice to his humour, nor have they the vivacity which we might expect. A good deal of young man’s banter has been omitted, as in no way characteristic of his style and fancy. Hardly one allusion to politics occurs in the fragments of his correspondence while at Oxford; nothing at all points to any party leanings. His real interests
were friendships and literature. Like
Clough’s hero, he
“Went in his youth and the sunshine rejoicing, to
Nuneham and Godstowe.”

“The first step on arriving at Godstowe,” says Mr. Connell (a friend of Lockhart’s, later a professor at St. Andrews), “was always to see the eels taken alive out of the boxes with holes in which they were kept in the river. After that, till all was ready, we usually had a match at leaping and vaulting over gates.” Both Lockhart and Hamilton were great swimmers at Parson’s Pleasure, on the Cherwell.

The happy years before the entry on real life were few in Lockhart’s case, but happy they were and well employed. He had won knowledge and won friends. About them, in his surviving letters from Oxford, there is no satire. They compare ill, perhaps, in his affection, with Christie. Christie and he were David and Jonathan, Amis and Amiles. There is a little good-natured banter of the personal vanity of one youth, and more quantity than quality of intellect is ascribed to him. But there is no display of the fangs of the Scorpion.