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The Life and Letters of John Gibson Lockhart
Chapter 20: 1826-52
John Gibson Lockhart to John Murray III [?], 16 June 1846

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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“June 16, 1846.

My dear M.,—I think you are entitled to expect that gentlemen who so very boldly denounce the conclusions of such a scholar as Mr. Donaldson, should show evidence of their capacity for grappling with lore so varied as his; and also, and at least, that Mr. Croker should convey his objections in some such shape as may admit of their being laid before Mr. Donaldson.

“I have not heard the name either of your or

1 The letter is, apparently, addressed to Mr. Murray. Perhaps it was never sent to him; I found it among amass of family letters from Milton Lockhart.

Mr. Croker’s clerical authority. Both, or either, may be sufficient. But it is not an everyday thing to meet with a clergyman qualified for criticising philological researches, embracing not merely Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, but Arabic, Coptic, Sanscrit, and the whole range of the Italo-German tongues. Mr. Croker makes no pretensions himself to learning of this sort—but it is a little odd to see him dismiss a page of Donaldson’s ‘Comparative Anatomy of Language’ by a marginal note consisting of the one word ‘Gibberish.’

“Although language has been my chief study all my days, and I have some practical knowledge in a good many of the languages in which Mr. Donaldson has acquired, as I believe, a really accurate skill—it never occurred to me that my editorial care could, in such a department, be of any use to him, save in suggesting a doubt or an illustration. So much I endeavoured to do by this as by all other papers; and I took the advice twice over, formally, by writing, of Milman—the only extensive scholar on the actual list of Quarterly Reviewers.

“The grand difficulty of Ewald’s explanation of the Patriarchs’ names, as being not personal names,1 but words describing periods of advance or descent in art and civility—this was stated by me to Mr. Croker orally, as well as I could make it clear. Mr. Croker said he could see no objection to such a

1 Attempts to “mythologise” the Patriarchs are many, wildly conflicting, and, perhaps, discredited.

view. So I understood him, certainly. I believe Ewald is, in the main, right—and that views like his are those of all who believe the Old Testament in any manly sense of the word believe. People who merely adopt and repeat the interpretations of men acknowledged not to have had a glimpse of what is now ascertained by the science of Philology, seem to me to be precisely on a footing with the honest Catholics who persecuted
Galileo, and with the present Dean of ——, who would, if he could, roast the Dean of Westminster to-morrow.

“In my humble opinion, the wise course for Donaldson would be to place the views or theories of Ewald and Bunsen, whenever apparently hard to be reconciled with our old canons of interpretation, clearly before the reader of the Quarterly Review; but not to compromise himself or the Review by any adoption of them. As yet, I think, knowledge of what is thought and written on such subjects by really profound scholars, is so rare that the communication of their ideas should be the humble task of an English journal.—Ever yours truly,

J. G. Lockhart.”1