LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Life and Letters of John Gibson Lockhart
Chapter 24: Conclusion
George David Boyle to Andrew Lang, [1895 c.]

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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Dear Mr. Lang,—I do not require to dig into my memory for any particulars about J. G. Lockhart. Everything that I heard from him, from 1844 to 1853, is so strongly impressed on my mind that I can bring back at once the times that I met him and the utterances that he made. Mr. Lockhart unbent himself very freely in the house of a relation of mine, and his sayings and doings were very faithfully chronicled. When I read, very shortly after his death, the excellent sketch of his life and character, in the Times of December 9, 1854—a sketch which was attributed to Dean Milman and Lady Eastlake—I was struck with its complete agreement with all that I had myself thought about his character, as a critic and a man. The real love of letters, which he showed in his conversation, gave him an especial charm. I have heard him acknowledge freely the mistakes that had been made by critics as to Keats, Shelley, and Tennyson. From what I have heard him say, half in fun and half in earnest, about the fierce attacks in Blackwood upon what was thought the Cockney school, I drew the conclusion that he greatly regretted all that had been said about Keats; and I feel sure that Lockhart was never guilty, as Mr. Colvin thinks in his Memoir of Keats, of
betraying his knowledge of the poet’s life to the author of the article in Blackwood. I know, on the authority of the
Rev. Thomas James, a contributor to the Quarterly, much valued by Lockhart, that the republication of Keats’s poetry in 1840-41 was strongly advocated by Lockhart, who was always willing to repair injustice. I heard him express great satisfaction that John Sterling’s review of Tennyson, in the Quarterly, had created a great demand on the part of the public; and I remember his strong praise of the ‘Morte d’Arthur’ and the ‘Lord of Burleigh.’ Of Shelley, too, and especially his Letters and Essays, he said much that dwells in my memory. One of his pieces of advice to me was to cultivate a catholic taste in poetry. ‘Milton, above all things, Pope, Scott, Byron, and Crabbe—I am afraid Southey is not such a favourite with you young gentlemen as Shelley and Keats—but “Kehama” and “Thalaba” you ought to read, and don’t forget Wordsworth’sChurchyard among the Mountains.”’ I was often struck with his magnanimity. When Macaulay’s ‘Essays’ were becoming very popular, he spoke of them with great admiration; and when some one was running down Jeffrey, I heard Lockhart say very much what he wrote afterwards, in a most interesting article in the Quarterly. He treated me with extreme kindness, and asked me to make use of him if I wanted any particular information about books. He had a very warm heart, often
concealed by a cold, reserved manner, and my old cousin used to say to me, ‘Lockhart treats you with great kindness on account of what your father did for him in his Edinburgh days.’ He took great interest in the battle of the Churches in Scotland after the Disruption. An article by
Gleig on Dr. Chalmers made him talk very freely about religious opinion in Scotland, and the attitude taken by Walter Scott. ‘If I had to write my “Life of Scott” over again now, I should say more about his religious opinions. Some people may think passages in his novels conventional and commonplace, but he hated cant, and every word he said came from his heart.’ One day in his own house he read me a letter, written by Scott to a friend who had lost his wife, full of beauty; and he then added, ‘The lady was Scott’s first love.’ I think this letter, or a copy of it, must have been given to Lockhart by Sir John Forbes, the son of the banker who married the lady in question. There was an enthusiasm about Lockhart, when he expressed his views about poems he admired, such as I have never seen except in Matthew Arnold. It may seem strange to some to hear that the two poems I heard him admire most were Byron’s ‘Isles of Greece,’ and some very fine verses of Fanny Kemble’s, which he gave in the Quarterly in his review of her poems. May I venture to mention a personal matter? He was going to take a short tour on the Continent with
his friend
Lord Robertson, and he said to me, ‘If you can come with us, I will frank you. You would hear about Scott and Wilson to your heart’s content.’ But I was an undergraduate at Oxford, and the kind scheme could not be thought of. I venture, however, to think that there are not many men in Lockhart’s position who would think of doing such a kindness to a youth. I know that there had been from time to time grave questions and difference of opinion between Lockhart and the head of the firm in Albemarle Street, but Lockhart was fond of speaking of the generous treatment many authors had had from Mr. Murray, whom he called the prince of publishers. I have heard him say that he had often wished Sir Walter had had more dealings with the house. The line taken by the Quarterly as to the Oxford Movement has been much misunderstood. Lockhart was fond of quoting a famous sentence of Horne Tooke’s, about Hounslow and Windsor: ‘I went a certain way from Oxford, but I was not going to Rome.’ I should like to say that when he was last at Rome, he wrote a warm appreciation of the poetry of Dante, and said he had been deepening his acquaintance, under the guidance of Lucentini, ‘a man much to be commended.’ Lockhart used to quote a famous passage of Sir F. Palgrave, of the value to be gained from ‘one dear book.’ I could write at some length of the value to be gained from knowledge and acquaintance of one dear man.—I am, very truly yours,

G. D. Boyle.”