LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life and Letters of John Gibson Lockhart
Chapter 3: 1813-15

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
GLASGOW, 1813-1815
Early disadvantages of Lockhart.—His loneliness.—Reflections.—Letters to Mr. Christie.—The Theatre in London.—Miss Duncan.—The Schools.—Anecdotes of Scotch clergymen.—The stool of repentance.—Dulness of Glasgow.—Admiration of Wordsworth and Byron.—Mr. Christie’s projected novel.—Lockhart’s novel.—Scotch manners.—Mediaeval studies.—Double authorship of “Waverley.”—“Wattie a fecund fellow.”—Lockhart’s own novel postponed.—“Lockhart will blaze!”—His neglect of his own poetical powers.—Sordid ignorance of Glasgow.—Hamilton and the Humanity Chair in Glasgow.—Lockhart’s novel.—“The Odontist.”—Solitude.—Glasgow society.—A commercial ball.—Count Pulltuski.—“Gaggery.”—Dinner with a dentist.—Caricature of Pulltuski.—Tour after trout.—Scheme of an “Oxford Olio.”—A pun.—Anecdotes of the clergy.—A Holy Fair.—Lockhart goes to Edinburgh to study law.

To have gained the highest University honours at the age of nineteen, when most undergraduates are only entering college, may seem a fortunate beginning of life. But whether it was fortunate in Lockhart’s case is a different question. Long afterwards, in a letter to his son Walter, on the choice of a profession, Lockhart regrets that he entered life so young, that his resources were so scanty, and that he had in his family, and among his friends, no qualified adviser. The task of such a counsellor
would not, at best, have been easy. At nineteen probably Lockhart should have prolonged his education, by studying at a foreign University. But the continent was closed by war; moreover, he had not money, as will later be seen. Possibly enough he was paying off College debts.

He had contemplated entering at the English Bar, but, except in his pen, was at a loss for means of support while qualifying. It might, in many ways, have been best for him to go to London. He would have been in contact with the central current of affairs literary, social, and political, in these important and strenuous years. Bonaparte was engaged in his death-struggle with Europe; he fell, he was exiled, he returned, he was overthrown. Of these events Lockhart, living in Glasgow, writes not one word to Christie in the extant correspondence. In literature Byron was pouring out “The Giaour,” “Lara,” portions of “Childe Harold,” and occasional pieces which caused tempests in the Courier and the Chronicle. He was marrying, quarrelling, separating, making all tongues wag, yet how little Lockhart has to say about the Byronic affairs, apart from “Lara,” will be observed. Southey was publishing his “Roderick,” and, in Glasgow, Lockhart could not get a sight of “Roderick.” Scott produced in one year “Waverley” and “The Lord of the Isles.” The former seems to have reached Lockhart late; the latter does not appear to have engaged his interest. Leigh Hunt was
being imprisoned for libelling the
Regent, and was working, later, at his “Tale of Rimini.” For the moment Lockhart seems unconcerned about Leigh Hunt. Moore was getting £3000 for his “Irish Melodies”; Coleridge was borrowing £100 from Byron, on the strength of “Christabel,” which just paid, or might have paid, the debt. So far, Lockhart knew little or nothing of Coleridge; even “The Excursion” reached him late, and “fly-blown by reviews,” to use Keats’s expression, especially “fly-blown” by Jeffrey with his famous “This will never do.”

Thus Lockhart was remote from the mundane movement, after getting his class, and was living in a society which shared none of his interests. He knew little of the men with whom his own name was to be mixed, and he often knew that little wrong, a cause of errors which still hang heavily on his reputation as a critic. When he went to Edinburgh, in 1815, he was affected by the violent prejudices of politics in a small, but intellectually active set, prejudices which were carried into literature. Had Lockhart been able to betake himself to the English Bar, whether he had succeeded there or not, he would have escaped many prejudices, ignorances, and consequent violences. Through his friend Christie he would have become acquainted with John Hamilton Reynolds, the “young one” of whom Byron speaks kindly (Feb. 28, 1814), the author of “Safie,” the bosom-friend
Keats. Very probably Lockhart would have been in the set of Keats, Rice, Reynolds, his own friend Gleig, Bailey, and the rest. He might even have been found inditing sonnets to Leigh Hunt, and supping with Lamb, Haydon, and Hazlitt. His politics and his feud with many of these men was an affair of ignorance and accidental associations in Edinburgh. On the other hand, though Lockhart’s life might have been more peaceful, and, in literature, more happily productive, had he gone to London, he never would have been, in that case, the son-in-law, the friend, and the biographer of Scott.

We cannot well compute the relative loss and gain, to Lockhart himself, of his very early, financially ill-equipped, and in many respects prejudiced and thwarted entry into life and literature. His whole career was coloured by his beginnings in Edinburgh. The town was then a brilliant rival of London as far as literature was concerned, thanks to Jeffrey, Constable, and Scott. There was plenty of activity, but it was an activity of little political cliques, agitated by violent passions. By the age of twenty-three, Lockhart was “a lion,” stared at as he walked the streets, petted and dreaded. All this was unfortunate. Meanwhile, for two or three years after leaving Oxford, Lockhart was poor, lonely, almost aimless, without companions interested in his interests, learning to scorn things and men contemptible enough—to him
too easy a lesson. Yet, as we shall see, he was industrious, studious, and fertile in projects. The early adviser, whose absence he deplored in later life, would have had a difficult or impossible task. It was not well that Lockhart should linger in Glasgow, nor that Edinburgh should be the scene, and wild Edinburgh Tories the associates, of his apprenticeship in literature. But he could not tax his father’s resources by going abroad, or to London, and so his fate was fashioned for him, as for other men, by circumstances. His letters, those of a lad of nineteen, do not deserve the praises later given to his correspondence. They illustrate, however, his tastes, his satirical observation, and his mode of life; moreover they are, at this time, our only source of information. It is, perhaps, an unavoidable reflection that Lockhart’s loneliness, and difficult beginnings, may partly account for his tendency to a rather hostile attitude, as of one at least on the defensive, and not prone to welcome all things and all comers with a smile. Throughout life we seem to see him, as it were, on guard, observing all approaches with the keen, wary eye of the swordsman.

The movements of Lockhart, after he gained his First Class in the early summer of 1813, are most easily traced in his letters to Mr. Christie. As a rule, he resided with his family at Glasgow (where he had no society, but plenty of public libraries full of old books), at Innerkip on the Clyde, in Selkirk-
shire, or wherever
Dr. Lockhart passed his vacation. The following letter, dated Glasgow, June 15, 1813, shows that the anxieties of the schools weighed lightly on Lockhart:—

J. G. Lockhart to J. H. Christie.
“Glasgow, Tuesday, 15th June (1813).

My dear Christie,—I hope you will acknowledge the veniality of my neglect in not writing to you ere I quitted our Athens on two grounds. 1st, That I was remarkably hurried during the few days intervening betwixt my examination and my departure; 2ndly, That, notwithstanding all the hurry, I actually found time to write you a pretty long epistle, which I committed to the fiery flames in contrition for the worthlessness thereof. This second circumstance indeed shows me and my own modesty in such a charming point of view, that I cannot doubt they would procure for me the forgiveness of a heavier offence. I went up to London with Hamilton, and stayed long enough to see new Miss Drury, and Rae in ‘Octavian.’ This actor is a very fine young man—not accurately handsome, perhaps, but having a light, graceful, and energetic figure, with a fine long muscular neck surmounted (to talk à la Riddell) by a noble countenance, shaded with long hair of the most beautiful jet black. Miss Duncan I saw also. She is married
to a damned gamester, one Davison, and repairs from his seat in the Fleet to Drury Lane every evening to get him bread. When she was in Scotland last she refused a respectable laird of £1300 a year, and asserted that she would have nothing less than a title. In our passage by sea we enjoyed all the luxuries of a smack in perfection.

“I have had a letter from Williams this morning in which the classification is detailed. However, Jenkyns is, it seems, to write me with all haste, a favour similar to what you have, I suppose, by this time experienced. I have no earthly thing to find fault with in all this affair except our common enemy, your breast complaint, which has, I perceive, been the sole cause of depriving me of a double gratification——1 I hear Traill has forsan proairetically scalded his leg by way of escaping the little wrath of our little hero, Jenkyns. Hamilton has spent the last two nights with me here, and went up this morning to his mother’s. I cannot write to Oxford till my father comes home, and enables me to discharge some debt contracted before I came off to Traill. He is in Selkirkshire, where I mean shortly to go; but in the meantime my mother and the bairns, including Mr. John, are going to Ayrshire for sea-bathing. Address for me nevertheless here, and believe me ever, your most affectionate friend,

J. G. Lockhart.

1 A couple of lines obliterated by the seal.


P.S.—Hamilton has directed me to make Traill send you down several medical books left behind him, which if you have not already received, you may look for in a short time.”

There are not, indeed, many happier resting-places in a literary life than the haven of a First Class, after years of work and anxiety. The benevolent sensation of repose produced in the human mind by the combination of a First Class and a Fellowship is apt to merge into a state of endless lotus-eating. There was no Fellowship for Lockhart, but there was the pleasant western indolence of the Clyde, and the humours of a country parish diverted him. On Sept. 8, 1813, he writes from Innerkip.

Innerkip, 8th September 1813.

My dear Christie,—In this place of retirement you will easily perceive what a delightful variety the Caledonian Sabbath, observed con amore, must create. The minister of this place owed his promotion to a cause no doubt very common, although seldom so barefacedly exposed to the view of mankind. It seems the last minister left a solitary daughter of eighteen. The patron had great compassion on her light purse, and wrote to her in plain terms, that he referred the appointment of her father’s successor entirely to her own judgment. The lady, having caused this munificent offer of the
laird’s to circulate on the face of the earth, was speedily attended by a true Penelopean swarm of suitors—each eager, by a display of his various talents, to make his calling and his election sure. Miss S. very wisely gave the preference to him who had the broadest back—a very Welshman as to externals—toto cœlo discrepant from our friend as to the weightier matters. This sage apostle possesses, however, the rare power of amusing by his sermons. He is so totally ignorant that he professes never to have bought or borrowed a book since he cam’ to years o’ discretion! He found an old system of logic in the manse when he was married, and has thought fit to divide his discourses, logice, in consequence. He always sets out with a definition. For instance, he has been lecturing and preaching on the supper at Cana for these nine weeks, and the first thing he did was to define wine and water for the elucidation of the metamorphosis performed in his text. ‘Wine,’ quoth he, ‘is a pleasant, exhilarating liquor, taken after dinner and at other times—by genteel people—in moderation most excellent, but in excess odious. Water is a pure, perspicuous substance, useful in cleansing or purifying of things defiled.’

“At another time, having occasion to make his masonic audience comprehend what is meant by calling Christ the foundation of our faith—‘A foundation,’ said he, ‘may thus be defined, “that part
of a superstructure which the canny artist first endeavoureth to make steadfast.”’ So much for Presbyterian eloquence. We have the repenting stool here in all its glory. The poor man almost went out of his wits last Sunday in rebuking a damsel who appeared for the fifth time, in silk stockings. I suppose
Traill is no longer with you. Connell was here lately, for a day or two, and, according to him, Traill’s motions have been totally different from his original intentions. Remember me to him and Knight if they are in your neighbourhood. I am sensible that you can find (little) amusement in such letters as these. I hope I shall be able to atone in winter when I get among the luminaries of Auld Reekie. Jeffray (sic)—the cool-headed Jeffray—was lately, I hear, taken and released by Commodore Rogers on his way to America—from the North of Scotland—and on what errand? to marry a niece of John Wilkes, who lives at Charlestown. The Commodore knew Jeffray’s kindred soul, and treated him, it seems, with singular kindness. He got a letter from Rogers to the Mayor of Charlestown, and various friends of Republicanism with whom our ‘wee reekit deil’ of a reviewer will, no doubt, participate in many dinners and many toasts from which—Metu aut Montibus—we are unhappily debarred.—Yours ever affectionately,

J. G. Lockhart.”

These anecdotes were among the Presbyterian
humours which
Lockhart began to collect, and, as will presently appear, he thought of combining them into a novel after (or rather before) the manner of Galt.

When winter drives his family back from sea and river to the blackness of darkness of Glasgow, his letters (as of a single civilised Robinson Crusoe in a world of huxtering barbarians) wax mournful, almost elegiac.

“You and the Welshman are my only true and faithful correspondents,” he tells Mr. Christie, “and I don’t know how I should do without you, and your letters, of both of you, come to me at certain times with great effect of comfort. They keep me up in my connection with the world, which in many respects would be but in a perishing condition, where I am.

“I have not yet read through Wordsworth’s poem, from lack of opportunity only, you may be sure. I had one evening, however, the opportunity of reading several passages in it, with all of which I was most highly delighted. He strikes me as having more about him of that sort of sober, mild, sunset kind of gentleness, which is so dear to me from the recollections of Euripides, and the tender parts of the Odyssey, than any English poet ever possessed, save Shakespeare, the possessor of all.

“But then you underrate Lord Byron, I think. ‘Lara’ I look upon as a wonderful production. It is like Michael Angelo completing the unfinished
rock half hewn into a giant, or like
Roubillac opening the lips of Sir Isaac Newton’s statue, having originally represented them closed.

“Who but Byron would have dared to call such a spirit from the dead as Conrad, or who that could have dared, could have made him speak things so worthy of himself? Upon my honour, I think it shows more depth of insight into human nature to invent such a terrible band of ideas, all so fitted to this gloomy sort of being, than ever poet surpassed. I delight in all the great poets of our day, and am willing to put Wordsworth and Byron at the top.1 But I have not yet read ‘Roderic.’

“I rejoice to hear that your ‘Thirlestane Leslie’ thrives.”

This was a work begun by Christie: it was to contain “the remains of the late Thirlestane Leslie, Esq., consisting of poems and letters, with a biographical memoir.” Leslie was to be “a person of the imaginative cast, with strong logical powers and a dash of poetry, who afterwards went religious and died very young.” Mr. Christie asked Lockhart to give him any useful hints about the hero’s “unregenerate days”; he did not care to trust the future malleus hæreticorum, and of the profane Edinburgh Review, with the pieties of Thirlestane Leslie.

“I hope the child may escape the illnesses common

1 This, it may be remembered, is also the verdict of Mr. Matthew Arnold.

to his time of life, and yet be one of the Phœbo digna locuti. Have you really brought it to any tangible size and shape? If you have, I would strongly impel you to go on, and finish and publish him with all speed. You may put a few hundreds into your pocket, and you may get a name which will push you on in life. I see plainly there is no other way of getting into notice. In this age one must be an author, and why may not you hit upon a lucky stroke as well as another? I think the shape you talk of is likely to take very well.
Williams has a good many friends among the London booksellers. I would advise you to write to him before you fix anything. Murray is a most gentlemanly fellow, and most liberal.

“I don’t think the novel I have in hand will at all jumble with yours.1 I mean it chiefly as a receptacle of an immense quantity of anecdotes and observations I have made concerning the state of the Scotch, chiefly their clergy and elders. It is to me wonderful how the Scotch character has been neglected. I suppose the Kirk stood low in Smollett’s early days, and he had imbibed a disgust

1 Lockhart wrote to Constable, the publisher, from Milnburn (Dec. 29, 1814), saying that he had been “amusing himself with writing a novel,” the scene being in Scotland. Important classes of Scotch society, he thought, had been “left untouched.” His hero was one John Todd, a “True Blue,” in London during the visit of the Emperor of Russia. The “Romance of the Thistle” was the name he thought of. The tale would, apparently, have been something like Galt’sAyrshire Legatees.” The novel was to be anonymous. See “Archibald Constable,” iii. 151-152.

for it. He has given us, you see, only a few little sketches, nothing full or rich, like his seamen. Now I think there is just as great a fund of originality and humour in the Scotch character, modified as it is, in the various ranks of life, as in the English or Spanish, or any of those of which so much has been made. I think I shall have two volumes to show you when we meet, which I doubt will not be till spring. Indeed I have made up my mind to study the Scots Law here with all my might, whatever may be hereafter. I am deep in the early history of England and of this country at present. I find great use in my German, and am making myself acquainted with our Saxon remains. Indeed, I begin to think the antiquities of the Middle Ages are the most rational study a man could devote himself to, were he an idle person; as it is, an acquaintance with these things is indispensable to a lawyer.”

This letter seems evidence of a sudden intellectual advance in Lockhart. His comments on Byron may no longer be in harmony with the taste of the day; but, whatever it was that his contemporaries admired in Byron’s Conrads and Laras, that quality, now so faded, was then in universal esteem. Christie, who did not care for Byron, among lovers of poetry held a lonely position. Lockhart was always loyal to the verse of Wordsworth, though later, in private life, he smiled at the self-centred prosiness of the poet. It is curious that Lockhart, when he writes
about the unexplored mine of Scotch character awaiting the novelist, says nothing concerning “
Waverley,” which, in the autumn of 1814, was the newest novel. We might almost think that he had not yet read Scott’s opening romance, to which he refers in the following note of Feb. 28, 1815:—

“Have you seen ‘The Saxon and the Gael’? If not, you will find it a clever enough representation of Edinburgh a few years ago. A number of very capital anecdotes, mostly old here, but new perhaps to you. This much I say from having read half a volume, and from hearsay. There is come out another Highland novel called ‘Clan Albin’ which I have not seen, but which they say is equal or superior to ‘Waverley.’ Little doubt is now entertained as to the authors of that production. It seems a young friend of W. Scott’s sketched the story and outlined everything. Walter Scott inserted the humour and brushed all up. ‘Clan Albin’s’ author is not known. Old Johnny Pinkerton, on account of his notorious scurrility and hatred of Edinburgh, is suspected of ‘The Saxon and Gael.’ What a fecund fellow Wattie is! a long poem and two novels in the same year, besides reviews, songs, &c., &c., for they say Sir Guy the1 () is ready, or in the press. Most of my novel was written before I read ‘Waverley,’ but I fear the

1 “Sir Guy the Searcher”? Scott liked to quote that person, for he himself was always on the search for his missing papers, &c. More probably “Guy Mannering” is intended.

rush upon Scotland consequent to that popular work is such that mine is likely to be crushed among the row. I intend letting it sleep a year or two and making use of it as a drawable for some more extensive thing. Now allow me to hope that I am to hear from you immediately. Remember me to any friends, will you, and believe me ever, most truly yours,

J. G. L.

P.S.—I heard lately both from Hamilton and Traill. They are dancing in Edinburgh.”

In the matter of novel-writing, Lockhart’s ambition, at the age of twenty, was to be what Galt became, the recorder of the Caledonian humours of his own, not of past romantic ages, and of “a rampageous antiquity,” as Galt’s Provost says. What became of Lockhart’s John Todd is unknown—he may have destroyed his manuscript. “The book is damned,” he wrote briefly, years afterwards, to Christie, when his “Valerius” failed, and he never seems to have fretted about the fortunes of his works. His idea of writing national fiction was bold at twenty, and his energetic attack on many new subjects is a proof of his mental vigour. That vigour, that clean rapidity in acquisition and execution, is characteristic of Lockhart. The highest hopes might have been, and were entertained for his future. “Lockhart will blaze” said Scott later, yet he never “blazed.” We naturally ask why he did
not, and we shall presently find many circumstances, often of his own making, which damped his fire, and thwarted his energies. But, from the first, we observe little promise of creative gifts. Most young men, lovers of poetry, endowed with taste, learning, and fancy, write verses, but if Lockhart did so (as Mr. Christie says he did), he never mentions the fact. That the gods had made him poetical, his rare serious pieces prove. But he perhaps criticised himself too severely, or his diffidence was too great, or, finally, he did not feel an impulse so natural to youth as the impulse to rhyme. Its presence proves nothing, but its absence may be an indication of some lack, of something wanting, which, even if Lockhart’s fortunes had been different, might have deprived him of the highest literary success. His novel, even, was confessedly to be a thing based on observation, a study of character, not a romance, not a story told for the story’s sake, such as a very young man, or boy, would be likely to attempt. Ambition, too, appears to have been his motive, a man who would be noticed “must be an author.” He was ambitious, but, comparatively early in life, he put ambition by, for, when once he learned to renounce and resign, he resigned things lightly, as one who, after
Montaigne’s counsel, “made no great marvel of his own fortunes.”

On November 25, 1814, we find him again writing to Christie, from his father’s house in Glasgow. He has “heard from Williams, very happy at Win-
chester. I doubt not he will yet rise in the world, by means of his strong head, and inflexible power of nailing himself to any rough piece of timber that comes in his way. You used to be skilled in the Lakish fellows, if I remember. Can you tell me anything of
Lambe? (sic) I never read his specimens of the Old Tragedians till the other day, and have been, I need not say, highly delighted with them. Really we may crack our thumbs over the departed play genius of Britain. We have lost, I think, the whole art of delineating the delicate mixtures of human character. We have now no specimens of contradictory beings such as Nature makes; but to be sure, it is the same in real life, and what can we expect on the stage?

“I am very sorry you did not write last year on the English Essay subject” (at Oxford). “Your studies have, if I mistake not, been a good deal among our elder writers and I understand the successful effusion is a mere nothing—for I have not seen any of these productions for the last two or three years. I do not know yet what the subjects of this year’s essays are; if you know, be so good as to tell me, for, although I am not idle, I may perhaps think of writing, should the theme tempt. Last year I was too sensible of my own defectiveness in Elizabethan learning to think seriously of it, for I well knew that the knowledge one can pick up in a few weeks’ reading is not at all of the kind necessary for explaining the genius of a set of writers such as these.


“This place is, for a seat of learning, so ignorant, that I have never yet been able to lay my hands on ‘Roderick,’ except for a moment, when I read the beginning, which I admire exceedingly. Tell me what sort of whole it is when you write next. . . . It is really a miserable thing to be without friends: out of my own family I have not a soul here I care for. The manners of men who talk perpetually of raw sugar and calicoes, and of chemical-botanical vulgar women, are intolerable to me. I am fain to take all my walks in solitude, which is as much as to say, that I walk very little, and horse I have none. . . .

“I have got abundant access to books, however, more so than I ever had either at Edinburgh or Oxon, and find, no doubt, great consolation in them, although the novelties are no longer new elsewhere by the time they come here.

“There is a vacancy at present in our Humanity Chair. I was inclined to be very desirous that Hamilton should stand, but he scorned the idea. For my part, I think he was a fool. I don’t well see how they could have refused him on many accounts, although nothing is too base for them; and I fancy I may count upon your perfect approbation for my sentiments respecting the merits of £1500 a year—an excellent house, library, &c., and six months of vacation—besides little more than two hours a day of drudging during the session.


“But altiora petit—and God grant he may get them, but I think if he ever gets high it will be as a writer, and I don’t see where he could have had more leisure than here, and the worse the society the more.

“I think a man may tolerate even Glasgow for half the year, with the prospect of spending the other half in company of his own choice—and this is really an opinion of which I may speak with some certainty, as I know not how I should endure it at present myself, unless I had the hope of making up for the deprivations I feel by a free month’s view of you all in summer.

Traill, I understand, is to be in Edinburgh this winter. I shall be there for a day or two very soon and see.

“My novel comes on wondrously—I mean as to bulk. My fears are many—first, of false taste creeping in from the want of any censor; secondly, of too much Scotch—from the circumstance of my writing in the midst of the ‘low Lanerickshire’—&c, &c., &c. But I think I have written a great many graphical enough scenes, and have really made up my mind to print two volumes of nonsense in the spring. I think of writing to Murray, but I believe I shall put it off till I come up myself. Once again let me ask you for any little odd tags, rags, and bobtails of good incidents, &c., for which you have no immediate use. They may do me great service. In the meantime, write me frequently—
frequentissime, and believe me, ever your most affectionate friend,

J. G. Lockhart.

“Compliments to your bantling.”

The next letter (January 3, 1815), shows Lockhart taking such pleasure as Glasgow society could yield to an humorous observer. Dr. Scott, “the Odontist,” was destined to appear in his Blackwood articles, as a butt who delighted in that office. Lockhart later composed dozens of burlesque verses, and attributed them to the dentist, nor were they seriously disclaimed. Some of the jests of the Gag club cannot be reproduced. The novel on Astrology, referred to as promised by Scott, is “Guy Mannering.” Lockhart seems to have had no doubts as to Sir Walter’s authorship.

January 3, 1815.

My dear Christie,—I am very much delighted by your letter, for it shows you to be somewhat in better humour with yourself and this world than some of the last did. This I attribute partly to your cold having subsided, but principally to the collision which you have enjoyed with Williams. Not to mention other good qualities, I think his sort of steady spirits render him a most valuable companion. What other people effect by politeness
and painstaking he does by nature in this matter. He talks of composing Florilegiums, &c. I think it may be a good enough way of making £50 or so—rather better than breaking iron-stone on a road in July. I am grieved that W. takes offence at my tolerance for some of the
Wordsworth school: I am not sure that I would say so much as I have said after reading the ‘Excursion,’ at least the Jeffreys (sic) give one a bad scent of it. But from their having omitted to quote any of several divine passages which I have read I doubt not they are unfair. However, you in one of your letters lately mention, among the absurdities of this age’s producing, sentimental braziers and tender-hearted Jews. I daresay Coleridge has by this time added philosophising pedlars to the list. Upon the whole, I doubt we have had bad luck on the lakes this year on both sides the Atlantic.

“I have never been so solitary all my days as I am now, and have been for some months. I feel no sympathy with the mercantile souls here, and have really no companion whatever. I don’t know what I would not have given to spend Christmas with the Welchman and you. I fancy Bristol may be cursedly like this place, for you—tant pis.

“T’other day I went to a Glasgow ball, almost, I may say, for the first time. On entering the room a buzz of ‘sugars,’ ‘cottons,’ ‘coffee,’ ‘pullicates,’ assailed my ears from the four winds of heaven. Every now and then the gemmen were deserting
their partners, and rushing into the caper course to talk over the samples of the morning. One sedulous dog seemed to insist on another’s putting his finger into his waistcoat pocket. The being did so, and forthwith put the tip to his lips, but the countenance was so mealy that I could not tell whether it smacked of sugar or Genseng.

“There is nobody affords me so much amusement here as a dentist—a little, fat, coarse, bandy fellow, who commonly goes by the name of Count Pulltuski. This man carries personal vanity to the most daring height I ever witnessed. It becomes quite magnanimous in him. He makes no bones of speaking it out, in a broad and open way, that he considers himself as the greatest man now alive. I won his heart one evening at a punch party. They were roasting him upon the narrow and illiberal branch of the medical trade to which he confines himself. I took up the cudgels for him, and maintained that I thought the circumstance of such a man being a tooth doctor one of the best proofs of the advanced civilisation of this age, and added that I hoped this country would soon learn, like ancient Egypt, to have no physicians who undertake all manner of cures, but restrict every practitioner to some lith or limb of his own.

Pulltuski sported me a royal dinner the day after. He had a set of rich, vulgar dogs about him, who all pretend to the title of humorists, or, according to the local phraseology, gaggers.
N.B.—Gaggery, in the Glasgow idiom, means that sort of fun which consists in saying things that stop one’s mouth; and the coarser the gag, they seem to reckon the joke the more exquisite. There is what they call a Gag club. I went to it one night as visitor. . . . They sang ‘The pigs they lie,’ in chorus, &c. Says the President, ‘I was sent for t’other day to
Lord Douglass. I took particular care to dress myself in silks, powdered highly, and arrived in my gig about seven in the evening. I was shown into the dining-room—dinner just over. Sat next my lady, a whisper through the room, “who’s that?”—“’tis the great Scott—the dentist—Pulltuski—a remarkably genteel-looking man. . . .”’ This chiel is President also of the Newtonian Scientific Society of Glasgow, &c, &c. But ’tis all nothing unless one could write his face. I drew him in a box great-coat with nineteen necks and a comforter round his neck. He has got this varnished and put in a two-guinea frame over his mantelpiece. He sent round with his dessert, after dinner, the jaw of a Roman soldier, and a set of teeth from Borodino, which last produced twenty jokes on the high profits of his import trade, &c. He drank his wine out of a glass about a foot high. . . . So much for him.

Hamilton has lately become a member of the Antiquarian Society of Edinburgh. Traill has passed his civil law trials, as I am told, with éclat, which means without being plucked. Hamilton
lately made his first attempt at a speech, but immediately lost every ray of recollection, and raved about like a madman for some minutes, and then stuck dumb. What unfortunate nerves for a barrister. He has become a great student of magic, and talks of publishing a history of Dæmonology, but I see
W. Scott announces a novel on Astrology, and I fancy that will be enough of the black art for us all. Hannay, I hear, is a great dab at the bar for his time, and brought off a sheepstealer at Kirkcudbright assizes.

“Will you be in Oxon Easter and Act? I think the essay subjects are both d—— bad, but if I think of either it will be the Latin. I read during summer some of the late German histories of philosophy, and think I must make something of it.—Yours,

“J. G. L.”

The following letter (Inverkip, by Greenock, Aug. 3, 1815) describes a brief Highland tour. If Lockhart went after trout, he fished with more enthusiasm for men, for traits of character. His friend to be, John Wilson, would not have left his captures unchronicled:—

Inverkip, by Greenock, Aug. 3rd, 1815.

My dear Christie,—The summer is flying away, and not having heard lately from you, or anybody in the southern parts, I am beginning to be
completely Scotchified. I don’t know how you go on in the important concerns of medical lore. But the Deity of La Paresse has resumed over me with redoubled vigour her antique sway. The place from which I write is a hamlet on the coast of Renfrewshire, just where that county meets Ayrshire. The Clyde is here a noble firth of seven miles breadth, running between the fertile hills of Ayr on the one side, and the bleak-black mountains of Morven on the other. The whole country is intersected with long arms of the sea—lochs, &c.—which render this part of Scotland the most picturesque I have seen.

Not contented with these beauties, the itch of rambling has just been leading me away into the depths of Lochaber. My brother and I foregathered with Hamilton on the banks of Lochlomond, which flows into the Clyde about ten miles above this by means of the water of Leven, and we have just returned from ten days of thorough tramping. We had a horse with us for the convenience of carrying baggage—but contemning the paths of civilised man, we dared the deepest glens in search of trout. There is something abundantly delightful in the naked-heartedness of the Highland people. Bating the article of inquisitiveness, they are as polite as courtiers. The moment we entered a cottage the wife began to bake her cakes—and, having portable soup with us, our fare was really excellent. What think you of parritch and cream
for breakfast? Trout, pike, and herrings for dinner, ewe-milk cheese and right peat-reek whisky? and then at night a rushlight illuminating the smoke-dried pages of
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Song of Solomon—‘The Crook in the Lot,’ ‘The Cloud of Witnesses, or The Martyrs’ Monument—wherein are the speeches and last words of all the Presbyterian saints, burnt, hanged, and drowned for the glory of God. And lastly, but almost universally—‘The Light and Supple Whang for the Breeks of Declining Faith.’ My brother being a little bit of the wag, gained the affections of all these good folks by his graces, each a quarter of an hour long, wherein he rang the commonplaces of young ravens crying for their food, and of men not living by bread alone. . . . I have heard not a word of any of our Oxonian friends. Don’t forget in your next to give me any intelligence you possess about our friend Nicoll. Gordon MacCaul was up in Oxford, and took his A.M. just after we left it. He says Miss Ireland has at last loosed her virgin zone under the strength of Evans. Happy, happy, happy pair. What a subject for an Epithalamium. Try your hand. I see you say you are reading a great deal of French. If you can lay your hands upon the works of Gresset, I promise you exquisite pleasure. You will find a beautiful Eloge upon him in the first volume of the ‘Discours et Memoires,’ by Bailly.

“There is a famous foreign library at Greenock,
in which I find everything I can want for summer purposes. Compts. to
Knight.—Yours most affectionately,

J. G. Lockhart.”

The letter which follows (Sept. 9, 1815, Gourock Bay) contains an early reference to John Wilson. Lockhart thought of making a collection of Oxford facetiæ, and hoped for Wilson’s help. As usual, Lockhart has a few fresh anecdotes of the Presbyterian simplicity.

Gourock Bay, Greenock, Sept. 9th, 1815.

My dear Christie,—I have been blaming myself all this while for not writing you. I have put it off day after day that I might have it in my power to tell you my agreement with the booksellers about our little production, and yet even now I cannot do so—bless their dilatory souls. My dues being, according to Wardrop, thoroughly removed, and ten guineas conveyed from my breeches pocket into his, I left London about a fortnight ago, in company with Aristotle the second,1 who had been spending three weeks in rummaging a collection of letters (MS.) in the Bodleian, and egging the tutelary angel of that mystic abode to a new flight—casa non detta mai in prosa ne in rima—a translation of Schneider’s Lexicon. The little dumpling of philology” (Nicoll) “agreed, but behold Mr. Elmsley

1 Sir William Hamilton.

of Cambridge has forestalled him—vide the spare sheet at the end of the last
Quarterly Review—so hæc tentamina tanta must sleep in præsenti. Hamilton is full of strange whims and fancies—anything but the law of Scotland—inter nos, I think it is likely he may publish an ‘Essay on the State of Universities, Ideal and Actual,’ before long—at least his adversaria teem with scraps concerning it, and his talk lies much that way, though this is nothing new. He approves highly of the thing which I meditate—disapproves, however, the title of Olio; he suggests ‘the Oxford Picnic,’ and by all means recommends saying part the first. Indeed I already smell much matter, and expect that the first hint of the matter to Wilson will engage his assistance. I understood Maudlin did not nourish him for nothing. By-the-bye, Reginald Heber, you may know, printed some years ago a Brazennose satire, the Whippiad, which he has since done his best to suppress. This of course no one would think of meddling with vivo auctore, but I understand he is the author of a number of very good things besides. H. heard Tuckwell repeat a good many of them. Could you not contrive to get at these? I am sure you may. Moreover, Jack Ireland is the repository of many old lampoons written at the time of the war between the Balliol exhibitioners and the college. These might surely be worth something—at all events, they may be inquired after. I mention these things because
you will soon be there, and can use your judgment if you think proper. Jack had so far recovered his shock as to get drunk three or four times in Hamilton’s presence while he was in Oxford.

“‘Pasquillus Oxoniensis’ might not be a bad title. But I am not despairing but something more happy than any of these may yet occur. I made a good pun the other day (ut dirty-Durlice loquar). Hamilton has a law paper to write concerning a Mr. Hume—a poor devil—who is trying to get the title of Marchmont. I suggested for a motto—
‘——tentanda via est qua me quoque possim
Tollere Humo.——’

“We are here in a beautiful situation in the Firth of Clyde, surrounded with all the mountains of Argyle, and have Benlomond right before us. I enjoy myself very much, when the weather is favourable, in fishing, boating, &c. On Sunday the Antiburghers had their occasion about two miles off. I went into the tent-field towards evening; the man had just finished preaching at a great rate, but something being whispered into his ear, he said just as I entered, ‘Brethren, as they’re aye haddin on yet in the kirk, I think we had as weel do away the time a leetle in prayer.’ The Edinburgh Bible Society Report contains—(it is now lying before me) these resolutions on the second page:—

“11. Resolved, That the thanks of this meeting are due to Sir John Marjoribanks, Bart., for his
kindness to the institution. 12. Resolved, That the thanks of this meeting are due to Bailie John Waugh for his able conduct in the chair, &c. 13. Resolved, That the fervent acknowledgments of this meeting are most justly due to Almighty Providence, for its watchfulness over the interests of Christ’s Kingdom in general, and the British and Foreign Bible Society in particular. 14. Thanks to Mrs. Maxwell for a present of Gaelic Bibles.—Yours ever,

J. G. Lockhart.”

In the autumn of 1815, Lockhart left Glasgow for the much more congenial city of Edinburgh, there to read Scots law, and to begin the real business of his life, miscellaneous writing. His comments on Edinburgh, and on some of his new acquaintances, will be found, as usual, in his letters to Mr. Christie.