LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life and Letters of John Gibson Lockhart
Chapter 9: 1820-21

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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EDINBURGH, 1820-1821
“The mother of mischief.”—Election to Chair of Moral Philosophy.—Hamilton and Wilson.—Calumnies against Wilson.—Scott’s defence.—Lockhart’s “Testimonium.”—Scott’s letter of remonstrance.—Promises of good behaviour.—Attacks on Lockhart in Baldwin’s Magazine.—Mr. John Scott, Editor of Baldwin’s.—Tims.—Christie writes to Lockhart.—Lockhart’s reply.—Demand for an apology.—Mr. John Scott’s answer.—Lockhart in London.—A challenge.—Curious evidence of Horatio Smith.—A pacific second.—No fight.—An oversight.—Christie’s statement.—John Scott challenges Christie.—A moonlight duel.—Christie’s letter to Lockhart.—Flight of Christie and Traill.—Distress of Lockhart.—Imputations on his courage.—Gallant behaviour of Christie.—The trial.—Acquittal.—Reflections.

It is with pain that we return to “the mother of mischief,” and all the trouble that came of “that daughter of debate,” Maga. In the end of March 1820, Lockhart wrote to Scott, who was in London, asking him to aid Wilson in his candidature for the Chair of Moral Philosophy in the Town’s College of Edinburgh. The University there is essentially “the Town’s College,” and the electors, at that time, were the Town Council. The electors were themselves chosen on political grounds, and the Tories had a majority. The only formidable opponent was Sir William Hamilton, who, as the most learned
and blameless Scottish scholar of his day, ought, of course, to have been appointed. Wilson, on the other side, had “great natural powers accidentally directed” towards the subject of the Chair. But any Scot can be professor of anything, and
Mr. Carlyle was equally ready for a Chair of Astronomy or of Rhetoric. The best that can be said for a struggle as fierce as any Parliamentary election, is, that it left Hamilton and Wilson on perfectly good terms, as it found them, and that Professor Wilson put all his unrivalled energy into his duties as he conceived them, kept his class thoroughly alive, and was an elder brother to his pupils.

The incongruity of his candidature, however, could not escape observation. Scott, as a friend and a Tory, and a firm believer in the candidate, took Wilson’s part. He had, not unjustly, the highest opinion of his natural powers; even Carlyle admits that Wilson was “the most gifted of our literary men, either then or still.” Scott conceived that the work and responsibility of the Chair would steady and indeed redeem Wilson, which, with time, they managed to effect. “He must leave off sack, purge, and live cleanly as a gentleman ought to do.”1

The election went on, both parties putting forth all their energies. The Whigs were so ill advised as to charge Wilson with being “a bad husband

1Life,” vi. 218.

and a bad father.” Here he was on perfectly safe ground, and obtained golden opinions to that effect. He was accused of singing “a careless careless tavern catch” at some revel, and
Lockhart, in a letter already published in part, assures Scott that the enemy sank so low as to try to worm evidence out of hotel waiters, the minions of Ambrose, perhaps. On July 8, Scott himself wrote a remarkable letter on these heads to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh. (“Christopher North,” ii. 313.) To say, however, as he did, that Wilson was “altogether incapable of composing parodies upon Scripture,” argued a slight forgetfulness of “The Chaldee!” The rest of the letter is a model in its kind. As Mrs. Wilson wrote, “the Tories were triumphant,” for, in fact, the election was political. Wilson set to work with a devouring energy, and, as we have seen, justified his appointment; and he had Sir William Hamilton as an enthusiastic auditor of one, at least, of his discourses.

Lockhart, unluckily, could not but raise a wild war-whoop over Wilson’s success. Mr. Cranstoun, the famous advocate, had made a poem with twenty rhymes to “Packwood” (a notoriety of the day). Lockhart, under the name of his Glasgow dentist, or Odontist, Dr. James Scott, indited the “Testimonium,” with some seventy rhymes to Blackwood, in celebration of Wilson’s victory. (Blackwood, July 1820.) Now the Scotsman, edited by Mr. M’Culloch, was a vehement opposer of Wilson, and
Mrs. Gordon, in “Christopher North,” prints some of Mr. M’Culloch’s amenities. The same paper, as a matter of course, had attacked Dr. Peter Morris. In the “Testimonium,” verses xiii. and xiv. are devoted to Mr. M’Culloch, under his nickname of the Stot. This is needful to be known for the understanding of the following letter from Scott to Lockhart, and, practically, to Wilson.1 The epistle shows how far Scott “encouraged” the excesses of Blackwood. He is replying to a letter of Lockhart’s of July 20, 1820. This is partly published (Scott’s “Letters,” ii. 84). There is reference to the “Testimonium,” and to the passions of the hour. There was near being a challenge to the duello between two learned Professors. Lockhart also speaks of beginning his novel, “Valerius.” Scott’s letter follows:—

Dear Lockhart,—I had your kind letter, and congratulate you on your hard-fought battle. Wilson has surmounted difficulties of which he was not aware, for the worthy wrote to Lord Melville on the subject of his interference, and received a most capital answer. Moreover, all sorts of anonymous letters were directed to little purpose at the same quarter. The victory, however, being gained, it is greatly the opinion of Mr.

1 Postmark, July 25, 1820. The letter could not be discovered for Scott’s Correspondence: I owe it to the kindness of my friend, Mr. C. M. Falconer of Dundee, who found this, and some other papers, by a curious accident.

Wilson’s best wishers, and most especially mine, that the matter may be suffered to rest. His best triumph, and that of his friends, will be in the concentration of his powerful mind upon the great and important task before him, and in utterly contemning the paltry malice of those who have taken such foul means of opposing him. Any attempt on his part, or that of his friends, to retaliate on such a fainéant as poor
Stookie, or on the Scotsman, is like a gentleman fighting with a chimney sweeper—he may lick him, but cannot avoid being smutted in the conflict. For my part, I vow to God I would sooner fight a duel with an actual scavenger than enter into controversy with such fellows.

“I am sure our friend has been taught the danger of giving way to high spirits in mixed society, where there is some one always ready to laugh at the joke and to put it into his pocket to throw in the jester’s face on some future occasion. It is plain Wilson must have walked the course had he been cautious in selecting the friends of his lighter hours, and now, clothed with philosophical dignity, his friends will really expect he should be on his guard in this respect, and add to his talents and amiable disposition the proper degree of retenue becoming a moral teacher. Try to express all this to him in your own way, and believe that, as I have said it from the best motives, so I would wish it conveyed in the most delicate terms, as from one
who equally honours Wilson’s genius and loves his benevolent, ardent, and amiable disposition, but who would willingly see them mingled with the caution which leaves calumny no pin to hang her infamous accusations upon.

“For the reasons above mentioned I wish you had not published the ‘Testimonium.’ It is very clever, but descends to too low game. If Jeffrey or Cranstoun, or any of the dignitaries, chose to fight such skirmishes there would be some credit in it; but I do not like to see you turn out as a sharp-shooter with ——. ‘What does thou drawn among these heartless hinds?’ If M’Culloch were to parade you upon the score of Stanza xiii., I do not see how you could decline his meeting, as you make the man your equal (ad hoc, I mean), when you condescend to insult him by name. And the honour of such a rencounter would be small comfort to your friends for the danger which must attend it. I have hitherto avoided saying anything on this subject,1 though some little turn towards personal satire is, I think, the only drawback to your great and powerful talents, and I think I may have hinted as much to you. But I wished to see how this matter of Wilson’s would turn, before making a clean breast upon this subject. It might have so happened that you could

1 Later Sir Walter says that he remonstrated before Lockhart’s marriage. It is impossible to know on which occasion,—the present, or a later period,—his memory was at fault.

not handsomely or kindly have avoided a share in his defence, if the enemy had prevailed, and where friendship, or country, or any strong call demands the use of satiric talent, I hope I should neither fear risk myself or desire a friend to shun it. But now that he has triumphed I think it would be bad taste to cry out—
‘Strike up our drums—pursue the scattered stray.’
Besides, the natural consequence of his new situation must be his relinquishing his share in these compositions—at least, he will injure himself in the opinion of many friends, and expose himself to a continuation of galling and vexatious disputes to the embittering of his life, should he do otherwise. In that case I really hope you will pause before you undertake to be the Boaz of the
Maga; I mean in the personal and satirical department, when the Jachin has seceded.

“Besides all other objections of personal enemies, personal quarrels, constant obloquy, and all uncharitableness, such an occupation will fritter away your talents, hurt your reputation both as a lawyer and a literary man, and waste away your time in what at best will be but a monthly wonder. What has been done in this department will be very well as a frolic of young men, but let it suffice, ‘the gambol has been shown’—the frequent repetition will lose its effect even as pleasantry, for Peter Pindar, the sharpest of personal satirists, wrote himself down,
and wrote himself out, and is forgotten. The public can be cloyed with this as well as with other high seasoned food. Remember it is to the personal satire I object, and to the horse-play of your raillery, as well as the mean objects on whom it is wasted. Employing your wit and wisdom on general national topics, and bestowing deserved correction on opinions rather than men, or on men only as connected with actions and opinions, you cannot but do your country yeoman’s service.

“The magazine, I should think, might be gradually restricted in the point of which I complain, and strengthened and enlarged in circulation at the same time. It certainly has done and may do admirable service; it is the excess I complain of, and particularly as respecting your share in it, for I care not how hard others lay on the Galwegian Stot, only I would not like to have you in that sort of scrape which, if he have a particle of the buffalo in him, might, I think, ensue. Revere yourself, my dear boy, and think you were born to do your country better service than in this species of warfare. I make no apology (I am sure you will require none) for speaking plainly what my anxious affection dictates. As the old warrior says, ‘May the name of Mevni be forgotten among the people, and may they only say, Behold the father of Gaul.’ I wish you to have the benefit of my experience without purchasing it; and be assured, that the consciousness of attain-
ing complete superiority over your calumniators and enemies by the force of your general character, is worth a dozen of triumphs over them by the force of wit and raillery. I am sure
Sophia, as much as she can or ought to form any judgment respecting the line of conduct you have to pursue in your new character of a man married and settled, will be of my opinion in this matter, and that you will consider her happiness and your own, together with the respectability of both, by giving what I have said your anxious consideration.

“I am delighted to hear you get on so soon with the Roman tale.1 It cannot but be admirable, and is quite new. I would have you anxiously consider the author for a little time. The Abb. gets on; I hope it will do, and am greatly encouraged by your sentiments and Erskine’s. James Ballantyne, a good specimen of a certain class of readers, likes the second volume better than the first—Vogue la galère.

I have at present a visit from Dr. [name illegible]; he has stayed with me some days, and I think him intelligent and sensible, under a good deal of high-church and classical bigotry—neither indeed is the sort of bigotry which I dislike. If Charles goes eastward ho! I shall be glad to have compassed his acquaintance . . .

[This part torn off.]

. . . which would be a beautiful thing if it could be


done, but I doubt it, and I make a point never to do anything over my poor neighbours’ necks.
Constable proposes £400 for the Review1—this is too little, I think, though fully what the work can afford. Write to James Ballantyne, who thinks it should be £500, what your own views are, and they will be complied with instantly. Do not let this business slumber, for in these matters one should be a man of business. I have nothing to add but my best affection to Fia, as Charles used to call her when a child, and kind respects to your father and mother. I need not say how happy I will be when your Western Circuit finishes, and you come here to see the rising towers.”

Lockhart’s answer is to be read in the published “Letters” of Sir Walter (vol. ii. p. 86). Both he and Wilson promised to be good, but temptation more or less overcame their resolutions. It is only just to add that the writings which led to “the most unfortunate event in Lockhart’s life” (as Scott called it), were all prior to this rebuke, and to these vows of amendment. I do not trace Lockhart’s hand frequently in Blackwood at this time. The translations from the “Faust” of Goethe, in the June number for 1820, are practically attributed to him, in an Editorial note. They are said to be “not executed by Mr. Gillies, but by another friend, whose contributions in verse and prose, serious and comic, have already very frequently honoured our

1 The reference here is obscure.

pages.” Many of them display Lockhart’s great metrical skill and poetic faculty, but they will be better dealt with in some comments on his verse in general. He also now and then wrote “Wastleiana,” in which the remarks on
Leigh Hunt might very well have been omitted. He reviewed, with high praise, Mr. Washington Irving’sKnickerbocker’s History of New York,” imploring him to try his hand at a novel. (July 1820.) He acknowledges “much merit in some of the stanzas of Mr. Keats’s last volume” (“Lamia and Isabella”), but still detects the “Cockney” affectation, and is blind to the Miltonic grandeur of “Hyperion,” if he read it. We may remember Shelley’s own strange coldness to this wonderful volume, and his opinion that Keats was imitating a greater than he,—Leigh Hunt! Shelley wrote—“Keats’s new volume has arrived to us, and the fragment called ‘Hyperion’ promises for him that he is destined to become one of the first writers of his age. His other things are imperfect enough, and, what is worse, written in a bad sort of style, which is becoming fashionable among those who think that they are imitating Hunt and Wordsworth. But of all these things, nothing is worse than ——, in spite of Hunt’s extracting the only good stanzas, with his usual good nature.”1 What is ——? The Editor, in 1862, cast a veil over the name of the piece which, in Shelley’s opinion, was the worst even

1Correspondence of Leigh Hunt,” i. 158.

of Keats’s bad poems. Doubtless it was one of his best.

It is extraordinary to find the author of “Adonais” agreeing, in essentials, though not in tone, with a reviewer to whom Keats was a Cockney, a follower (as Shelley too held) of Leigh Hunt, though withal, says Lockhart, “a fine feeling lad.” Shelley offers to teach Keats Greek; Lockhart asks why, in ignorance of Greek, he writes on the legends of Greece? Lockhart hopes that he will live to despise Leigh Hunt, and be a poet, “after the fashion of the elder men of England.” Shelley thinks he promises, in “Hyperion,” to be one of the first writers of the age.

As regards “Hyperion,” Mr. Robert Bridges, in what is probably the best criticism of Keats ever written, points out that Keats meant to desert his Miltonic manner. “I have given up ‘Hyperion,’—there are too many inversions in it,—Miltonic verse cannot be written but in an artful, or rather artist’s mood. I wish to give myself up to other sensations.”1 It was not in the Miltonic direction, but in his “Ode to Autumn,” and “On a Greek Urn,” that Keats was to “find himself,” and be, without knowing Greek, himself a Greek by “grace of congruity.” Shelley’s letter to Leigh Hunt, with Lockhart’s obiter dicta, prove that poet and critic alike may fail fully to know contemporary genius when they meet it, and may, as in Shelley’s prefer-

1 Keats’s Letters, p. 380, 1895.

ence of Leigh Hunt to Keats, prefer contemporary mediocrity.

At the close of 1820, a little incident occurred which illustrates an opinion already expressed, that the Blackwoodians would never have waged war on the Cockneys, or at least on some of that camp, if they had known their foemen personally. Haydon had been sneered at as a Cockney Raphael, and the interchanges of published sonnets, and comparisons with the world’s greatest, among Leigh Hunt’s set, had exasperated Northern critics, just as they soon began to irritate Keats. Now, in November 1820, Haydon, for divers good reasons, left town, and took his picture of “Christ entering Jerusalem” to Edinburgh. He went to see Sir William Allan. “As we were walking, we met Lockhart. I was pleased at meeting him, though he was rather nervous. He had assaulted me as one of the Cockney clique,1 and he seemed surprised to find that I was human. In Lockhart’s melancholy Spanish head, there was evidence of genius and mischief. I dined with him. His reception was open and frank. He treated me then, and ever since, as if I was a man he had unwittingly injured. The next man I dined with was Sir Walter Scott. . . . Allan was there, and Lockhart and Terry were also of the party, with Miss Scott, Mrs. Lockhart, and Lady Scott. . . . I had a letter to Wilson, and he also made up a large party, at which we had a splendid

1 This Lockhart, in his letter to Haydon, denies.

set to. Wilson looked like a fine Sandwich Islander who had been educated in the Highlands. His light hair, deep sea-blue eye, tall athletic figure, and hearty hand-grip; his eagerness in debate, his violent passions, great genius, and irregular habits, rendered him a formidable partisan, a furious enemy, and an ardent friend. His hatred of
Keats, which could not be concealed, marked him as the author of all these violent assaults on my poor friend in Blackwood.”1

“The Blackwood set (fine dogs!), not convinced yet of my not being a Cockney, determined to put me to that sure test, a gallop,” out of which Haydon thought he came very well. “John Scott predicted I should return victorious and triumphant, and so I did. . . . I felt as if for a fortnight I had been sailing with a party of fine fellows up a placid and beautiful river.” Haydon’s picture was lauded, and he was besonneted in Blackwood!

The tomahawk was buried. “Lockhart’s whole life has since been a struggle to undo the evil he was at the time a party to. Hence his visits to me in prison, his praise in the Quarterly, and his opinions expressed so often, on what he thinks my deserts. This shows a good heart, and a fine heart Lockhart has; but he is fond of fun and mischief,

1 This, of course, is only Haydon’s inference. I do not know who wrote the Blackwood review of “The Poems” of 1817, and of “Endymion.”

and does not think of the wreck he has made till he has seen the fragments.”

Nobody but Haydon wrecked Haydon, and Lockhart, a few years later, was at the head of a subscription for this unfortunate man of genius.

For several months I find nothing of Lockhart’s, unless it be reviews of no importance, and versions of Spanish Ballads, in Blackwood, till February 1821. But, on December 28, 1820, Christie writes that he has read an article in Baldwin’s Magazine which “excites his spleen.” “I cannot conceive what [word illegible] possessed John Scott to meddle with you, for, judging by that article, he is but a very ordinary man. I think you must do something more with him than kill the zinc-eating spider.”1 The letter also alludes to the generally censured faults of Blackwood, which provoke imputations even on its harmless portions. Christie much disliked the magazine, and Lockhart’s connection with it.

Lockhart answers early in January, but without date: he writes:—

[Postmark, January 6.]

“I was in the country when the first of Master Baldwin’s philippics was published, and, being entirely occupied with running down hares, and sticking salmon, did not hear of it for many weeks. The second distressed me very much, not on account of myself, but of Scott, of whose hitherto

1 Allusion unintelligible: ink may be referred to.

unprofaned name such base use was made in it—although, if any insult could move a man’s rage, without doubt the allusions to my marriage, wife, &c, were well entitled to do so. Now, however—I mean in the
January number, which has been sent me this morning—I find myself charged with distinctness in a sort which neither present engagements, or any thought for the future, can induce me, or could induce any man, to overlook. And it is in regard to this that I am now to solicit the aid of your well-tried friendship. . . .”

It is now necessary to say what the charges made against Lockhart in Baldwin’s Magazine were. As to the motive for their appearance at this particular moment, I know nothing.1 Maga had spoken of Baldwins Magazine as of a rival who urged her to her best exertions. There had been a little word of banter on a dull number, about the Editor being asleep, and “Tims” driving. Now Tims was a nickname for Mr. Patmore, who himself had contributed to Blackwood an impartial account of his friend Hazlitt’s lectures. He had also reviewed Sheridan Knowles’sVirginius.” Probably on account of the attacks on Hazlitt, he, at some time, withdrew, and the real wonder is how a young Londoner ever found himself in that galère. As “Tims,” an ideal but harmless

1 In a much later Blackwood, it was asserted that a London contributor, in collusion with Mr. John Scott, deliberately tried to provoke a quarrel.

Cockney, he is often chaffed in the “
Noctes Ambrosianæ,” and elsewhere. All this was in sufficiently bad taste, but Wilson, in a burlesque called “The Kirk of Shotts,” had taken graver liberties with his friend, the Rev. Robert Morehead, who expostulated with dignity and success. Thus for Mr. John Scott’s series of assaults on Blackwood, no motive but general resentment of that periodical’s violences can now, perhaps, be assigned. Nothing in particular was stirring, except that Maginn had fallen foul of Professor Leslie’s Hebrew orthodoxy, and literary honesty, à propos of a Latin version of “Chevy Chase.” On this matter a lawsuit was pending, and Professor Leslie later received damages to the extent of £100.1

This being so, in May 1820, Mr. John Scott, in his magazine, attacked Zeta, who had for some time been silent, and who could not, in any case, as Zeta, reply. Something, also, was said of the treatment of the Ettrick Shepherd, which the good Shepherd was able to resent for himself. In November, Mr. Scott brought a charge of “a regular plan of fraud,” and “violation of the rules of honourable intercourse in society.”

1 On the question of Leslie’s Hebrew I have consulted the Rev. Dr. Birrell, Professor of Hebrew in the University of St. Andrews. He has kindly examined the matter, and informs me that both Maginn and Leslie were right, there being two modes of indicating the higher numerals in Hebrew. But Leslie’s argument rather involved his belief that this was not so, owing to “the poverty of the Hebrew language.” There were other charges of scientific unfairness.


The fraud, in brief, was the invention of pseudonymous characters, Wastle, Peter Morris, Dr. Olinthus Petre (Maginn), and others. Though Mr. Scott had much right on his side, in general, yet the disguises of Peter and Wastle were sufficiently transparent, and many of Dr. Morris’s acts of penitence were probably sincere. That Lockhart, in his mystification, intended to deceive—that in Wastle he did not draw a physiognomy familiar to all Edinburgh, and to be found on no shoulders but his own—does seem clear enough. But Mr. Scott argued that only the few could lift the mask, that only to the few was the mystification a joke, while it was deliberately intended, with all the other mystifications, to pass for truth with the multitude. This deep-laid scheme is the gravamen of his accusation, honestly made, no doubt, but no less, I think, erroneous. Sir Walter was then brought in as countenancing Blackwood. We have already seen his letter on that subject. “It surely is—we are sure it ought to be—a severe mortification to the author of ‘Paul’s Letters to his Kinsfolk,’ that the book has formed the archetype or exemplar to ‘Peter’s Letters,’ a publication sinning, both in its design and execution, against the rules of decency and principles of honour.” Peter “gratifies the paltry and nefarious curiosity which hovers round the enclosure of private life.”

We have already seen, and for many years all the world has known, what Sir Walter thought
about “
Peter’s Letters.” He did not, like Mr. John Scott, think it “a most notorious and profligate example of felon conspiracy against the dignity of literature.”

Sir Walter is next severely blamed for aiding Wilson in the matter of the Chair of Moral Philosophy. This one circumstance stamps him as “the zealous espouser of Blackwood’s cause.” He is probably a contributor. “Sir Walter has himself been lately in London, and we now find a series of papers in Blackwood, in which certain London parties and prayer-meetings, with the names of individuals, are exposed very much in the culpable manner of Peter Morris, but with a more delicate hand.” “Surely” Sir Walter cannot have written these sketches? “We forbear to say more on this subject, because we feel that we have great power in our hands.”

Much is made of Blackwood’s compounding with Graham Dalyell, and with Hazlitt, who himself had published what Dr. Smiles calls “a cruel and libellous pamphlet” against Gifford (1819), and, according to Southey, “would not run the risk of having me subpœnaed upon a trial.”1 Hazlitt had been personally attacked; old stories about him had been raked up, and Blackwood had compromised the quarrel privately.

In December and in January appeared, in Baldwin’s Magazine, the articles on which we left

1Memoirs of John Murray,” i. 263, 493.

Lockhart writing to Christie. The former essay, after repeating, in essence, much of what had already been said, brought in the story about the Black Bull Inn (which Lockhart had incautiously described as noisy and uncomfortable). He is now denounced as Editor of Blackwood, as a forger of Testimonials to his journal, and as, above all, the author of “a most virulent and offensive libel against Mr. Coleridge” (October 1817), which, as we have seen, he did not write.1 A letter from Coleridge to Peter Morris is also said to have been printed without Coleridge’s consent. Peter is called an “assassin” for his “Letters.” In January the affair of Professor Leslie is introduced. Maginn’s signature, “Dr. Olinthus Petre,” is called a deliberate attempt to deceive. The notable discovery, that Trinity College possesses no Olinthus Petre, D.D., is proclaimed. Mr. John Scott hears that “Mr. John Gibson Lockhart has given it under his hand that he is not the Editor of Blackwood,” but, under the assumed name of “Christopher North,” he is well known to be so. He is covering “an organised plan of fraud, calumny, and cupidity.” Allusions to Abbotsford, and its unworthy guest and dubious lord, were scattered about here and there.

This brief summary contains, I think, the gist of the essays in Baldwin’s Magazine, for May, November, and December 1820, and January 1821. It is apparent that Mr. John Scott thought his

1 Lockhart’s innocence of this article is absolutely certain.

information was more accurate than it proved to be, and believed that he had hit on a popular vein of writing. His intelligence was, in many points, incorrect.
Lockhart was not “Christopher North,” nor was he Editor of Blackwood, nor author of the article on Coleridge of three years before. The “Testimonials,” which he is accused of “forging,” were apparently some parodies, in prose and verse, on Byron, Wordsworth, and the Odontist, composing a “Luctus,” or wail for an Irish prize-fighter.1 If so, they could not have deceived, or been intended to deceive, any mortal. Sir Walter’s contributions on London prayer-meetings and breakfast parties I have been unable to discover! The general charge of a “felonious conspiracy” may be left to readers of “Peter’s Letters.” Mr. Scott was of Scotch extraction, a schoolfellow of Byron’s at Aberdeen, and later (according to Moore), a furious assailant of Byron. Reprehensible as mystifications are, the age was rich in them, and Mr. Scott need not have taken such very high ground about “Peter’s Letters.” But he was Scotch, and a professed moralist. He named Lockhart, and he accused him of falsehood in setting his hand to a formal statement that he was not Editor of Blackwood.

We now understand the burden of the accusations, on which, early in January, Lockhart was replying to Christie. He says that Christie has already heard from him about the dual control of

1 Blackwood, May 1820.

the magazine, for a brief time, when
Murray and Blackwood were partners in it. We have touched on this, on the repayment of Murray’s money, and on Wilson’s formal denial that he “had ever received one shilling except for my own compositions.” Lockhart then tells Christie, what we have previously stated, that the contemplated arrangement had in short space been rescinded, and that Mr. Blackwood “had always been chiefly, and since then he has been, so far as I know solely, the manager of his book, and as for myself, you would be surprised if I could show you how few pages have in so many months been supplied from my pen.

“In this state of things Mr. Leslie brings an action against Mr. Blackwood for certain articles, of the author of which I do not even at this moment know or suspect the name, and which I had never seen except in the magazine. . . . Mr. Leslie, however, claps my name into the summons as author or editor of these articles, and in particular of an article signed Olinthus Petre. It is not agreeable for an advocate to be a party in any case of this sort, so I desired my agent to tell me his opinion. It was (and I acted upon it) that he himself ought to write to Mr. Leslie’s agent, stating how the thing stood, and threatening, unless my name was withdrawn, to bring a counter action. The name was withdrawn accordingly, and here is the story which has brought me the honour of being
called by a name not to be repeated, by this
Mr. John Scott, or whoever Mr. Baldwin’s rascal may be.

“I have written the above for your satisfaction, not for his. What I expect of you is that you will, without delay, talk over the whole affair with Traill, and one or both of you go to this Mr. Scott (or whoever the editor may be) if not, to the publisher, and ask for the author.

“If he is not forthcoming, or if Scott himself be the author, you will dictate according to your own discretion, which I can trust better than my own, an apology to be inserted in the front page of his next magazine, and wherever else I please. If there is any difficulty about this, it remains only that you fix a day for the man to meet me at York, or any other place half way between Edinburgh and London.—Ever affectionately yours,

J. G. Lockhart.”

In a postscript he repeats that he did not attack Coleridge, and is only said to have done so, because he is known to have written eulogies on him. As to Hogg, “his chief pride, and the very breath of his nostrils, are such jokes as this knave makes such a pother about.” He adds that he would probably have written thus a month ago, “but to tell you the truth, my wife was then exceedingly ill from a series of cramp attacks, from which she is slowly recovering, and I had enough to think of at
home, besides not being very able even to think of leaving it. . . .”1

As to the perplexing events which followed, after Christie received Lockhart’s letter, we have three sources of evidence. We have printed statements by Mr. Scott and by Lockhart, which were written and circulated at the time of the events. And we also possess the narrative of Mr. Horatio Smith (of the “Rejected Addresses”), who was one of two seconds engaged by Mr. Scott. Usually called “Horace,” he is always “Horatio” in the printed statements. Mr. Smith’s narrative was published in 1847, in the New Monthly Magazine (No. 81). Thus it appeared twenty-six years after the occurrences, and, of course, it may be contaminated by illusions of memory. On the other hand, nobody is likely to let his memory beguile him into the belief that he and his friend cut a very poor figure, if they did not really do so. Again, Mr. Smith’s narrative colligates the facts, and explains much that is unintelligible in the statement of Mr. Scott—much that, at the time, bewildered Lockhart and Christie. Now it can scarcely be by mere accident that illusions of memory, on Mr. Smith’s part (if these be alleged), thus fill up and elucidate the whole confused story. I am therefore obliged to give some credence to Mr. Smith, though his tale throws a rather ludicrous light on his own conduct and on that of Mr. Scott.

1 Mrs. Lockhart was within a few weeks of her confinement.


That gentleman’s printed statement about what occurred after Christie received Lockhart’s letter bears no date. It sets forth how Lockhart’s friend (Christie) waited on Mr. Scott on January 10, to ask whether he avowed himself responsible for the articles in Baldwin’s Magazine? Mr. Scott said that he would answer in a couple of hours, and his written reply, after that interval, was, that “if Mr. Lockhart’s motives in putting the inquiry should turn out to be such as gentlemen usually respect, there would be no difficulty experienced about giving it an explicit answer.” Of course this seemed to promise “the usual satisfaction.”

Mr. Scott’s statement avers that on receiving this note Christie again visited him, assuring him that Lockhart had no legal proceedings in view. He wanted an apology, or satisfaction. Mr. Scott asked if he was in London, and whether he would distinctly declare the nature of his connection with Blackwood. Christie answered that Lockhart was in Edinburgh, and had instructed him, “that no preliminary explanation whatever was to be expected from him.” Mr. Scott said he must have a preliminary explanation, before he could consider Lockhart’s “motives to be worthy of respect.” He promised a definite reply in the evening. In the evening he wrote a note, grumbling at Lockhart’s absence, and asking for “an open reference to the ground of complaint.”

This is Mr. Scott’s account of what occurred on
January 10. He is hesitating, it will be observed, about owning his responsibility for his articles, unless
Lockhart will oblige him by a preliminary explanation. Lockhart’s printed statement of what occurred on January 10, gives his reason for making no such explanation, and asserts that the reason was placed before Mr. Scott. In the second conversation of the day, between Mr. Scott and Christie, the latter, says Lockhart, “told Mr. Scott that the author of the offensive articles in the London Magazine had made a great number of false assertions, that he (the author) must therefore be conscious of having trusted either to invention, or to worthless information,—and that, to a person who had acted so, Mr. Lockhart would not condescend to offer any preliminary information whatever.”

It will be observed that Mr. Scott’s statement omits all this essential passage, though he does mention a general denial of some of his charges, by Christie. The writer in the London Magazine had made false assertions and wide inferences, and for that reason Lockhart, demanding an apology or satisfaction, would not oblige him by any explanation. Inferring from Mr. Scott’s second note of January 10, that, if he would not avow or disavow the articles in the London Magazine, he would fight, Lockhart came instantly to London. He sent to Mr. Scott, by Christie, a letter, in which he said that Mr. Scott’s “refusal to give an answer till you should be assured of my being in London admits of
one explanation only, and no more,” namely, that Mr. Scott would go “on the sod.”

Mr. Scott, to return to his statement, says that he now avowed his responsibility for the offensive articles, but added that, unless Lockhart would make the demanded explanation, “he could not accept his tardy personal appeal, as entitling him to a privilege, which belongs, of right, only to the gentlemen”—who deserve it.

Lockhart merely says, on this point, that Mr. Scott, “in a shuffling conversation,” tried to evade the engagement to fight. Mr. Scott himself says that he refused to “name a friend,” unless Lockhart made the explanation desired.

The reader will remark that Mr. Scott’s first refusal was to avow responsibility before Lockhart came to town, and informed him as to the exact proportion of truth and falsehood in his articles. He now shifts his refusal, but keeps the same pretext for it; he proclaims his responsibility for the articles, but declines to fight, without an explanation from Lockhart. And this refusal to fight without an explanation he declares that he first made, in a conversation with Christie, on January 18.

But, in “the evening of January 18” (really, perhaps, in the morning of January 19), Mr. Scott committed to writing, and presently printed his memories of what he had said to Christie. He had insisted on an explanation from Lockhart “before it could be conceded that Mr. Lockhart’s
motives in applying to Mr. Scott were of a nature such as gentlemen usually respect,”—a quotation from his own first note of January 10. Lockhart comments thus—“Mark the shuffle as to this phrase. Compare its meaning as used here with its plain and obvious sense when used in Mr. Scott’s first note,” where it seems to mean that Scott would answer “yes or no,” if a duel, and not legal proceedings, were in contemplation.

Mr. Scott’s paper of the evening of January 18, or the morning of January 19, ends by saying that, if Lockhart will “disavow having ever been concerned in any way in the system of imposition and scandal” of Blackwood, then Mr. Christie is referred to Mr. Horatio Smith, as Mr. Scott’s friend,—empowered by Mr. Scott to arrange what may be proper under such circumstances.

And now we come to the astonishing narrative of Mr. Horatio Smith, which (as touching these points), I give in full. Readers may estimate his evidence variously; it cannot, I fear, be reconciled with his conduct in 1821.

“At a late hour of the night, my friend Scott, after surprising me by a visit at my then residence in the neighbourhood of London, startled me infinitely more by its object, when he inquired whether I would become his second should he be implicated in a duel, arising from his articles impugning the conduct and character of Blackwood’s Magazine? I told him that I was one of the very last persons
to whom he should have preferred such a request: first, because I despised the practice of duelling for its gross folly, while I abhorred it for its wickedness; secondly, because I was utterly ignorant of all the forms, punctilios, and practical details necessary for the proper conduct of such affairs. That rival editors, instead of confining themselves to their appropriate battlefield, their respective magazines, should ‘change their pens for pistols, ink for blood,’ appeared to me, as I frankly confessed, a species of Quixotism totally inconsistent with their calling; and I reminded my visitant of the general ridicule lavished upon
Moore and Jeffrey, when they fought a duel in consequence of an obnoxious article in the Edinburgh Review. ‘Your charges,’ I continued, ‘are either false or true. If the former, you must instantly give the satisfaction required by publicly retracting all that you have erroneously asserted, and by making a full, frank, unequivocal apology. If the latter, I ask you whether, as a rational being, you are warranted in incurring the chance of being murdered, or of murdering a fellow-creature, both of you husbands and fathers’ (Lockhart was not yet a father), ‘because you have spoken the truth, such being at all times your duty, and a duty, moreover, which you have exercised upon the present occasion from a conscientious conviction, that by so doing you were consulting the best interests of society, and endeavouring to purify our literature from a contaminating abuse.’


“‘You appeal to me as a rational being,’ was the reply, ‘but in affairs of honour, am I not, in that capacity, placed out of court?’

“‘Perhaps so, nay, certainly so, in my opinion; but if your charges be true, as you doubtless believe, or you would never have advanced them, is not your opponent placed out of court, and deprived of his right of challenge?’

Scott promised to weigh this question in his mind, as well as all my other objections to his going out; and, after a long conversation, we parted, though not until I had repeatedly and distinctly expressed my opinions just recorded, and had as often apprised him that I would not be a party, under any circumstances, to a hostile meeting, though I would eagerly render him my best services as a mediator with a view to an amicable adjustment of the affair. Eventually the challenge was declined, upon grounds fully set forth by Scott, in a statement which, from various notices of it, seemed to receive the sanction of public approbation.”

Public approbation might have been withheld, if the world had known what Mr. Smith tells us. For Mr. Smith here avers that Mr. Scott sought him as a second, that he, himself, declined to have anything to do with a fight, that he declared his total ignorance of the laws of the duel. But, knowing all this, Mr. Scott, in a published statement, exhibited Mr. Smith to Lockhart and Christie, and to the world, as his second, or témoin in the arbit-
rament of battle! Mr. Scott, in fact, told Christie and everybody else that Mr. Horatio Smith (if Lockhart made his explanation) would act as a second, he well knowing that Smith would do nothing of the kind. He might as well have sent Christie to the Archbishop of Canterbury, or, as Lockhart said, to Aldgate Pump!

Once more, by Horatio Smith’s account, the pretext for refusing to fight was not Mr. Scott’s idea, but his own! The second supplies the principal with an excuse for not coming on to the ground, the principal adopts it, puts it forth under his own hand, and provides himself with a second who will not look at a pistol.

Even to the license of comic fiction could hardly be permitted such reckless burlesque. Mr. Horatio Smith’s narrative explains what Lockhart calls the “shuffle” as to the phrase, “of such a nature as gentlemen usually respect.” A new interpretation was now to be put on the words in harmony with the ideas of a pacific second. Nor is it possible to argue that Mr. Scott wrote the paper of “Thursday evening, January 18,” before arousing Mr. Horatio Smith and hearkening to his counsel, because he could not have named Mr. Smith as his second (as he does in that epistle), without obtaining his permission, such as it was.

What follows is stranger still. Christie calls on Mr. Smith, and Mr. Smith, in a letter published by Mr. Scott, informs his principal that “I repeatedly
told Mr. Christie that, if Mr. Lockhart could make the avowal required, I was authorised by you to offer him satisfaction.” Now Mr. Horatio Smith is in an awkward predicament, for, in 1847, he tells us that he invented a reason for not fighting, and warned Mr. Scott that, “I would not be a party, under any circumstances, to a hostile meeting.” In 1821, he says the very reverse, he says that he is “authorised to offer satisfaction.” It is unpleasant, and unnecessary, to draw the obvious inferences from all this. The Mr. Smith of 1821 was inducing the public to believe that “satisfaction” would be given, if a condition were fulfilled which he knew would not be fulfilled. The Mr. Smith of 1847 tells us that he never would have been a party to any such transaction, in any circumstances, and that Mr. Scott knew it.

Ignorant of all that (according to Mr. Smith) had passed between him and Mr. Scott, Christie called on the latter gentleman, “admitting that it was irregular,” for no explanation would be given. And so the debate went on, Lockhart offering “any explanation upon any subject in which Mr. Scott’s personal feelings and honour can be concerned.” Mr. Scott now demanded that Lockhart should “declare . . . that he has never derived money from any connection, direct or indirect, with the management of Blackwood, and that he has never stood in any situation giving him, directly or indirectly, pecuniary inte-
rest in its sale.” This note was written late on Saturday night, Mr. Smith was out of the way, and
Mr. Patmore (“Tims”) became a kind of substituted second, in Mr. Smith’s absence.

To Mr. Scott’s demand, in this new form, Lockhart’s friend again answered by a Non possumus. Mr. Scott replied that the affair, as far as he was concerned, was terminated. Part of a letter of Lockhart’s was read aloud by Christie, but Mr. Scott declined to hear more than a few words, deeming it “irrelevant to the point.” Mr. Lockhart then “posted” Mr. Scott, and enclosed to him the communication, which was of the usual tenor in such cases. “Mr. Lockhart thought it necessary to inform Mr. Scott that he considered him as a liar and a scoundrel.” He added that he was leaving London, after interval enough to give Mr. Scott time to change his mind about fighting. Mr. Scott promptly answered that he considered the note “as coming from the Editor of Blackwood’s Magazine” Lockhart then hastily printed his whole statement, closing with this last note of Mr. Scott’s, and adding a denial that he was the Editor of Blackwood. The whole paper ended thus: “N.B.—The first copy of this statement was sent to Mr. Scott, with a notification that Mr. Lockhart intended leaving London within twenty-four hours after the time of his receiving it.” He set forth for Edinburgh on the evening of Sunday.

Now occurred, on Lockhart’s part, an unfor-
tunate mistake, such as, in ordinary writing for the press, is very frequent. A man makes an alteration in his manuscript without observing its effect on the general tenor of his argument—whatever it may be,—so that some other passage, which requires a corresponding correction, remains as it originally stood, and is obviously erroneous. An oversight of this kind happened.

On Sunday Lockhart and Christie visited Dr. Stoddart, Editor of the New Times, and showed him the document for publication in his paper. To make the narrative more intelligible, Dr. Stoddart (who was previously unacquainted with Lockhart), suggested (apart from any opinion as to the merits of the quarrel) that Lockhart should add an explicit denial, for the public, that he “derived, or ever did derive, any emolument from the management” of Blackwood. Lockhart wrote this, Christie acquiescing, and it was inserted at the head of the statement, and published after Lockhart’s return to Scotland.

Nobody observed, at the moment, that the new paragraph would necessarily be taken as covered by the last sentence in the statement—“The first copy of this statement was sent to Mr. Scott, with a notification that Mr. Lockhart intended leaving London within twenty-four hours of the time of his receiving it.” Thus Mr. Scott would seem, to readers, to have received an explanation in full, which he did not receive, at the time specified.
The new sentence, added by
Dr. Stoddart’s advice, demanded, in fact, a correction in the old matter which, by a not unusual inadvertence, it did not receive. This inadvertence escaped Lockhart’s notice, but flashed on him after he had arrived in Scotland.

On receiving Lockhart’s printed statement, as sent to him with the disavowal of editorship, but before he saw the statement as generally circulated with the addendum suggested by Stoddart, Mr. Scott printed his second statement. He rebutted all insinuations about shrinking from a meeting; he had even modified his original demand for an explanation, and reduced it to a request for a disavowal of paid management or participation in profits. He repeated his charge of a mendacious denial of the editorship, in Professor Leslie’s case. He made insinuations about Lockhart’s “connections,” namely, Sir Walter Scott. He had demanded an explanation, in order that his adversary might not clear his character by a duel. He asserted his own courage, and relied on the agreement of Mr. Smith and Mr. Patmore in his view of the case. Naturally enough, he does not contradict, nor in any way allude to, Lockhart’s account of the reasons alleged by Christie for refusing to make any kind of preliminary explanation. He declares that the explanation was withheld on a “point of mere punctilio” without saying what that point was. Of course the wonderful pacific secondship of Mr. Smith is not
described. This document is dated, Wednesday, January 31, but was published in one sheet, with and after another document dated February 2. In this document he takes every advantage of the error made by affixing to the published and circulated form of Lockhart’s statement, the explicit disavowal of “emolument” which was not included in the first copy sent to him. No guess that this was the result of an inadvertence presented itself to Mr. Scott. He therefore argues that Lockhart is assuring the public that he sent to him the demanded disavowal which he never did send.

Of course such a manoeuvre would have been the act of a criminal idiot, “a direct lie,” which could attain no end but instant and disgraceful exposure. If one man could be so wicked and foolish as to practise such a helpless ruse, it was not likely that any other would second him in such imbecile baseness. On February 5, Christie wrote to Lockhart on the subject (Postmark, February 8). He had only that morning “with some difficulty obtained a copy of a second statement by Mr. John. In this he makes the use I expected he would make of the omission of the explicit disavowal in the copy sent to him of your statement. He goes so far as to say that the disavowal would, as a matter of course, have taken him into the field with you. On this I have taken a step of which, no doubt, you will approve. I have despatched a letter to Mr. Smith, of which the following is a copy:—


Sir,—I have this moment seen a copy of Mr. Scott’s second statement. It does not appear to me to be necessary, on the present occasion, to explain the reasons which induced Mr. Lockhart to insert the more explicit disavowal contained in the introductory paragraph of his statement, after having sent a copy to Mr. Scott of the statement as he at first intended that it should appear.

“If Mr. Scott means it to be understood that if that disavowal had been contained in the copy sent to him by Mr. Lockhart, it would have made any difference in his (Mr. Scott’s) conduct, then there is no reason why the disavowal should not now have the same effect. In order to obviate all apprehensions of disappointment I pledge my word of honour that (however little Mr. Lockhart may be called upon to make such a concession), if Mr. Scott will take the same journey to find Mr. Lockhart that Mr. Lockhart took to find Mr. Scott, Mr. Lockhart will give him a meeting instantly. . . .”

Of course Christie did not know Mr. Smith’s peaceful disposition. No doubt Mr. Smith never sent Christie’s letter to his principal.

On February 9, Lockhart replied from Edinburgh: “I consider the step mentioned in your letter as by far the best that could have been taken, and have to thank you for the true kindness that dictated it. . . . The mistake thus seized on was a most unfortunate one, but its consequences never
occurred to me till after I had come to Edinburgh. . . .
Jeffrey, &c. &c, have all along espoused my cause.”

On February 13, when Christie again wrote to Lockhart, no notice had been taken of his letter of February 5 to Mr. Smith. On February 8, Christie published a “further statement.” It contained Dr. Stoddart’s signed account of how he recommended the addition of the explicit disavowal, advice given “solely with the view of rendering Mr. Lockhart’s narrative more clear and intelligible to the public;” all this without any expression of opinion as to the merits, in any respect, of the case. Christie added that the disavowal “was not made with a view to remove Mr. Scott’s scruples,” for it did not, in fact, cover the ground included in Mr. Scott’s demand. Had Lockhart been sole proprietor of Blackwood he might still have made the disavowal, as it stood. Now Mr. Scott had told Mr. Christie that he would take none but a disavowal, verbatim, in the terms of his own letter.

Mr. Christie ended thus—“If after this statement Mr. Scott can find any persons who believe that there was anything more atrocious than an oversight in the circumstance of the two statements, Mr. Scott is perfectly welcome to the whole weight of their good opinion.”

On Saturday, February 20, 1821 (Postmark), Lockhart received a letter from Christie, which,
his friend says, “will surprise and distress you. I have been forced to give
Scott a meeting, and he now lies (if I had written an hour ago I should have said mortally, and I must still say most dangerously) wounded. This has been the most heartrending transaction that has happened in my life: a few hours ago I would most willingly have changed places with the man I believed to lie mortally wounded.

“The circumstances were simply these. I sent a copy of your second statement and of that which I wrote, to Mr. P. (Patmore) on Saturday night. Yesterday he called upon me from Mr. Scott, with a letter demanding an explanation of the last sentence in the narrative which was signed by me, such explanation to express that I meant nothing disrespectful to Mr. Scott; this to be made public. This appeared to me to be such a complete trick to obtain something like éclat at the conclusion of his affair with you, that I instantly refused to do anything of the sort. Mr. Patmore then produced a challenge from Mr. Scott, which he was to deliver to me in case of a refusal. I entered a protest, in the first instance, that I could only meet Mr. Scott on the ground that I would meet any man who thought himself aggrieved by me, and to whom I refused other satisfaction, and then consented to meet him.

“We met last night, at nine o’clock, at Chalk Farm. I arranged with my second (Traill) that I would not
fire at
Scott except in self-defence. Accordingly, I fired my first shot in the air. Before we fired again, Traill protested that, as Mr. Scott had taken the usual aim at me, I should not forego that advantage again.1 I felt bound to follow his advice for self-preservation, and my second shot took effect. . . . The surgeon left him on some pretext, and did not return, I presume thinking his case desperate. I cannot and shall not attempt to describe the horror I felt. I instantly ran to the Chalk Farm Inn, and procured a shutter to carry him upon. We carried him there, and put him to bed, and then I made my escape,—as I did afterwards (sic), but not till his family had arrived.”

Christie then gives the latest, and less distressing news of the wounded man, and ends—“Pity me, I am most wretched, though I stand acquitted in my own mind of doing more than what, under the circumstances, was inevitable. . . .”

Christie’s account of this melancholy affair is corroborated by the statement made by Mr. Scott to his surgeon. “After the pistols were reloaded, and everything was ready for a second fire, Mr. Traill called out, ‘Now, Mr. Christie, take your

1 Mr. Traill’s “exact words” were—“Gentlemen, before this proceeds, I must insist on one thing. You, Mr. Christie, must give yourself the usual chances, and not again fire in the air, or fire away from Mr. Scott.”—Letter from Christie (who was with Traill at Boulogne) to Lockhart, March 3, 1821. Mr. Christie, as will later be seen, thinks that Mr. Scott’s parallel account was not verbally accurate.

aim and do not throw away your advantage, as you did last time.’ I” (Mr. Scott) “called out, ‘What, did not Mr. Christie fire at me?’ I was answered by
Mr. Patmore, ‘You must not speak, you have nothing for it now but firing.’”1

To this distressing letter announcing the duel, Lockhart answered:—

My dearest Friend,—You bid me pity you. Pity me much more, who have to sustain the thought of having brought you, your dear wife and family, into such a situation as this. God grant that this man may live!

“All the world must agree that you acted nobly, yet all will think that you did much more than was right. . . .

“I say nothing as to my feelings in thinking what might have been. That thought indeed deprives

1 Scott’sLetters,” ii. 113. The account in John Bull, February 16, 1821, says that the suggestion of a nocturnal meeting came from Mr. Scott. Horatio Smith confirms this, in an unquoted part of his narrative already cited. At the inquest a carpenter gave evidence that Mr. Scott shook hands with Mr. Christie, as he lay on the shutter which Christie had brought. Dr. Darling, who attended Mr. Scott, said that, according to his account, Mr. Christie, before the first fire, called out, “Mr. Scott, you must not stand there. I see your head above the horizon, you give me an advantage.” Mr. Scott described Mr. Christie as “very kind to him after he was wounded.” At the inquest, Mr. Pettigrew, the surgeon on the field, said that Mr. Patmore, some days after the event, remarked, “Mr. Christie’s friend was bound, after the fire, to have communicated to him the conduct pursued by Mr. Christie (firing in the air), of which he, Mr. Patmore, was entirely ignorant,” though Mr. Scott heard Traill’s remark, and asked a question on it.

me of all composure. Thank God, I am not made utterly wretched for ever.”

Into the distressed house in Edinburgh, John Hugh Lockhart, as “Hugh Littlejohn” familiar to all the world, was born on February 14th, two days before the fatal duel.

We have now seen the full circumstances of a terrible event. Throughout, want of experience and method were observable. There should be no discussions, above all, no unwitnessed discussions, between a principal and a hostile second. There should be no pacific seconds, who disapprove of duels, know not the rules thereof, privately vow they will never countenance a fight, and yet publicly announce their readiness to go on the ground. On the broad merits of the question, we have Sir Walter’s remark, “The Duke of Wellington, whom I take to be the highest military authority in the world, pronounces you can have nothing more to say to Scott.”1 (“Letters,” ii. 111.) Christie’s conduct was marked by every good quality. The quarrel so unhappily fixed on him was, as Sir Walter says, “a sleeveless quarrel.”2 He literally could not withdraw or qualify, under challenge,

1 Scott, in an unpublished letter, says that Lady Holland, no friend of Lockhart’s, maintained that he had done his best to make Mr. Scott fight.

2 See also Sir Walter’s letters on the subject to Laidlaw, in Dr. Carruthers’sAbbotsford Notanda.”

an observation which was innocent in itself. By firing in the air he testified to his want of malice: he had now done all that man could do, and had left Mr. Scott’s character for personal courage stainless, at the expense of risking his own life. We may attribute to inexperience, and perhaps to the darkness,
Mr. Patmore’s demand for a second fire, a thing, I understand, almost unheard of where one principal has fired in the air. The unhappy English addiction to the blundering pistol, in place of the sword, has always had much to answer for. Why Mr. Scott pressed his quarrel on Mr. Christie is not very clear.1

As to any impugnment on Lockhart’s personal courage in this affair, it is enough to point to Sir Walter’s letters on the subject. He, who refused to attend the funeral of a brother held guilty of cowardice, would have known how to feel and to display an implacable resentment and indignation,

1 Mr. Cyrus Redding, in his “Fifty Years’ Recollections,” 1858, vol. ii. 225, quotes Mr. Horace (or Horatio) Smith’sA Greybeard’s Gossip.” “He spoke of his disapproval of Mr. Scott’s conduct. . . . Scott, however, seemed determined to show that he was a man of courage, which no one doubted.” Mr. Redding then tells a tale, “not evidential,” of how Campbell the poet informed him that Hazlitt had been “a means of irritating John Scott to such a degree, that he was one cause of his going out in the duel in which he fell.” But Horace Smith thought that Campbell was too prone to believe evil of Hazlitt, and the evidence, as offered, is worthless. Mr. Redding also says that Mr. Smith “prevented a meeting with Lockhart,” that is, apparently, after Christie’s letter, pledging his honour that Lockhart would meet Mr. Scott in Scotland, a letter to which Mr. Smith did not reply.

had he entertained a shadow of doubt as to the courage of a son-in-law.1 Twenty years after the death of the unhappy brother, Sir Walter told the story of his own wrath, and of his present contrition to Lockhart, and added that the character of Conachar, in “
The Fair Maid of Perth,” was intended as a kind of expiation. By 1828 sorrow, trouble, and time had softened Sir Walter, and made him lenient to the fault or congenital misfortune which of old he had most contemned. But in 1821, and for years after, his temper was what it had always been.2

The fatal consequences of Mr. Scott’s wound were not long deferred. He died on February 27. Sir Walter Scott’s letters, enforcing the lesson “not to dally with this mother of mischief any more,” are already published.3 It cannot be said that Lockhart ceased altogether to write for Blackwood, though his time was now much more occupied with other work, “The Spanish Ballads,” an edition of Motteux’sDon Quixote,” and his four novels. I am not aware that he was ever again implicated in any of the Blackwood troubles, and the affair

1Life,” iii. 199.

2 I think it necessary to insert this passage, because in so excellent a book as Mr. Colvin’sLife of Keats” (1887, pp. 124-125), we read about “John Scott, killed by a friend of Lockhart’s in a duel, arising out of these very Blackwood brawls, in which it was thought that Lockhart himself ought to have come forward.” This remark appears to be the result of imperfect traditional knowledge.

3Letters,” ii. 112-114.

Leigh Hunt, in 1823, appears to have been Wilson’s concern.1

On March 3, Christie wrote to Lockhart from Boulogne. The news of Mr. Scott’s death had come upon him as a terrible surprise, for the bulletins had been so far from unfavourable as almost to relieve him of anxiety. His only consolation lay in the knowledge, “which, at this moment, nothing on this side heaven could induce me to forego,” that he had not provoked the quarrel, “and that I forbore to put him in the slightest peril till I felt that my own life must be the price of further forbearance.” He entreats Lockhart, with all the arguments at his command, not to consider himself responsible for what had occurred. He speaks with deep gratitude of Sir Walter’s kindness, and says, “Your friend, Mr. Wilson, could not have done more than he has done, if I had been his brother twice over. His first step was to offer his house as an asylum to me, in such terms that I had no hesitation in agreeing to accept the offer.” His friends, however, wished him to go abroad. “I have never yet met with a man who was so ready to make an unfortunate case, with which he need have given himself no trouble, entirely his own.” Mr. Christie then repeats his consolations to Lockhart, inquires anxiously for Mrs. Lockhart, and mentions, as the thing “nearest to his own heart,” Sir Walter’s endeavours to befriend the children of Mr. Scott. In a postscript

1Christopher North,” 1. 55.

he speaks of the coroner’s inquest, and is glad to find that Mr. Scott’s deposition, though it did not give
Traill’s “exact words,” yet proved that Mr. Scott heard them, “though he was at a greater distance than his second.”1

Meanwhile several of Lockhart’s letters failed to reach Christie, so that they are not preserved. On March 19, Christie writes to Lockhart: he has heard of the verdict of the coroner’s inquest, but is cheered by the evidence that Mr. Scott had not been left in ignorance of his firing in the air. “It was no fault of ours, if he did not take the course which one would think he ought to have taken.” By his own statement Mr. Scott, being in his second’s hands, acted on his second’s advice. Christie (like Sir Walter in an unpublished letter) entreats Lockhart not to come to London for the trial. He reiterates his hope that Lockhart’s distress will be assuaged by his assurances that Lockhart was not the cause of the quarrel. “I fought for no reason at all, except that I could not, without degrading myself, decline to comply with his demand. If his challenge had been in any way a natural consequence of anything that you had done, calculated to make him challenge me, or if I had fought for the sake of not compromising your honour, or not giving him an indirect advantage over you, then you might have had some uneasiness

1 Mr. Traill’s “exact words,” as recollected by himself and Mr. Christie, have already been given, in the account of the affair: they are also cited in a letter to Lockhart from Mr. Traill.

in addition to what you would feel for what gave me uneasiness. But in fact nothing of the sort was the case.” He then protests that even the kindnesses of Sir Walter distress him, because they seem to imply that Lockhart is a party concerned.

On April 14, 1821, Christie announces the acquittal of Traill and himself, and the close of an unhappy affair which clouded many lives.1

1 Mr. Patmore did not then surrender himself, probably that his absence might weaken the evidence against the others.