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Posts Tagged ‘John Gibson Lockhart’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Elizabeth Lady Eastlake
17 November 1809 – 2 October 1893

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Elizabeth Eastlake

Elizabeth Lady Eastlake was born in Norwich into the large family of Edward Rigby and his wife, Anne. Her father was a physician who was also a classical scholar, and Elizabeth’s parents included her in their social life and conversation with prominent citizens and intellectuals.

Elizabeth was fond of drawing from a young age and continued studying art into her twenties. She was privately educated and learnt French and Italian, but after an illness in 1827, she was sent to convalesce in Germany and Switzerland. She stayed two years and started a lifetime of publication with a translation of Johann David Passavant’s essay on English art; a second trip to Germany in 1835 led to an article on Goethe. After travelling to Russia and Estonia to visit a married sister, her published letters and her travel book A Residence on the Shores of the Baltic (1841) led to an invitation to write for the Quarterly Review by the editor, John Gibson Lockhart.

In 1842, the widowed Anne Rigby moved with her daughters to Edinburgh, where Elizabeth’s literary career brought entry to an intellectual social circle including prominent figures such as Lord Jeffrey, John Murray and David Octavius Hill, who photographed her in a series of about 20 early calotypes, assisted by Robert Adamson. In 1857, she would publish an essay on the relationship between art and photography, showing she was knowledgeable about the “new and mysterious art” and discussing its strengths and weaknesses.

Despite a diary entry in 1846 saying there were many “compensations” for unmarried women, three years later, at 40, Elizabeth married Sir Charles Eastlake and joined him in an active working and social life, entertaining artists such as Landseer and mixing with a wide range of well-known people, from Macaulay to Lady Lovelace. Her habit of continental travel continued through the 1850s and 1860s as she and her husband toured several European countries in search of new acquisitions for the gallery.

She continued to write prolifically, helping to popularise German art history in England, both as critic and as translator (Waagen and Kugler). Sometimes, she collaborated with her husband, and she wrote a memoir of him after his death in 1865. Italian art also absorbed her attention. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian, Raphael and Dürer were the subjects of her Five Great Painters (1883), published ten years before she died.

In the 20th century, she was remembered mostly for her scathing review of Jane Eyre, of which she strongly disapproved. She is also known for her attacks on John Ruskin, assumed to be linked to her role as confidante to his estranged wife, Effie Gray. According to historian Rosemary Mitchell, however, her work as art historian and writer was significant and original. Mitchell considers Eastlake to have been a scholarly and perceptive critic and a pioneer of female journalism.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

John Scott (Editor)
24 October 1784 – 27 February 1821

John Scott edited several liberal newspapers: The Statesman, which Leigh Hunt founded; the Stamford News, published by John Drakard; Drakard’s Paper (a London edition of this), which he renamed The Champion; and the most notable, the London Magazine, which he revived, as a monthly, in January 1820.

Under his direction, the magazine included works by such luminaries as Wordsworth, Charles Lamb, de Quincey, John Clare, Thomas Hood, Carlyle, Keats, Leigh Hunt, and Hazlitt. He also agreed to write a third of the magazine himself, which he did mostly under pseudonyms.

He attended Aberdeen Grammar School, as did Lord Byron, who was some years younger; he spent 1795-8 at Marischal College, but left without graduating. When Byron published an account of his marriage in 1816, Scott called this publication indelicacy; Leigh Hunt quarreled with him over this.

He died as the result of a duel, one of the side effects of the Cockney School controversy. John Gibson Lockhart had been abusing many of Scott’s contributors in Blackwood’s Magazine (under a pseudonym (Z), as was then common). In May 1820, Scott began a series of counter-articles, which provoked Lockhart into calling him “a liar and a scoundrel”. In February 1820, Lockhart’s London agent, Jonathan Henry Christie, made a provocative statement, and Scott challenged him.

They met on 16 February 1821, at a farm between Camden Town and Hampstead. Christie did not fire in the first round, but there was a misunderstanding between the seconds, resulting in a second round. Scott was hit in the abdomen, and died 11 days later. Christie and his second were tried for wilful murder and acquitted; the collection for Scott’s family was a notable radical cause.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

John Gibson Lockhart
12 June 1794 – 25 November 1854

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John Gibson Lockhart

John Gibson Lockhart was born in the manse of Cambusnethan House in Lanarkshire. His father, Dr John Lockhart, transferred in 1796 to Glasgow, and was appointed minister. His mother, who was the daughter of the Rev. John Gibson, of Edinburgh, was a woman of considerable intellectual gifts.

Lockhart was sent to the Glasgow High School, where he showed himself clever rather than industrious. He fell into ill-health, and had to be removed from school before he was twelve; but on his recovery he was sent at this early age to Glasgow University, and displayed so much precocious learning, especially in Greek, that he was offered a Snell exhibition at Oxford. He was not fourteen when he entered Balliol College, Oxford, where he acquired a great store of knowledge outside the regular curriculum. He read French, Italian, German and Spanish, was interested in antiquities, and became versed in heraldic and genealogical lore.

In 1813 he took a first class in classics in the final schools. For two years after leaving Oxford he lived chiefly in Glasgow before settling to the study of Scots law in Edinburgh, where he was elected to the Faculty of Advocates in 1816. A tour on the continent in 1817, when he visited Goethe at Weimar, was made possible by the publisher William Blackwood, who advanced money for a translation of Friedrich Schlegel’s Lectures on the History of Literature, which was not published until 1838. Edinburgh was then the stronghold of the Whig party, whose organ was the Edinburgh Review, and it was not till 1817 that the Scottish Tories found a means of expression in Blackwood’s Magazine. After a somewhat hum-drum opening, Blackwood suddenly electrified the Edinburgh world by an outburst of brilliant criticism. John Wilson (Christopher North) and Lockhart had joined its staff in 1817. Lockhart shared in the caustic and aggressive articles that marked the early years of Blackwood; but his biographer Andrew Lang denied he was responsible for the virulent articles on Coleridge and on “The Cockney School of Poetry”: Leigh Hunt, Keats and their friends. He has been accused of the later Blackwood article (August 1818) on Keats, but he did show appreciation of Coleridge and Wordsworth.

He contributed to Blackwood translations of Spanish ballads, which in 1823 were published separately. In 1818 the young man attracted the notice of Sir Walter Scott, and he married Scott’s eldest daughter Sophia in April 1820. Five years of domesticity followed, with winters spent in Edinburgh and summers at a cottage at Chiefswood, near Abbotsford, where Lockhart’s child John Hugh was born; the second son Walter and daughter Charlotte were born later in London and Brighton.

In 1820 John Scott, the editor of the London Magazine, wrote a series of articles attacking the conduct of Blackwood’s Magazine, and making Lockhart chiefly responsible for its extravagances. A correspondence followed, in which a meeting between Lockhart and John Scott was proposed, with Jonathan Henry Christie and Horace Smith as seconds. A series of delays and complicated negotiations resulted early in 1821 in a duel between Christie and John Scott, in which Scott was killed.

Between 1818 and 1825 Lockhart worked indefatigably. In 1819 Peter’s Letters to his Kinsfolk appeared, and in 1822 he edited Peter Motteux’s edition of Don Quixote, to which he prefixed a life of Cervantes. Four novels followed: Valerius in 1821, Some Passages in the Life of Mr. Adam Blair, Minister of Gospel at Cross Meikle in 1822, Reginald Dalton in 1823 and Matthew Wald in 1824. But his strength did not lie in novel writing. In 1825 Lockhart accepted the editorship of the Quarterly Review, which had been in the hands of Sir John Taylor Coleridge since William Gifford’s resignation in 1824.

At this time he was living at 25 Northumberland Street in Edinburgh’s fashionable Second New Town. In 1825 he sold the house to Andrew and George Combe.

By this point in time, as the next heir to the Scotland property belonging to his unmarried half-brother, Milton Lockhart, he was sufficiently independent. In London he had social success, and was recognized as an editor. He contributed largely to the Quarterly Review himself, particularly biographical articles. He showed the old, railing spirit in an article in the Quarterly against Tennyson’s Poems of 1833. He continued to write for Blackwood; he produced for Constable’s Miscellany Vol. XXIII in 1828 a controversial Life of Robert Burns. Snyder wrote of it, “The best that one can say of it today… is that it occasioned Carlyle’s review. It is inexcusably inaccurate from beginning to end, at times demonstrably mendacious, and should never be trusted in any respect or detail.”

Lockhart undertook the editorial supervision of Murray’s Family Library, which he opened in 1829 with a History of Napoleon.

His major work was the Life of Sir Walter Scott (7 vols, 1837—1838; 2nd ed., 10 vols., 1839). This biography published a great number of Scott’s letters. Thomas Carlyle assessed it in a criticism contributed to the London and Westminster Review (1837). Lockhart’s account of the business transactions between Scott and the Ballantynes and Constable caused an outcry; and in the discussion that followed he showed bitterness in his pamphlet The Ballantyne Humbug handled. The Life of Scott has been called, after Boswell’s Johnson, the most admirable biography in the English language. The proceeds, which were considerable, Lockhart resigned for the benefit of Scott’s creditors.

Lockhart’s life was saddened by family bereavement, resulting in his own breakdown in health and spirits. His eldest boy (the suffering “Hugh Littlejohn” of Scott’s Tales of a Grandfather) died in 1831; Scott himself in 1832; Anne Scott in 1833; Mrs Lockhart in 1837; and the surviving son, Walter Scott Lockhart, in 1853. Resigning the editorship of the Quarterly Review in 1853, he spent the next winter in Rome, but returned to England without recovering his health; and being taken to Abbotsford by his daughter Charlotte, who had become Mrs James Robert Hope-Scott, he died there on 25 November 1854. He was buried in Dryburgh Abbey near the grave of Sir Walter Scott.

Robert Scott Lauder painted two portraits of Lockhart, one of him alone, and the other with Charlotte Scott.

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