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The Life and Letters of John Gibson Lockhart
Chapter 4: 1815-17
John Gibson Lockhart to Jonathan Christie, 27 July 1816

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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Burnbank, Hamilton, July 27th, 1816.

My dear Christie,—Hamilton came here on Friday last and stayed till this morning. He brought me the first news of Nicoll’s marriage, and had himself only that morning learned by a very unfeeling paragraph (as he reported it) from the Oxford paper, the sudden calamity which so soon turned all our friend’s happiness into misery. In time I have no doubt the usual lenitives of every distress among us must have their due influence in restoring him to himself—at present, of course, he must be left entirely to the working of his own feelings. The effect which this news produced in both was, I need not say, such as all Nicoll’s friends will easily imagine. For myself I heard, in the
same breath, both the marriage and the death—being saluted by W. H., ‘Poor Nicoll’s wife’s dead,’ before I had the least suspicion that Nicoll was married. Hamilton made after some time a lawyer’s remark, ‘Patrimonially, ’tis as well.’ If Nicoll is still in London remember us both to him. Hamilton will write in a few weeks when he thinks his letter may be received with calmness. I am sorry your letter did not arrive till after his departure.

“I have surely dreamed of writing you a long letter about ten days ago, for I remember the very words in which I communicated to you ——’s death. He died of two days’ illness—a scarlet-fever, much exacerbated, I am grieved to add, by the life of dissipation which he had been leading. All last winter he gambled and drank to excess—he was even tipsy one day beyond decency about three o’clock p.m., when I met him in the street. He used to sit up all night drinking whisky punch with some Aberdeen squires; he was fortunate at the dice, but it drew him both into bad company and bad habits over and above the thing itself. All this entre nous, —— was at bottom a good, honest soul —very affectionate in his temper, and deserves to be lamented by all his friends.

Hamilton, you may have observed in the papers, has at length served himself heir general to Sir Robert H. of Preston, who commanded the Covenanting army at Bothwell Bridge, and is now
Sir William at your service. Had he followed his original profession this might have much in his favour; at present I see no great good it can do him to be set at the upper end of tables among dowagers instead of the lower end among misses. However, he makes a most respectable baronet, and may, if he pleases, make additional use of his good leg in a matrimonial way; but he is not worldly-wise enough for that, to use a true-blue phrase. So you are, at last, nine hours a day at a conveyancer’s! May the tripling aes not be awanting. I beg of you to write again and more at length on a Sunday. My compliments to
Traill.—Yours ever,

J. G. L.

“Is Connor in town, or have you entirely separated?”