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The Life and Letters of John Gibson Lockhart
Chapter 4: 1815-17
John Gibson Lockhart to Jonathan Christie, 29 November 1815

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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(Postmark, Nov. 29, 1815.)

My dear Christie,—You and I are in general such exemplary correspondents that I begin to feel a degree of wonder at the two months’ silence which has prevailed betwixt us, greater than a much longer cessation of any other epistolary traffic could have occasioned in me. Since I wrote you last I have spent a few weeks at Gourock, a few weeks (including the occasion) at Glasgow, and now I have been for a fortnight in this our Athens. Certainly if the name Athens had been derived from the Goddess of Printing—not from the Goddess of Wisdom—no city in the world could with greater justice lay claim to the appellation. An author elsewhere is a being somewhat at least out of the common run. Here he is truly a week-day man. Every other body you jostle is the father of at least an octavo, or two, and it is odds if you ever sit down to dinner in a company of a dozen, without having to count three or four quarto makers in the circle.
Poets are as plenty as blackberries—indeed much more so, unless blackberries mean sloes. And as for travellers—good Jehovah! I think I am safe in saying that there have appeared at least twenty different lucubrations in that way concerning Paris alone within these last eighteen months. Old crambe-recocta stuff out of
Horace Walpole and Sir Joshua—spouted by one boy of eighteen, who had never seen in his life but one or two Edinburgh exhibitions—and profound disquisitions on national character and Napoleon by another, who never had seen the tenth milestone from Auld Reekie, or read anything better than Jeffray and Cobbet’s Parliamentary debates. I have passed my trials in the Civil Law, which cost me a little fagging, and am now seriously at work on the Scots.

Hamilton and I have been amusing ourselves with doing into English ‘the Relation’ of the Battle of Waterloo. I have done my half, and H. is sitting by me at his. I have much amusement in seeing his ways—primo, he is against all French terms and fought hard for Field-assistant, loco, ‘Aide-de-camp.’ Secundo, he insists upon having the pages marked with Roman numerals, having lately imbibed a bitter spite against the d—d Arabic cipher. Tertio, he has just been reading Longinus, and would fain have an imitation of his manner in a note. We are promised half profits by Laing, and I hope to touch £25 for my quarter. I have got a few articles in
the ‘
Encyclopædia’ which is going on, and intend reviewing a little—being convinced that there is nothing I want more than a habit of writing with ease. The Picnic” (the Oxford Olio) “sleeps for the present, but will assuredly begin to squall in the spring. The Oxonian friends here are all very well, Hannay fighting away in the usury case. Innes in statu quo. Connel ditto. Traill I saw once—but I have been confined to my room with a cold since, and have heard no more of him. Tom Traill’s wife has brought him a son and heir, whereof Tom is very glorious. Such is an epitome of our status here. I have written it that I may provoke a speedy answer, containing the minutiæ of your transactions for these last two months. You are now of course as I left you, grinding Law, and quizzing the Balliolite B.A.’s at the dinner table—unless you have changed your gown and your butts for paullo majora! The transition is not tremendous from Everett to Dicky. Give my love to Nicoll, and do let me hear from you immediately.—Yours most affectionately,

J. G. Lockhart.

Hamilton desires his kindest remembrances to you. I dined the other day at his house in company with two violent Lakers—Wilson for one, and a friend of his, a most strange creature, for the other. His name is De Quincey; he was of Worcester. After passing one half of an examination which has never, according to the common report, been equalled,
he took the terror of the schools, and fled for it to the Lakes. There he has formed the closest intimacy with
Wordsworth and all his worthies. After dinner he set down two snuff-boxes on the table; one, I soon observed, contained opium pills—of these he swallowed one every now and then, while we drank our half-bottle apiece. Wilson and he were both as enthusiastic concerning the ‘Excursion’ as you could wish. Wilson is just going to publish a dramatic poem—subject, ‘The Plague in London.’ It opens with the conversation of two shopkeepers, a trunk maker and a calender-mill mender, all whose families have caught the infection. It is in eleven (books?), and includes many lyrics. (The two friends have gone off on a pedestrian tour to Staffa!)”