The Editor of the LONDON MAGAZINE thinks it necessary to publish a Statement of what has recently taken place between himself and Mr. John Gibson Lockhart, of Edinburgh, an understood, though unavowed, Conductor of BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE. In so doing, the Editor will speak in his real name, — the matter being one that concerns his personal character.
On Wednesday, the 10th of January, Mr. Scott was waited upon by a gentleman [Jonathan Christie], who, giving his name, said he was commissioned by Mr. John Gibson Lockhart, to inquire whether Mr. Scott considered himself responsible for a series of three Articles, which had appeared in the LONDON MAGAZINE, discussing the conduct and management of BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE, and regarded by Mr. Lockhart as offensive to his feelings, and injurious to his honour? Mr. Scott demanded on what grounds Mr. Lockhart made his application to him? It was replied, — merely on the strength of the common public report, representing Mr. Scott to be Editor of Messieurs Baldwin's Monthly Publication: it was added, that if he (Mr. S.) disavowed the responsibility now inquired into, his denial would be considered satisfactory.
Mr. Scott said, that, in the course of a couple of hours, Mr. Lockhart's friend should have a reply to his question. Before that space of time had elapsed, Mr. Scott addressed a note to the gentleman who had waited upon him, informing him, 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.
Mr. Lockhart's friend, at another interview with Mr. Scott, on the same day (Wednesday), declared, that Mr. Lockhart had no legal proceedings in view, — or, at least, that nothing which Mr. Scott might then admit should be taken advantage of, with reference to legal proceedings: Mr. Lockhart's object was to receive a public apology for matter which he considered personally offensive to himself, — or such other satisfaction as a gentleman was entitled to. Mr. Scott said, that it only then remained for him to ask, whether Mr. Lockhart was on the spot; and whether, in the event of Mr. Scott's being prepared to avow the relation in which he stood towards the LONDON MAGAZINE, Mr. Lockhart might be considered equally prepared to declare distinctly the nature of his connection with BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE? It was replied, that Mr. Lockhart was not in London, but in Edinburgh; that he had merely given directions by letter, that the inquiry above stated should be put to Mr. Scott; and that he had expressly instructed his friend, that no preliminary explanation whatever, was to be expected from him. Mr. Scott answered, that he certainly expected to receive preliminary explanation from Mr. Lockhart, before he could pay any attention to his claim now preferred; or consider him as having proved his motives to he worthy of respect: and Mr. Scott justified his expectation chiefly on the following ground:—
The notoriety of the public understanding that Mr. Lockhart was actively engaged in conducting BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE; the reports to which effect, though necessarily involving serious charges against his honour and truth, he had, for a series of time, neglected publicly to contradict.
Mr. Scott added, in the course of the conversation, that he thought Mr. Lockhart ought to have been on the spot when he directed a demand of the present nature to he made; for, in such matters, delay was not becoming; and it was peculiarly desirable to have an explicit answer, on the instant, to any inquiry deemed, by either of the parties, essential to the acknowledgment of the other in the capacity of a gentleman.
Mr. Lockhart's friend expressed a decided difference of opinion from Mr. Scott on both these points, — and pressed for a reply to Mr. Lockhart's question. Mr. Scott said he did not feel, at that moment, that Mr. Lockhart had entitled himself to receive one; but that he would reconsider the point, and give his decision in the course of the evening.
About eight o'clock, Mr. Scott dispatched the following note to Mr. Lockhart's friend, as conveying the decision he had promised.
Mr. Scott clearly expected that, in the explanation of Mr. Lockhart's motives for calling upon him (Mr. S.) to avow or disavow any particular articles in the LONDON MAGAZINE, Mr. Christie would have been prepared to include—
First, a statement that Mr. Lockhart was on the spot,—
And, secondly, such open reference to the ground of complaint, as, by rendering Mr. Lockhart responsible in honour for the justice of his pretensions to having been injured, could alone entitle him to expect an irregular concession of information tending to his advantage.
Mr. Christie not having felt himself competent to establish such a claim to the voluntary communication he required, Mr. Scott declines to make any further allusion to the LONDON MAGAZINE on Mr. Lockhart's call. — Mr. Scott cannot but feel astonishment at Mr. Lockhart's founding an application of the nature of the one made through Mr. Christie, with expressed reference to three articles, two of which have been more than a month before the public; — and it is calculated to increase his surprise that Mr. Lockhart should have authorized so direct a demand to be made on Mr. Scott, Mr. Lockhart himself remaining at a distance which would render further and considerable delay inevitable.
The very extraordinary fact of Mr. Lockhart's having permitted the second, and severest, article of the three that have appeared in the LONDON MAGAZINE, in which his name is, either directly, or by implication, concerned, to remain before the public, and to be noised about in his ears in Scotland, for a full month, without making a demand, either on Mr. Scott, or any other person, in regard to it, — struck Mr. Scott's mind very forcibly, after the second visit of Mr. Lockhart's friend. It appeared to throw still further suspicion on the application; and, with other circumstances, induced Mr. Scott to determine, that he would have most distinct reason to know in which of two capacities Mr. Lockhart ought to be regarded — whether as a gentleman, assailed in his honourable feelings by an indecent use of his name in print; or as a professional scandal-monger, who had long profited by fraudulent and cowardly concealment; and who was only now driven to a measure of tardy hardihood, by being suddenly confronted with entire exposure, — and hearing each day, and at every corner, the voice of scorn and indignation becoming louder and louder as his silence and discomfiture became more and more confirmed.
On Thursday, the 18th, Mr. Lockhart's friend again called on Mr. Scott, and delivered to him a letter from Mr. Lockhart, dated in London. This letter, which, by the desire of the gentleman who brought it, was returned to him when read, contained a demand of an apology for the matter affecting Mr. Lockhart's feelings and character, which had appeared in the LONDON MAGAZINE, — with an allusion to the other alternative.
Mr. Scott, immediately on reading this letter, declared, that, since Mr. Lockhart was now in London, he (Mr. S.) distinctly avowed himself to be the Editor of the LONDON MAGAZINE; and, as Editor, responsible for the articles it contained. Mr. Scott added, that, as he had thus frankly met an inquiry, put to him on the sole authority of public report, he expected that Mr. Lockhart would acknowledge public report to be a sufficient ground for questioning him, as to his concern with the management of BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE; more particularly as the justice of Mr. Lockhart's pretension to having been unfairly treated by Mr. Scott, altogether depended on the real state of his (Mr. L.'s) connexion with the work just-named. Mr. Scott did not scruple to decide, that, should it now appear, either by Mr. Lockhart's silence, or his acknowledgment, that he had been actively and secretly engaged, as a paid writer, in a long-continued series of anonymous outrages on truth and character, evidently projected under sordid motives, and carried into effect under evasion, denial, and artifice, — Mr. Scott could not accept Mr. Lockhart's tardy personal appeal, as entitling him to a privilege, which belongs, of right, only to the gentleman whose actions, whether they are just or otherwise, are openly committed in his own name, and palpably in his own person.
Mr. Lockhart's friend entirely dissented from the view Mr. Scott took of the subject; expressed his own personal conviction, that the charges which had appeared in the LONDON MAGAZINE, so far as they affected Mr. Lockhart, were, in nine points out of ten, untrue: maintained that Mr. Lockhart's character, as a gentleman, was unimpeachable; — but did not specify any particular instances of the incorrectness of what had been published in the LONDON MAGAZINE. With reference to the delay in preferring the complaint, this gentleman said he understood, that Mr. Lockhart had not seen the second article, until three weeks after its publication; and also, that he regarded the third article as still more objectionable than the second. He concluded by declaring that Mr. Lockhart would make no preliminary explanation whatever, and demanded of Mr. Scott to name his friend.
In reply to the demand of naming a friend, Mr. Scott declined doing so until Mr. Lockhart should have made the necessary previous explanation; — and the gentleman. on receiving this refusal, expressed his dissatisfaction, and retired.
In the course of the same evening, Mr. Scott, to prevent the possibility of misconception, in regard to what had taken place in conversation, between himself and Mr. Lockhart's friend, drew up, in writing, a memorandum of his sentiments, which was conveyed to the latter gentleman, very early the following morning. It is only necessary here, after what has already been said, to give the concluding paragraph of this paper.
If Mr. Lockhart will even now make a disavowal of having been concerned in the system of imposition and scandal adopted in BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE, Mr. Scott consents to recognize his demand made through Mr. Christie; and in that case, and that only, Mr. Christie is referred to Mr. Horatio Smith, No. 29, Throgmorton-street, as Mr. Scott's friend, empowered by him (Mr. Scott) to arrange what may be proper under such circumstances.
What occurred in consequence of this communication will best be explained by the following letter, which Mr. Scott received from Mr. Smith, on the subject.
Fulham, Friday Evening.
As I cannot see you this afternoon, I think it right to let you know that Mr. Christie called upon me before I left the City, and showed me the whole correspondence — between you, Mr. Lockhart, and himself. After perusing it, I asked him whether Mr. Lockhart had complied with the preliminary upon which my interference was conditional, as stipulated in your last memorandum; and, upon finding that he had not, I said I conceived Mr. Christie's call was irregular; and that I was not bound, as matters then stood, to listen to any propositions, or make them. — If Mr. Lockhart could make the avowal required, I repeatedly told Mr. Christie that I was authorized by you to offer him satisfaction, and I expressed my entire concurrence in the sentiments of your last communication.
Mr. Christie admitted, that as my interference was made dependant upon a condition not performed, it was irregular to call upon me; and we subsequently fell into a long conversation, which I will detail to you, as correctly as I can, when we meet. — We differed in our views of the conduct which you were bound to adopt; and Mr. Christie left me with an intimation that you were to take the consequences of your resolution.
Yours, very truly,
On Saturday morning Mr. Scott received the following note from Mr. Lockhart (written on Friday), transmitted through his friend.
London, January 19.
Mr. Lockhart, without admitting that Mr. Scott has, according to the usual practice of gentlemen in similar situations, any right to a preliminary explanation, does nevertheless not hesitate to offer Mr. Scott any explanation upon any subject in which Mr. Scott's personal feelings and honour can be concerned; in the hopes, and on the understanding, that Mr. Scott will then no longer delay giving Mr. Lockhart the explanation and satisfaction alluded to in Mr. Scott's communications.
To this note Mr. Scott immediately returned the following answer:
Mr. Scott does not think it necessary to discuss Mr. Lockhart's denial of his right to a preliminary explanation: — it is sufficient for Mr. Scott to have made up his mind on that point; to have his opinion supported by that of his friend — a man of unblemished honour; and to be prepared to stand the test of the feelings of society upon it.
It is, however, his wish to limit the explanation he demands, within the narrowest bounds the case will possibly admit of: — he will not therefore require of Mr. Lockhart any avowal or disavowal directed towards particular articles that may have appeared in BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE; — all he requires is — that Mr. Lockhart should declare upon his honour, in explicit terms, that he has never derived money from any connection, direct or indirect, with the management of that work; and that he has never stood in a situation giving him, directly or indirectly, a pecuniary interest in its sale.
Mr. Lockhart will see that the terms of this disavowal have no reference whatever to occasional or even frequent contributions, — which Mr. Scott waives his right to inquire into. — They are simply intended to draw the line of distinction between the dealer in scandal, and the man of honour.
The system of concealment and evasion adopted in regard to the Editorship of BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE — and obstinately maintained under calls as direct as that which Mr. Lockhart has now made on Mr. Scott — but which Mr. Scott could not bring himself to imitate; — also, Mr. Lockhart's silence under the general public report, attributing to him a principal share in the getting-up of that work, are sufficient to justify Mr. Scott in demanding this preliminary explanation. The disavowal required by Mr. Scott being made, — he holds himself prepared to give Mr. Lockhart satisfaction without delay.
Mr. Scott was not able to refer to his friend, Mr. Smith, before dispatching the above; and as the result of the latter gentleman's conversation with Mr. Lockhart's friend had been. totally unsatisfactory, Mr. Scott (it being now pretty late on Saturday) could not certainly calculate on being able to command Mr. Smith's attendance so promptly as it would have been desirable to have had the affair terminated, in the event of Mr. Lockhart's feeling himself in a situation to make the declaration demanded by Mr. Scott. Besides, Mr. Scott had some reason to doubt whether Mr. Smith would sanction the latitude left to Mr. Lockhart in Mr. Scott's last note; and therefore Mr. Scott, while he sent off to Mr. Smith (then in the country) an intimation of what he had done, deemed it necessary to prepare himself provisionally with the services of another friend, in case Mr. Lockhart's reply should be of a nature permitting a meeting. Mr. Scott, therefore, applied to his friend Mr. P. G. Patmore, who, with infinite liberality, instantly consented to engage in the affair kindly overlooking the lateness of the application made to him. Mr. Scott received the following note from this gentleman.
In reply to your provisional request for my services in your affair with Mr. Lockhart, I have no hesitation in saying, that you may command them whenever they can be of use to you.
I am glad to find that you had placed the affair in the hands of a gentleman of such unquestioned honour as your friend Mr. Horatio Smith; — but if, consistently with his already expressed opinion on the subject in question, that gentleman should object to sanction the proposal which you have now, in his (Mr. Smith's) absence, made to Mr. Lockhart, I repeat you may command my services: for I decidedly think, that, if Mr. Lockhart is prepared to make the disavowal which you have required of him, you are bound to give him the satisfaction which he demands.
As in case Mr. Lockhart should think it right to make the required disavowal, my part in this affair will be confined to arrangements, about which there can be little or no discussion, it is perhaps unnecessary for me to express any opinion as to what has hitherto passed: but still it may not be improper for me to add, that I fully recognize the fairness of your preliminary stipulation.
P. GEO. PATMORE.
Saturday afternoon, Jan. 20, 1821.
Within the time limited by Mr. Scott for receiving Mr. Lockhart's final reply, he was waited upon by Mr. Lockhart's friend. That gentleman, not finding Mr. Smith present, wished to consider for a moment whether he ought to communicate to Mr. Scott, in his friend's absence, Mr. Lockhart's answer, which he then held in his hand. Mr. Scott stated the circumstances that had prevented him from securing the immediate attendance of Mr. Smith; and added, that if Mr. Lockhart was now prepared to make the explanation required, Mr. Scott would engage to produce Mr. Smith in two hours to settle the very few arrangements which would then remain to he adjusted, or, in his absence, another friend, equally unexceptionable, for the same purpose. — The gentleman declared that Mr. Lockhart had not acceded to Mr. Scott's demand; that he did not think Mr. Scott had any title to make such a demand, that he objected to the way in which it was worded, and refused on the point of right. Mr. Scott then declared, that he considered his communications with Mr. Lockhart as terminated. Mr. Lockhart's friend expressed a strong desire that Mr. Scott should hear one passage read of Mr. Lockhart's communication: this, after some discussion, and explanation, as to the language in which that desire had been expressed, — Mr. Scott, conceiving the passage might bear upon the point in dispute, consented to do: on hearing, however, a few words, it appeared to him to be altogether irrelevant to that point, and Mr. Scott therefore begged that the discussion might he considered as peremptorily closed by him.
Mr. Scott, in the course of the same evening, received a note from Mr. Lockhart, which he opened (not knowing the seal), and found it to contain abusive epithets. These, as Mr. Scott had, throughout the whole of the affair, consulted, not the first impulses of his feelings, but the principles of justice and honour, believed by himself, and two gentlemen of unsullied character, to be applicable to the case, as it stood between Mr. Lockhart and him, could not, of course, be considered as in any way altering the position of the matter.
Mr. Scott regards the abuse in question as coming from a person concerned in conducting BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE: — a mercenary dealer in calumny and falsehood; who, by a series of pitiful artifices and evasions, has skulked from the consequences of his own actions, until he has been dragged forth to infamy by a powerful hand: — who even then, finding himself beaten, and exposed without hope, as a calumnious writer, still lay inactive for a considerable space of time; and who, at last, has been driven, solely by the encreasing torment of an intolerable situation, to make a desperate and tardy attempt to recover himself, — by claiming a privilege which is only due to that quick and fine sense of honour, which would shudder at wearing a vizor, and still more at using poisoned weapons from under its protection — which has nothing to weigh or balance, on receiving a wound, but the promptest and most candid manner of demanding reparation.
Little or nothing of argument being mixed-up with the above narrative the Editor of the LONDON MAGAZINE wishes to add a few words, in his public capacity, in support of the principle on which he has acted, in his treatment of Mr. Lockhart's claim.
The right which a gentleman has to demand satisfaction for injury done to his feelings, or reputation, must be considered strictly dependent on his standing frankly, in his proper person, ready to answer for such of his own actions as affect the feelings or reputation of others.
An anonymous agent, in conducting a work devoted to criticism and satire, who earns money by his labours in this capacity, and who, by studied and artful devices, and pretensions, conceals himself from the knowledge of the persons that are, from time to time, subjected to his remarks, cannot be regarded as occupying such a place in society, as would entitle him to the right above-mentioned.
The public report, representing Mr. Lockhart to be actively and constantly engaged, for hire, or salary, or pecuniary profit of some sort, in the management of BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE, is sufficiently general and notorious to warrant his being called upon to avow or deny the fact, by any one to whom he may prefer an application for the privilege of receiving gentlemanly satisfaction.
The Editor of the LONDON MAGAZINE has given himself a peculiar title to make this demand, by his prompt acknowledgment of the situation in which he stands towards the publication in which the articles, complained of by Mr. Lockhart, have appeared; and by admitting his personal responsibility as Editor, and his liability to be called upon to give satisfaction for injuries committed by him in his public capacity.
It cannot be permitted to a person, who has taken advantage of concealment in making attacks on feeling and character, so long as concealment could be continued by evasion and denial, suddenly to turn necessity into a virtue, when he has been forcibly, and against his will, drawn forth into exposure.
Nor can it be permitted to any one to time, so as to suit his convenience, the avowal of his own actions, affecting the interests or feelings of his neighbours.
For these reasons, a gentleman's privilege could not have been conceded to Mr. Lockhart had he avowed, on the present occasion, that he was engaged in conducting BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE — for this avowal has been evaded by him, when, if such be really his situation, it was due from him to injured and inquiring parties.
Nothing, therefore, but Mr. Lockhart's disavowal of the connection in question, could have been considered as establishing his title to the privilege he claimed. If he had made it, on his word of honour, he would have received the satisfaction he desired. His pretension of being withheld by pride and delicacy from denying what there was no ground for charging him with, is calculated to excite contempt preferred, as it is, in the face of a long-standing public report, and the conviction of thousands in Edinburgh and elsewhere. If, in fine, he is unable to make the disavowal required, his attempt now to play the part of a gentleman touched in the point of honour, because the press, which he has abused as an instrument of injury, has been at length turned against him as one of justice, must he considered to be quite as impudent as it is desperate. The interests of society demand, that such an attempt should be firmly repelled. It is proper that the individual, who sits down to write or plan outrages on private feeling and character, with the chances of concealment in his favour, and the profits which fraud and hypocrisy are calculated to ensure in this world, tempting his cupidity, should be aware, that he runs some risk in return for these advantages — the risk of being repulsed with indignant scorn, should his complete exposure as knave, leave him no other resource but that of claiming, with affected brevity, to receive satisfaction as a man of honour!