1826 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Gibson Lockhart

Sumner Lincoln Fairfield, in "Four Months in Europe" New-York Literary Gazette and American Athenaeum 3 (14 October 1826) 61.



The Quarterly Review, while it suffered under the conduct of Gifford, was a mere bundle of calumnies. There Dr. Southey lectured on royalty and loyalty, and eulogized the immaculate character of the English hierarchy with a zeal and a devotedness which could be equalled only by his youthful ardour in the cause of liberty. There Sir Walter Scott praised all the kings and queens and bishops that ever existed, and came near making the world as much in love with such harpies as the reader of Quentin Durward is with Louis the Jealous. There Lord Eldon pronounced much such righteous judgments as he does in Westminster Hall; and there Gifford himself wrote as candidly on America, as he formerly did when commenting on the commentators of Massinger and Ben Jonson; which is just equal to saying that he consistently maintained the reputation of being the same bloody bulldog he had always been. But he left the arena at last, and Coleridge's nephew, a mild and excellent gentleman, was appointed to fill his place. Such a situation, however, could be occupied by no gentleman long. He who scorned the character of a base calumniator, and a servile tool of the court, could never be popular in the administration of literary judgment alone, where violent political predilections and single devotedness to the propagation of lies were expected. Rather, therefore, than sacrifice the dignity of his honour by succumbing to the knavery of his station, Mr. John Coleridge resigned all interest in the Quarterly; and, just before I left England, John Gibson Lockhart, who is a L.L.B. I believe, and a son-in-law of Sir Walter, was appointed syndic of the gladiatorial games. A rash tory, a violent high-churchman, wholly doomed to court politics, and a man of some original talent, I doubt not, that, hereafter, the Quarterly will enjoy a distinguished character — for mendacity.