John Gibson Lockhart, a Scottish author, born at Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire, in 1794, died at Abbotsford, Nov. 25, 1854. He was educated at the university of Glasgow, and having obtained an exhibition in Balliol college, Oxford, graduated there as a bachelor of civil law. After a tour on the continent he settled in Edinburgh, and in 1816 was called to the bar of that city. Although favorably known in the circles of the Scottish metropolis by his accomplishments, he failed to make an impression as an advocate, and upon the establishment of "Blackwood's Magazine" in 1817 became a contributor to its columns. In 1819 appeared " Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk," the joint production of Prof. Wilson and himself, containing lively though exaggerated descriptions of Scottish society and manners. A considerable portion of " Christopher in the Tent," published in " Blackwood " in the same year, and several of the earlier "Noctes Ambrosia-me," were also written by him. In the previous year he had met Sir Walter Scott in Edinburgh, and the intimacy which sprung up between them resulted in Lockhart's marriage, in April, 1820, to Sophia Charlotte, the eldest daughter of Sir Walter. He soon after removed with his wife to Chiefswood, a cottage within two miles of Abbotsford, whither his father-in-law was in the habit of going daily for relaxation from his literary labors, or to escape his numerous visitors.
He remained, however, a regular contributor to "Blackwood," and at the same time became an industrious writer of fiction. In 1821 appeared his "Valerius, a Roman Story," said to have been written in three weeks; in 1822, " Adam Blair," a Scottish tale of a deep and almost tragic interest; and in 1823, "Reginald Dalton," a tale of English university life. In 1822 he edited an edition of "Don Quixote," with copious notes, and in the succeeding year collected and published his translations of " Ancient Spanish Ballads," which had previously appeared in "Blackwood" and elsewhere. This work, which has been repeatedly reprinted in Great Britain and America, is one of his most popular publications. In 1824 appeared his last novel, " The History of Matthew Wald." In the latter part of 1825 Sir John T. Coleridge, who had conducted the " Quarterly Review " since the retirement of Gilford, resigned the editorship, and Lockhart was invited to supply his place. He accepted the offer, removed to London with his family early in 1826, and edited the "Quarterly " till 1853, the work maintaining its reputation under his charge. He did not entirely relinquish his connection with "Blackwood," but contributed occasionally to the "Noctes Ambrosianae" and to other departments of the magazine.
His remaining works are: "Life of Robert Burns" (Edinburgh, 1828); "Life of Napoleon Bonaparte" (London, 1829); and " Life of Sir Walter Scott" (7 vols., London, 1836-'8). In relating Scott's business transactions, he allowed his prejudices to get the better of his judgment, and his strictures upon the Ballantynes, the publishers of the Waverley novels, provoked a bitter controversy. The emoluments which Lockhart received from his literary labors, and a sinecure given him by Sir Robert Peel, placed him pecuniarily in easy circumstances, but his latter years were clouded by domestic sorrows. His wife died in 1837; their eldest son, to whom Scott's " Tales of a Grandfather" were inscribed, had died some years before; and Lockhart survived his second son. His daughter, Charlotte (who died Oct. 26, 1858), was married in 1847 to James Robert Hope, who became owner of Abbotsford, and took the name of Hope-Scott. Of their three children, two died young, and in the surviving daughter, Mary Monica, the pedigrees of Scott and Lockhart became centred. Lockhart left the " Quarterly Review" in 1853 in shattered health, and retiring to Abbotsford, which had been inherited by his daughter, ended his life there. His personal qualities were not of a kind to make him generally popular.
His manner was chilling and even supercilious to strangers; and he frequently uttered witty sarcasms.