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August 23 , 2007

The Life of Robert Burns [Christmas Summary Classics]


Christmas Summary Classics
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The Life of Robert Burns
John Gibson Lockhart was born, a son of the manse, at Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire, on July 14, 1794. Receiving his early education in Glasgow, he went, at sixteen, with a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford. In 1816 he was called to the Scottish Bar; but literature occupied him more than law, and as early as 1819 he wrote the once popular "Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk." Next year he married Scott's eldest daughter, Sophia. Lockhart was a leading contributor to the early "Blackwood," where his fine translations of Spanish ballads first appeared, and he edited the "Quarterly Review" from 1825 to 1853. He died at Abbotsford on November 25, 1854, and was buried at Scott's feet in Dryburgh Abbey. Lockhart's forte was biography, and his "Life of Scott" ranks beside Boswell's "Johnson." The "Life of Burns" was published first in Constable's "Miscellany" in 1828, when the whole impression was exhausted in six weeks. It passed through five editions before the author's death. Though many lives of Burns have appeared since, with details unknown to Lockhart, his biography is in many respects the best we possess, and is never likely to be superseded. Even Mr. Henley is "glad to agree with Lockhart." It is this book that is the subject of Carlyle's famous essay on Burns.

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