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LOCKHART's Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart., which divides with Boswell's Life of Johnson the honor of leading all lives of English men of letters, was first published in seven volumes in 1837–1838. A second edition, with some corrections, some slight revisions, and a few additions, mostly in the form of notes, was published in 1839, and this has remained ever since the standard edition. Later, in 1848, Lockhart prepared, at the request of the publishers of that work, a condensation of his magnum opus, and took that occasion to add a few facts bearing upon the Life which had occurred since the original publication, and a few comments which it would not have been in good taste to make in the first instance. Throughout his original work, Lockhart, with all his openness of speech, yet refrained from certain personal references, the subjects of which were too recent for remark, and he concealed many names under the disguise of initials.
Since the edition of 1839 there have been many issues of this great work on both sides of the Atlantic. As late as 1861, Messrs. Ticknor and Fields, predecessors of the present publishers of the work, issued an edition in nine volumes, and took occasion to insert some material from Lockhart's abridgment. They prefaced the edition, which they dedicated to Nathaniel Hawthorne, with a brief sketch of Lockhart.
Neither these publishers nor any others, so far as we know, have ever done more than reprint the original work, save for the slight modification just mentioned. Meanwhile for the past sixty years, and more especially during the past twenty years, a crowd of books has been published throwing light on Lockhart's great subject. Memoirs, reminiscences, editions of Scott's writings, literary studies, articles in reviews and magazines have added materially to our knowledge not only of Scott, but of many others of the personages who throng the chapters of Lockhart's work. Lockhart himself has been made the subject of a generous biography, and it would seem as though, lasting as is the fame of the Life, its necessary silences were becoming every year more conspicuous.
Accordingly, the present publishers resolved to issue an edition which should repair the damage which Time had wrought, and they entrusted the editing to Miss Susan M. Francis, who through her long conversance with the original work, and her familiarity with the literature which has grown up about Scott, as well as her knowledge of the more or less obscure sources of information, was peculiarly competent not only to do the service of Old Mortality, but to set in order the inscriptions still to be added to the stones of Scott's associates.
The principle upon which Lockhart's Scott is now edited may be stated in very few words. The original work is reprinted without change, except that initials have been extended to full names in a great many instances, obvious printers' errors corrected, and Scott's journals revised to conform with the authoritative edition by Mr. David Douglas. Then, the text has been annotated by fuller accounts of many of the persons to whom Scott or Lockhart refer, and very many passages have been expanded or illuminated by extracts from Scott's letters and journals, and from a variety of books and articles bearing upon the subject. In a number of instances the narrative of persons who were living when Lockbart wrote has been carried forward to show their after career. All the editor's work is indicated by its enclosure in brackets. Lockhart's later notes are indicated by the years 1839, 1845, and 1848, enclosed in parentheses.
In making this annotation recourse has been had first of all to the editions of Scott's Familiar Letters and Journal, so thoroughly and admirably edited by Mr. David Douglas. No one who undertakes to work at the life of Scott fails to confess a deep obligation to this gentleman. Not only so, but Mr. Douglas has repeatedly come to the editor's aid in settling those nice points which arise in any piece of careful editing. His own notes when used always bear his initials at the close. Lang's Life and Letters of Lockhart has also been in frequent use, and of general works The Dictionary of National Biography has been in constant demand. The more one uses it the more one comes to value the accuracy of its statements, and the thoroughness with which its subjects have been treated. Of the very large number of memoirs and reminiscences consulted, mention may be made of Selections from the Manuscripts of Lady Louisa Stuart, by permission of Messrs. Harper and Brothers, the American publishers of the work ; Mrs. Oliphant's Il'illiam Blackwood and his Sons, and the other two works on the great publishing houses, Smiles's Memoir of John Murray and Archibald Constable and his Literary Correspondents ; Carruthers's Abbotsford Votanda and the Cutulogue of the Scott Centenary Erhibition have been referred to, and the memoirs and reminiscences connected with the names of