Page images
PDF

FREDERICK LOCKER.

§REDERICK LOCKER LAMPSON, better known to w all lovers of good rhymes and old books as Frederick Locker, has in his own memoirs (“My Confidences,” 4% Smith, Elder, and Company, 1896) given an account * of the stock from whence he sprang. It was strongly tinctured with the love of letters. His great-grandfather, John Locker, was pronounced by Dr. Johnson, in his life of Addison, “to be a gentleman eminent for curiosity and literature.” Who could wish for a better testimonial? John Locker married a granddaughter of Bishop Stillingfleet and a sister of the once famous Benjamin Stillingfleet, whose blue stockings and fondness for the society of learned ladies combined to produce a nickname which has endured. The eldest son of John Locker was the Captain William Locker whose name will always be found in every life of Horatio Nelson. Captain Locker's youngest son, Edward Hawke Locker, married in 1815 a daughter of the Rev. Jonathan Boucher, then vicar of Epsom, whose earlier clerical life had been spent in the American Colonies, where he was the friend of George Washington in the days before the war. Mr. Boucher remained loyal to the Crown, and his sermons and addresses relating to that great subject, published in 1797, deserve more attention than they have always received at the hands of the historian. Mr. Boucher had a great and miscellaneous collection of books, which, after his death, were sold at Leigh and S. Sotheby's, 145 Strand, in 1806. The sale lasted thirty-nine days. The catalogue may still occasionally be had of the second-hand booksellers. A stronger contrast to the Rowfant Library cannot well be imagined; it numbered nearly Io,000 lots.

[graphic]
[graphic]

x PREFA CE.

Edward Hawke Locker held the office of Civil Commissioner at Greenwich Hospital, where he formed the Royal Naval Gallery of Portraits. He had a fine taste in Art, and among his pictures was the famous Hogarth, “David Garrick and his Wife,” now in the Royal Collection at Windsor. Frederick Locker was born at Greenwich Hospital on the 29th of May, 1821, and, after divers adventures at different schools, became a clerk in the Admiralty, serving under Lord Haddington, Sir James Graham, and Sir Charles Wood. He was twice married : first to Lady Charlotte Bruce, a daughter of the Lord Elgin who brought the famous “Marbles” to England; secondly, to the only daughter of Sir Curtis Lampson, Bart., of Rowfant, Sussex. He died at Rowfant on the 30th of May, 1895. Mr. Locker's collections were the natural outcome of a fastidious taste. He was the least voracious of connoisseurs. The Rowfant Library began with rare little volumes of poetry and the drama, published from about 1590 to 1610. He loved good verses with an undying affection; he pondered over stanzas, and mourned any metrical lapse on the part of a favourite with the truest feeling. Loving poetry as he did with an appreciation so delicate and so personal, and having probably inherited the virtuoso's whim, it was natural enough that he should be impelled to shelter under his roof the earliest editions in the finest condition of the books he loved. He never boasted of his treasures, and indeed was fully alive to the touch of human weakness they might decorate but not wholly conceal. I can see him now before me, provided with a finely graduated footrule, measuring with grave precision the height to a hair of his copy of “Robinson Crusoe” (1719), for the purpose of ascertaining whether it was taller or shorter than one vaunted for sale in a catalogue just then to hand. His face, one of exquisite refinement, was a study, exhibiting alike a determination to discover the exact truth, however humiliating, and the most humorous realization of the inherent triviality of the whole business. In 1886 he printed his Catalogue, and would have had us believe he had bought his last rare book. This Appendix proves how hard it is for an old collector to cease collecting. This is not the place to speak of the books Mr. Locker Lampson wrote or edited himself, but their names should be mentioned.

PREFACE. xi

The first edition of “London Lyrics” appeared in 1857; “Patchwork,” a little book of extracts of unrivalled merit, appeared in 1879; “Lyra Elegantiarum” in 1867; “My Confidences,” 1896.

Frederick Locker was essentially a man of the world; he devoted his leisure hours to studying the various sides of human nature, and drawing the good that he could out of all sorts and conditions of men. His delicate health prevented him from taking any very active share in stirring events; but he was content, unembittered, to look on, and his energies were continually directed towards gathering about him those friends and acquaintances who, with their intellectual acquirements, combined the charms of good manners, culture, and refinement.

He was poet, philosopher, and man of the world.

[merged small][graphic]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »