Blog #175: Virginia Woolf and A Little More Lockhart

List of Matremoirs

List of Patremoirs

Children of Writers

Memoirs Of Sir Walter Scott. 10 Volumes., Lockhart J. G., Adam And Charles Black, 1882 Edition, 10 volumes, sunning to spines, some have water marks over titles, two have some sunning to boards, one volume is slack, Good, £65.00

Chris Bartle (Glacier Books)
Ard-Darach, Strathview Terrace
Pitlochry, Perthshire

As the information above suggests, I have succumbed to antiquarian passion by ordering an 1882 edition of the Life of Scott. I hope the volumes are reasonably similar to Virginia’s, and I can hardly wait for the books to arrive, so that I can start reading closely in her footsteps. I’m rather pleased that my copies are, fittingly, coming from Scotland. I wonder if there will be bookplates, inscriptions or other traces of previous ownership. My only regret is that the Canadian dollar is so weak against the pound. With postage, the purchase is costing me over 120 dollars. The price of obsession.

While waiting for the books to arrive, I’m amusing myself by extracting references to the Life from Virginia’s early diaries and letters, and I append them below. Collecting these entries together makes several things stand out. The first, no surprise, is the range and quantity of Virginia’s reading. In January and February of 1897, she mentions reading Janet Ross’ Three Generations of English Women, both parts of Froude’s Life and Times of Carlyle, Thackeray’s The Newcombes, Mandell Creighton’s Queen Elizabeth, Carlyle’s Reminiscences, Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop, Lockhart’s Memoirs of Sir Walter Scott, William Norris’ A Deplorable Affair, and Sir James Stephen’s Essays in Ecclesiastical Biography. Likely she also read George du Maurier’s Peter Ibbetson, and several other books as well. On top of that, Leslie Stephen read Thackeray’s The History of Henry Esmond and Scott’s The Antiquary to her, while Stella read out Mademoiselle de Mersac by William Norris.
Of interest to me is that Virginia read Lockhart so soon upon reading Froude’s Carlyle. Stephen’s Ecclesiastical Essays is also of interest. The three books read in sequence suggest some system to Virginia’s reading, with Leslie Stephen grooming her to follow in his biographical footsteps. The Carlyle immersion is particularly impressive. Not only is the Froude supplemented by the Reminiscences, there is also Leslie and Virginia’s January 29th visit to Carlyle’s house. Biography was made tangible and real for Virginia by the visit to the house and, almost certainly, by some of Leslie’s personal recollections. I will reread her essay about visiting Carlyle’s house, and I also want to think about the Carlyle presence in To the Lighthouse.

Also of interest is that Leslie Stephen was reading The Antiquary to the Stephen children at the same time that Virginia was reading Lockhart. Again, there is a sense of Leslie Stephen following an educational plan for Virginia, a plan which had a deeply stimulating effect on her. In looking at the journal entries for these two months, I am struck by how deeply she subsequently mined elements of this period for To the Lighthouse. Beyond Scott and Carlyle, there is also the Jack and Stella courtship. Nancy and Andrew’s discomfort and peevishness with the Paul and Minta courtship owe a lot to Virginia’s discomfort with, and resentment of, the Jack and Stella courtship. “In a temper,” indeed! The teen-age moodiness and broodiness of the fifteen year old Virginia, and the torments of Bognor deeply inform the To the Lighthouse brooch scene.

Reading the journal entries makes me regret not looking more closely at the copies of Virginia’s beloved Scott. I did not notice the “bloody red line” on one of the copies, nor did I notice if volumes 4 and 5 suffered appreciably from their voyage to Bognor. I think not, as volume 4 is the lighthouse voyage volume, and I did check that for signs of greater use. It didn’t seem more used than the other volumes, and I doubt if it ever traveled to Violet.

Journal and Letter Excerpts

Thursday 7th of January

Finished Three Generations of English Women, and began Froudes Life of Carlyle.

Saturday 9 January

Read after tea and finished the 1st vol. of Carlyle.

Sunday 10 January

Read all the morning – got the 2nd vol. of Carlyle, which is to be read slowly; and then I am to reread all the books father has lent me –

Friday 15 January.

Nessa went to drawing. Got 1st volume of Carlyles Life in London.

Sunday 24 January

I finished the last volume of Carlyles Life in London before the tea bell rang –

Monday 25 January

My birthday. No presents at breakfast and none til Mr Gibbs came, bearing a great parcel under his arms, which turned out to be a gorgeous Queen Elizabeth—by Dr. Creighton…. –Father is going to give me Lockharts Life of Scott

Tuesday 26 January

Father finished Esmond to us this evening—His present for me came—Ls Life of Scott—in a great brown paper parcel—I expected one huge closely printed book, but instead behold 10 beautiful little blue and brown gilt leathered backs, big print, and altogether luxurious. The nicest present I have had yet.

Wednesday 27 January

Father began the Antiquary to us. Wrote to Marthe who sent me a card. Finished 1st vol. of C[arlyle]s R[eminiscences].

Friday 29th of January

After Lunch father took me to see Carlyles house in Chelsea—Walked there—Went over the house, with and intelligent old woman who knew father and everything about him—We saw the drawing room, and dining room, and Cs sound proof room, with double walls—His writing table, and his pens, and scraps of his manuscripts—Pictures of him and of her [Jane Welsh Carlyle] everywhere. Took a hansom home—Nessa and I asked the park keeper whether there was skating, were told no, and so came back.

Saturday 30 January

Finished the 2nd vol of C.s Reminiscences—Tomorrow I shall begin my beautiful Lockhart.

Tuesday 2 February

Raining hard. Stella went at 9:30 o’clock to Oxford, and Father at 10 to Cambridge. Nessa and I stayed in and did nothing in the morning. I finished the 1st vol. of Scott, and began the 2nd.

Thursday 4 February

Finished the 2nd vol of Scott, and began the third, also the Old Curiosity Shop—thank goodness. Now poor Queen Elizabeth must be despatched and then I shall be left to Scott and the Newcomes, which will last me some time.

Sunday 7 February

Finished the 3rd vol of Scott, and began the fourth, and finished at last Queen Elizabeth – Now the question is what shall become of her – She is far too beautiful to lie about the nursery at the mercy of the ink pot or of Pauline, and far too big to live in any of our bookshelves. Bognor settled on for tomorrow. Two vols. of Scott and the Newcomes shall go with me.

Monday 8 February

Then Jack and Stella sat in the dining room together, and Nessa and I in the drawing room reading. After tea this was repeated till dinner – of which I partook – and after dinner Stella read the guide book aloud to us, and we went to bed. If all the days are to pass like this, my 2 vols of Scott will have a very quick ending. How I wish at this moment that I could find myself in my comfortable arm chair in the nursery at home! Five more days!

Wednesday 10 February

We soon went in and read, leaving Stella and Jack to wander about arm in arm. It began by being fine but soon changed to drizzling and mist – I finished the 4th vol. of Scott and began the 5th.

Saturday 13 February

Walked on the Esplanade in the morning – Drizzling and misty as usual – We came in very soon, and I finished 5th volume of Scott.

Wednesday 17 February

After this Stella, Father and I went for a walk in the gardens, and after father had gone in, Stella and I went on to shop in High St. Adrian back for tea. Finished 6th vol. of Scott. Began 7th. Father gave me a book Mr Fabre sent him. Justine [Nonon] came.

Sunday 21 February

Father did not read after dinner. I managed to finish the 7th volume of Scott, to begin and finish the 8th volume and to begin the ninth volume. This is partly explained by the amount of Diary in the 8th, which I have just read, so that I skipped it, but it was a most wonderful feat nevertheless.

Wednesday 24th of February

Nessa went to her drawing. Father and I went out for our walk after breakfast. I finished Scott and Father has given me Essays in Ecclesiastical Biography, which will do me for some time.

Feb 24, 1897, letter to Thoby Stephen (L1: 4)

“Gradually all my presents have arrived—Fathers Lockhart came the evening I wrote to you—ten most exquisite little volumes, half bound in purple leather, with gilt scrolls and twirls and thistles everywhere, and a most artistic blue and brown mottling on their other parts. So my blinded eyesight is poring more than ever over miserable books—only not even you, my dear brother, could give such an epithet to these lovely creatures.
There mi-lord! I have just written a long letter to George,–terrible discovery! The leather of one of my Scotts is scratched a shows a bloody red line—I suspect Pauline [Swiss maid].

[dated by Nicholson as “early 1902”]

My dear Miss Dickinson,

Nessa says that she told you that I have discovered your Scotts diary. I meant that in Scotts life [Lockhart’s} there is his diary of a voyage to the lighthouses on the Scotch coast, but I don’t know if that is what you want.

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