Lockman, John (DNB00)

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LOCKMAN, JOHN (1698–1771), miscellaneous writer, was born in 1698 in humble circumstances. By dint of hard private study he became a tolerable scholar and learnt to speak French by frequenting Slaughter's coffee-house (Hawkins, Life of Johnson, p. 516). In conversation he had some humour, but failed in his attempts to jest on paper. He appears to have been acquainted with Pope, to whom he dedicated in 1734 his translation of Porée's ‘Oration.’ His inoffensive character procured for him the name of the ‘Lamb.’ He never showed temper except once, when ‘Hesiod’ Cooke abused his poetry. He then retorted, ‘It may be so; but, thank God! my name is not at full length in the “Dunciad.”’ His poems are chiefly occasional verses intended to be set to music for Vauxhall. In 1762 he tried, fruitlessly, to get them printed by subscription. He frequently went to court to present his verses to the royal family, and after he became secretary to the British Herring Fishery he tendered gifts of pickled herrings. Both poems and herrings, he declared, were ‘most graciously accepted.’ In France, according to Johnson, he was honoured as ‘L'illustre Lockman,’ in recognition of his translation of Voltaire's ‘Henriade’ (Boswell, Life of Johnson, ed. G. B. Hill, iv. 6). He died in Brownlow Street, Long Acre, on 2 Feb. 1771, leaving a widow, Mary (Administration Act Book, P. C. C., 1771).

Lockman did some creditable work for the ‘General Dictionary,’ 10 vols. fol., London, 1734–41, including a painstaking life of Samuel Butler (Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. xi. 102).

He translated many French works, including Voltaire's ‘Age of Louis XIV,’ and ‘Henriade;’ Marivaux's ‘Pharamond;’ and Le Sage's ‘Bachelor of Salamanca;’ and published: 1. ‘The Charms of Dishabille; or, New Tunbridge Wells at Islington,’ a song, fol. (London, 1733?). 2. ‘David's Lamentation over Saul and Jonathan. A Lyric Poem,’ 4to, London, 1736; 5th edit. 1740. 3. ‘Rosalinda, a Musical Drama …’ with an inquiry into the history of operas and oratorios, 4to, London, 1740. It was set to music by John Christopher Smith, and performed at Hickford's Great Room in Brewer Street. 4. ‘To the long-conceal'd first Promoter of the Cambrick and Tea-Bills [S. T. Janssen]: an Epistle [in verse],’ 4to, London, 1746. 5. ‘A Discourse on Operas,’ before F. Vanneschi's ‘Fetoute. Drama,’ &c., 8vo, London, 1747. 6. ‘The Shetland Herring and Peruvian Gold-Mine: a Fable,’ in verse, fol., London, 1751; 2nd edit. 4to, 1751. 7. ‘A proper Answer to a Libel written by L. D. N[elme] … against J. Lockman’ [anon.], 8vo, London, 1753, a ghastly attempt at wit. 8. ‘A faithful Narrative of the late pretended Gunpowder Plot in a Letter to the … Lord Mayor of London,’ 8vo, London, 1755. 9. ‘A History of the Cruel Sufferings of the Protestants and others by Popish Persecutions in various Countries,’ 8vo, London, 1760; besides copies of verses on presenting the Prince of Wales with early Shetland herrings, a few prologues and epilogues, and a number of complimentary addresses to his patrons on birthdays and similar occasions.

Lockman wrote also a ‘History of Christianity,’ which he announced in 1732 as being ready for the press (Note 17 to his translation of Voltaire, Henriade), and he wrote histories of England, Greece, and Rome respectively, by question and answer, which passed through numerous editions. In the British Museum is his correspondence with Dr. Thomas Birch, 1731–58 (Addit. MS. 4311), and a single letter to P. Des Maizeaux (ib. 4284). He was a frequent contributor to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine.’

[Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ii. 45, v. 53, 287, viii. 100, 101; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. ii. 67; Baker's Biog. Dram. 1812; Gent. Mag. 1792, pt. i. p. 314; Chalmers's Biog. Dict.; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. iii. 330.]

G. G.