The Collected Letters, Volume 1


TC TO [THOMAS MURRAY]; 15 December 1814; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18141200-TC-TM-01; CL 1:35.


Annan, [Dec. 1814]

… I had a sight of “Waverley” soon after I received your letter, and I cannot help saying that, in my opinion, it is by far the best novel that has been written these thirty years—at least, that I know of. Eben. Cruickshanks, mine host of The Seven Golden Candlesticks, and Mr. Gifted Gilfillan, are described in the spirit of Smollett or Cervantes. Who does not shed a tear for the ardent Vich Ian Vohr, and the unshaken Evan Dhu, when perishing amid the shouts of an English mob, they refuse to swerve from their principles? And who will refuse to pity the marble Callum Beg, when, hushed in the strife of death, he finishes his earthly career on Clifton Moor, far from the blue mountains of the North, without one friend to close his eyes? 'Tis an admirable performance. Is Scott still the reputed author?

[In this letter Carlyle mentions reading Euler's “Algebra,”1 Addison's “Freeholder,”2 Cuvier's “Theory of the Earth,”3 Molière's “Comedies,” the monthly reviews, critical journals, etc.] 4