The Collected Letters, Volume 13


JWC TO GRACE WELSH ; 19 December 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18411219-JWC-GW-01; CL 13: 323-324


[19 December 1841]

Have you noticed in the Newspapers divers paragraphs about Carlyle as connected with a certain Edinburgh Professorship now vacant? The students had got up a petition to have him elected to it, etc., etc. From which it is getting rumoured all about that he is actually a candidate. Nothing of the sort. He never for a moment has contemplated availing himself of the kind dispositions of these young gentlemen; and has answered their direct application to him on the subject with a decisive No.— “They would not keep him when they had him,” he says (not to them of course, but to me), “and they may try whether they can catch him now.” Certainly the men of Edinburgh must have a tolerably high opinion of themselves to fancy he would give up his high position here for the pleasure of teaching them! As to profit, it would be all to try for,—this Professorship of theirs having no salary attached to it worth the name,—some £100 a year perhaps, with the fees that a popular Lecturer might take. But if he is to make his bread by lecturing, in an uncertain way, why not do it here, where he is already secure of an audience? or in America still better, where every one says he might make thousands of pounds in one year? No, no, we are done with Edinburgh. He owes it no gratitude for any recognition he ever found there. It is only now when London and the world have discovered his talent that they are fain to admit it. As for me, I would as soon go back to Craigenputtock as to that poor, proud, formal, “highly respectable” City.