The Collected Letters, Volume 4


TC: TESTIMONIAL LETTER FOR DAVID AITKEN; 17 February 1827; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18270217-TC-DA-02; CL 4:192-193.


21. Comley Bank, 17th Feby 1827—

Of Mr. Aitken's talents in the pulpit I can speak only by Report; the good testimony of which, however, every other indication tends to confirm. In private society, Mr A. appears as a courteous, sincere, and highly intelligent man; of mild constant temper; of manners at once frank, cheerful and gentlemanly: his conversation bespeaks a mind naturally clear, elegant, ingenious; now cultivated by sound temperate habits of thought, and in no ordinary degree, by manifold study and observation. In knowledge of Art, of Literature Ancient and Modern he has made distinguished acquirements: in German Literature especially, for which his long and varied residence in that country gave him peculiar opportunities, his knowledge, I believe, could be rivalled by few in Scotland, perhaps in Britain. His tastes also are still intellectual, and his habits regular and studious.

I have known Mr A. only three months: of his Moral Disposition, therefore, which only a long series of doings and forbearings can bring to the test, I have perhaps little right to speak; but I am much mistaken if Time do not prove it to be sterling, do not show him in all duties he may undertake acting with that mild judicious fidelity, and deep tho' unobtrusive regard to principle, which seems so accordant with his whole form of character. As a Clergyman, especially in an intellectual neighbourhood, he promises to be peculiarly suitable: for his religious persuasions seem to be at once earnest, unostentatious and tolerant; and in point of culture, and polish of mind, I can say without reserve that I have found few men in any profession, and certainly in his no one, that deserved to be compared with him.

Thomas Carlyle.