The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO WILLIAM E. HICKSON ; 15 October 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18411015-TC-WEH-01; CL 13: 278-279


Chelsea, 15 Octr, 1841—

My dear Sir,

I have read your blockhead M'Gregor's Dissertation on Ossian, his Appendixes &c; and cannot say that he seems to have thrown any light whatever, worth noting, upon any subject under the sun. His “Highland Society” is the Highland Society of London,—an august body whom I have hardly ever heard of till now.1 He is one of those Celtic blockheads, against whose nationalities, as Pinkerton says, argument has and can have no effect; who are past logic:2 let us leave him alone in his glory then.

The only article, it seems to me, worth writing on Ossian at present were perhaps some genetic history of the Chimera of Ossian, treated as a Chimera; some sketch of the quack-career of James Macpherson (rather a curious man), and of the curious reception he met with from pretentious Noodledom in that time; a delineation which might illustrate several things. But ample elbowroom would be indispensable for such an article; nor do I know that sufficient materials exist for it, even on research,—nor that they would be worth seeking for if they did.

Not long ago I had a transient notion of something about Baillie's Letters and Journals; that is to say, about Scotch Covenanterism, the Edinburgh gatherings in 1637, Strafford's Trial, Montrose &c: but it remained only as a vague, not very manageable cloud, in my head; I do not yet know whether manageable on any terms; and certainly as a short Article nothing could be made of it.

On the whole, I fear much there is nothing to be got of me that will suit you at present. My hand is entirely out, in the “article” department; and indeed, as matters stand, perhaps it is fully as well so.

Believe me always / Yours very truly

T. Carlyle