The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO J. W. PARKER ; 20 March 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530320-TC-JWP-01; CL 28: 84


Chelsea, March 20, 1853—

My dear Sir,

Yesterday I quite forgot to ask you, among other things, if you could have any notion to concern yourself with a new Life of Allan Ramsay the Scotch Poet, Author of The Gentle Shepherd &c?1

A man in Edinburgh, whom I do not know, has written to me twice on the subject,—the 2d time, a day or two ago, to say that the Work is done: “200 pages” of nice Ms.; which he wishes me to read, and also to write an “Introduction” to.2 Both of these requests I mean to decline: but the man, who seems to have diligence, enthusiasm for his task, and other good qualities, and has really tried a thing worth doing, ought to have what help one can give him. I must own, to judge by his Letters (or last Letter, for I cannot remember the first), he does not promise to be any great witch at composition: but he is perhaps an average, or more, in that respect too; his work is brief, his subject good (at least for Scotland, and the scholarly part of England); he professes to give Letters of Ramsay;—and has really, I believe, laboured a number of years getting his Book together.— The question therefore is Would it probably be worth his while to send you his Ms. for your examination and advice upon it? Or would you rather not see it at all?—

Please answer me, in one word, just as you feel about it; for the truth is, I have no interest in the man whatever beyond what I describe; and can finish him off with a general “No,” as I have to do so many.

For the rest, Ramsay (Scotch Guarini3 and more) is really a considerable man; and a tolerable Life of him is wanted in the world.

Yours always truly /

T. Carlyle