Sunday, February 12, 2012

Author Please

‘…Have you seen Playfairs introductory essay in the Encyclopedia?  I am sure you will like it. It is distinguished for its elegance & perspicuity. I perused it some weeks ago, and thought it greatly preferable to Stewarts. Indeed I have often told you, that I am somewhat displeased with myself because I cannot admire this great philosopher, half as much as many critics do. He is so very stately—so transcendental—and withal so unintelligible, that I cannot look upon him with the needful veneration. I was reading the second volume of his ‘Philosophy of the human mind,’ lately. It is principally devoted to the consideration of Reason. The greater part of the book is taken up with statements of the opinions of others; and it often required all my penetration to discover what the Author's own views of the matter were. He talks much about Analysis & Mathematics, and disports him very pleasantly upon geometrical reasoning; but leaves what is to me the principal difficulty, untouched. Tell me if you have read it. You have no doubt seen the ‘Tales of my Landlord.’ Certainly Waverl[e]y and Mannering and the Black Dwarf were never written by the same person…’

In a letter Thomas Carlyle wrote to Robert Mitchell on February 12, 1817, he references two individuals who were known to Walter Scott, with at least Dugald Stewart being particularly important to Scott, yet at this point, the authorship of “Waverley” and “Tales of my Landlord” seemed unreconciled to him.

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