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By Ralph Jessop (auth.)
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U Caird was certainly not alone in this since few of Carlyle's commentators made much reference to his Scottish background and, more significantly, none placed his work within a Scottish intellectual context. Carlyle could be a Scottish peasant, a son of the soil with roughly hewn Annandale brogue, in Froude's phrase a 'Calvinist without the theology', his intellectual coordinates vaguely located in a distant German idealism. But only by a tiny minority of his nineteenth-century commentators could it even be suggested that Carlyle was a Scottish intellectual, the inheritor of Scottish philosophical discourse.
In 1846, after describing him as 'the Elijah of some new dispensation', Vaughan claimed that 'Carlyle talks [on occasion] as though he were the only wise and good man of his generation, soars into his heroics, and surrounds himself with his apocalyptic visions'. 43 That Carlyle had lost support by 1850 is clear from the hostile reviews of the highly controversial Latter-Day Pamphlets. From this time, Le Quesne notes a change - Carlyle 'was no longer a prophet, for he speaks from a position of self-conscious isolation', a position in which he could no longer speak with life-giving words to an attentive and receptive audience.
Some contact (though perhaps only indirect) may have been maintained for many years through the Austins. 16 After moving to London in 1834, Carlyle wrote to Hamilton assuring him that he would always be a welcome visitor (see, CL, 7: 238). Writing to his mother from Edinburgh in 1833, he said: 30 Carlyle and Scottish Thought The best man I see here, indeed the only man I care much about is Sir William Hamilton; in whom alone of all these people I find an earnest soul, an openness for truth: I really think him a genuine kind of man.