Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

VII
JAMES DODDS

THE same James Dodds, whom Carlyle had persuaded to stick to the law for a living instead of going into journalism, had come to London in 1846 when he was thirty- three, and had prospered well,--it was a rush of Scottish railway business that had brought him to work as a Parliamentary agent; and he continued to be a frequent caller at Carlyle's till some time in the fifties.1 He could, and did, boast that 'he had heard from Mr. Carlyle's lips the substance of many of The Latter-Day Pamphlets before they were published.'

Before he came to London his spiritual evolution was complete. He never escaped from the cage of the Bible, and after fluttering about a bit, settled on his perch, an evangelical Christian, tho more like an old Scotch Covenanter than a modern Englishman.

At Cheyne Row, as among sensible people in Scotland for many generations, the rule was silence about religion in the presence of believers; and Dodds made many friends there, --John Carlyle and Procter, Craik and Lewes. He became a champion of Mazzini, and a friend and unpaid legal adviser of Leigh Hunt. In short, the prosperous lawyer remembered well the dreams of his youth, and gave his leisure to lecturing and writing at large, doing Lays of the Covenanters in answer to Aytoun Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers, both famous then and now forgotten, and lecturing often and well on The Fifty Years' Struggle of the Scottish Covenanters. He made a book of that title out of his lectures, and it ran to many editions; but what is most interesting here is this description of Carlyle at home, which he wrote for the Dumfries Courier.

'The tongue has the "sough" of Annandale, an echo of the Solway. A keen, sharp, singing voice, in the genuine

____________________
1
Memoir of James Dodds, by the Rev. James Dodds, in the 1880 edition of the Lays of the Covenanters, pp. 75-83, 49-55.

-228-

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