SCOTTISH RECORDS – THE DUGALD STEWART MONUMENT. Private correspondence of the lawyer and archivist Thomas Thomson, comprising some seventy autograph letters etc. to him, correspondents including the politician and diplomatist Gilbert Elliot, second Earl of Minto (fine series of some twenty letters, dating from the 1820s, full of political views and opinions)
Lot 138
SCOTTISH RECORDS – THE DUGALD STEWART MONUMENT. Private correspondence of the lawyer and archivist Thomas Thomson, comprising some seventy autograph letters etc. to him, correspondents including the politician and diplomatist Gilbert Elliot, second Earl of Minto (fine series of some twenty letters, dating from the 1820s, full of political views and opinions)
Sold for £2,500 (US$ 3,920) inc. premium

Lot Details
SCOTTISH RECORDS – THE DUGALD STEWART MONUMENT
Private correspondence of the lawyer and archivist Thomas Thomson, comprising some seventy autograph letters etc. to him, correspondents including the politician and diplomatist Gilbert Elliot, second Earl of Minto (fine series of some twenty letters, dating from the 1820s, full of political views and opinions), T.B. Macaulay (important letter, written on 6 April 1846 and devoted to his impending work on the History: "I wish to be directed to the best sources of information respecting the history and social state of Scotland from the Restoration to the Union, and more particularly during the reign of James the Second... Our English statesmen of that age, Halifax, Sunderland, Rochester, and so forth, I seem to know as if I had lived with them"), Palmerston, Francis Horner (a fine letter discussing Court of Session reforms in 1807), Francis Jeffrey (forwarding a letter to him, as Lord Advocate, by William Dundas [about Robert Reid's proposed extension to Register House] – "I remain of opinion, that the alteration, will affect the character of the building, particularly in approaching it, from the South. I went over the ground with several persons, of acknowledged good taste & judgement, who were decidedly of opinion the alteration, would be prejudicial & unnecessary", 1834), the fourteenth Lord Gray (enquiring about "the Old Letters connected with the Gray family" valued by Laing the bookseller for the Faculty of Advocates), Lord Holland ("...I wish our Modern Princes would take example of your old Scotch Kings & reduce their regalia & expences..."), Lord Holland's associate Richard Allen ("...It is quite true that the Pss of Wales has announced her intention of returning to Kensington Palace... They are in a pretty fuss at Carlton House..."), W.H. Playfair, Lord Ashburnham, Henry Brougham, Lord Dudley, Lord Lansdowne, Lord John Russell, and others, several hundred pages, address wrappers etc., mostly 8vo, 1807-1846, mostly 1820s

Footnotes

  • For a notice of Thomas Thomson (1768-1852), first Deputy Clerk Register, in charge of Scotland's public records, record scholar, advocate and, briefly, editor of the Edinburgh Review, see Tristram Clarke's notice in the ODNB. He was among many other things one of the leading lights in promoting W.H. Playfair's celebrated monument to his friend Dugald Stewart on Carlton Hill, modelled on the Tower of the Winds in Athens; a topic of a number of these letters touch on, many written a month or so after Stewart's death (on 11 June 1828). The collection includes an anonymous letter in the third person inviting Thomson to be a pallbearer at Stewart's funeral. A week after his death, a former pupil, Lord Dudley, writes with his assessment and offering a subscription. Another former pupil, the Marquess of Lansdowne, writes a long letter devoted to the proposed monument on 23 July, noting that "a determination appears to have been taken in the first instance that the intended monument should consist of a work of architecture, implying I presume for I know of no other from it could assume an obelisk, a pillar, or a temple"; but urging instead a sculpture and, rhapsodizing, inter alia, on the Newton monument at Trinity. More modestly, yet another former pupil, Lord Palmerston, volunteers a subscription of £50 allied to the hope that "yourself & the Edinburgh Committee will Employ me in any Manner in which they may think I can assist them"; a further subscription being offered by another Edinburgh man, Lord Minto. Given the context, it seems highly likely that a letter by W.H. Playfair himself, although undated, is the one in which he thanks Thomson for offering him the commission: "I can only say, that I value this appointment from the favourable opportunity it affords me for professional exertion, but chiefly from the delightful assurance it has given me that I possess so firmly the kind and active friendship of Yourself, and of those whose good opinion I value most on earth... I cannot but feel assured that I am on the right path, when I find the dearest friends of my Uncle looking upon me so kindly".
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