[Edinburgh—Saturday, 9 June 1860]

Saturday 9th Warm and pleasant. We strolled admiringly about the streets of Edinburgh never tiring of Castle hill with its green slopes or of the beautiful monuments. We called upon Sir John Watson Gordon the painter and companion of many great men. He was a relative of Sir Walter Scott and has one of the most graphic sketches of the noble novelist in existence. He is evidently reviewing his proofs and looks the student and the author every inch. The picture of De Quincey is perhaps the greatest thing Sir J.W.G. has ever done, you feel it to be the man himself so far as painting could embody the manifested part of such a genius as De Quincey’s. He told us we might have a photograph of it and we shall certainly avail ourselves of this permission as soon as possible.

At 12 o’clk Alexander Smith called to see me. He is certainly intellectual looking but the sad cast in one eye prevents his face from being agreeable to look at, but his conversation is charming, full flowing and sympathetic. He laughed a little about his unwilling confinement at the Isle of Skye in a storm of 7 weeks duration which storm was the origin of his delightful paper called the Skye Bather.

He talked much about Carlyle and Dobell to prove how little appreciation of humour the latter possessed but ended I think in proving to both of us how harsh and rough is Mr Carlyle, indeed I may truly say he is the only great man for whose writings I have a true veneration, who I should not wish to know. By this I mean, to have a mere acquaintance with him would be far more disagreeable than otherwise, but for friendship we must feel he would wear well.

Alexander Smith is a man full of health and energy who gives promise of a long literary career to come.

In the afternoon we visited Holyrood Palace and saw the sights of Edina.


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