It is pleasant to be thus most at home abroad

P.G. Hamerton was an English painter, art critic, author and editor of The Portfolio periodical. The following refers to his candidature, which was not successful, for the Professorship of Fine Art at Edinburgh.

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 3, 659.]

To Philip Gilbert Hamerton [Colvin 1911, 1, pp. 295-296]

Monterey, California [October 1879].

My dear Mr. Hamerton,

Your letter to my father was forwarded to me by mistake, and by mistake I opened it. The letter to myself has not yet reached me. This must explain my own and my father’s silence. I shall write by this or next post to the only friends I have who, I think, would have an influence, as they are both professors. I regret exceedingly that I am not in Edinburgh, as I could perhaps have done more, and I need not tell you that what I might do for you in the matter of the election is neither from friendship nor gratitude, but because you are the only man (I beg your pardon) worth a damn. I shall write to a third friend, now I think of it, whose father will have great influence.

P.G. Hamerton (1834-1894) []

Hamerton’s original etching and drypoint engraving, “At Autun, France”, 1864 []

I find here (of all places in the world) your Essays on Art, which I have read with signal interest. I believe I shall dig an essay of my own out of one of them, for it set me thinking; if mine could only produce yet another in reply, we could have the marrow out between us.

The Portfolio, periodical edited by P.G. Hamerton []

P.G. Hamerton, A Painter’s Camp in the Highlands, 1862 []

Hamerton’s Thoughts about Art, 1873, originally part of A Painter’s Camp in the Highlands, and misquoted by RLS []

I hope, my dear sir, you will not think badly of me for my long silence. My head has scarce been on my shoulders. I had scarce recovered from a long fit of useless ill-health than I was whirled over here double-quick time and by cheapest conveyance.

I have been since pretty ill, but pick up, though still somewhat of a mossy ruin. If you would view my countenance aright, come – view it by the pale moonlight. But that is on the mend. I believe I have now a distant claim to tan.

A letter will be more than welcome in this distant clime where I have a box at the post-office – generally, I regret to say, empty. Could your recommendation introduce me to an American publisher? My next book I should really try to get hold of here, as its interest is international, and the more I am in this country the more I understand the weight of your influence. It is pleasant to be thus most at home abroad, above all, when the prophet is still not without honour in his own land.

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