Last modified on 15 June 2013, at 08:38

John Galt

John Galt

John Galt (May 2, 1779April 11, 1839) was a Scottish writer, businessman and colonial administrator. He is now mostly remembered for his The Provost, The Member, and other satirical novels of political life.


  • In a word, man in London is not quite so good a creature as he is out of it.
    • The Ayrshire Legatees (Edinburgh: Blackwood, [1821] 1823) pp. 163-4.
  • To rule without being felt…is the great mystery of policy.
    • The Provost (Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1822) p. 19.
  • The cloven-foot of self-interest was now and then to be seen aneath the robe of public principle.
    • The Provost (Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1822) p. 20.
  • From the time of the North Briton of the unprincipled Wilkes, a notion has been entertained that the moral spine in Scotland is more flexible than in England. The truth however is, that an elementary difference exists in the public feelings of the two nations quite as great as in the idioms of their respective dialects. The English are a justice-loving people, according to charter and statute; the Scotch are a wrong-resenting race, according to right and feeling: and the character of liberty among them takes its aspect from that peculiarity.
    • Ringan Gilhaize (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1823) vol. 3, p. 313.


  • This work is not for the many; but in the unconscious, perfectly natural, irony of self-delusion, in all parts intelligible to the intelligent reader, without the slightest suspicion on the part of the autobiographer, I know of no equal in our literature…This and The Entail would alone suffice to place Galt in the first rank of contemporary novelists.
    • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, manuscript note written in his copy of The Provost; cited from Thomas Middleton Raysor (ed.) Coleridge's Miscellaneous Criticism (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1936) p. 344.
  • Galt was the first writer to show the effects of the burgeoning industrial revolution, making him the first political novelist in the English language, and though his reputation has been overshadowed by Scott and Hogg, he is now recognised as one of the great writers of the age.
    • Carl MacDougall. [1]

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