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seven men whose names we have set down! was content and proud to be. Every thing How vast is the interval between the Ger- which another man would have hidden, man transcendentalist and the strong com- every thing the publication of which would mon sense of Johnson! How opposed have made another man hang himself, was are they alike to the intellectual coldness matter of gay and clamorous exultation to of Hume! And if all these three have his weak and diseased mind. That such the kinship of genius, the commonplace a man should have written one of the best unmarked character of Louis XVI. affords books in the world is strange enough. no such reason why Mr. Carlyle should But this is not all
. Many persons who trace his fortunes with sympathy. No one have conducted themselves foolishly in who reads the “Miscellanies" and the active life, and whose conversation has in“French Revolution" attentively will deny dicated no superior powers of mind, have that the breadth of sympathy displayed left us valuable works. But these men attherein is one of the rarest qualities ever tained literary eminence in spite of their exhibited by any man. We are not saying weaknesses. Boswell attained it by reathat all Mr. Carlyle's judgments, even here, son of his weaknesses. If he had not been are perfect. Most people will think that a great fool, he would never have been a he rates Burns too high; and a French- great writer. Without all the qualities man would probably consider that he gave which made him the jest and the torment inadequate recognition to the universality of those among whom he lived, without of Voltaire. But these defects of a luxu- the officiousness, the inquisitiveness, the riant nature are trivial when compared effrontery, the toad-eating, the insensibility with the sterility of ordinary historians to all reproof, he never could have proand moralists, who can do nothing but duced so excellent a book. He has printbarrenly admire or condemn, and have ed many of his own letters, and in these not the patient care which follows a man letters he is always ranting or twaddling. through the changing scenes of his for- Logic, eloquence, wit, taste, all those things tunes, marking at once the internal nature which are generally considered as making that made him act as he did, and the ex- a book valuable, were utterly wanting to ternal consequences, good or bad, that him. He had, indeed, a quick observation flowed from his act. The cold impartiality and a retentive memory. These qualities, of Hallam, so much praised, has no doubt if he had been a man of sense and virtue, its value; it keeps alive the sense of jus- would scarcely of themselves have suffictice, so much needed among men; but it ed to make him conspicuous; but, beis not to be named by the side of that cause he was a dunce, a parasite, and a warm intelligence which apprehends, not coxcomb, they have made him immortal." merely the upshot of a man's life, but the – Macaulay's Essays. :(“Works," vol. v. whole course of it.
pp. 514, seqq., ed. 1866.) Of all the characters to whom it was Surely it might have occurred to Madifficult to render justice, but to whom Mr. caulay that to attribute extraordinary exCarlyle has rendered justice, Boswell is cellence to pure weakness and folly as its perhaps the most worthy of notice. Our cause was, at the very least, paradoxical! readers will doubtless remember Lord Ma- Would it have been an unwholesome doubt caulay's essay on Croker's edition of Bos- of his own perspicacity if he had modified well's " Life of Johnson," in which editor, the sharpness of his sweeping sentences ? author, and hero meet alike with castiga- Deliberately we say that Mr. Carlyle shows tion from that brilliant pen. Of all the not merely greater insight, but far greater persons whom Lord Macaulay ever satiriz- soberness of mind, than Lord Macaulay ed, there is none on whom a fuller measure when he writesof his contempt fell than on Boswell. Here “Boswell was a person whose mean or are a few of his sentences :
bad qualities lay open to the general eye; “ Servile and impertinent, shallow and visible, palpable to the dullest. His good pedantic, a bigot and a sot, bloated with qualities, again, belonged not to the time family pride, and eternally blustering about he lived in ; were far from common then; the dignity of a born gentleman, yet stoop- indeed in such a degree were almost uning to be a talebearer, an eavesdropper, a exampled; not recognizable therefore by common butt in the taverns of London; every one; nay, apt even (so strange had
such was this man, and such he they grown) to be confounded with the very vices they lay contiguous to, and had most diligent solicitor and purveyor, did sprung out of. That he was a wine-bib- he so attach himself: such vulgar courtierber and gross liver ; gluttonously fond of ships were his paid drudgery, or leisure whatever would yield him a little solace. amusement; the worship of Johnson was ment, were it only of a stomachic charac- his grand, ideal, voluntary business. Nay, ter, is undeniable enough. That he was it does not appear that vulgar vanity could vain, heedless, a babbler; had much of ever have been much flattered by Bosthe sycophant, alternating with the brag- well's relation to Johnson. Mr. Crooker gadocio, curiously spiced too with an all- says, Johnson was, to the last, little regardpervading dash of the coxcomb; that he ed by the great world : from which, for a gloried much when the tailor, by a court- vulgar vanity, all honor, as from its founsuit, had made a new man of him; that he tain, descends. James Boswell belonged, appeared at the Shakspeare Jubilee with a in his corruptible part, to the lowest classes riband, imprinted · Corsica Boswell,' round of mankind; a foolish, inflated creature, his hat; and in short, if you will, lived no swimming in an element of self-conceit; day of his life without saying and doing but in his corruptible there dwelt an inmore than one pretentious ineptitude; all corruptible, all the more impressive and this unhappily is evident as the sun at indubitable for the strange lodging it had noon.
Unfortunately, on the taken."-Carlyle's Miscellanies. ("Works," other hand, what great and genuine good vol. ix. pp. 33, seqq.) lay in him was nowise so self-evident. There is no lack, here, of keenness to The man, once for all, had an open see the weaknesses of Boswell. Keensense,' an open loving heart, which so fewness, indeed, was hardly necessary in such have: where excellence existed, he was a case; but yet a person of less strength compelled to acknowledge it; was drawn that Mr. Carlyle, had he undertaken to towards it, and could not but walk with defend Boswell at all, would have someit,-if not as superior, if not as equal, then what shrunk from the forcible and picas inferior and lackey, better so than not turesque delineation of his faults. But at all. It has been commonly said, The not for a moment, not in one single point, man's vulgar vanity was all that attached does Mr. Carlyle shrink. He gives the him to Johnson; he delighted to be seen full aspect, as it might appear to the most near him, to be thought connected with hostile observer, of the gluttony, the vanity, him. Now let it be at once granted that the coxcombry, of the man whose cause no consideration springing out of vulgar he is advocating. And this would appear vanity could well be absent from the mind still more manifestly had we space to quote of James Boswell, in this his intercourse more at length from his essay. It is with Johnson, or in any considerable not without appreciating and representing transaction of his life. At the same time, the whole that may be said against Boswell ask yoursel Whether such vanity, and that he gives that good element in himnothing else, actuated him therein. that element so easy to overlook, so cerThe man was, by nature and habit, vain; tain to be overlooked by all but the most a sycophant-coxcomb, be it granted: but generous natures, and yet an element had there been nothing more than vanity which no mind of even moderate genein him, was Samuel Johnson the man of rosity will refuse to acknowledge when men to whom he must attach himself? At once it is pointed out—the element of the date when Johnson was a poor rusty- love, and admiration, and humility. Few coated scholar, dwelling in Temple Lane, but Mr. Carlyle would have cared to and indeed throughout their whole inter- prove the existence of these qualities in course afterwards, were there not chan- Boswell: that he did care to do so, that cellors and prime ministers enough ; grace- he had that rare gratitude which consents ful gentlemen, the glass of fashion; honor- to blunt the edge of its satire, would of itgiving noblemen ; dinner-giving rich men; self be sufficient demonstration of uncomany one of whom bulked much larger in mon fineness of nature. the world's eye than Johnson ever did ? It is curious, again, to compare the To any one of whom, by half that sub- criticism of Johnson himself by Mr. Carmissiveness and assiduity, our Bozzy might lyle with that by Macaulay. We are far have recommended himself
. To no one from saying here that the advantage, as of whom, however, though otherwise a in the former case, lies wholly on Mr. Carlyle's side; for Macaulay had a gen- kind of suffering which he could scarcely uine respect for Johnson, which, consider- conceive. He would carry home on his ing the extreme difference of their opin- shoulders a sick and starving girl from the ions, did him.great credit ; and the viva- streets. He turned his house into a place city with which he moves the laughter of of refuge for a crowd of wretched old the reader against Johnson is good-humor- creatures who could find no other asylum; ed, and not intended to arouse contempt. nor could all their peevishness and ingratOn the other hand, there is something itude weary out his benevolence. But the elephantine in Mr. Carlyle's essay; it pangs of wounded vanity seemed to him harps 100 much on general ideas, on the ridiculous; and he scarcely felt sufficient excellence of hero-worship, on the infinity compassion even for the pangs of wounded of duty; on the evil of cant; nor is it pos- affection.”—Macaulay's Essays. (“Works,” sible to help suspecting that Johnson vol. v. p. 525.) would have but imperfectly reciprocated There is the common sense view of JohnMr. Carlyle's feeling to himself, had he son; a view neither bitter nor unjust, but not had the opportunity of doing so. But seeking to penetrate beneath the obvious exstill the very defects of Mr. Carlyle arise terior. Mr. Carlyle is not content with this; from an excess of generosity. If he is he endeavors to prove that Johnson was ever wearisome, it is because he is at such intrinsically polite and courteous, though labor to explain why he admires Johnson he does not, of course, deny the frequency so much; it is because he has such regard with which the exercise of these qualities for every token of a noble mind. Nor, was hidden under a rough show: again, is he blind to Johnson's limitations; “In Johnson's ‘Politeness, which he his applause is not indiscriminate. An often, to the wonder of some, asserted to admirer and sympathizer, he is at the very be great, there was indeed somewhat that farthest possible distance from being a fol- needed explanation. Nevertheless, if he lower or imitator.
insisted always on handing lady-visitors to Here are two passages, one from Ma- their carriage; though with the certainty of caulay's essay, the other from Mr. Car- collecting a mob of gazers in Fleet street lyle's, which may serve as a specimen of —as might well be, the beau having on, the different way in which the two writers by way of court-dress, his rusty brown treat their subject. First, let us quote mourning suit, a pair of old shoes for slipMacaulay :
pers, a little shriveled wig sticking on the “ The roughness and violence which top of his head, and the sleeves of his he” (Johnson] “showed in society were to shirt and the knees of his breeches hangbe expected from a man whose temper, ing loose.' In all this we can see the not naturally gentle, had been long tried spirit of true politeness, only shining by the bitterest calamities, by the want of through a strange medium. Thus again, meat, of fire, and of clothes, by the impor- in his
apartments, at one time, there were tunity of creditors, by the insolence of unfortunately no chairs. A gentleman booksellers, by the derision of fools, by the who frequently visited him whilst writing insincerity of patrons, by that bread which his “Idlers,” constantly found him at his is the bitterest of all food, by those stairs desk, sitting on one with three legs; and which are the most toilsome of all paths, on rising from it, he remarked that Johnby that deferred hope which makes the son never forgot its defect; but would heart sick. Through all these things the either hold it in his hand, or place it with ill-dressed, coarse, ungainly pedant had great composure against some support; struggled manfully up to eminence and taking no notice of its imperfection to his command. It was natural that, in the ex- visitor-who, meanwhile, we suppose, sat ercise of his power, he should be . eo im- upon folios, or in the sartorial fashion. It mitior quia toleraverat,' that, though his was remarkable in Johnson,' continues heart was undoubtedly generous and hu- Miss Reynolds, (Renny dear,) that no exmane, his demeanor in society should be ternal circumstances ever prompted him harsh and despotic. For severe distress to make any apology, or to seem even he had sympathy, and not only sympathy, sensible of their existence. Whether this but munificent relief. But for the suffering was the effect of philosophic pride, or of which a harsh world inflicts upon a deli- some partial notion of his respecting highcate mind he had no pity; for it was a breeding, is doubtful. That it was, for one thing, the effect of genuine politeness, tic admiration. Of the works of the mys- , is nowise doubtful.”—Carlyle's Miscella- tic Novalis he says that they are "an unnies. ("Works," vol. ix. p. 101.)
fathomable mine of philosophical ideas, That this passage comes from a deeper where the keenest intellect may have ocand more patiently inquiring mind than cupation enough ; and in such occupation, Macaulay, will not be questioned. It was without looking further, reward enough. ” written, certainly, by one who did not fear He defends Coleridġe, as a man "able to challenge, and (if need were) to con- to originate deep thoughts,” and “having tradict the first obvious
appearance more intellectual insight than other men," matter—an eminent and necessary charac- and affirms that his works are “like living teristic of all discoverers of hidden truth. brooks, hidden for the present under mounOf such a characteristic it is the neces. tains of froth and theatrical snowpaper, sary complement that the possessor of it and which only at a distant day, when should be liable to paradox and oneside- these mountains shall have decomposed edness. And yet we do not think that the themselves into gas and earthly residuum, charge of paradox will be brought against may roll forth in their true limpid shape, the passage we have quoted, or that, in- to gladden the general eye with what deed, anywhere in these “Miscellanies," beauty and everlasting freshness does reMr. Carlyle has forgotten, or swerved from, side in them.” Again, not confining himthat basis of common sense and common self to the German school, he says of Duexperience on which we all stand. He gald Stewart : “We regard his discussions never, here, lays aside the practical con- on the nature of Philosophic language, sideration that he is addressing himself to and his unwearied efforts to set forth and readers of the nineteenth century—to rea- guard against its fallacies, as worthy of ders who have already a certain stock of all acknowledgment.” While opposing knowledge, which it is useless to ignore Locke, (in his “ Essay on the State of and irrational to despise, however largely German Literature,”) he opposes him withhe may himself be capable of adding to it. out bitterness or animosity. It claims and obtains the respect of his It is needless to remark that Mr. Carreaders on the ground that he has a re- lyle was not at this time, any more than spect for them—that he can enter into afterwards, the adherent of any philosophitheir opinions, curiosities, desires. As an cal or scientific system. Thus, while he instance of his so doing, let us refer to his says of Kant's system,“We would have it treatment of the German philosophers— studied and known, on general grounds, philosophers who were seldom then men- because even the errors of such men are tioned but with derision, and whom Mr. instructive"-he never for one moment Carlyle, in his later phases, has seen fit to thinks of entering into its several parts. discard as containing nothing worthy of Minute analysis was never one of his charattention. It was a better mind, in these acteristics. But if he never had the powearlier days, which led him, not to profess er of philosophical analysis, he had then a himself their disciple, not to accept their breadth of feeling and a tolerance, truly opinions or any special phase of them in philosophical. It is the union of this with the lump, but to hold them out as exam- picturesque and animated description that ples of sincere and profound inquiry, as constitutes so signal an evidence of power well worthy of the study on the part of all in his early writings; for though there is who look into the difficult parts of specu- no discordance between these qualities lation. Thus of Kant he says: “Perhaps there is great difference, and they are genamong all the metaphysical writers of the erally found in very different characters. eighteenth century, including Hume and To illustrate them both, take almost at ranHartley themselves, there is not one that dom a passage from the “ French Revoso ill meets the conditions of a mystic as lution." Here is one, descriptive of the this same Immanuel Kant.” And again, Reign of Terror; first, of the victims, very pertinently: "It is true, a careless or then, of the multitude : unpretending reader will find Kant's writ- “ Another row of Tumbrils we must noing a riddle; but will a reader of this sort tice; that which holds Elizabeth, the sismake much of Newton's · Principia,' or ter of Louis. Her trial was like the rest; D'Alembert's Calculus of Variations ?!" for plots, for plots. She was among the Of Fichte he speaks in terms of enthusias- kindliest, most innocent of women. There sat with her, amid four-and-twenty others, empire sees nothing similar. O my brotha once timorous Marchioness de Crussol ; ers, why is the reign of Brotherhood not courageous now; expressing toward her come! It is come, it shall have come, say the liveliest loyalty. At the foot of the the Citoyens, frugally hobnobbing. Ah scaffold, Elizabeth, with tears in her eyes me! these everlasting stars, do they not thanked this Marchioness; said she was look down like glistening eyes, bright with grieved she could not reward her. "Ah, immortal pity, over the lot of man !"Madame, would your Royal Highness French Revolution. (“Works,” vol. iv. deign to embrace me, my wishes were pp. 325 seqq.) complete! “Right willingly, Marquise Let this passage be attentively considde Crussol, and with my whole heart.' ered, and several things will appear from Thus they: at the foot of the scaffold. . . . it. First, that Mr. Carlyle has no special
“The spring sends its gwen leaves and party spirit in relation to the French Revbright weather, bright May, brighter than olutionists, or to their opponents. Not, of ever: Death pauses not. Lavoisier, famed course, that he can be devoid of the natChemist, shall die and not live. Lavoi- ural feelings of men toward events so tersier begged a fortnight more of life, to fin- rible. He, like another man, can blame ish some experiments : but 'the Republic the original selfishness of the French nodoes not need such ; the axe must do its bility--can sympathize with their after-sufwork. . . . Condorcet has lurked deep, ferings, in many cases heroically endured these many months; Argus-eyes watching --can feel horror at the crimes of a Robeand searching for him. His concealment spierre and a Marat. But these are not, is become dangerous to others and him- to him, the whole; he can even look with self; he has to fly again, to skulk, round a certain calmness upon these elements of Paris, in thickets and stone-quarries! And the tragedy, knowing that there lies beso at the village of Clamars, one bleared hind all these another and greater force. May morning, there enters a Figure, rag- This tremendous revolution, as it was not ged, rough-bearded, hunger-stricken; asks itself the product of individual wills, but breakfast in the tavern there. He is haled the outburst of a suffering nation, so did forthwith, breakfast unfinished, toward not either owe its horrors to the wickedBourg-la-Reine, on foot; he faints with ness of individual men. The leaders in it exhaustion ; is set on a peasant's horse; is were indeed, in the greater number of influng into his damp prison-cell: on the stances, wicked men ; but they were also, morrow, recollecting him, you enter ; Con- with few exceptions, small and vain men. dorcet lies dead on the floor. They die It is paying them too much honor to confast, and disappear; the notabilities of sider them the real causes of those events France disappear, one after one, like lights of which they were the immediate authors. in a theatre, which you are snuffing out. And so Mr. Carlyle represents the matter.
“ Under which circumstances, is it not His eye does not rest on them; he looks singular, and almost touching, to see Paris beyond for a greater cause. City drawn out, in the meek May nights,
What is that cause? It is ignorancein civic ceremony, which they call Souper the mutual ignorance on the part of men Fraternel,' Brotherly Supper? Along the of each other's feelings, tempers, designs. Rue Saint-Honoré, and main streets and When the different ranks in society stand spaces, each Citoyen brings forth what of aloof from each other, the error may at supper the stingy maximum has yielded first seem small; but their ignorance of him, to the open air; joins it to his neigh- each other's lives is like a dangerous gas, bor's supper; and with common table, at first stifling all good efforts, and aftercheerful light burning frequent, and what wards bursting out into a destructive flame, due modicum of cut-glass and other gar- when the smallest spark of suspicion falls nish and relish is convenient, they eat fru- upon it
. A small moral obliquity, congally together, under the kind stars. See joined with a vast ignorance, is the source it, ó Night! With cheerfully pledged of the widest calamities. wine-cup, hobnobbing to the reign of Lib- Now, we do not know any history whaterty, Equality, Brotherhood, with their ever in which this great fact of human igwives in best ribands, with their little ones norance, with its enormous consequences, romping round, the Citoyens, in frugal is so fully understood and exemplified as Love-feast, sit there. Night in her wide in Mr. Carlyle's “ French Revolution.”