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Consider, in the passage above quoted, his In the same way Mr. Carlyle disparages description of the citizens at their festivi- Byron; and, forgetful of his great superiorties; he shows you these men, in their ity in intellectual grasp. and breadth of private relations, when they are engaged view, sets him down as inferior to Burns. in matters at the level of their comprehen- He is offended by the wild chaotic elesion, much like other men; they are not ment in Byron ; but such an element is the fiends—they have affections, duties, pleas- necessary seed-ground of genius, which
And yet the awfulness of the situa- must mould its own forms, and can not tion is never absent from his thoughts. accept them traditionally in the lump, He shows you the minds of men, in all however much we may lament that so other respects inconceivably separated powerful a mind should have remained to from each other, alike in this respect, that the end in these dark solitudes of spirit. they seemed in the midst of black un- We have dwelt much on the sympamixed chaos; as if a new order of things thetic element in Mr. Carlyle's early writhad begun, in which all old experiences ings, because we think it is not in general were wiped out-in which the extrava- sufficiently noticed as belonging to him. gance of a line of conduct was no proof It did indeed, from the
cover, and at that it might not be the very line to lead last has been entirely overborne bý, a to safety. And the chaos which men saw deeper characteristic—a sarcastic and cenwas intensified by the very fact that they sorious indignation. And it is of this saw it. All this Mr. Carlyle describes; deepest quality of his nature that we now and his description is most true, most im- wish to trace the growth. partial, most serviceable to all who desire Mr. Carlyle's censoriousness was at first to understand men.
comparatively latent, because it was directThe only narrowness that we can find ed mainly upon himself. His moralizin these early writings is a tendency to dis- ings turned inwards, and not outwards. parage, not all successgul men, but those Through all his earlier essays are scatterwhose success was based on qualities per- ed hints, involuntarily uttered, respecting fectly intelligible to the crowd, and who, the limits which necessity sets against the therefore, had little apparent' failure to desires of man, and the resignation with undergo. This is most apparent in the which it is fit that we should acquiesce in case of Sir Walter Scott. Scott, says Mr. these limits. Doubtless, he had met with Carlyle, had no inward struggles-no fer- sorrow; yet he never affects to despise vent aspirations after the highest good; the things, whatever they were, of which he and he contrasts him not favorably with had been disappointed. He is neither a coldthe Hindoo Ram-dass, who “had lately blooded moralist, nor is he a mere Stoic. set up for godhood," and who said that he He has been called, and not altogether “had fire in his belly to consume the sins untruly, the typical antagonist of Byron; of the world.” “Ram-dass,” says Mr. but he is so typical an antagonist, precisely Carlyle, with some wit, “ had a spice of because he is so similar to Byron. He sense in him.” But we venture to affirm feels the immeasurable longing for happithat Scott was by no means without that ness which Byron felt ; like Byron, he re“spice of sense" as well; Scott knew per- joices in the beauty and delight of exterfectly that to reform the world was a nal things—a delight which is so often much-needed, but he also knew that it was wasted and missed by us. But Mr. Cara most difficult task. He knew that to lyle feels this longing, this delight, only to reform the world, you must not take the repudiate it; to repudiate it as a principle rest of the world to be fools and yourself of life. Yet, feeling as he does the intenthe only wise man; on the contrary, as sity, the immeasureableness of the thing Mr. Carlyle himself has said elsewhere, which he repudiates, he can not be content that the best way of reforming the world without something infinite and immeasuwas to be continually reforming yourself. rable on the other side to set over against There is, as Mr. Ruskin has shown, an it, and by which to overcome it-an infiundercurrent of sorrow and self-introspec. nite and sure peace to set over against the tion in Scott's writings which it is touch- infinite but uncertain happiness which is ing to trace. No doubt, Scott was not a what Nature gives us. As long as he was speculative or logical thinker; but this is consciously in search of this first principle not the ground of Mr. Carlyle's attack. of emotion and action, so long were his utterances guarded and moderate. But he ever said this a second time ? Our beat last he believed himself to have found lief is that he has not; however often he what he sought. The passage in which has since bidden men worship, or fall down he imparts this discovery is contained in in wonder before, the Unnamable, the the chapter in “Sartor Resartus,” entitled Eternities, the Immensities. The change “The Everlasting Yea.” It is necessary is noticeable: it is, to say the least, singuto quote it :
lar that a principle should be laid down “There is in man a higher than Love of with such emphasis, and never referred to Happiness: he can do without Happiness, afterwards. and instead thereof find Blessedness!
But secondly, a first principle ought not Love not Pleasure; love God. This is merely to be true, but complete. Now the Everlasting Yea, wherein all contradic- Mr. Carlyle has frequently asserted, and tion is solved; wherein whoso walks and with the strongest emphasis, that the Eterworks, it is well with him.
nal Powers reward and punish men. He “ Most true is it, as a wise man teaches has likewise asserted that they hate. Do us, that · Doubt of any sort can not be re- they then, also, love? He leaves us in moved except by Action.' On which the dark on this point. We, therefore, ground, too, let him who gropes painfully think it expedient to inquire this of him. in darkness or uncertain light, and prays If they do not love, what reason can he asvehemently that the dawn may ripen into sign for this inhumanity in the deepest day, lay this other precept well to heart, depths of nature? If they do love, do they which to me was of invaluable service: love all, or only sonie? And what is the • Do the Duty which lies nearest thee,' proof, sign, or trace of their love ? Does which thou knowest to be a Duty! Thy it lie in the material success of those whom second Duty will already have become they love? If not, in what ? clearer.
These questions, which Mr. Carlyle has May we not say, however, that the omitted to consider in his works, we now love of Spiritual Enfranchisement is even propose to him, and invite his notice of this: when your Ideal World, wherein the them. Our own answers we do not, at whole man has been dimly struggling and present, give; nevertheless, if required, we inexpressibly languishing to work, becomes have them. revealed and thrown open.
The We now come to Mr. Carlyle's later Situation that has not its Duty, its Ideal, writings; and we must own that there was never yet occupied by man. Yes, seem to us in them many and great dehere, in this poor, miserable, hampered, fects. In saying this, we are not unminddespicable Actual, wherein thou even now ful of the power manifested in them, which standest, here or nowhere is thy Ideal: is not unworthy of the promise of his early work it out therefrom; and working, be- days; nor do we fail see many deep and lieve, live, be free.
piercing truths. But that they can satisfy “ But it is with man's Soul as it was with the mind which seeks for secure scientific Nature: the beginning of Creation is truth, or for a secure basis for action,Light."- Sartor Resartus. (“Works,” vol. this, indeed, we can not believe. We i. p. 184 seqq.)
know well what allowance has always to This is the central passage in Mr. Car- be made for the possibility of misunderlyle's writings, as indeed “Sartor Resartus” standing in criticising the works of a man is the central work: to it every thing which of genius. If we regarded Mr. Carlyle as precedes converges; from it every thing unintelligible, we should never venture to which succeeds diverges. After writing this, say that he was defective. It is because he felt himself enabled to criticise men and he seems to us entirely intelligible, that we events freely.
venture to declare him faulty. The impressiveness of the passage will It is worth considering how far he has be felt, we think, by all; but at any rate carried out his own principles, which, after by those who study it in connection with all, are worth nothing unless acted on. what has gone before. We have, however, He said, “ Love God;" and we presume he two remarks to make on it; one with re- would not exclude from the meaning of ference to what it contains, another with this maxim that other maxim, “ Love men." reference to what it does not contain. Now nothing is more marked in his later Mr. Carlyle says here, “ Love God." Has writings than the absence of tenderness : admiration there is, but not love. There was too powerful in Mr. Carlyle to be reis no spontaneous trust in them; no wil- strained; what he could not effect himself lingness to believe that what is not seen he was compelled to inculcate upon othmay be excellent, that actions and disposi- ers. This vehement urgency chafes and tions at first sight questionable may be mutters beneath the surface even of his susceptible of explanation, or at any rate earlier writings. He chides the temper, of palliation. He is Rhadamantine-in- he rebukes it, he represses it; but it is exorable: as soon as a thing appears, it is there. In vain does he say that “no wise stamped by him with black or white; and man will endeavor to reform a world; the the white marks are very rare indeed. only sure reformation is that which each
He also bade men "act;" and, for the begins and perfects upon himself.” Mr. third thing, he bade them “ seek light;" Carlyle, in spite of all disclaimers, was that is, clearness of knowledge. How bent upon reforming a world. In vain then has he carried out these maxims ? does he take Goethe for his modelHe has certainly gained a good deal of the creative, impersonal, tranquil, uniclear knowledge in the historical line; and versal poet. These qualities did not by he has exhibited as much vigor of action nature belong to Mr. Carlyle; and he as any man can exhibit in the way of could not assume them. The volcanic writing. Nor is there any thing to be said fires burst out at length through all the against his conduct in these respects, green smoothness of their covering. though something against his consistency, Moreover, there is in him a spirit of considering the opposition which he has self-antagonism, of revulsion from his own continually affirmed to exist between talk nature, and, above all
, from those parts of and action. But the real mischief lies here: his own nature which might seem to be For all knowledge, for all action, expe- derived from habit or externally imposed rience is required; principles, however argument or principle, that had no little to sound, will do nothing by themselves. Now do with his rejection of his earlier temper the field of experience to which Mr. Car- of sympathy, and his assumption of the lyle's faculty led him was one ; the field of very reverse. To be natural and sincere experience to which his desires led him has ever been the maxim that he has most was another, and a very different one. His earnestly inculcated; yet there is some faculty lay in the treatment of all which is danger in such a maxim, for all goodness deep in feeling, and vivid in external pre- is, in a certain sense, not natural to man. sentation. He might have been an un- In his own case, the result has been, that rivaled historian. But his desire was to his writings are full of extraordinary anomexert a strong practical influence on man- alies. kind; and his defect in the cool patient Nothing does he reprobate more than understanding, in appreciation of the ma- self-consciousness; yet he is most self-conterial mechanism of society, was a fatal scious. Rarely can he write five pages barrier against his exerting such an influ- without reference to himself. “ Sauerence. Of the qualities of a statesman he teig,” " Teufelsdröckh," “ Gathercoal," has none. There is not, we will con- “Crabbe," “ Smelfungus," these, and many fidently affirm, one single political pro- more, are all so many aliases of Mr. Carlyle. posal of his own, in the whole compass of The reader could well dispense with some his writings, that is even intelligible, let of these masquerading shades, whose vaalone its being feasible or good ; scarcely rying garbs ever give vent to one wellis there an instance of his supporting an known hollow yet bitter voice, a comintelligible political proposal framed by pound of Heraclitus and Democritus, the another. His writings are full of generous weeping and mocking philosophers in one. political feeling, and contain many con- He preaches loudly and imperatively; yet siderations that may be made use of by a his favorite maxim is, “Speech is silver, statesman; but of practical proposals, there silence is golden.” Poetic himself, and is an absolute void. That he should have the panegyrist of numerous poets, he ends, thought himself capable at all of entering like Plato, with condemning poets utterly. on this field was a mistake, and a mistake “ Volcanic" is one of his best known not without pernicious consequences.
epithets of dislike; is it not just to apply The error, however, was unavoidable. it to himself ? He declares that the French The desire, yet the incapacity, for action Revolution was a divine revelation; yet pro
he is the avowed opponent of democracy. unquenchable fire, the false and deadWith the reverse intention of Balaam, he worthy from the true and lifeworthy; makwent up to the mountains to bless the pro- ing all human history, and the biography gress of advancing civilization, and, lo! of every man, a God's Cosmos, in place he was compelled to curse it altogether. of a Devil's Chaos. So is it, in the end; These are some of his most remarkable in- even so, to every man who is a man, and consistencies; and the root of it is a some- not a mutinous beast, and has eyes to thing in his character, not without kin- see.” ship to humility; but the humility of a “ The saddest condition of human afhaughty and self-confident spirit.
fairs, what ancient prophets denounced as Further, this spirit of rebuke and proph- "the Throne of Iniquity,' where men “deecy was in part inherited by him from cree injustice by a law :' all this, with its others. To begin with, it is national : the thousandfold outer miseries, is still but a perfervidum ingenium Scoturum has long symptom; all this points to a far sadder been celebrated; and the mantle of the disease which lies invisible within.” Covenanters has fallen upon Mr. Carlyle. “ Like the valley of Jehoshaphat, it lies His tone and principles, his loves and his round us, one nightmare wilderness, and hatreds, even down to minute instances, wreck of dead-men's bones, this false modbear no small affinity to those which mark- ern world: and no rapt Ezekiel in ed that most stubborn and most intense phetic vision imaged to himself things of religious sects. And through the Cove- sadder, more horrible and terrible, than nanters he is not ambiguously connect- the eyes of men, if they are awake, may ed with the old Hebrews. With these he
now deliberately see.” feels himself at one. Rarely does he re- All these are from the “ Latter-day fer to the New Testament; rarely does he Pamphlets.” The substance of such pasthink of saints and martyrs, the souls that sages as these we shall discuss presently; died in patience, without anger, without meanwhile, let there be observed, first, the honor, without even the effort for an out- intensely active spirit which they manward victory. But the old prophets and ifest. There is no patient waiting in them, judges, who assumed the rule, and led ar- no quiet sympathy. All is the zeal for mies, and denounced the evil-doer, and action. And, secondly, let it be observed, punished the enemies of God, are ever in there is no reasoning in them. When his thoughts. Consider the following pas- Mr. Browning tries to represent St. John, sages, whether as regards their reference he makes him argue—a most fundamental or their character :
error; for not in the whole of the Old and “ There is one valid reason, and only New Testament, except in the Epistles of one, for either punishing a man or reward- St. Paul, who had a Greek education, is ing him in this world; one reason, which there a single instance of argument, as we ancient piety could well define: That you understand the word. Everywhere there may do the will and commandment of is the most intense, the most undoubting God with regard to him; that you may do affirmation. And Mr. Carlyle has by najustice to him. This is your one true aim ture this quality ; by virtue of it, and by in respect of him, aim thitherward, with virtue of his zeal for action, he is Hebraic. all your heart and all your strength and Do we blame Mr. Carlyle for thus urgall your soul; thitherward, and not else- ing men to action ? Far from it; he does whither at all!”
well and rightly in doing so. “ God Himself, we have always under- blame him for this, that in his zeal for this stood, hates sin, with a most authentic, one element he has wholly lost sight of celestial, and eternal hatred. A hatred, a all the other elements of a noble charhostility inexorable, unappeasable, which acter. For thought, for systematization, blasts the scoundrel, and all scoundrels except so far as it is conducive to immeultimately, into black annihilation and dis. diate brilliant action, he now cares not. appearance from the sum of things. The For the imagination which apprehends the path of it as the path of a flaming sword: beauty of material things he cares not. he that has eyes may see it, walking in-. For the inward struggles of the spirit, conexorable, divinely beautiful and divinely tending against selfish desires and striving terrible, through the chaotic gulf of Human to fashion itself according to the Eternal History, and everywhere burning, as with Will, he cares not. For the germination
of great thoughts and great desires out of seems actuated by any .over-measure of nothingness into that incomplete and im- indignation against the theorists; he has mature existence which is the lot of almost the air of knowing them to the bottom ; all things at first, he cares not. All these he accompanies them to the limit of things, of which his early writings are full, their efforts, and rather pities than conare in his later writings unmentioned, dis- demns their failure. carded, forgotten. Action, and the in- Such teaching as this was not calculattellect which immediately determines ac- ed to produce any strong effect on men tion, is all that he admires.
who were already practical and energetic; What' a contrast is this to the enthu- for, on the one hand, it did not meet any siastic praise and sympathy which he once want or defect of their minds, and, on the bestowed on such an immature, mystical, other hand, it was not definite enough to unformed writer as Novalis ! What a con- help them in particular measures. But it trast to Mr. Carlyle's own character! For produced the strongest effect on those heis in himself not in the least like those who were naturally theorists. It pointed whom he admires. He is no vigorous, out to them a new possibility, an Eldoresolute, active man; nor (with all his rado of the spirit, a vision of mighty chailluminating flashes of insight) is con- racters exerting themselves in accordance tinuous clearness, well-defined purpose, a with the profoundest laws; for to the succharacter of his mind. He is constituțion- cess of the man of action they tacitly sually weak; never, he said once on a public peradded that truth of meditated design occasion, had he written a book without which they themselves instinctively aimed making himself ill by writing it. He is at. Let us not say that Mr. Carlyle did a meditative, deep-thinking; his very impet- small or poor work in thus rousing thinkuosity is no mark of a practical nature. ers to the desire of action, in inspiring And yet it is this man who not only takes them with a magnificent hope of realized upon himself the office of exhorting men results. The work was great, and will ento be practical, but who has actually in- dure. The deliberate omissions alone are spired numerous followers, some of them evil and pernicious. most distinguished and able men, with an Does Mr. Carlyle forget his own sayenthusiasm for action always intense, and ings about the Silences ? It is in silence oftentimes good, sound, and effective. that the foundation of great things is laid,
It is no paradox to say that the contrast in the meditative vision, unbroken by inbetween Mr. Carlyle's own temperament roads from without. But the Silences of and the temperament which he admires is late years must complain of neglect on the at once the cause of his influence, and a part of their former worshiper. Or, if he proof of the great though partial strength himself has now and then turned his reof his nature. If Prince Bismarck or Mr. lenting eyes back on them, he has led his Bright were to issue addresses exhorting followers to far different altars, to those of men to leave off theorizing and stick to Force and Strength, under whose hands practice, the exhortation would not carry the benefactors of mankind now, as of old, with it any special weight. It would be fare but badly. The exquisite and lucid replied to them, that they have not known genius of Mr. Ruskin has been hurried the theoretical side of life. This reply away into subjects which he has not provcan not be made to Mr. Carlyle. He, a ed, with which he deals as an infant deals thinker, and many would add, a mystic, with the first seen phenomena of the wcrld. deliberately, sets thought below action. That eloquent historian, Mr. Froude, has He describes, with all the resources of an in an evil hour been induced to mount extensive knowledge and a brilliant imag- the prophetic tripod, ard to deliver oracles ination, the splendors of the power which respecting that demigod, Henry VIII., diplays itself in mighty events, on the great which awaken in the passers-by feelings arena of kingdoms; he shows how poor a of mingled astonishment and amusement. figure the mere speculatist cuts when And all this, because Mr. Carlyle has chobrought face to face with these pressing sen to consider that the only virtue existcrises of change and peril, how soon he is ent is that single virtue of which he himoverthrown before the man who has the self is absolutely devoid, the virtue of ready wit to understand the emergency. practical ability. And yet in the midst of this, he never Further; not only does Mr. Carlyle