Part 12 out of 13
BOOKS TO READ
Poems of Shelley, selected and arranged for use in schools, by E.
Chapter LXXXI KEATS--THE POET OF BEAUTY
JOHN KEATS, the poet whose death Shelley mourned in Adonais, was
by a few years the younger, having been born in 1795. He was
born, too, in very different circumstances, for whereas Shelley
was the eldest son of a country gentleman, John Keats, was the
eldest son of a stableman.
As a boy Thomas Keats had come to London and found a situation as
ostler in some livery stable. He was clever and steady, and
before he was twenty had risen to be head ostler and married his
master's daughter. Keats then became manager of the stables, and
his father-in-law, who was comfortably off, went away to live in
the country. John's parents were not poor, nor were they common
people. In all they had four children, two boys besides John,
and a little girl, and they determined to give their children a
good education. They would have liked to send their boys to
Harrow, but finding that would cost too much they sent them to a
smaller school at Enfield. It was a good school, with a large
playground, and John seems to have had a happy time there. He
was a little chap for his years, but a manly little fellow, broad
shouldered and strong. He was full of spirits and fond of fun,
and in spite of his passionate temper, every one liked him. He
was not particularly fond of lessons, but he did them easily and
then turned to other things. What he liked best was fighting.
"He would fight any one," says one of his old schoolfellows,*
"Morning, noon, and night, his brothers among the rest. It was
meat and drink to him." "Yet," says another, "no one ever had an
angry word to say of him, and they loved him not only for his
terrier-like courage, but for his generosity, his high-
mindedness, and his utter ignorance of what was mean or base."
But although John was so much loved, and although he was
generally so bright and merry, he had miserable times too. He
had fits of melancholy, but when these came he would go to his
brothers and pour out all his grief to them. This made him feel
better, and he troubled no one else with his moods.
Very soon after John went to school his father was killed by a
fall from his horse, his grandfather died too, and his mother
married again. But the marriage was not happy and she soon left
her new husband and went to live with her own mother at Edmonton.
So for five years John's life was spent between school and his
grandmother's house. They were a happy family. The brothers
loved each other though they jangled and fought, and they loved
their mother and little sister too.
So the years went on, and John showed not the lightest sign of
being a poet. Some doggerel rimes he wrote to his sister show
the boy he was, not very unlike other boys.
"There was a naughty boy,
And a naughty boy was he:
He kept little fishes
In washing-tubs three,
Of the might
Of the maid,
Of his granny good.
He often would
Get up early
By hook or crook
To the brook,
And bring home
Not over fat,
As the stall
Of a glove,
Of a nice
After John had been at school some time he suddenly began to care
for books. He began to read and read greedily, he won all the
literature prizes, and even on half-holidays he could hardly be
driven out to join in the games of his comrades, preferring
rather to sit in the quiet schoolroom translating from Latin or
French, and even when he was driven forth he went book in hand.
It was while John was still at school that his mother died and
all her children were placed under the care of a guardian. As
John was now fifteen, their guardian took him from school, and it
was decided to make him a doctor. He was apprenticed, in the
fashion of the day, to a surgeon at Edmonton, for five years.
Keats seems to have been quite pleased with this arrangement.
His new studies still left him time to read. He was within
walking distance of his old school, and many a summer afternoon
he spent reading in the garden with Cowden Clarke, the son of his
old schoolmaster, in whom Keats had found a friend. From this
friend he borrowed Spenser's Faery Queen, and having read it a
new wonder-world seemed opened to him. "He ramped through the
scenes of the romance like a young horse turned into a spring
meadow,"* and all through Keats's poetry we find the love of
beautiful coloring and of gorgeous detail that we also find in
Spenser. It was Spenser that awakened in Keats his sleeping gift
of song, and the first verses which he wrote were in imitation of
the Elizabethan poet.
From Spenser Keats learned how poetry might be gemmed, how it
might glow with color. But there was another source from which
he was to learn what pure and severe beauty might mean. This
source was the poetry of Homer. Keats knew nothing of Greek, yet
all his poetry shows the influence of Greece. At school he had
loved the Greek myths and had read them in English. Now among
the books he read with his friend Cowden Clarke was a translation
of Homer. It was not Pope's translation but an earlier one by
Chapman. The two friends began to read it one evening, and so
keen was Keats's delight that at times he shouted aloud in joy;
the morning light put out their candles. In the dawning of the
day the young poet went home quivering with delight. It was for
him truly the dawning of a new day. For him still another new
world had opened, and his spirit exulted. The voice of this
great master poet awoke in him an answering voice, and before
many hours had passed Cowden Clarke had in his hands Keats's
sonnet On first looking into Chapman's Homer. The lines that
Spenser had called forth were a mere imitation; Homer called
forth Keats's first really great poem.
"Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many Western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told,
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne:
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific--and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise--
Silent, upon a peak in Darien."
For some unexplained reason Keats broke his apprenticeship to the
surgeon at Edmonton after four years. He did not however give up
the idea of becoming a doctor, and he went on with his studies at
the London hospitals. Keats was by this time about nineteen. He
was small--only about five feet--so that his fellow-students
called him "little Keats." But his face was fine, and out of it
looked eyes "like those of a wild gipsy-maid set in the face of a
young god." He was a steady student, although he did "scribble
doggerel rhymes" among his notes, and he passed his examinations
well. Yet the work was all against the grain. More and more he
began to feel that real nothing but poetry mattered, that for him
it was the real business of life. It was hard to study when even
a sunbeam had power to set his thoughts astray. "There came a
sunbeam into the room," once he said to a friend, "and with it a
whole troop of creatures floating in the ray, and I was off with
them to Oberon and Fairyland."
Keats gradually made several friends among the young writers of
the day. One of these printed a few of the young poet's sonnets
in his paper the Examiner, and in 1817 Keats published a volume
of poems. This was his good-by to medicine, for although very
little notice was taken of the book and very few copies were
sold, Keats henceforth took poetry for his life work.
The life of Keats was short, and it had no great adventures in
it. He lived much now with his two brothers until the elder,
George, married and emigrated to America, and the younger, Tom,
who had always been an invalid, died. He went on excursions too,
with his friends or by himself to country or seaside places, or
sometimes he would spend days and nights in the hospitable homes
of his friends. And all the time he wrote letters which reveal
to us his steadfast, true self, and poems which show how he
climbed the steps of fame.
Undismayed at the ill success of his first book, the next year he
published his long poem Endymion.
Endymion was a fabled Grecian youth whose beauty was so great
that Selene, the cold moon, loved him. He fell asleep upon the
hill of Latmus, and while he slept Selene came to him and kissed
him. Out of this simple story Keats made a long poem of four
books or parts. Into it he wove many other stories, his
imagination leading him through strange and wondrous scenery.
The poem is not perfect--it is rambling and disconnected--the
story of Endymion being but the finest thread to hold a string of
beads and priceless pearls together.
The first book is merely a long introduction, but it opens with
"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever;
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing."
Then the poet tells us what are the things of beauty of which he
"Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old, and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
'Gainst the hot season; the mid forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair must-rose blooms;
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read;
An endless fountain of immortal drink
Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink."
But although throughout the long poem there are lovely passages,
and one or two most beautiful lyrics, the critics of the day saw
only the faults of which Endymion is full, and the poem was
received with a storm of abuse.
Soon after Keats published this poem, he, with a friend, set out
on a walking tour to the Lake Country and to Scotland. This was
Keats's first sight of real mountains, and he gloried in the
grand scenery, but said "human nature is finer." When Keats set
out there was not a sign of the invalid about him. He walked
twenty or thirty miles a day and cheerfully bore the discomforts
of travel. But the tour proved too much for his strength. He
caught a bad cold and sore throat, and was ordered home by the
doctor. He went by boat, arriving brown, shabby, and almost
shoeless, among his London friends.
Keats never quite recovered his good health, and other griefs and
troubles crowded in upon him. It was after his return from this
tour that his dearly loved brother, Tom, died. Cruel criticisms
of his poetry hurt him at the same time, and he was in trouble
about money, for the family guardian had not proved a good
manager. And now to this already overcharged heart something
else was added. Keats fell in love. The lady he loved was young
and beautiful, but commonplace. Keats himself describes her when
he first met her as "beautiful and elegant, graceful, silly,
fashionable, and strange." Her beauty and strangeness won for
her a way to the poet's heart. Love, however, brought to him no
joyful rest, but rather passionate, jealous restlessness. Yet in
spite of all his troubles, Keats continued to write poems which
will ever be remembered as among the most beautiful in our
Like Scott and Byron, Keats wrote metrical romances. One of
these, Isabella, or the Pot of Basil, is founded upon a tale of
Boccaccio, that old master to whom so many poets have gone for
inspiration. In Keats's romances there is no war-cry, no clash
of swords as in Scott's, and the luxury is altogether different
from Byron's. There is in them that trembling sense of beauty
which opens to us wide windows into fairyland. They are simple
stories veiled in the glamour of lovely words, and full of the
rich color and the magic of the middle ages. But here as
elsewhere in Keats's poetry what we lack is the touch of human
sorrow. Keats wrote of nature with all Wordsworth's insight and
truth, and with greater magic of words. He understood the
mystery of nature, but of the mystery of the heart of man it was
not his to sing. He lived in a world apart. The terror and
beauty of real life hardly touched him. Alone of all the poets
of his day he was unmoved by the French Revolution, and all that
it stood for.
Some day you will read Keats's metrical romances, and now I will
give you a few verses from some of his odes, for in his odes we
have Keats's poetry at its very best. Here are some verses from
his ode On a Grecian Urn. You have seen such a vase, perhaps,
with beautiful sculptured figures on it, dancing maidens and
"Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal--yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
"Ah, happy, happy bought! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
. . . . . .
"O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede*
Of marble men and maidens over-wrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,'--that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
In these last lines we have the dominant note in Keats's song,
beauty and the love of beauty. What is true must be beautiful,
and just in so far as we move away from truth we lose what is
beautiful. Nothing is so ugly as a lie.
And now remembering how Shelley sang of the skylark you will like
to read how his brother poet sang of the nightingale.
"My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,--
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
. . . . . .
"Darkling I listen; and for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain--
To thy high requiem become a sod.
"Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the selfsame song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft times hath
Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
"Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! Adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley glades;
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is the music:--Do I wake or sleep?"
As another poet* has said, speaking of Keats's odes, "Greater
lyrical poetry the world may have seen than any that is in these;
lovelier it surely has never seen, nor ever can it possibly see."
Hyperion, which also ranks among Keats's great poems, is an
unfinished epic. In a far-off way the subject of the poem
reminds us of Paradise Lost. For here Keats sings of the
overthrow of the Titans, or earlier Greek gods, by the Olympians,
or later Greek gods, and in the majestic flow of the blank verse
we sometimes seem to hear an echo of Milton.
Hyperion, who gives his name to the poem, was the Sun-god who was
dethroned by Apollo. When the poem opens we see the old god
Saturn already fallen--
"Old Saturn lifted up
His faded eyes, and saw his kingdom gone,
And all the gloom and sorrow of the place,
And that fair kneeling goddess; and then spake,
As with a palsied tongue, and while his beard
Shook horrid with such aspen-malady:
'O tender spouse of gold Hyperion,
Thea, I feel thee ere I see thy face;
Look up, and let me see our doom in it;
Look up, and tell me if this feeble shape
Is Saturn's; if thou hear'st the voice
Of Saturn; tell me, if this wrinkled brow,
Naked and bare of its great diadem,
Peers like the front of Saturn. Who had power
To make me desolate? whence came the strength?
How was it nurtur'd to such bursting forth,
While Fate seem'd strangled in my nervous grasp?
But it is so.'"
Saturn is king no more. Fate willed it so. But suddenly he
rises and in helpless passion cries out against Fate--
"Saturn must be King.
Yes, there must be a golden victory;
There must be gods thrown down and trumpets blown
Of triumph calm, and hymns of festival
Upon the gold clouds metropolitan,
Voices of soft proclaim, and silver stir
Of strings in hollow shells; and there shall be
Beautiful things made new, for the surprise
Of the sky-children; I will give command:
Thea! Thea! Thea! where is Saturn?"
The volume containing these and other poems was published in
1820, little more than three years after Keats's first volume,
and never, perhaps, has poet made such strides in so short a
time. And this last book was kindly received. Success had come
to Keats, but young though he still was, the success was too
late. For soon it was seen that his health had gone and that his
life's work was done. As a last hope his friends advised him to
spend the winter in Italy. So with a friend he set out. He
never returned, but died in Rome in the arms of his friend on the
23rd February 1821. He was only twenty-six. Before he died he
asked that on his grave should be placed the words, "Here lies
one whose name was writ in water." He had his wish: but we, to
whom he left his poetry, know that his name is written in the
How Shelley mourned for him you have read. How the friends who
knew and loved him mourned we learn from what they say of him.
"I cannot afford to lose him," wrote one. "If I know what it is
to love, I truly love John Keats." Another says,* "He was the
most unselfish of human creatures," and still another,** "a
sweeter tempered man I never knew."
In a letter which reached Rome too late was this message for
Keats, "Tell that great poet and noble-hearted man that we shall
all bear his memory in the most precious parts of our hearts, and
that the world shall bow their heads to it, as our loves do."
We bow our heads to his memory and say farewell to him in these
words of his own fairy song--
"Shed no tea! oh shed no tear!
The flower will bloom another year.
Weep no more! oh weep no more!
Young buds sleep in the roots' white core.
Dry your eyes! oh dry your eyes!
For I was taught in Paradise
To ease my heart of melodies--
Shed no tear.
"Overhear! look overhead!
'Mong the blossoms white and red--
Look up, look up. I flutter now
On this flush pomegranate bough.
See me! 'tis this silvery bill
Ever cures the good man's ill.
Shed not tear! oh shed not tear!
The flower will bloom another year.
Adieu! Adieu!--I fly, adieu!
I vanish in the heaven's blue--
Chapter LXXXII CARLYLE--THE SAGE OF CHELSEA
JOHN KEATS was little more than a month old, when far away across
the Border another little baby boy was born. His parent, too
were simple folk, and he, too, was born to be great.
This boy's name was Thomas Carlyle. His father was a stone-mason
and had built with his own hands the house in which his son
Thomas was born. The little village of Ecclefechan was about six
miles from the Solway Firth, among the pasture lands of the bale
of Annan. Here Thomas grew to be a boy running about barefooted
and sturdy with his many brothers and sisters, and one step-
brother older than himself.
But he did not run about quite wild, for by the time he was five
his mother had taught him to read and his father had taught him
to do sums, and then he was sent to the village school.
James Carlyle was a good and steady workman. Long afterwards his
famous son said of him, "Nothing that he undertook to do but he
did it faithfully and like a true man. I shall look on the
houses he built with a certain proud interest. They stand firm
and sound to the heart all over his little district. No one that
comes after him will ever say, 'Here was the finger of a hollow
eye-servant.' They are little texts to me of the gospel of man's
free will." But there were meanwhile many little folks to
clothe, many hungry little mouths to fill, so their clothes were
of the plainest, and porridge and milk, and potatoes forming
their only fare. "It was not a joyful life," says Thomas--"what
life is?--yet a safe, quiet one; above most others, or any others
I have witnessed, a wholesome one."
Between the earnest and frugal father and mother and their
children there was a great and reverent though quiet love, and
poor though they were, the parents determined that their children
should be well taught, so when Thomas was ten he was sent to a
school at Annan some five miles away, where he could learn more
than in the little village school.
On a bright May morning Thomas set out trotting gayly by his
father's side. This was his first venture into the world, and
his heart was full of hopes just dashed with sadness at leaving
his mother. But the wonderful new world of school proved a
bitter disappointment to the little fellow. He had a violent
temper, and his mother, fearing into what he might be led when
far from her, made him promise never to return a blow. Thomas
kept his promise, with the result that his fellows, finding they
might torment him with safety, tormented him without mercy.
In a book called Sartor Resartus which Carlyle wrote later, and
which here and there was called forth by a memory of his own
life, he says:
"My schoolfellows were boys, most rude boys, and obeyed the
impulse of rude nature which bids the deer herd fall upon any
stricken hart, the duck flock put to death any broken-winged
brother or sister, and on all hands the strong tyrannise over the
So Thomas at school was unhappy and lonely and tormented. But
one day, unable to bear the torment longer, he flew at one of the
biggest bullies in the school.
The result was a fight in which Thomas got the worst, but, he had
shown his fellows what he could do, he was tormented no longer.
Yet ever afterwards he bore an unhappy remembrance of those days
After three years his school-days came to an end. He was not yet
fourteen, but he had proved himself so eager a scholar that his
father decided to send him to college and let him become a
So early one November morning he set out in the cold and dark
upon his long tramp of more than eighty miles to Edinburgh. It
was dark when he left the house, and his father and mother went
with him a little way, and then they turned back and left Tom to
trudge along in the growing light, with another boy a year or two
older who was returning to college.
Little is known of Carlyle's college days. After five years'
study, at nineteen he became a schoolmaster, still with the
intention of later becoming a minister as his father wished. But
for teaching Carlyle had no love, and after some years of it,
first in schools and then as a private tutor, he gave it up. He
gave up, too, the idea of becoming a minister, for he found he
had lost the simple faith of his fathers and could not with good
conscience teach to others what he did not thoroughly believe
himself. He gave up, too, the thought of becoming a barrister,
for after a little study he found he had no bent for law.
Already he had begun to write. Besides other things he had
translated and published Wilhelm Meister, a story by the great
German poet, Goethe. It was well received. The great Goethe
himself wrote a kind letter to his translator. It came to him,
said Carlyle, "like a message from fairyland." And thus
encouraged, after drifting here and there, trying first one thing
and then another, Carlyle gave himself up to literature.
Meanwhile he had met and loved a beautiful and clever lady named
Jane Walsh. She was above him in station, witty, and sought
after. Admiring the genius of Carlyle she yet had no mind she
said to marry a poor genius. But she did, and so began a long
mistake of forty years.
The newly married couple took a cottage on the outskirts of
Edinburgh, and there Carlyle settled down to his writing. But
money coming in slowly, Carlyle found he could no longer afford
to live in Edinburgh. So after a year and a half of cheerful,
social life, surrounded by many cultured friends, he and his wife
moved to Craigenputtock, a lonely house fourteen miles from
Dumfries, which belonged to Mrs. Carlyle. Here was solitude
indeed. The air was so quiet that the very sheep could be heard
nibbling. For miles around there was no house, the post came
only once a week, and months at a time would go past without a
visitor crossing the doorstep.
To Carlyle, who hated noises, who all his life long waged war
against howling dogs and "demon" fowls, the silence and
loneliness were delightful. His work took all his thoughts,
filled all his life. He did not remember that what to him was
simply peaceful quiet was for his witty, social wife a dreary
desert of loneliness. Carlyle was not only, as his mother said,
"gey ill to deal wi'," but also "gey ill to live wi'." For he
was a genius and a sick genius. He was nervous and bilious and
suffered tortures from indigestion which made him often gloomy
It was not a happy fortune which cast Jane and Thomas Carlyle
together into this loneliness. Still the days passed not all in
gloom, Thomas writing a wonderful book, Sartor Resartus, and Jane
using all her cleverness to make the home beautiful and
comfortable. For they were very poor, and Jane, who before her
marriage had no knowledge of housekeeping, found herself obliged
to cook and do much of the housework herself.
Nearly all Carlyle's first books had to do with German
literature. He translated stories from great German writers and
wrote about the authors. And just as Byron had taught people on
the Continent to read English literature, so Carlyle taught
English people to read German literature. He steeped himself so
thoroughly in German that he himself came to write English, if I
may so express it, with a German accent. Carlyle's style is
harsh and rugged. It has a vividness and picturesqueness all his
own, but when Carlyle began to write people cared neither for his
style nor for his subjects. He found publishers hard to
persuade, and life was by no means easy.
When Sartor was finished Carlyle took it to London, but could
find no one willing to publish it. So it was cut up into
articles and published in a magazine "and was then mostly laughed
at," says Carlyle, and many declared they would stop taking the
magazine unless these ridiculous papers ceased. Not until years
had passed was it published in book form.
I do not think I can make you understand the charm of Sartor. It
is a prose poem and a book you must leave for the years to come.
Sartor Resartus means "The tailor patched again." And under the
guise of a philosophy of clothes Carlyle teaches that man and
everything belonging to him is only the expression of the one
great real thing--God. "Thus in this one pregnant subject of
Clothes, rightly understood, is included all that men have
thought, dreamed, done, and been."
The book is full of humor and wisdom, of stray lightenings, and
deep growlings. There are glimpses of "a story" to be caught to.
It is perhaps the most Carlylean book Carlyle ever wrote. But
let it lie yet awhile on your bookshelf unread.
At the end of six years or so Carlyle decided that Craigenputtock
was of no use to him. He wanted to get the ear of the world, to
make the world listen to him. It would not listen to him when he
spoke from a far-off wilderness. So he made the great plunge,
and saying good-by to the quiet of barren rock and moorland he
came to live in London. He took a house in Cheyne Row in
Chelsea, and this for the rest of his life was his home. But at
first London was hardly less lonely than Craigenputtock. It
seemed impossible to make people want either Carlyle or his
books. "He had created no 'public' of his own," says a friend
who wrote his life,* "the public which existed could not
understand his writings and would not buy them, nor could he be
induced so much as to attempt to please it; and thus it was that
in Cheyne Row he was more neglected than he had been in
Still in spite of neglect Carlyle worked on, now writing his
great French Revolution. He labored for months at this book, and
at length having finished the first volume of it he lent it to a
friend to read. This friend left it lying about, and a servant
thinking it waste paper destroyed it. In great distress he came
to tell Carlyle what had happened. It was a terrible blow, for
Carlyle had earned nothing for months, and money was growing
scarce. But he bravely hid his consternation and comforted his
friend. "We must try to hide from him how very serious this
business is to us," were the first words he said to his wife when
they were alone together. Long afterwards when asked how he felt
when he heard the news, "Well, I just felt like a man swimming
without water," he replied.*
*Life of Tennyson.
So once more he set to work rewriting all that had been lost. In
1837 the book was published, and from that time Carlyle took his
place in the world as a man of genius. But money was still
scarce, so as a means of making some, he gave several courses of
lectures. But he hated it. "O heaven!" he cries, "I cannot
speak. I can only gasp and write and stutter, a spectacle to
gods and fashionables,--being forced to it by want of money."
One course of these lectures--the last--was on Heroes and Her
Worship. This may be one of the first of Carlyle's book that you
will care to read, and you may now like to hear what he has to
say of Samuel Johnson in The Hero as a Man of Letters.
"As for Johnson, I have always considered him to be, by nature,
one of our great English souls. A strong and noble man; so much
left undeveloped in him to the last; in a kindlier element what
might he not have been,--Poet, Priest, Sovereign Ruler! On the
whole, a man must not complain of his 'element," or his 'time' or
the like; it is thriftless work doing so. His time is bad; well
then, he is there to make it better!--
"Johnson's youth was poor, isolated, hopeless, very miserable.
Indeed, it does not seem possible that, in any of the
favourablest outward circumstances, Johnson's life could have
been other than a painful one. The world might have had more
profitable work out of him, or less; but his effort against the
world's work could never have been a light one. Nature, in
return for his nobleness, had said to him, 'Live in an element of
diseased sorrow.' Nay, perhaps the sorrow and the nobleness were
intimately and even inseparably connected with each other. . . .
"The largest soul that was in all England; and provision made for
it of 'fourpence halfpenny a day.' Yet a giant, invincible soul;
a true man's. One remembers always that story of the shoes at
Oxford; the rough, seamy-faced, raw-boned College Servitor
stalking about, in winter season, with his shoes worn out; how
the charitable Gentleman Commoner secretly places a new pair at
his door, and the raw-boned Servitor, lifting them, looking at
them near, with his dim eyes, with what thought,--pitches them
out of window! Wet feet, mud, frost, hunger, or what you will;
but not beggary: we cannot stand beggary! Rude stubborn self-
help here; a whole world of squalor, rudeness, confused misery
and want, yet of nobleness and manfulness withal.
"It is a type of the man's life, this pitching away of the shoes,
an original man;--not a second hand, borrowing or begging man.
Let us stand on our own basis, at any rate! On such shoes as we
ourselves can get. On frost and mud, if you will, but honestly
on that;--On the reality and substance which nature gives us, not
on the semblance, on the thing she has give another than us!-
"And yet with all this rugged pride of manhood and self-help, was
there ever soul more tenderly affectionate, loyally submissive to
what was really higher than he? Great souls are always loyally
submissive, reverent to what is over them; only small souls are
otherwise. . . .
"It was in virtue of his sincerity, of his speaking still in some
sort from the heart of Nature, though in the current artificial
dialect, that Johnson was a Prophet. . . . Mark, too, how little
Johnson boasts of his 'sincerity.' He has no suspicion of his
being particularly sincere,--of his being particularly anything!
A hard-struggling, weary-hearted man, or 'scholar' as he calls
himself, trying hard to get some honest livelihood in the world,
not to starve, but to live,--without stealing! A noble
unconsciousness is in him. He does not 'engrave Truth on his
watch-seal'; no, but he stands by truth, speaks by it, works and
lives by it. Thus it ever is. . . .
"Johnson was a Prophet to his people: preached a Gospel to
them,--as all like him always do. The highest Gospel he preached
we may describe as a kind of moral Prudence: 'in a world where
much is to be done, and little is to be known,' see how you will
do it! A thing well worth preaching. 'A world where much is to
be done, and little is to be known,' do not sink yourselves in
boundless, bottomless abysses of Doubt. . . .
"Such Gospel Johnson preached and taught;--coupled with this
other great Gospel. 'Clear your mind of Cant!' Have no trade
with Cant: stand on the cold mud in the frosty weather, but let
it be in your own real torn shoes: 'that will be better for
you,' as Mahomet says! I call this, I call these two things
joined together, a great Gospel, the greatest perhaps that was
possible at that time."
I give this quotation from Heroes because there is, in some ways
a great likeness between Johnson and Carlyle. Both were sincere,
and both after a time of poverty and struggle ruled the thought
of their day. For Carlyle became known by degrees, and became,
like Johnson before him, a great literary man. He was sought
after by the other writers of his day, who came to listen to the
growlings of the "Sage of Chelsea."
Carlyle, like Johnson, was a Prophet with a message. "Carlyle,"
says a French writer, "has taken up a mission; he is a prophet,
the prophet of sincerity. This sincerity or earnestness he would
have applied everywhere: he makes it the law, the healthy and
holy law, of art, of morals, of politics."* And through all
Carlyle's exaggeration and waywardness of diction we find that
note ring clear again and again. Be sincere, find the highest,
and worship it with all thy mind and heart and will.
And although for us of to-day the light of Carlyle as a prophet
may be somewhat dimmed, we may still find, as a great man of his
own day found, that the good his writings do us, is "not as
philosophy to instruct, but as poetry to animate."*
*J. S. Mill.
Carlyle went steadily on with his writing. In the summer he
would have his table and tray of books brought out into the
garden so that he could write in the open air, but much of his
work, too, was done in a "sound proof" room which he built at the
top of the house in order to escape from the horror of noise.
The sound-proof room was not, however, a great success, for
though it kept out some noises it let in others even worse.
When visitors came they were received either indoors or in the
little garden which Carlyle found "of admirable comfort in the
smoking way." In the garden they smoked and talked sitting on
kitchen chairs, or on the quaint china barrels which Mrs. Carlyle
named "noblemen's seats."
Among the many friends Carlyle made was the young poet Alfred
Tennyson. Returning from a walk one day he found a splendidly
handsome young man sitting in the garden talking to his wife. It
was the poet.
Here is how Carlyle describes his new friend: "A fine, large-
featured, dime-eyed, bronze-coloured, shaggy-headed man is
Alfred; dusty, smoky, free and easy; who swims outwardly and
inwardly with great composure in an articulate element as of
tranquil chaos and tobacco smoke; great, now and then when he
does emerge; a most restful, brotherly, whole-hearted man." Or
again: "Smokes infinite tobacco. His voice is musical,
metallic, fit for loud laughter and piercing wail, and all that
may lie between. I do not meet in these late decades such
company over a pipe. We shall see what he will grow to."*
*Hallam, Lord Tennyson, Life of Tennyson.
Although Carlyle was older than Tennyson by fourteen years, this
was the beginning of a friendship which strengthened with years
and lasted when they were both gray-haired men. They talked and
smoked and walked about together often at night through the lamp-
lit streets, sometimes in the wind, and rain, Carlyle crying out
as they walked along against the dirt and squalor and noise of
London, "that healthless, profitless, mad and heavy-laden place,"
"that Devil's Oven."
The years passed and Carlyle added book to book. Perhaps of them
all that which we should be most grateful for is his Life and
Letters of Cromwell. For in this book he set Cromwell in a new
light, a better light than he had ever been set before. Carlyle
is a hero worshiper, and in Cromwell as a hero he can find no
fault. He had of course his faults like other men, and he had no
need of such blind championship. For in his letters and
speeches, gathered together and given to the world by Carlyle, he
speaks for himself. In them we find one to whom we may look up
as a true hero, a man of strength to trust. We find, too, a man
of such broad kindliness, a man of such a tender human heart that
we may love him.
Another great book was Carlyle's History of Frederick the Great.
It is a marvelous piece of historical work, and as volume after
volume appeared Carlyle's fame steadily rose.
"No critic," says his first biographer, Froude, "no critic after
the completion of Frederick, challenged Carlyle's right to a
place beside the greatest of English authors, past and present."
He was a great historian, but in the history he gives us not dead
facts, but living, breathing men and women. His pages are as
full of color and of life as the pages of Shakespeare.
The old days of struggle and want were long over, but the
Carlyles still lived the simple life in the little Chelsea house.
As another writer* has quaintly put it, "Tom Carlyle lives in
perfect dignity in a little 40 pound house in Chelsea, with a
snuffy Scotch maid to open the door; and the best company in
England ringing at it."
Then in 1865 Carlyle was chosen Lord Rector of Edinburgh
University, and although this could add little to his fame, he
was glad that his own country had recognized his greatness.
Fifty years before, he had left the University a poor and unknown
lad. Now at seventy-one, a famous man, he returned to make his
speech upon entering his office as Rector.
This speech was a splendid success, his reception magnificent, "a
perfect triumph," as a friend telegraphed to Mrs. Carlyle waiting
anxiously for news in London. For a few days Carlyle lingered in
Scotland. Then he was suddenly recalled home by the terrible
news that his wife had died suddenly while out driving. It was a
crushing blow. Only when it was too late did Carlyle realize all
that his wife had been to him. She was, as he wrote on her
tombstone, "Suddenly snatched away from him, and the light of his
life as if gone out."
The light indeed had gone out. The rest of his life was a sad
twilight, filled with cruel remorse. He still wrote a little,
and friends were kind, but his real work in life was done, and he
felt bitterly alone.
Honors were offered him, a title if he would, a pension. But he
declined them all. For fifteen years life dragged along. Then
at the age of eighty-five he died.
He might have lain in Westminster among the illustrious dead.
But such had not been his wish, so he was buried beside his
father and mother in the old churchyard at Ecclefechan.
BOOKS TO READ
Stories from Carlyle, by D. M. Ford. Readings from Carlyle, by
W. Keith Leask.
Chapter LXXXIII THACKERAY--THE CYNIC?
A LITTLE time after Carlyle's French Revolution was published he
wrote to his brother, "I understand there have been many reviews
of a very mixed character. I got one in the Times last week.
The writer is one, Thackeray, a half-monstrous Cornish giant,
kind of painter, Cambridge man, and Paris newspaper
correspondent, who is now writing for his life in London. . . .
His article is rather like him, and I suppose calculated to do
the book good."
In these few sentences we have a sketch of William Makepeace
Thackeray's life, from the time he finished his education up to
the age of twenty-six, when Carlyle met him. He was the son of
Richmond Thackeray, a collector in the service of the East India
Company, and was born in Calcutta in 1811.
Little Billy-man, as his mother called him, in after years could
remember very little of India. He remembered seeing crocodiles
and a very tall, lean father. When Billy was quite a tiny chap,
his father died. Soon after, the little boy was sent home, as
Indian children always are, but his mother remained out in India,
and a year or two later married Major Henry Carmichael Smyth.
Major Smyth was a simple, kindly gentleman, and proved a good
stepfather to his wife's little boy, who, when he grew up and
became famous drew his stepfather's portrait in the character of
Meanwhile Billy-man was separated from both father and mother,
and sailed home under the care of a black servant. His ship
called at St. Helena, and there the black servant took the little
boy on a long walk over rocks and hills until they came to a
garden. In the garden a man was walking. "That is he," said the
black man, "that is Bonaparte. He eats three sheep every day,
and all the little children he can lay hands on." Ugh! We think
that the little boy did not want to stay there long.
William reached home safely and was very happy with kind aunts
and grandmother until he went to school. And school he did not
like at all. Long afterwards in one of his books he wrote, "It
was governed by a horrible little tyrant, who made our young
lives so miserable, that I remember kneeling by my little bed of
a night and saying, 'Pray God, I may dream of my mother.'"*
But he left this school and when he was about eleven went to
Charterhouse. Here Thackeray was not much happier. He was a
pretty, gentle boy, and not particularly clever, either at games
or at lessons. The boys were rough and even brutal to each
other, and Thackeray had to take his share of the blows, and got
a broken nose which disfigured his good-looking face ever after.
And when he left school he took away with him a painful
remembrance of all he had had to suffer. But by degrees the
suffering faded out of his memory and he looked upon his old
school with kindly eyes, and called it no longer Slaughterhouse,
but Grey Friars, in his books.
Before Thackeray went to Charterhouse his mother and stepfather
had come home to England and made a home for the little boy where
he spent happy holidays. Thackeray was not very diligent, but in
his last term at school he writes to his mother, "I really think
I am becoming terribly industrious, though I can't get Dr.
Russell (the headmaster) to think so. . . . There are but three
hundred and seventy in the school. I wish there were only three
hundred and sixty-nine."
Soon he had his wish, and leaving Charterhouse he went to Trinity
College, Cambridge. He liked Cambridge better than Charterhouse,
but did not learn much more. In little more than a year he left
because he felt that he was wasting his time, and went abroad to
finish his education. After spending a happy year in Germany he
came home to study at the bar, but soon finding he had no taste
for law, he gave that up.
Thackeray was now of age and had come into a little fortuned of
about 500 pounds a year, left to him by his father. So he decided
to try his hand at literature, and bought a paper called the
National Standard, and became editor of it. He could not,
however, make his paper pay, and in that and other ways he had
soon lost all his money.
It was now necessary that he should do something to earn a
living, and he determined to be an artist, and went to Paris to
study. But although he was fond of drawing, and was able
afterwards to illustrate some of his own books, he never became a
Meanwhile in Paris he met a young Irish lady with whom he fell in
love, and being offered the post of Paris correspondent on
another paper, he married. But very soon after he married the
paper failed and Thackeray and his young wife returned to London,
very poor indeed, and there he remained, as Carlyle said,
"writing for his life."
It was a struggle, doubtless, but not a bitter one, and Thackeray
was happy in his home with his wife and two little daughters.
Long afterwards one of these daughters wrote, "Almost the first
time I can remember my parents was at home in Great Coram Street
on one occasion, when my mother took me upon her back, as she had
a way of doing, and after hesitating for a moment at the door,
carried me into a little ground floor room where some one sat
bending over a desk. This some one lifted up his head and looked
round at the people leaning over his chair. He seemed pleased,
smiled at us, but remonstrated. Nowadays I know by experience
that authors don't get on best, as a rule, when they are
interrupted in their work--not even by their own particular
families--but at that time it was all wondering, as I looked over
my mother's shoulder."
But these happy days did not last long. The young mother became
ill; gradually she became worse, until at last the light of
reason died out of her brain, and although she lived on for many
years, it was a living death, for she knew no one and took no
notice of anything that went on around her.
The happy home was broken up. The children went to live with
their great-grandmother, who found them "inconveniently young,"
while Thackeray remained alone in London. But though he was
heart-broken and lonely, he kept a loving memory of the happy
days gone by. Long after he wrote to a friend who was going to
be married, "Although my own marriage was a wreck, as you know, I
would do it over again, for behold, Love is the crown and
completion of all earthly good. The man who is afraid of his
future never deserved one."
Thackeray was already making a way with his pen, and now he found
a new opening. Most of you know Punch. He and his dog Toby are
old friends. And Mr. Punch with his humped back and big nose
"comes out" every week to make us laugh. He makes us laugh, too,
with kindly laughter, for, as Thackeray himself said, "there
never were before published in this world so many volumes that
contained so much cause for laughing, so little for blushing. It
is easy to be witty and wicked, so hard to be witty and wise!"
But once upon a time there was no Punch, strange though it may
seem. It was just at this time, indeed, that Punch was published
and Thackeray became one of the earliest contributors, and
continued for ten years both to draw pictures and write papers
for it. It was in Punch that his famous "Snob Papers" appeared.
What is a Snob? Thackeray says, "He who meanly admires mean
It has been said that by reason of writing so much about snobs
that Thackeray came to see snobbishness where there was none.
But certain it is he laid a smart but kindly finger on many a
small-minded prejudice. Several times in this book you have
heard of sizars and commoners, stupid distinctions which are
happily now done away with. Perhaps you would like to know what
Thackeray thought of them. For although it is not a very good
illustration of real snobbishness, it is interesting to read in
connection with the lives of many great writer.
"If you consider, dear reader, what profound snobbishness the
University System produced, you will allow that it is time to
attack some of those feudal Middle-age superstitions. If you go
down for five shillings to look at the 'College Youths,' you may
see one sneaking down the court without a tassel to his cap;
another with a gold or silver fringe to his velvet trencher; a
third lad with a master's gown and hat, walking at ease over the
sacred College grass-plats, which common men must not tread on.
"He may do it because he is a nobleman. Because a lad is a lord,
the University gives him a degree at the end of two years which
another is seven in acquiring. Because he is a lord, he has no
call to go through an examination. . . .
"The lads with gold and silver lace are sons of rich gentlemen,
and called Fellow Commoners; they are privileged to feed better
than the pensioners, and to have wine with their victuals, which
the latter can only get in their rooms.
"The unlucky boys who have no tassels to their caps, are called
sizars--servitors at Oxford--(a very pretty and gentlemanlike
title). A distinction is made in their clothes because they are
poor; for which reason they wear a badge of poverty, and are not
allowed to take their meals with their fellow students."
But the same pen that wrote sharply and satirically about snobs,
wrote loving letters in big round hand to his dear daughters, who
were living far away in Paris. For either child he used a
different hand, so that each might know at once to whom the
letter was addressed. Here is part of one to his "dearest
Nanny." "How glad I am that it is a black puss and not a black
nuss you have got! I thought you did not know how to spell
nurse, and had spelt it en-you-double-ess; but I see the spelling
gets better as the letters grow longer: they cannot be too long
for me. Laura must be a very good-natured girl. I hope my dear
Nanny is so too, not merely to her school mistress and friends,
but to everybody--to her servants and her nurses. I would sooner
have you gentle and humble-minded than ever so clever. Who was
born on Christmas Day? Somebody Who was so great, that all the
world worships Him; and so good that all the world loves Him; and
so gentle and humble that He never spoke an unkind word. And
there is a little sermon and a great deal of love and affection
*Mrs. Ritchie's introduction to Contributions to Punch.
The Book of Snobs brought Thackeray into notice, and now that he
was becoming well known and making more money, he once more made
a home for his daughters, and they came to London to live with
their father. Everything was new and strange to the little
girls. There was a feeling of London they thought, in the new
house, and "London smelt of tobacco." Thus once more, says his
daughter, "after his first happy married years, my father had a
home and a family--if a house, two young children, three
servants, and a little black cat can be called a family."
Thackeray was a very big man, being six feet three or four. He
must have seemed a very big papa to the little girls of six and
eight, who were, no doubt, very glad to be again beside their
great big kind father, and he, on his side, was very glad to have
his little girls to love, and he took them about a great deal to
the theater and concerts. They helped him in many little ways
and thought it joy to leave lessons in the schoolroom upstairs
and come downstairs to help father, and be posed as models for
It was now that Thackeray wrote his first great novel, his
greatest some people think, Vanity Fair. I cannot tell you about
it now, but when you are a very little older you will like to
read of clever and disagreeable Becky Sharp, of dear Dobbin, and
foolish Amelia, and all the rest of the interesting people
Thackeray creates for us. Thackeray has been called a cynic,
that is one who does not believe in the goodness of human nature,
and who sneers at and finds fault with everything. And reading
Vanity Fair when we are very young we are apt to think that is
so, but later we come to see the heart of goodness there is in
him, and when we have read his books we say to ourselves, "What a
truly good man Thackeray must have been." "He could not have
painted Vanity Fair as he has," says another writer,* "unless
Eden had been shining brightly in his inner eyes."
Though Thackeray is no cynic he is a satirist as much as Pope or
Dryden, but the most kindly satirist who ever wrote. His thrusts
are keen and yet there is always a humorous laugh behind, and
never a spark of malice or uncharitableness. Thackeray bore no
hatred in his heart towards any man. He could not bear to give
pain, and as he grew older his satire became more gentle even
than at first, and he regretted some of his earlier and too sharp
After Vanity Fair other novels followed, the best of all being
Esmond. Esmond is perhaps the finest historical novel in our
language. It is a story of the time of Queen Anne, and when we
read it we feel as if the days of Addison and Steele lived again.
But with Thackeray the historical novel is very different from
the historical novel of Scott. With Thackeray his imaginary
people hold the chief place, the real people only form a
background, while in many of Scott's novels the real people claim
our attention most.
Before Esmond was written Thackeray had added the profession of
lecturer to that of author. He was a very loving father and was
always anxious not only that his daughters should be happy when
they were young, but that when he died he should leave them well
off. Again and again in his letters we find him turning to this
thought: "If I can't leave them a fortune, why, we must try to
leave them the memory of having had a good time," he says. But
he wanted to leave them a fortune, and so he took to lecturing.
His lectures were a great success, and he delivered them in many
places in England, Scotland, Ireland and America.
It was while he was lecturing in Scotland that he heard a little
boy read one of his ballads. It was a satirical ballad, and
somehow Thackeray did not like to hear it from the little boy's
lips. Turning away he said to himself, "Pray God I may be able
some day to write something good for children. That will be
better than glory or Parliament."
But already he had written something good for children in the
fairy tale of The Rose and the Ring. One year he spent the
winter with his children in Rome, and wrote the fairy tale for
them and their friends, and drew the pictures too.
I have no room in this book to tell you the story, but there is a
great deal of fun in it, and I hope you will read it for
yourselves. Here, for instance, is what happened to a porter for
being rude to the fairy Blackstick. After saying many other rude
things, he asked if she thought he was going to stay at the door
"'You are going to stay at that door all day and all night, and
for many a long year,' the fairy said, very majestically; and
Gruffenuff, coming out of the door, straddling before it with his
great calves, burst out laughing, and cried 'Ha, ha, ha! this is
a good un! Ha--ah what's this? Let me down--O-o-H'm!' and then
he was dumb.
"For as the fairy waved her wand over him, he felt himself rising
off the ground, and fluttering up against the door, and then, as
if a screw ran into his stomach, he felt a dreadful pain there,
and was pinned to the door; and then his arms flew up over his
head; and his legs, after writhing about wildly, twisted under
his body; and he felt cold, cold, growing over him, as if he was
turning into metal; and he said, 'O-o-H'm!' and could say no
more, because he was dumb.
"He was turned into metal! He was from being brazen, brass! He
was neither more nor less than a knocker! An there he was,
nailed to the door in the blazing summer day, till he burned
almost red-hot; and there he was, nailed to the door all the
bitter winter nights, till his brass nose was dropping with
icicles. And the postman came and rapped at him, and the
vulgarist boy with a letter came and hit him up against the door.
And the King and Queen coming home from a walk that evening, the
King said, 'Hallo, my dear! you have had a new knocker put on the
door. Why, it's rather like our porter in the face. What has
become of that old vagabond?' And the housemaid came and
scrubbed his nose with sand-paper; and once when the Princess
Angelica's little sister was born, he was tied up in an old kid
glove; and another night, some larking young men tried to wrench
him off, and put him to the most excruciating agony with a
turnscrew. And then the queen had a fancy to have the colour of
the door altered, and the painters dabbed him over the mouth and
eyes, and nearly choked him, as they painted him pea-green. I
warrant he had leisure to repent of having been rude to the Fairy
As the years went on, Thackeray became ever more and more famous,
his company more and more sought after. "The kind, tall,
amusing, grey-haired man"* was welcome in many a drawing-room.
Yet with all his success he never forgot his little girls. They
were his fast friends and companions, and very often they wrote
while he dictated his story to them. He worked with a lazy kind
of diligence. He could not, like Scott, sit down and write a
certain number of pages every morning. He was by nature
indolent, yet he got through a great deal of work.
Death found him still working steadily. He had not been feeling
well, and one evening he went to bed early. Next morning,
Christmas Eve of 1863, he was found dead in bed.
Deep and widespread was the grief of Thackeray's death. The news
"saddened England's Christmas." His friends mourned not only the
loss of a great writer but "the cheerful companionship, the large
heart, and open hand, the simple courteousness, and the endearing
frankness of a brave, true, honest gentleman."*
Although he was buried in a private cemetery, a bust was almost
at once placed in Westminster by his sorrowing friends.
The following verses were written by the editor of Punch* in his
"He was a cynic! By his life all wrought
Of generous acts, mild words, and gentle ways;
His heart wide open to all kindly thought,
His hand so great to give, his tongue to praise.
"He was a cynic! You might read it writ
In that broad brow, crowned with its silver hair,
In those blue eyes, with childlike candour lit,
In the sweet smile his lips were wont to wear.
"He was a cynic! By the love that clung
About him from his children, friends, and kin;
By the sharp pain, light pen and gossip tongue
Wrought in him chafing the soft heart within.
. . . . . .
"He was a cynic? Yes--if 'tis the cynic's part
To track the serpent's trail with saddened eye,
To mark how good and ill divide the heart,
How lives in chequered shade and sunshine lie:
"How e'en the best unto the worst is knit
By brotherhood of weakness, sin and care;
How even in the worst, sparks may be lit
To show all is not utter darkness there."
BOOK TO READ
The Rose and the Ring.
NOTE.--The Rose and the Ring can be found in any complete edition
of Thackeray's works.
Chapter LXXXIV DICKENS--SMILES AND TEARS
CHARLES DICKENS was a novelist who lived and wrote at the same
time as Thackeray. He was indeed only six months younger, but he
began to make a name much earlier and was known to fame while
Thackeray was still a struggling artist. When they both became
famous these two great writers were to some extent rivals, and
those who read their books were divided into two camps. For
though both are men of genius, they are men of widely differing
John Dickens, the father, was a clerk with a small salary in the
Navy Pay Office, and his son Charles was born in 1812 at Portsea.
When Charles was about four his father was moved to Chatham, and
here the little boy Charles lived until he was nine. He was a
very puny little boy, and not able to join in the games of the
other boys of his own age. So he spent most of his time in a
small room where there was some books and where no one else
besides himself cared to go. He not only read the books, but
lived them, and for weeks together he would make believe to
himself that he was his favorite character in whatever book he
might be reading. All his life he loved acting a part and being
somebody else, and at one time thought of becoming an actor.
Then when Charles was seven he went to a school taught by a young
Baptist minister. It was not an unhappy life for the "Very queer
small boy" as he calls himself. There were fields in which he
could play his pretending games, and there was a beautiful house
called Gad's Hill near, at which he could go to look and dream
that if he were very good and very clever he might some day be a
fine gentleman and own that house.
When the very queer small boy was nine he and all his family
moved to London. Here they lived in a mean little house in a
mean little street. There were now six children, and the father
had grown very poor, so instead of being sent to school Charles
used to black the boots and make himself useful about the house.
But he still had his books to read, and could still make believe
to himself. Things grew worse and worse however, and John
Dickens, who was kind and careless, got into debt deeper and
deeper. Everything in the house that could be done without was
sold, and one by one the precious books went. At length one day
men came and took the father away to prison because he could not
pay his debts.
Then began for Charles the most miserable time of his life. The
poor, sickly little chap was set to work in a blacking factory.
His work was to cover the pots of paste-blacking, tie them down
neatly and paste on the labels. Along with two or three others
boys he worked all day long for six or seven shillings a week.
Oh, how the little boy hated it! He felt degraded and ashamed.
He felt that he was forgotten and neglected by every one, and
that never never more would he be able to read books and play
pretending games, or do anything that he loved. All week he
worked hard, ill clad and only half fed, and Sunday he spent with
this father at the prison. It was a miserable, sordid, and
pitiful beginning to life.
How long this unhappy time lasted we do not know. Dickens
himself could not remember. He seldom spoke of this time, but he
never forgot the misery of it. Long afterwards in one of his
books called David Copperfield, when he tells of the unhappy
childhood of his hero, it is of his own he speaks.
But presently John Dickens got out of prison, Charles left the
blacking factory, and once more went to school. And although in
after years he could never bear to think of these miserable days,
at the time his spirits were not crushed, and at school he was
known as a bright and jolly boy. He was always ready for any
mischief, and took delight in getting up theatricals.
At fifteen Dickens left school and went into a lawyer's office,
but he knew that he had learned very little at school, and now
set himself to learn more. He went to the British Museum
Reading-room, and studied there, and he also with a great deal of
labor taught himself shorthand.
He worked hard, determined to get on, and at nineteen he found
himself in the Gallery of the House of Commons as reporter for a
daily paper. Since the days when Samuel Johnson reported
speeches without having heard them things had changed. People
were no longer content with such make-believe reporting, and
Dickens proved himself one of the smartest reporters there had
ever been. He not only reported the speeches, but told of
everything that took place in the House. He had such a keen eye
for seeing, and such a vivid way of describing what he saw, that
he was able to make people realize the scenes inside the House as
none had done before.
Besides reporting in the Houses of Parliament Dickens dashed
about the country in post-chaises gathering news for his paper,
writing by flickering candle-light while his carriage rushed
along, at what seemed then the tremendous speed of fifteen miles
an hour. For those were not the days of railways and motors, and
traveling was much slower than it is now.
But even while Dickens was leading this hurried, busy life he
found time to write other things besides newspaper reports, and
little tales and sketches began to appear signed by Boz. Boz was
a pet name for Dickens's youngest brother. His real name was
Augustus, but he had been nicknamed Moses after Moses in the
Vicar of Wakefield. Pronounced through the nose it became Boses
and then Boz. That is the history of the name under which
Dickens at first wrote and won his earliest fame.
The sketches by Boz were well received, but real fame came to
Dickens with the Pickwick Papers which he now began to write.
This story came out in monthly parts. The first few numbers were
not very successful, only about four hundred copies being sold,
but by the fifteenth number London was ringing with the fame of
it, and forty thousand copies were quickly sold. "Judges on the
bench and boys in the street, gravity and folly, the young and
the old"* all alike read it and laughed over it. Dickens above
everything is a humorist, and one of the chief features in his
humor is caricature, that is exaggerating and distorting one
feature or habit or characteristic of a man out of all likeness
to nature. This often makes very good fun, but it takes away
from the truth and realness of his characters. And yet no story-
teller perhaps is remembered so little for his stories and so
much for his characters. In Pickwick there is hardly any story,
the papers ramble on in unconnected incidents. No one could tell
the story of Pickwick for there is really none to tell; it is a
series of scenes which hang together anyhow. "Pickwick cannot be
classed as a novel," it has been said; "it is merely a great
So in spite of the fact that they are all caricatures it is the
persons of the Pickwick club that we remember and not their
doings. Like Jonson long before him, Dickens sees every man in
his humor. By his genius he enables us to see these humors too,
though at times one quality in a man is shown so strongly that we
fail to see any other in him, and so a caricature is produced.
Dickens himself was full of fun and jollity. His was a florid
personality. He loved light and color, and sunshine. He almost
covered his walls with looking-glasses and crowded his garden
with blazing geraniums. He loved movement and life, overflowed
with it himself and poured it into his creations, making them
live in spite of rather than because of their absurdities.
Winkle, one of the Pickwickians, is a mild and foolish boaster,
who pretends that he can do things he cannot. He pretends to be
able to shoot and succeeds only in hitting one of his friends.
He pretends to skate, and this is how he succeeds:--
"'Now,' said Wardle, after a substantial lunch had been done
ample just to, 'what say you to an hour on the ice? We shall
have plenty of time.'
"'Capital!' said Mr. Benjamin Allen.
"'Prime!' ejaculated Mr. Bob Sawyer.
"'You skate of course, Winkle?' said Wardle.
"'Ye-yes; oh, yes,' replied Mr. Winkle. 'I--I am rather out of
"'Oh, do skate, Mr. Winkle,' said Arabella. 'I like to see it so
"'Oh, it is so graceful,' said another young lady. A third young
lady said it was elegant, and a fourth expressed her opinion that
it was 'swanlike.'
"'I should be very happy, I'm sure,' said Mr. Winkle, reddening,
'but I have no skates.'
"This objection was at once overruled. Trundle had a couple of
pair, and the fat boy announced that there were half-a-dozen
more, downstairs: whereat Mr. Winkle expressed exquisite
delight, and looked exquisitely uncomfortable.
"Old Wardle led the way to a pretty large sheet of ice, and the
fat boy and Mr. Weller, having shovelled and swept away the snow
which had fallen on it during the night, Mr. Bob Sawyer adjusted
his skates with a dexterity which to Mr. Winkle was perfectly
marvellous, and described circles with his left leg, and cut
figures of eight, and inscribed upon the ice, without once
stopping for breath, a great many other pleasant and astonishing
devices, to the excessive satisfaction of Mr. Pickwick, Mr.
Tupman, and the ladies: which reached a pitch of positive
enthusiasm, when old Wardle and Benjamin Allen, assisted by the
aforesaid Bob Sawyer, performed some mystic evolutions, which
they called a reel.
"All this time Mr. Winkle, with his face and hands blue with the
cold, had been forcing gimlet into the soles of his boots, and
putting his skates on, with the points behind, and getting the
straps into a very complicated and entangled state, with the
assistance of Mr. Snodgrass, who knew rather less about skates
than a Hindoo. At length, however, with the assistance of Mr.
Weller, the unfortunate skates were firmly screwed and buckled
on, and Mr. Winkle was raised to his feet.
"'Now, then, Sir,' said Sam, in an encouraging tone; 'off with
you, and shoe 'em how to do it.'
"'Stop, Sam, stop!' said Mr. Winkle, trembling violently and
clutching hold of Sam's arms with the grasp of a drowning man.
'How slippery it is, Sam!'
"'Not a uncommon thing upon ice, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller. 'Hold
"This last observation of Mr. Weller's bore reference to a
demonstration Mr. Winkle made at the instant, of a frantic desire
to throw his feet in the air, and dash the back of his head on
"'These--these--are very awkward skates; ain't they, Sam?'
inquired Mr. Winkle, staggering.
"'I'm afeerd there's an orkard gen'l'm'n in 'em, Sir,' replied
"'Now, Winkle,' cried Mr. Pickwick, quite unconscious that here
was anything the matter. 'Come, the ladies are all anxiety.'
"'Yes, yes,' replied Mr. Winkle, with a ghastly smile. 'I'm
"'Just a-goin' to begin,' said Sam, endeavouring to disengage
himself. 'Now, Sir, start off!'
"'Stop an instant, Sam,' gasped Mr. Winkle, clinging most
affectionately to Mr. Weller. 'I find I've got a couple of coats
at home, that I don't want, Sam. You may have them, Sam.'
"'Thank'ee, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller.
"'Never mind touching your hat, Sam,' said Mr. Winkle, hastily.
'You needn't take your hand away to do that. I meant to have
given you five shillings this morning for a Christmas-box, Sam.
I'll give it you this afternoon, Sam.'
"'You're wery good, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller.
"'Just hold me at first, Sam; will you?' said Mr. Winkle.
'There--that's right. I shall soon get in the way of it, Sam.
Not too fast, Sam; not too fast.'
"Mr. Winkle, stooping forward with his body half doubled up, was
being assisted over the ice by Mr. Weller, in a very singular and
un-swanlike manner, when Mr. Pickwick most innocently shouted
from the opposite bank,--
"'Sir?' said Mr. Weller.
"'Here, I want you.'
"'Let go, Sir,' said Sam. 'Don't you hear the governor a-
callin'? Let go, Sir.'
"With a violent effort Mr. Weller disengaged himself from the
grasp of the agonised Pickwickian; and, in so doing, administered
a considerable impetus to the unhappy Mr. Winkle. With an
accuracy which no degree of dexterity or practice could have
insured, that unfortunate gentleman bore swiftly down into the
centre of the reel, at the very moment when Mr. Bob Sawyer was
performing a flourish of unparalleled beauty. Mr. Winkle struck
wildly against him, and with a loud crash they both fell heavily
"Mr. Pickwick ran to the spot. Bob Sawyer had risen to his feet,
but Mr. Winkle was far too wise to do anything of the kind, in
skates. He was seated on the ice, making spasmodic efforts to
smile, but anguish was depicted on every lineament of his
"'Are you hurt?' inquired Mr. Benjamin Allen, with great anxiety.
"'Not much,' said Mr. Winkle, rubbing his back very hard.
"'I wish you'd let me bleed you,' said Mr. Benjamin, with great
"'No, thank you,' replied Mr. Winkle hurriedly.
"'What do you think, Mr. Pickwick?' enquired Bob Sawyer.
"Mr. Pickwick was excited and indignant. He beckoned to Mr.
Weller, and said in a stern voice, 'Take his skates off.'
"'No; but really I had scarcely begun,' remonstrated Mr. Winkle.
"'Take his skates off,' repeated Mr. Pickwick firmly.
"The command was not to be resisted. Mr. Winkle allowed Sam to
obey it, in silence.
"'Lift him up,' said Mr. Pickwick. Sam assisted him to rise.
"Mr. Pickwick retired a few paces apart from the bystanders; and
beckoning his friend to approach, fixed a searching look upon
him, and uttering in a low, but distinct and emphatic tone, these
"'You're a humbug, Sir.'
"'A what!' said Mr. Winkle starting.
"'A humbug, Sir. I will speak plainer, if you wish it. An
"With these words Mr. Pickwick turned slowly on his heel, and
rejoined his friends."
There is much life and fun and jollity and some vulgarity in
Pickwick. There is a good deal of eating and far too much
drinking. But when the fun is rather rough, we must remember
that Dickens wrote of the England of seventy years ago and more,
when life was rougher than it is now, and when people did not see
that drinking was the sordid sin we know it to be now.
To many people Pickwick remains Dickens's best book. "The glory
of Charles Dickens," it has been said, "will always be in his
Pickwick, his first, his best, his inimitable triumph."*
Just when Dickens began to write Pickwick he married, and soon we
find him comfortably settled in a London house, while the other
great writers of his day gathered round him as his friends.
Although not born in London, Dickens was a true Londoner, and
when his work was done he loved nothing better than to roam the
streets. He was a great walker, and thought nothing of going
twenty or thirty miles a day, for though he was small and slight
he had quite recovered from his childish sickliness and was full
of wiry energy. The crowded streets of London were his books.
As he wandered through them his clear blue eyes took note of
everything, and when he was far away, among the lovely sights of
Italy or Switzerland, he was homesick for the grimy streets and
hurrying crowds of London.
After Pickwick many other stories followed; in them Dickens
showed his power not only of making people laugh, but of making
them cry. For the source of laughter and the source of tears are
not very far apart. There is scarcely another writer whose
pathetic scenes are so famous as those of Dickens.
In life there is a great deal that is sad, and one of the things
which touched Dickens most deeply was the misery of children.
The children of to-day are happy in knowing nothing of the
miseries of childhood as it was in the days when Dickens wrote.
In those days tiny children had to work ten or twelve hours a day
in factories, many schools were places of terror and misery, and
few people cared. But Dickens saw and cared and wrote about
these things. And now they are of a bygone day. So children may
remember Dickens with thankful hearts. He is one of their great
Dickens loved children and they loved him, for he had a most
winning way with them and he understood their little joys and
sorrows. "There are so many people," says his daughter writing
about her father, "There are so many people good, kind, and
affectionate, but who can not remember that they once were
children themselves, and looked out upon the world with a child's
eyes only." This Dickens did always remember, and it made him a
tender and delightful father to whom his children looked up with
something of adoration. "Ever since I can remember anything,"
says his daughter, "I remember him as the good genius of the
house, or as its happy, bright and funny genius." As Thackeray
had a special handwriting for each daughter, Dickens had a
special voice for each child, so that without being named each
knew when he or she was spoken to. He sang funny songs to them
and told funny stories, did conjuring tricks and got up
theatricals, shared their fun and comforted their sorrows. And
this same power of understanding which made him enter into the
joys and sorrows of his children, made him enter into the joys
and sorrows of the big world around him. So that the people of
that big world loved him as a friend, and adored him as a hero.
As the years went on Dickens wrote more and more books. He
started a magazine too, first called Household Words and later
All the Year Round. In this, some of his own works came out as
well as the works of other writers. It added greatly to his
popularity and not a little to his wealth. And as he became rich
and famous, his boyish dream came true. He bought the house of
Gad's Hill which had seemed so splendid and so far off in his
childish eyes, and went to live there with his big family of
growing boys and girls.
It was about this time, too, that Dickens found a new way of
entertaining the world. He not only wrote books but he himself
read them to great audiences. All his life Dickens had loved
acting. Indeed he very nearly became an actor before he found
out his great powers of writing. He many times took part in
private theatricals, one of his favorite parts, you will like to
know, being Captain Bobadil, in Jonson's Every Man in his Humor.
And now all the actor in him delighted in the reading of his own
works, so although many of his friends were very much against
these readings, he went on with them. And wherever he read in
England, Scotland, Ireland, and America, crowds flocked to hear
him. Dickens swayed his audiences at will. He made them laugh,
and cry, and whether they cried they cheered and applauded him.
It was a triumph and an evidence of his power in which Dickens
delighted and which he could not forego, although his friends
thought it was beneath his dignity as an author.
But the strain and excitement were too much. These readings
broke down Dickens's health and wore him out. He was at last
forced to give them up, but it was already too late. A few
months later he died suddenly one evening in June 1870 in his
house at Gad's Hill. He was buried in Westminster, and although
the funeral was very quiet and simple as he himself had wished,
for two days after a constant stream of mourners came to place
flowers upon his grave.
I have not given you a list of Dicken's books because they are to
be found in nearly every household. You will soon be able to
read them and learn to know the characters whose names have
become household words.
Dickens was the novelist of the poor, the shabby genteel, and the
lower middle class. It has been said many times that in all his
novels he never drew for us a single gentleman, and that is very
nearly true. But we need little regret that, for he has left us
a rich array of characters we might never otherwise have known,
such as perhaps no other man could have pictured for us.
BOOKS TO READ
Stories from Dickens, by J. W. M'Spadden. The Children's
Chapter LXXXV TENNYSON--THE POET OF FRIENDSHIP
KEATS had lain beneath the Roman violets six years, and Shelley
somewhat less than five, when a little volume of poems was
published in England. It was called Poems by two Brothers. No
one took any notice of it, and yet in it was the first little
twitter of one of our sweetest singing birds. For the two
brothers were Alfred and Charles Tennyson, boys then of sixteen
and seventeen. It is of Alfred that I mean to tell you in this
last chapter. You have heard of him already in one of the
chapters on the Arthur story, and also you have heard of him as a
friend of Carlyle. And now I will tell you a little more about
Alfred Tennyson was born in 1809 in the Lincolnshire village of
Somersby. His father was the rector there, and had, besides
Alfred, eleven other children. And here about the Rectory
garden, orchard and fields, the Tennyson children played at
knights and warriors. Beyond the field flowed a brook--
To purl o'er matted cress and ribbed sand,
Or dimple in the dark of rushy coves,
Drawing into his narrow earthen urn,
In every elbow and turn,
The filter'd tribute of the rough woodland."*
*Ode to Memory.
Of the garden and the fields and of the brook especially, Alfred
kept a memory all through his long life. But at seven he was
sent to live with his grandmother and go to school at Louth,
about ten miles away. "How I did hate that school!" he said,
long afterwards, so we may suppose the years he spent there were
not altogether happy. But when he was eleven he went home again
to be taught by his father, until he went to Cambridge.
At home, Alfred read a great deal, especially poetry. He wrote,
too, romances like Sir Walter Scott's, full of battles, epics in
the manner of Pope, plays, and blank verse. He wrote so much
that his father said, "If Alfred die, one of our greatest poets
will have gone." And besides writing poems, Alfred, who was one
of the big children, used to tell stories to the little ones,--
stories these of knights and ladies, giants and dragons and all
manner of wonderful things. So the years passed, and one day the
two boys, Charles and Alfred, resolved to print their poems, and
took them to a bookseller in Louth. He gave them 20 pounds for
the manuscript, but more than half was paid in books out of the
shop. So the grand beginning was made. But the little book caused
no stir in the great world. No one knew that a poet had broken
The next year Charles and Alfred went to Cambridge. Alfred soon
made many friends among the clever young men of his day, chief
among them being Arthur Hallam, whose father was a famous
At college Tennyson won the chancellor's prize for a poem on
Timbuctoo, and the following year he published a second little
volume of poems. This, though kindly received by some great
writers, made hardly more stir than the little volume by "Two
Tennyson did not take a degree at Cambridge, for, owing to his
father's failing health, he was called home. He left college,
perhaps with no very keen regret, for his heart was not in
sympathy with the teaching. In his undergraduate days he wrote
some scathing lines about it. You "teach us nothing," he said,
"feeding not the heart." But he did remember with tenderness
that Cambridge had been the spot where his first and warmest
friendship had been formed.
Soon after Alfred left college, his father died very suddenly.
Although the father was now gone the Tennysons did not need to
leave their home, for the new rector did not want the house. So
life in the Rectory went quietly on; friends came and went, the
dearest friend of all, Arthur Hallam, came often, for he loved
the poet's young sister, and one day they were to be married. It
was a peaceful happy time--
"And all we met was fair and good,
And all was good that Time could bring,
And all the secret of the Spring,
Moved in the chambers of the blood."
Long days were spent reading poetry and talking of many things--
"Or in the all-golden afternoon
A guest, or happy sister, sung,
Or here she brought the harp and flung
A ballad to the brightening moon.
"Nor less it pleased the livelier moods,
Beyond the bounding hill to stray,
And break the live long summer day
With banquet in the distant woods."
And amid this pleasant country life the poet worked on, and
presently another little book of poems appeared. Still fame did
not come, and one severe and blundering review kept Tennyson, it
is said, from publishing anything more for ten years.
But now there fell upon him what was perhaps the darkest sorrow
of his life. Arthur Hallam, who was traveling on the Continent,
died suddenly at Vienna. When the news came to Tennyson that his
friend was gone--
"That in Vienna's fatal walls
God's finger touch'd him, and he slept,"
for a time joy seemed blotted out of life, and only that he might
help to comfort his sister did he wish to live, for--
"That remorseless iron hour
Made cypress of her orange flower,
Despair of Hope."
As an outcome of this grief we have one of Tennyson's finest
poems, In Memoriam. It is an elegy which we place beside Lycidas
and Adonais. But In Memoriam strikes yet a sadder note. For in
Lycidas and Adonais Milton and Shelley mourned kindred souls
rather than dear loved friends. To Tennyson, Arthur Hallam was
"The brother of my love"--
"Dear as the mother to the son
More than my brothers are to me."
In Memoriam is a group of poems rather than one long poem--
"Short swallow-flights of song, that dip
Their wings in tears, and skim away."
It is written in a meter which Tennyson believed he had invented,
but which Ben Jonson and others had used before him. Two hundred
years before Jonson had written a little elegy beginning--
"Though Beautie be the Marke of praise,
And yours of whom I sing be such
As not the world can praise too much,
Yet is't your vertue now I raise."
Here again we see that our literature of to-day is no new born
thing, but rooted in the past. Jonson's poem, however, is a mere
trifle, Tennyson's one of the great things of our literature.
The first notes of In Memoriam were written when sorrow was
fresh, but it was not till seventeen years later that it was
given to the world. It is perhaps the most perfect monument ever
raised to friendship. For in mourning his own loss Tennyson
mourned the loss of all the world. "'I' is not always the author
speaking of himself, but the voice of the human race speaking
thro' him," he says.
After the prologue, the poem tells of the first bitter hopeless
grief, of how friends try to comfort the mourners.
"One writes, that 'Other friends remain,'
That 'Loss is common to the race'--
And common is the common-place,
And vacant chaff well meant for grain.
"That loss if common would not make
My own less bitter, rather more:
Too common! Never morning wore
To evening, but some heart did break."
And yet even now he can say--
"I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all."
And so the months glide by, and the first Christmas comes, "The
time draws near the birth of Christ," the bells ring--
"Peace and goodwill, goodwill and peace,
Peace and goodwill, to all mankind.
"This year I slept and woke with pain,
I almost wish'd no more to wake,
And that my hold on life would break
Before I heard those bells again."
But when Christmas comes again the year has brought calm if not
"Again at Christmas did we weave
The holly round the Christmas hearth;
The silent snow possess'd the earth,
And calmly fell our Christmas-eve:
"The yule-log sparkled keen with frost,
No wing of wind the region swept,
But over all things brooding slept
The quiet sense of something lost.
"As in the winters left behind,
Again our ancient games had place,
The mimic picture's breathing grace,
And dance and song and hoodman-blind."
The years pass on, the brothers and sisters grow up and scatter,
and at last the old home has to be left. Sadly the poet takes
leave of all the loved spots in house and garden. Strangers will
soon come there, people who will neither care for nor love the
dear familiar scene--
"We leave the well-beloved place
Where first we gazed upon the sky;
The roofs, that heard our earliest cry,
Will shelter one of stranger race.
"We go, but ere we go from home,
As down the garden-walks I move,
Two spirits of a diverse love
Contend for loving masterdom.
"One whispers, 'Here thy boyhood sung
Long since its matin song, and heard
The low love-language of the bird
In native hazels tassel-hung.'
"The other answers, 'Yea, but here
Thy feet have stray'd in after hours
With thy lost friend among the bowers,
And this hath made them trebly dear.'"
The poem moves on, and once again in the new home Christmas comes
round. Here everything is strange, the very bells seem like
strangers' voices. But with this new life new strength has come,
and sorrow has henceforth lost its sting. And with the ringing
of the New Year bells a new tone comes into the poem, a tone no
more of despair, but of hope.
"Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
"Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
"Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
. . . . . .
"Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be."
After this the tone of the poem changes and the poet says--
"I will not shut me from my kind,
And, lest I stiffen into stone,