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Thomas Carlyle by John Nichol

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The following record of the leading events of Carlyle's life and attempt
to estimate his genius rely on frequently renewed study of his work, on
slight personal impressions--"vidi tantum"--and on information supplied
by previous narrators. Of these the great author's chosen literary
legatee is the most eminent and, in the main, the most reliable. Every
critic of Carlyle must admit as constant obligations to Mr. Froude as
every critic of Byron to Moore or of Scott to Lockhart. The works of
these masters in biography remain the ample storehouses from which every
student will continue to draw. Each has, in a sense, made his subject his
own, and each has been similarly arraigned.

I must here be allowed to express a feeling akin to indignation at the
persistent, often virulent, attacks directed against a loyal friend,
betrayed, it may be, by excess of faith and the defective reticence that
often belongs to genius, to publish too much about his hero. But Mr.
Froude's quotation, in defence, from the essay on _Sir Walter Scott_
requires no supplement: it should be remembered that he acted with
explicit authority; that the restrictions under which he was at first
entrusted with the MSS. of the _Reminiscences_ and the _Letters and
Memorials_ (annotated by Carlyle himself, as if for publication) were
withdrawn; and that the initial permission to select finally approached a
practical injunction to communicate the whole. The worst that can be said
is that, in the last years of Carlyle's career, his own judgment as to
what should be made public of the details of his domestic life may have
been somewhat obscured; but, if so, it was a weakness easily hidden from
a devotee.

My acknowledgments are due to several of the Press comments which
appeared shortly after Carlyle's death, more especially that of the _St.
James's Gazette_, giving the most philosophical brief summary of his
religious views which I have seen; and to the kindness of Dr. Eugene
Oswald, President of the Carlyle Society, in supplying me with valuable
hints on matters relating to German History and Literature. I have also
to thank the Editor of the _Manchester Guardian_ for permitting me to
reproduce the substance of my article in its columns of February 1881.
That article was largely based on a contribution on the same subject, in
1859, to Mackenzie's _Imperial Dictionary of Biography_.

I may add that in the distribution of material over the comparatively
short space at my command, I have endeavoured to give prominence to facts
less generally known, and passed over slightly the details of events
previously enlarged on, as the terrible accident to Mrs. Carlyle and the
incidents of her death. To her inner history I have only referred in so
far as it had a direct bearing on her husband's life. As regards the
itinerary of Carlyle's foreign journeys, it has seemed to me that it
might be of interest to those travelling in Germany to have a short
record of the places where the author sought his "studies" for his
greatest work.




CHAPTER III 1826-1834 CRAIGENPUTTOCK (from Marriage to London)

CHAPTER IV 1834-1842 CHEYNE ROW--(To death of Mrs. Welsh)

CHAPTER V 1842-1853 CHEYNE ROW--(To death of Carlyle's Mother)

CHAPTER VI 1853-1866 THE MINOTAUR--(To death of Mrs. Carlyle)










Four Scotchmen, born within the limits of the same hundred years, all
in the first rank of writers, if not of thinkers, represent much of the
spirit of four successive generations. They are leading links in an
intellectual chain.

DAVID HUME (1711-1776) remains the most salient type in our island of the
scepticism, half conservative, half destructive, but never revolutionary,
which marked the third quarter of the eighteenth century. He had some
points of intellectual contact with Voltaire, though substituting a staid
temper and passionless logic for the incisive brilliancy of a mocking
Mercury; he had no relation, save an unhappy personal one, to Rousseau.

ROBERT BURNS (1759-1796), last of great lyrists inspired by a local
genius, keenest of popular satirists, narrative poet of the people,
spokesman of their higher as of their lower natures, stood on the verge
between two eras. Half Jacobite, nursling of old minstrelsy, he was
also half Jacobin, an early-born child of the upheaval that closed the
century; as essentially a foe of Calvinism as Hume himself. Master
musician of his race, he was, as Thomas Campbell notes, severed, for good
and ill, from his fellow Scots, by an utter want of their protecting or
paralysing caution.

WALTER SCOTT (1771-1832), broadest and most generous, if not loftiest of
the group--"no sounder piece of British manhood," says Carlyle himself
in his inadequate review, "was put together in that century"--the great
revivalist of the mediaeval past, lighting up its scenes with a magic
glamour, the wizard of northern tradition, was also, like Burns, the
humorist of contemporary life. Dealing with Feudal themes, but in the
manner of the Romantic school, he was the heir of the Troubadours,
the sympathetic peer of Byron, and in his translation of Goetz von
Berlichingen he laid the first rafters of our bridge to Germany.

THOMAS CARLYLE (1795-1881) is on the whole the strongest, though far from
the finest spirit of the age succeeding--an age of criticism threatening
to crowd creation out, of jostling interests and of surging streams,
some of which he has striven to direct, more to stem. Even now what Mill
twenty-five years ago wrote of Coleridge is still true of Carlyle: "The
reading public is apt to be divided between those to whom his views are
everything and those to whom they are nothing." But it is possible to
extricate from a mass of often turbid eloquence the strands of his
thought and to measure his influence by indicating its range.

Travellers in the Hartz, ascending the Brocken, are in certain
atmospheres startled by the apparition of a shadowy figure,--a giant
image of themselves, thrown on the horizon by the dawn. Similar is the
relation of Carlyle to the common types of his countrymen. Burns, despite
his perfervid patriotism, was in many ways "a starry stranger." Carlyle
was Scotch to the core and to the close, in every respect a macrocosm of
the higher peasant class of the Lowlanders. Saturated to the last with
the spirit of a dismissed creed, he fretted in bonds from which he could
never get wholly free. Intrepid, independent, steadfast, frugal, prudent,
dauntless, he trampled on the pride of kings with the pride of Lucifer.
He was clannish to excess, painfully jealous of proximate rivals,
self-centred if not self-seeking, fired by zeal and inflamed by almost
mean emulations, resenting benefits as debts, ungenerous--with one
exception, that of Goethe,--to his intellectual creditors; and, with
reference to men and manners around him at variance with himself,
violently intolerant. He bore a strange relation to the great poet,
in many ways his predecessor in influence, whom with persistent
inconsistency he alternately eulogised and disparaged, the half Scot Lord
Byron. One had by nature many affinities to the Latin races, the other
was purely Teutonic: but the power of both was Titanic rather than
Olympian; both were forces of revolution; both protested, in widely
different fashion, against the tendency of the age to submerge
Individualism; both were to a large extent egoists: the one whining, the
other roaring, against the "Philistine" restraints of ordinary society.
Both had hot hearts, big brains, and an exhaustless store of winged
and fiery words; both were wrapt in a measureless discontent, and made
constant appeal against what they deemed the shallows of Optimism;
Carlylism is the prose rather than "the male of Byronism." The contrasts
are no less obvious: the author of _Sartor Resartus_, however vaguely,
defended the System of the Universe; the author of _Cain_, with an
audacity that in its essence went beyond that of Shelley, arraigned it.
In both we find vehemence and substantial honesty; but, in the one, there
is a dominant faith, tempered by pride, in the "caste of Vere de Vere,"
in Freedom for itself--a faith marred by shifting purposes, the garrulous
incontinence of vanity, and a broken life; in the other unwavering
belief in Law. The record of their fame is diverse. Byron leapt into the
citadel, awoke and found himself the greatest inheritor of an ancient
name. Carlyle, a peasant's son, laid slow siege to his eminence, and,
only after outliving twice the years of the other, attained it. His
career was a struggle, sterner than that of either Johnson or Wordsworth,
from obscurity, almost from contempt, to a rarely challenged renown.
Fifty years ago few "so poor to do him reverence": at his death, in a
sunset storm of praise, the air was full of him, and deafening was the
Babel of the reviews; for the progress of every original thinker is
accompanied by a stream of commentary that swells as it runs till it ends
in a dismal swamp of platitude. Carlyle's first recognition was from
America, his last from his own countrymen. His teaching came home to
their hearts "late in the gloamin'." In Scotland, where, for good or ill,
passions are in extremes, he was long howled down, lampooned, preached
at, prayed for: till, after his Edinburgh Inaugural Address, he of a
sudden became the object of an equally blind devotion; and was, often
by the very men who had tried and condemned him for blasphemy, as
senselessly credited with essential orthodoxy. "The stone which the
builders rejected became the headstone of the corner," the terror of the
pulpit its text. Carlyle's decease was marked by a dirge of rhapsodists
whose measureless acclamations stifled the voice of sober criticism.
In the realm of contemporary English prose he has left no adequate
successor; [Footnote: The nearest being the now foremost prose writers
of our time, Mr. Ruskin and Mr. Froude.] the throne that does not pass
by primogeniture is vacant, and the bleak northern skies seem colder
and grayer since that venerable head was laid to rest by the village
churchyard, far from the smoke and din of the great city on whose streets
his figure was long familiar and his name was at last so honoured.

Carlyle first saw the world tempest-tossed by the events he celebrates in
his earliest History. In its opening pages, we are made to listen to the
feet and chariots of "Dubarrydom" hurrying from the "Armida Palace,"
where Louis XV. and the _ancien rgime_ lay dying; later to the ticking
of the clocks in Launay's doomed Bastile; again to the tocsin of the
steeples that roused the singers of the _Marseillaise_ to march from
"their bright Phocaean city" and grapple with the Swiss guard, last
bulwark of the Bourbons. "The Swiss would have won," the historian
characteristically quotes from Napoleon, "if they had had a commander."
Already, over little more than the space of the author's life--for he was
a contemporary of Keats, born seven months before the death of Burns,
Shelley's junior by three, Scott's by twenty-four, Byron's by seven
years--three years after Goethe went to feel the pulse of the
"cannon-fever" at Argonne--already these sounds are across a sea. Two
whole generations have passed with the memory of half their storms.
"Another race hath been, and other palms are won." Old policies,
governments, councils, creeds, modes and hopes of life have been
sifted in strange fires. Assaye, Trafalgar, Austerlitz, Jena, Leipzig,
Inkermann, Sadowa,--Waterloo when he was twenty and Sedan when he was
seventy-five,--have been fought and won. Born under the French Directory
and the Presidency of Washington, Carlyle survived two French empires,
two kingdoms, and two republics; elsewhere partitions, abolitions,
revivals and deaths of States innumerable. During his life our sway in
the East doubled its area, two peoples (the German with, the Italian
without, his sympathy) were consolidated on the Continent, while another
across the Atlantic developed to a magnitude that amazes and sometimes
alarms the rest. Aggressions were made and repelled, patriots perorated
and fought, diplomatists finessed with a zeal worthy of the world's most
restless, if not its wisest, age. In the internal affairs of the leading
nations the transformation scenes were often as rapid as those of a
pantomime. The Art and Literature of those eighty-six years--stirred to
new thought and form at their commencement by the so-called Romantic
movement, more recently influenced by the Classic reaction, the
Pre-Raphaelite protest, the Aesthetic _mode,_--followed various, even
contradictory, standards. But, in one line of progress, there was no
shadow of turning. Over the road which Bacon laid roughly down and
Newton made safe for transit, Physical Science, during the whole period,
advanced without let and beyond the cavil of ignorance. If the dreams
of the _New Atlantis_ have not even in our days been wholly realised,
Science has been brought from heaven to earth, and the elements made
ministers of Prospero's wand. This apparent, and partially real, conquest
of matter has doubtless done much to "relieve our estate," to make life
in some directions run more smoothly, and to multiply resources to meet
the demands of rapidly-increasing multitudes: but it is in danger of
becoming a conquest of matter over us; for the agencies we have called
into almost fearful activity threaten, like Frankenstein's miscreated
goblin, to beat us down to the same level. Sanguine spirits who

throw out acclamations of self-thanking, self-admiring,
With, at every mile run taster, O the wondrous, wondrous age,

are apt to forget that the electric light can do nothing to dispel the
darkness of the mind; that there are strict limits to the power of
prosperity to supply man's wants or satisfy his aspirations. This is a
great part of Carlyle's teaching. It is impossible, were it desirable,
accurately to define his religious, social, or political creed. He
swallows formulae with the voracity of Mirabeau, and like Proteus escapes
analysis. No printed labels will stick to him: when we seek to corner him
by argument he thunders and lightens. Emerson complains that he failed
to extract from him a definite answer about Immortality. Neither by
syllogism nor by crucible could Bacon himself have made the "Form" of
Carlyle to confess itself. But call him what we will--essential Calvinist
or recalcitrant Neologist, Mystic, Idealist, Deist or Pantheist,
practical Absolutist, or "the strayed reveller" of Radicalism--he is
consistent in his even bigoted antagonism to all Utilitarian solutions of
the problems of the world. One of the foremost physicists of our time was
among his truest and most loyal friends; they were bound together by the
link of genius and kindred political views; and Carlyle was himself an
expert in mathematics, the mental science that most obviously subserves
physical research: but of Physics themselves (astronomy being scarcely a
physical science) his ignorance was profound, and his abusive criticisms
of such men as Darwin are infantile. This intellectual defect, or
rather vacuum, left him free to denounce material views of life with
unconditioned vehemence. "Will the whole upholsterers," he exclaims in
his half comic, sometimes nonsensical, vein, "and confectioners of modern
Europe undertake to make one single shoeblack happy!" And more seriously
of the railways, without whose noisy aid he had never been able to visit
the battle-fields of Friedrich II.--

Our stupendous railway miracles I have stopped short in admiring....
The distances of London to Aberdeen, to Ostend, to Vienna, are still
infinitely inadequate to me. Will you teach me the winged flight through
immensity, up to the throne dark with excess of bright? You unfortunate,
you grin as an ape would at such a question: you do not know that unless
you can reach thither in some effectual most veritable sense, you are
lost, doomed to Hela's death-realm and the abyss where mere brutes are
buried. I do not want cheaper cotton, swifter railways; I want what
Novalis calls "God, Freedom, and Immortality." Will swift railways and
sacrifices to Hudson help me towards that?

The ECONOMIC AND MECHANICAL SPIRIT of the age, faith in mere steel or
stone, was one of Carlyle's red rags. The others were INSINCERITY in
Politics and in Life, DEMOCRACY without Reverence, and PHILANTHROPY
without Sense. In our time these two last powers have made such strides
as to threaten the Reign of Law. The Democrat without a ruler, who
protests that one man is by nature as good as another, according to
Carlyle is "shooting Niagara." In deference to the mandate of the
philanthropist the last shred of brutality, with much of decision,
has vanished from our code. Sentiment is in office and Mercy not only
tempers, but threatens to gag Justice. When Sir Samuel Romilly began his
beneficent agitation, and Carlyle was at school, talkers of treason were
liable to be disembowelled before execution; now the crime of treason is
practically erased, and the free use of dynamite brings so-called reforms
"within the range of practical politics." Individualism was still a mark
of the early years of the century. The spirit of "L'Etat c'est moi"
survived in Mirabeau's "never name to me that _bte_ of a word
'impossible';" in the first Napoleon's threat to the Austrian ambassador,
"I will break your empire like this vase"; in Nelson turning his blind
eye to the signal of retreat at Copenhagen, and Wellington fencing Torres
Vedras against the world: it lingered in Nicholas the Czar, and has found
perhaps its latest political representative in Prince Bismarck.

This is the spirit to which Carlyle has always given his undivided
sympathy. He has held out hands to Knox, Francia, Friedrich, to the men
who have made manners, not to the manners which have made men, to
the rulers of people, not to their representatives: and the not
inconsiderable following he has obtained is the most conspicuous tribute
to a power resolute to pull against the stream. How strong its currents
may be illustrated by a few lines from our leading literary journal, the
_Athenaeum,_ of the Saturday after his death :--

"The future historian of the century will have to record the marvellous
fact that while in the reign of Queen Victoria there was initiated,
formulated, and methodised an entirely new cosmogony, its most powerful
and highly-gifted man of letters was preaching a polity and a philosophy
of history that would have better harmonised with the time of Queen
Semiramis. . . . Long before he launched his sarcasms at human progress,
there had been a conviction among thinkers that it was not the hero
that developed the race, but a deep mysterious energy in the race that
produced the hero; that the wave produced the bubble, and not the bubble
the wave. But the moment a theory of evolution saw the light it was a
fact. The old cosmogony, on which were built _Sartor Resartus_ and the
Calvinism of Ecclefechan, were gone. Ecclefechan had declared that the
earth did not move; but it moved nevertheless. The great stream of modern
thought has advanced; the theory of evolution has been universally
accepted; nations, it is acknowledged, produce kings, and kings are
denied the faculty of producing nations."

_Taliter, qualiter;_ but one or two remarks on the incisive summary
of this adroit and able theorist are obvious. First, the implied
assertion,--"Ecclefechan had declared that the earth did not move,"--that
Carlyle was in essential sympathy with the Inquisitors who confronted
Galileo with the rack, is perhaps the strangest piece of recent criticism
extant: for what is his _French Revolution_ but a cannonade in three
volumes, reverberating, as no other book has done, a hurricane of
revolutionary thought and deed, a final storming of old fortresses, an
assertion of the necessity of movement, progress, and upheaval? Secondly,
every new discovery is apt to be discredited by new shibboleths, and
one-sided exaggerations of its range. It were platitude to say that Mr.
Darwin was not only an almost unrivalled student of nature, as careful
and conscientious in his methods, as fearless in stating his results,
but--pace Mr. Carlyle--a man of genius, who has thrown Hoods of light on
the inter-relations of the organic world. But there are whole troops
of serfs, "addicti jururo in verba magistri," who, accepting, without
attempt or capacity to verify the conclusions of the master mind, think
to solve all the mysteries of the universe by ejaculating the word
"Evolution." If I ask what was the secret of Dante's or of Shakespeare's
divining rod, and you answer "Evolution," 'tis as if, when sick in heart
and sick in head, I were referred, as medicine for "a mind diseased," to
Grimm's Law or to the Magnetic Belt.

Let us grant that Csar was evolved from the currents in the air about
the Roman Capitol, that Marcus Aurelius was a blend of Plato and
Cleanthes, Charlemagne a graft of Frankish blood on Gallic soil, William
I. a rill from Rollo filtered in Neustrian fields, Hildebrand a flame
from the altar of the medival church, Barbarossa a plant grown to
masterdom in German woods, or later--not to heap up figures whose
memories still possess the world--that Columbus was a Genoan breeze,
Bacon a _rchauff_ of Elizabethan thought, Orange the Silent a Dutch
dyke, Chatham the frontispiece of eighteenth-century England, or Corsican
Buonaparte the "armed soldier of Democracy." These men, at all events,
were no bubbles on the froth of the waves which they defied and

So much, and more, is to be said for Carlyle's insistence that great men
are creators as well as creatures of their age. Doubtless, as we advance
in history, direct personal influence, happily or unhappily, declines. In
an era of overwrought activity, of superficial, however free, education,
when we run the risk of being associated into nothingness and criticised
to death, it remains a question whether, in the interests of the highest
civilisation (which means opportunity for every capable citizen to lead
the highest life), the subordination of the one to the many ought to be
accelerated or retarded. It is said that the triumph of Democracy is a
mere "matter of time." But time is in this case of the essence of the
matter, and the party of resistance will all the more earnestly maintain
that the defenders should hold the forts till the invaders have become
civilised. "The individual withers and the world is more and more,"
preludes, though over a long interval, the cynic comment of the second
"Locksley Hall" on the "increasing purpose" of the age. At an earlier
date "Luria" had protested against the arrogance of mere majorities.

A people is but the attempt of many
To rise to the completer life of one;
And those who live as models to the mass
Are singly of more value than they all.

Carlyle set these notes to Tennyson and to Browning in his
_Hero-Worship_--a creed, though in thought, and more in action, older
than Buddha or than Achilles, which he first launched as a dogma on our
times, clenching it with the asseveration that on two men, Mirabeau
and Napoleon, mainly hung the fates of the most nominally levelling of
Revolutions. The stamp his teaching made remains marked on the minds of
the men of light who _lead_, and cannot be wholly effaced by the clamour
of the men of words who _orate_. If he leans unduly to the exaltation
of personal power, Carlyle is on the side of those whose defeat can be
beneficent only if it be slow. Further to account for his attitude,
we must refer to his life and to its surroundings, _i.e._ to the
circumstances amid which he was "evolved."




In the introduction to one of his essays, Carlyle has warned us against
giving too much weight to genealogy: but all his biographies, from the
sketch of the Riquetti kindred to his full-length _Friedrich_, prefaced
by two volumes of ancestry, recognise, if they do not overrate, inherited
influences; and similarly his fragments of autobiography abound in
suggestive reference. His family portraits are to be accepted with the
deductions due to the family fever that was the earliest form of his
hero-worship. Carlyle, says the _Athenaeum_ critic before quoted, divides
contemporary mankind into the fools and the wise: the wise are the
Carlyles, the Welshes, the Aitkens, and Edward Irving; the fools all the
rest of unfortunate mortals: a Fuseli stroke of the critic rivalling any
of the author criticised; yet the comment has a grain of truth.

[Footnote: Even the most adverse critics of Carlyle are often his
imitators, their hands taking a dye from what they work in.]

The Carlyles are said to have come, from the English town somewhat
differently spelt, to Annandale, with David II.; and, according to a
legend which the great author did not disdain to accept, among them was a
certain Lord of Torthorwald, so created for defences of the Border. The
churchyard of Ecclefechan is profusely strewn with the graves of the
family, all with coats of arms--two griffins with adders' stings. More
definitely we find Thomas, the author's grandfather, settled in that
dullest of county villages as a carpenter. In 1745 he saw the rebel
Highlanders on their southward march: he was notable for his study of
_Anson's Voyages_ and of the _Arabian Nights_: "a fiery man, his stroke
as ready as his word; of the toughness and springiness of steel; an
honest but not an industrious man;" subsequently tenant of a small farm,
in which capacity he does not seem to have managed his affairs with
much effect; the family were subjected to severe privations, the mother
having, on occasion, to heat the meal into cakes by straw taken from the
sacks on which the children slept. In such an atmosphere there grew and
throve the five sons known as the five fighting masons--"a curious
sample of folks," said an old apprentice of one of them, "pithy, bitter
speaking bodies, and awfu' fighters." The second of the group, James,
born 1757, married--first, a full cousin, Janet Carlyle (the sole issue
of which marriage was John, who lived at Cockermouth); second, Margaret
Aitken, by whom he had four sons--THOMAS, 1795-1881; Alexander,
1797-1876; John (Dr. Carlyle, translator of Dante), 1801-1879; and James,
1805-1890; also five daughters, one of whom, Jane, became the wife of her
cousin James Aitken of Dumfries, and the mother of Mary, the niece who
tended her famous uncle so faithfully during the last years of his life.
Nowhere is Carlyle's loyalty to his race shown in a fairer light than in
the first of the papers published under the name of _Reminiscences_.
It differs from the others in being of an early date and free from all
offence. From this pathetic sketch, written when on a visit to London in
1832 he had sudden news of his father's death, we may, even in our brief
space, extract a few passages which throw light on the characters, _i.e._
the points of contact and contrast of the writer and his theme:--

In several respects I consider my father as one of the most interesting
men I have known, ... of perhaps the very largest natural endowment of
any it has been my lot to converse with. None of you will ever forget
that bold glowing style of his, flowing free from his untutored soul,
full of metaphors (though he knew not what a metaphor was), with all
manner of potent words.... Nothing did I ever hear him undertake to
render visible which did not become almost ocularly so. Emphatic I have
heard him beyond all men. In anger he had no need of oaths: his words
were like sharp arrows that smote into the very heart. The fault was that
he exaggerated (which tendency I also inherit), yet in description, and
for the sake chiefly of humorous effect. He was a man of rigid, even
scrupulous veracity.... He was never visited with doubt. The old Theorem
of the Universe was sufficient for him ... he stood a true man, while
his son stands here on the verge of the new.... A virtue he had which
I should learn to imitate: he never spoke of what was disagreeable and
past. His was a healthy mind. He had the most open contempt for all
"clatter."... He was irascible, choleric, and we all dreaded his wrath,
but passion never mastered him.... Man's face he did not fear: God he
always feared. His reverence was, I think, considerably mixed with
fear--rather awe, as of unutterable depths of silence through which
flickered a trembling hope.... Let me learn of him. Let me write my books
as he built his houses, and walk as blamelessly through this shadow
world.... Though genuine and coherent, living and life-giving, he was
nevertheless but half developed. We had all to complain that we durst not
freely love him. His heart seemed as if walled in: he had not the free
means to unbosom himself.... It seemed as if an atmosphere of fear
repelled us from him. To me it was especially so. Till late years I was
ever more or less awed and chilled by him.

James Carlyle has been compared to the father of Burns. The failings of
both leant to virtue's side, in different ways. They were at one in their
integrity, independence, fighting force at stress, and their command of
winged words; but the elder had a softer heart, more love of letters, a
broader spirit; the younger more power to stem adverse tides, he was a
better man of business, made of tougher clay, and a grimmer Calvinist.
"Mr. Lawson," he writes in 1817, "is doing very well, and has given us no
more paraphrases." He seems to have grown more rigid as he aged, under
the narrowing influences of the Covenanting land; but he remained stable
and compact as the Auldgarth Bridge, built with his own hands. James
Carlyle hammered on at Ecclefechan, making in his best year 100, till,
after the first decade of the century, the family migrated to Mainhill,
a bleak farm two miles from Lockerbie, where he so throve by work and
thrift that he left on his death in 1832 about 1000. Strong, rough, and
eminently _straight,_ intolerant of contradiction and ready with words
like blows, his unsympathetic side recalls rather the father of the
Bronts on the wild Yorkshire moor than William Burness by the ingle of
Mount Oliphant. Margaret Carlyle was in theological theory as strict as
her husband, and for a time made more moan over the aberrations of her
favourite son. Like most Scotch mothers of her rank, she had set her
heart on seeing him in a pulpit, from which any other eminence seemed a
fall; but she became, though comparatively illiterate, having only late
in life learnt to write a letter, a student of his books. Over these they
talked, smoking together in old country fashion by the hearth; and she
was to the last proud of the genius which grew in large measure under the
unfailing sunshine of her anxious love.

Book II. of _Sartor_ is an acknowledged fragment of autobiography, mainly
a record of the author's inner life, but with numerous references to
his environment. There is not much to identify the foster parents of
Teufelsdrckh, and the dramatic drollery of the child's advent takes the
place of ancestry: Entepfuhl is obviously Ecclefechan, where the ducks
are paddling in the ditch that has to pass muster for a stream, to-day as
a century gone: the severe frugality which (as in the case of Wordsworth
and Carlyle himself) survived the need for it, is clearly recalled; also
the discipline of the Roman-like domestic law, "In an orderly house,
where the litter of children's sports is hateful, your training is rather
to bear than to do. I was forbid much, wishes in any measure bold I had
to renounce; everywhere a strait bond of obedience inflexibly held me
down. It was not a joyful life, yet ... a wholesome one." The following
oft-quoted passage is characteristic of his early love of nature and the
humorous touches by which he was wont to relieve his fits of sentiment:--

On fine evenings I was wont to carry forth my supper (bread crumb boiled
in milk) and eat it out of doors. On the coping of the wall, which I
could reach by climbing, my porringer was placed: there many a sunset
have I, looking at the distant mountains, consumed, not without relish,
my evening meal. Those hues of gold and azure, that hush of world's
expectation as day died, were still a Hebrew speech for me: nevertheless
I was looking at the fair illumined letters, and had an eye for the

In all that relates to the writer's own education, the Dichtung of
_Sartor_ and the Wahrheit of the _Reminiscences_ are in accord. By
Carlyle's own account, an "insignificant portion" of it "depended on
schools." Like Burns, he was for some years trained in his own parish,
where home influences counted for more than the teaching of not very
competent masters. He soon read eagerly and variously. At the age of
seven he was, by an Inspector of the old order, reported to be "complete
in English." In his tenth year (1805) he was sent to the Grammar School
of Annan, the "Hinterschlag Gymnasium," where his "evil days" began.
Every oversensitive child finds the life of a public school one long
misery. Ordinary boys--those of the Scotch borderland being of the most
savage type--are more brutal than ordinary men; they hate singularity as
the world at first hates originality, and have none of the restraints
which the later semi-civilisation of life imposes. "They obey 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 weak." Young Carlyle was mocked for
his moody ways, laughed at for his love of solitude, and called "Tom the
Tearful" because of his habit of crying. To add much to his discomfort,
he had made a rash promise to his pious mother, who seems, in contrast to
her husband's race, to have adopted non-resistance principles--a promise
to abstain from fighting, provocative of many cuffs till it was well
broken by a hinterschlag, applied to some blustering bully. Nor had he
refuge in the sympathy of his teachers, "hide-bound pedants, who knew
Syntax enough, and of the human soul thus much: that it had a faculty
called Memory, which could be acted on through the muscular integument by
appliance of birch rods." At Annan, however, he acquired a fair knowledge
of Latin and French, the rudiments of algebra, the Greek alphabet, began
to study history, and had his first glimpse of Edward Irving, the bright
prize-taker from Edinburgh, later his Mentor and then life-long friend.
On Thomas's return home it was decided to send him to the University,
despite the cynical warning of one of the village cronies, "Educate a
boy, and he grows up to despise his ignorant parents." "Thou hast not
done so," said old James in after years, "God be thanked for it;" and the
son pays due tribute to the tolerant patience and substantial generosity
of the father: "With a noble faith he launched me forth into a world
which he himself had never been permitted to visit." Carlyle walked
through Moffat all the way to Edinburgh with a senior student, Tom Smail
(who owes to this fact the preservation of his name), with eyes open
to every shade on the moors, as is attested in two passages of the
_Reminiscences_. The boys, as is the fashion still, clubbed together in
cheap lodgings, and Carlyle attended the curriculum from 1809 to 1814.
Comparatively little is known of his college life, which seems to
have been for the majority of Scotch students much as it is now, a
compulsorily frugal life, with too little variety, relaxation, or society
outside Class rooms; and, within them, a constant tug at Science, mental
or physical, at the gateway to dissecting souls or bodies. We infer, from
hints in later conversations and memorials, that Carlyle lived much with
his own fancies, and owed little to any system. He is clearly thinking
of his own youth in his account of Dr. Francia: "Jos must have been a
loose-made tawny creature, much given to taciturn reflection, probably
to crying humours, with fits of vehement ill nature--subject to the
terriblest fits of hypochondria." His explosion in _Sartor,_ "It is my
painful duty to say that out of England and Spain, ours was the worst of
all hitherto discovered Universities," is the first of a long series of
libels on things and persons he did not like. The Scotch capital was
still a literary centre of some original brilliancy, in the light of
the circle of Scott, which followed that of Burns, in the early fame of
Cockburn and of Clerk (Lord Eldin), of the _Quarterly_ and _Edinburgh
Reviews,_ and of the elder Alison. The Chairs of the University were
conspicuously well filled by men of the sedate sort of ability required
from Professors, some of them--conspicuously Brown (the more original if
less "sound" successor of Dugald Stewart), Playfair, and Leslie--rising
to a higher rank. But great Educational Institutions must adapt
themselves to the training of average minds by requirements and
restrictions against which genius always rebels. Biography more than
History repeats itself, and the murmurs of Carlyle are, like those
of Milton, Gibbon, Locke, and Wordsworth, the protests or growls of
irrepressible individuality kicking against the pricks. He was never in
any sense a classic; read Greek with difficulty--Aeschylus and Sophocles
mainly in translations--and while appreciating Tacitus disparaged Horace.
For Scotch Metaphysics, or any logical system, he never cared, and in his
days there was written over the Academic entrances "No Mysticism." He
distinguished himself in Mathematics, and soon found, by his own vaunt,
the _Principia_ of Newton prostrate at his feet: he was a favourite pupil
of Leslie, who escaped the frequent penalty of befriending him, but he
took no prizes: the noise in the class room hindered his answers, and he
said later to Mr. Froude that thoughts only came to him properly when

[Footnote: He went so far as to say in 1847 that "the man who had mastered
the first forty-seven propositions of Euclid stood nearer to God than he
had done before."]

The social leader of a select set of young men in his own rank, by choice
and necessity _integer vitae_, he divided his time between the seclusion
of study and writing letters, in which kind of literature he was perhaps
the most prolific writer of his time. In 1814 Carlyle completed his course
without taking a degree, did some tutorial work, and, in the same year,
accepted the post of Mathematical Usher at Annan as successor to Irving,
who had been translated to Haddington. Still in formal pursuit of the
ministry, though beginning to fight shy of its fences, he went up twice a
year to deliver addresses at the Divinity Hall, one of which, "on the uses
of affliction," was afterwards by himself condemned as flowery; another
was a Latin thesis on the theme, "num detur religio naturalis." The
posthumous publication of some of his writings, e.g. of the fragment of
the novel _Wotton Reinfred_, reconciles us to the loss of those which have
not been recovered.

In the vacations, spent at Mainhill, he began to study German, and
corresponded with his College friends. Many of Carlyle's early letters,
reproduced in the volumes edited by Mr. Charles E. Norton, are written in
that which, according to Voltaire, is the only unpermissible style, "the
tiresome"; and the thought, far from being precocious, is distinctly
commonplace, e.g. the letter to Robert Mitchell on the fall of Napoleon;
or the following to his parents: "There are few things in this world more
valuable than knowledge, and youth is the season for acquiring it"; or
to James Johnstone the trite quotation, "Truly pale death overturns with
impartial foot the hut of the poor man and the palace of the king."
Several are marred by the egotism which in most Scotch peasants of
aspiring talent takes the form of perpetual comparison of themselves
with others; refrains of the ambition against which the writer elsewhere
inveighs as the "kettle tied to the dog's tail." In a note to Thomas
Murray he writes:--

Ever since I have been able to form a wish, the wish of being known
has been the foremost. Oh, Fortune! bestow coronets and crowns and
principalities and purses, and pudding and power, upon the great and
noble and fat ones of the earth. Grant me that, with a heart unyielding
to thy favours and unbending to thy frowns, I may attain to literary

That his critical and literary instincts were yet undeveloped there is
ample proof. Take his comment, at the age of nineteen, on the verses of
Leyden :--

Shout, Britons, for the battle of Assaye,
For that was a day
When we stood in our array
Like the lion's might at bay.

"Can anything be grander?" To Johnstone (who with Mitchell consumes
almost a volume) he writes: "Read Shakespeare. If you have not, then I
desire you read it (_sic_) and tell me what you think of _him_," etc.
Elsewhere the dogmatic summary of Hume's "Essays" illustrates the
lingering eighteenth-century Latinism that had been previously travestied
in the more stilted passages of the letters of Burns. "Many of his
opinions are not to be adopted. How odd does it look to refer all the
modifications of national character to the influence of moral causes.
Might it not be asserted with some plausibility that even those which
he denominates moral causes originate from physical circumstances?" The
whole first volume of this somewhat overexpanded collection overflows
with ebullitions of bile, in comparison with which the misanthropy of
Byron's early romances seems philanthropy, e.g.--

How weary, flat, stale, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this
world. For what are its inhabitants? Its great men and its little, its
fat ones and its lean ... pitiful automatons, despicable Yahoos, yea,
they are altogether an insufferable thing. "O for a lodge in some vast
wilderness, some boundless contiguity of shade, where the scowl of the
purse-proud nabob, the sneer and strut of the coxcomb, the bray of the
ninny and the clodpole might never reach me more!"

On the other hand, there are frequent evidences of the imperial
intrepidity, the matchless industry, and the splendid independence of
the writer. In his twenty-first year Carlyle again succeeded his Annan
predecessor (who seems to have given dissatisfaction by some vagaries of
severity) as mathematical teacher in the main school of Kirkcaldy. The
_Reminiscences_ of Irving's generous reception of his protg present one
of the pleasantest pictures in the records of their friendship. The same
chapter is illustrated by a series of sketches of the scenery of the
east coast rarely rivalled in descriptive literature. It is elsewhere
enlivened, if also defaced, by the earliest examples of the cynical
criticisms of character that make most readers rejoice in having escaped
the author's observation.

During the two years of his residence in Fifeshire, Carlyle encountered
his first romance, in making acquaintance with a well-born young lady,
"by far the brightest and cleverest" of Irving's pupils--Margaret
Gordon--"an acquaintance which might easily have been more" had not
relatives and circumstances intervened. Doubtless Mr. Froude is right in
asserting this lady to have been the original of _Sartor's_ "Blumine";
and in leaving him to marry "Herr Towgood," ultimately governor of Nova
Scotia, she bequeathed, though in antithetical style, advice that attests
her discrimination of character. "Cultivate the milder dispositions of
the heart, subdue the mere extravagant visions of the brain. Genius
will render you great. May virtue render you beloved. Remove the awful
distance between you and other men by kind and gentle manners. Deal
gently with their inferiority, and be convinced that they will respect
you as much and like you more." To this advice, which he never even
tried to take, she adds, happily perhaps for herself, "I give you not my
address, because I dare not promise to see you." In 1818 Carlyle, always
intolerant of work imposed, came to the conclusion that "it were better
to perish than to continue schoolmastering," and left Kirkcaldy, with 90
saved, for Edinburgh, where he lived over three years, taking private
pupils, and trying to enter on his real mission through the gates of
literature--gates constantly barred; for, even in those older days of
laxer competition, obstinate eccentricity unredeemed by any social
advantages led to failure and rebuff. Men with the literary form of
genius highly developed have rarely much endurance of defeat. Carlyle,
even in his best moods, resented real or fancied injuries, and at this
stage of his career complained that he got nothing but vinegar from his
fellows, comparing himself to a worm that trodden on would "turn into a
torpedo." He had begun to be tormented by the dyspepsia, which "gnawed
like a rat" at its life-long tenement, his stomach, and by sleeplessness,
due in part to internal causes, but also to the "Bedlam" noises of men,
machines, and animals, which pestered him in town and country from first
to last. He kept hesitating about his career, tried law, mathematical
teaching, contributions to magazines and dictionaries, everything but
journalism, to which he had a rooted repugnance, and the Church, which he
had definitely abandoned. How far the change in his views may have been
due to his reading of Gibbon, Rousseau, Voltaire, etc., how far to self-
reflection, is uncertain; but he already found himself unable, in any
plain sense, to subscribe to the Westminster Confession or to any
"orthodox" Articles, and equally unable by any philosophical
reconciliation of contraries to write black with white on a ground of
neutral gray.

[Footnote: He refers to Gibbon's _Decline and Fall_ as "of all books the
most impressive on me in my then stage of investigation and state of mind.
His winged sarcasms, so quiet and yet so conclusively transpiercing, were
often admirably potent and illustrative to me."]

Mentally and physically adrift he was midway in the valley of the shadow,
which he represents as "The Everlasting No," and beset by "temptations in
the wilderness." At this crisis he writes, "The biographies of men of
letters are the wretchedest chapters in our history, except perhaps the
Newgate Calendar," a remark that recalls the similar cry of Burns, "There
is not among the martyrologies so rueful a narrative as the lives of the
poets." Carlyle, reverting to this crisis, refers with constant bitterness
to the absence of a popularity which he yet professes to scorn.--I was
entirely unknown in Edinburgh circles; solitary eating my own heart,
misgivings as to whether there shall be presently anything else to eat,
fast losing health, a prey to numerous struggles and miseries ... three
weeks without any kind of sleep, from impossibility to be free of noise,
... wanderings through mazes of doubt, perpetual questions unanswered,

What is this but Byron's cry, "I am not happy," which his afterwards
stern critic compares to the screaming of a meat-jack?

Carlyle carried with him from town to country the same dismal mood.
"Mainhill," says his biographer, "was never a less happy home to him than
it was this summer (1819). He could not conceal the condition of his
mind; and to his family, to whom the truth of their creed was no more a
matter of doubt than the presence of the sun in the sky, he must have
seemed as if possessed."

Returning to Edinburgh in the early winter, he for a time wrote hopefully
about his studies. "The law I find to be a most complicated subject,
yet I like it pretty well. Its great charm in my eyes is that no mean
compliances are requisite for prospering in it." But this strain soon
gave way to a fresh fit of perversity, and we have a record of his
throwing up the cards in one of his most ill-natured notes.

I did read some law books, attend Hume's lectures on Scotch law, and
converse with and question various dull people of the practical sort. But
it and they and the admired lecturing Hume himself appeared to me mere
denizens of the kingdom of dulness, pointing towards nothing but money as
wages for all that bogpool of disgust.

The same year (that of Peterloo) was that of the Radical rising in
Glasgow against the poverty which was the natural aftermath of the great
war, oppressions, half real, half imaginary, of the military force, and
the yeomanry in particular. Carlyle's contribution to the reminiscences
of the time is doubly interesting because written (in the article on
Irving, 1836) from memory, when he had long ceased to be a Radical. A
few sentences suffice to illustrate this phase or stage of his political

A time of great rages and absurd terrors and expectations, a very fierce
Radical and anti-Radical time. Edinburgh, endlessly agitated by it all
around me ... gentry people full of zeal and foolish terror and fury, and
looking _disgustingly busy and important_.... One bleared Sunday morning
I had gone out for my walk. At the Riding-house in Nicolson Street was a
kind of straggly group, with red-coats interspersed. They took their way,
not very dangerous-looking men of war; but there rose from the little
crowd the strangest shout I have heard human throats utter, not very
loud, but it said as plain as words, and with infinitely more emphasis of
sincerity, "May the devil go with you, ye peculiarly contemptible, and
dead to the distresses of your fellow-creatures!" Another morning ... I
met an advocate slightly of my acquaintance hurrying along, musket in
hand, towards the Links, there to be drilled as item of the "gentlemen"
volunteers now afoot. "You should have the like of this," said he,
cheerily patting his musket "Hm, yes; but I haven't yet quite settled on
which side"--which probably he hoped was quiz, though it really expressed
my feeling ... mutiny and revolt being a light matter to the young.

This period is illustrated by numerous letters from Irving, who had
migrated to Glasgow as an assistant to Dr. Chalmers, abounding in sound
counsels to persevere in some profession and make the best of practical
opportunities. Carlyle's answers have in no instance been preserved, but
the sole trace of his having been influenced by his friend's advice is his
contribution (1820-1823) of sixteen articles to the _Edinburgh
Encyclopedia_ under the editorship of Sir David Brewster. The scant
remuneration obtained from these was well timed, but they contain no
original matter, and did nothing for his fame. Meanwhile it appears from
one of Irving's letters that Carlyle's thoughts had been, as later in his
early London life, turning towards emigration. He says, writes his friend,
"I have the ends of my thoughts to bring together ... my views of life to
reform, my health to recover, and then once more I shall venture my bark
on the waters of this wide realm, and if she cannot weather it I shall
steer west and try the waters of another world."

[Footnote: The subjects of these were--Lady Mary Wortley Montagu,
Montaigne, Montesquieu, Montfaucon, Dr. Moore, Sir John Moore, Necker,
Nelson, Netherlands, Newfoundland, Norfolk, Northamptonshire,
Northumberland, Mungo Park, Lord Chatham, William Pitt. These articles, on
the whole judiciously omitted from the author's collected works, are
characterised by marks of great industry, commonplace, and general
fairness, with a style singularly formal, like that of the less im
pressive pages of Johnson. The following, among numerous passages, are
curious as illustrating the comparative orthodoxy of the writer's early
judgments: "The brilliant hints which Montesquieu scatters round him with
a liberal hand have excited or assisted the speculations of others in
almost every department of political economy, and he is deservedly
mentioned as a principal founder of that important science." "Mirabeau
confronted him (Necker) like his evil genius; and being totally without
scruple in the employment of any expedient, was but too successful in
overthrowing all reasonable proposals, and conducting the people to that
state of anarchy out of which his own ambition was to be rewarded," etc.
Similarly the verdicts on Pitt, Chatham, Nelson, Park, Lady Montagu, etc.,
are those of an ordinary intelligent Englishman of conscientious research,
fed on the "Lives of the Poets" and Trafalgar memories. The morality, as
in the Essay on Montaigne, is unexceptionable; the following would commend
itself to any boarding school: "Melancholy experience has never ceased to
show that great warlike talents, like great talents of any kind, may be
united with a coarse and ignoble heart."]

The resolves, sometimes the efforts, of celebrated Englishmen,--"nos manet
oceanus,"--as Cromwell, Burns, Coleridge, and Southey (allured, some
critic suggests, by the poetical sound of Susquehanna), Arthur Clough,
Richard Hengist Horne, and Browning's "Waring," to elude "the fever and
the fret" of an old civilisation, and take refuge in the fancied freedom
of wild lands--when more than dreams--have been failures.

[Footnote: Cf. the American Bryant himself, in his longing to leave his
New York Press and "plant him where the red deer feed, in the green
forest," to lead the life of Robin Hood and Shakespeare's banished Duke.]

Puritan patriots, it is true, made New England, and the scions of the
Cavaliers Virginia; but no poet or imaginative writer has ever been
successfully transplanted, with the dubious exception of Heinrich Heine.
It is certain that, despite his first warm recognition coming from across
the Atlantic, the author of the _Latter-Day Pamphlets_ would have found
the "States" more fruitful in food for cursing than either Edinburgh or

The spring of 1820 was marked by a memorable visit to Irving, on
Carlyle's way to spend as was his wont the summer months at home. His
few days in Glasgow are recorded in a graphic sketch of the bald-headed
merchants at the Tontine, and an account of his introduction to Dr.
Chalmers, to whom he refers always with admiration and a respect but
slightly modified. The critic's praise of British contemporaries, other
than relatives, is so rare that the following sentences are worth

He (Chalmers) was a man of much natural dignity, ingenuity, honesty, and
kind affection, as well as sound intellect and imagination.... He had a
burst of genuine fun too.... His laugh was ever a hearty, low guffaw,
and his tones in preaching would reach to the piercingly pathetic. No
preacher ever went so into one's heart. He was a man essentially of
little culture, of narrow sphere all his life. Such an intellect,
professing to be educated, and yet ... ignorant in all that lies beyond
the horizon in place or time I have almost nowhere met with--a man
capable of so much soaking indolence, lazy brooding ... as the first
stage of his life well indicated, ... yet capable of impetuous activity
and braying audacity, as his later years showed. I suppose there will
never again be such a preacher in any Christian church. "The truth of
Christianity," he said, "was all written in us already in sympathetic
ink. Bible awakens it, and you can read"--a sympathetic image but of no
great weight as an argument addressed to doubting Thomas. Chalmers, whose
originality lay rather in his quick insight and fire than in his mainly
commonplace thought, had the credit of recognising the religious side of
Carlyle's genius, when to the mass of his countrymen he was a rock of
offence. One of the great preacher's criticisms of the great writer is
notably just: "He is a lover of earnestness more than a lover of truth."

There follows in some of the early pages of the _Reminiscences_ an
account of a long walk with Irving, who had arranged to accompany Carlyle
for the first stage, _i.e._ fifteen miles of the road, of his for the
most part pedestrian march from Glasgow to Ecclefechan, a record among
many of similar excursions over dales and hills, and "by the beached
margent," revived for us in sun and shade by a pen almost as magical as
Turner's brush. We must refer to the pages of Mr. Froude for the
picture of Drumclog moss,--"a good place for Cameronian preaching, and
dangerously difficult for Claverse _(sic)_ and horse soldiery if the
suffering remnant had a few old muskets among them,"--for the graphic
glimpse of Ailsa Craig, and the talk by the dry stone fence, in the
twilight. "It was just here, as the sun was sinking, Irving drew from
me by degrees, in the softest manner, that I did not think as he of the
Christian religion, and that it was vain for me to expect I ever could or
should. This, if this was so, he had pre-engaged to take well of me, like
an elder brother, if I would be frank with him. And right loyally he did
so." They parted here: Carlyle trudged on to the then "utterly quiet
little inn" at Muirkirk, left next morning at 4 A.M., and reached
Dumfries, a distance of fifty-four miles, at 8 P.M., "the longest walk I
ever made." He spent the summer at Mainhill, studying modern
languages, "living riotously with Schiller and Goethe." at work on the
_Encyclopedia_ articles, and visiting his friend at Annan, when he was
offered the post of tutor to the son of a Yorkshire farmer, an offer
which Irving urged him to accept, saying, "You live too much in an ideal
world," and wisely adding, "try your hand with the respectable illiterate
men of middle life. You may be taught to forget ... the splendours and
envies ... of men of literature."

This exhortation led to a result recorded with much humour, egotism, and
arrogance in a letter to his intimate friend Dr. John Fergusson, of Kelso
Grammar School, which, despite the mark "private and confidential," was
yet published, several years after the death of the recipient and shortly
after that of the writer, in a gossiping memoir. We are therefore at
liberty to select from the letter the following paragraphs:--

I delayed sending an answer till I might have it in my power
to communicate what seemed then likely to produce a
considerable change in my stile (_sic_) of life, a
proposal to become a "travelling tutor," as they call it, to
a young person in the North Riding, for whom that exercise
was recommended on account of bodily and mental weakness.
They offered me 150 per annum, and withal invited me to
come and examine things on the spot before engaging. I went
accordingly, and happy was it I went; from description I was
ready to accept the place; from inspection all Earndale
would not have hired me to accept it. This boy was a dotard,
a semi-vegetable, the elder brother, head of the family, a
two-legged animal without feathers, intellect, or virtue,
and all the connections seemed to have the power of eating
pudding but no higher power. So I left the barbarous
people....York is but a heap of bricks. Jonathan Dryasdust
(see _Ivanhoe_) is justly named. York is the Boetia of
Britain.... Upon the whole, however, I derived great
amusement from my journey, ... I conversed with all kinds of
men, from graziers up to knights of the shire, argued with
them all, and broke specimens from their souls (if any),
which I retain within the museum of my cranium. I have no
prospects that are worth the name. I am like a being thrown
from another planet on this dark terrestrial ball, an alien,
a pilgrim ... and life is to me like a pathless, a waste,
and a howling wilderness. Do not leave your situation if
you can possibly avoid it. Experience shows it to be a
fearful thing to be swept in by the roaring surge of life,
and then to float alone undirected on its restless,
monstrous bosom. Keep ashore while yet you may, or if you
must to sea, sail under convoy; trust not the waves without
a guide. You and I are but pinnaces or cock-boats, yet hold
fast by the Manilla ship, _and do not let go the painter_.

Towards the close of this year Irving, alarmed by his friend's
despondency, sent him a most generous and delicately-worded invitation to
spend some months under his roof; but Carlyle declined, and in a letter
of March 1821 he writes to his brother John: "Edinburgh, with all its
drawbacks, is the only scene for me," on which follows one of his finest
descriptions, that of the view from Arthur Seat.

According to the most probable chronology, for many of Carlyle's dates
are hard to fix, the next important event of his life, his being
introduced, on occasion of a visit to Haddington, to Miss Jane Welsh by
her old tutor, Edward Irving--an event which marks the beginning of a new
era in his career--took place towards the close of May or in the first
week of June. To June is assigned the incident, described in _Sartor_ as
the transition from the Everlasting No to the Everlasting Yea, a sort of
revelation that came upon him as he was in Leith Walk--Rue St. Thomas de
l'Enfer in the Romance--on the way to cool his distempers by a plunge in
the sea. The passage proclaiming this has been everywhere quoted; and it
is only essential to note that it resembled the "illuminations" of St.
Paul and of Constantine merely by its being a sudden spiritual impulse.
It was in no sense a conversion to any belief in person or creed, it was
but the assertion of a strong manhood against an almost suicidal mood
of despair; a condition set forth with superabundant paraphernalia of
eloquence easily condensed. Doubt in the mind of Teufelsdrckh had
darkened into disbelief in divine or human justice, freedom, or himself.
If there be a God, He sits on the hills "since the first Sabbath,"
careless of mankind. Duty seems to be but a "phantasm made up of desire
and fear"; virtue "some bubble of the blood," absence of vitality

What in these days are terrors of conscience to diseases of the liver?
Not on morality but on cookery let us build our stronghold.... Thus has
the bewildered wanderer to stand, shouting question after question into
the Sibyl cave, and receiving for answer an echo.

From this scepticism, deeper than that of _Queen Mab,_ fiercer than that
of _Candide,_ Carlyle was dramatically rescued by the sense that he was a
servant of God, even when doubting His existence.

After all the nameless woe that inquiry had wrought me,
I nevertheless still loved truth, and would hate no jot of my
allegiance....Truth I cried, though the heavens crush me
for following her; no falsehood! though a whole celestial lubberland
were the price of apostacy.

With a grasp on this rock, Carlyle springs from the slough of despond and
asserts himself:

Denn ich bin ein Mensch gewesen
Und das heisst ein Kmpfer seyn.

He finds in persistent action, energy, and courage a present strength,
and a lamp of at least such partial victory as he lived to achieve.

He would not make his judgment blind;
He faced the spectres of the mind,--

but he never "laid them," or came near the serenity of his master,
Goethe; and his teaching, public and private, remained half a wail. He
threw the gage rather in the attitude of a man turning at bay than that of
one making a leap.

Death? Well, Death ... let it come then, and I will
meet it and defy it. And as so I thought there rushed a stream
of fire over my soul, and I shook base fear away. Ever from
that time the temper of my misery was changed; not ...
whining sorrow ... but grim defiance.

Yet the misery remained, for two years later we find him writing:--

I could read the curse of Ernulphus, or something twenty times as fierce,
upon myself and all things earthly....The year is closing. This time
eight and twenty years I was a child of three weeks ago....

Oh! little did my mother think,
That day she cradled me,
The lands that I should travel in,
The death I was to dee.

My curse seems deeper and blacker than that of any man: to be immured in
a rotten carcase, every avenue of which is changed into an inlet of pain.
How have I deserved this? I know not. Then why don't you kill yourself,
sir? Is there not arsenic? Is there not ratsbane of various kinds? And
hemp, and steel? Most true, Sathanas...but it will be time enough to
use them when I have _lost_ the game I am but _losing_, ... and while
my friends, my mother, father, brothers, sisters live, the duty of not
breaking their hearts would still remain....I want health, health,
health! On this subject I am becoming quite furious: my torments are
greater than I am able to bear.

Nowhere in Carlyle's writing, save on the surface, is there any excess of
Optimism; but after the Leith Walk inspiration he had resolved on "no
surrender"; and that, henceforth, he had better heart in his work we have
proof in its more regular, if not more rapid progress. His last hack
service was the series of articles for Brewster, unless we add a
translation, under the same auspices, of Legendre's Geometry, begun,
according to some reports, in the Kirkcaldy period, finished in 1822,
and published in 1824. For this task, prefixed by an original _Essay on
Proportion_, much commended by De Morgan, he obtained the respectable sum
of 50. Two subsequent candidatures for Chairs of Astronomy showed that
Carlyle had not lost his taste for Mathematics; but this work was his
practical farewell to that science. His first sustained efforts as an
author were those of an interpreter. His complete mastery of German has
been said to have endowed him with "his sword of sharpness and shoes of
swiftness"; it may be added, in some instances also, with the "fog-cap."
But in his earliest substantial volume, the _Life of Schiller_, there is
nothing either obscure in style or mystic in thought. This work began to
appear in the _London Magazine_ in 1823, was finished in 1824, and in
1825 published in a separate form. Approved during its progress by an
encouraging article in the _Times_, it was, in 1830, translated into
German on the instigation of Goethe, who introduced the work by an
important commendatory preface, and so first brought the author's name
conspicuously before a continental public. Carlyle himself, partly
perhaps from the spirit of contradiction, was inclined to speak
slightingly of this high-toned and sympathetic biography: "It is," said
he, "in the wrong vein, laborious, partly affected, meagre, bombastic."
But these are sentences of a morbid time, when, for want of other
victims, he turned and rent himself. _Pari passu_, he was toiling at his
translation of _Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship_. This was published in
Edinburgh in 1824. Heartily commended in _Blackwood_, it was generally
recognised as one of the best English renderings of any foreign author;
and Jeffrey, in his absurd review of Goethe's great prose drama, speaks
in high terms of the skill displayed by the translator. The virulent
attack of De Quincey--a writer as unreliable as brilliant--in the _London
Magazine_ does not seem to have carried much weight even then, and has
none now. The _Wanderjahre_, constituting the third volume of the English
edition, first appeared as the last of four on German Romance--a series
of admirably selected and executed translations from Musus, Fouqu,
Tieck, Hoffmann, Richter, and Goethe, prefaced by short biographical and
critical notices of each--published in Edinburgh in 1827. This date is
also that of the first of the more elaborate and extensive criticisms
which, appearing in the Edinburgh and Foreign reviews, established
Carlyle as the English pioneer of German literature. The result of these
works would have been enough to drive the wolf from the door and to
render their author independent of the oatmeal from home; while another
source of revenue enabled him not only to keep himself, but to settle
his brother Alick in a farm, and to support John through his University
course as a medical student. This and similar services to the family
circle were rendered with gracious disclaimers of obligation. "What any
brethren of our father's house possess, I look on as a common stock from
which all are entitled to draw."

For this good fortune he was again indebted to his friend of friends.
Irving had begun to feel his position at Glasgow unsatisfactory, and
at the close of 1821 he was induced to accept an appointment to the
Caledonian Chapel at Hatton Garden. On migrating to London, to make a
greater, if not a safer, name in the central city, and finally, be lost
in its vortex, he had invited Carlyle to follow him, saying, "Scotland
breeds men, but England rears them." Shortly after, introduced by Mrs.
Strachey, one of his worshipping audience, to her sister Mrs. Buller, he
found the latter in trouble about the education of her sons. Charles, the
elder, was a youth of bright but restive intelligence, and it was desired
to find some transitional training for him on his way from Harrow to
Cambridge. Irving urged his being placed, in the interim, under Carlyle's
charge. The proposal, with an offer of 200 a year, was accepted, and the
brothers were soon duly installed in George Square, while their tutor
remained in Moray Place, Edinburgh. The early stages of this relationship
were eminently satisfactory; Carlyle wrote that the teaching of the
Bullers was a pleasure rather than a task; they seemed to him "quite
another set of boys than I have been used to, and treat me in another
sort of manner than tutors are used. The eldest is one of the cleverest
boys I have ever seen." There was never any jar between the teacher and
the taught. Carlyle speaks with unfailing regard of the favourite pupil,
whose brilliant University and Parliamentary career bore testimony to the
good practical guidance he had received. His premature death at the
entrance on a sphere of wider influence made a serious blank in his old
master's life.

[Footnote: Charles Buller became Carlyle's pupil at the age of fifteen.
He died as Commissioner of the Poor in 1848 (_aet_. forty-two).]

But as regards the relation of the employer and employed, we are wearied
by the constantly recurring record of kindness lavishly bestowed,
ungraciously received, and soon ungratefully forgotten. The elder
Bullers--the mother a former beauty and woman of some brilliancy, the
father a solid and courteous gentleman retired from the Anglo-Indian
service--came to Edinburgh in the spring of the tutorship, and
recognising Carlyle's abilities, welcomed him to the family circle, and
treated him, by his own confession, with a "degree of respect" he "did
not deserve"; adapting their arrangements, as far as possible, to his
hours and habits; consulting his convenience and humouring his whims.
Early in 1823 they went to live together at Kinnaird House, near Dunkeld,
when he continued to write letters to his kin still praising his patrons;
but the first note of discord is soon struck in satirical references to
their aristocratic friends and querulous complaints of the servants.
During the winter, for greater quiet, a room was assigned to him in
another house near Kinnaird; a consideration which met with the award:
"My bower is the most polite of bowers, refusing admittance to no wind
that blows." And about this same time he wrote, growling at his fare: "It
is clear to me that I shall never recover my health under the economy of
Mrs. Buller."

In 1824 the family returned to London, and Carlyle followed in June by
a sailing yacht from Leith. On arrival he sent to Miss Welsh a letter,
sneering at his fellow passengers, but ending with a striking picture of
his first impressions of the capital:--

We were winding slowly through the forest of masts in the
Thames up to our station at Tower Wharf. The giant bustle,
the coal heavers, the bargemen, the black buildings, the ten
thousand times ten thousand sounds and movements of that
monstrous harbour formed the grandest object I had ever
witnessed. One man seems a drop in the ocean; you feel
annihilated in the immensity of that heart of all the world.

On reaching London he first stayed for two or three weeks under Irving's
roof and was introduced to his friends. Of Mrs. Strachey and her young
cousin Kitty, who seems to have run the risk of admiring him to excess,
he always spoke well: but the Basil Montagues, to whose hospitality and
friendship he was made welcome, he has maligned in such a manner as to
justify the retaliatory pamphlet of the sharp-tongued eldest daughter
of the house, then about to become Mrs. Anne Procter. By letter and
"reminiscence" he is equally reckless in invective against almost all the
eminent men of letters with whom he then came in contact, and also,
in most cases, in ridicule of their wives. His accounts of Hazlitt,
Campbell, and Coleridge have just enough truth to give edge to libels, in
some cases perhaps whetted by the consciousness of their being
addressed to a sympathetic listener: but it is his frequent travesty of
well-wishers and creditors for kindness that has left the deepest stain
on his memory. Settled with his pupil Charles in Kew Green lodgings he
writes: "The Bullers are essentially a cold race of people. They live in
the midst of fashion and external show. They love no living creature."
And a fortnight later, from Irving's house at Pentonville, he sends to
his mother an account of his self-dismissal. Mrs. Buller had offered him
two alternatives--to go with the family to France or to remain in the
country preparing the eldest boy for Cambridge. He declined both, and
they parted, shaking hands with dry eyes. "I feel glad," he adds in a
sentence that recalls the worst egotism of Coleridge, "that I have done
with them ... I was selling the very quintessence of my spirit for 200 a

[Footnote: _Vide_ Carlyle's _Life of Sterling_ (1st ed. 1851), chap. viii.
p. 79.]

There followed eight weeks of residence in or about Birmingham, with a
friend called 'Badams, who undertook to cure dyspepsia by a new method
and failed without being reviled. Together, and in company with others,
as the astronomer Airy, they saw the black country and the toiling
squads, in whom Carlyle, through all his shifts from radical democracy to
Platonic autocracy, continued to take a deep interest; on other days
they had pleasant excursions to the green fields and old towers of
Warwickshire. On occasion of this visit he came in contact with De
Quincey's review of _Meister_, and in recounting the event credits
himself with the philosophic thought, "This man is perhaps right on some
points; if so let him be admonitory."

But the description that follows of "the child that has been in hell,"
however just, is less magnanimous. Then came a trip, in company with Mr.
Strachey and Kitty and maid, by Dover and Calais along Sterne's route to
Paris, "The Vanity Fair of the Universe," where Louis XVIII. was then
lying dead in state. Carlyle's comments are mainly acid remarks on the
Palais Royal, with the refrain, "God bless the narrow seas." But he met
Legendre and Laplace, heard Cuvier lecture and saw Talma act, and, what
was of more moment, had his first glimpse of the Continent and the city
of one phase of whose history he was to be the most brilliant recorder.
Back in London for the winter, where his time was divided between
Irving's house and his own neighbouring room in Southampton Street,
he was cheered by Goethe's own acknowledgment of the translation of
_Meister_, characteristically and generously cordial.

In March 1825 Carlyle again set his face northward, and travelling by
coach through Birmingham, Manchester, Bolton, and Carlisle, established
himself, in May, at Hoddam Hill; a farm near the Solway, three miles from
Mainhill, which his father had leased for him. His brother Alexander
farmed, while Thomas toiled on at German translations and rode about on
horseback. For a space, one of the few contented periods of his life,
there is a truce to complaining. Here free from the noises which are the
pests of literary life, he was building up his character and forming the
opinions which, with few material changes, he long continued to hold.
Thus he writes from over a distance of forty years :--

With all its manifold petty troubles, this year at Hoddam
Hill has a rustic beauty and dignity to me, and lies now
like a not ignoble russet-coated idyll in my memory; one of
the quietest on the whole, and perhaps the most triumphantly
important of my life.... I found that I had conquered all my
scepticisms, agonising doubtings, fearful wrestlings with
the foul and vile and soul-murdering mud-gods of my epoch,
and was emerging free in spirit into the eternal blue of
ether. I had in effect gained an immense victory.... Once
more, thank Heaven for its highest gift, I then felt and
still feel endlessly indebted to Goethe in the business. He,
in his fashion, I perceived, had travelled the steep road
before me, the first of the moderns. Bodily health itself
seemed improving.... Nowhere can I recollect of myself such
pious musings, communings silent and spontaneous with Fact
and Nature as in these poor Annandale localities. The sound
of the Kirk bell once or twice on Sunday mornings from
Hoddam Kirk, about a mile off on the plain below me, was
strangely touching, like the departing voice of eighteen
hundred years.

Elsewhere, during one of the rare gleams of sunshine in a life of lurid
storms, we have the expression of his passionate independence, his
tyrannous love of liberty:--

It is inexpressible what an increase of happiness and of
consciousness--of inward dignity--I have gained since I came
within the walls of this poor cottage--my own four walls.
They simply admit that I am _Herr im Hause_, and act on
this conviction. There is no grumbling about my habitudes
and whims. If I choose to dine on fire and brimstone, they
will cook it for me to their best skill, thinking only that
I am an unintelligible mortal, _fcheux_ to deal with,
but not to be dealt with in any other way. My own four walls.

The last words form the refrain of a set of verses, the most
characteristic, as Mr. Froude justly observes, of the writer, the actual
composition of which seems, however, to belong to the next chapter of his
career, beginning--

Wild through the wind the huntsman calls,
As fast on willing nag I haste
Home to my own four walls.

The feeling that inspires them is clenched in the defiance--

King George has palaces of pride,
And armed grooms must ward those halls;
With one stout bolt I safe abide
Within my own four walls.

Not all his men may sever this;
It yields to friends', not monarchs' calls;
My whinstone house my castle is--
I have my own four walls.

When fools or knaves do make a rout,
With gigmen, dinners, balls, cabals,
I turn my back and shut them out;
These are my own four walls.




"Ah, when she was young, she was a fleein', dancin", light-heartit thing,
Jeannie Welsh, that naething would hae dauntit. But she grew grave a' at
ance. There was Maister Irving, ye ken, that had been her teacher; and
he cam' aboot her. Then there was Maister ----. Then there was Maister
Carlyle himsel', and _he_ cam' to finish her off like."--HADDINGTON

"My broom, as I sweep up the withered leaves, might be heard at a
furlong's distance."--T. CARLYLE, from Craigenputtock, Oct. 1830.

During the last days at Hoddam Hill, Carlyle was on the verge of a crisis
of his career, _i.e._ his making a marriage, for the chequered fortune of
which he was greatly himself to blame.

No biography can ignore the strange conditions of a domestic life,
already made familiar in so many records that they are past evasion.
Various opinions have been held regarding the lady whom he selected to
share his lot. Any adequate estimate of this remarkable woman belongs to
an account of her own career, such as that given by Mrs. Ireland in her
judicious and interesting abridgment of the material amply supplied. Jane
Baillie Welsh (_b.1801, d. 1866_)--descended on the paternal side from
Elizabeth, the youngest daughter of John Knox; on the maternal owning to
an inheritance of gipsy blood--belonged to a family long esteemed
in the borders. Her father, a distinguished Edinburgh student, and
afterwards eminent surgeon at Haddington, noted alike for his humanity
and skill, made a small fortune, and purchased in advance from his father
his inheritance of Craigenputtock, a remnant of the once larger family
estate. He died in 1819, when his daughter was in her eighteenth year. To
her he left the now world-famous farm and the bulk of his property. Jane,
of precocious talents, seems to have been, almost from infancy, the
tyrant of the house at Haddington, where her people took a place of
precedence in the small county town. Her grandfathers, John of
Penfillan and Walter of Templand, also a Welsh, though of another--the
gipsy--stock, vied for her baby favours, while her mother's quick and
shifty tempers seem at that date to have combined in the process of
"spoiling" her. The records of the schooldays of the juvenile Jane all
point to a somewhat masculine strength of character. Through life,
it must be acknowledged, this brilliant creature was essentially "a
mockingbird," and made game of every one till she met her mate. The
little lady was learned, reading Virgil at nine, ambitious enough to
venture a tragedy at fourteen, and cynical; writing to her life-long
friend, Miss Eliza Stodart, of Haddington as a "bottomless pit of
dulness," where "all my little world lay glittering in tinsel at my
feet." She was ruthless to the suitors--as numerous, says Mr. Froude,
"as those of Penelope "--who flocked about the young beauty, wit, and
heiress. Of the discarded rivals there was only one of note--George
Rennie, long afterwards referred to by Carlyle as a "clever, decisive,
very ambitious, but quite unmelodious young fellow whom we knew here (in
Chelsea) as sculptor and M.P." She dismissed him in 1821 for some cause
of displeasure, "due to pride, reserve, and his soured temper about the
world"; but when he came to take leave, she confesses, "I scarcely heard
a word he said, my own heart beat so loud." Years after, in London, she
went by request of his wife to Rennie's death-bed.

Meanwhile she had fallen under the spell of her tutor, Edward Irving,
and, as she, after much _finesse_ and evasion, admitted, came to love him
in earnest. Irving saw her weak points, saying she was apt to turn
her powers to "arts of cruelty which satire and scorn are," and "to
contemplate the inferiority of others rather from the point of view
of ridicule and contempt than of commiseration and relief." Later she
retaliated, "There would have been no 'tongues' had Irving married me."
But he was fettered by a previous engagement, to which, after some
struggle for release, he held, leaving in charge of his pupil, as guide,
philosopher, and friend, his old ally and successor, Thomas Carlyle.
Between this exceptional pair there began in 1821 a relationship of
constant growth in intimacy, marked by frequent visits, conversations,
confidences, and a correspondence, long, full, and varied, starting with
interchange of literary sympathies, and sliding by degrees into the
dangerous friendship called Platonic. At the outset it was plain that
Carlyle was not the St. Preux or Wolmar whose ideas of elegance Jane
Welsh--a hasty student of Rousseau--had set in unhappy contrast to the
honest young swains of Haddington. Uncouth, ungainly in manner and
attire, he first excited her ridicule even more than he attracted her
esteem, and her written descriptions of him recall that of Johnson by
Lord Chesterfield. "He scrapes the fender, ... only his tongue should be
left at liberty, his other members are most fantastically awkward"; but
the poor mocking-bird had met her fate. The correspondence falls under
two sections, the critical and the personal. The critical consists of
remarks, good, bad, and indifferent, on books and their writers. Carlyle
began his siege by talking German to her, now extolling Schiller and
Goethe to the skies, now, with a rare stretch of deference, half
conniving at her sneers. Much also passed between them about English
authors, among them comments on Byron, notably inconsistent. Of him
Carlyle writes (April 15th 1824) as "a pampered lord," who would care
nothing for the 500 a year that would make an honest man happy; but
later, on hearing of the death at Mesolonghi, more in the vein of his
master Goethe, he exclaims:--

Alas, poor Byron! the news of his death came upon me like
a mass of lead; and yet the thought of it sends a painful
twinge through all my being, as if I had lost a brother. O
God! that so many souls of mud and clay should fill up
their base existence to the utmost bound; and this, the
noblest spirit in Europe, should sink before half his course
was run.... Late so full of fire and generous passion and
proud purposes, and now for ever dumb and cold.... Had he
been spared to the age of threescore and ten what might he
not have been! what might he not have been! ... I dreamed of
seeing him and knowing him; but ... we shall go to him, he
shall not return to us.

This in answer to her account of the same intelligence: "I was told it
all alone in a room full of people. If they had said the sun or the moon
was gone out of the heavens, it could not have struck me with the idea of
a more awful and dreary blank in the creation than the words 'Byron is
dead.'" Other letters of the same period, from London, are studded or
disfigured by the incisive ill-natured sarcasms above referred to, or
they relate to the work and prospects of the writer. Those that bear
on the progress of his suit mark it as the strangest and, when we look
before and after, one of the saddest courtships in literary history. As
early as 1822 Carlyle entertained the idea of making Jane Welsh his wife;
she had begun to yield to the fascinations of his speech--a fascination
akin to that of Burns--when she wrote, "I will be happier contemplating
my beau-ideal than a real, substantial, eating, drinking, sleeping,
honest husband." In 1823 they were half-declared lovers, but there were
recalcitrant fits on both sides. On occasion of a meeting at Edinburgh
there was a quarrel, followed by a note of repentance, in which she
confessed, "Nothing short of a devil could have tempted me to torment
you and myself as I did on that unblessed day." Somewhat earlier she had
written in answer to his first distinct avowal, "My friend, I love you.
But were you my brother I should love you the same. No. Your friend I
will be ... while I breathe the breath of life; but your wife never,
though you were as rich as Croesus, as honoured and renowned as you yet
shall be." To which Carlyle answered with characteristic pride, "I have
no idea of dying in the Arcadian shepherd's style for the disappointment
of hopes which I never seriously entertained, and had no right to
entertain seriously." There was indeed nothing of Corydon and Phyllis in
this struggle of two strong wills, the weaker giving way to the stronger,
the gradual but inexorable closing of an iron ring. Backed by the natural
repugnance of her mother to the match, Miss Welsh still rebelled, bracing
herself with the reflection, "Men and women may be very charming without
having any genius;" and to his renewed appeal (1825), "It lies with
you whether I shall be a right man or only a hard and bitter Stoic,"
retorting, "I am not in love with you ... my affections are in a state of
perfect tranquillity." But she admitted he was her "only fellowship and
support," and confiding at length the truth about Irving, surrendered in
the words, "Decide, and woe to me if your reason be your judge and not
your love." In this duel of Puck and Theseus, the latter felt he had won
and pressed his advantage, offering to let her free and adding warnings
to the blind, "Without great sacrifices on both sides, the possibility
of our union is an empty dream." At the eleventh hour, when, in her own
words, she was "married past redemption," he wrote, "If you judge fit, I
will take you to my heart this very week. If you judge fit, I will this
very week forswear you for ever;" and replied to her request that her
widowed mother might live under their wedded roof in terms that might
have become Petruchio: "It may be stated in a word. The man should bear
rule in the house, not the woman. This is an eternal axiom, the law of
nature which no mortal departs from unpunished. . . . Will your mother
consent to make me her guardian and director, and be a second wife to her
daughter's husband!"

Was ever woman in this humour woo'd,
Was ever woman in this humour won?

Miss Welsh at length reluctantly agreed to come to start life at
Scotsbrig, where his family had migrated; but Carlyle pushed another
counter: "Your mother must not visit mine: the mere idea of such a visit
argued too plainly that you _knew nothing_ of the family circle in which
for my sake you were willing to take a place." It being agreed that Mrs.
Welsh was to leave Haddington, where the alliance was palpably unpopular,
Carlyle proposed to begin married life in his mother-in-law's vacant
house, saying in effect to his fiance that as for intrusive visitors he
had "nerve enough" to kick her old friends out of doors. At this point,
however, her complaisance had reached its limit. The bridegroom-elect had
to soothe his sense of partial retreat by a scolding letter. As regards
difficulties of finance he pointed out that he had 200 to start with,
and that a labourer and his wife had been known to live on 14 a year.

On the edge of the great change in her life, Jane Welsh writes, "I am
resolved in spirit, in the face of every horrible fate," and says she has
decided to put off mourning for her father, having found a second father.
Carlyle proposed that after the "dreaded ceremony" he and his bride and
his brother John should travel together by the stage-coach from Dumfries
to Edinburgh. In "the last dying speech and marrying words" she objects
to this arrangement, and after the event (October 17th 1826) they drove
in a post-chaise to 21 Comely Bank, where Mrs. Welsh, now herself settled
at Templand, had furnished a house for them. Meanwhile the Carlyle family
migrated to Scotsbrig. There followed eighteen comparatively tranquil
months, an oasis in the wilderness, where the anomalous pair lived in
some respects like other people. They had seats in church, and social
gatherings--Wednesday "At Homes," to which the celebrity of their
brilliant conversational powers attracted the brightest spirits of the
northern capital, among them Sir William Hamilton, Sir David Browster,
John Wilson, De Quincey, forgiven for his review, and above all Jeffrey,
a friend, though of opposite character, nearly as true as Irving himself.
Procter had introduced Carlyle to the famous editor, who, as a Scotch
cousin of the Welshes, took from the first a keen interest in the still
struggling author, and opened to him the door of the _Edinburgh Review_.
The appearance, of the article on _Richter_, 1827, and that, in the
course of the same year, on _The State of German Literature,_ marks
the beginning of a long series of splendid historical and critical
essays--closing in 1855 with the _Prinzenraub_--which set Carlyle in the
front of the reviewers of the century. The success in the _Edinburgh_
was an "open sesame;" and the conductors of the _Foreign_ and _Foreign
Quarterly_ Reviews, later, those of _Fraser_ and the _Westminster_, were
ready to receive whatever the new writer might choose to send.

To the _Foreign Review_ he contributed from Comely Bank the _Life and
Writings of Werner_, a paper on _Helena_, the leading episode of the
second part of "Faust," and the first of the two great Essays on
_Goethe_, which fixed his place as the interpreter of Germany to England.
In midsummer 1827 Carlyle received a letter from Goethe cordially
acknowledging the _Life of Schiller_, and enclosing presents of books for
himself and his wife. This, followed by a later inquiry as to the
author of the article on _German Literature_, was the opening of a
correspondence of sage advice on the one side and of lively gratitude
on the other, that lasted till the death of the veteran in 1832. Goethe
assisted, or tried to assist, his admirer by giving him a testimonial in
a candidature for the Chair (vacant by the promotion of Dr. Chalmers) of
Moral Philosophy at St. Andrews. Jeffrey, a frequent visitor and host
of the Carlyles, still regarded as "a jewel of advocates ... the most
lovable of little men," urged and aided the canvass, but in vain. The
testimonials were too strong to be judicious, and "it was enough that"
the candidate "was described as a man of original and extraordinary gifts
to make college patrons shrink from contact with him." Another failure,
about the same date and with the same backing, was an application for a
Professorship in London University, practically under the patronage of
Brougham; yet another, of a different kind, was Carlyle's attempt
to write a novel, which having been found--better before than after
publication--to be a failure, was for the most part burnt. "He could
not," says Froude, "write a novel any more than he could write poetry. He
had no _invention._"

[Footnote: Carlyle's verses also demonstrate that he had no metrical ear.
The only really good lines he ever wrote, save in translations where the
rhythm was set to him, are those constantly quoted about the dawn of
"another blue day." Those sent to his mother on "Proud Hapsburg," and to
Jane Welsh before marriage are unworthy of Macaulay's school-boy, "Non di
non homines;" but it took much hammering to persuade Carlyle of the fact,
and when persuaded he concluded that verse-writing was a mere tinkling of

"His genius was for fact; to lay hold on truth, with all his intellect and
all his imagination. He could no more invent than he could lie."

The remaining incidents of Carlyle's Edinburgh life are few: a visit from
his mother; a message from Goethe transmitting a medal for Sir Walter
Scott; sums generously sent for his brother John's medical education in
Germany; loans to Alexander, and a frustrate scheme for starting a new
Annual Register, designed to be a literary _rsum_ of the year, make up
the record. The "rift in the lute," Carlyle's incapacity for domestic
life, was already showing itself. Within the course of an orthodox
honeymoon he had begun to shut himself up in interior solitude, seldom
saw his wife from breakfast till 4 P.M., when they dined together and
read _Don Quixote_ in Spanish. The husband was half forgotten in the
author beginning to prophesy: he wrote alone, walked alone, thought
alone, and for the most part talked alone, _i.e._ in monologue that did
not wait or care for answer. There was respect, there was affection, but
there was little companionship. Meanwhile, despite the _Review_ articles,
Carlyle's other works, especially the volumes on German romance, were not
succeeding, and the mill had to grind without grist. It seemed doubtful
whether he could afford to live in Edinburgh; he craved after greater
quiet, and when the farm, which was the main Welsh inheritance, fell
vacant, resolved on migrating thither. His wife yielding, though with a
natural repugnance to the extreme seclusion in store for her, and the
Jeffreys kindly assisting, they went together in May 1828 to the Hill of
the Hawks.

Craigenputtock is by no means "the dreariest spot in all the British
dominions." On a sunny day it is an inland home, with wide billowy
straths of grass around, inestimable silence broken only by the placid
bleating of sheep, and the long rolling ridges of the Solway hills in
front. But in the "winter wind," girt by drifts of snow, no post or
apothecary within fifteen miles, it may be dreary enough. Here Carlyle
allowed his wife to serve him through six years of household drudgery;
an offence for which he was never quite forgiven, and to estimate its
magnitude here seems the proper place. He was a model son and brother,
and his conjugal fidelity has been much appraised, but he was as unfit,
and for some of the same reasons, to make "a happy fireside clime" as was
Jonathan Swift; and less even than Byron had he a share of the mutual
forbearance which is essential to the closest of all relations.

"Napoleon," says Emerson, "to achieve his ends risked everything and
spared nothing, neither ammunition, nor money, nor troops, nor generals,
nor himself." With a slight change of phrase the same may be said of
Carlyle's devotion to his work. There is no more prevailing refrain in
his writing, public and private, than his denunciation of literature as
a profession, nor are there wiser words than those in which the veteran
warns the young men, whose questions he answers with touching solicitude,
against its adoption. "It should be," he declares, "the wine not the food
of life, the ardent spirits of thought and fancy without the bread of
action parches up nature and makes strong souls like Byron dangerous,
the weak despicable." But it was nevertheless the profession of his
deliberate choice, and he soon found himself bound to it as Ixion to his
wheel. The most thorough worker on record, he found nothing easy that was
great, and he would do nothing little. In his determination to pluck out
the heart of the mystery, be it of himself, as in _Sartor_; of Germany,
as in his Goethes and Richters; the state of England, as in _Chartism_
and _Past and Present;_ of _Cromwell_ or of _Friedrich,_ he faced all
obstacles and overthrew them. Dauntless and ruthless, he allowed nothing
to divert or to mar his designs, least of all domestic cares or even
duties. "Selfish he was,"--I again quote from his biographer,--"if it
be selfish to be ready to sacrifice every person dependent on him as
completely as he sacrificed himself." What such a man wanted was a
housekeeper and a nurse, not a wife, and when we consider that he had
chosen for the latter companionship a woman almost as ambitious as
himself, whose conversation was only less brilliant than his own, of
delicate health and dainty ways, loyal to death, but, according to Mr.
Froude, in some respects "as hard as flint," with "dangerous sparks of
fire," whose quick temper found vent in sarcasms that blistered and words
like swords, who could declare during the time of the engagement, to
which in spite of warnings manifold she clung, "I will not marry to live
on less than my natural and artificial wants"; who, ridiculing his accent
to his face and before his friends, could write, "apply your talents to
gild over the inequality of our births"; and who found herself obliged
to live sixteen miles from the nearest neighbour, to milk a cow, scour
floors and mend shoes--when we consider all this we are constrained to
admit that the 17th October 1826 was a _dies nefastus,_ nor wonder that
thirty years later Mrs. Carlyle wrote, "I married for ambition, Carlyle
has exceeded all that my wildest hopes ever imagined of him, and I am
miserable,"--and to a young friend, "My dear, whatever you do, never
marry a man of genius."

Carlyle's own references to the life at Craigenputtock are marked by all
his aggravating inconsistency. "How happy we shall be in this Craig o'
Putta," he writes to his wife from Scotsbrig, April 17th 1827; and later
to Goethe:--

Here Rousseau would have been as happy as on his island of
Saint Pierre. My town friends indeed ascribe my sojourn here
to a similar disposition, and forebode me no good results.
But I came here solely with the design to simplify my way of
life, and to secure the independence through which I could
be enabled to be true to myself. This bit of earth is our
own; here we can live, write, and think as best pleases
ourselves, even though Zoilus himself were to be crowned the
monarch of literature. From some of our heights I can descry,
about a day's journey to the west, the hill where Agricola
and the Romans left a camp behind them. At the foot of it I
was born, and there both father and mother still live to
love me.... The only piece of any importance that I have
written since I came here is an Essay on Burns.

This Essay,--modified at first, then let alone, by Jeffrey,--appeared in
the _Edinburgh_ in the autumn of 1828. We turn to Carlyle's journal
and find the entry, "Finished a paper on Burns at this Devil's Den,"
elsewhere referred to as a "gaunt and hungry Siberia." Later still he
confesses, when preparing for his final move south, "Of solitude I have
really had enough."

Romae Tibur amem ventosus, Tibure Romam.

Carlyle in the moor was always sighing for the town, and in the town for
the moor. During the first twenty years of his London life, in what he
called "the Devil's oven," he is constantly clamouring to return to the
den. His wife, more and more forlorn though ever loyal, consistently
disliked it; little wonder, between sluttish maid-servants and owl-like
solitude: and she expressed her dislike in the pathetic verses, "To a
Swallow Building under our Eaves," sent to Jeffrey in 1832, and ending--

God speed thee, pretty bird; may thy small nest
With little ones all in good time be blest;
I love thee much
For well thou managest that life of thine,
While I! Oh, ask not what I do with mine,
Would I were such!

_The Desert._

The monotony of the moorland life was relieved by visits of relations and
others made and repaid, an excursion to Edinburgh, a residence in London,
and the production of work, the best of which has a chance of living with
the language. One of the most interesting of the correspondences of this
period is a series of letters, addressed to an anonymous Edinburgh friend
who seems to have had some idea of abandoning his profession of the Law
for Literature, a course against which Carlyle strenuously protests. From
these letters, which have only appeared in the columns of the _Glasgow
Herald_, we may extract a few sentences:--

Don't disparage the work that gains your bread. What is all
work but a drudgery? no labour for the present joyous, but
grievous. A man who has nothing to admire except himself is
in the minimum state. The question is, Does a man really
love Truth, or only the market price of it? Even literary
men should have something else to do. Katnes was a lawyer,
Roscoe a merchant, Hans Sachs a cobbler, Burns a gauger,

The following singular passage, the style of which suggests an imitation
of Sterne, is the acme of unconscious self-satire:--

You are infinitely unjust to Blockheads, as they are called.
Ask yourself seriously within your own heart--what right
have you to live wisely in God's world, and they not to live
a little less wisely? Is there a man more to be condoled
with, nay, I will say to be cherished and tenderly treated,
than a man that has no brain? My Purse is empty, it can be
filled again; the Jew Rothschild could fill it; or I can
even live with it very far from full. But, gracious heavens!
What is to be done with my _empty Head_?

Three of the visits of this period are memorable. Two from the Jeffreys
(in 1828 and 1830) leave us with the same uncomfortable impression of
kindness ungrudgingly bestowed and grudgingly received. Jeffrey had a
double interest in the household at Craigenputtock--an almost brotherly
regard for the wife, and a belief, restrained by the range of a keen
though limited appreciation, in the powers of the husband, to whom he
wrote: "Take care of the fair creature who has entrusted herself so
entirely to you," and with a half truth, "You have no mission upon earth,
whatever you may fancy, half so important as to be innocently happy." And
again: "Bring your blooming Eve out of your blasted Paradise, and seek
shelter in the lower world." But Carlyle held to the "banner with a
strange device," and was either deaf or indignant. The visits passed,
with satirical references from both host and hostess; for Mrs. Carlyle,
who could herself abundantly scoff and scold, would allow the liberty to
no one else. Jeffrey meanwhile was never weary of well-doing. Previous to
his promotion as Lord Advocate and consequent transference to London,
he tried to negotiate for Carlyle's appointment as his successor in the
editorship of the _Review,_ but failed to make him accept the necessary
conditions. The paper entitled _Signs of the Times_ was the last
production that he had to revise for his eccentric friend. Those
following on Taylor's _German Literature_ and the _Characteristics_ were
brought out in 1831 under the auspices of Macvey Napier. The other visit
was from the most illustrious of Carlyle's English-speaking friends,
in many respects a fellow-worker, yet "a spirit of another sort," and
destined, though a transcendental mystic, to be the most practical of his
benefactors. Twenty-four hours of Ralph Waldo Emerson (often referred to
in the course of a long and intimate correspondence) are spoken of by
Mrs. Carlyle as a visit from the clouds, brightening the prevailing gray.
He came to the remote inland home with "the pure intellectual gleam" of
which Hawthorne speaks, and "the quiet night of clear fine talk" remained
one of the memories which led Carlyle afterwards to say, "Perhaps our
happiest days were spent at the Craig." Goethe's letters, especially
that in which he acknowledges a lock of Mrs. Carlyle's hair, "eine
unvergleichliche schwarze Haar locke," were also among the gleams of
1829. The great German died three years later, after receiving the
birthday tribute, in his 82nd year, from English friends; and it is
pleasant to remember that in this instance the disciple was to the end
loyal to his master. To this period belong many other correspondences. "I
am scribble scribbling," he says in a letter of 1832, and mere scribbling
may fill many pages with few headaches; but Carlyle wrestled as he wrote,
and not a page of those marvellous _Miscellanies_ but is red with his
life's blood. Under all his reviewing, he was set on a work whose
fortunes were to be the strangest, whose result was, in some respects,
the widest of his efforts. The plan of _Sartor Resartus_ is far from
original. Swift's _Tale of a Tub_ distinctly anticipates the Clothes
Philosophy; there are besides manifest obligations to Reinecke Fuchs,
Jean Paul Richter, and other German authors: but in our days originality
is only possible in the handling; Carlyle has made an imaginary German
professor the mere mouthpiece of his own higher aspirations and those of
the Scotland of his day, and it remains the most popular as surely as
his _Friedrich_ is the greatest of his works. The author was abundantly
conscious of the value of the book, and super-abundantly angry at the
unconsciousness of the literary patrons of the time. In 1831 he resolved
if possible to go up to London to push the prospects of this first-born
male child. The _res angusta_ stood in the way. Jeffrey, after asking his
friend "what situation he could get him that he would detest the least,"
pressed on him "in the coolest, lightest manner the use of his purse."
This Carlyle, to the extent of 50 as a loan (carefully returned), was
induced ultimately to accept. It has been said that "proud men never
wholly forgive those to whom they feel themselves obliged," but their
resenting benefits is the worst feature of their pride. Carlyle made
his second visit to London to seek types for _Sartor_, in vain. Always
preaching reticence with the sound of artillery, he vents in many pages
the rage of his chagrin at the "Arimaspian" publishers, who would not
print his book, and the public which, "dosed with froth," would not
buy it. The following is little softened by the chiaroscuro of
five-and-thirty years:--

Done, I think, at Craigenputtock between January and
August 1830, _Teufelsdrckh_ was ready, and I decided
to make for London; night before going, how I remember it....
The beggarly history of poor _Sartor_ among the
blockheadisms is not worth recording or remembering, least
of all here! In short, finding that I had got 100 (if
memory serve) for _Schiller_ six or seven years before,
and for _Sartor_, at least twice as good, I could not
only not get 200, but even get no Murray or the like to
publish it on half profits. Murray, a most stupendous
object to me, tumbling about eyeless, with the evidently
strong wish to say "Yes" and "No,"--my first signal
experience of that sad human predicament. I said, We will
make it "No," then; wrap up our MS., and carry it about for
some two years from one terrified owl to another; published
at last experimentally in _Fraser_, and even then
mostly laughed at, nothing coming of the volume except what
was sent by Emerson from America.

This summary is unfair to Murray, who was inclined, on Jeffrey's
recommendation, to accept the book; but on finding that Carlyle had
carried the MS. to Longmans and another publisher, in hopes of a better
bargain, and that it had been refused, naturally wished to refer the
matter to his "reader," and the negotiation closed. _Sartor_ struggled
into half life in parts of the Magazine to which the writer had already
contributed several of his German essays, and it was even then published
with reluctance, and on half pay. The reception of this work, a
nondescript, yet among the finest prose poems in our language, seemed to
justify bookseller, editor, and readers alike, for the British public in
general were of their worst opinion. "It is a heap of clotted nonsense,"
pronounced the _Sun_. "Stop that stuff or stop my paper," wrote one of
_Fraser's_ constituents. "When is that stupid series of articles by the
crazy tailor going to end?" cried another. At this time Carlyle used
to say there were only two people who found anything in his book worth
reading--Emerson and a priest in Cork, who said to the editor that he
would take the magazine when anything in it appeared by the author of
_Sartor_. The volume was only published in 1838, by Saunders and Otley,
after the _French Revolution_ had further raised the writer's name, and
then on a guarantee from friends willing to take the risk of loss.
It does not appear whether Carlyle refers to this edition or to some
slighter reissue of the magazine articles when he writes in the
_Reminiscences: "I sent off six copies to six Edinburgh literary friends,
from not one of whom did I get the smallest whisper even of receipt--a
thing disappointing more or loss to human nature, and which has silently
and insensibly led me never since to send any copy of a book to
Edinburgh.... The plebs of literature might be divided in their verdicts
about me; though by count of heads I always suspect the guilty clear had
it; but the conscript fathers declined to vote at all."

[Footnote: _Tempora mutantur_. A few months before Carlyle's death a cheap
edition of _Sartor_ was issued, and 30,000 copies were sold within a few

In America _Sartor_ was pieced together from _Fraser_, published in
a volume introduced by Alexander Everett, extolled by Emerson as "A
criticism of the spirit of the age in which we live; exhibiting in the
most just and novel light the present aspect of religion, politics,
literature, and social life." The editors add: "We believe no book has
been published for many years ... which discovers an equal mastery over
all the riches of the language. The author makes ample amends for the
occasional eccentricity of his genius not only by frequent bursts of pure
splendour, but by the wit and sense which never fail him."

Americans are intolerant of honest criticism on themselves; but they are,
more than any other nation, open to appreciate vigorous expressions
of original views of life and ethics--all that we understand by
philosophy--and equally so to new forms of art. The leading critics of
the New England have often been the first and best testers of the fresh
products of the Old. A land of experiment in all directions, ranging from
Mount Lebanon to Oneida Creek, has been ready to welcome the suggestions,
physical or metaphysical, of startling enterprise. Ideas which filter
slowly through English soil and abide for generations, flash over the
electric atmosphere of the West. Hence Coleridge, Carlyle and Browning
were already accepted as prophets in Boston, while their own countrymen
were still examining their credentials. To this readiness, as of a
photographic plate, to receive, must be added the fact that the message
of _Sartor_ crossed the Atlantic when the hour to receive it had struck.
To its publication has been attributed the origin of a movement that was
almost simultaneously inaugurated by Emerson's _Harvard Discourse_. It
was a revolt against the reign of Commerce in practice, Calvinism in
theory, and precedent in Art that gave birth to the Transcendentalism of
_The Dial_--a Pantheon in which Carlyle had at once assigned to him a
place. He meanwhile was busy in London making friends by his conspicuous,
almost obtrusive, genius, and sowing the seeds of discord by his equally
obtrusive spleen. To his visit of 1831-1832 belongs one of the worst of
the elaborate invectives against Lamb which have recoiled on the memory
of his critic--to the credit of English sympathies with the most lovable
of slightly erring men--with more than the force of a boomorang. A sheaf
of sharp sayings of the same date owe their sting to their half truth,
_e.g._ to a man who excused himself for profligate journalism on the
old plea, "I must live, sir." "No, sir, you need not live, if your body
cannot be kept together without selling your soul." Similarly he was
abusing the periodicals--"mud," "sand," and "dust magazines"--to which
he had contributed, _inter alia_, the great Essay on _Voltaire_ and the
consummate sketch of _Novalis_; with the second paper on _Richler_ to the
_Foreign Review_, the reviews of _History_ and of _Schiller_ to _Fraser_,
and that on _Goethe's Works_ to the _Foreign Quarterly_. During this
period he was introduced to Molesworth, Austin, and J.S. Mill. On his
summons, October 1st 1832, Mrs. Carlyle came up to Ampton Street, where
he then resided, to see him safe through the rest of his London time.
They lamented over the lapse of Irving, now lost in the delirium of
tongues, and made a league of friendship with Mill, whom he describes as
"a partial disciple of mine," a friendship that stood a hard test, but
was broken when the author of _Liberty_ naturally found it impossible to
remain a disciple of the writer of _Latter-Day Pamphlets_. Mill, like
Napier, was at first staggered by the _Characteristics_, though he
afterwards said it was one of Carlyle's greatest works, and was
enthusiastic over the review of Boswell's _Johnson_, published in
_Fraser_ in the course of this year. Meanwhile Margaret, Carlyle's
favourite sister, had died, and his brightest, Jean, "the Craw," had
married her cousin, James Aitken. In memory of the former he wrote as a
master of threnody: to the bridegroom of the latter he addressed a letter
reminding him of the duties of a husband, "to do as he would be done by
to his wife"! In 1832 John, again by Jeffrey's aid, obtained a situation
at 300 a year as travelling physician to Lady Clare, and was enabled,
as he promptly did, to pay back his debts. Alexander seems to have been
still struggling with an imperfectly successful farm. In the same year,
when Carlyle was in London, his father died at Scotsbrig, after a
residence there of six years. His son saw him last in August 1831, when,
referring to his Craigenputtock solitude, he said: "Man, it's surely
a pity that thou shouldst sit yonder with nothing but the eye of
Omniscience to see thee, and thou with such a gift to speak."

The Carlyles returned in March, she to her domestic services, baking
bread, preserving eggs, and brightening grates till her eyes grew dim; he
to work at his _Diderot_, doing justice to a character more alien to his
own than even Voltaire's, reading twenty-five volumes, one per day, to
complete the essay; then at _Count Cagliostro_, also for _Fraser_, a link
between his last Craigenputtock and his first London toils. The period
is marked by shoals of letters, a last present from Weimar, a visit to
Edinburgh, and a candidature for a University Chair, which Carlyle
thought Jeffrey could have got for him; but the advocate did not,
probably could not, in this case satisfy his client. In excusing himself
he ventured to lecture the applicant on what he imagined to be the
impracticable temper and perverse eccentricity which had retarded and
might continue to retard his advancement.

[Footnote: The last was in 1836, for the Chair of Astronomy in Glasgow.]

Carlyle, never tolerant of rebuke however just, was indignant, and though
an open quarrel was avoided by letters, on both sides, of courteous
compromise, the breach was in reality never healed, and Jeffrey has a
niche in the _Reminiscences_ as a "little man who meant well but did not
see far or know much." Carlyle went on, however, like Thor, at the
_Diamond Necklace,_ which is a proem to the _French Revolution,_ but inly
growling, "My own private impression is that I shall never get any
promotion in this world." "A prophet is not readily acknowledged in his
own country"; "Mein Leben geht sehr bel: all dim, misty, squally,
disheartening at times, almost heartbreaking." This is the prose rather
than the male of Byron. Of all men Carlyle could least reek his own rede.
He never even tried to consume his own smoke. His _Sartor_ is indeed more
contained, and takes at its summit a higher flight than Rousseau's
_Confessions,_ or the _Sorrows of Werther,_ or the first two cantos of
_Childe Harold:_ but reading Byron's letters is mingling with a world gay
and grave; reading Goethe's walking in the Parthenon, though the Graces in
the niches are sometimes unclad; reading Carlyle's is travelling through
glimpses of sunny fields and then plunging into coal black tunnels. At
last he decided, "Puttock is no longer good for _me_," and his brave wife
approving, and even inciting, he resolved to burn his ships and seek his
fortune sink or swim--in the metropolis. Carlyle, for once taking the
initiative of practical trouble, went in advance on a house-hunt to
London, and by advice of Leigh Hunt fixed on the now famous house in
Chelsea near the Thames.




The curtain falls on Craigenputtock, the bleak farm by the bleak hills,
and rises on Cheyne Row, a side street off the river Thames, that winds,
as slowly as Cowper's Ouse, by the reaches of Barnes and Battersea,
dotted with brown-sailed ships and holiday boats in place of the
excursion steamers that now stop at Carlyle Pier; hard by the Carlyle
Statue on the new (1874) Embankment, in front the "Carlyle mansions," a
stone's-throw from "Carlyle Square." Turning up the row, we find over No.
24, formerly No. 5, the Carlyle medallion in marble, marking the house
where the Chelsea prophet, rejected, recognised, and adulated of men,
lived over a stretch of forty-seven years. Here were his headquarters,
but he was a frequent wanderer. About half the time was occupied in trips
almost yearly to Scotland, one to Ireland, one to Belgium, one to France,
and two to Germany; besides, in the later days, constant visits to
admiring friends, more and more drawn from the higher ranks in English
society, the members of which learnt to appreciate his genius before he
found a hearing among the mass of the people.

The whole period falls readily under four sections, marking as many phases
of the author's outer and inner life, while the same character is
preserved throughout:--

I. 1834-1842--When the death of Mrs. Welsh and the late success of
Carlyle's work relieved him from a long, sometimes severe, struggle with
narrow means. It is the period of the _French Revolution, The Lectures_,

Book of the day: