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Thomas Carlyle by John Nichol

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and _Hero-Worship_, and of _Chartism_, the last work with a vestige of
adherence to the Radical creed.

II. 1842-1853--When the death of his mother loosened his ties to the
North. This decade of his literary career is mainly signalised by the
writing and publication of the _Life and Letters of Cromwell_, of
Carlyle's political works, _Past and Present_ and the _Latter-Day
Pamphlets_, and of the _Life of Sterling_, works which mark his now
consummated disbelief in democracy, and his distinct abjuration of
adherence, in any ordinary sense, to the "Creed of Christendom."

III. 1853-1866--When the laurels of his triumphant speech as Lord Rector
at Edinburgh were suddenly withered by the death of his wife. This period
is filled with the _History of Friedrick II._, and marked by a yet more
decidedly accentuated trust in autocracy.

IV. 1866-1881.--Fifteen years of the setting of the sun.

The Carlyles, coming to the metropolis in a spirit of rarely realised
audacity on a reserve fund of from £200 to £300 at most, could not
propose to establish themselves in any centre of fashion. In their
circumstances their choice of abode was on the whole a fortunate one.

Not wholly in the busy world, nor quite
Beyond it,

was, even in those days of less constant communication, within measurable
distance of the centres of London life: it had then and still preserves a
host of interesting historic and literary traditions. Among the men who in
old times lived or met together in that outlying region of London, we have
memories of Sir Thomas More and of Erasmus, of the Essayists Addison and
Steele, and of Swift. Hard by is the tomb of Bolingbroke and the Square of
Sir Hans Sloane; Smollett lived for a time in Laurence Street; nearer our
own day, Turner resided in Cheyne Walk, later George Eliot, W.B. Scott,
Dante Rossetti, Swinburne for a season, and George Meredith. When Carlyle
came to settle there, Leigh Huntin Upper Cheyne Row, an almost next-door
neighbour, was among the first of a series of visitors; always welcome,
despite his "hugger-mugger" household and his borrowing tendencies, his
"unpractical messages" and "rose-coloured reform processes," as a bright
"singing bird, musical in flowing talk," abounding in often subtle
criticisms and constant good humour. To the Chelsea home, since the Mecca
of many pilgrims, there also flocked other old Ampton Street friends,
drawn thither by genuine regard, Mrs. Carlyle, by the testimony of Miss
Cushman and all competent judges, was a "_raconteur_ unparalleled." To
quote the same authority, "that wonderful woman, able to live in the full
light of Carlyle's genius without being overwhelmed by it," had a peculiar
skill in drawing out the most brilliant conversationalist of the age.
Burns and Wilson were his Scotch predecessors in an art of which the close
of our century--when every fresh thought is treasured to be printed and
paid for--knows little but the shadow. Of Carlyle, as of Johnson, it might
have been said, "There is no use arguing with him, for if his pistol
misses fire he knocks you down with the butt": both men would have
benefited by revolt from their dictation, but the power to contradict
either was overborne by a superior power to assert. Swift's occasional
insolence, in like manner, prevailed by reason of the colossal strength
that made him a Gulliver in Lilliput. Carlyle in earlier, as in later
times, would have been the better of meeting his mate, or of being
overmatched; but there was no Wellington found for this "grand Napoleon of
the realms" of prose. His reverence for men, if not for things, grew
weaker with the strengthening of his sway, a sway due to the fact that men
of extensive learning are rarely men of incisive force, and Carlyle--in
this respect more akin to Johnson than to Swift--had the acquired material
to serve as fuel for the inborn fire. Hence the least satisfactory of his
criticisms are those passed on his peers. Injustices of conversation
should be pardoned to an impulsive nature, even those of correspondence in
the case of a man who had a mania for pouring out his moods to all and
sundry; but where Carlyle has carefully recarved false estimates in cameo,
his memory must abide the consequence. Quite late in life, referring to
the Chelsea days, he says, "The best of those who then flocked about us
was Leigh Hunt," who never seriously said him nay; "and the worst Lamb,"
who was not among the worshippers. No one now doubts that Carlyle's best
adviser and most candid critic might have been John Stuart Mill, for whom
he long felt as much regard as it was possible for him to entertain
towards a proximate equal. The following is characteristic: "He had taken
a great attachment to me (which lasted about ten years and then suddenly
ended, I never knew how), an altogether clear, logical, honest, amicable,
affectionate young man, and respected as such here, though sometimes felt
to be rather colourless, even aqueous, no religion in any form traceable
in him." And similarly of his friend, Mrs. Taylor, "She was a will-o'-the-
wispish iridescence of a creature; meaning nothing bad either"; and again
of Mill himself, "His talk is sawdustish, like ale when there is no wine
to be had." Such criticisms, some ungrateful, others unjust, may be
relieved by reference to the close of two friendships to which (though
even these were clouded by a touch of personal jealousy) he was faithful
in the main; for the references of both husband and wife to Irving's
"delirations" are the tears due to the sufferings of errant minds. Their
last glimpse of this best friend of earlier days was in October 1834, when
he came on horseback to the door of their new home, and left with the
benediction to his lost Jane, "You have made a little Paradise around
you." He died in Glasgow in December of the same year, and his memory is
pathetically embalmed in Carlyle's threnody. The final phases of another
old relationship were in some degree similar. During the first years of
their settlement, Lord Jeffrey frequently called at Cheyne Row, and sent
kind letters to his cousin, received by her husband with the growl, "I am
at work stern and grim, not to be interrupted by Jeffrey's theoretic
flourish of epistolary trumpeting." Carlyle, however, paid more than one
visit to Craigcrook, seeing his host for the last time in the autumn of
1849, "worn in body and thin in mind," "grown lunar now and not solar any
more." Three months later he heard of the death of this benefactor of his
youth, and wrote the memorial which finds its place in the second volume
of the _Reminiscences_.

[Footnote: Cf. Byron's account of the same household at Pisa. Carlyle
deals very leniently with the malignant volume on Byron which amply
justified the epigram of Moore. But he afterwards spoke more slightly of
his little satellite, attributing the faint praise, in the _Examiner_, of
the second course of lectures to Hunt's jealousy of a friend now
"beginning to be somebody."]

The work "stern and grim" was the _French Revolution_, the production
of which is the dominant theme of the first chapter of Carlyle's London
life. Mr. Froude, in the course of an estimate of this work which leaves
little room for other criticism, dwells on the fact that it was written
for a purpose, _i.e._ to show that rulers, like those of the French
in the eighteenth century, who are solely bent on the pleasures and
oblivious of the duties of life, must end by being "burnt up." This,
doubtless, is one of the morals of the _French Revolution_--the other
being that anarchy ends in despotism--and unquestionably a writer who
never ceased to be a preacher must have had it in his mind. But Carlyle's
peculiarity is that he combined the functions of a prophet and of an
artist, and that while now the one, now the other, was foremost, he never
wholly forgot the one in the other. In this instance he found a theme
well fit for both, and threw his heart into it, though under much
discouragement. Despite the Essays, into each of which he had put work
enough for a volume, the Reviews were shy of him; while his _Sartor_ had,
on this side of the Atlantic, been received mainly with jeers. Carlyle,
never unconscious of his prerogative and apostolic primogeniture, felt
like an aspirant who had performed his vigils, and finding himself still
ignored, became a knight of the rueful countenance. Thoroughly equipped,
adept enough in ancient tongues to appreciate Homer, a master of German
and a fluent reader of French, a critic whose range stretched from
Diderot to John Knox, he regarded his treatment as "tragically hard,"
exclaiming, "I could learn to do all things I have seen done, and am
forbidden to try any of them." The efforts to keep the wolf from his own
doors were harder than any but a few were till lately aware of. Landed in
London with his £200 reserve, he could easily have made way in the
usual ruts; but he would have none of them, and refused to accept the
employment which is the most open, as it is the most lucrative, to
literary aspirants. To nine out of ten the "profession of literature"
means Journalism; while Journalism often means dishonesty, always
conformity. Carlyle was, in a sense deeper than that of the sects,
essentially a nonconformist; he not only disdained to write a word he
did not believe, he would not suppress a word he did believe--a rule
of action fatal to swift success. During these years there began an
acquaintance, soon ripening into intimacy, the memories of which are
enshrined in one of the most beautiful of biographies. Carlyle's relation
to John Sterling drew out the sort of affection which best suited
him--the love of a master for a pupil, of superior for inferior, of the
benefactor for the benefited; and consequently there is no line in the
record of it that jars. Sterling once tried to benefit his friend, and
perhaps fortunately failed. He introduced Carlyle to his father, then the
chief writer in the _Times_, and the Editor invited the struggling author
to contribute to its columns, but, according to Mr. Froude, "on the
implied conditions ... when a man enlists in the army, his soul as well
as his body belong to his commanding officer." Carlyle talked, all his
life, about what his greatest disciple calls "The Lamp of Obedience"; but
he himself would obey no one, and found it hard to be civil to those who
did not see with his eyes. Ho rejected--we trust in polite terms--the
offer of "the Thunderer." "In other respects also," says our main
authority, "he was impracticable, unmalleable, and as independent and
wilful as if he were the heir to a peerage. He had created no 'public' of
his own; the public which existed could not understand his writings
and would not buy them; and thus it was that in Cheyne Row he was more
neglected than he had been in Scotland." Welcome to a limited range of
literary society, he astonished and amused by his vehement eloquence,
but when crossed he was not only "sarcastic" but rude, and speaking of
people, as he wrote of them, with various shades of contempt, naturally
gave frequent offence. Those whose toes are trodden on, not by accident,
justifiably retaliate. "Are you looking for your t-t-turban?" Charles
Lamb is reported to have said in some entertainer's lobby after listening
for an evening to Carlyle's invectives, and the phrase may have rankled
in his mind. Living in a glass case, while throwing stones about,
super-sensitive to criticism though professing to despise critics, he
made at least as many enemies as friends, and by his own confession
became an Ishmaelite. In view of the reception of _Sartor_, we do not
wonder to find him writing in 1833--

It is twenty-three months since I earned a penny by the
craft of literature, and yet I know no fault I have
committed.... I am tempted to go to America.... I shall quit
literature, it does not invite me. Providence warns me to
have done with it. I have failed in the Divine Infernal

or meditating, when at the lowest ebb, to go wandering about the world
like Teufelsdröckh, looking for a rest for the sole of his foot. And yet
all the time, with incomparable naiveté, he was asserting:--

The longer I live among this people the deeper grows my
feeling of natural superiority to them.... The literary
world here is a thing which I have no other course left me
but to defy.... I can reverence no existing man. With health
and peace for one year, I could write a better book than
there has been in this country for generations.

All through his journal and his correspondence there is a perpetual
alternation of despair and confidence, always closing with the refrain,
"Working, trying is the only remover of doubt," and wise counsels often
echoed from Goethe, "Accomplish as well as you can the task on hand, and
the next step will become clear;" on the other hand--A man must not only
be able to work but to give over working.... If a man wait till he has
entirely brushed off his imperfections, he will spin for ever on his
axis, advancing no whither.... The _French Revolution_ stands pretty
fair in my head, nor do I mean to investigate much more about it, but to
splash down what I know in large masses of colours, that it may look like
a smoke-and-flame conflagration in the distance.

The progress of this work was retarded by the calamity familiar to every
reader, but it must be referred to as throwing one of the finest lights
on Carlyle's character. His closest intellectual link with J.S. Mill was
their common interest in French politics and literature; the latter,
himself meditating a history of the Revolution, not only surrendered in
favour of the man whose superior pictorial genius he recognised, but
supplied him freely with the books he had accumulated for the enterprise.
His interest in the work was unfortunately so great as to induce him to
borrow the MS. of the first volume, completed in the early spring of
1835, and his business habits so defective as to permit him to lend it
without authority; so that, as appears, it was left lying about by Mrs.
Taylor and mistaken by her servant for waste paper: certainly it was
destroyed; and Mill came to Cheyne Row to announce the fact in such a
desperate state of mind that Carlyle's first anxiety seems to have been
to console his friend. According to Mrs. Carlyle, as reported by Froude,
"the first words her husband uttered as the door closed were, 'Well,
Mill, poor fellow, is terribly cut up; we must endeavour to hide from him
how very serious this business is to us.'" This trait of magnanimity under
the first blow of a disaster which seemed to cancel the work of years
should be set against his nearly contemporaneous criticisms of Coleridge,
Lamb, Wordsworth, Sydney Smith, Macaulay, etc.

[Footnote: Carlyle had only been writing the volume for five months; but
he was preparing for it during much of his life at Craigenputtock.]

Mill sent a cheque of £200 as "the slightest external compensation" for
the loss, and only, by urgent entreaty, procured the acceptance of half
the sum. Carlyle here, as in every real emergency, bracing his resolve
by courageous words, as "never tine heart or get provoked heart," set
himself to re-write the volume with an energy that recalls that of Scott
rebuilding his ruined estate; but the work was at first so "wretched"
that it had to be laid aside for a season, during which the author
wisely took a restorative bath of comparatively commonplace novels. The
re-writing of the first volume was completed in September 1835; the whole
book in January 1837. The mood in which it was written throws a light on
the excellences as on the defects of the history. The _Reminiscences_
again record the gloom and defiance of "Thomas the Doubter" walking
through the London streets "with a feeling similar to Satan's stepping
the burning marl," and scowling at the equipages about Hyde Park Corner,
sternly thinking, "Yes, and perhaps none of you could do what I am at. I
shall finish this book, throw it at your feet, buy a rifle and spade, and
withdraw to the Transatlantic wilderness." In an adjacent page he reports
himself as having said to his wife--

What they will do with this book none knows, my lass; but
they have not had for two hundred years any book that came
more truly from a man's very heart, and so let them trample
it under foot and hoof as they see best.... "They cannot
trample that," she would cheerily answer.

This passage points at once to the secret of the writer's spell and to
the limits of his lasting power. His works were written seldom with
perfect fairness, never with the dry light required for a clear
presentation of the truth; they have all "an infusion from the will and
the affections"; but they were all written with a whole sincerity and
utter fervour; they rose from his hot heart, and rushed through the air
"like rockets druv' by their own burnin'." Consequently his readers
confess that he has never forgot the Horatian maxim--

Si vis me flere, dolendum est
Primum ipsi tibi.

About this time Carlyle writes, "My friends think I have found the art of
living upon nothing," and there must, despite Mill's contribution, have
been "bitter thrift" in Cheyne REow during the years 1835-1837. He
struggled through the unremunerative interval of waiting for the sale
of a great work by help of fees derived from his essay on the _Diamond
Necklace_ (which, after being refused by the _Foreign Quarterly,_
appeared in _Fraser,_ 1837), that on _Mirabeau_ in the _Westminster,_
and in the following year, for the same periodical, the article on _Sir
Walter Scott._ To the last work, undertaken against the grain, he refers
in one of the renewed wails of the year: "O that literature had never
been devised. I am scourged back to it by the whip of necessity." The
circumstance may account for some of the manifest defects of one of the
least satisfactory of Carlyle's longer' reviews. Frequent references in
previous letters show that he never appreciated Scott, to whom he refers
as a mere Restaurateur.

Meanwhile the appearance of the _French Revolution_ had brought the
name of its author, then in his forty-third year, for the first time
prominently before the public. It attracted the attention of Thackeray,
who wrote a generous review in the _Times,_ of Southey, Jeffrey,
Macaulay, Hallam, and Brougham, who recognised the advent of an equal, if
sometimes an adverse power in the world of letters. But, though the book
established his reputation, the sale was slow, and for some years the
only substantial profits, amounting to about £400, came from America,
through the indefatigable activity and good management of Emerson. It
is pleasant to note a passage in the interesting volumes of their
_Correspondence_ which shows that in this instance the benefited
understood his financial relation to the benefactor: "A reflection I
cannot but make is that, at bottom, this money was all yours; not a penny
of it belonged to me by any law except that of helpful friend-ship.... I
could not examine it (the account) without a kind of crime." Others
who, at this period, made efforts to assist "the polar Bear" were less
fortunate. In several instances good intentions paved the palace of
Momus, and in one led a well-meaning man into a notoriously false
position. Mr. Basil Montagu being in want of a private secretary offered
the post to his former guest, as a temporary makeshift, at a salary of
£200, and so brought upon his memory a torrent of contempt. Undeterred by
this and similar warnings, the indefatigable philanthropist, Miss Harriet
Martineau, who at first conciliated the Carlyles by her affection for
"this side of the street," and was afterwards an object of their joint
ridicule, conceived the idea of organising a course of lectures to an
audience collected by canvass to hoar the strange being from the moors
talk for an hour on end about literature, morals, and history. He was
then an object of curiosity to those who knew anything about him at all,
and lecturing was at that time a lucrative and an honourable employment.
The "good Harriet," so called by Cheyne Row in its condescending mood,
aided by other kind friends of the Sterling and Mill circles--the former
including Frederick Denison Maurice--made so great a success of the
enterprise that it was thrice repeated. The _first_ course of six
lectures on "German Literature," May 1837, delivered in Willis's Rooms,
realised £135; the _second_ of twelve, on the "History of European
Literature," at 17 Edward Street, Portman Square, had a net result of
£300; the _third,_ in the same rooms, on "Revolutions," brought £200; the
_fourth,_ on "Heroes," the same. In closing this course Carlyle appeared
for the last time on a public platform until 1866, when he delivered
his Inaugural Address as Lord Rector to the students of Edinburgh. The
impression he produced on his unusually select audiences was that of a
man of genius, but roughly clad. The more superficial auditors had a
new sensation, those who came to stare remained to wonder; the more
reflective felt that they had learnt something of value. Carlyle had
no inconsiderable share of the oratorical power which he latterly so
derided; he was able to speak from a few notes; but there were comments
more or less severe on his manner and style. J. Grant, in his _Portraits
of Public Characters,_ says: "At times he distorts his features as if
suddenly seized by some paroxysm of pain ... he makes mouths; he has a
harsh accent and graceless gesticulation." Leigh Hunt, in the _Examiner,_
remarks on the lecturer's power of extemporising; but adds that he often
touches only the mountain-tops of the subject, and that the impression
left was as if some Puritan had come to life again, liberalised by
German philosophy. Bunsen, present at one of the lectures, speaks of
the striking and rugged thoughts thrown at people's heads; and Margaret
Fuller, afterwards Countess Ossoli, referred to his arrogance redeemed
by "the grandeur of a Siegfried melting down masses of iron into sunset
red." Carlyle's own comments are for the most part slighting. He refers
to his lectures as a mixture of prophecy and play-acting, and says that
when about to open his course on "Heroes" he felt like a man going to be
hanged. To Emerson, April 17th 1839, he writes :--

My lectures come on this day two weeks. O heaven! I cannot
"speak"; I can only gasp and writhe and stutter, a
spectacle to gods and fashionables,--being forced to it by
want of money. In five weeks I shall be free, and then--!
Shall it be Switzerland? shall it be Scotland? nay, shall it
be America and Concord?

Emerson had written about a Boston publication of the _Miscellanies_
(first there collected), and was continually urging his friend to
emigrate and speak to more appreciative audiences in the States; but
the London lectures, which had, with the remittances from over sea,
practically saved Carlyle from ruin or from exile, had made him decide
"to turn his back to the treacherous Syren"--the temptation to sink into
oratory. Mr. Froude's explanation and defence of this decision may be
clenched by a reference to the warning his master had received. He had
announced himself as a preacher and a prophet, and been taken at his
word; but similarly had Edward Irving, who for a season of sun or glamour
gathered around him the same crowd and glitter: the end came; twilight
and clouds of night. Fashion had flocked to the sermons of the elder
Annandale youth--as to the recitatives of the younger--to see a wild man
of the woods and hear him sing; but the novelty gone, they passed on"
to Egyptian crocodiles, Iroquois hunters," and left him stranded with
"unquiet fire" and "flaccid face." "O foulest Circaean draft," exclaimed
his old admirer in his fine dirge, "thou poison of popular applause,
madness is in thee and death, thy end is Bedlam and the grave," and with
the fixed resolve, "De me fabula non narrabitur," he shut the book on
this phase of his life.

The lectures on "Hero-Worship" (a phrase taken from Hume) were published
in 1841, and met with considerable success, the name of the writer having
then begun to run "like wildfire through London." At the close of the
previous year he had published his long pamphlet on _Chartism_, it having
proved unsuitable for its original destination as an article in the
_Quarterly_. Here first he clearly enunciates, "Might is right"--one
of the few strings on which, with all the variations of a political
Paganini, he played through life. This tract is on the border line
between the old modified Radicalism of _Sartor_ and the less modified
Conservatism of his later years. In 1840 Carlyle still speaks of himself
as a man foiled; but at the close of that year all fear of penury was
over, and in the following he was able to refuse a Chair of History at
Edinburgh, as later another at St. Andrews. Meanwhile his practical
power and genuine zeal for the diffusion of knowledge appeared in his
foundation of the London Library, which brought him into more or less
close contact with Tennyson, Milman, Forster, Helps, Spedding, Gladstone,
and other leaders of the thought and action of the time.

There is little in Carlyle's life at any time that can be called
eventful. From first to last it was that of a retired scholar, a thinker
demanding sympathy while craving after solitude, and the frequent
inconsistency of the two requirements was the source of much of his
unhappiness. Our authorities for all that we do not see in his
published works are found in his voluminous correspondence, copious
autobiographical jottings, and the three volumes of his wife's letters
and journal dating from the commencement of the struggle for recognition
in London, and extending to the year of her death. Criticism of these
remarkable documents, the theme of so much controversy, belongs rather
to a life of Mrs. Carlyle; but a few salient facts may here be noted. It
appears on the surface that husband and wife had in common several
marked peculiarities; on the intellectual side they had not only an
extraordinary amount but the same kind of ability, superhumanly keen
insight, and wonderful power of expression, both with tongue and pen; the
same intensity of feeling, thoroughness, and courage to look the ugliest
truths full in the face; in both, these high qualities were marred by a
tendency to attribute the worst motives to almost every one. Their joint
contempt for all whom they called "fools," _i.e._ the immense majority of
mankind, was a serious drawback to the pleasure of their company. It is
indeed obvious that, whether or not it be correct to say that "his nature
was the soft one, her's the hard," Mrs. Carlyle was the severer cynic of
the two. Much of her writing confirms the impression of those who have
heard her talk that no one, not even her husband, was safe from the
shafts of her ridicule. Her pride in his genius knew no bounds, and it is
improbable that she would have tolerated from any outsider a breath of
adverse criticism; but she herself claimed many liberties she would not
grant. She was clannish as Carlyle himself, yet even her relations
are occasionally made to appear ridiculous. There was nothing in her
affections, save her memory of her own father, corresponding to his
devotion to his whole family. With equal penetration and greater scorn,
she had no share of his underlying reverence. Such limited union as was
granted to her married life had only soured the mocking-bird spirit
of the child that derided her grandfather's accent on occasion of his
bringing her back from a drive by another route to "varry the shane."

Carlyle's constant wailings take from him any claim to such powers of
endurance as might justify his later attacks on Byron. But neither
had his wife any real reticence. Whenever there were domestic
troubles--flitting, repairing, building, etc., on every occasion of
clamour or worry, he, with scarce pardonable oblivion of physical
delicacy greater than his own, went off, generally to visit distinguished
friends, and left behind him the burden and the heat of the day. She
performed her unpleasant work and all associated duties with a practical
genius that he complimented as "triumphant." She performed them,
ungrudgingly perhaps, but never without complaint; her invariable
practice was to endure and tell. "Quelle vie," she writes in 1837 to John
Sterling, whom she seems to have really liked, "let no woman who values
peace of soul ever marry an author"; and again to the same in 1839,
"Carlyle had to sit on a jury two days, to the ruin of his whole being,
physical, moral, and intellectual," but "one gets to feel a sort of
indifference to his growling." Conspicuous exceptions, as in the case of
the Shelleys, the Dobells, and the Brownings, have been seen, within
or almost within our memories, but as a rule it is a risk for two
supersensitive and nervous people to live together: when they are
sensitive in opposite ways the alliance is fatal; fortunately the
Carlyles were, in this respect, in the main sympathetic. With most of the
household troubles which occupy so exaggerated a space in the letters and
journals of both--papering, plastering, painting, deceitful or disorderly
domestics--general readers have so little concern that they have reason
to resent the number of pages wasted in printing them; but there was one
common grievance of wider and more urgent interest, to which we must here
again finally refer, premising that it affected not one period but the
whole of their lives, _i.e._ their constant, only half-effectual struggle
with the modern Hydra-headed Monster, the reckless and needless Noises
produced or permitted, sometimes increased rather than suppressed, by
modern civilisation. Mrs. Carlyle suffered almost as much as her husband
from these murderers of sleep and assassins of repose; on her mainly fell
the task of contending with the cochin-chinas, whose senseless shrieks
went "through her like a sword," of abating a "Der Freischütz of cats,"
or a pandemonium of barrel organs, of suppressing macaws for which
Carryle "could neither think nor live"; now mitigating the scales on a
piano, now conjuring away, by threat or bribe, from their neighbours
a shoal of "demon fowls"; lastly of superintending the troops of
bricklayers, joiners, iron-hammerers employed with partial success to
convert the top story of 5 Cheyne Row into a sound-proof room. Her
hard-won victories in this field must have agreeably added to the sense
of personality to which she resolutely clung. Her assertion, "Instead
of boiling up individuals into the species, I would draw a chalk circle
round every individuality," is the essence of much of her mate's
philosophy; but, in the following to Sterling, she somewhat bitterly
protests against her own absorption: "In spite of the honestest efforts
to annihilate my I---ity or merge it in what the world doubtless
considers my better half, I still find myself a self-subsisting, and,
alas, self-seeking me."

The ever-restive consciousness of being submerged is one of the dominant
notes of her journal, the other is the sense of being even within the
circle unrecognised. "C. is a domestic wandering Jew.... When he is at
work I hardly ever see his face from breakfast to dinner."... "Poor
little wretch that I am, ... I feel as if I were already half-buried ...
in some intermediate state between the living and the dead.... Oh, so
lonely." These are among the _suspiria de profundis_ of a life which her
husband compared to "a great joyless stoicism," writing to the brother,
whom he had proposed as a third on their first home-coming:--"Solitude,
indeed, is sad as Golgotha, but it is not mad like Bedlam; absence
of delirium is possible only for me in solitude"; a sentiment almost
literally acted on. In his offering of penitential cypress, referring to
his wife's delight in the ultimate success of his work, he says, "She
flickered round me like a perpetual radiance." But during their joint
lives their numerous visits and journeys were made at separate times or
apart. They crossed continually on the roads up and down, but when
absent wrote to one another often the most affectionate letters. Their
attraction increased, contrary to Newton's law, in the _direct_ ratio of
the square of the distance, and when it was stretched beyond the stars
the long-latent love of the survivor became a worship.

Carlyle's devotion to his own kin, blood of his blood and bone of his
bone, did not wait for any death to make itself declared. His veneration
for his mother was reciprocated by a confidence and pride in him
unruffled from cradle to grave, despite their widening theoretic
differences; for with less distinct acknowledgment she seems to have
practically shared his belief, "it matters little what a man holds in
comparison with how he holds it." But on his wife's side the family bond
was less absolute, and the fact adds a tragic interest to her first
great bereavement after the settlement in London. There were many
callers--increasing in number and eminence as time went on--at Cheyne
Row; but naturally few guests. Among these, Mrs. Carlyle's mother paid,
in 1838, her first and last visit, unhappily attended by some unpleasant
friction. Grace Welsh (through whom her daughter derived the gipsy vein)
had been in early years a beauty and a woman of fashion, endowed with
so much natural ability that Carlyle, not altogether predisposed in
her favour, confessed she had just missed being a genius; but she was
accustomed to have her way, and old Walter of Pefillan confessed to
having seen her in fifteen different humours in one evening. Welcomed
on her arrival, misunderstandings soon arose. Carlyle himself had to
interpose with conciliatory advice to his wife to bear with her
mother's humours. One household incident, though often quoted, is too
characteristic to be omitted. On occasion of an evening party, Mrs.
Welsh, whose ideas of hospitality, if not display, were perhaps larger
than those suited for her still struggling hosts, had lighted a show of
candles for the entertainment, whereupon the mistress of the house, with
an air of authority, carried away two of them, an act which her mother
resented with tears. The penitent daughter, in a mood like that which
prompted Johnson to stand in the Uttoxeter market-place, left in her will
that the candles were to be preserved and lit about her coffin, round
which, nearly thirty years later, they were found burning. Carlyle has
recorded their last sight of his mother-in-law in a few of his many
graphic touches. It was at Dumfries in 1841, where she had brought Jane
down from Templand to meet and accompany him back to the south. They
parted at the door of the little inn, with deep suppressed emotion,
perhaps overcharged by some presentiment; Mrs. Welsh looking sad but
bright, and their last glimpse of her was the feather in her bonnet
waving down the way to Lochmaben gate. Towards the close of February 1842
news came that she had had an apoplectic stroke, and Mrs. Carlyle hurried
north, stopping to break the journey at her uncle's house in Liverpool;
when there she was so prostrated by the sudden announcement of her
mother's death that she was prohibited from going further, and Carlyle
came down from London in her stead. On reaching Templand he found that
the funeral had already taken place. He remained six weeks, acting as
executor in winding up the estate, which now, by the previous will,
devolved on his wife. To her during the interval he wrote a series of
pathetic letters. Reading these,--which, with others from Haddington in
the following years make an anthology of tenderness and ruth, reading
them alongside of his angry invectives, with his wife's own accounts of
the bilious earthquakes and peevish angers over petty cares; or worse,
with ebullitions of jealousy assuming the mask of contempt, we again
revert to the biographer who has said almost all that ought to be said
of Carlyle, and more: "It seemed as if his soul was divided, like the
Dioscuri, as if one part of it was in heaven, and the other in the place
opposite heaven. But the misery had its origin in the same sensitiveness
of nature which was so tremulously alive to soft and delicate emotion.
Men of genius ... are like the wind-harp which answers to the breath
that touches it, now low and sweet, now rising into wild swell or angry
scream, as the strings are swept by some passing gust." This applies
completely to men like Burns, Byron, Heine, and Carlyle, less to the
Miltons, Shakespeares, and Goethes of the world.

The crisis of bereavement, which promised to bind the husband and wife
more closely together, brought to an end a dispute in which for once
Mrs. Carlyle had her way. During the eight years over which we have been
glancing, Carlyle had been perpetually grumbling at his Chelsea life: the
restless spirit, which never found peace on this side of the grave, was
constantly goading him with an impulse of flight and change, from land
to sea, from shore to hills; anywhere or everywhere, at the time, seemed
better than where he was. America and the Teufelsdröckh wanderings
abandoned, he reverted to the idea of returning to his own haunts. A
letter to Emerson in 1839 best expresses his prevalent feeling:--

Carlyle's devotion to his own kin, blood of his blood and bone of his
bone, did not wait for any death to make itself declared. His veneration
for his mother was reciprocated by a confidence and pride in him
unruffled from cradle to grave, despite their widening theoretic
differences; for with less distinct acknowledgment she seems to have
practically shared his belief, "it matters little what a man holds in
comparison with how he holds it." But on his wife's side the family bond
was less absolute, and the fact adds a tragic interest to her first
great bereavement after the settlement in London. There were many
callers--increasing in number and eminence as time went on--at Cheyne
Row; but naturally few guests. Among these, Mrs. Carlyle's mother paid,
in 1838, her first and last visit, unhappily attended by some unpleasant
friction. Grace Welsh (through whom her daughter derived the gipsy vein)
had been in early years a beauty and a woman of fashion, endowed with
so much natural ability that Carlyle, not altogether predisposed in
her favour, confessed she had just missed being a genius; but she was
accustomed to have her way, and old Walter of Pefillan confessed to
having seen her in fifteen different humours in one evening. Welcomed
on her arrival, misunderstandings soon arose. Carlyle himself had to
interpose with conciliatory advice to his wife to bear with her
mother's humours. One household incident, though often quoted, is too
characteristic to be omitted. On occasion of an evening party, Mrs.
Welsh, whose ideas of hospitality, if not display, were perhaps larger
than those suited for her still struggling hosts, had lighted a show of
candles for the entertainment, whereupon the mistress of the house, with
an air of authority, carried away two of them, an act which her mother
resented with tears. The penitent daughter, in a mood like that which
prompted Johnson to stand in the Uttoxeter market-place, left in her will
that the candles were to be preserved and lit about her coffin, round
which, nearly thirty years later, they were found burning. Carlyle has
recorded their last sight of his mother-in-law in a few of his many
graphic touches. It was at Dumfries in 1841, where she had brought Jane
down from Templand to meet and accompany him back to the south. They
parted at the door of the little inn, with deep suppressed emotion,
perhaps overcharged by some presentiment; Mrs. Welsh looking sad but
bright, and their last glimpse of her was the feather in her bonnet
waving down the way to Lochmaben gate. Towards the close of February 1842
news came that she had had an apoplectic stroke, and Mrs. Carlyle hurried
north, stopping to break the journey at her uncle's house in Liverpool;
when there she was so prostrated by the sudden announcement of her
mother's death that she was prohibited from going further, and Carlyle
came down from London in her stead. On reaching Templand he found that
the funeral had already taken place. He remained six weeks, acting as
executor in winding up the estate, which now, by the previous will,
devolved on his wife. To her during the interval he wrote a series of
pathetic letters. Reading these,--which, with others from Haddington in
the following years make an anthology of tenderness and ruth, reading
them alongside of his angry invectives, with his wife's own accounts of
the bilious earthquakes and peevish angers over petty cares; or worse,
with ebullitions of jealousy assuming the mask of contempt, we again
revert to the biographer who has said almost all that ought to be said
of Carlyle, and more: "It seemed as if his soul was divided, like the
Dioscuri, as if one part of it was in heaven, and the other in the place
opposite heaven. But the misery had its origin in the same sensitiveness
of nature which was so tremulously alive to soft and delicate emotion.
Men of genius ... are like the wind-harp which answers to the breath
that touches it, now low and sweet, now rising into wild swell or angry
scream, as the strings are swept by some passing gust." This applies
completely to men like Burns, Byron, Heine, and Carlyle, less to the
Miltons, Shakespeares, and Goethes of the world.

The crisis of bereavement, which promised to bind the husband and wife
more closely together, brought to an end a dispute in which for once
Mrs. Carlyle had her way. During the eight years over which we have been
glancing, Carlyle had been perpetually grumbling at his Chelsea life: the
restless spirit, which never found peace on this side of the grave, was
constantly goading him with an impulse of flight and change, from land
to sea, from shore to hills; anywhere or everywhere, at the time, seemed
better than where he was. America and the Teufelsdröckh wanderings
abandoned, he reverted to the idea of returning to his own haunts. A
letter to Emerson in 1839 best expresses his prevalent feeling:--

This foggy Babylon tumbles along as it was wont: and as for
my particular case uses me not worse but better than of old.
Nay, there are many in it that have a real friendliness for
me.... The worst is the sore tear and wear of this huge
roaring Niagara of things on such a poor excitable set of
nerves as mine.

The velocity of all things, of the very word you hear on the
streets, is at railway rate: joy itself is unenjoyable, to
be avoided like pain; there is no wish one has so pressingly
as for quiet. Ah me! I often swear I will be _buried_ at
least in free breezy Scotland, out of this insane hubbub ...
if ever the smallest competence of worldly means be mine, I
will fly this whirlpool as I would the Lake of Malebolge.

The competence had come, the death of Mrs. Welsh leaving to his wife and
himself practically from £200 to £300 a year: why not finally return to
the home of their early restful secluded life, "in reductâ, valle," with
no noise around it but the trickle of rills and the nibbling of sheep?
Craigenputtock was now their own, and within its "four walls" they would
begin a calmer life. Fortunately Mrs. Carlyle, whose shrewd practical
instinct was never at fault, saw through the fallacy, and set herself
resolutely against the scheme. Scotland had lost much of its charm for
her--a year later she refused an invitation from Mrs. Aitken, saying, "I
could do nothing at Scotsbrig or Dumfries but cry from morning to night."
She herself had enough of the Hill of the Hawks, and she know that within
a year Carlyle would again be calling it the Devil's Den and lamenting
Cheyne Row. He gave way with the protest, "I cannot deliberately mean
anything that is harmful to you," and certainly it was well for him.

There is no record of an original writer or artist coming from the
north of our island to make his mark in the south, succeeding, and then
retracing his steps. Had Carlyle done so, he would probably have passed
from the growing recognition of a society he was beginning to find on the
whole congenial, to the solitude of intellectual ostracism. Scotland may
be breezy, but it is not conspicuously free. Erratic opinions when duly
veiled are generally allowed; but this concession is of little worth. On
the tolerance of those who have no strong belief in anything, Carlyle,
thinking possibly of rose-water Hunt and the litterateurs of his tribe,
expressed himself with incisive and memorable truth: "It is but doubt
and indifference. _Touch the thing they do believe and value, their own
self-conceit: they are rattlesnakes then_."

[Footnote: The italics are Mr. Froude's.]

Tolerance for the frank expression of views which clash with the sincere
or professed faith of the majority is rare everywhere; in Scotland
rarest. English Churchmen, high and broad, were content to condone the
grim Calvinism still infiltrating Carlyle's thoughts, and to smile, at
worst, at his idolatry of the iconoclast who said, "the idolater shall
die the death." But the reproach of "Pantheism" was for long fatal to his
reception across the Tweed.

Towards the close of this period he acknowledged that London was "among
improper places" the best for "writing books," after all the one use of
living "for him;" its inhabitants "greatly the best" he "had ever walked
with," and its aristocracy--the Marshalls, Stanleys, Hollands, Russells,
Ashburtons, Lansdownes, who held by him through life--its "choicest
specimens." Other friendships equally valued he made among the leading
authors of the age. Tennyson sought his company, and Connop Thirlwall.
Arnold of Rugby wrote in commendation of the _French Revolution_ and
hailed _Chartism._ Thackeray admired him and reviewed him well. In
Macaulay, condemned to limbo under the suspicion of having reviewed him
ill, he found, when the suspicion was proved unjust, a promise of
better things. As early as 1839 Sterling had written an article in the
_Westminster,_ which gave him intense pleasure; for while contemning
praise in almost the same words as Byron did, he loved it equally well.
In 1840 he had crossed the Rubicon that lies between aspiration and
attainment. The populace might be blind or dumb, the "rattlesnakes"--the
"irresponsible indolent reviewers," who from behind a hedge pelt every
wrestler till they found societies for the victor--might still obscurely
hiss; but Carlyle was at length safe by the verdict of the "Conscript

[Footnote: The italics are Mr. Froude's.]




The bold venture of coming to London with a lean purse, few friends,
and little fame had succeeded: but it had been a terrible risk, and the
struggle had left scars behind it. To this period of his life we may
apply Carlyle's words,--made use of by himself at a later date,--"The
battle was over and we were sore wounded." It is as a maimed knight
of modern chivalry, who sounded the _réveil_ for an onslaught on the
citadels of sham, rather than as a prophet of the future that his name is
likely to endure in the history of English thought. He has also a place
with Scott amongst the recreators of bygone ages, but he regarded their
annals less as pictures than as lesson-books. His aim was that expressed
by Tennyson to "steal fire from fountains of the past," but his design
was to admonish rather than "to glorify the present." This is the avowed
object of the second of his distinctly political works, which following
on the track of the first, _Charlism_, and written in a similar spirit,
takes higher artistic rank. _Past and Present_, suggested by a visit to
the poorhouse of St. Ives and by reading the chronicle of _Jocelin de
Brakelond_, was undertaken as a duty, while he was mainly engaged on a
greater work,--the duty he felt laid upon him to say some thing that
should bear directly on the welfare of the people, especially of the poor
around him. It was an impulse similar to that which inspired _Oliver
Twist_, but Carlyle's remedies were widely different from those of
Dickens. Not merely more kindness and sympathy, but paternal government,
supplying work to the idle inmates of the workhouse, and insisting, by
force if need be, on it being done, was his panacea. It had been Abbot
Samson's way in his strong government of the Monastery of St. Edmunds,
and he resolved, half in parable, half in plain sermon, to recommend it
to the Ministers Peel and Russell.

In this mood, the book was written off in the first seven weeks of
1843, a _tour de force_ comparable to Johnson's writing of _Rasselas_.
Published in April, it at once made a mark by the opposition as well as
by the approval it excited. Criticism of the work--of its excellences,
which are acknowledged, and its defects as manifold--belongs to a review
of the author's political philosophy: it is enough here to note that it
was remarkable in three ways. _First_, the object of its main attack,
_laissez faire_, being a definite one, it was capable of having and had
some practical effect. Mr. Froude exaggerates when he says that Carlyle
killed the pseudo-science of orthodox political economy; for the
fundamental truths in the works of Turgot, Smith, Ricardo, and Mill
cannot be killed: but he pointed out that, like Aristotle's leaden rule,
the laws of supply and demand must be made to bend; as Mathematics made
mechanical must allow for friction, so must Economics leave us a little
room for charity. There is ground to believe that the famous Factory Acts
owed some of their suggestions to _Past and Present_. Carlyle always
speaks respectfully of the future Lord Shaftesbury. "I heard Milnes
saying," notes the Lady Sneerwell of real life, "at the Shuttleworths
that Lord Ashley was the greatest man alive: he was the only man that
Carlyle praised in his book. I daresay he knew I was overhearing him."
But, while supplying arguments and a stimulus to philanthropists, his
protests against philanthropy as an adequate solution of the problem of
human misery became more pronounced. About the date of the conception of
this book we find in the Journal:--

Again and again of late I ask myself in whispers, is it the
duty of a citizen to paint mere heroisms? ... Live to make
others happy! Yes, surely, at all times, so far as you can.
But at bottom that is not the aim of my life ... it is mere
hypocrisy to call it such, as is continually done
nowadays.... Avoid cant. Do not think that your life means
a mere searching in gutters for fallen figures to wipe and
set up.

_Past and Present_, in the _second_ place, is notable as the only
considerable consecutive book--unless we also except the _Life of
Sterling_,--which the author wrote without the accompaniment of
wrestlings, agonies, and disgusts. _Thirdly_, though marking a stage
in his mental progress, the fusion of the refrains of _Chartism_ and
_Hero-Worship_, and his first clear breach with Mazzini and with Mill,
the book was written as an interlude, when he was in severe travail with
his greatest contribution to English history. The last rebuff which
Carlyle encountered came, by curious accident, from the _Westminster_, to
which Mill had engaged him to contribute an article on "Oliver Cromwell."
While this was in preparation, Mill had to leave the country on account
of his health, and gave the review in charge to an Aberdonian called
Robertson, who wrote to stop the progress of the essay with the message
that _he_ had decided to undertake the subject himself. Carlyle was
angry; but, instead of sullenly throwing the MS. aside, he set about
constructing on its basis a History of the Civil War.

Numerous visits and tours during the following three years, though
bringing him into contact with new and interesting personalities, were
mainly determined by the resolve to make himself acquainted with the
localities of the war; and his knowledge of them has contributed to give
colour and reality to the finest battle-pieces in modern English prose.
In 1842 with Dr. Arnold he drove from Rugby fifteen miles to Naseby, and
the same year, after a brief yachting trip to Belgium--in the notes on
which the old Flemish towns stand out as clearly as in Longfellow's
verse--he made his pilgrimage to St. Ives and Ely Cathedral, where Oliver
two centuries before had called out to the recalcitrant Anglican in the
pulpit, "Cease your fooling and come down." In July 1843 Carlyle made a
trip to South Wales; to visit first a worthy devotee called Redwood, and
then Bishop Thirlwall near Carmarthen. "A right solid simple-hearted
robust man, very strangely swathed," is the visitor's meagre estimate of
one of our most classic historians.

On his way back he carefully reconnoitred the field of Worcester. Passing
his wife at Liverpool, where she was a guest of her uncle, and leaving
her to return to London and brush up Cheyne Row, he walked over Snowdon
from Llanheris to Beddgelert with his brother John. He next proceeded
to Scotsbrig, then north to Edinburgh, and then to Dunbar, which he
contrived to visit on the 3rd of September, an anniversary revived in his
pictured page with a glow and force to match which we have to revert
to Bacon's account of the sea-fight of the _Revenge_. From Dunbar he
returned to Edinburgh, spent some time with his always admired and
admiring friend Erskine of Linlathen, a Scotch broad churchman of the
type of F.D. Maurice and Macleod Campbell, and then went home to set in
earnest to the actual writing of his work. He had decided to abandon
the design of a History, and to make his book a Biography of Cromwell,
interlacing with it the main features and events of the Commonwealth. The
difficulties even of this reduced plan were still immense, and his groans
at every stage in its progress were "louder and more loud," _e.g._ "My
progress in _Cromwell_ is frightful." "A thousand times I regretted that
this task was ever taken up." "The most impossible book of all I ever
before tried," and at the close, "_Cromwell_ I must have written in 1844,
but for four years previous it had been a continual toil and misery to
me; four years of abstruse toil, obscure speculation, futile wrestling,
and misery I used to count it had cost me." The book issued in 1845 soon
went through three editions, and brought the author to the front as the
most original historian of his time. Macaulay was his rival, but in
different paths of the same field. About this time Mr. Froude became his
pupil, and has left an interesting account (iii. 290-300) of his master's
influence over the Oxford of those days, which would be only spoilt
by selections. Oxford, like Athens, ever longing after something new,
patronised the Chelsea prophet, and then calmed down to her wonted
cynicism. But Froude and Ruskin were, as far as compatible with the
strong personality of each, always loyal; and the capacity inborn in
both, the power to breathe life into dry records and dead stones, had at
least an added impulse from their master.

The year 1844 is marked by the publication in the _Foreign Quarterly_ of
the essay on _Dr. Francia,_ and by the death of John Sterling,--loved
with the love of David for Jonathan--outside his own family losses, the
greatest wrench in Carlyle's life. Sterling's published writings are as
inadequate to his reputation as the fragmentary remains of Arthur Hallam;
but in friendships, especially unequal friendships, personal fascination
counts for more than half, and all are agreed as to the charm in both
instances of the inspiring companionships. Archdeacon Hare having given a
somewhat coldly correct account of Sterling as a clergyman, Carlyle three
years later, in 1851, published his own impressions of his friend as
a thinker, sane philanthropist, and devotee of truth, in a work that,
written in a three months' fervour, has some claim to rank, though
faltering, as prose after verse, with _Adonais_, _In Memoriam_, and
Matthew Arnold's _Thyrsis_.

These years are marked by a series of acts of unobtrusive benevolence,
the memory of which has been in some cases accidentally rescued from the
oblivion to which the benefactor was willing to have them consigned.
Carlyle never boasted of doing a kindness. He was, like Wordsworth,
frugal at home beyond necessity, but often as generous in giving as he
was ungenerous in judging. His assistance to Thomas Cooper, author of the
_Purgatory of Suicides_, his time spent in answering letters of "anxious
enquirers,"--letters that nine out of ten busy men would have flung into
the waste-paper basket,--his interest in such works as Samuel Bamford's
_Life of a Radical_, and admirable advice to the writer; his instructions
to a young student on the choice of books, and well-timed warning to
another against the profession of literature, are sun-rifts in the storm,
that show "a heart within blood-tinctured, of a veined humanity." The same
epoch, however,--that of the start of the great writer's almost
uninterrupted triumph--brings us in face of an episode singularly delicate
and difficult to deal with, but impossible to evade.

[Footnote: These letters to Bamford, showing a keen interest in the
working men of whom his correspondent had written, point to the ideal of a
sort of Tory Democracy. Carlyle writes: "We want more knowledge about the
Lancashire operatives; their miseries and gains, virtues and vices. Winnow
what you have to say, and give us wheat free from chaff. Then the rich
captains of workers will he willing to listen to you. Brevity and
sincerity will succeed. Be brief and select, omit much, give each subject
its proper proportionate space; and be exact without caring to round off
the edges of what you have to say." Later, he declines Bamford's offer of
verses, saying "verse is a bugbear to booksellers at present. These are
prosaic, earnest, practical, not singing times."]

Carlyle, now generally recognised in London as having one of the most
powerful intellects and by far the greatest command of language among his
contemporaries, was beginning to suffer some of the penalties of renown
in being beset by bores and travestied by imitators; but he was also
enjoying its rewards. Eminent men of all shades of opinion made his
acquaintance; he was a frequent guest of the genial Maecenas, an admirer
of genius though no mere worshipper of success, R. Monckton Milnes;
meeting Hallam, Bunsen, Pusey, etc., at his house in London, and
afterwards visiting him at Fryston Hall in Yorkshire. The future Lord
Houghton was, among distinguished men of letters and society, the one of
whom he spoke with the most unvarying regard. Carlyle corresponded with
Peel, whom he set almost on a par with Wellington as worthy of
perfect trust, and talked familiarly with Bishop Wilberforce, whom he
miraculously credits with holding at heart views much like his own. At
a somewhat later date, in the circle of his friends, bound to him by
various degrees of intimacy, History was represented by Thirlwall, Grote,
and Froude; Poetry by Browning, Henry Taylor, Tennyson, and Clough;
Social Romance by Kingsley; Biography by James Spedding and John Forster;
and Criticism by John Ruskin. His link to the last named was, however,
their common distrust of political economy, as shown in _Unto This Last_,
rather than any deep artistic sympathy. In Macaulay, a conversationalist
more rapid than himself, Carlyle found a rival rather than a companion;
but his prejudiced view of physical science was forgotten in his personal
affection for Tyndall and in their congenial politics. His society was
from the publication of _Cromwell_ till near his death increasingly
sought after by the aristocracy, several members of which invited him to
their country seats, and bestowed on him all acceptable favours. In this
class he came to find other qualities than those referred to in the
_Sartor_ inscription, and other aims than that of "preserving their
game,"--the ambition to hold the helm of the State in stormy weather, and
to play their part among the captains of industry. In the _Reminiscences_
the aristocracy are deliberately voted to be "for continual grace of
bearing and of acting, steadfast honour, light address, and cheery
stoicism, actually yet the best of English classes." There can be no
doubt that his intercourse with this class, as with men of affairs and
letters, some of whom were his proximate equals, was a fortunate sequel
to the duck-pond of Ecclefechan and the lonely rambles on the Border

Es bildet ein Talent sich in der Stille,
Sich ein Character in dem Strom der Welt.

The life of a great capital may be the crown of education, but there is
a danger in homage that comes late and then without reserve. Give me
neither poverty nor riches, applies to praise as well as to wealth; and
the sudden transition from comparative neglect to

honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,

is a moral trial passing the strength of all but a few of the "irritable
race" of writers. The deference paid to Carlyle made him yet more
intolerant of contradiction, and fostered his selfishness, in one
instance with the disastrous result of clouding a whole decade of his
domestic life. In February 1839 he speaks of dining--"an eight-o'clock
dinner which ruined me for a week"--with "a certain Baring," at whose
table in Bath House he again met Bunsen, and was introduced to Lord
Mahon. This was the beginning of what, after the death of Sterling,
grew into the most intimate friendship of his life. Baring, son of Lord
Ashburton of the American treaty so named, and successor to the title on
his father's death in 1848, was a man of sterling worth and sound sense,
who entered into many of the views of his guest. His wife was by general
consent the most brilliant woman of rank in London, whose grace, wit,
refinement, and decision of character had made her the acknowledged
leader of society. Lady Harriet, by the exercise of some overpowering
though purely intellectual spell, made the proudest of men, the modern
Diogenes, our later Swift, so much her slave that for twelve years,
whenever he could steal a day from his work, he ran at her beck from town
to country, from castle to cot; from Addiscombe, her husband's villa in
Surrey, to the Grange, her father-in-law's seat in Hampshire; from Loch
Luichart and Glen Finnan, where they had Highland shootings, to the
Palais Eoyal. Mr. Froude's comment in his introduction to the Journal
is substantially as follows: Lady Harriet Baring or Ashburton was the
centre of a planetary system in which every distinguished public man of
genuine worth then revolved. Carlyle was naturally the chief among them,
and he was perhaps at one time ambitious of himself taking some part in
public affairs, and saw the advantage of this stepping-stone to enable
him to do something more for the world, as Byron said, than write books
for it. But the idea of entering Parliament, which seems to have once
suggested itself to him in 1849, was too vague and transient to have ever
influenced his conduct. It is more correct to say that he was flattered
by a sympathy not too thorough to be tame, pleased by adulation never
gross, charmed by the same graces that charmed the rest, and finally
fascinated by a sort of hypnotism. The irritation which this strange
alliance produced in the mind of the mistress of Cheyne Row is no matter
of surprise. Pride and affection together had made her bear with all her
husband's humours, and share with him all the toils of the struggle
from obscurity. He had emerged, and she was still half content to be
systematically set aside for his books, the inanimate rivals on which he
was building a fame she had some claim to share. But her fiery spirit was
not yet tamed into submitting to be sacrificed to an animate rival, or
passively permitting the usurpation of companionship grudged to herself
by another woman, whom she could not enjoy the luxury of despising. Lady
Harriet's superiority in _finesse_ and geniality, as well as advantages
of station, only aggravated the injury; and this with a singular want of
tact Carlyle further aggravated when he insisted on his wife accepting
the invitations of his hostess. These visits, always against the grain,
were rendered more irritating from a half-conscious antagonism between
the chief female actors in the tragi-comedy; the one sometimes innocently
unobservant of the wants of her guest, the other turning every accidental
neglect into a slight, and receiving every jest as an affront. Carlyle's
"Gloriana" was to the mind of his wife a "heathen goddess," while Mrs.
Carlyle, with reference to her favourite dog "Nero," was in her turn
nicknamed "Agrippina."

In midsummer of 1846, after an enforced sojourn at Addiscombe in worse
than her usual health, she returned to Chelsea with "her mind all churned
to froth," and opened it to her husband with such plainness that "there
was a violent scene": she left the house in a mood like that of the first
Mrs. Milton, and took refuge with her friends the Paulets at Seaforth
near Liverpool, uncertain whether or not she would return. There were
only two persons from whom it seemed natural for her at such a crisis
to ask advice; one was Geraldine Jewsbury, a young Manchester lady,
authoress of a well-known novel, _The Half-Sisters_, from the beginning
of their acquaintance in 1841 till the close in 1866 her most intimate
associate and chosen confidant, who, we are told, "knew all" her secrets.

[Footnote: Carlyle often speaks, sometimes slightingly, of Miss Jewsbury,
as a sensational novelist and admirer of George Sand, but he appreciated
her genuine worth.]

The other was the inspired Italian, pure patriot and Stoic moralist Joseph
Mazzini. To him she wrote twice--once apparently before leaving London,
and again from Seaforth. His letters in reply, tenderly sympathetic and
yet rigidly insistent on the duty of forbearance and endurance, availed to
avert the threatened catastrophe; but there are sentences which show how
bitter the complaints must have been.

It is only you who can teach yourself that, whatever the
_present_ may be, you must front it with dignity.... I
could only point out to you the fulfilment of duties which
can make life--not happy--what can? but earnest, sacred, and
resigned.... I am carrying a burden even heavier than you,
and have undergone even bitterer deceptions. Your life
proves an empty thing, you say. Empty! Do not blaspheme.
Have you never done good? Have you never loved? ... Pain and
joy, deception and fulfilled hopes are just the rain and the
sunshine that must meet the traveller on his way. Bless the
Almighty if He has thought proper to send the latter to
you.... Wrap your cloak round you against the first, but do
not think a single moment that the one or the other have
anything to do with the _end_ of the journey.

Carlyle's first letter after the rupture is a mixture of reproach
and affection. "We never parted before in such a manner; and all for
literally nothing.... Adieu, dearest, for that is, and, if madness
prevail not, may for ever be your authentic title." Another, enclosing
the birthday present which he had never omitted since her mother's death,
softened his wife's resentment, and the storm blew over for a time.
But while the cause remained there was in the house at best a surface
tranquillity, at worst an under tone of misery which (October 1855 to May
1856) finds voice in the famous Diary, not merely covered with "black
spider webs," but steeped in gall, the publication of which has made so
much debate. It is like a page from _Othello_ reversed. A few sentences
condense the refrain of the lament. "Charles Buller said of the Duchess
de Praslin, 'What could a poor fellow do with a wife that kept a journal
but murder her?'" "That eternal Bath House. I wonder how many thousand
miles Mr. C. has walked between here and there?" "Being an only child, I
never wished to sew men's trousers--no, never!"

I gin to think I've sold myself
For very little cas."

"To-day I called on my lady: she was perfectly civil, for a wonder."

"Edward Irving! The past is past and gone is gone--

O waly, waly, love is bonnie,
A little while when it is new;"

quotations which, laid alongside the records of the writer's visit to the
people at Haddington, "who seem all to grow so good and kind as they grow
old," and to the graves in the churchyard there, are infinitely pathetic.
The letters that follow are in the same strain, _e.g._ to Carlyle when
visiting his sister at the Gill, "I never forget kindness, nor, alas,
unkindness either": to Luichart, "I don't believe thee, wishing yourself
at home.... You don't, as weakly amiable people do, sacrifice yourself
for the pleasure of others"; to Mrs. Russell at Thornhill, "My London
doctor's prescription is that I should be kept always happy and

In the summer of 1856 Lady Ashburton gave a real ground for offence in
allowing both the Carlyles, on their way north with her, to take a seat
in an ordinary railway carriage, beside her maid, while she herself
travelled in a special saloon. Partly, perhaps in consequence, Mrs.
Carlyle soon went to visit her cousins in Fifeshire, and afterwards
refused to accompany her ladyship on the way back. This resulted in
another quarrel with her husband, who had issued the command from
Luichart--but it was their last on the subject, for Gloriana died on the
4th of the following May, 1857, at Paris: "The most queen-like woman I
had ever known or seen, by nature and by culture _facile princeps_ she, I
think, of all great ladies I have ever seen." This brought to a close an
episode in which there were faults on both sides, gravely punished: the
incidents of its course and the manner in which they were received show,
among other things, that railing at the name of "Happiness" does little
or nothing to reconcile people to the want of the reality. In 1858 Lord
Ashburton married again--a Miss Stuart Mackenzie, who became the attached
friend of the Carlyles, and remained on terms of unruffled intimacy with
both till the end: she survived her husband, who died in 1864, leaving a
legacy of £2000 to the household at Cheyne Row. _Sic transiit._

From this date we must turn back over nearly twenty years to retrace the
main steps of the great author's career. Much of the interval was devoted
to innumerable visits, in acceptance of endless hospitalities, or in
paying his annual devotions to Annandale,--calls on his time which kept
him rushing from place to place like a comet. Two facts are notable about
those expeditions: they rarely seemed to give him much pleasure, even at
Scotsbrig he complained of sleepless nights and farm noises; and he was
hardly ever accompanied by his wife. She too was constantly running north
to her own kindred in Liverpool or Scotland, but their paths did not run
parallel, they almost always intersected, so that when the one was on the
way north the other was homeward bound, to look out alone on "a horizon
of zero." Only a few of these visits are worth recording as of general
interest. Most of them were paid, a few received. In the autumn of 1846,
Margaret Fuller, sent from Emerson, called at Cheyne Row, and recorded
her impression of the master as "in a very sweet humour, full of wit and
pathos, without being overbearing," adding that she was "carried away by
the rich flow of his discourse"; and that "the hearty noble earnestness
of his personal bearing brought back the charm of his writing before she
wearied of it." A later visitor, Miss Martineau, his old helper in days
of struggle, was now thus esteemed: "Broken into utter wearisomeness,
a mind reduced to these three elements--imbecility, dogmatism, and
unlimited hope. I never in my life was more heartily bored with any
creature!" In 1847 there followed the last English glimpse of Jeffrey and
the last of Dr. Chalmers, who was full of enthusiasm about _Cromwell_;
then a visit to the Brights, John and Jacob, at Rochdale: with the former
he had "a paltry speaking match" on topics described as "shallow, totally
worthless to me," the latter he liked, recognising in him a culture and
delicacy rare with so much strength of will and independence of thought.
Later came a second visit from Emerson, then on a lecturing tour to
England, gathering impressions revived in his _English Traits_. "His
doctrines are too airy and thin," wrote Carlyle, "for the solid practical
heads of the Lancashire region. We had immense talkings with him here,
but found that he did not give us much to chew the cud upon. He is a
pure-minded man, but I think his talent is not quite so high as I had
anticipated." They had an interesting walk to Stonehenge together,
and Carlyle attended one of his friend's lectures, but with modified
approval, finding this serene "spiritual son" of his own rather "gone
into philanthropy and moonshine." Emerson's notes of this date, on the
other hand, mark his emancipation from mere discipleship. "Carlyle had
all the kleinstãdtlicher traits of an islander and a Scotsman, and
reprimanded with severity the rebellious instincts of the native of a
vast continent.... In him, as in Byron, one is more struck with the
rhetoric than with the matter.... There is more character than intellect
in every sentence, therein strangely resembling Samuel Johnson." The same
year Carlyle perpetrated one of his worst criticisms, that on Keats:--

The kind of man he was gets ever more horrible to me. Force
of hunger for pleasure of every kind, and want of all other
force.... Such a structure of soul, it would once have been
very evident, was a chosen "Vessel of Hell";

and in the next an ungenerously contemptuous reference to Macaulay's

The most popular ever written. Fourth edition already,
within perhaps four months. Book to which four hundred
editions could not add any value, there being no depth of
sense in it at all, and a very great quantity of rhetorical

Landor, on the other hand, whom he visited later at Bath, he appreciated,
being "much taken with the gigantesque, explosive but essentially
chivalrous and almost heroic old man." He was now at ease about the sale
of his books, having, _inter alia_, received £600 for a new edition of
the _French Revolution_ and the _Miscellanies_. His journal is full of
plans for a new work on Democracy, Organisation of Labour, and Education,
and his letters of the period to Thomas Erskine and others are largely
devoted to politics.

[Footnote: This is one of the few instances in which further knowledge led
to a change for the better in Carlyle's judgment. In a letter to Emerson,
1840, he speaks disparagingly of Landor as "a wild man, whom no extent of
culture had been able to tame! His intellectual faculty seemed to me to be
weak in proportion to his violence of temper: the judgment he gives about
anything is more apt to be wrong than right,--as the inward whirlwind
shows him this side or the other of the object: and _sides_ of an object
are all that he sees." _De te faliula._ Emerson answers defending Landor,
and indicating points of likeness between him and Carlyle.]

In 1846 he spent the first week of September in Ireland, crossing from
Ardrossan to Belfast, and then driving to Drogheda, and by rail to
Dublin, where in Conciliation Hall he saw O'Connell for the first time
since a casual glimpse at a radical meeting arranged by Charles Buller--a
meeting to which he had gone out of curiosity in 1834. O'Connell was
always an object of Carlyle's detestation, and on this occasion he does
not mince his words.

Chief quack of the then world ... first time I had ever
heard the lying scoundrel speak.... Demosthenes of blarney
... the big beggar-man who had £15,000 a year, and, _proh
pudor!_ the favour of English ministers instead of the

At Dundrum he met by invitation Carleton the novelist, with Mitchell and
Gavan Duffy, the Young Ireland leaders whom he seems personally to have
liked, but he told Mitchell that he would probably be hanged, and said
during a drive about some flourishing and fertile fields of the Pale, "Ah!
Duffy, there you see the hoof of the bloody Saxon."

[Footnote: Sir C. Gavan Duffy, in the "Conversations and Correspondence,"
now being published in the _Contemporary Review_, naturally emphasises
Carlyle's politer, more genial side, and prints several expressions of
sympathy with the "Tenant Agitations"; but his demur to the _Reminiscences
of My Irish Journey_ being accepted as an accurate account of the writer's
real sentiments is of little avail in face of the letters to Emerson, more
strongly accentuating the same views, _e.g._ "Bothered almost to madness
with Irish balderdash.... '_Blacklead_ these two million idle beggars,' I
sometimes advised, 'and sell them in Brazil as niggers!'--perhaps
Parliament on sweet constraint will allow you to advance them to be

He returned from Kingston to Liverpool on the 10th, and so closed his
short and unsatisfactory trip. Three years later, July to August 6th,
1849, he paid a longer and final visit to the "ragged commonweal" or
"common woe," as Raleigh called it, landing at Dublin, and after some days
there passing on to Kildare, Kilkenny, Lismore, Waterford, beautiful
Killarney and its beggar hordes, and then to Limerick, Clare, Castlebar,
where he met W.E. Forster, whose acquaintance he had made two years
earlier at Matlock. At Gweedore in Donegal he stayed with Lord George
Hill, whom he respected, though persuaded that he was on the wrong road to
Reform by Philanthropy in a country where it had never worked; and then on
to half Scotch Derry. There, August 6th, he made an emphatic after-
breakfast speech to a half-sympathetic audience; the gist of it being that
the remedy for Ireland was not "emancipation" or "liberty," but to "cease
following the devil, as it had been doing for two centuries." The same
afternoon he escaped on board a Glasgow steamer, and landed safe at 2 A.M.
on the morning of the 7th. The notes of the tour, set down on his return
to Chelsea and republished in 1882, have only the literary merit of the
vigorous descriptive touches inseparable from the author's lightest
writing; otherwise they are mere rough-and-tumble jottings, with no
consecutive meaning, of a rapid hawk's-eye view of the four provinces.

But Carlyle never ceased to maintain the thesis they set forth, that
Ireland is, for the most part, a country of semi-savages, whose
staple trade is begging, whose practice is to lie, unfit not only
for self-government but for what is commonly called constitutional
government, whose ragged people must be coerced, by the methods of
Raleigh, of Spenser, and of Cromwell, into reasonable industry and
respect for law. At Westport, where "human swinery has reached its acme,"
he finds "30,000 paupers in a population of 60,000, and 34,000 kindred
hulks on outdoor relief, lifting each an ounce of mould with a shovel,
while 5000 lads are pretending to break stones," and exclaims, "Can it be
a charity to keep men alive on these terms? In face of all the twaddle of
the earth, shoot a man rather than train him (with heavy expense to his
neighbours) to be a deceptive human swine." Superficial travellers
generally praise the Irish. Carlyle had not been long in their country
when he formulated his idea of the Home Rule that seemed to him most for
their good.

Kildare Railway: big blockhead sitting with his dirty feet
on seat opposite, not stirring them for one who wanted to
sit there. "One thing we're all agreed on," said he; "we're
very ill governed: Whig, Tory, Radical, Repealer, all all
admit we're very ill-governed!" I thought to myself, "Yes,
indeed; you govern yourself! He that would govern you well
would probably surprise you much, my friend--laying a hearty
horse-whip over that back of yours."

And a little later at Castlebar he declares, "Society here would have to
eat itself and end by cannibalism in a week, if it were not held up by
the rest of our Empire standing afoot." These passages are written in
the spirit which inspired his paper on "The Nigger Question" and the
aggressive series of assaults to which it belongs, on what he regarded as
the most prominent quackeries, shams, and pretence philanthropies of the
day. His own account of the reception of this work is characteristic:--

In 1849, after an interval of deep gloom and bottomless
dubitation, came _Latter-Day Pamphlets_, which
unpleasantly astonished everybody, set the world upon the
strangest suppositions--"Carlyle got deep into whisky," said
some,--ruined my reputation according to the friendliest
voices, and in effect divided me altogether from the mob of
"Progress-of-the-species" and other vulgar; but were a great
relief to my own conscience as a faithful citizen, and have
been ever since.

These pamphlets alienated Mazzini and Mill, and provoked the assault
of the newspapers; which, by the author's confession, did something to
arrest and restrict the sale.

Nor was this indignation wholly unnatural. Once in his life, on occasion
of his being called to serve at a jury trial, Carlyle, with remarkable
adroitness, coaxed a recalcitrant juryman into acquiescence with the
majority; but coaxing as a rule was not his way. When he found himself in
front of what he deemed to be a falsehood his wont was to fly in its face
and tear it to pieces. His satire was not like that of Horace, who taught
his readers _ridendo dicere verum_, it was rather that of the elder
Lucilius or the later Juvenal; not that of Chaucer, who wrote--

That patience is a virtue high is plain,
Because it conquers, as the clerks explain,
Things that rude valour never could attain,

but that of _The Lye_, attributed to Raleigh, or Swift's _Gulliver_ or
the letters of Junius. The method of direct denunciation has advantages:
it cannot be mistaken, nor, if strong enough, ignored; but it must lay
its account with consequences, and Carlyle in this instance found them
so serious that he was threatened at the height of his fame with
dethronement. Men said he had lost his head, gone back to the everlasting
"No," and mistaken swearing all round for political philosophy. The
ultimate value attached to the _Latter-Day Pamphlets_ must depend to a
large extent on the view of the critic. It is now, however, generally
admitted on the one hand that they served in some degree to counteract
the rashness of Philanthropy; on the other, that their effect was marred
by more than the writer's usual faults of exaggeration. It is needless to
refer the temper they display to the troubles then gathering about his
domestic life. A better explanation is to be found in the public events
of the time.

The two years previous to their appearance were the Revolution years,
during which the European world seemed to be turned upside down. The
French had thrown out their _bourgeois_ king, Louis Philippe--"the
old scoundrel," as Carlyle called him,--and established their second
Republic. Italy, Hungary, and half Germany were in revolt against the old
authorities; the Irish joined in the chorus, and the Chartist monster
petition was being carted to Parliament. Upheaval was the order of the
day, kings became exiles and exiles kings, dynasties and creeds were
being subverted, and empires seemed rocking as on the surface of an
earthquake. They were years of great aspirations, with beliefs in all
manner of swift regeneration--

Magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo,

all varieties of doctrinaire idealisms. Mazzini failed at Rome, Kossuth
at Pesth; the riots of Berlin resulted in the restoration of the old
dull bureaucratic regime; Smith O'Brien's bluster exploded in a cabbage
garden; the Railway Bubble burst in the fall of the bloated king Hudson,
and the Chartism of the time evaporated in smoke. The old sham gods, with
Buonaparte of the stuffed eagle in front, came back; because, concluded
Carlyle, there was no man in the front of the new movement strong enough
to guide it; because its figure-heads were futile sentimentalists,
insurgents who could not win. The reaction produced by their failure had
somewhat the same effect on his mind that the older French Revolution had
on that of Burke: he was driven back to a greater degree than Mr. Froude
allows on practical conservatism and on the negations of which
the _Latter-Day Pamphlets_ are the expression. To this series of
_pronunciamentos_ of political scepticism he meant to add another, of
which he often talks under the name of "Exodus from Houndsditch," boldly
stating and setting forth the grounds of his now complete divergence from
all forms of what either in England or Europe generally could be called
the Orthodox faith in Religion. He was, we are told, withheld from this
by the feeling that the teaching even of the priests he saw and derided
in Belgium or in Galway was better than the atheistic materialism which
he associated with the dominion of mere physical science. He may have
felt he had nothing definite enough to be understood by the people to
substitute for what he proposed to destroy; and he may have had a thought
of the reception of such a work at Scotsbrig. Much of the _Life of
Sterling_, however, is somewhat less directly occupied with the same
question, and though gentler in tone it excited almost as much clamour as
the _Pamphlets_, especially in the north. The book, says Carlyle himself,
was "utterly revolting to the religious people in particular (to my
surprise rather than otherwise). 'Doesn't believe in us either!' Not he
for certain; can't, if you will know." During the same year his almost
morbid dislike of materialism found vent in denunciations of the "Crystal
Palace" Exhibition of Industry; though for its main promoter, Prince
Albert, he subsequently entertained and expressed a sincere respect.

In the summer of 1851 the Carlyles went together to Malvern, where they
met Tennyson (whose good nature had been proof against some slighting
remarks on his verses), Sydney Dobell, then in the fame of his
"Roman," and other celebrities. They tried the "Water Cure," under the
superintendence of Dr. Gully, who received and treated them as guests;
but they derived little good from the process. "I found," says Carlyle,
"water taken as medicine to be the most destructive drug I had ever
tried." Proceeding northward, he spent three weeks with his mother, then
in her eighty-fourth year and at last growing feeble; a quiet time only
disturbed by indignation at "one ass whom I heard the bray of in some
Glasgow newspaper," comparing "our grand hater of shams" to Father
Gavazzi. His stay was shortened by a summons to spend a few days with the
Ashburtons at Paris on their return from Switzerland. Though bound by
a promise to respond to the call, Carlyle did not much relish it.
Travelling abroad was always a burden to him, and it was aggravated in
this case by his very limited command of the language for conversational
purposes. Fortunately, on reaching London he found that the poet Browning,
whose acquaintance he had made ten years before, was, with his wife, about
to start for the same destination, and he prevailed upon them, though
somewhat reluctant, to take charge of him.

[Footnote: Mrs. Sutherland Orr's _Life of Robert Browning_.]

The companionship was therefore not accidental, and it was of great
service. "Carlyle," according to Mrs. Browning's biographer, "would have
been miserable without Browning," who made all the arrangements for the
party, passed luggage through the customs, saw to passports, fought the
battles of all the stations, and afterwards acted as guide through the
streets of the great city. By a curious irony, two verse-makers and
admirers of George Sand made it possible for the would-be man of action to
find his way. The poetess, recalling the trip afterwards, wrote that she
liked the prophet more than she expected, finding his "bitterness only
melancholy, and his scorn sensibility." Browning himself continued through
life to regard Carlyle with "affectionate reverence." "He never ceased,"
says Mrs. Orr, "to defend him against the charge of unkindness to his
wife, or to believe that, in the matter of their domestic unhappiness, she
was the more responsible of the two.... He always thought her a hard
unlovable woman, and I believe little liking was lost between them ... Yet
Carlyle never rendered him that service--easy as it appears--which one man
of letters most justly values from another, that of proclaiming the
admiration which he privately professed for his work." The party started,
September 24th, and reached Dieppe by Newhaven, after a rough passage, the
effects of which on some fellow-travellers more unfortunate than himself
Carlyle describes in a series of recently-discovered jottings [Footnote:
Partially reproduced, _Pall Mall Gazette,_ April 9th 1890, with
illustrative connecting comments.] made on his return, October 2nd, to
Chelsea. On September 25th they reached Paris. Carlyle joined the
Ashburtons at Meurice's Hotel; there dined, went in the evening to the
Théâtre Français, cursed the play, and commented unpleasantly on General
Changarnier sitting in the stalls.

During the next few days he met many of the celebrities of the time, and
caricatured, after his fashion, their personal appearance, talk, and
manner. These criticisms are for the most part of little value. The
writer had in some of his essays shown almost as much capacity of
understanding the great Frenchmen of the last century as was compatible
with his Puritan vein; but as regards French literature since the
Revolution he was either ignorant or alien. What light could be thrown on
that interesting era by a man who could only say of the authors of _La
Comédie Humaine_ and _Consuelo_ that they were ministers in a Phallus
worship? Carlyle seems to have seen most of Thiers, whom he treats with
good-natured condescension, but little insight: "round fat body, tapering
like a ninepin into small fat feet, placidly sharp fat face, puckered
eyeward ... a frank, sociable kind of creature, who has absolutely
no malignity towards any one, and is not the least troubled with
self-seekings." Thiers talked with contempt of Michelet; and Carlyle,
unconscious of the numerous affinities between that historian of genius
and himself, half assented. Prosper Mérimée, on the other hand,
incensed him by some freaks of criticism, whether in badinage or in
earnest--probably the former. "Jean Paul," he said, getting on the theme
of German literature, "was a hollow fool of the first magnitude," and
Goethe was "insignificant, unintelligible, a paltry kind of Scribe
manqué." "I could stand no more of it, but lighted a cigar, and adjourned
to the street. 'You impertinent blasphemous blockhead!' this was sticking
in my throat: better to retire without bringing it out."

[Footnote: The two men were mutually antagonistic; Mérimée tried to read
the _French Revolution_, but flung the book aside in weariness or in

Of Guizot he writes, "Tartuffe, gaunt, hollow, resting on the everlasting
'No' with a haggard consciousness that it ought to be the everlasting
'Yea.'" "To me an extremely detestable kind of man." Carlyle missed
General Cavaignac, "of all Frenchmen the one" he "cared to see." In the
streets of Paris he found no one who could properly be called a gentleman.
"The truly ingenious and strong men of France are here (_i.e_. among the
industrial classes) making money, while the politician, literary, etc.
etc. class is mere play-actorism." His summary before leaving at the close
of a week, rather misspent, is: "Articulate-speaking France was altogether
without beauty or meaning to me in my then diseased mood; but I saw traces
of the inarticulate ... much worthier."

Back in London, he sent Mrs. Carlyle to the Grange (distinguishing
himself, in an interval of study at home, by washing the back area flags
with his own hands), and there joined her till the close of the year.
During the early part of the next he was absorbed in reading and planning
work. Then came an unusually tranquil visit to Thomas Erskine of
Linlathen, during which he had only to complain that the servants were
often obliged to run out of the room to hide their laughter at his
humorous bursts. At the close of August 1852 he embarked on board a Leith
steamer bound for Rotterdam, on his first trip to Germany. Home once
more, in October, he found chaos come, and seas of paint overwhelming
everything; "went to the Grange, and back in time to witness from Bath
House the funeral, November 18th, of the great Duke," remarking, "The
one true man of official men in England, or that I know of in Europe,
concludes his long course.... Tennyson's verses are naught. Silence alone
is respectable on such an occasion." In March, again at the Grange, he
met the Italian minister Azeglio, and when this statesman disparaged
Mazzini--a thing only permitted by Carlyle to himself--he retorted with
the remark, "Monsieur, vous ne le connaissez pas du tout, du tout." At
Chelsea, on his return, the fowl tragic-comedy reached a crisis, "the
unprotected male" declaring that he would shoot them or poison them. "A
man is not a Chatham nor a Wallenstein; but a man has work too, which the
Powers would not quite wish to have suppressed by two and sixpence
worth of bantams.... They must either withdraw or die." Ultimately his
mother-wife came to the rescue of her "babe of genius"; the cocks
were bought off, and in the long-talked-of sound-proof room the last
considerable work of his life, though painfully, proceeded. Meanwhile
"brother John" had married, and Mrs. Carlyle went to visit the couple at
Moffat. While there bad tidings came from Scotsbrig, and she dutifully
hurried off to nurse her mother-in-law through an attack from which the
strong old woman temporarily rallied. But the final stroke could not be
long delayed. When Carlyle was paying his winter visit to the Grange in
December news came that his mother was worse, and her recovery
despaired of; and, by consent of his hostess, he hurried off to
Scotsbrig,--"mournful leave given me by the Lady A., mournful
encouragement to be speedy, not dilatory,"--and arrived in time to hear
her last words. "Here is Tom come to bid you good-night, mother," said
John. "As I turned to go, she said, 'I'm muckle obleeged to you.'" She
spoke no more, but passed from sleep after sleep of coma to that of
death, on Sunday, Christmas Day, 1853. "We can only have one mother,"
exclaimed Byron on a like event--the solemn close of many storms. But
between Margaret Carlyle and the son of whom she was so proud there had
never been a shadow. "If," writes Mr. Froude, "she gloried in his fame
and greatness, he gloried more in being her son, and while she lived she,
and she only, stood between him and the loneliness of which he so often
and so passionately complained."

Of all Carlyle's letters none are more tenderly beautiful than those
which he sent to Scotsbrig. The last, written on his fifty-eighth
birthday, December 4th, which she probably never read, is one of the
finest. The close of their wayfaring together left him solitary; his
"soul all hung with black," and, for months to come, everything around
was overshadowed by the thought of his bereavement. In his journal of
February 28th 1854, he tells us that he had on the Sunday before seen a
vision of Mainhill in old days, with mother, father, and the rest getting
dressed for the meeting-house. "They are gone now, vanished all; their
poor bits of thrifty clothes, ... their pious struggling efforts; their
little life, it is all away. It has all melted into the still sea, it
was rounded with a sloop." The entry ends, as fitting, with a prayer: "O
pious mother! kind, good, brave, and truthful soul as I have ever found,
and more than I have elsewhere found in this world. Your poor Tom, long
out of his schooldays now, has fallen very lonely, very lame and broken
in this pilgrimage of his; and you cannot help him or cheer him ... any
more. From your grave in Ecclefechan kirkyard yonder you bid him trust in
God; and that also he will try if he can understand and do."




Carlyle was now engaged on a work which required, received, and well nigh
exhausted all his strength, resulting in the greatest though the least
generally read of all his books. _Cromwell_ achieved, he had thrown
himself for a season into contemporary politics, condescending even,
contrary to his rule, to make casual contributions to the Press; but his
temper was too hot for success in that arena, and his letters of the time
are full of the feeling that the _Latter-Day Pamphlets_ had set the world
against him. Among his generous replies to young men asking advice, none
is more suggestive than that in which he writes from Chelsea (March 9th

If my books teach you anything, don't mind in the least
whether other people believe it or not; but lay it to
heart ... as a real message left with you, which you must
set about fulfilling, whatever others do.... And be not
surprised that "people have no sympathy with you." That is
an accompaniment that will attend you all your days if you
mean to live an earnest life.

But he himself, though "ever a fighter," felt that, even for him, it was
not good to be alone. He decided there "was no use railing in vain like
Timon"; he would go back again from the present to the past, from the
latter days of discord to seek countenance in some great figure of
history, under whose ægis he might shelter the advocacy of his views.
Looking about for a theme, several crossed his mind. He thought of
Ireland, but that was too burning a subject; of William the Conqueror, of
Simon de Montfort, the Norsemen, the Cid; but these may have seemed to
him too remote. Why, ask patriotic Scotsmen, did he not take up his and
their favourite Knox? But Knox's life had been fairly handled by M'Crie,
and Carlyle would have found it hard to adjust his treatment of that
essentially national "hero" to the "Exodus from Houndsditch." "Luther"
might have been an apter theme; but there too it would have been a strain
to steer clear of theological controversy, of which he had had enough.
Napoleon was at heart too much of a gamin for his taste. Looking over
Europe in more recent times, he concluded that the Prussian monarchy had
been the main centre of modern stability, and that it had been made so by
its virtual creator, Friedrich II., called the Great. Once entertained,
the subject seized him as with the eye of Coleridge's mariner, and, in
spite of manifold efforts to get free, compelled him, so that he could
"not choose but" write on it. Again and again, as the magnitude of the
task became manifest, we find him doubting, hesitating, recalcitrating,
and yet captive. He began reading Jomini, Preuss, the king's own Memoirs
and Despatches, and groaned at the mountains through which he had to dig.
"Prussian Friedrich and the Pelion laid on Ossa of Prussian dry-as-dust
lay crushing me with the continual question, Dare I try it? Dare I not?"
At length, gathering himself together for the effort, he resolved, as
before in the case of Cromwell, to visit the scenes of which he was to
write. Hence the excursion to Germany of 1852, during which, with the
kindly-offered guidance of Mr. Neuberg, an accomplished German admirer of
some fortune resident in London, he made his first direct acquaintance
with the country of whose literature he had long been himself the English
interpreter. The outlines of the trip may be shortly condensed from the
letters written during its progress to his wife and mother. He reached
Rotterdam on September 1st; then after a night made sleepless by "noisy
nocturnal travellers and the most industrious cocks and clamorous bells"
he had ever heard, he sailed up the river to Bonn, where he consulted
books, saw "Father Arndt," and encountered some types of the German
professoriate, "miserable creatures lost in statistics." There he met
Neuberg, and they went together to Rolandseck, to the village of Hunef
among the Sieben-Gebirge, and then on to Coblenz. After a detour to Ems,
which Carlyle, comminating the gaming-tables, compared to Matlock, and
making a pilgrimage to Nassau as the birthplace of William the Silent,
they rejoined the Rhine and sailed admiringly up the finest reach of the
river. From Mainz the philosopher and his guide went on to Frankfort,
paid their respects to Goethe's statue and the garret where _Werther_ was
written, the Judengasse, "grimmest section of the Middle Ages," and the
Römer--election hall of the old Kaisers; then to Homburg, where they saw
an old Russian countess playing "gowpanfuls of gold pieces every
stake," and left after no long stay, Carlyle, in a letter to Scotsbrig,
pronouncing the fashionable Badeort to be the "rallying-place of such a
set of empty blackguards as are not to be found elsewhere in the world."
We find him next at Marburg, where he visited the castle of Philip of
Hesse. Passing through Cassel, he went to Eisenach, and visited the
neighbouring Wartburg, where he kissed the old oaken table, on which the
Bible was made an open book for the German race, and noted the hole in
the plaster where the inkstand had been thrown at the devil and his
noises; an incident to which eloquent reference is made in the lectures
on "Heroes." Hence they drove to Gotha, and lodged in Napoleon's room
after Leipzig. Then by Erfurt, with more Luther memories, they took rail
to Weimar, explored the houses of Goethe and of Schiller, and dined by
invitation with the Augustenburgs; the Grand Duchess, with sons and
daughters, conversing in a Babylonish dialect, a melange of French,
English, and German. The next stage seems to have been Leipzig, then in
a bustle with the Fair. "However," says Carlyle, "we got a book or two,
drank a glass of wine in Auerbach's keller, and at last got off safe to
the comparative quiet of Dresden." He ignores the picture galleries; and
makes a bare reference to the palaces from which they steamed up the Elbe
to the heart of Saxon Switzerland. There he surveyed Lobositz, first
battle-field of the Seven Years' War, and rested at the romantic mountain
watering-place of Töplitz. "He seems," wrote Mrs. Carlyle, "to be getting
very successfully through his travels, thanks to the patience and
helpfulness of Neuberg. He makes in every letter frightful _misereres_
over his sleeping accommodations; but he cannot conceal that he is really
pretty well." The writer's own _misereres_ are as doleful and nearly
as frequent; but she was really in much worse health. From Töplitz the
companions proceeded in weary stellwagens to Zittau in Lusatia, and so on

Herrnhut, the primitive city of the Moravian brethren: a
place not bigger than Annan, but beautiful, pure, and quiet
beyond any town on the earth, I daresay; and, indeed, more
like a saintly dream of ideal Calvinism made real than a town
of stone and lime.

Onward by "dreary moory Frankfurt" on the Oder, whence they reconnoitred
"the field of Kunersdorf, a scraggy village where Fritz received his
worst defeat," they reached the Prussian capital on the last evening of
the month. From the British Hotel, Unter den Linden, we have, October

I am dead stupid; my heart nearly choked out of me, and my
head churned to pieces.... Berlin is loud almost as London,
but in no other way great ... about the size of Liverpool,
and more like Glasgow.

They spent a week there (sight-seeing being made easier by an
introduction from Lady Ashburton to the Ambassador), discovering at
length an excellent portrait of Fritz, meeting Tieck, Cornelius, Rauch,
Preuss, etc., and then got quickly back to London by way of Hanover,
Cologne, and Ostend. Carlyle's travels are always interesting, and would
be more so without the tiresome, because ever the same, complaints. Six
years later (1858) he made his second expedition to Germany, in the
company of two friends, a Mr. Foxton--who is made a butt--and the
faithful Neuberg. Of this journey, undertaken with a more exclusively
business purpose, and accomplished with greater dispatch, there are fewer
notes, the substance of which may be here anticipated. He sailed (August
21st) from Leith to Hamburg, admiring the lower Elbe, and then went out
of his way to accept a pressing invitation from the Baron Usedom and his
wife to the Isle of Rügen, sometimes called the German Isle of Wight. He
went there by Stralsund, liked his hosts and their pleasant place, where
for cocks crowing he had doves cooing; but in Putbus, the Richmond of the
island, he had to encounter brood sows as well as cochin-chinas. From
Rügen he went quickly south by Stettin to Berlin, then to Cüstrin to
survey the field of Zorndorf, with what memorable result readers of
_Friedrich_ know. His next halt was at Liegnitz, headquarters for
exploring the grounds of "Leuthen, the grandest of all the battles,"
and Molwitz--first of Fritz's fights--of which we hear so much in the
_Reminiscences_. His course lay on to Breslau, "a queer old city as ever
you heard of, high as Edinburgh or more so," and, by Landshut, through
the picturesque villages of the Riesen-Gebirge into Bohemia. There he
first put up at Pardubitz in a vile, big inn, for bed a "trough eighteen
inches too short, a mattress forced into it which cocked up at both
ends"--such as most travellers in remoter Germany at that period have
experienced. Carlyle was unfavourably impressed by the Bohemians; and
"not one in a hundred of them could understand a word of German. They
are liars, thieves, slatterns, a kind of miserable, subter-Irish
people,--Irish with the addition of ill-nature." He and his friends
visited the fields of Chotusitz and Kolin, where they found the "Golden
Sun," from which "the last of the Kings" had surveyed the ground, "sunk
to be the dirtiest house probably in Europe." Thence he made for Prague,
whose picturesque grandeur he could not help extolling. "Here," he
writes, enclosing the flower to his wife, "is an authentic wild pink
plucked from the battle-field. Give it to some young lady who practises
'the Battle of Prague' on her piano to your satisfaction." On September
15th he dates from Dresden, whence he spent a laborious day over Torgau.
Thereafter they sped on, with the usual tribulations, by Hochkirk,
Leipzig, Weissenfels, and Rossbach. Hurrying homeward, they were obliged
to decline another invitation from the Duchess at Weimar; and, making
for Guntershausen, performed the fatiguing journey from there to
Aix-la-Chapelle in one day, _i.e._ travelling often in slow trains from 4
A.M. to 7 P.M., a foolish feat even for the eupeptic. Carlyle visited the
cathedral, but has left a very poor account of the impression produced
on him by the simple slab sufficiently inscribed, "Carolo Magno." "Next
morning stand upon the lid of Charlemagne, abominable monks roaring
out their idolatrous grand music within sight." By Ostend and Dover he
reached home on the 22nd. A Yankee scamper trip, one might say, but for
the result testifying to the enormous energy of the traveller. "He speaks
lightly," says Mr. Froude, "of having seen Kolin, Torgau, etc. etc. No
one would guess from reading these short notices that he had mastered the
details of every field he visited; not a turn of the ground, not a brook,
not a wood ... had escaped him.... There are no mistakes. Military
students in Germany are set to learn Frederick's battles in Carlyle's
account of them."

During the interval between those tours there are few events of interest
in Carlyle's outer, or phases of his inner life which have not been
already noted. The year 1854 found the country ablaze with the excitement
of the Crimean War, with which he had as little sympathy as had Cobden
or Bright or the members of Sturge's deputation. He had no share in the
popular enthusiasm for what he regarded as a mere newspaper folly. All
his political leaning was on the side of Russia, which, from a safe
distance, having no direct acquaintance with the country, he always
admired as a seat of strong government, the representative of wise
control over barbarous races. Among the worst of these he reckoned the
Turk, "a lazy, ugly, sensual, dark fanatic, whom we have now had for 400
years. I would not buy the continuance of him in Europe at the rate of
sixpence a century." Carlyle had no more faith in the "Balance of power"
than had Byron, who scoffed at it from another, the Republican, side as
"balancing straws on kings' noses instead of wringing them off," _e.g._--

As to Russian increase of strength, he writes, I would wait
till Russia meddled with me before I drew sword to stop his
increase of strength. It is the idle population of editors,
etc., that has done all this in England. One perceives
clearly that ministers go forward in it against their will.

Even our heroisms at Alma--"a terrible, almost horrible,
operation"--Balaclava, and Inkermann, failed to raise a glow in his mind,
though he admitted the force of Tennyson's ringing lines. The alliance
with the "scandalous copper captain," elected by the French, as the Jews
chose Barabbas,--an alliance at which many patriots winced--was to him
only an added disgrace. Carlyle's comment on the subsequent visit to
Osborne of Victor Hugo's "brigand," and his reception within the pale of
legitimate sovereignty was, "Louis Bonaparte has not been shot hitherto.
That is the best that can be said." Sedan brought most men round to his
mind about Napoleon III.: but his approval of the policy of the Czars
remains open to the criticism of M. Lanin. In reference to the next great
struggle of the age, Carlyle was in full sympathy with the mass of his
countrymen. He was as much enraged by the Sepoy rebellion as were those
who blew the ringleaders from the muzzles of guns. "Tongue cannot speak,"
he exclaims, in the spirit of Noel Paton's picture, before it was amended
or spoilt, "the horrors that were done on the English by these mutinous
hyaenas. Allow hyaenas to mutiny and strange things will follow." He
never seems to have revolved the question as to the share of his admired
Muscovy in instigating the revolt. For the barbarism of the north he had
ready apologies, for the savagery of the south mere execration; and he
writes of the Hindoos as he did, both before and afterwards, of the
negroes in Jamaica.

Three sympathetic obituary notices of the period expressed his softer
side. In April 1854, John Wilson and Lord Cockburn died at Edinburgh. His
estimate of the former is notable as that generally entertained, now that
the race of those who came under the personal spell of Christopher North
has passed:--

We lived apart as in different centuries; though to say the
truth I always loved Wilson, he had much nobleness of heart,
and many traits of noble genius, but the central tie-beam
seemed always wanting; very long ago I perceived in him the
most irreconcilable contradictions--Toryism with
Sansculottism, Methodism of a sort with total incredulity,
etc.... Wilson seemed to me always by far the most gifted
of our literary men, either then or still: and yet
intrinsically he has written nothing that can endure.

Cockburn is referred to in contrast as "perhaps the last genuinely
national type of rustic Scotch sense, sincerity, and humour--a wholesome
product of Scotch dialect, with plenty of good logic in it." Later,
Douglas Jerrold is described as "last of the London wits, I hope the
last." Carlyle's letters during this period are of minor interest: many
refer to visits paid to distinguished friends and humble relatives, with
the usual complaints about health, servants, and noises. At Farlingay,
where he spent some time with Edward FitzGerald, translator of _Omar
Khayyam_, the lowing of cows took the place of cocks crowing. Here and
there occurs a, criticism or a speculation. That on his dreams is, in the
days of "insomnia," perhaps worth noting (F. iv. 154, 155); _inter alia_
he says:--"I have an impression that one always dreams, but that only in
cases where the nerves are disturbed by bad health, which produces light
imperfect sleep, do they start into such relief as to force themselves on
our waking consciousness." Among posthumously printed documents of Cheyne
Row, to this date belongs the humorous appeal of Mrs. Carlyle for a
larger allowance of house money, entitled "Budget of a Femme Incomprise."
The arguments and statement of accounts, worthy of a bank auditor, were
so irresistible that Carlyle had no resource but to grant the request,
_i.e._ practically to raise the amount to £230, instead of £200 per
annum. It has been calculated that his reliable income even at this time
did not exceed £400, but the rent of the house was kept very low, £30:
he and his wife lived frugally, so that despite the expenses of the
noise-proof room and his German tour he could afford in 1857 to put a
stop to her travelling in second-class railway carriages; in 1860, when
the success of the first instalment of his great work made an end of
financial fears, to keep two servants; and in 1863 to give Mrs. Carlyle
a brougham. Few men have left on the whole so unimpeachable a record in
money matters.

In November 1854 there occurred an incident hitherto unrecorded in any
biography. The Lord Rectorship of the University of Glasgow having fallen
vacant, the "Conservative Club" of the year had put forward Mr. Disraeli
as successor to the honorary office. A small body of Mr. Carlyle's
admirers among the senior students on the other side nominated him,
partly as a tribute of respect and gratitude, partly in opposition to
a statesman whom they then distrusted. The nomination was, after much
debate, adopted by the so-called "Liberal Association" of that day;
and, with a curious irony, the author of the _Latter-Day Pamphlets_ and
_Friedrich II._ was pitted, as a Radical, against the future promoter of
the Franchise of 1867 as a Tory. It soon appeared that his supporters
had underestimated the extent to which Mr. Carlyle had offended Scotch
theological prejudice and outraged the current Philanthropy. His name
received some sixty adherents, and had ultimately to be withdrawn. The
nomination was received by the Press, and other exponents of popular
opinion, with denunciations that came loudest and longest from the
leaders of orthodox Dissent, then arrogating to themselves the profession
of Liberalism and the initiation of Reform. Among the current expressions
in reference to his social and religious creeds were the following:--

Carlyle's philanthropy is not that of Howard, his cure for
national distress is to bury our paupers in peat bogs, driving
wooden boards on the top of them. His entire works may be
described as reiterating the doctrine that "whatever is is wrong."
He has thrown off every form of religious belief and settled down
into the conviction that the Christian profession of Englishmen is
a sham.... Elect him and you bid God-speed to Pantheism and

[Footnote: Mr. Wylie states that "twice before his election by his
own University he (Carlyle) had been invited to allow himself to
be nominated for the office of Lord Rector, once by students in
the University of Glasgow and once by those of Aberdeen: but both
of these invitations he had declined." This as regards Glasgow is

Mr. Carlyle neither possesses the talent nor the distinction, nor
does he occupy the position which entitle a man to such an honour
as the Rectorial Chair. The _Scotch Guardian_ writes: But for the
folly exhibited in bringing forward Mr. Disraeli, scarcely any
party within the College or out of it would have ventured to
nominate a still more obnoxious personage. This is the first
instance we have been able to discover in which the suffrages of
the youth of the University have been sought for a candidate who
denied in his writings that the revealed Word of God is "the way,
the truth, the life." It is impossible to separate Mr. Carlyle
from that obtrusive feature of his works in which the solemn
verities of our holy religion are sneered at as wornout
"biblicalities," "unbelievabilities," and religious profession is
denounced as "dead putrescent cant." The reader of the _Life of
Sterling_ is not left to doubt for a moment the author's malignant
hostility to the religion of the Bible. In that work, saving faith
is described as "stealing into heaven by the modern method of
sticking ostrich-like your head into fallacies on earth," that is
to say, by believing in the doctrines of the Gospels. How, after
this, could the Principal and Professors of the University, the
guardians of the faiths and morals of its inexperienced youth,
accompany to the Common Hall, and allow to address the students a
man who has degraded his powers to the life-labour of sapping and
mining the foundations of the truth, and opened the fire of his
fiendish raillery against the citadel of our best aspirations and
dearest hopes?

In the result, two men of genius--however diverse--were discarded, and
a Scotch nobleman of conspicuous talent, always an active, if not
intrusive, champion of orthodoxy, was returned by an "overwhelming
majority." In answer to intelligence transmitted to Mr. Carlyle of these
events, the president of the Association of his supporters--who had
nothing on which to congratulate themselves save that only the benches
of the rooms in which they held their meetings had been riotously
broken,--received the following previously unpublished letter:--

Chelsea, _16th December_ 1854.

DEAR SIR--I have received your Pamphlet; and return many
thanks for all your kindness to me. I am sorry to learn, as
I do for the first time from this narrative, what angry
nonsense some of my countrymen see good to write of me. Not
being much a reader of Newspapers, I had hardly heard of the
Election till after it was finished; and I did not know that
anything of this melancholy element of Heterodoxy,
"Pantheism," etc. etc., had been introduced into the matter.
It is an evil, after its sort, this of being hated and
denounced by fools and ignorant persons; but it cannot be
mended for the present, and so must be left standing there.

That another wiser class think differently, nay, that they
alone have any real knowledge of the question, or any real
right to vote upon it, is surely an abundant compensation.
If that be so, then all is still right; and probably there
is no harm done at all!--To you, and the other young
gentlemen who have gone with you on this occasion, I can
only say that I feel you have loyally meant to do me a great
honour and kindness; that I am deeply sensible of your
genial recognition, of your noble enthusiasm (which reminds
me of my own young years); and that in fine there is no loss
or gain of an Election which can in the least alter these
valuable facts, or which is not wholly insignificant to me,
in comparison with them. "Elections" are not a thing
transacted by the gods, in general; and I have known very
unbeautiful creatures "elected" to be kings, chief-priests,
railway kings, etc., by the "most sweet voices," and the
spiritual virtue that inspires these, in our time!

Leaving all that, I will beg you all to retain your
honourable good feelings towards me; and to think that if
anything I have done or written can help any one of you in
the noble problem of living like a wise man in these evil
and foolish times, it will be more valuable to me than never
so many Elections or Non-elections. With many good wishes
and regards I heartily thank you all, and remain--Yours very


[Footnote: For the elucidation of some points of contact between Carlyle
and Lord Beaconsfield, _vide_ Mr. Froude's _Life_ of the latter.]

Carlyle's letters to strangers are always valuable, for they are terse
and reticent. In writing to weavers, like Bamford; to men in trouble, as
Cooper; to students, statesmen, or earnest inquirers of whatever degree,
a genuine sympathy for them takes the place of the sympathy for himself,
often too prominent in the copious effusions to his intimates. The letter
above quoted is of special interest, as belonging to a time from which
comparatively few survive; when he was fairly under weigh with a task
which seemed to grow in magnitude under his gaze. The _Life of Friedrich_
could not be a succession of dramatic scenes, like the _French
Revolution_, nor a biography like _Cromwell_, illustrated by the
surrounding events of thirty years. Carlyle found, to his dismay, that he
had involved himself in writing the History of Germany, and in a measure
of Europe, during the eighteenth century, a period perhaps the most
tangled and difficult to deal with of any in the world's annals. He was
like a man who, with intent to dig up a pine, found himself tugging at
the roots of an Igdrasil that twined themselves under a whole Hercynian
forest. His constant cries of positive pain in the progress of the work
are distressing, as his indomitable determination to wrestle with and
prevail over it is inspiring. There is no imaginable image that he does
not press into his service in rattling the chains of his voluntary
servitude. Above all, he groans over the unwieldy mass of his
authorities--"anti-solar systems of chaff."

"I read old German books dull as stupidity itself--nay
superannuated stupidity--gain with labour the dreariest
glimpses of unimportant extinct human beings ... but when I
begin operating: _how_ to reduce that widespread black
desert of Brandenburg sand to a small human garden! ... I have
no capacity of grasping the big chaos that lies around me,
and reducing it to order. Order! Reducing! It is like
compelling the grave to give up its dead!"

Elsewhere he compares his travail with the monster of his own creation
to "Balder's ride to the death kingdoms, through frozen rain, sound of
subterranean torrents, leaden-coloured air"; and in the retrospect of
the _Reminiscences_ touchingly refers to his thirteen years of rarely
relieved isolation. "A desperate dead-lift pull all that time; my whole
strength devoted to it ... withdrawn from all the world." He received few
visitors and had few correspondents, but kept his life vigorous by riding
on his horse Fritz (the gift of the Marshalls), "during that book, some
30,000 miles, much of it, all the winter part of it, under cloud of
night, sun just setting when I mounted. All the rest of the day I sat,
silent, aloft, insisting upon work, and such work, _invitissimâ Minervâ_,
for that matter." Mrs. Carlyle had her usual share of the sufferings
involved in "the awful _Friedrich_." "That tremendous book," she writes,
"made prolonged and entire devastation of any satisfactory semblance of
home life or home happiness." But when at last, by help of Neuberg and of
Mr. Larkin, who made the maps of the whole book, the first two volumes
were in type (they appeared in autumn 1858), his wife hailed them in a
letter sent from Edinburgh to Chelsea: "Oh, my dear, what a magnificent
book this is going to be, the best of all your books, forcible, clear, and
sparkling as the _French Revolution_; compact and finished as _Cromwell_.
Yes, you shall see that it will be the best of all your books, and small
thanks to it, it has taken a doing." On which the author naively purrs:
"It would be worth while to write books, if mankind would read them as
you." Later he speaks of his wife's recognition and that of Emerson--who
wrote enthusiastically of the art of the work, though much of it was
across his grain--as "the only bit of human criticism in which he could
discern lineaments of the thing." But the book was a swift success, two
editions of 2000 and another of 1000 copies being sold in a comparatively
brief space. Carlyle's references to this--after his return from another
visit to the north and the second trip to Germany--seen somewhat

Book ... much babbled over in newspapers ... no better to me
than the barking of dogs ... officious people put reviews
into my hands, and in an idle hour I glanced partly into
these; but it would have been better not, so sordidly ignorant
and impertinent were they, though generally laudatory.

[Footnote: Carlyle himself writes: "I felt well enough how it was crushing
down her existence, as it was crushing down my own; and the thought that
she had not been at the choosing of it, and yet must suffer so for it, was
occasionally bitter to me. But the practical conclusion always was, Get
done with it, get done with it! For the saving of us both that is the one
outlook. And sure enough, I did stand by that dismal task with all my time
and all my means; day and night wrestling with it, as with the ugliest
dragon, which blotted out the daylight and the rest of the world to me
till I should get it slain."]

But these notices recall the fact familiar to every writer, that while
the assailants of a book sometimes read it, favourable reviewers hardly
ever do; these latter save their time by payment of generally superficial
praise, and a few random quotations.

Carlyle scarcely enjoyed his brief respite on being discharged of the
first instalment of his book: the remainder lay upon him like a menacing
nightmare; he never ceased to feel that the work must be completed ere he
could be free, and that to accomplish this he must be alone. Never absent
from his wife without regrets, lamentations, contrite messages, and
childlike entreaties for her to "come and protect him," when she came

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