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Latter-Day Pamphlets by Thomas Carlyle

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professors, from the lowest hornbook upwards, are continually
urging and guiding us. Preceptor or professor, looking over his
miraculous seedplot, seminary as he well calls it, or crop of
young human souls, watches with attentive view one organ of his
delightful little seedlings growing to be men,--the tongue. He
hopes we shall all get to speak yet, if it please Heaven. "Some
of you shall be book-writers, eloquent review-writers, and
astonish mankind, my young friends: others in white neckcloths
shall do sermons by Blair and Lindley Murray, nay by Jeremy
Taylor and judicious Hooker, and be priests to guide men
heavenward by skilfully brandished handkerchief and the torch of
rhetoric. For others there is Parliament and the election
beer-barrel, and a course that leads men very high indeed; these
shall shake the senate-house, the Morning Newspapers, shake the
very spheres, and by dexterous wagging of the tongue disenthrall
mankind, and lead our afflicted country and us on the way we are
to go. The way if not where noble deeds are done, yet where
noble words are spoken,--leading us if not to the real Home of
the Gods, at least to something which shall more or less
deceptively resemble it!"

So fares it with the son of Adam, in these bewildered epochs; so,
from the first opening of his eyes in this world, to his last
closing of them, and departure hence. Speak, speak, oh
speak;--if thou have any faculty, speak it, or thou diest and it
is no faculty! So in universities, and all manner of dames' and
other schools, of the very highest class as of the very lowest;
and Society at large, when we enter there, confirms with all its
brilliant review-articles, successful publications, intellectual
tea-circles, literary gazettes, parliamentary eloquences, the
grand lesson we had. Other lesson in fact we have none, in these
times. If there be a human talent, let it get into the tongue,
and make melody with that organ. The talent that can say nothing
for itself, what is it? Nothing; or a thing that can do mere
drudgeries, and at best make money by railways.

All this is deep-rooted in our habits, in our social, educational
and other arrangements; and all this, when we look at it
impartially, is astonishing. Directly in the teeth of all this it
may be asserted that speaking is by no means the chief faculty a
human being can attain to; that his excellence therein is by no
means the best test of his general human excellence, or
availability in this world; nay that, unless we look well, it is
liable to become the very worst test ever devised for said
availability. The matter extends very far, down to the very
roots of the world, whither the British reader cannot
conveniently follow me just now; but I will venture to assert the
three following things, and invite him to consider well what
truth he can gradually find in them:--

First, that excellent speech, even speech _really_ excellent, is
not, and never was, the chief test of human faculty, or the
measure of a man's ability, for any true function whatsoever; on
the contrary, that excellent _silence_ needed always to accompany
excellent speech, and was and is a much rarer and more difficult

_Secondly_, that really excellent speech--which I, being
possessed of the Hebrew Bible or Book, as well as of other books
in my own and foreign languages, and having occasionally heard a
wise man's word among the crowd of unwise, do almost unspeakably
esteem, as a human gift--is terribly apt to get confounded with
its counterfeit, sham-excellent speech! And furthermore, that if
really excellent human speech is among the best of human things,
then sham-excellent ditto deserves to be ranked with the very
worst. False speech,--capable of becoming, as some one has said,
the falsest and basest of all human things:--put the case, one
were listening to _that_ as to the truest and noblest! Which,
little as we are conscious of it, I take to be the sad lot of
many excellent souls among us just now. So many as admire
parliamentary eloquence, divine popular literature, and such
like, are dreadfully liable to it just now: and whole nations
and generations seem as if getting themselves _asphyxiaed_,
constitutionally into their last sleep, by means of it just

For alas, much as we worship speech on all hands, here is a
_third_ assertion which a man may venture to make, and invite
considerate men to reflect upon: That in these times, and for
several generations back, there has been, strictly considered, no
really excellent speech at all, but sham-excellent merely; that
is to say, false or quasi-false speech getting itself admired and
worshipped, instead of detested and suppressed. A truly
alarming predicament; and not the less so if we find it a quite
pleasant one for the time being, and welcome the advent of
asphyxia, as we would that of comfortable natural sleep;--as, in
so many senses, we are doing! Surly judges there have been who
did not much admire the "Bible of Modern Literature," or anything
you could distil from it, in contrast with the ancient Bibles;
and found that in the matter of speaking, our far best
excellence, where that could be obtained, was excellent silence,
which means endurance and exertion, and good work with lips
closed; and that our tolerablest speech was of the nature of
honest commonplace introduced where indispensable, which only set
up for being brief and true, and could not be mistaken for

These are hard sayings for many a British reader, unconscious of
any damage, nay joyfully conscious to himself of much profit,
from that side of his possessions. Surely on this side, if on no
other, matters stood not ill with him? The ingenuous arts had
softened his manners; the parliamentary eloquences supplied him
with a succedaneum for government, the popular literatures with
the finer sensibilities of the heart: surely on this _wind_ward
side of things the British reader was not ill off?--Unhappy
British reader!

In fact, the spiritual detriment we unconsciously suffer, in
every province of our affairs, from this our prostrate respect to
power of speech is incalculable. For indeed it is the natural
consummation of an epoch such as ours. Given a general
insincerity of mind for several generations, you will certainly
find the Talker established in the place of honor; and the Doer,
hidden in the obscure crowd, with activity lamed, or working
sorrowfully forward on paths unworthy of him. All men are
devoutly prostrate, worshipping the eloquent talker; and no man
knows what a scandalous idol he is. Out of whom in the mildest
manner, like comfortable natural rest, comes mere asphyxia and
death everlasting! Probably there is not in Nature a more
distracted phantasm than your commonplace eloquent speaker, as he
is found on platforms, in parliaments, on Kentucky stumps, at
tavern-dinners, in windy, empty, insincere times like ours. The
"excellent Stump-orator," as our admiring Yankee friends define
him, he who in any occurrent set of circumstances can start
forth, mount upon his "stump," his rostrum, tribune, place in
parliament, or other ready elevation, and pour forth from him his
appropriate "excellent speech," his interpretation of the said
circumstances, in such manner as poor windy mortals round him
shall cry bravo to,--he is not an artist I can much admire, as
matters go! Alas, he is in general merely the windiest mortal
of them all; and is admired for being so, into the bargain. Not
a windy blockhead there who kept silent but is better off than
this excellent stump-orator. Better off, for a great many
reasons; for this reason, were there no other: the silent one is
not admired; the silent suspects, perhaps partly admits, that he
is a kind of blockhead, from which salutary self-knowledge the
excellent stump-orator is debarred. A mouthpiece of Chaos to
poor benighted mortals that lend ear to him as to a voice from
Cosmos, this excellent stump-orator fills me with amazement. Not
empty these musical wind-utterances of his; they are big with
prophecy; they announce, too audibly to me, that the end of many
things is drawing nigh!

Let the British reader consider it a little; he too is not a
little interested in it. Nay he, and the European reader in
general, but he chiefly in these days, will require to consider
it a great deal,--and to take important steps in consequence by
and by, if I mistake not. And in the mean while, sunk as he
himself is in that bad element, and like a jaundiced man
struggling to discriminate yellow colors,--he will have to
meditate long before he in any measure get the immense meanings
of the thing brought home to him; and discern, with
astonishment, alarm, and almost terror and despair, towards what
fatal issues, in our Collective Wisdom and elsewhere, this notion
of talent meaning eloquent speech, so obstinately entertained
this long while, has been leading us! Whosoever shall look well
into origins and issues, will find this of eloquence and the part
it now plays in our affairs, to be one of the gravest phenomena;
and the excellent stump-orator of these days to be not only a
ridiculous but still more a highly tragical personage. While the
many listen to him, the few are used to pass rapidly, with some
gust of scornful laughter, some growl of impatient malediction;
but he deserves from this latter class a much more serious

In the old Ages, when Universities and Schools were first
instituted, this function of the schoolmaster, to teach mere
speaking, was the natural one. In those healthy times, guided by
silent instincts and the monition of Nature, men had from of old
been used to teach themselves what it was essential to learn, by
the one sure method of learning anything, practical
apprenticeship to it. This was the rule for all classes; as it
now is the rule, unluckily, for only one class. The Working Man
as yet sought only to know his craft; and educated himself
sufficiently by ploughing and hammering, under the conditions
given, and in fit relation to the persons given: a course of
education, then as now and ever, really opulent in manful culture
and instruction to him; teaching him many solid virtues, and
most indubitably useful knowledges; developing in him valuable
faculties not a few both to do and to endure,--among which the
faculty of elaborate grammatical utterance, seeing he had so
little of extraordinary to utter, or to learn from spoken or
written utterances, was not bargained for; the grammar of Nature,
which he learned from his mother, being still amply sufficient
for him. This was, as it still is, the grand education of the
Working Man.

As for the Priest, though his trade was clearly of a reading and
speaking nature, he knew also in those veracious times that
grammar, if needful, was by no means the one thing needful, or
the chief thing. By far the chief thing needful, and indeed the
one thing then as now, was, That there should be in him the
feeling and the practice of reverence to God and to men; that in
his life's core there should dwell, spoken or silent, a ray of
pious wisdom fit for illuminating dark human destinies;--not so
much that he should possess the art of speech, as that he should
have something to speak! And for that latter requisite the
Priest also trained himself by apprenticeship, by actual attempt
to practise, by manifold long-continued trial, of a devout and
painful nature, such as his superiors prescribed to him. This,
when once judged satisfactory, procured him ordination; and his
grammar-learning, in the good times of priesthood, was very much
of a parergon with him, as indeed in all times it is
intrinsically quite insignificant in comparison.

The young Noble again, for whom grammar schoolmasters were first
hired and high seminaries founded, he too without these, or above
and over these, had from immemorial time been used to learn his
business by apprenticeship. The young Noble, before the
schoolmaster as after him, went apprentice to some elder noble;
entered himself as page with some distinguished earl or duke; and
here, serving upwards from step to step, under wise monition,
learned his chivalries, his practice of arms and of courtesies,
his baronial duties and manners, and what it would beseem him to
do and to be in the world,--by practical attempt of his own, and
example of one whose life was a daily concrete pattern for him.
To such a one, already filled with intellectual substance, and
possessing what we may call the practical gold-bullion of human
culture, it was an obvious improvement that he should be taught
to speak it out of him on occasion; that he should carry a
spiritual banknote producible on demand for what of
"gold-bullion" he had, not so negotiable otherwise, stored in
the cellars of his mind. A man, with wisdom, insight and heroic
worth already acquired for him, naturally demanded of the
schoolmaster this one new faculty, the faculty of uttering in fit
words what he had. A valuable superaddition of faculty:--and yet
we are to remember it was scarcely a new faculty; it was but the
tangible sign of what other faculties the man had in the silent
state: and many a rugged inarticulate chief of men, I can
believe, was most enviably "educated," who had not a Book on his
premises; whose signature, a true sign-_manual_, was the stamp of
his iron hand duly inked and clapt upon the parchment; and whose
speech in Parliament, like the growl of lions, did indeed convey
his meaning, but would have torn Lindley Murray's nerves to
pieces! To such a one the schoolmaster adjusted himself very
naturally in that manner; as a man wanted for teaching
grammatical utterance; the thing to utter being already there.
The thing to utter, here was the grand point! And perhaps this
is the reason why among earnest nations, as among the Romans for
example, the craft of the schoolmaster was held in little regard;
for indeed as mere teacher of grammar, of ciphering on the abacus
and such like, how did he differ much from the dancing-master or
fencing-master, or deserve much regard?--Such was the rule in the
ancient healthy times.

Can it be doubtful that this is still the rule of human
education; that the human creature needs first of all to be
educated not that he may speak, but that he may have something
weighty and valuable to say! If speech is the bank-note of an
inward capital of culture, of insight and noble human worth, then
speech is precious, and the art of speech shall be honored. But
if there is no inward capital; if speech represent no real
culture of the mind, but an imaginary culture; no bullion, but
the fatal and now almost hopeless deficit of such? Alas, alas,
said bank-note is then a _forged_ one; passing freely current in
the market; but bringing damages to the receiver, to the payer,
and to all the world, which are in sad truth infallible, and of
amount incalculable. Few think of it at present; but the truth
remains forever so. In parliaments and other loud assemblages,
your eloquent talk, disunited from Nature and her facts, is taken
as wisdom and the correct image of said facts: but Nature well
knows what it is, Nature will not have it as such, and will
reject your forged note one day, with huge costs. The foolish
traders in the market pass freely, nothing doubting, and rejoice
in the dexterous execution of the piece: and so it circulates
from hand to hand, and from class to class; gravitating ever
downwards towards the practical class; till at last it reaches
some poor _working_ hand, who can pass it no farther, but must
take it to the bank to get bread with it, and there the answer
is, "Unhappy caitiff, this note is forged. It does not mean
performance and reality, in parliaments and elsewhere, for thy
behoof; it means fallacious semblance of performance; and thou,
poor dupe, art thrown into the stocks on offering it here!"

Alas, alas, looking abroad over Irish difficulties, Mosaic
sweating-establishments, French barricades, and an anarchic
Europe, is it not as if all the populations of the world were
rising or had risen into incendiary madness;--unable longer to
endure such an avalanche of forgeries, and of penalties in
consequence, as had accumulated upon them? The speaker is
"excellent;" the notes he does are beautiful? Beautifully fit
for the market, yes; _he_ is an excellent artist in his
business;--and the more excellent he is, the more is my desire to
lay him by the heels, and fling _him_ into the treadmill, that I
might save the poor sweating tailors, French Sansculottes, and
Irish Sanspotatoes from bearing the smart!

For the smart must be borne; some one must bear it, as sure as
God lives. Every word of man is either a note or a forged
note:--have these eternal skies forgotten to be in earnest, think
you, because men go grinning like enchanted apes? Foolish souls,
this now as of old is the unalterable law of your existence. If
you know the truth and do it, the Universe itself seconds you,
bears you on to sure victory everywhere:--and, observe, to sure
defeat everywhere if you do not do the truth. And alas, if you
_know_ only the eloquent fallacious semblance of the truth, what
chance is there of your ever doing it? You will do something
very different from it, I think!--He who well considers, will
find this same "art of speech," as we moderns have it, to be a
truly astonishing product of the Ages; and the longer he
considers it, the more astonishing and alarming. I reckon it the
saddest of all the curses that now lie heavy on us. With horror
and amazement, one perceives that this much-celebrated "art," so
diligently practised in all corners of the world just now, is the
chief destroyer of whatever good is born to us (softly, swiftly
shutting up all nascent good, as if under exhausted glass
receivers, there to choke and die); and the grand parent
manufactory of evil to us,--as it were, the last finishing and
varnishing workshop of all the Devil's ware that circulates under
the sun. No Devil's sham is fit for the market till it have been
polished and enamelled here; this is the general assaying-house
for such, where the artists examine and answer, "Fit for the
market; not fit!" Words will not express what mischiefs the
misuse of words has done, and is doing, in these heavy-laden

Do you want a man _not_ to practise what he believes, then
encourage him to keep often speaking it in words. Every time he
speaks it, the tendency to do it will grow less. His empty
speech of what he believes, will be a weariness and an
affliction to the wise man. But do you wish his empty speech of
what he believes, to become farther an insincere speech of what
he does not believe? Celebrate to him his gift of speech; assure
him that he shall rise in Parliament by means of it, and achieve
great things without any performance; that eloquent speech,
whether performed or not, is admirable. My friends, eloquent
unperformed speech, in Parliament or elsewhere, is horrible! The
eloquent man that delivers, in Parliament or elsewhere, a
beautiful speech, and will perform nothing of it, but leaves it
as if already performed,--what can you make of that man? He has
enrolled himself among the _Ignes Fatui_ and Children of the
Wind; means to serve, as beautifully illuminated Chinese Lantern,
in that corps henceforth. I think, the serviceable thing you
could do to that man, if permissible, would be a severe one: To
clip off a bit of his eloquent tongue by way of penance and
warning; another bit, if he again spoke without performing; and
so again, till you had clipt the whole tongue away from him,--and
were delivered, you and he, from at least one miserable mockery:
"There, eloquent friend, see now in silence if there be any
redeeming deed in thee; of blasphemous wind-eloquence, at least,
we shall have no more!" How many pretty men have gone this road,
escorted by the beautifulest marching music from all the "public
organs;" and have found at last that it ended--where? It is the
_broad_ road, that leads direct to Limbo and the Kingdom of the
Inane. Gifted men, and once valiant nations, and as it were the
whole world with one accord, are marching thither, in melodious
triumph, all the drums and hautboys giving out their cheerfulest
_Ca-ira_. It is the universal humor of the world just now. My
friends, I am very sure you will _arrive_, unless you halt!--

Considered as the last finish of education, or of human culture,
worth and acquirement, the art of speech is noble, and even
divine; it is like the kindling of a Heaven's light to show us
what a glorious world exists, and has perfected itself, in a
man. But if no world exist in the man; if nothing but continents
of empty vapor, of greedy self-conceits, common-place hearsays,
and indistinct loomings of a sordid _chaos_ exist in him, what
will be the use of "light" to show us that? Better a thousand
times that such a man do not speak; but keep his empty vapor and
his sordid chaos to himself, hidden to the utmost from all
beholders. To look on that, can be good for no human beholder;
to look away from that, must be good. And if, by delusive
semblances of rhetoric, logic, first-class degrees, and the aid
of elocution-masters and parliamentary reporters, the poor
proprietor of said chaos should be led to persuade himself, and
get others persuaded,--which it is the nature of his sad task to
do, and which, in certain eras of the world, it is fatally
possible to do,--that this is a cosmos which he owns; that _he_,
being so perfect in tongue-exercise and full of college-honors,
is an "educated" man, and pearl of great price in his generation;
that round him, and his parliament emulously listening to him, as
round some divine apple of gold set in a picture of silver, all
the world should gather to adore: what is likely to become of
him and the gathering world? An apple of Sodom set in the
clusters of Gomorrah: that, little as he suspects it, is the
definition of the poor chaotically eloquent man, with his emulous
parliament and miserable adoring world!--Considered as the whole
of education, or human culture, which it now is in our modern
manners; all apprenticeship except to mere handicraft having
fallen obsolete, and the "educated man" being with us
emphatically and exclusively the man that can speak well with
tongue or pen, and astonish men by the quantities of speech he
has _heard_ ("tremendous _reader_," "walking encyclopaedia," and
such like),--the Art of Speech is probably definable in that case
as the short summary of all the Black Arts put together.

But the Schoolmaster is secondary, an effect rather than a cause
in this matter: what the Schoolmaster with his universities
shall manage or attempt to teach will be ruled by what the
Society with its practical industries is continually demanding
that men should learn. We spoke once of vital lungs for Society:
and in fact this question always rises as the alpha and omega of
social questions, What methods the Society has of summoning aloft
into the high places, for its help and governance, the wisdom
that is born to it in all places, and of course is born chiefly
in the more populous or lower places? For this, if you will
consider it, expresses the ultimate available result, and net
sum-total, of all the efforts, struggles and confused activities
that go on in the Society; and determines whether they are true
and wise efforts, certain to be victorious, or false and foolish,
certain to be futile, and to fall captive and caitiff. How do
men rise in your Society? In all Societies, Turkey included, and
I suppose Dahomey included, men do rise; but the question of
questions always is, What kind of men? Men of noble gifts, or
men of ignoble? It is the one or the other; and a life-and-death
inquiry which! For in all places and all times, little as you may
heed it, Nature most silently but most inexorably demands that it
be the one and not the other. And you need not try to palm an
ignoble sham upon her, and call it noble; for she is a judge.
And her penalties, as quiet as she looks, are terrible:
amounting to world-earthquakes, to anarchy and death
everlasting; and admit of no appeal!--

Surely England still flatters herself that she has lungs; that
she can still breathe a little? Or is it that the poor creature,
driven into mere blind industrialisms; and as it were, gone
pearl-diving this long while many fathoms deep, and tearing up
the oyster-beds so as never creature did before, hardly
knows,--so busy in the belly of the oyster chaos, where is no
thought of "breathing,"--whether she has lungs or not? Nations
of a robust habit, and fine deep chest, can sometimes take in a
deal of breath _before_ diving; and live long, in the muddy
deeps, without new breath: but they too come to need it at last,
and will die if they cannot get it!

To the gifted soul that is born in England, what is the career,
then, that will carry him, amid noble Olympic dust, up to the
immortal gods? For his country's sake, that it may not lose the
service he was born capable of doing it; for his own sake, that
his life be not choked and perverted, and his light from Heaven
be not changed into lightning from the Other Place,--it is
essential that there be such a career. The country that can
offer no career in that case, is a doomed country; nay it is
already a dead country: it has secured the ban of Heaven upon
it; will not have Heaven's light, will have the Other Place's
lightning; and may consider itself as appointed to expire, in
frightful coughings of street musketry or otherwise, on a set
day, and to be in the eye of law dead. In no country is there
not some career, inviting to it either the noble Hero, or the
tough Greek of the Lower Empire: which of the two do your
careers invite? There is no question more important. The kind of
careers you offer in countries still living, determines with
perfect exactness the kind of the life that is in them,--whether
it is natural blessed life, or galvanic accursed ditto, and
likewise what degree of strength is in the same.

Our English careers to born genius are twofold. There is the
silent or unlearned career of the Industrialisms, which are very
many among us; and there is the articulate or learned career of
the three professions, Medicine, Law (under which we may include
Politics), and the Church. Your born genius, therefore, will
first have to ask himself, Whether he can hold his tongue or
cannot? True, all human talent, especially all deep talent, is a
talent to _do_, and is intrinsically of silent nature; inaudible,
like the Sphere Harmonies and Eternal Melodies, of which it is an
incarnated fraction. All real talent, I fancy, would much
rather, if it listened only to Nature's monitions, express itself
in rhythmic facts than in melodious words, which latter at best,
where they are good for anything, are only a feeble echo and
shadow or foreshadow of the former. But talents differ much in
this of power to be silent; and circumstances, of position,
opportunity and such like, modify them still more;--and Nature's
monitions, oftenest quite drowned in foreign hearsays, are by no
means the only ones listened to in deciding!--The Industrialisms
are all of silent nature; and some of them are heroic and
eminently human; others, again, we may call unheroic, not
eminently human: _beaverish_ rather, but still honest; some are
even _vulpine_, altogether inhuman and dishonest. Your born
genius must make his choice.

If a soul is born with divine intelligence, and has its lips
touched with hallowed fire, in consecration for high enterprises
under the sun, this young soul will find the question asked of
him by England every hour and moment: "Canst thou turn thy human
intelligence into the beaver sort, and make honest contrivance,
and accumulation of capital by it? If so, do it; and avoid the
vulpine kind, which I don't recommend. Honest triumphs in
engineering and machinery await thee; scrip awaits thee,
commercial successes, kingship in the counting-room, on the
stock-exchange;--thou shalt be the envy of surrounding flunkies,
and collect into a heap more gold than a dray-horse can
draw."--"Gold, so much gold?" answers the ingenuous soul, with
visions of the envy of surrounding flunkies dawning on him; and
in very many cases decides that he will contract himself into
beaverism, and with such a horse-draught of gold, emblem of a
never-imagined success in beaver heroism, strike the surrounding
flunkies yellow.

This is our common course; this is in some sort open to every
creature, what we call the beaver career; perhaps more open in
England, taking in America too, than it ever was in any country
before. And, truly, good consequences follow out of it: who can
be blind to them? Half of a most excellent and opulent result is
realized to us in this way; baleful only when it sets up (as too
often now) for being the whole result. A half-result which will
be blessed and heavenly so soon as the other half is had,--namely
wisdom to guide the first half. Let us honor all honest human
power of contrivance in its degree. The beaver intellect, so
long as it steadfastly refuses to be vulpine, and answers the
tempter pointing out short routes to it with an honest "No, no,"
is truly respectable to me; and many a highflying speaker and
singer whom I have known, has appeared to me much less of a
developed man than certain of my mill-owning, agricultural,
commercial, mechanical, or otherwise industrial friends, who have
held their peace all their days and gone on in the silent state.
If a man can keep his intellect silent, and make it even into
honest beaverism, several very manful moralities, in danger of
wreck on other courses, may comport well with that, and give it a
genuine and partly human character; and I will tell him, in these
days he may do far worse with himself and his intellect than
change it into beaverism, and make honest money with it. If
indeed he could become a _heroic_ industrial, and have a life
"eminently human"! But that is not easy at present. Probably
some ninety-nine out of every hundred of our gifted souls, who
have to seek a career for themselves, go this beaver road.
Whereby the first half-result, national wealth namely, is
plentifully realized; and only the second half, or wisdom to
guide it, is dreadfully behindhand.

But now if the gifted soul be not of taciturn nature, be of
vivid, impatient, rapidly productive nature, and aspire much to
give itself sensible utterance,--I find that, in this case, the
field it has in England is narrow to an extreme; is perhaps
narrower than ever offered itself, for the like object, in this
world before. Parliament, Church, Law: let the young vivid soul
turn whither he will for a career, he finds among variable
conditions one condition invariable, and extremely surprising,
That the proof of excellence is to be done by the tongue. For
heroism that will not speak, but only act, there is no account
kept:--The English Nation does not need that silent kind, then,
but only the talking kind? Most astonishing. Of all the organs a
man has, there is none held in account, it would appear, but the
tongue he uses for talking. Premiership, woolsack, mitre, and
quasi-crown: all is attainable if you can talk with due ability.
Everywhere your proof-shot is to be a well-fired volley of talk.
Contrive to talk well, you will get to Heaven, the modern Heaven
of the English. Do not talk well, only work well, and heroically
hold your peace, you have no chance whatever to get thither; with
your utmost industry you may get to Threadneedle Street, and
accumulate more gold than a dray-horse can draw. Is not this a
very wonderful arrangement?

I have heard of races done by mortals tied in sacks; of human
competitors, high aspirants, climbing heavenward on the soaped
pole; seizing the soaped pig; and clutching with cleft fist, at
full gallop, the fated goose tied aloft by its foot;--which feats
do prove agility, toughness and other useful faculties in man:
but this of dexterous talk is probably as strange a competition
as any. And the question rises, Whether certain of these other
feats, or perhaps an alternation of all of them, relieved now and
then by a bout of grinning through the collar, might not be
profitably substituted for the solitary proof-feat of talk, now
getting rather monotonous by its long continuance? Alas, Mr.
Bull, I do find it is all little other than a proof of toughness,
which is a quality I respect, with more or less expenditure of
falsity and astucity superadded, which I entirely condemn.
Toughness _plus_ astucity:--perhaps a simple wooden mast set up
in Palace-Yard, well soaped and duly presided over, might be the
honester method? Such a method as this by trial of talk, for
filling your chief offices in Church and State, was perhaps never
heard of in the solar system before. You are quite used to it,
my poor friend; and nearly dead by the consequences of it: but
in the other Planets, as in other epochs of your own Planet it
would have done had you proposed it, the thing awakens
incredulous amazement, world-wide Olympic laughter, which ends in
tempestuous hootings, in tears and horror! My friend, if you
can, as heretofore this good while, find nobody to take care of
your affairs but the expertest talker, it is all over with your
affairs and you. Talk never yet could guide any man's or
nation's affairs; nor will it yours, except towards the _Limbus
Patrum_, where all talk, except a very select kind of it, lodges
at last.

Medicine, guarded too by preliminary impediments, and frightful
medusa-heads of quackery, which deter many generous souls from
entering, is of the _half_-articulate professions, and does not
much invite the ardent kinds of ambition. The intellect
required for medicine might be wholly human, and indeed should by
all rules be,--the profession of the Human Healer being radically
a sacred one and connected with the highest priesthoods, or
rather being itself the outcome and acme of all priesthoods, and
divinest conquests of intellect here below. As will appear one
day, when men take off their old monastic and ecclesiastic
spectacles, and look with eyes again! In essence the Physician's
task is always heroic, eminently human: but in practice most
unluckily at present we find it too become in good part
_beaverish_; yielding a money-result alone. And what of it is
not beaverish,--does not that too go mainly to ingenious talking,
publishing of yourself, ingratiating of yourself; a partly human
exercise or waste of intellect, and alas a partly vulpine
ditto;--making the once sacred [Gr.] _'Iatros_, or Human Healer,
more impossible for us than ever!

Angry basilisks watch at the gates of Law and Church just now;
and strike a sad damp into the nobler of the young aspirants.
Hard bonds are offered you to sign; as it were, a solemn
engagement to constitute yourself an impostor, before ever
entering; to declare your belief in incredibilities,--your
determination, in short, to take Chaos for Cosmos, and Satan for
the Lord of things, if he come with money in his pockets, and
horsehair and bombazine decently wrapt about him. Fatal
preliminaries, which deter many an ingenuous young soul, and send
him back from the threshold, and I hope will deter ever more.
But if you do enter, the condition is well known: "Talk; who can
talk best here? His shall be the mouth of gold, and the purse of
gold; and with my [Gr.] _mitra_ (once the head-dress of
unfortunate females, I am told) shall his sacred temples be

Ingenuous souls, unless forced to it, do now much shudder at the
threshold of both these careers, and not a few desperately turn
back into the wilderness rather, to front a very rude fortune,
and be devoured by wild beasts as is likeliest. But as to
Parliament, again, and its eligibility if attainable, there is
yet no question anywhere; the ingenuous soul, if possessed of
money-capital enough, is predestined by the parental and all
manner of monitors to that career of talk; and accepts it with
alacrity and clearness of heart, doubtful only whether he shall
be _able_ to make a speech. Courage, my brave young fellow. If
you can climb a soaped pole of any kind, you will certainly be
able to make a speech. All mortals have a tongue; and carry on
some jumble, if not of thought, yet of stuff which they could
talk. The weakest of animals has got a cry in it, and can give
voice before dying. If you are tough enough, bent upon it
desperately enough, I engage you shall make a speech;--but
whether that will be the way to Heaven for you, I do not engage.

These, then, are our two careers for genius: mute
Industrialism, which can seldom become very human, but remains
beaverish mainly: and the three Professions named learned,--that
is to say, able to talk. For the heroic or higher kinds of human
intellect, in the silent state, there is not the smallest inquiry
anywhere; apparently a thing not wanted in this country at
present. What the supply may be, I cannot inform M'Croudy; but
the market-demand, he may himself see, is _nil_. These are our
three professions that require human intellect in part or whole,
not able to do with mere beaverish; and such a part does the gift
of talk play in one and all of them. Whatsoever is not beaverish
seems to go forth in the shape of talk. To such length is human
intellect wasted or suppressed in this world!

If the young aspirant is not rich enough for Parliament, and is
deterred by the basilisks or otherwise from entering on Law or
Church, and cannot altogether reduce his human intellect to the
beaverish condition, or satisfy himself with the prospect of
making money,--what becomes of him in such case, which is
naturally the case of very many, and ever of more? In such case
there remains but one outlet for him, and notably enough that too
is a talking one: the outlet of Literature, of trying to write
Books. Since, owing to preliminary basilisks, want of cash, or
superiority to cash, he cannot mount aloft by eloquent talking,
let him try it by dexterous eloquent writing. Here happily,
having three fingers, and capital to buy a quire of paper, he can
try it to all lengths and in spite of all mortals: in this
career there is happily no public impediment that can turn him
back; nothing but private starvation--which is itself a _finis_
or kind of goal--can pretend to hinder a British man from
prosecuting Literature to the very utmost, and wringing the final
secret from her: "A talent is in thee; No talent is in thee."
To the British subject who fancies genius may be lodged in him,
this liberty remains; and truly it is, if well computed, almost
the only one he has.

A crowded portal this of Literature, accordingly! The haven of
expatriated spiritualisms, and alas also of expatriated vanities
and prurient imbecilities: here do the windy aspirations, foiled
activities, foolish ambitions, and frustrate human energies
reduced to the vocable condition, fly as to the one refuge left;
and the Republic of Letters increases in population at a faster
rate than even the Republic of America. The strangest regiment
in her Majesty's service, this of the Soldiers of
Literature:--would your Lordship much like to march through
Coventry with them? The immortal gods are there (quite
irrecognizable under these disguises), and also the lowest broken
valets;--an extremely miscellaneous regiment. In fact the
regiment, superficially viewed, looks like an immeasurable motley
flood of discharged play-actors, funambulists, false prophets,
drunken ballad-singers; and marches not as a regiment, but as a
boundless canaille,--without drill, uniform, captaincy or billet;
with huge over-proportion of drummers; you would say, a regiment
gone wholly to the drum, with hardly a good musket to be seen in
it,--more a canaille than a regiment. Canaille of all the
loud-sounding levities, and general winnowings of Chaos, marching
through the world in a most ominous manner; proclaiming, audibly
if you have ears: "Twelfth hour of the Night; ancient graves
yawning; pale clammy Puseyisms screeching in their
winding-sheets; owls busy in the City regions; many goblins
abroad! Awake ye living; dream no more; arise to judgment!
Chaos and Gehenna are broken loose; the Devil with his Bedlams
must be flung in chains again, and the Last of the Days is about
to dawn!" Such is Literature to the reflective soul at this

But what now concerns us most is the circumstance that here too
the demand is, Vocables, still vocables. In all appointed
courses of activity and paved careers for human genius, and in
this unpaved, unappointed, broadest career of Literature, broad
way that leadeth to destruction for so many, the one duty laid
upon you is still, Talk, talk. Talk well with pen or tongue, and
it shall be well with you; do not talk well, it shall be ill with
you. To wag the tongue with dexterous acceptability, there is
for human worth and faculty, in our England of the Nineteenth
Century, that one method of emergence and no other. Silence, you
would say, means annihilation for the Englishman of the
Nineteenth Century. The worth that has not spoken itself, is
not; or is potentially only, and as if it were not. Vox is the
God of this Universe. If you have human intellect, it avails
nothing unless you either make it into beaverism, or talk with
it. Make it into beaverism, and gather money; or else make talk
with it, and gather what you can. Such is everywhere the demand
for talk among us: to which, of course, the supply is

From dinners up to woolsacks and divine mitres, here in England,
much may be gathered by talk; without talk, of the human sort
nothing. Is Society become wholly a bag of wind, then, ballasted
by guineas? Are our interests in it as a sounding brass and a
tinkling cymbal?--In Army or Navy, when unhappily we have war on
hand, there is, almost against our will, some kind of demand for
certain of the silent talents. But in peace, that too passes
into mere demand of the ostentations, of the pipeclays and the
blank cartridges; and,--except that Naval men are occasionally,
on long voyages, forced to hold their tongue, and converse with
the dumb elements, and illimitable oceans, that moan and rave
there without you and within you, which is a great advantage to
the Naval man,--our poor United Services have to make
conversational windbags and ostentational paper-lanterns of
themselves, or do worse, even as the others.

My friends, must I assert, then, what surely all men know, though
all men seem to have forgotten it, That in the learned
professions as in the unlearned, and in human things throughout,
in every place and in every time, the true function of intellect
is not that of talking, but of understanding and discerning with
a view to performing! An intellect may easily talk too much, and
perform too little. Gradually, if it get into the noxious habit
of talk, there will less and less performance come of it, talk
being so delightfully handy in comparison with work; and at last
there will no work, or thought of work, be got from it at all.
Talk, except as the preparation for work, is worth almost
nothing;--sometimes it is worth infinitely less than nothing; and
becomes, little conscious of playing such a fatal part, the
general summary of pretentious nothingnesses, and the chief of
all the curses the Posterity of Adam are liable to in this
sublunary world! Would you discover the Atropos of Human
Virtue; the sure Destroyer, "by painless extinction," of Human
Veracities, Performances, and Capabilities to perform or to be
veracious,--it is this, you have it here.

Unwise talk is matchless in unwisdom. Unwise work, if it but
persist, is everywhere struggling towards correction, and
restoration to health; for it is still in contact with Nature,
and all Nature incessantly contradicts it, and will heal it or
annihilate it: not so with unwise talk, which addresses itself,
regardless of veridical Nature, to the universal suffrages; and
can if it be dexterous, find harbor there till all the suffrages
are bankrupt and gone to Houndsditch, Nature not interfering with
her protest till then. False speech, definable as the acme of
unwise speech, is capable, as we already said, of becoming the
falsest of all things. Falsest of all things:--and whither will
the general deluge of that, in Parliament and Synagogue, in Book
and Broadside, carry you and your affairs, my friend, when once
they are embarked on it as now?

Parliament, _Parliamentum_, is by express appointment the Talking
Apparatus; yet not in Parliament either is the essential
function, by any means, talk. Not to speak your opinion well,
but to have a good and just opinion worth speaking,--for every
Parliament, as for every man, this latter is the point. Contrive
to have a true opinion, you will get it told in some way, better
or worse; and it will be a blessing to all creatures. Have a
false opinion, and tell it with the tongue of Angels, what can
that profit? The better you tell it, the worse it will be!

In Parliament and out of Parliament, and everywhere in this
Universe, your one salvation is, That you can discern with just
insight, and follow with noble valor, what the law of the case
before you is, what the appointment of the Maker in regard to it
has been. Get this out of one man, you are saved; fail to get
this out of the most August Parliament wrapt in the sheepskins of
a thousand years, you are lost,--your Parliament, and you, and
all your sheepskins are lost. Beautiful talk is by no means the
most pressing want in Parliament! We have had some reasonable
modicum of talk in Parliament! What talk has done for us in
Parliament, and is now doing, the dullest of us at length begins
to see!

Much has been said of Parliament's breeding men to business; of
the training an Official Man gets in this school of argument and
talk. He is here inured to patience, tolerance; sees what is
what in the Nation and in the Nation's Government attains
official knowledge, official courtesy and manners--in short, is
polished at all points into official articulation, and here
better than elsewhere qualifies himself to be a Governor of men.
So it is said.--Doubtless, I think, he will see and suffer much
in Parliament, and inure himself to several things;--he will,
with what eyes he has, gradually _see_ Parliament itself, for one
thing; what a high-soaring, helplessly floundering, ever-babbling
yet inarticulate dark dumb Entity it is (certainly one of the
strangest under the sun just now): which doubtless, if he have in
view to get measures voted there one day, will be an important
acquisition for him. But as to breeding himself for a Doer of
Work, much more for a King, or Chief of Doers, here in this
element of talk; as to that I confess the fatalest doubts, or
rather, alas, I have no doubt! Alas, it is our fatalest misery
just now, not easily alterable, and yet urgently requiring to be
altered, That no British man can attain to be a Statesman, or
Chief of _Workers_, till he has first proved himself a Chief of
_Talkers_: which mode of trial for a Worker, is it not
precisely, of all the trials you could set him upon, the falsest
and unfairest?

Nay, I doubt much you are not likely ever to meet the fittest
material for a Statesman, or Chief of Workers, in such an element
as that. Your Potential Chief of Workers, will he come there at
all, to try whether he can talk? Your poor tenpound franchisers
and electoral world generally, in love with eloquent talk, are
they the likeliest to discern what man it is that has worlds of
silent work in him? No. Or is such a man, even if born in the
due rank for it, the likeliest to present himself, and court
their most sweet voices? Again, no.

The Age that admires talk so much can have little discernment for
inarticulate work, or for anything that is deep and genuine.
Nobody, or hardly anybody, having in himself an earnest sense for
truth, how can anybody recognize an inarticulate Veracity, or
Nature-fact of any kind; a Human _Doer_ especially, who is the
most complex, profound, and inarticulate of all Nature's Facts?
Nobody can recognize him: till once he is patented, get some
public stamp of authenticity, and has been articulately
proclaimed, and asserted to be a Doer. To the worshipper of
talk, such a one is a sealed book. An excellent human soul,
direct from Heaven,--how shall any excellence of man become
recognizable to this unfortunate? Not except by announcing and
placarding itself as excellent,--which, I reckon, it above other
things will probably be in no great haste to do.

Wisdom, the divine message which every soul of man brings into
this world; the divine prophecy of what the new man has got the
new and peculiar capability to do, is intrinsically of silent
nature. It cannot at once, or completely at all, be read off in
words; for it is written in abstruse facts, of endowment,
position, desire, opportunity, granted to the man;--interprets
itself in presentiments, vague struggles, passionate endeavors
and is only legible in whole when his work is _done_. Not by the
noble monitions of Nature, but by the ignoble, is a man much
tempted to publish the secret of his soul in words. Words, if he
have a secret, will be forever inadequate to it. Words do but
disturb the real answer of fact which could be given to it;
disturb, obstruct, and will in the end abolish, and render
impossible, said answer. No grand Doer in this world can be a
copious speaker about his doings. William the Silent spoke
himself best in a country liberated; Oliver Cromwell did not
shine in rhetoric; Goethe, when he had but a book in view, found
that he must say nothing even of that, if it was to succeed with

Then as to politeness, and breeding to business. An official man
must be bred to business; of course he must: and not for essence
only, but even for the manners of office he requires breeding.
Besides his intrinsic faculty, whatever that may be, he must be
cautious, vigilant, discreet,--above all things, he must be
reticent, patient, polite. Certain of these qualities are by
nature imposed upon men of station; and they are trained from
birth to some exercise of them: this constitutes their one
intrinsic qualification for office;--this is their one advantage
in the New Downing Street projected for this New Era; and it will
not go for much in that Institution. One advantage, or temporary
advantage; against which there are so many counterbalances. It
is the indispensable preliminary for office, but by no means the
complete outfit,--a miserable outfit where there is nothing

Will your Lordship give me leave to say that, practically, the
intrinsic qualities will presuppose these preliminaries too, but
by no means _vice versa_. That, on the whole, if you have got
the intrinsic qualities, you have got everything, and the
preliminaries will prove attainable; but that if you have got
only the preliminaries, you have yet got nothing. A man of real
dignity will not find it impossible to bear himself in a
dignified manner; a man of real understanding and insight will
get to know, as the fruit of his very first study, what the laws
of his situation are, and will conform to these. Rough old
Samuel Johnson, blustering Boreas and rugged Arctic Bear as he
often was, defined himself, justly withal, as a polite man: a
noble manful attitude of soul is his; a clear, true and loyal
sense of what others are, and what he himself is, shines through
the rugged coating of him; comes out as grave deep rhythmus when
his King honors him, and he will not "bandy compliments with his
King;"--is traceable too in his indignant trampling down of the
Chesterfield patronages, tailor-made insolences, and
contradictions of sinners; which may be called his
_revolutionary_ movements, hard and peremptory by the law of
them; these could not be soft like his _constitutional_ ones,
when men and kings took him for somewhat like the thing he was.
Given a noble man, I think your Lordship may expect by and by a
polite man. No "politer" man was to be found in Britain than the
rustic Robert Burns: high duchesses were captivated with the
chivalrous ways of the man; recognized that here was the true
chivalry, and divine nobleness of bearing,--as indeed they well
might, now when the Peasant God and Norse Thor had come down
among them again! Chivalry this, if not as they do chivalry in
Drury Lane or West-End drawing-rooms, yet as they do it in
Valhalla and the General Assembly of the Gods.

For indeed, who _invented_ chivalry, politeness, or anything that
is noble and melodious and beautiful among us, except precisely
the like of Johnson and of Burns? The select few who in the
generations of this world were wise and valiant, they, in spite
of all the tremendous majority of blockheads and slothful
belly-worshippers, and noisy ugly persons, have devised
whatsoever is noble in the manners of man to man. I expect they
will learn to be polite, your Lordship, when you give them a
chance!--Nor is it as a school of human culture, for this or for
any other grace or gift, that Parliament will be found first-rate
or indispensable. As experience in the river is indispensable to
the ferryman, so is knowledge of his Parliament to the British
Peel or Chatham;--so was knowledge of the OEil-de-Boeuf to the
French Choiseul. Where and how said river, whether Parliament
with Wilkeses, or OEil-de-Boeuf with Pompadours, can be waded,
boated, swum; how the miscellaneous cargoes, "measures" so
called, can be got across it, according to their kinds, and
landed alive on the hither side as facts:--we have all of us our
_ferries_ in this world; and must know the river and its ways, or
get drowned some day! In that sense, practice in Parliament is
indispensable to the British Statesman; but not in any other

A school, too, of manners and of several other things, the
Parliament will doubtless be to the aspirant Statesman; a school
better or worse;--as the OEil-de-Boeuf likewise was, and as all
scenes where men work or live are sure to be. Especially where
many men work together, the very rubbing against one another will
grind and polish off their angularities into roundness, into
"politeness" after a sort; and the official man, place him how
you may, will never want for schooling, of extremely various
kinds. A first-rate school one cannot call this Parliament for
him;--I fear to say what rate at present! In so far as it
teaches him vigilance, patience, courage, toughness of lungs or
of soul, and skill in any kind of swimming, it is a good school.
In so far as it forces him to speak where Nature orders silence;
and even, lest all the world should learn his secret (which often
enough would kill his secret, and little profit the world),
forces him to speak falsities, vague ambiguities, and the
froth-dialect usual in Parliaments in these times, it may be
considered one of the worst schools ever devised by man; and, I
think, may almost challenge the OEil-de-Boeuf to match it in

Parliament will train your men to the manners required of a
statesman; but in a much less degree to the intrinsic functions
of one. To these latter, it is capable of mistraining as nothing
else can. Parliament will train you to talk; and above all
things to hear, with patience, unlimited quantities of foolish
talk. To tell a good story for yourself, and to make it _appear_
that you have done your work: this, especially in constitutional
countries, is something;--and yet in all countries,
constitutional ones too, it is intrinsically nothing, probably
even less. For it is not the function of any mortal, in Downing
Street or elsewhere here below, to wag the tongue of him, and
make it appear that he has done work; but to wag some quite other
organs of him, and to do work; there is no danger of his work's
appearing by and by. Such an accomplishment, even in
constitutional countries, I grieve to say, may become much less
than nothing. Have you at all computed how much less? The human
creature who has once given way to satisfying himself with
"appearances," to seeking his salvation in "appearances," the
moral life of such human creature is rapidly bleeding out of him.
Depend upon it, Beelzebub, Satan, or however you may name the too
authentic Genius of Eternal Death, has got that human creature in
his claws. By and by you will have a dead parliamentary bagpipe,
and your living man fled away without return!

Such parliamentary bagpipes I myself have heard play tunes, much
to the satisfaction of the people. Every tune lies within their
compass; and their mind (for they still call it _mind_) is ready
as a hurdy-gurdy on turning of the handle: "My Lords, this
question now before the House"--Ye Heavens, O ye divine Silences,
was there in the womb of Chaos, then, such a product, liable to
be evoked by human art, as that same? While the galleries were
all applausive of heart, and the Fourth Estate looked with eyes
enlightened, as if you had touched its lips with a staff dipped
in honey,--I have sat with reflections too ghastly to be uttered.
A poor human creature and learned friend, once possessed of many
fine gifts, possessed of intellect, veracity, and manful
conviction on a variety of objects, has he now lost all
that;--converted all that into a glistering phosphorescence which
can show itself on the outside; while within, all is dead,
chaotic, dark; a painted sepulchre full of dead-men's bones!
Discernment, knowledge, intellect, in the human sense of the
words, this man has now none. His opinion you do not ask on any
matter: on the _matter_ he has no opinion, judgment, or insight;
only on what may be said about the matter, how it may be argued
of, what tune may be played upon it to enlighten the eyes of the
Fourth Estate.

Such a soul, though to the eye he still keeps tumbling about in
the Parliamentary element, and makes "motions," and passes bills,
for aught I know,--are we to define him as a _living_ one, or as
a dead? Partridge the Almanac-Maker, whose "Publications" still
regularly appear, is known to be dead! The dog that was drowned
last summer, and that floats up and down the Thames with ebb and
flood ever since,--is it not dead? Alas, in the hot months, you
meet here and there such a floating dog; and at length, if you
often use the river steamers, get to know him by sight. "There
he is again, still astir there in his quasi-stygian element!" you
dejectedly exclaim (perhaps reading your Morning Newspaper at the
moment); and reflect, with a painful oppression of nose and
imagination, on certain completed professors of parliamentary
eloquence in modern times. Dead long since, but _not_ resting;
daily doing motions in that Westminster region still,--daily from
Vauxhall to Blackfriars, and back again; and cannot get away at
all! Daily (from Newspaper or river steamer) you may see him at
some point of his fated course, hovering in the eddies, stranded
in the ooze, or rapidly progressing with flood or ebb; and daily
the odor of him is getting more intolerable: daily the condition
of him appeals more tragically to gods and men.

Nature admits no lie; most men profess to be aware of this, but
few in any measure lay it to heart. Except in the departments of
mere material manipulation, it seems to be taken practically as
if this grand truth were merely a polite flourish of rhetoric.
What is a lie? The question is worth asking, once and away, by
the practical English mind.

A voluntary spoken divergence from the fact as it stands, as it
has occurred and will proceed to develop itself: this clearly,
if adopted by any man, will so far forth mislead him in all
practical dealing with the fact; till he cast that statement out
of him, and reject it as an unclean poisonous thing, he can have
no success in dealing with the fact. If such spoken divergence
from the truth be involuntary, we lament it as a misfortune; and
are entitled, at least the speaker of it is, to lament it
extremely as the most palpable of all misfortunes, as the
indubitablest losing of his way, and turning aside from the goal
instead of pressing towards it, in the race set before him. If
the divergence is voluntary,--there superadds itself to our
sorrow a just indignation: we call the voluntary spoken
divergence a lie, and justly abhor it as the essence of human
treason and baseness, the desertion of a man to the Enemy of men
against himself and his brethren. A lost deserter; who has gone
over to the Enemy, called Satan; and cannot _but_ be lost in the
adventure! Such is every liar with the tongue; and such in all
nations is he, at all epochs, considered. Men pull his nose, and
kick him out of doors; and by peremptory expressive methods
signify that they can and will have no trade with him. Such is
spoken divergence from the fact; so fares it with the practiser
of that sad art.

But have we well considered a divergence _in thought_ from what
is the fact? Have we considered the man whose very thought is a
lie to him and to us! He too is a frightful man; repeating about
this Universe on every hand what is not, and driven to repeat it;
the sure herald of ruin to all that follow him, that know with
_his_ knowledge! And would you learn how to get a mendacious
thought, there is no surer recipe than carrying a loose tongue.
The lying thought, you already either have it, or will soon get
it by that method. He who lies with his very tongue, _he_
clearly enough has long ceased to think truly in his mind. Does
he, in any sense, "think"? All his thoughts and imaginations, if
they extend beyond mere beaverisms, astucities and sensualisms,
are false, incomplete, perverse, untrue even to himself. He has
become a false mirror of this Universe; not a small mirror only,
but a crooked, bedimmed and utterly deranged one. But all loose
tongues too are akin to lying ones; are insincere at the best,
and go rattling with little meaning; the thought lying languid at
a great distance behind them, if thought there be behind them at
all. Gradually there will be none or little! How can the
thought of such a man, what he calls thought, be other than

Alas, the palpable liar with his tongue does at least know that
he is lying, and has or might have some faint vestige of remorse
and chance of amendment; but the impalpable liar, whose tongue
articulates mere accepted commonplaces, cants and babblement,
which means only, "Admire me, call me an excellent
stump-orator!"--of him what hope is there? His thought, what
thought he had, lies dormant, inspired only to invent vocables
and plausibilities; while the tongue goes so glib, the thought is
absent, gone a wool-gathering; getting itself drugged with the
applausive "Hear, hear!"--what will become of such a man? His
idle thought has run all to seed, and grown false and the giver
of falsities; the inner light of his mind is gone out; all his
light is mere putridity and phosphorescence henceforth.
Whosoever is in quest of ruin, let him with assurance follow that
man; he or no one is on the right road to it.

Good Heavens, from the wisest Thought of a man to the actual
truth of a Thing as it lies in Nature, there is, one would
suppose, a sufficient interval! Consider it,--and what other
intervals we introduce! The faithfulest, most glowing word of a
man is but an imperfect image of the thought, such as it is,
that dwells within him; his best word will never but with error
convey his thought to other minds: and then between his poor
thought and Nature's Fact, which is the Thought of the Eternal,
there may be supposed to lie some discrepancies, some
shortcomings! Speak your sincerest, think your wisest, there is
still a great gulf between you and the fact. And now, do not
speak your sincerest, and what will inevitably follow out of
that, do not think your wisest, but think only your plausiblest,
your showiest for parliamentary purposes, where will you land
with that guidance?--I invite the British Parliament, and all the
Parliamentary and other Electors of Great Britain, to reflect on
this till they have well understood it; and then to ask, each of
himself, What probably the horoscopes of the British Parliament,
at this epoch of World-History, may be?--

Fail, by any sin or any misfortune, to discover what the truth of
the fact is, you are lost so far as that fact goes! If your
thought do not image truly but do image falsely the fact, you
will vainly try to work upon the fact. The fact will not obey
you, the fact will silently resist you; and ever, with silent
invincibility, will go on resisting you, till you do get to image
it truly instead of falsely. No help for you whatever, except in
attaining to a true image of the fact. Needless to vote a false
image true; vote it, revote it by overwhelming majorities, by
jubilant unanimities and universalities; read it thrice or three
hundred times, pass acts of parliament upon it till the
Statute-book can hold no more,--it helps not a whit: the thing
is not so, the thing is otherwise than so; and Adam's whole
Posterity, voting daily on it till the world finish, will not
alter it a jot. Can the sublimest sanhedrim, constitutional
parliament, or other Collective Wisdom of the world, persuade
fire not to burn, sulphuric acid to be sweet milk, or the Moon to
become green cheese? The fact is much the reverse:--and even the
Constitutional British Parliament abstains from such arduous
attempts as these latter in the voting line; and leaves the
multiplication-table, the chemical, mechanical and other
qualities of material substances to take their own course; being
aware that voting and perorating, and reporting in Hansard, will
not in the least alter any of these. Which is indisputably wise
of the British Parliament.

Unfortunately the British Parliament does not, at present, quite
know that all manner of things and relations of things, spiritual
equally with material, all manner of qualities, entities,
existences whatsoever, in this strange visible and invisible
Universe, are equally inflexible of nature; that, they will, one
and all, with precisely the same obstinacy, continue to obey
their own law, not our law; deaf as the adder to all charm of
parliamentary eloquence, and of voting never so often repeated;
silently, but inflexibly and forevermore, declining to change
themselves, even as sulphuric acid declines to become sweet milk,
though you vote so to the end of the world. This, it sometimes
seems to me, is not quite sufficiently laid hold of by the
British and other Parliaments just at present. Which surely is a
great misfortune to said Parliaments! For, it would appear, the
grand point, after all constitutional improvements, and such
wagging of wigs in Westminster as there has been, is precisely
what it was before any constitution was yet heard of, or the
first official wig had budded out of nothing: namely, to
ascertain what the truth of your question, in Nature, really is!
Verily so. In this time and place, as in all past and in all
future times and places. To-day in St. Stephen's, where
constitutional, philanthropical, and other great things lie in
the mortar-kit; even as on the Plain of Shinar long ago, where a
certain Tower, likewise of a very philanthropic nature, indeed
one of the desirablest towers I ever heard of, was to be
built,--but couldn't! My friends, I do not laugh; truly I am
more inclined to weep.

Get, by six hundred and fifty-eight votes, or by no vote at all,
by the silent intimation of your own eyesight and understanding
given you direct out of Heaven, and more sacred to you than
anything earthly, and than all things earthly,--a correct image
of the fact in question, as God and Nature have made it: that is
the one thing needful; with that it shall be well with you in
whatsoever you have to do with said fact. Get, by the sublimest
constitutional methods, belauded by all the world, an incorrect
image of the fact: so shall it be other than well with you; so
shall you have laud from able editors and vociferous masses of
mistaken human creatures; and from the Nature's Fact, continuing
quite silently the same as it was, contradiction, and that only.
What else? Will Nature change, or sulphuric acid become sweet
milk, for the noise of vociferous blockheads? Surely not.
Nature, I assure you, has not the smallest intention of doing

On the contrary, Nature keeps silently a most exact
Savings-bank, and official register correct to the most
evanescent item, Debtor and Creditor, in respect to one and all
of us; silently marks down, Creditor by such and such an unseen
act of veracity and heroism; Debtor to such a loud blustery
blunder, twenty-seven million strong or one unit strong, and to
all acts and words and thoughts executed in consequence of
that,--Debtor, Debtor, Debtor, day after day, rigorously as Fate
(for this is Fate that is writing); and at the end of the account
you will have it all to pay, my friend; there is the rub! Not
the infinitesimalest fraction of a farthing but will be found
marked there, for you and against you; and with the due rate of
interest you will have to pay it, neatly, completely, as sure as
you are alive. You will have to pay it even in money if you
live:--and, poor slave, do you think there is no payment but in
money? There is a payment which Nature rigorously exacts of men,
and also of Nations, and this I think when her wrath is sternest,
in the shape of dooming you to possess money. To possess it; to
have your bloated vanities fostered into monstrosity by it, your
foul passions blown into explosion by it, your heart and perhaps
your very stomach ruined with intoxication by it; your poor life
and all its manful activities stunned into frenzy and comatose
sleep by it,--in one word, as the old Prophets said, your soul
forever lost by it. Your soul; so that, through the Eternities,
you shall have no soul, or manful trace of ever having had a
soul; but only, for certain fleeting moments, shall have had a
money-bag, and have given soul and heart and (frightfuler still)
stomach itself in fatal exchange for the same. You wretched
mortal, stumbling about in a God's Temple, and thinking it a
brutal Cookery-shop! Nature, when her scorn of a slave is
divinest, and blazes like the blinding lightning against his
slavehood, often enough flings him a bag of money, silently
saying: "That! Away; thy doom is that!"--

For no man, and for no body or biggest multitude of men, has
Nature favor, if they part company with her facts and her.
Excellent stump-orator; eloquent parliamentary dead-dog, making
motions, passing bills; reported in the Morning Newspapers, and
reputed the "best speaker going"? From the Universe of Fact he
has turned himself away; he is gone into partnership with the
Universe of Phantasm; finds it profitablest to deal in forged
notes, while the foolish shopkeepers will accept them. Nature
for such a man, and for Nations that follow such, has her
patibulary forks, and prisons of death everlasting:--dost thou
doubt it? Unhappy mortal, Nature otherwise were herself a Chaos
and no Cosmos. Nature was not made by an Impostor; not she, I
think, rife as they are!--In fact, by money or otherwise, to the
uttermost fraction of a calculable and incalculable value, we
have, each one of us, to settle the exact balance in the
above-said Savings-bank, or official register kept by Nature:
Creditor by the quantity of veracities we have done, Debtor by
the quantity of falsities and errors; there is not, by any
conceivable device, the faintest hope of escape from that issue
for one of us, nor for all of us.

This used to be a well-known fact; and daily still, in certain
edifices, steeple-houses, joss-houses, temples sacred or other,
everywhere spread over the world, we hear some dim mumblement of
an assertion that such is still, what it was always and will
forever be, the fact: but meseems it has terribly fallen out of
memory nevertheless; and, from Dan to Beersheba, one in vain
looks out for a man that really in his heart believes it. In his
heart he believes, as we perceive, that scrip will yield
dividends: but that Heaven too has an office of account, and
unerringly marks down, against us or for us, whatsoever thing we
do or say or think, and treasures up the same in regard to every
creature,--this I do not so well perceive that he believes.
Poor blockhead, no: he reckons that all payment is in money, or
approximately representable by money; finds money go a strange
course; disbelieves the parson and his Day of Judgment; discerns
not that there is any judgment except in the small or big debt
court; and lives (for the present) on that strange footing in
this Universe. The unhappy mortal, what is the use of his
"civilizations" and his "useful knowledges," if he have forgotten
that beginning of human knowledge; the earliest perception of the
awakened human soul in this world; the first dictate of Heaven's
inspiration to all men? I cannot account him a man any more; but
only a kind of human beaver, who has acquired the art of
ciphering. He lives without rushing hourly towards suicide,
because his soul, with all its noble aspirations and
imaginations, is sunk at the bottom of his stomach, and lies
torpid there, unaspiring, unimagining, unconsidering, as if it
were the vital principle of a mere _four_-footed beaver. A soul
of a man, appointed for spinning cotton and making money, or,
alas, for merely shooting grouse and gathering rent; to whom
Eternity and Immortality, and all human Noblenesses and divine
Facts that did not tell upon the stock-exchange, were meaningless
fables, empty as the inarticulate wind. He will recover out of
that persuasion one day, or be ground to powder, I

To such a pass, by our beaverisms and our mammonisms; by canting
of "prevenient grace" everywhere, and so boarding and lodging our
poor souls upon supervenient moonshine everywhere, for centuries
long; by our sordid stupidities and our idle babblings; through
faith in the divine Stump-orator, and Constitutional Palaver, or
august Sanhedrim of Orators,-- have men and Nations been reduced,
in this sad epoch! I cannot call them happy Nations; I must call
them Nations like to perish; Nations that will either begin to
recover, or else soon die. Recovery is to be hoped;--yes, since
there is in Nature an Almighty Beneficence, and His voice,
divinely terrible, can be heard in the world-whirlwind now, even
as from of old and forevermore. Recovery, or else destruction
and annihilation, is very certain; and the crisis, too, comes
rapidly on: but by Stump-Orator and Constitutional Palaver,
however perfected, my hopes of _recovery_ have long vanished.
Not by them, I should imagine, but by something far the reverse
of them, shall we return to truth and God!--

I tell you, the ignoble intellect cannot think the _truth_, even
within its own limits, and when it seriously tries! And of the
ignoble intellect that does not seriously try, and has even
reached the "ignobleness" of seriously trying the reverse, and of
lying with its very tongue, what are we to expect? It is
frightful to consider. Sincere wise speech is but an imperfect
corollary, and insignificant outer manifestation, of sincere wise
thought. He whose very tongue utters falsities, what has his
heart long been doing? The thought of his heart is not its
wisest, not even _its_ wisest; it is its foolishest;--and even of
that we have a false and foolish copy. And it is Nature's Fact,
or the Thought of the Eternal, which we want to arrive at in
regard to the matter,--which if we do _not_ arrive at, we shall
not save the matter, we shall drive the matter into shipwreck!

The practice of modern Parliaments, with reporters sitting among
them, and twenty-seven millions mostly fools listening to them,
fills me with amazement. In regard to no _thing_, or fact as God
and Nature have made it, can you get so much as the real thought
of any honorable head,--even so far as _it_, the said honorable
head, still has capacity of thought. What the honorable
gentleman's wisest thought is or would have been, had he led from
birth a life of piety and earnest veracity and heroic virtue,
you, and he himself poor deep-sunk creature, vainly conjecture as
from immense dim distances far in the rear of what he is led to
_say_. And again, far in the rear of what his thought
is,--surely long infinitudes beyond all _he_ could ever
think,--lies the Thought of God Almighty, the Image itself of the
Fact, the thing you are in quest of, and must find or do worse!
Even his, the honorable gentleman's, actual bewildered,
falsified, vague surmise or quasi-thought, even this is not given
you; but only some falsified copy of this, such as he fancies may
suit the reporters and twenty-seven millions mostly fools. And
upon that latter you are to act;--with what success, do you
expect? That is the thought you are to take for the Thought of
the Eternal Mind,--that double-distilled falsity of a
blockheadism from one who is false even as a blockhead!

Do I make myself plain to Mr. Peter's understanding? Perhaps it
will surprise him less that parliamentary eloquence excites more
wonder than admiration in me; that the fate of countries governed
by that sublime alchemy does not appear the hopefulest just now.
Not by that method, I should apprehend, will the Heavens be
scaled and the Earth vanquished; not by that, but by another.

A benevolent man once proposed to me, but without pointing out
the methods how, this plan of reform for our benighted world: To
cut from one generation, whether the current one or the next, all
the tongues away, prohibiting Literature too; and appoint at
least one generation to pass its life in silence. "There, thou
one blessed generation, from the vain jargon of babble thou art
beneficently freed. Whatsoever of truth, traditionary or
original, thy own god-given intellect shall point out to thee as
true, that thou wilt go and do. In doing of it there will be a
verdict for thee; if a verdict of True, thou wilt hold by it, and
ever again do it; if of Untrue, thou wilt never try it more, but
be eternally delivered from it. To do aught because the vain
hearsays order thee, and the big clamors of the sanhedrim of
fools, is not thy lot,--what worlds of misery are spared thee!
Nature's voice heard in thy own inner being, and the sacred
Commandment of thy Maker: these shall be thy guidances, thou
happy tongueless generation. What is good and beautiful thou
shalt know; not merely what is said to be so. Not to talk of thy
doings, and become the envy of surrounding flunkies, but to taste
of the fruit of thy doings themselves, is thine. What the
Eternal Laws will sanction for thee, do; what the Froth Gospels
and multitudinous long-eared Hearsays never so loudly bid, all
this is already chaff for thee,--drifting rapidly along, thou
knowest whitherward, on the eternal winds."

Good Heavens, if such a plan were practicable, how the chaff
might be winnowed out of every man, and out of all human things;
and ninety-nine hundredths of our whole big Universe, spiritual
and practical, might blow itself away, as mere torrents of chaff
whole trade-winds of chaff, many miles deep, rushing continually
with the voice of whirlwinds towards a certain FIRE, which knows
how to deal with it! Ninety-nine hundredths blown away; all the
lies blown away, and some skeleton of a spiritual and practical
Universe left standing for us which were true: O Heavens, is it
forever impossible, then? By a generation that had no tongue it
really might be done; but not so easily by one that had.
Tongues, platforms, parliaments, and fourth-estates; unfettered
presses, periodical and stationary literatures: we are nearly
all gone to tongue, I think; and our fate is very questionable.

Truly, it is little known at present, and ought forthwith to
become better known, what ruin to all nobleness and fruitfulness
and blessedness in the genius of a poor mortal you generally
bring about, by ordering him to speak, to do all things with a
view to their being seen! Few good and fruitful things ever were
done, or could be done, on those terms. Silence, silence; and be
distant ye profane, with your jargonings and superficial
babblements, when a man has anything to do! Eye-service,--dost
thou know what that is, poor England?--eye-service is all the man
can do in these sad circumstances; grows to be all he has the
idea of doing, of his or any other man's ever doing, or ever
having done, in any circumstances. Sad, enough. Alas, it is our
saddest woe of all;--too sad for being spoken of at present,
while all or nearly all men consider it an imaginary sorrow on
my part!

Let the young English soul, in whatever logic-shop and
nonsense-verse establishment of an Eton, Oxford, Edinburgh,
Halle, Salamanca, or other High Finishing-School, he may be
getting his young idea taught how to speak and spout, and print
sermons and review-articles, and thereby show himself and fond
patrons that it _is_ an idea,--lay this solemnly to heart; this
is my deepest counsel to him! The idea you have once spoken, if
it even were an idea, is no longer yours; it is gone from you, so
much life and virtue is gone, and the vital circulations of your
self and your destiny and activity are henceforth deprived of it.
If you could not get it spoken, if you could still constrain it
into silence, so much the richer are you. Better keep your idea
while you can: let it still circulate in your blood, and there
fructify; inarticulately inciting you to good activities; giving
to your whole spiritual life a ruddier health. When the time
does come for speaking it, you will speak it all the more
concisely, the more expressively, appropriately; and if such a
time should never come, have you not already acted it, and
uttered it as no words can? Think of this, my young friend; for
there is nothing truer, nothing more forgotten in these shabby
gold-laced days. Incontinence is half of all the sins of man.
And among the many kinds of that base vice, I know none baser, or
at present half so fell and fatal, as that same Incontinence of
Tongue. "Public speaking," "parliamentary eloquence:" it is a
Moloch, before whom young souls are made to pass through the
fire. They enter, weeping or rejoicing, fond parents
consecrating them to the red-hot Idol, as to the Highest God:
and they come out spiritually _dead_. Dead enough; to live
thenceforth a galvanic life of mere Stump-Oratory; screeching and
gibbering, words without wisdom, without veracity, without
conviction more than skin-deep. A divine gift, that? It is a
thing admired by the vulgar, and rewarded with seats in the
Cabinet and other preciosities; but to the wise, it is a thing
not admirable, not adorable; unmelodious rather, and ghastly and
bodeful, as the speech of sheeted spectres in the streets at

Be not a Public Orator, thou brave young British man, thou that
art now growing to be something: not a Stump-Orator, if thou
canst help it. Appeal not to the vulgar, with its long ears and
its seats in the Cabinet; not by spoken words to the vulgar;
_hate_ the profane vulgar, and bid it begone. Appeal by silent
work, by silent suffering if there be no work, to the gods, who
have nobler than seats in the Cabinet for thee! Talent for
Literature, thou hast such a talent? Believe it not, be slow to
believe it! To speak, or to write, Nature did not peremptorily
order thee; but to work she did. And know this: there never was
a talent even for real Literature, not to speak of talents lost
and damned in doing sham Literature, but was primarily a talent
for something infinitely better of the silent kind. Of
Literature, in all ways, be shy rather than otherwise, at
present! There where thou art, work, work; whatsoever thy hand
findeth to do, do it,--with the hand of a man, not of a
phantasm; be that thy unnoticed blessedness and exceeding great
reward. Thy words, let them be few, and well-ordered. Love
silence rather than speech in these tragic days, when, for very
speaking, the voice of man has fallen inarticulate to man; and
hearts, in this loud babbling, sit dark and dumb towards one
another. Witty,--above all, oh be not witty: none of us is
bound to be witty, under penalties; to be wise and true we all
are, under the terriblest penalties!

Brave young friend, dear to me, and _known_ too in a sense,
though never seen, nor to be seen by me,--you are, what I am not,
in the happy case to learn to _be_ something and to _do_
something, instead of eloquently talking about what has been and
was done and may be! The old are what they are, and will not
alter; our hope is in you. England's hope, and the world's, is
that there may once more be millions such, instead of units as
now. _Macte; i fausto pede_. And may future generations,
acquainted again with the silences, and once more cognizant of
what is noble and faithful and divine, look back on us with pity
and incredulous astonishment!

Italicized text is represented in the etext with underscores
_thusly_. Greek text has been transliterated into English, with
notation "[Gr.]" appended to it. Otherwise the etext has been
left as it was in the printed text. Footnotes have been embedded
directly into the text, with the notation [Footnote: ...].

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