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Worship"-was its author's chief, if not his
“Past and Present" was a tour de force, and a wonderfully successful one, yet it was altogether eclipsed by the book which at some interval, occupied by continuous and unremitting labor, followed. Few books have had such a fortune as the "Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell." It found its subject under the ban of both the great political parties in England; it left him emancipated from any purely political ostracism of any kind. In saying this, I by no means intend to convey any expression of opinion that Mr. Carlyle has established Oliver Cromwell in the position in which he would seem to have wished to establish him, -that of a wholly disinterested and puresouled patriot. Whitehall and Drogheda must disappear from the map of the United Kingdom before any general agreement on this point is obtained; and there must cease to be believers either in legitimacy and privilege on the one hand, or in the right of the nation to have its affairs managed in its own way, on the other. But the point is that this book lifted Cromwell from the position of a pet aversion or a pet idol into that of an
ordinary historic personage, whose actions may be judged favorably or unfavorably, but who can no longer be regarded as a mere monster or portent. Remarkable as had been the historical faculty for weaving details into clear narration which Mr. Carlyle had already shown, this book carried his reputation in that matter still higher, while his editions, as they may be called, of the "Letters and Speeches" revealed an entirely new talent in him. These documents, in so far as they had been known at all, had been a riddle for two hundred years. Mr. Carlyle treated them exactly as an editor of Eschylus treats the choruses of the "Supplices" or the "Choephora," with the difference that his emendations and elucidations, instead of being merely felicitous guesses and display of scholarship, are certain and indisputable recoveries of fact. Intense sympathy, unremitting labor, a wonderful literary faculty, and a complete familiarity with the circumstances of the original utterance and the original utterer, had enabled him to deal with them in the manner rather of science than of art. As with all work of the very first class, the thing was done once for all. Estimates of Cromwell's character will always differ, but we shall no more go back, nor will our sons go back, upon anything before this book as a basis for such estimates, than we shall go behind Bentley's Phalaris" or Darwin's observations on the breeding of pigeons.
There was again a considerable interval before Mr. Carlyle produced anything new, and his two next works, dating from the troubled period which closed the forties, were sufficiently remarkable. One of them is the most debatable and the most debated of all his works; the other is that which by common consent stands, as a work of art and as a personal monument, first of all. By the estimate which a man forms of " Latter-day Pamphlets" may be judged, perhaps, the degree of his initiation into the Carlylean mysteries, and at the same time the degree with which he has preserved in the course of that initiation his faculty of sound judgment. To the uninitiated they are an abomination merely, and the reason is not far to seek, for in them as in no other work is to be found the caricature of the author's peculiarities of style, the inurbane exaggeration of his violence of diction,which in our own days a great disciple of his has unfortunately imitated,—the willful consideration of all things through a pair of specially colored glasses, which earlier, and
even later when Philip was sober, he would himself have called Carlyle, seeing all things in Carlyle. To the devotee, on the other hand, all this is admirable and quintessential. Between these two extremes, the impartial but appreciative critic may discover to his sorrow some evidence of spoiling, but still more, perhaps, of deep insight, of curious felicity of phrase, of rugged imperviousness Yet another interval of silence, and this to popular fallacy. "Hudson's Statue" is, "Hudson's Statue" is, time a very considerable one, followed these and remains, hitherto, the appointed morning two notable books; but, like the former inbitters for Englishmen of the nineteenth tervals, it was occupied with sufficient prepcentury, after they have gone through one of aration for the forthcoming work. No their periodical fits of worship of the un- notice in any way corresponding to its bulk worthy. But it is medicine, not drink, and deserts can here be attempted of the except to a few exceptionally constituted "Frederick." I think that it has-in Engpalates. On the other hand, the "Life of land-been hardly judged. It is of course Sterling" may be said to be nocturna ver- fair to remember that the author, when the sanda manu, versanda diurna. The compar- first volume appeared, had reached his ative simplicity of the style, the abstinence grand climacteric,-that a certain hardness from any wanton treading even upon obtru- of judgment, approaching to prejudice, had sive toes, the matchless episodic passages,- crept over him, and that it was sufficiently, such as that portrait of Coleridge which, one- obvious that he was no longer, as he had sided as it doubtless is, is so absolutely faithful once done, illustrating his principles by examto the side to which it confines itself, the ples taken fairly as they came, but was, of affectionate and complete presentation of a malice prepense, illustrating them by a delibtypical nineteenth-century man,-the abun-erately chosen paradox. Great as Frederick dance of personal and autobiographic detail, was in various ways, he seems-and I trust neither impertinently profuse nor affectedly will always seem-detestable to most Englimited, the pathos, the careful art, the un- lishmen. To me, personally, my own studied naturalness of the book, could not fail hearty detestation of the hero does not and have not failed of their effect. With "In affect in the least my equally hearty enjoyMemoriam" it builds the temple of nine- ment of the book; but it is not so with most teenth-century friendship for Englishmen, as people, and I do not know that one can no other age or country has ever had it built. fairly expect that it should be so. Let it only be said that in no work is the so often mentioned mastery of detail more marvelously exhibited, while in none are the detached passages of vivid description more attractive. The early history of the house of Hohenzollern, the Voltaire episode, the history of the police-persecuted school-master whom Frederick relieved, could not have been better done by Mr. Carlyle himself in the vigor of his manhood; that is to say, they could not have been so well done by any other living man.
Perhaps as the "Sartor" and the " French Revolution" are the most instructive of Carlyle's works for the estimate of his literary and philosophical position, as the best essays represent his highest positive achievement in style, as the "Cromwell" is his most astonishing performance in point of research and creative criticism, so these two books are the most intrinsically and independently interesting of all. Two passages there are at any rate in them which deserve never to be forgotten. The one is the author's, the other is an extract from a letter of Sterling's. "Sure enough," says the fierce pessimist of the pamphlets, "if one in a thousand see at all in this sad matter what I see and have long seen in it, his life either suddenly or gradually will alter in several particulars, and his sorrow, apprehension, and amazement will probably grow upon him the longer he considers this affair, and his life, I think, will alter ever farther, and he-this one in a thousand -will forgive me and be thankful to the
heavens and me while he continues in this
Once more, and for the last time, we must come back to the outward life of our subject. His election in 1865 as Rector of Edinburgh University was in some sort the climax of his worldly career. The distinction, in itself, may seem but a small one, but it has to be remembered that it is allotted on a very peculiar principle. The Rector is elected by the students, and not merely literary but political and other considerations enter into the question. Mr. Carlyle had never laid himself out for flat
tery of his university, nor even for flattery of his mother-country, and in this blind sort of way a seal was doubtless set on his position in literature. But Nemesis, the eldest and youngest of goddesses, waited upon him here. While he was absent at Edinburgh delivering his inaugural address -a very admirable one-his wife died suddenly, and "the light of his life went out." He never, in any important degree, put pen to paper for the purposes of publication again. His house still continued to be a sort of Caaba of English literature, and his person and works continued to be a loadstar to those who, indocile to the system of personal worship, reverenced the principal and master figure and product of English letters. Only at rare intervals was his silence broken afterward. He had already taken a very decided line in the matter of the conflict between the Northern and Southern States of America,-a question upon which it were, perhaps, better that no word should be spoken here. Three times during the last three lusters of his life did he break silence in similar fashion, and once or twice otherwise. The Jamaica business, in which his old friend John Stuart Mill took so strong a part against the English governor, found in Mr. Carlyle a still stronger defender of the unpopular side. I was at Oxford at the time, and I remember well how Mill was then the reigning star of philosophic speculation, and how his occultation followed at once, and, as it happened, though doubtless for other reasons, forever. To dethrone a logician because he had taken a side, logical or illogical, in practical politics was no doubt unreasonable; but pure reason is not expected of boys of twenty. Some of us saved the logician while we damned the politician. All of us, I think I may say, save an insignificant minority, were on Mr. Carlyle's side against Mr. Mill.
Again, in 1870, Mr. Carlyle made some profession of faith in the matter of the Franco-German war, and here he scarcely carried his audience with him, though I think that none of the dissentients bore him any grudge for the fact. Years passed, and 1875 brought some pleasant "last fruits from an old tree," as one who had against expectation done Carlyle justice might have called them. The "Early Kings of Norway," and the essay on the portraits of John Knox showed, perhaps, a certain relaxation of the loins, a slight dimness of the lamp as far as literary style and brilliancy
were concerned, but if it was old age it was the old age of Carlyle. Two years later, another political debate interested him, and here again we found him making "polemical utterances." I do not remember that the warmest friends of the Russians found much gratification in their new ally who was so obviously reminiscent of Zorndorff and Kunersdorff: I am quite sure that the most decided of their opponents did not quarrel with Mr. Carlyle for his expression of opinion. Then he relapsed into what, after all, was, perhaps, his natural element-silence. A
considerable physical collapse was reported years ago, yet the old faculty of humorous epigram remained untouched. One of the most striking stories of Mr. Carlyle which I have heard, and which, I think, has never yet made its way into print, was the following. Some years ago a new history of England, greeted with much shouting, had appeared, and judicious or injudicious friends, thinking to please Mr. Carlyle, asked his opinion of it. "Yes," said he,—and the racy dialect unfortunately not reproducible in print accentuated his words," I have read it, that is to say, I took it up, and I saw that here was a young man who had taken pains about his subject, and perhaps knew something about it. But I saw that there was a great deal about the British constitution, and a great deal about liberty, and as I don't care a - for the British constitution, and as I don't care a― for liberty, I thought it would be waste of time to go further." We-I speak for the great multitude of Mr. Carlyle's English admirers, who maintain their freedom of judgment-knew what to make of this: it is not too much to hope that others will know what to make of it, too.
Toward the end of January, in the midst of the severest weather which has been felt in England for a generation, it was whispered that Mr. Carlyle was seriously ill. Those who took an interest in him had heard that for some time past the powers of life were failing, and not a few, knowing how these visits of Arctic weather tell on the old and infirm, had feared for the result. It was on Saturday, the 29th of January, that the first news came of a really alarming collapse, and on the following Saturday, February fifth, at half-past eight o'clock in the morning, the greatest Englishman of our days had ceased to be. His last week of life was a season of feverish political excitement which a little diverted attention from Cheyne Row to a point lower down Thames bank. Yet few men who cared at all for
So has a great light gone out in our midst. Some reference was made at the beginning of this paper to the personal and moral influence, independent of mere literary influence, which Mr. Carlyle has so long exercised. But no treatment of the subject would be complete without some further remarks on this. I have for my part no doubt that a very high place is assured to the author of the "French Revolution," of "Cromwell," of the " Essays," of the "Sterling," in the purely literary estimate of any competent critic of English at any future time. But it is doubtful whether any one who has not been an Englishman in Victorian times will ever be able fully to understand the position which Mr. Carlyle occupied as a teacher of men during almost the whole period of the reign. The word teacher must be used because there is no other available, but it is an awkward and in some sense a delusive one. For, as has been already hinted, definiteness of gospel was no part of Mr. Carlyle's work, and those who sought to find a definite gospel in him, as many of his earlier admirers did, and not a few later ones of the foolisher sort, took but little good by their endeavor. Either they tried to transfer their master's formulas to their own facts, thereby doing the very thing heit may be in the secular stillness of Oxford most protested against, or they emphasized some particular, and in his case symbolical, crotchet until it became ridiculous and absurd. Accordingly, the most gifted of those who about thirty years or more ago might have been definitely called Carlyleans have either fallen into comparative literary sterility and decadence, or, being saved from this by their natural force, have ended in a wild dogmatism on all things under the sun which is hardly saved by its eccentricity from being simply foolish. It was a great characteristic of Mr. Carlyle himself that he never spoke with insufficient knowledge. It is a characteristic of some of his imitators that they never speak with knowledge that is sufficient. But the real influence which he has exercised, the total amount of which is as enormous as its tendency is good, has been of a different kind from this. During the whole time of his literary fertility, and in hardly less degree since that period came to an end with the completion of the "Frederick," the vast majority of English youths possessed of
brains have been infallibly, and half by instinct, directed to some work or other of Mr. Carlyle's-it hardly mattered whichat the period when they were beginning to think for themselves. The influence was sometimes lasting, it was frequently powerful, it was almost always good. For a very short time during the process of vaccination, the patient may have been a little the worse for it, but the beneficial effects in a healthy subject were permanent. The reading of Carlyle by a person who has any capacities of original thought does not often, now that the outward peculiarities of his style have become familiar things in literature and are in many cases almost trite, result in a Carlylese mania such as was once too common. The humorous eccentricity and exaggeration is enjoyed, the happy turns of phrase are caught up and remembered, the vivid pictures of actual events enrich the gallery of memory. But the preeminent importance. of Mr. Carlyle has been his contribution to what in a much-quoted phrase, less happily applied by its original inventor, has been called the criticism of life. No one has in relation to his own time had such power to thaw the frost of custom and circumstance, to dispel the clouds of convention, to quicken and waken the soul of the reader, and to plant it face to face with the fact of the mystery, the gravity, the momentous importance of life. Thousands of young men, who are now no longer young, must remember how
rooms environed by everything that could suggest merely learned and dreamy ease, it may be in the roar and bustle surrounding London lodgings where everything told of business and the desire for gain-this singular mentor came to them and with stentorian voice-harpocratic-stentorian, as Sterling would have said-suggested that neither in dilettantism nor in money-getting was the business of man. As to what was his business, Harpocrates succeeded Stentor and no word was vouchsafed. Carlylism, if such a term may be used, is a kind of religion, but it is one of those religions which have no confession or accepted symbol, and in which every adept is a law and a general council to himself. Therefore it happens that among the most fervent admirers of this dead man is to be found the widest and at first sight the wildest diversity of practical belief on every subject of interest to mankind. High Tories, believers in the orthodox creeds, enthusiastic defenders of art for art's sake, find themselves side by side with democrats,
things worth caring for, failed during those seven days to turn first to their newspaper for news of the dying master, and fewer did not feel a shock when they learned that the end was at last come.
free-thinkers, persons who cannot judge a work of literature or of art except according to its agreement or disagreement with their ideas on morals, on politics,' on religion. All that is required of any one who acknowledges himself to be of the faith is that he should at any rate be thorough; that he should not be afraid to follow his conclusions out to their last results; that he should, so long as it seems to him that two and two make four, obstinately refuse to say that two and two make five, and that he should acknowledge no final standard or test but the deliberate answer of his own soul on the questions presented to it. Perhaps it may be said that of the twenty-seven millions (or whatever the number may be now), "mostly fools," no very large proportion can ever be got or expected to answer these conditions. It is at any rate something that an influence should have been working thus for many years in the direction of the whole, the good, and the true.
They have said-and it is curious how often, in reference to Mr. Carlyle, the famous quotation (they have said what say they let them say) recurs to the memorythat he had no heart, that the dim, common populations awoke no sympathy in him; that as he himself failed to discover in all Voltaire one really great thought, so in all his own was to be found no real feeling for the weakness and the suffering of his fellow-creatures.
To Mr. Carlyle, there was nothing specially venerable in the people merely because they were the majority; nothing specially venerable in his Cromwells and Fredericks because they were the minority. The rare touches-rare because it was not his special mission to utter them-of sympathy with failure and incompetence, which are to be found in his work, are worth libraries of plaintive gush over such things. "Few boast that they have found the whole," said Empedocles. But this man did seek to find the whole, and sometimes might have boasted that he had found it; yet he could find time to spare for regret and pity over what was not the whole, or anything like it. Let any one who will turn to the passage which treats of the failure of Braddock,-surely, as we have him from the two master portrait-painters of England during the last half-century, no hero nor anything save a most lamentable failure of a hero. Yet the lachrymæ rerum have never been dropped more effectively in such a case: the sense of the fact that VOL. XXII.-9.
many are called, but few chosen, has never been more nobly translated into words. There are few besides Mr. Carlyle who have ever, in our days, succeeded in giving both sides of the question as he has done,— few who have been able to take the Astleys and the Winchesters at their noblest, while recognizing what seemed to them to be the nobler of the Cromwells and the Harrisons. It was left to others to insult Strafford, to others to belie the truth of history about Charles the First. He had no need of that hypothesis-the hypothesis that the adherents of a falling or fallen cause must necessarily be fools or knaves. And in this largeness of vision, which he shared with few of his contemporaries, is the secret of his abiding strength.
Much, however, of the value of this influence, and much of the strange attraction attaching to the man and the work that exercised it, are necessarily things which, with altered social and intellectual conditions, will pass away. A generation which has not felt the difficulties and the temptations in the stress of which this voice crying in the wilderness was such a help and rallying cry to the men of its own time, will naturally think much of it mere unmeaning glamour, just as the generation upon which, almost before its time, it first pealed thought it to be. With this, however, we need not greatly trouble ourselves. The direct influence of Mr. Carlyle has been unspeakably important "for us," as Sainte-Beuve remarked on a curiously different matter to Mr. Matthew Arnold, and it is hard to think that it can ever become wholly unimportant. But even if, in the changes of things, this should happen, there would still be the massive literary value of Mr. Carlyle's work to save his name and fame, and to carry both securely. From this point of view, that work may seem to be exposed to two drawbacks. Its bulk is very great, and much of it is the expression of vehement, passionate, and almost inarticulate feeling. Such work is almost always faulty and unequal, and it would be absurd to deny that faultiness and inequality characterize some parts of the complete work of Carlyle. There were times, notably in the days of the "Latter-day Pamphlets," when he seemed to have got into the most perilous of all literary practices the practice of imitating himself. There were times, as in the case of the "Frederick," when it seemed that even his gigantic grasp of detail and his unremitting labor would not suffice to enable him to