Puslapio vaizdai

Wellington he respects as real and honest, and as having made up his mind, once for all, that he will not have to do with any kind of a lie.

Edwin Chadwick is one of his heroes, who proposes to provide every house in London with pure water, sixty gallons to every head, at a penny a week; and in the decay and downfall of all religions, Carlyle thinks that the only religious act which a man nowadays can securely perform is to wash himself well.

Of course the new French Revolution of 1848 was the best thing he had seen, and the teaching this great swindler, Louis Philippe, that there is a God's justice in the Universe, after all, was a great satisfaction. Czar Nicholas was his hero: for, in the ignominy of Europe, when all thrones fell like card-houses, and no man was found with conscience enough to fire a gun for his crown, but every one ran away in a coucou, with his head shaved, through the Barrière de Passy, one man remained who believed he was put there by God Almighty to govern his empire, and, by the help of God, had resolved to stand there.

He was very serious about the bad times; he had seen this evil coming, but thought it would not come in his time. But now 'tis coming, and the only good he sees in it is

the visible appearance of the gods. He thinks it the only question for wise men, instead of art, and fine fancies, and poetry, and such things,—to address themselves to the problem of society. This confusion is the inevitable end of such falsehood and nonsense as they have been embroiled with.

Carlyle has, best of all men in England, kept the manly attitude in his time. He has stood for scholars, asking no scholar what he should say. Holding an honored place in the best society, he has stood for the people, for the Chartist,* for the pauper, intrepidly and scornfully teaching the nobles their peremptory duties.

His errors of opinion are as nothing in comparison with this merit, in my judgment. This aplomb cannot be mimicked; it is the speaking to the heart of the thing. And in England, where the morgue of aristocracy has very slowly admitted scholars into society, a very few houses only in the high circles being ever opened to them,he has carried himself erect, made himself a power confessed by all men, and taught scholars their lofty duty. He never feared the face of man.

* The Chartists were then preparing to go in a procession of 200,000, to carry their petition, embodying the six points of Chartism, to the House of Commons, on the 10th of April, 1848.

[AT the meeting of the Massachusetts Historical Society in April, 1857, Hon. Edward Everett communicated a valuable manuscript received from Mr. Carlyle, containing memoranda of the Franklin family before the Doctor's father came to this country. In January, 1870, Mr. Carlyle himself made a communícation to the Society through its recording secretary, Mr. Deane. In February he was chosen an honorary member, gratefully acknowledging his election the next month. Just preceding the monthly meeting of the Society last February had come the intelligence of Mr. Carlyle's death. In conformity with the usage of the Society that the President should announce the death of a member, with remarks of his own, to be followed by those of one or more of the Society, as the occasion or the subject may suggest, Mr. Winthrop promptly wrote to Mr. Emerson to insure his attendance on the occasion. He was the only man in the whole country who, by the warmest relations of personal intercourse, friendship, and correspondence, and by the appreciative sympathies of kindred genius, could meet and fill the demands of that occasion. It was on the day, perhaps at the very hour, when the rural grave in Scotland was to receive the mortal relics of the stern and rugged philosopher. Mr. Emerson kindly responded to the call, and appeared with his helpful daughter. But few of the members most constant in their attendance were aware what was to occur, and the regrets of many who might have been present are keen. Mr. Winthrop had, with his wonted felicity, introduced the theme and recognized the presence of Mr. Emerson. The scene which followed was a memorable one, never to be forgotten by those who felt what a privilege they enjoyed in taking the full impression of it, with all its vividness and suggestiveness, into heart and thought. In recalling it some may possibly have wished that the camera had been there to fix, for more elaborate art, the singularly suggestive and impressive elements of the scene. But anything like form, disposal, or preparatory effect would have marred the charm of its exquisite simplicity. The newspapers have, as fully as facts warrant, and much more so than a tender delicacy can approve, commented freely upon the character and degree of the disablement which the passage of years has visited upon Mr. Emerson. It is enough to say that such visitation as is upon him was manifested simply in enhancing the impression of his gentle, placid mien and tones, and, on this occasion, gave an added charm to his features and utterance. Some of the most impressive and memorable elements of the scene, which will be most fondly cherished by the witnesses, do not allow of description or relation. A small table, with two chairs for Mr. Emerson and his daughter, were brought into the Dowse libraryroom, where the meeting was held. The manuscript, long since written but never put in print, was a loose one, and only parts of it were to be read by Mr. Emerson. Of the incommunicable features of the scene, very touching to its witnesses was his gentle reference and compliance as he looked to his daughter for direction as to the passages to be read, and to the connection of them. Some slight labial impediments caused an occasional halting in the delivery of elongated words, never favorites with Mr. Emerson. These served, in part, for those delays on words which are so familiar to his hearers as marking his pauses and

emphasis. For the rest, he was helped in imitative utterances of them by the silent lips of his daughter. The apt and racy significance of the most pointed passages came forth in full force, and with the old incisiveness and humor. So hushed was the silence and so intent was the listening that those who were quick of hearing lost nothing of word or intonation. But even these, the more removed in their seats, one by one drew nearer in a closing circle around the reader. Their faces and inward workings of thought showed the profoundness of their interest as they waited for the interpretation of the great philosopher of England by the greatest philosopher of America. GEORGE E. ELLIS.]


THIRTY years are conventionally supposed to constitute the space of time which is loosely spoken of as a generation, and those whose memories can run to that length may, perhaps, be allowed to speak for the generation to which they belong, with, as it may be, less or more of authority, but, certainly, with sufficient knowledge. It is safe, therefore, for the present writer to say that at no time during the present generation in England has such a feeling been aroused in regard to the death of a man of letters as that which was felt in London when the announcement was made that Mr. Carlyle's condition was hopeless, or, as our simpler forefathers would have had it, that "Thomas Carlyle, Esq., lay a-dying at his house in Chelsea." On the extreme verge of the period of memory to which I have alluded, the death of Wordsworth gives the first landmark of this peculiar kind. It was followed nine years afterward by that of Macaulay in the very height of his fame. Thackeray, who had written on this latter recruit for "the majority" some of his most pathetic words, followed in 1868. Seven years afterward, his rival, as some thought, went to join him, and a bare month ago, George Eliot, whom a strong faction would even with these great names, preceded her neighbor, and, perhaps, in some sort, teacher, to the grave. are the five greatest names borne on the literary schedule of England's necrology during the last thirty years, but none of them has occupied anything like the position which was occupied by Mr. Carlyle. In some cases their fame had passed its zenith, and had begun to descend; in others it was a matter rather of partisan assertion than of universal acceptance. In others, though they were acknowledged as consummate masters of one particular portion of the field, that portion was hardly thought by the general reader to be a very extensive one. But Mr. Carlyle, though

with inconsiderable exceptions he confined himself entirely to prose, and though in prose he hardly cultivated more than two plots, the historical and that of the critical essay, has yet for many years been accepted by competent critics of all shades of opinion as the undoubted head of English letters. He had gained that position fifteen years ago by some forty years of laborious work, and, unlike some of his predecessors in the throne both in our own and in other countries, he had not endangered his supremacy by neglecting the adage, solve senescentem.* In the rare instances in which, during the last stage of his career, he broke silence, no loss of power was observable, and if the king did not often meddle in the common jousts, he never took his spear in hand without acquitting himself in a manner becoming royalty. The hot debates which had once taken place as to his style, his principles, his moral influence, his philosophical value, had long died out. No one, save perhaps a very few very foolish people, looked on him any more as a dangerous pantheist, or an immoral defender of might instead of right, or a corrupter of the English language. Few people, on the other hand, upheld him as an inspired prophet, or an apostle of a new politico-ethical faith, or a harbinger of reformation in the language. He had passed the unquiet stage of violent acceptance and violent refusal, and had entered upon that placid possession of respect for his merits and tolerance for his short-comings which is usually reserved for those who have ceased to live. The three English editions of his collected works had, for some years, put a complete knowledge of what he had done while it was day with him within the reach

Dismiss the aging horse from service, etc. Solve senescentem mature sanus equum, ne Peccet ad extremum ridendus et ilia ducat. HORACE, Epist. 1, 1, 8.

of almost all classes of readers. Moreover, | the higher or burgh school of Annan, a little

town on the Solway, which "Red Gauntlet" has made classical. Here he met Edward Irving, his first friend, and one who had a peculiar influence on his destiny, as we shall shortly see. At fourteen he entered the University of Edinburgh, which, like most of the Scotch universities, was merely a high school as far as its students were concerned, indeed, it was but recently that in a

though for the most part the respect due to the personal privacy of great men was fairly well observed, indeed, he took care to make it so,-pleasant personal anecdotes concerning his homely, vigorous wit and rugged amiability constantly spread through London society and gave a more intimate and personal complexion to the respect with which he was regarded. Many of these have never made their way into the professed collections of gossip, and even stern haters of ana may perhaps indulge a hope that they may some day be collected. How Mr. Carlyle would dispatch the character of some notable man or book with a couple or a dozen words of epigram; how he would benevolently extinguish presumptuous youth and ruthlessly ignore troublesome age; how persons of the most exalted station had to take their chance of his plain speaking ("uttering comminatory words after the way of the Scotch ") and make the best of it-these legends (some of which are doubtless apocryphal, but most of which might be true, if they are not) are duly recorded. The result of them, joined to the general respect for the intellectual greatness of the man and for his position as a consummate master of literary art, was to produce a general sentiment respecting him which in different ways recalls something of that felt toward Scott by our fathers and something of that felt by our grandfathers toward Johnson, but which is differentiated from both these by the greater individuality and importance of Mr. Carlyle's literary position and the unique character of the influence he exerted over the men of his time. All this is over now, and English literature is, for the moment, orphaned; nor is it very clear (since, in such matters, the lack of a natural succession is supplied by a process of adoption on the part of the children) who is to be put into Mr. Carlyle's place.

protectionist spirit it had protested against the actual High School of Edinburgh being permitted to teach Greek,-but which had a sufficiently distinguished staff of professors. He was not, as is sometimes said, seven years at the university, but only four, and his references direct and indirect to it are not friendly. The truth is, that at that time, whatever may be the case now, the Scotch universities had nothing of the indescribable romantic charm of the older English institutions, nor were they very satisfactory places of mere learning. When he did leave Edinburgh, he at once decided that he had no vocation for the ministry, the usual destination of studious youth in his country, and he therefore fell back on the equally usual alternative of school-mastering, the rough and distasteful, but perhaps not unprofitable, vestibule through which so many men of letters have had to pass. A couple of years at his own old school at Annan, a couple more at Kirkcaldy, enabled him to "dree his weird" in this respect, and at the latter place he renewed his acquaintance with Irving. Then he went to Edinburgh and started fairly in literature. Brewster's "Edinburgh Encyclopædia" was his exercising ground, and the editor of that work helped him to his first solid piece of literary reward by suggesting that he should translate and preface Legendre's "Geometry and Trigonometry." After some time of work in Edinburgh, Irving, who had gone to London, recommended him as a tutor, to the parents of Charles Buller, -one of the most widely, though most vaguely, known political names of the first part of the century, and a year or two in London not merely introduced him to very pleasant and very valuable society, but to literary work on the "London Magazine," the short-lived but remarkable periodical which numbered on its staff, during its few years of life, Lamb, De Quincey, Hazlitt, Carlyle, Allan Cunningham, Wainwright, and others. Here appeared part of the "Life of Schiller," and for some years between 1824 and 1827, Carlyle was much occupied

A full biography of him would be no small task for any one, and nothing like a complete life is likely to appear for some years. He was born on the fourth of December, 1795, at Ecclefechan, in Dumfriesshire, of good farmer folk, though at the time of his birth his father was pursuing the trade of a stone-mason- -one of the numerous Socratic reminiscences which cluster around the author of "Sartor ResarAs usual with Scotch boys, he went early to the common school of the parish Hoddam-and had the rudiments duly impressed on him there. Thence he went to

with translation, all the work of that kind reprinted in his collected editions being originally of this date and more besides. But Irving had unwittingly done his friend an even greater service than in introducing him to the Bullers. He had himself been asked to superintend the reading of a certain Miss Jane Welsh, daughter of Dr. Welsh, of Haddington. The usual result of such an intercourse followed, but the pupil rejected the master, and he suggested that his friend Carlyle should take his place as tutor. The drama was repeated, but with happier result, and Thomas Carlyle gained the wife who for forty years was the "light of his life," after whose death, in 1866, he was never the same man again, and who seemed to some of their friends to have in a different way intellectual powers nearly as remarkable as her husband's. Besides these things, Miss Welsh was in a modest way an heiress, and her property of Craigenputtoch at once saved her husband from the necessity of hack-work, and gave him a singularly suitable place for the completion of his "Lehrjahre."

The site and appearance of this famous moor-land farm-house have been. often enough described, and its adaptation to its purpose has been often enough commented on. But perhaps hasty readers are not aware of the immense amount of work that Mr. Carlyle did there. In rather less than five years, from 1828 to 1833, most of the best and best-known "Essays," especially the "Burns," a splendid example of the happy conjuncture of the right man and the right place,-"Sartor Resartus," and very much else which either never saw the light or was designedly suppressed or destroyed, were produced, while the plan at least of the "French Revolution" was formed. Above all, the period of apprenticeship to literature was completely got over. Mr. Carlyle was no precocity; he did not to all appearance begin to write at all until he was five and twenty; he confined himself to translation, criticism, biography, until he was fully five and thirty. Even had "Sartor Resartus" had a more speedy welcome from the booksellers it would not have appeared till its author had reached the ordinary half-way house of life, while the " French Revolution was not completed till he was past forty. Yet no man ever wasted his time less, and when, in 1834, he finally took up his abode in Cheyne Row, Chelsea,-the place of his future residence for nearly half a century, no better-equipped man for the work that

he had to do could have been found in the capital of England.

Somewhat short of this particular point, when Mr. Carlyle had given up the hopeless pursuit of "hawking his poor little book about," comes a very convenient opportunity of halting to survey the work which he had actually done; for it was a little before this time that Francis Jeffrey, prince of blundering critics, wrote to Macvey Napier, his industrious and sorely tried successor in the "Edinburgh Review," the following words, which I must ask to have printed in capitals as a perpetual warning to all censors of literature. The date is London, February 7, 1832:

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I do not hesitate to say that these are, in their own way, perhaps, the most instructive words to be found in all literature. Jeffrey was, indeed, frequently unfortunate in his judgments; but in other cases there is generally something to be said in mitigation of the judgment which, in his turn, he has to undergo. There is here no drop serene of political prejudice, as in the case of the Lake poets. There is no provocation of youthful imbecility and inequality, as in the case of Byron. One man of letters, admitted (and this is at once a saving and a damning clause for Jeffrey) to be "a man of genius and industry," comes before another man of talent, to be judged on his literary merits solely, and is told that he must submit to letters of denaturalization, if he is to be passed. Let it be remembered that Jef frey was certainly no fool. A fool would not have admitted that Mr. Carlyle was a man of genius. A fool admitting this would not have dared to suggest that a man of genius and industry could be improved by the process of striking out and writing in. Jeffrey was simply one of the numerous

persons of talent who are hopelessly under the control of accepted conventions. He had a series of test-standards to which more majorum from the days of Boileauhe adjusted literary aspirants, and according to their unfitness for which he condemned them. He, the editor of the "Edinburgh Review," doubtless regarded with scorn the admirable verses in which, ten years before, one of the most formidable assailants of that review had expressed the truth of the


"But this you may know, that, as long as they grow,

Whatever change may be,

You never can teach either oak or beech
To be aught but a greenwood tree."

Jeffrey's idea of the complete vegetable was a tree duly subjected to the topiary art, and neither oak nor beech lends itself to that process.

At this time Mr. Carlyle had already a considerable literary baggage, printed or unprinted. There was the mass of contributions at different periods to reviews, and the book-sellers' hack-work-the "honest journey-work in default of better"-of which he has preserved a few essays, to be noticed later, and the translations from the German which fill five volumes of his collected works. There was "The Life of Schiller," there was "Sartor Resartus,❞—a stumbling-block to the readers of " Fraser," -and lastly there was, though only on the stocks as yet, the "French Revolution." This had had, as most people know, to undergo a fiery trial which, had its author been a man of less genius and of less industry, let us thank the Shylock of Craigcrook for the words,-might have withheld it from the world altogether. Let us take these in turn and see what is to be made of them.

Translations, regarded merely as such, have but a dubious, and, at best, a mediocre literary interest. In the hands of writers such as Dryden and Shelley, who dare to be audaciously unfaithful, and to whom the gods grant that their infidelity shall be successful, they may acquire a certain independent value. But, for the most part, the interest of the translation is not in so far as it more or less imperfectly reproduces the original, but, on the one hand, in so far as it inspires a desire to read that original, and, on the other, in so far as it forms and contributes to the translator's ability to produce independent literary work. The "Wilhelm Meister," and those translations


from German romance which Mr. Carlyle chose to reproduce, have, perhaps, less of the drawback of translations than most others, but they still suffer from it. No one who is able to read Richter, or Musæus, or Goethe in German will ever, of pure choice, bestow his valuable or even his valueless time on "Quintus Fixlein," or "Libussa," "Meister" itself, in their English dress. But these books acquire a most lively interest when we begin to estimate their influence on the matter and the form of the author of the "French Revolution " and of " Frederick the Great." It is, perhaps, hardly a commonplace to say that nothing affects an author's style so much as his practice in translation. Mere reading, if the reader be tolerably expert in the language he reads, alienates his style but little. He does not need to go through the process of translation; his eyes and his brain are generously content to filter the foreign presentment into a familiar one for him without insisting on a literal and grammatical version. But when he comes, pen in hand, to undertake the process of conversion, with the sense of the double responsibility to writer and reader which translation imposes upon all who are not book-sellers' hacks, the case becomes different. He must bathe himself in his original, and it is, at least, a chance if he succeeds in washing off the traces of his bath by any subsequent immersion in English undefiled, or whatever the native language may be in which he undertakes to initiate his proselyte. It is notorious that, for many years, the complaints that Mr. Carlyle had Germanized English were loud. Yet, oddly enough, he maintained side by side with this Anglo-German dialect a practice of very orderly, and, according to the Jeffreyan standard, even elegant English eighteenth-century composition. Much of "The Life of Schiller," which dates from the period of these translations, is visibly written in this latter style; and Jeffrey and Brougham doubtless to their dying days regretted that the wholesome discipline of "avoidance and neglect" had not confirmed Mr. Carlyle in this tendency. The "Schiller," indeed, as it is now published with a later preface and a still later appendix, is a very odd and almost unique specimen of literary change. In the earlier work we have the language which the author might have continued to use if the topiary art had been successfully practiced on him. It is unequal, not inelegant, effective enough as mere book-sellers' work, abso

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