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Peculiarity of the Author's Career.

3

the character which he has maintained ever since. His Heroes and Hero-worship, his Chartism, and his Past and Present, were but so many addresses or trumpet-blasts to the age, in which marvellous literary tact and ability were compelled into the service of a predominant moral purpose. In his Oliver Cromwell, too, though here the artist was abundantly conspicuous, one saw the same supremacy of aim and spirit. And now last of all, as if to present in one series and in a shape expressly adapted for practical application, all his more important criticisms on the existing state of society, he has, after four years of silence and observant bitterness of heart, put forth these Latter-Day Pamphlets.

Clearly enough, one would think, the vehemence of a man thus trained and developed into opposition to the reigning influences of his time, ought not to be confounded with that of the juvenile partisan of disaffection and revolution. Of Mr. Carlyle, too, it may indeed be asserted that he is “always making a row about things;" but in him the spirit of protest and dissatisfaction is not the mere conceit of an unformed nature working itself into connexion with things as they are, it is the deliberate manifestation of a great and powerful mind, that, having tried long and variously to content itself with what society offers to it, still finds that by the very decree of its constitution it cannot be at ease. The duty of every man born into this world is to contribute what is peculiar and specific in him to the general evolution; to find out that portion or that determination of his nature which (no two men being precisely alike) he sees repeated nowhere else, and, in submission to the laws of right and wrong, to diffuse that as widely as possible among his neighbours and contemporaries. Here, accordingly, is a man, who, after ample experience of himself and others, finds that what is supreme and ascendant in his nature, is a certain strength of moral displeasure with much that is socially permitted and held in honour; and who discharges his conscience by resolutely expressing it. Whatever presumption, therefore, is to be derived in his favour from all that is otherwise known of him, from the undoubted greatness and clearness of his intellect, from the approved variety and extent of his acquisitions, from the unimpeachable excellence of his private reputation, and from the admitted importance of his past literary services--to the full measure of this presumption ought the public now to listen to him.

A large portion of the public, it would appear, refuse to render him this degree of consideration. For some years, it may have been observed, a reaction has been in process against Mr. Carlyle and his doctrines—a reaction, the elements of which were in existence before, but have only recently come together such a man tried to break his nature into tranquillity upon the hard problems of established science, or to procure it full satisfaction among the exercises of authorized literature. Something must have still overflowed as he read the Principia of Newton; and there must have been much that no conceivable force of purpose could have enabled him to concentrate on the poetry of Tasso. Accordingly, even in his earlier writings there are flashes of his later and more characteristic spirit. In the first of his Critical Essays and in his Life of Schiller, purely literary compositions as these are, there is a tone of moral vehemence and objurgation, which shows that even then he had a very different theory of the literary function, from that which defines it as a peculiar art for the communication of pleasure. In the correspondent of the stately Goethe, too, as well as in the translator of German Romances, one recognises not a mere passive dilettante feeble with excess of admiration, but a man of strong independent personality, of stalwart Scottish intellect, measuring while he looks, and judging while he venerates. Still, it was in literature that he sought his destination, his labour, and his solace. Like other men, he gave attention to song, poetry, and the drama, mastering after his own method the essence and the laws of each; the classic writers of different nations were duly handled by him as a student and a critic; nor did he as yet altogether disdain the higher commonplaces of a Reviewer, shun talk about art and ästhetics, or refuse his opinions with respect to taste and an agreeable style. Not till he wrote Sartor Resartus does the truth in regard to his own calling and business appear to have been at all fully revealed to him. Then, however, one of the most decided determinations of his genius—that towards profound biographic investigation—took to itself an amazing expansion. The growth and struggles of an individual soul were there traced forth and described with all the energy of a man left alone amid a desert of rock and moor; and from that time forward all that portion of the so-called “prophetic” spirit, which consists in an inordinate sense and intelligence of what is wrong and sad in the individual life, must have infallibly been his. But it was still another step in the process when from Biography he advanced into History. As in Sartor Resartus he had ascertained his familiarity with the errors and anomalies of the individual life, so in his History of the French Revolution he enumerated and shaped out to his own conception the miseries and fallacies of society at large. Then his equipment for his

. true office was virtually complete. He left pure literature and its etiquette behind him, and spoke out as a moral and social reformer, more anxious to rouse than to please, to convey his meaning anyhow than to write charming periods. And this is

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Peculiarity of the Author's Career.

3

the character which he has maintained ever since. His Heroes and Hero-worship, his Chartism, and his Past and Present, were but so many addresses or trumpet-blasts to the age, in which marvellous literary tact and ability were compelled into the service of a predominant moral purpose. In his Oliver Cromwell, too, though here the artist was abundantly conspicuous, one saw the same supremacy of aim and spirit. And now last of all, as if to present in one series and in a shape expressly adapted for practical application, all his more important criticisms on the existing state of society, he has, after four years of silence and observant bitterness of heart, put forth these Latter-Day Pamphlets.

Clearly enough, one would think, the vehemence of a man thus trained and developed into opposition to the reigning influences of his time, ought not to be confounded with that of the juvenile partisan of disaffection and revolution. Of Mr. Carlyle, too, it may indeed be asserted that he is “always making a row about things;" but in him the spirit of protest and dissatisfaction is not the mere conceit of an unformed nature working itself into connexion with things as they are, it is the deliberate manifestation of a great and powerful mind, that, having tried long and variously to content itself with what society offers to it, still finds that by the very decree of its constitution it cannot be at ease. The duty of every man born into this world is to contribute what is peculiar and specific in him to the general evolution ; to find out that portion or that determination of his nature which (no two men being precisely alike) he sees repeated nowhere else, and, in submission to the laws of right and wrong, to diffuse that as widely as possible among his neighbours and contemporaries. Here, accordingly, is a man, who, after ample experience of himself and others, finds that what is supreme and ascendant in his nature, is a certain strength of moral displeasure with much that is socially permitted and held in honour; and who discharges his conscience by resolutely expressing it. Whatever presumption, therefore, is to be derived in his favour from all that is otherwise known of him, from the undoubted greatness and clearness of his intellect, from the approved variety and extent of his acquisitions, from the unimpeachable excellence of his private reputation, and from the admitted importance of his past literary services--to the full measure of this presumption ought the public now to listen to him.

A large portion of the public, it would appear, refuse to render him this degree of consideration. For some years, it may have been observed, a reaction has been in process against Mr. Carlyle and his doctrines—a reaction, the elements of which were in existence before, but have only recently come together

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and assumed something like a declared organization. It is nearly half a generation since Mr. Carlyle became an intellectual power in this country; and certainly rarely, if ever, in the history of literature, has such a phenomenon been witnessed as that of his influence. Throughout the whole atmosphere of this island his spirit has diffused itself, so that there is probably not an educated man under forty years of age, from Caithness to Cornwall, that can honestly say he has not been more or less affected by it. Even in the department of action his existence

. has been felt. Persons acquainted with the circumstances, and capable of tracing the affiliation, discern evidences of his effects equally in the Irish Rebellion and in the English Catholic movement. And in literature the extent to which he has operated upon society is still more apparent. Not to speak of his express imitators, one can hardly take up a book or a periodical without finding in every page some expression or some mode of thinking that bears the mint-mark of his genius. “Heroworship,” « The Condition-of-England question,” “Flunkeyism, —these, and hundreds of other phrases, either first coined by him, or first laid hold of and naturalized by him, are now gladly used by many that upon the whole have no great liking for him, or even hold him in aversion. We have even observed that many of his critics abuse him in language which, when analyzed, is found to consist of a detritus of his own ideas.

But, though his influence has been thus extensive and profound, there have never been wanting men openly antipathetic to it. Even deducting that large class of persons who have joined in attacking him, either from mean envy of his superior reputation, or from a dastardly anxiety to avoid the imputation of having been indebted to him, there would still remain many whose dislike to him was honestly determined by some constitutional peculiarity that made it impossible for them to read him without extreme discomfort. To some men humour is abominable; others detest the very semblance of vehemence; and not a few are qualified to relish truths only when they are presented in abstract form, and in what is called logical coherence. To all such Mr. Carlyle must have been either indifferent or disagreeable; just as there may be men that dislike Cervantes, abhor Dante, and wonder what people find to admire in Richter. On the whole, however, it can have been but a small proportion of the critical antipathy to Mr. Carlyle that was determined by such exceptional causes. The allegations on which that antipathy sought publicly to ground itself were rather these three :--that Mr. Carlyle had an atrocious and horrible style; that he was deficient in real speculative originality, his leading notions not being new, but only importations from the German market; and

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