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"' Waa lehr' ich dich vor alien Dingen ?—
Konntest mich lehren von meinen Schatten zu springen ?'*
— indicating conversations on the origin of evil, or rather resolution on my part to suppress such, as wholly fruitless and worthless." Mr. Carlyle adds that the conversations in question had "all grown dark" to him, and as there is nothing in the words quoted from Sterling to prove that it was a particular theory of the origin of evil, held by Carlyle, which he contested, we cannot but conclude that it was Carlyle's view of the nature of evil, not any theory of the origin of evil, that surprised him. He was startled to find Carlyle insisting on the good of evil. And well he might be; for Sterling could have told Carlyle that stronger words were not to be found in the language than those in which he, who now seemed to talk lightly of evil as a shadow inseparable from humanity, or even as a producing cause of good, had depicted good and evil as irreconcilable and eternal opposites. It is Carlyle who exclaims that right and wrong are to each other "as life is to death, as Heaven is to Hell." "The one," he cries, "must in nowise be done, the other in nowise left undone. You shall not measure them; they are incommensurable: the one is death eternal to a man, the other is life eternal." No intelligent student of Carlyle's writings can fail to regret that he suppressed that passage m which John Sterling, by placing, as he must have done, the pantheistic view of God in contrast with that which regards God as a Living Spirit and Person, would have forced Carlyle cither to choose definitely between the one view and the other, or to admit that there is, in connection with this subject, a certain haziness, a certain inconsistency and incoherence, affecting his whole system of thought and of language?
* What do you want me to teach you, first of all?
Sterling's Worship Of Carlyle.
M. Tainc, in his lively sketch of Carlyle, remarks that he has given offence to some persons by adopting a theory of heroworship, with fashion of speech to match, in accordance with which he seems to consider himself a misapprehended great man, of the race of heroes, to whose hands the human race, if well advised, would commit itself and its affairs. To none of Carlyle's books does this very clever and shrewd remark apply so pointedly as to the Life of Sterling; for Carlyle was John Sterling's hero, and the book is, in the main, an account of the various stages of hero-worship passed through by the devotee. With wonderful skill — for the task was difficult — does Mr. Carlyle set Sterling's light on this point on a hill, without paining his readers by self-praise. On one occasion, he introduces Sterling as arguing, by letter, with his father, on the transcendent greatness of Carlyle; and though the biographer does not in terms adopt his worshipper's estimate, he prefaces it with the warmest commendation of Sterling as a "son of light," loyal to truth, and superior to vanity and petulance, and says that the passage containing it is "very pertinent." Sterling's father had objected to his son's "over-estimate" of Carlyle, and referred, in support of his view, to the saying attributed to Talleyrand, "That all the world is a wiser man than any man in the world." John Sterling will not hear of such a doctrine. "It is quite certain," he writes to his father, " there is always some one man in the world wiser than all the rest; as Socrates was declared by the oracle to be; and as, I suppose, Bacon was in his day, and perhaps Burke in his." Is not the suggestion plain that Mr. Carlyle is, in Sterling's opinion, the wisest man in the world? In one word, the biographer finds room for so much of Sterling's worship of Carlyle, that we must be struck by the contrast when he peremptorily silences Sterling's plea for the worship of God. One cannot wonder at M. Taine's piquant reference to those who will have it, " qu'il se considere comme un grand homme meconnu, de l'espece des heros; qu'& son avis le genre humain devrait se remettre entre ses mains, lui conficr ses aflaires."
Let us beware, however, of doing injustice to Carlylo, or surrendering aught that is precious in his writings. That his whole system of thought has been injured by its pantheistic associations; that, more and more, in his identification of God with the forces of nature, he has been driven back upon a pagan consecration of strength, and an obliteration of the lines which eternally discriminate between material success and moral triumph; I must hold to be true. But he has never called himself a pantheist, and I shall not call him one. An immense number of expressions might be gathered from his works which are logically irreconcilable with pantheism. His final deliverance on the subject of God would, I am convinced, be that no system can adequately name Him, and that, in referring either to the universe or its Maker, it is legitimate to use the language of various systems, in order to make partly intelligible what no man can perfectly understand. Shrinking from atheism as inhuman and incredible, he has shrunk also, perhaps with too spasmodic a recoil, from that conception of the universe as a piece of ingenious mechanism, and of God as a mechanical contriver of transcendent skill, which was in vogue in the time of his youth. "Atheism," we may say of him as he says of Frederick of Prussia, " he never could abide: to him, as to all of us, it was flatly inconceivable that intellect, moral emotion, could have been put into him by an Entity that had none of its own." Often his references to the universe and its Maker are those of devout and simple theism. "We speak," he says, " of the volume of Nature: and truly a volume it is— whose author and writer is God. To read it! Dost thou, does man, so much as well know the alphabet thereof? With its words, sentences, and grand descriptive pages, poetical and philosophical, spread out through solar systems and thousands of years, we shall not try thee. It is a volumo written in celesNOT NECESSARILY A PANTHEIST.
tial hieroglyphs, in the true sacred writing; of which even prophets arc happy that they can read here a line and there a line." He once very beautifully compares the universe to a rainbow which we see before us on the cloud, while the Sun that has painted it is invisible. We have no right to tie him down to a pantheistic theory of the universe, any more than to allege that, in those expressions which are strictly accordant with orthodoxy, he states an exclusive opinion, He would probably adopt, with some modification, Goethe's declaration that, to express a sentiment which, in its comprehensiveness, is inexpressible, he uses a variety of forms of speech, but that, as a moral being, he is simply a theist, acknowledging his responsibility to God.
This last is the essential point. Our moral nature, our conscience, is the direct link associating us, as moral beings, with God. "The one end, essence, and use of all religion," says Carlyle, " past, present, and to come, is this only: to keep this same moral conscience or inner light of ours alive and shining." It is because of its proclamation of man's responsibility to God that Carlyle finds in the religion of Mohammed, as compared with the idolatries it displaced, a true message from heaven. "'Allah akbar, God is great.' Understand that his will is the best for you; that howsoever sore to flesh and blood, you will find it the wisest, best; you are bound to take it so; in this world and in the next, you have no other thing that you can do! . . . Man does hereby become the high-priest of this temple of a world. He is in harmony with the decrees of the Author of this world, co-operating with them, not vainly withstanding them. I know, to this day, no better definition of duty than that same." This is pure theism, implying, if any words can imply, belief in the personality of God.
THE LIFE OF FREDERICK THE GREAT.—THE RISE OF THE HOHENZOLLERN8.
fTMIE last work of great importance executed by Carlyle was
-*- the Life of Frederick of Prussia. In 1856, when he was about sixty, the first chapters of this voluminous biography "got to paper." The pen-portrait of Frederick with which the book opens shows that Carlyle's hand has lost nothing of its vivid and graphic power.
About fourscore years ago there used to be seen sauntering on the terraces of Sana Souci for a short time in the afternoon, or you might have mot him at an earlier hour, riding or driving in a rapid business manner on the open roads or through the scraggy woods and avenues of that intricate amphibious Potsdam region, a highly interesting lean little old man, of alert, though slightly-stooping figure; whose name among strangers was King Friedrich the Second, or Frederick the Great, of Prussia, and at home, among the common people, who much loved and esteemed him, was Voter Fritz—Father Fred—a name of familiarity which had not bred contempt in that instance. He is a king every inch of him, though without the trappings of a king. Presents himself in a Spartan simplicity of vesture: no crown but an old military cocked-hat—generally old, or trampled and kneaded into absolute softness, if new; no sceptre but one like Agamemnon's, a walking-stick cut from the woods, which serves also as a ridingstick (with which he hits the horse " between the ears," say authors); and for royal robes, a mere soldier's blue coat with red facings, coat likely to be old, and sure to have a good deal of Spanish snuff on the breast of it; rest of the apparel dim, unobtrusive in color or cut, ending in high over-knee military boots, which may be brushed (and, I hope, kept soft with an underhand suspicion of oil), but are not permitted to be blackened or varnished; Day and Martin with their soot-pots forbidden to approach.