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THOMAS CARLYLE HIS KINDUKO.
But the fervor of Puritanism passed into the heart of Scotland, into the marrow of the nation's bones, and has lived and throbbed in the moral intensity of a Burns, a Chalmers, a Carlyle. In preaching the gospel of earnestness, in smiting cant and affectation, in tearing to rags, amidst sardonic laughter, all the flimsy sentimentalities which mimic and mock the realities of feeling, Carlyle has been a true Puritan. This has been one of the essential elements in his success. Withouti earnestness no man is ever great, or does really great things/ He may be the cleverest of men; he may be brilliant, entertaining, popular; but he will want weight. No soul-moving picture was ever painted that had not in it depth of shadow. The light must also be there; a gleam on the horizon, if no more, is indispensable; but the light itself is worthless if there is no shadow to give it relief and tenderness.
There is no reason to doubt that some of those touches in which Carlyle describes the childhood and youth of the hero of Sartor Resartus, may be correctly applied to his own biography. Biis first school-master, " a down-bent, broken-hearted, nnder-foot martyr, as others of that guild are," pronounced him a genius fit for the learned professions. He took to reading with earnest delight, laying out his coppers on stall literature. That sense of mystery in what, to common observation, arc the simplest and most unsuggestive things, which manifests itself in all his books, was early developed. He assigns to Teufelsdrockh's twelfth year the following incident, which I confidently accept as autobiographic: "It struck me much, as I sat by the Kuhbach, one silent noontide, and watched it flowing, gurgling, to think how this same streamlet had flowed and gurgled, through all changes of weather and of fortune, from beyond the earliest date of history. Yes, probably on the morning when Joshua forded Jordan, even as at the mid-day when Caisar, doubtless with difficulty, swam the Nile, yet kept his Commentaries dry—this little Kuhbach, assiduous as Tiber, Eurotas, or Siloa, was murmuring on across the wilderness, as yet unnamed, unseen; here, too, as in the Euphrates and the Ganges, is a vein or veinlet of the grand world-circulation of waters, which, with its atmospheric arteries, has lasted and lasts simply with the world. Thou fool! Nature alone is antique, and the oldest Art a mushroom; the idle crag thou sittest on is six thousand years of age." Not only the habit of wondering and pondering in presence of the unfathomable mystery which encompasses us on all sides, but the habit of tracing the connection of one thing with another, and reflecting on the interminable series of consequences flowing from every fact which we meet with in Carlyle's writings, are clearly foreshadowed in the preceding words. "Christ died on the cross," he said once, in conversation with Emerson, as both lay resting on the moorland; "that built the church in the valley yonder, that brought you and me to the moor; all things hang together." I quote from memory, and do not vouch for the words, but this was their sense. In the musings of the boy Teufelsdrockh upon the brook "may there not lie," Carlyle himself significantly asks, " the beginning of those well-nigh unutterable meditations on the grandeur and mystery of time, and its relation to eternity, which play such a part" in the philosophy of that transcendental Professor of Weiss-nicht-wo, who is justly believed to be, in the main, a portrait of Carlyle himself?
He studied at the University of Edinburgh, but he has always and bitterly said that he owes it nothing but the miscellaneous reading afforded by its library. "We boasted ourselves a rational university; in the highest degree hostile to mysticism; thus was the young vacant mind furnished with much talk about progress of the species, dark ages, prejudice, and the like; so that all were quickly enough blown out into a state of windy argumentativeness; whereby the better sort had soon to end in sick, impotent scepticism; the worser sort exCANNOT BE A MINISTER.
plode in spiritual self-conceit, and to all spiritual intents become dead." Is this the first declaration of that war against "victorious analysis " and omnipotent "logie-chopping," which Carlyle has carried on for so many years?
From the professors who undertook, apparently with small ability, to instruct him in human science and learning, he passed to other professors, who attempted to instruct him in theology, with a view to his entering the ministry of the Scottish Presbyterian Church. Of them we expressly hear little in his works, but he has always talked freely of the experiences of his youth, and it is no secret that whatever seeds of doubt had been previously sown in his mind germinated vigorously under the gardening of the divines. ITe experienced "feverparoxysms of doubt." "In the silent night-watches, still darker in his heart than over sky and earth, he has cast himself before the All-seeing, and with audible prayers cried vehemently for light, for deliverance from death and the grave." The end was that he could not see his way to entering the ministry. Whether his doubts were well-founded or ill-founded, he clearly did right in making no effort to crush them by force, and in abstaining from taking Orders while he continued under their influence. "What the light of your mind," he wrote, long afterward, " which is the direct inspiration of the Almighty, pronounces incredible—that, in God's name, leave uncredited; at your peril, do not try believing that."
He now, for some years, was a school-master, proving to be a stern disciplinarian; but so strong a genius for literature could not fail to assert itself, and his ardent study of German led him gradually into his life-path. He found with unspeakable emotion, in the writings of Goethe, that such doubts as his had been entertained by others, and not only entertained, but triumphed over. Thus commenced a relation to Goethe, which was destined to exert a profound and ineffaceable influence upon his mind. But some time elapsed before he recognized the sovereignty of Goethe in German literature, or, at least, before he set his throne far above those of all other Germans. He studied Schiller with ardent enthusiasm, and his first book was that biography of Schiller, from which I quoted his description of the Man of Letters. The work abounds with beauties, both of thought and style, but is elaborate, polished, and formal, and has neither the freedom of movement nor the impetuous force that were to become so characteristic of the author. Published originally in the London Magazine, it appeared as a book in 1825. A translation was issued in Germany, with a commendatory preface by Goethe; a correspondence between Goethe and Carlyle ensued; and we find him, in 1828, describing to the great poet the circumstances of his life at Craigen-Puttoch, a small esUite in Dumfriesshire, brought as a dowry by his wife, to whom he had been married two years previously. "Among the granite hills and the black morasses, which stretch westward through Galloway, almost to the Irish Sea," the estate stood forth, " a green oasis, a tract of ploughed, partly enclosed and planted, ground, where corn ripens and trees afford a shade although surrounded by seamews and rough-woolled sheep." Fine descriptive glimpses of the scenery amidst which he lived at the time occur in the famous book which he wrote amidst its solitudes. "The rocks are of that sort called Primitive by the mineralogists, which always arrange themselves in masses of a rugged, gigantic character; which ruggedness, however, is here tempered by a singular airiness of form and softness of environment; in a climate favorable to vegetation, the gray cliff, itself covered with lichens, shoots up through a garment of foliage and verdure; and white, bright cottages, tree-shaded, cluster round the everlasting granite. . . . Often, also, could I see the black Tempest marching in anger through the distance; round some Schreckhorn, as yet grim-blue, would the eddying vapor gather, and there tumultuously eddy, and flow down like a mad witch's THE SOWEIt's BONO.
hair; till, after .1 space, it vanished, and in the clear sunbeam your Schreckhorn stood smiling grim-white, for the vapor had held snow."
Carlyle had now served his apprenticeship to literature. In addition to the Life of Schiller he had published a translation of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister, and more than one volume of tales from Jean Paul, Tieck, and other German authors. Ho had begun to write in the Edinburgh Review, and produced his memorable essay on Burns. But he had not yet given to the world anything so strongly stamped with his original genius as to mark him out as a great original among living writers. Such a work he produced at Craigen-Puttoch—the name of it Sartor Resartus. It contains the essential facts of his spiritual history, the fundamental principles of his philosophy. I shall give some account of it in the next chapter, and shall close, for the present, with one of those few poems written by Carlylo before he settled finally to prose.
The Sower's Song.
Xow hands to sced-shcet, boys,
Fall gently and still, good coi n,
Lie warm in thy earthy bed,
And stand so yellow some morn,
That beast and man may be fed.
Old Earth is a pleasure to see
Old Mother, receive this corn,
The seed of six thousand golden sires: