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courteous, full of old-fashioned polite- day or two before her death, at the railness, he would totter to his feet to greet way, after a little visit she had paid me, his visitor, even in that last languor. in an agony of apprehension lest someThis time he was not uncheerful. It thing should happen to her on the brief was inevitable that he should repeat that journey, so utterly spent was she, like a prevailing sentiment always in his mind dying woman, but always indomitable, about the death for which he was wait- suffering no one to accompany or take ing; but he soon turned to
care of her. Her clear and expressive different subject. In this old house, face, in ivory-paleness, the hair still never before brightened by the sight of dark, untouched by age, upon her capachildren, a baby had been born, a new cious forehead, the eloquent mouth, Thomas Carlyle, the child of his niece scarcely owning the least curve of a smile and nephew, as near to him as it was at the bright wit and humorous brilliant possible for any living thing in the third touches which kept all her hearers generation to be. He spoke of it with amused and delighted, seem still before tender amusement and wonder. It was
She was full of his Edinburgh “a bonnie little manikin, a perfectly Rectorship, of the excitement and good and well-conditioned child, taking pleasure of it, and profound heartfelt life sweetly, and making no more than yet half-disdainful satisfaction in that, the inevitable commotion in the tranquil as she thought, late recognition of what house. There had been fears as to how he was. To this public proof of the he would take this innocent intruder, honor in which his country held him, whether its advent might disturb or an- both he and she seemed to attach more noy him ; on the contrary, it gave him importance than it deserved ; as if his a half-amused and genial pleasure, country had only then learned to prize tinged with his prevailing sentiment, yet and honor him But the reader must full of natural satisfaction in the contin- not suppose that this gallant woman who uance of his name and race. This little had protected and fought for him life coming unconscious across the still through all his struggles, showed her inscene in which he attended the slow ar- tense sympathy and anxiety now in any rival of death, awoke in its most inti- sentimental way of tenderness. She had mate and touching form the self-refer- arranged everything for him to the mience and comparison which was habitual nutest detail, charging her deputy with to him. It was curious, he said, very the very spoonful of stimulant that was curious ! thus to contrast the new- to be given him the moment before he comer with “the parting guest. It made his speech-but all the same shot was a new view to him, bringing together a hundred little jibes at him as she the exit and the entrance with a force talked, and felt the humor of the great both humorous and solemn. The man's dependence upon these little " bonnie little manikin," one would im- cares, forestalling all less tender laughagine, pushed him softly, tenderly, with ter by her own. I remember one of baby hands not much less serviceable these jibes (strange! when so many than his own, towards the verge. The brighter and better utterances cannot be old man looked on with a half-incredu- recalled) during one of the long drives lous, and wondering mixture of pain and we took together, when she had held me pleasure, bursting into one of those con- in breathless interest by a variety of vulsions of broken laughter, sudden and sketches of their contemporaries-the strange, which were part of his habitual immediate chapter being one which utterance. Thus I left him, scarcely re- might be called the “ Loves of the strained by his weakness from his old Philosophers"--I interrupted her by a habit of accompanying me to the door. foolish remark that Mr. Carlyle alone, For he was courtly in those little tradi- of all his peers, seemed to have trodden tions of politeness, and had often con
the straight way.
She turned upon me ducted me down stairs upon his arm, with swift rejoinder and just an amused when I was fain to support him instead quiver of her upper lip. My dear," of accepting his tremulous guidance. she said, “if Mr. Carlyle's digestion
And that was my last sight of Thomas had been better there is no telling what Carlyle. I had parted with his wife a he might have done !" Thus she would
take one's breath away with a sudden her return I got a letter from her, sugmot, a flash of unexpected satire, a keen gested, almost dictated, by Mr. Carlyle, swift stroke into the very heart of pre- to tell me of a similar attack which had tence—which was a thing impossible in happened to a baby sister of his some her presence.
Not love itself could half century before, and which had blind her to the characteristic absurdi- never recurred-this being the consolaties, the freaks of nature in those about tory point and meaning of the letter. her-but she threw a dazzling shield over Long after this, in the course of these them by the very swiftness of her per- last, melancholy, and lonely years, I apception and wit of her comment.
pealed to him about a project I had, not There are many senses known to all knowing then how feeble he had grown. in which the husband is the wife's pro- He set himself instantly to work to give tector against the risks of life. It is in- me the aid I wanted, and I have among deed a commonplace to say so, univer- my treasures a note writ large in blue sally as the truth is acknowledged ; but pencil, the last instrument of writing there is a sense also in which the wife is which he could use, after pen and ink the natural protector of the husband, had become impossible, entering warmly which has been much less noted. It is into my wishes. These personal circumshe who protects him from the com- stances are scarcely matters to obtrude ment, from the too close scrutiny and upon the world, and only may be parcriticism of the world, drawing a sacred doned as the instances most at hand of veil between him and the vulgar eye, a kind and generous readiness to help furnishing an outlet for the complaints and console. and grudges which would lessen his dig- It would scarcely be suitable to add nity among his fellow men.
anything of a more abstract character haps it is the man of genius who wants to such personal particulars. Carlyle's this protection most of all. Mrs. Car- work, what it was, whether it will stand, lyle was her husband's screen and shield how much aid there is to be found in it, in these respects. The sharpness of his has been discussed, and will be disdyspeptic constitution and irritable tem- cussed, by all who are competent and per were sheathed in her determined many who are not, A writer whose faculty of making the best of everything. whole object, pursued with passion and She stood between him and the world, with his whole soul, is to pour contempt with a steadfast guardianship that never upon all falsehood, and enforce that varied. When she was gone the veil was truth in the inward parts" which is removed, the sacred wall of the house the first of human requisites, how could taken down, no private outlet left, and it be that his work should be inoperanothing between him and the curious tive, unhelpful to man? The fashion of gazer.
Hence this revelation of pain it may fail for the moment, a generation and trouble which nobody but she, so more fond of sound than meaning may fully conscious of his greatness yet so be offended by the “harsher accents undazzled by it, could have toned and and the mien more grave'' than suits subdued into harmony.
their gentle fancy ; but so long as that And yet he, with the querulous bitter- remains the grand foundation of all that ness and gloom which he has here thrust is possible for man, how can the most upon us, in the midst of all the land- eloquent and strenuous of all its modern scapes, under the ciearest skies; and evangelists fall out of hearing ? He had she, with her keen wit and eyes which indeed few doctrines to teach us. What nothing escaped, how open they were to his beliefs were no one can definitely all the charities ! One day when she pronounce; they were more perhaps came to see me, I was in great agitation than he thought. And now he has and anxiety, with an infant just out of a passed to where all knowledge is reconvulsion fit. By the next post after vealed. - Macmillan's Magazine,
CARLYLE'S REMINISCENCES. *
BY JAMES COTTER MORISON.
ONE can hardly help feeling that un- touching in the extreme. The three due haste has been used in the publica- other essays were composed some thirtytion of these volumes. Exception has four years later, in the decline of life already been taken at the little care and health, when choked by anguish at shown to avoid giving unmerited and the loss of his wife, and the result is, unnecessary pain to many persons perhaps, more painful than beautiful. whose names are here mentioned, and We had no need to wait for these Remiset round with remarks and epithets niscences to know that Carlyle took a which cannot fail to be unpleasant and sad and gloomy view of the world and even wounding. The editor has execut- its prospects in his later.years. Perhaps ed his task with a too filial scrupulosity he always did so, more or less. But and piety. He has not omitted a name, these papers were composed when his or a word, or a letter of manuscripts gloom was deepest and blackest. This which he admits were probably not in- was not a good standpoint from which tended for publication. Carlyle knew a to pass in review a long and checkered great number of people, and many of life, when the heart was sick, and the them, or their near relatives, are still nerves unstrung, and the years la heavy alive. It was, to say the least, inconsid- and numerous on the venerable head erate to allow a book of his to appear bowed down in passionate grief. The full of personal allusions, which are well pious reverence and self-effacement of fitted to arouse a certain anger towards Mr. Froude are complete when he says :
Either the work should The Reminiscences appeared to me to have been kept back for at least another be far too valuable to be broken up and decade or so, or blanks and asterisks employed in any composition of my should have been unsparingly used. own. But it may be questioned
However, the evil is done, and it is whether he did the wisest thing for his no fault of Carlyle's. It will also, in friend's memory in sending forth these time, disappear. Posterity will not re- sombre sketches unrelieved by any color sent it, as many now with justice do. or contrast derived from less melanThere is a graver question beyond, and choly periods of his long life. There it is no less than this-whether Carlyle was no particular need of hurry for anyhimself is not a sufferer, and a perma- thing that appears. The promised bionent sufferer, by this publication ? All graphy, comprising a large selection of the four essays were written in condi- his letters, as full of matter as the tions of great gloom and depression, in richest of his published works,” would consequence of recent bitter bereave- surely have been well worth waiting for ment. The first on James Carlyle was a little. Then we should have had a begun apparently the instant the author picture of Carlyle's life seen through a had news of his father's death. In the less sad and depressing medium than middle of it he interrupts his narrative the present. Bright lights, and still to insert the remark, Friday night. brighter laughter, we may be sure would My father is now in his grave, showing have relieved the shadows, and the sage he had not waited for the funeral to and hero, for whom a whole generation commence his memoir. The pathos of disciples has felt the deepest reverand beauty of the piece cannot be sur- ence and gratitude, would not have appassed, written in star-fire and immor- peared, as he now does, in a manner tal tears,” to use his own words on a which has already given occasion to the similar occasion. But the grief, though enemy to blaspheme. Carlyle's morose poignant, is not overpowering, on the acerbities, harsh judgments of his concontrary, lofty and calm, and therefore temporaries, morbid self-watchings, and fore them, affording rare and congenial from some strange reason, incapable of matter for mockery to some who, for doing justice to contemporary merit, obvious reasons, have no love for either has been obvious to all men for wellthe author or his work. True admirers nigh forty years. The question has an will believe that another face will be put interest, irrespective of the minor morals upon the subject when the whole record of social intercourse, by reason of its is produced. They will hope, until the connection with his general view of life contrary is proved, that mutatis mutandis and history, his worship of the past, something similar occurred to Carlyle as and his hatred of the present, about to his own Goethe in reference to this which a few words will be said presently. autobiography. Mr. Lewes, explaining But, as a matter of fact, he does not why he used the “Wahrheit und Dicht- show himself more unjust (if so much) ung" only as a subsidiary source in his in this book than he had often before, life of the poet, remarks :
very often quite unheroic fastidious deli* “ Reminiscences,” by Thomas Carlyle.
cacies and shrinkings, are naturally Edited by James Anthony Froude, M.A. enough, with the text of this book be
especially to his literary contemporaries. “The main reason of this was the abiding There is nothing equal to the famous inaccuracy of tone which, far more misleading grunt against, Keat's “maudlin weakthan the many inaccuracies of fact, gives to eyed sensibility,” or to the deliberate the whole youthful period as narrated by him ridicule of Coleridge in the “Life of an aspect so directly contrary to what is given Sterling." The uncharitable tone he letters, that an attempt to reconcile the con- adopts seems, on this occasion, more tradiction is impossible.”—Life of Goethe, offensive than heretofore ; first, because Preface.
there is so much of it ; secondly, beLet us have whatever biographical mate- cause it is used with regard to persons rial there may be behind, especially the with whom he was on more or less letters, before we venture on a final friendly terms, and he appears not only judgment. If the letters confirm the as the harsh and mistaken literary critic, tone of the present pieces there is noth- but as the ill-natured social neighbor, ing more to be said. The great preacher sneering at people behind their backs. and prophet of herves was not himself Still there is nothing new in all this. the hero we thought him. The fact The evil tendency is stronger than one when it is proven will not be a welcome knew, and far stronger than one could one at all ; but it will not be the first of wish ; but it does not alter the elements its kind and we must bear with it as we of our judgment, it only affects their
In the meanwhile the best thing proportions. to do is without shrinking advance to a Again, the terms in which he refers close scrutiny of the facts as we have to Dr. Darwin seem hardly rational, and them and cast up some sort of balance. are wholly indecent. But we were presheet which will show how we stand. pared even for this in a measure.
The How far have these Reminiscences add- way in which he had already treated ed to or altered our appreciation of Laplace and Leibnitz showed that no Carlyle ?
scientific eminence was sufficient to save By far their most unpleasant trait, by a man from his mockeries, and it is reason of its unamiability and persist- abundantly clear, from all sides, that ence, is the constant depreciation of Carlyle felt towards science like a monk contemporaries, even acquaintances and of the sixteenth century felt towards the friends. Name after name is men- revival of learning. tioned, only to be dismissed with a con- That progress of science which is to detemptuous epithet, often very skilfully stroy wonder, and in its stead substitute menchosen it must be owned ; but Carlyle suration and numeration, finds small favor was ever a master of nicknames, and he wonder, were he president of innumerable dabs almost every one he meets with royal societies and carried the whole Mécacolors from his vigorous brush, which, nique Céleste ... in his single head, is as he said, “ stick to one.” But how but a pair of spectacles behind which there is cheaply he held his contemporaries
no eye.” with the fewest exceptions—is known to He had a perfect horror of any. all. His opinion of Coleridge, Ben- thing being explained, accounted for. tham, Keats, Byron, even Scott, has To do this was " logic-chopping,” been long on record. That he seemed, "scrannel-piping,” and the rest. In
"Shooting Niagara" he hopes the in such cases." This does not match
idle habit of accounting for the moral with the spirit which inspired “The sense" will be eradicated and extin- Everlasting No." He dropped schoolguished. “A very futile problem that, mastering with pretty prompt impatience my friends ; futile, idle, and far worse, when he found it uncongenial, though leading to what moral ruin you little his surroundings at Kirkcaldy seem to dream of.' Sometimes he peremptorily have been otherwise eligible enoughcloses investigation on his own historical pleasant country, the society of a beloved ground, as in referene to the burial friend (Irving), sufficient leisure to allow mounds on Naseby battle-field, which, of much reading and wide rambles by with “more or less of sacrilege,” had flood and field. He even cannot stand been recently explored. Quoting some a temporary isolation in lodgings with account of what had been found, he his pupil, Charles Buller, of whom yet sharply winds up with “ Sweet friends, he was very fond ; finds it
one of the for Jesus' sake, forbear." He, no dreariest and uncomfortablest of things. doubt, had a great respect for certain Still, nerves and dyspepsia may account facts and investigations, and unwearied for a good deal even of this. energy in their research - historical What nothing can account for, or even events, dates, and topographical details well excuse, is the constant manifesta-coupled with unmeasured contempt tion of a weak and unworthy vanity. for writers who were not endowed with “Once or twice, among the flood of his painstaking diligence. He is down equipages at Hyde Park Corner, I reupon Thiers for writing the roth Sep- collect sternly thinking— Yes; and tember when it should have been the perhaps none of you could do what I 15th. But all precise and definite in- am at.' He tries to make out-which quiry, especially if it led to systematic may be likely enough, but why mention thinking, he regarded, as the ancients it ?-that Leigh Hunt sought his acregarded dissection of the human body, quaintance, and not the contrary. as more or less impious, and leading to
“What they will do with this book none ruin. So his inane gibes at Darwinism, knows, my Jeannie lass ; but they have not offensive as they are, strike us, again, as had, for two hundred years, any book that nothing new.
came more truly from a man's very heart, What does appear new, very serious, and so let them trample it under foot and hoof
as they see best." and not yet, at any rate, widely known, is the soft, shrinking, puling tone with If Carlyle really said this to his wife on which, on his own showing, he met the the day on which he had finished “ The ills and even paltry discomforts of life. ench Revolution,” the fact is a sad He cannot take a journey by train with
What is the natural, inevitable, out railing, with unmeasured license of thought and feeling of an artist and speech, at the “ base and dirty hurly worker who is not a coxcomb to boot, at burly, " " the yelling flight through some the end of a great effort, but this—that, detestable smoky chaos, and midnight after all his toil, he has failed of his witch-dance of nameless base-looking ideal, and that his performance, he alone dirty towns.” He is suffocated by the knowing how much higher it might have smoke and the foul air, finds the “in- been, is a poor and flat miscarriage, side of his shirt collar as black as ink, dreadful to look at ? The quite unand hastens to get a bath. The least seemly word “hoof," which I have unnoise deprives him.of sleep and half mad- derlined, is not the only one of its kind dens him. All this must in common in these Reminiscences, and every one justice be set down to the irritability of must admit that it is offensive in the exan over-wrought nervous' system, ex- treme when applied by an author to the hausted by excessive work. But his readers of his books, nay, even to his sensitiveness does not only shrink before admirers. Yet this is what Carlyle, in physical ills. Contact, if only verbal, very truth, actually does.
coarse people alarms him. He the fame acquired by his Edinburgh admentions an instance in which there was dress, he says :no danger of a "quarrel about the fare"
“No idea or shadow of idea is in that adof a cab, which was always my horror dress but what had been set forth by me tens NEW SERIES. – VOL. XXXIII., No. 6