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THE WORKMAN's View of 'Fair Trade.' By George Potter
Thomas P. Whittaker
THE POSITION OF THE. Wurs. By Charles Milnes Gaskell
Lyulph Stanley .
No. LIII.-JULY 1881.
THE EARLY LIFE OF THOMAS CARLYLE.
The river Annan, rising above Moffat in Hartfell, in the Deil's Beef Tub, descends from the mountains through a valley gradually widening and spreading out, as the fells are left behind, into the rich and wellcultivated district known as Annandale. Picturesque and broken in the upper part of its course, the stream, when it reaches the level country, steals slowly åmong meadows and undulating wooded hills, till at the end of fifty miles it falls into the Solway at Annan town. Annandale, famous always for its pasturage, suffered especially before the union of the kingdoms from border forays, the effects of which were long to be traced in a certain wildness of disposition in the inhabitants. Dumfriesshire, to which it belongs, was sternly Cameronian. Stories of the persecutions survived in the farmhouses as their most treasured historical traditions. Cameronian congregations lingered till the beginning of the present century, when they merged in other bodies of seceders from the established religion. In its hard fight for spiritual freedom Scotch Protestantism lost respect for kings and nobles, and looked to Christ rather than to earthly rulers. Before the Reformation all Scotland was clannish or feudal; and the Dumfriesshire yeomanry, like the rest, were organised under great noble fapıilies, whose pennon they followed, whose name they bore, and the remotest kindred with which, even to a tenth generation, they were proud to claim. Among the families of the western border the Carlyles were not the least disVOL. X.-No. 53.
tinguished. They were originally English, and were called probably after Carlisle town. They came to Annandale with the Bruces in the time of David the Second. A Sir John Carlyle was created Lord Carlyle of Torthorwald in reward for a beating which he had given the English at Annan. Michael, the fourth lord, signed the Association Bond among the Protestant lords when Queen Mary was sent to Lochleven, the only one among them, it was observed, who could not write his name. Their work was rough. They were rough men themselves, and with the change of times their importance declined. The title lapsed, the estates were dissipated in lawsuits, and by the middle of the last century nothing remained of the Carlyles but one or two households in the neighbourhood of Burnswark who had inherited the name either through the adoption by their forefathers of the name of their leader, or by some descent of blood which had trickled down through younger sons."
In one of these families, in a house which his father, who was a mason, had built with his own hands, Thomas Carlyle was born on the 4th of December, 1795. Ecclefechan, where his father lived, is a small market town on the east side of Annandale, six miles inland from the Solway, and about sixteen on the Great North Road from Carlisle. It consists of a single street, down one side of which, at that time, ran an open brook. The aspect, like that of most Scotch towns, is cold, but clean and orderly, with an air of thrifty comfort. The houses are plain, that in which the Carlyles lived alone having pretensions to originality. In appearance one, it is really double, a central arch dividing it. James Carlyle, Thomas Carlyle's father, occupied one part. His brother, who was his partner in his trade, lived in the other.
In 1791, having then a house of his own, James Carlyle married a distant cousin of the same name, Janet Carlyle. They had one son, John, and then she died of fever. Her long fair hair, which had been cut off in her illness, remained as a memorial of her in a drawer, into which the children afterwards looked with wondering
Two years after the husband married again Vargaret Aitken, a woman,' says Carlyle, of to me the fairest descent, that of the pious, the just, and the wise.' Her character will unfold itself as the story goes on. Thomas Carlyle was her first child; she lived to see him at the height of his fame, known and honoured wherever the English language was spoken. To her care · for body and soul'he never ceased to say that he owed endless gratitude. After Thomas came eight others, three sons and five daughters, one of whom, Janet, so called after the first wife, died when she was a few months old.
1 When Carlyle became famous, a Dumfries antiquary traced his ancestry with apparent success through ten generations to the first Lord Torthorwald. There was much laughter about it in the house in Cheyne Row, but Carlyle was inclined to think on the whole that the descent was real,
2 Ecclefechan= Kirkfechan, Church of St. Fechanns, an Irish saint supposed to have come t'Annandale in the seventh century.
The family was prosperous, as Ecclefechan working men understood prosperity. In one year, his best, James Carlyle made in his business as much as 1001. At worst he earned an artisan's substantial wages, and was thrifty and prudent. The children, as they passed out of infancy, ran about barefoot, but otherwise cleanly clothed, and fed on oatmeal, milk, and potatoes. Our Carlyle learned to read from his mother too early for distinct remembrance; when he was five his father taught him arithmetic, and sent him with the other village boys to school. Like the Carlyles generally he had a violent temper. John, the son of the first marriage, lived generally with his grandfather, but came occasionally to visit his parents. Carlyle's earliest recollection is of throwing his little brown stool at his brother in a mad passion of rage, when he was scarcely more than two years old, breaking a leg of it, and feeling for the first time the united pangs of loss and remorse.' The next impression which most affected him was the small round heap under the sheet upon a bed where his little sister lay dead. Death, too, he made acquaintance with in another memorable form. His father's eldest brother John died. The day before his funeral, an ill-behaving servant wench lifted the coverlid from off his pale ghastly befilleted head to show it to some crony of hers, unheeding of the child who was alone with them, and to whom the sight gave a new pang of horror.' The grandfather followed next, closing finally his Anson and his Arabian Nights. He had a brother whose adventures had been remarkable. Francis Carlyle, so he was called, had been apprenticed to a shoemaker. He, too, when his time was out, had gone to England, to Bristol among other places, where he fell into drink and gambling. He lost all his money; one morning after an orgie he flung himself desperately out of bed and broke his leg. When he recovered he enlisted in a brig of war, distinguished himself by special gallantry in supporting his captain in a mutiny, and was rewarded with the command of a Solway revenue cutter. After many years of rough creditable service he retired on half-pay to his native village of Middlebie. There had been some family quarrel, and the brothers, though living close to one another, had held no intercourse. They were both of them above eighty years of age. The old Thomas being on his death-bed, the sea captain's heart relented. He was a grim, broad, fierce-looking man; “prototype of Smollet's Trunnion.' Being too unwieldy to walk, he was brought into Ecclefechan in a cart, and carried in a chair up the steep stairs to his dying brother's room. There he remained some twenty minutes, and came down again with a face which printed itself in the little Carlyle's memory. They saw him no more, and after a brief interval the old generation had disappeared.
Amidst such scenes our Carlyle struggled through his early boyhood.
It was not a joyful life (he says); what life is ? yet a safe and quiet one, abore most others, or any other I have witnessed, a wholesome one. We were taciturn rather than talkative, but if little was said that little had generally a meaning.
More remarkable man than my father I have never met in my journey through life; sterling sincerity in thought, word, and deed, mostly quiet, but capable of blazing into whirlwinds when needful, and such a flash of just insight and brief natural eloquence and emphasis, true to every feature of it as I have never known in any other. Humour of a most grim Scandinavian type le occasionally had; wit rarely or never—too serious for wit-my excellent mother with perhaps the deeper piety in most senses had also the most sport. No man of my day, or hardly any man can have had better parents.
Education is a passion in Scotland. It is the pride of every honourable peasant, if he has a son of any promise, to give him a chance of rising as a scholar. As a child Carlyle could not have failed to show that there was something unusual in him. The schoolmaster in Ecclefechan gave a good account of his progress in ' figures.' The minister reported favourably of his Latin. “I do not grudge thee thy schooling, Tom,' his father said to him one day, now that thy uncle Frank owns thee a better arithmetician than himself.' It was decided that he should go to Annan Grammar School, and thence, if he prospered, to the University, with final outlook to the ministry.
He was a shy thoughtful boy, shrinking generally from rough companions, but with a hot and even violent temper. His mother, naturally anxious for him, and fearing perhaps the family tendency, extracted a promise before parting with him that he would never return a blow, and, as might be expected, his first experiences of school were extremely miserable. Boys of genius are never well received by the common flock, and escape persecution only when they are able to defend themselves.
Sartor Resartus is generally mythic, but parts are historical, and among them the account of the first launch of Teufelsdröckh into the Hinterschlag Gymnasium. Hinterschlag (smack behind) is Annan. Thither, leaving home and his mother's side, Carlyle was taken by his father, being then in his tenth year, and · fluttering with boundless hopes,' at Whitsuntide, 1805, to the school which was to be his first step into a higher life.
Well do I remember (says Teufelsdrückli) the red sunny Whitsuntide morning when, trotting full of hope by the side of Father Andreas, I entered the main street of the place and saw its steeple clock (then striking eight) and Schuldthurm (jail) and the aproned or disaproned Burghers moving in to breakfast: a little dog, in mad terror, was rushing past, for some human imps had tied a tin kettle to its tail, fit emblem of much that awaited myself in that misehievous den. Alas! the kind beech rows of Entepfuhl (Ecclefechan) were hidden in the distance. I was x.mong strangers harshly, at best indifferently, disposed to me; the young heart felt for the first time quite orphaned and alone. . .. Jy schoolfellows were bors, mostly rude boys, and obeyed the impulse of rude nature which bids the deerherd fall upon any stricken hart, the duck-flock put to death any broken-winged brother or sister, and on all Lands the strong tyrannise over the weak.