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Carlyle certainly was not in the sense in which

Buckle was philosophical; but there is an idea,

a principle, in all his historical works which it

is always his aim to elucidate. He certainly

does condense history into biography, believing

that the history of the world is to be found in

the lives of its great men. But while he always keeps his attention occupied with men, he never,

on the other hand, loses sight of the universal tendencies which men illustrate. It is never his desire to give only an accurate account of facts,

or a perfect delineation of a character; he desires always to trace great laws in the actions of men, and to show that in national, as in individual life, suffering always attends injustice. In his conclusion that the French Revolution was the culmination of a long struggle between young Democracy and now effete Feudalism, he had the assent of all thinkers, even of one so opposite to himself as the late John Stuart Mill. At this time he had got beyond the Radicalism of his early days, and the lesson which The Prench Revolution taught was that democracies must be nobly led and guided, or their energy will be almost wholly destructive. He recognised that all virtue had gone out of the governing classes in France long before the Revolution; but he interpreted the cry of the French and of all

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1837.] STYLE OF THE BOOK. 165 o | !

democracies to be, not “Let us have no leaders,” but “Let us have better leaders.” In this sense Carlyle's French Revolution formed a fit prelude to the writings which immediately followed it— - i those on the troubles of England. In style the book closely enough resembles | Sartor Besartus. There is the same command of |

language, and the same profusion of imagery— qualities which, as far as outward form is concerned, entitle Carlyle, of all English writers, to rank next to Shakespeare. There is the same power of comparison, the same keen eye for character, the same wide choice of epithets to denote its phases. There is j invective, sarcasm, humour, and buffoonery; # and here and there, in the midst of the wildest # passion, a sudden breaking off to mourn, in a pathetic aside, over the flight of time and the hard lot of man. Throughout the work constant use is made of the “historic present.” Everywhere the sympathy of the author is so complete that he identifies himself with each character, whom he by turns apostrophises, reproves, or comforts. So perfect is this sympathy that it communicates itself to the reader, who, when he closes the book, feels that he has known the characters of the drama. Danton and Mirabeau, and Camille Desmoulins and

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Marie Antoinette, and Charlotte Corday are no longer names; they are friends. And so over. mastering is the interest of the story, that it is only by an effort that the supreme intellectual feat implied in the creation of such a work can be realised. To consult all authorities, however insignificant, which could throw light on the events, to keep the thread of narrative and chain of circumstances distinct in the mind, and weld all into one well-balanced piece of artistic work, nowhere marred by undue insistance on trivial points, or insufficient examination of important ones—this could be accomplished only by the possessor of an unexampled historic imagination. It is small wonder that such a history as this was hailed by the leading minds of England and America as the production of a man of great genius. It is said that Sir William Hamilton, having taken up the book at three o'clock in the afternoon, was so fascinated by it that he could not lay it down till four the next morning, Walter Savage Landor, too, pronounced the book to have been the best published in his time. It permanently established Carlyle's fame, which had long been growing, and thero was no further necessity for ‘able-editors' of newspapers to inform their readers that the new author was “not to be confounded with Mr. Carlile, now deceased, who was a confident and avowed champion of infidelity.” In 1865–66 a French translation of the book French trans- appeared at Paris, the joint producon of the tion of Elias Regnault and Odysse book. Barot. It is the only work of

Carlyle which has, as far as we can ascertain, been introduced to French readers; though all or nearly all his works have appeared in a German

dress.

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CHAPTER VI.
LECTURING (1837–1840).

The French I'evolution, notwithstanding its ostensible success, and the fact that it passed through two editions in two years, seems to have brought its author very little pecuniary advantage. During these early years in London the household in Cheyne Row was often pinched for want of ready money, and in the summer of 1837 Carlyle adopted a new form of activity, viz. that of lecturing. As has been already seen, he was not without some training as an orator. It is said that as a child at Ecclefechan he used to please his father, and to astonish the older men of the village, by the ready way in which he remembered and could repeat the sermons he had heard. As a student, too, he had read discourses

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