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103 believers of it, are bound to be Benthamites, if they have courage and honesty. I call this gross steam-engine Utilitarianism an approach towards new faith. It was a laying-down of cant; a saying to oneself, “Well then, this world is a dead iron machine, the god of it Gravitation and selfish Hunger; let us see what, by checking and balancing, and good adjustment of tooth and pinion, can be made of it!! Benthamism has something complete, manful, in such fearless committal of itself to what it finds true ; you may call it heroic, though a heroism with its eyes put out!....I would wish all men to know and lay to heart, that he who discerns nothing but mechanism in the universe has in the fatalest way missed the secret of the universe altogether. That all Godhood should vanish out of men's conception of the universe seems to me precisely the most brutal error,
- I will not disparage heathenism by calling it a heathen error, — that men could fall into. It is not true; it is false at the very heart of it. A man who thinks so will think wrong about all things in the world ; this original sin will vitiate all other conclusions he can form."
All of which I do believe to be the truest of truth. But Carlyle, in his wholesome hatred of automatism as a first principle, has been betrayed into a mischievous contempt for the economists and those who, working with this theory or that about first principles, or with no theory at all, in
a sphere where mechanism certainly obtains, have done more perhaps than any other class of men in our time to ameliorate the conditions of society. Spirit works according to rule, and the order may be followed with much reliableness for a long way, without much necessary inquiry about first principles or motive power; and the service of the Utilitarians, in their study of the conditions of action and their careful and successful endeavors to make the conditions better, is something to be recognized with something else than a sullen grudge. If they are tempted to overrate the power of circumstances in determining action, Carlyle is tempted to underrate it, and to sneer in a too savage fashion at professional philanthropy and reform. The extremest illustration of this, perhaps, is the essay on Model Prisons, where he pits himself squarely against modern theories and exhausts even his tremendous vocabulary in condemnation of what he calls coddling criminals, while in poor and dingy dwellings around the palace-prison walls the thousand unfortunates who are “struggling manifoldly to keep the devil out
1 Shooting Niagara contains this concession, among others, to the “dismal science ; ” – Carlyle speaking of various enterprises tending to benefit society : “More of such divine possibilities I might add - that of “Sanitary Regulation,” for example ; to see the divinely appointed laws and conditions of health at last, humanly appointed as well ; year after year more exactly ascertained, rendered valid, habitually practiced in one's own dominion."
of-doors,” work on unnoticed and unhelped. “In the name of God and of his poor struggling servants, sore put to it to live in these bad days,” he exclaims to the regiment of scoundrels in the Model Prison, “I mean to rid myself of you with some degree of brevity. To feed you in palaces, to hire captains and schoolmasters and the choicest spiritual and material artificers to expend their industries on you. — No, by the Eternal, I have quite other work for that class of artists ; sevenand-twenty millions of neglected mortals who have not yet quite declared for the devil. Mark it, my diabolic friends, I mean to lay leather on the backs of you, collars round the necks of you, and will teach you, after the example of the gods, that this world is not your inheritance, or glad to see you in it.” I shall not offer any make-weight to this; enough of that in the May meetings. For my own part, I confess to a very sincere and considerable relish for it; and in an age which tries to soothe every scoundrel into the notion that he is sick and that his mother did the stealing, and that sets up the plea of insanity for every murderer, I am thankful for one man who restores the equilibrium with a force somewhat brutal. Great are socialism and sociology, but good for nothing when they obscure the individual and morality, making us in any way forget that the final unit is the soul !
It would be profitable if we could have an answer from Carlyle, with his wholesome Kantian ethics, to our advertisers for a “new morality.” It is not hard to imagine the answer, — for though Carlyle appears to have met no advertiser for new morality, he did meet, in the mob of carriers of “long placard-poles and questionable infirm paste. pots," with advertisers for a new religion, men anxious to concoct some formula to make Manchester operatives spin more peaceably. “My friend,” said Carlyle, “ if thou ever do come to believe in God, thou wilt find all Manchester riots and the wildest Social Dissolutions, and the burning up of this entire Planet, a most small matter in comparison. I will as soon think of making Galaxies and Star-Systems to guide herring-vessels by, as of preaching Religion that the Constable may continue possible. This new second progress of proceeding 'to invent God’ is a very strange one." A new morality, forsooth! Never was there and never will there be but one morality - obedience to conscience, which is the central fact of man's being and the bond of his union with the nature of things. “Is not this still a World ? Spinning cotton under Arkwright and Adam Smith ; founding cities on Janiculum ; tilling Canaan under Prophet Samuel and Psalmist David, man is ever man, — great and victorious while he continues true to his mission; mean, miserable, foiled, and at last trodden out of sight and memory, when he proves untrue.”
Carlyle is a Calvinist. There are few that be saved, according to his gospel. This, it might be urged, ought to make a pessimist of him. It must be a poor and unprofitable universe which shipwrecks such wealth of possibilities, and brings so little out of so much ; Calvinism ought to be pessimism. And after a fashion it ought; though it can justify its law of election and waste of souls in something the same way that the general law of the survival of the fittest is justified. But that which chiefly saves it from pessimism is its inconsistency and its persistent refusal to quite believe itself. Professing a strong determinism, it has always, nevertheless, imposed a responsibility upon the individual soul greater than that imposed by any other system which ever existed — and this is the explicit recognition of freedom. Calvinism thus comes into immediate contact with Kant. The whole history of thought and of affairs has proved more surely than it has proved almost anything else that the recognition of freedom in a higher person is the step to its achievement by ourselves, and that our own achievement of it brings the recognition of its germination in all humanity. The superficial thinker would say that Calvinism should beget absolutism, but in truth it infallibly brings the republic; the lineal