Page images
PDF
EPUB

The mothers who loved us, whom we love, religious, social, political order; but it is on are snatched away; friendships die, and we condition that the revolutionists take no part survive them. The phantom of death watch in them: he has written many admirable es by the pillow of those dear to us : the pages on Knox and Cromwell; but the liveliest and purest love would be a bitter chances are that he would have written as irony, were it not a promise for the future; admirably, although less truly, against them, and this promise itself is not felt strongly had he lived at the commencement of their enough by us, such as we are at the present struggles. Give him the past-give him a day. The intellectual adoration of truth, power, an idea, something which has triwithout hope of realization, is sterile : there umphed and borne its fruits—so that, placed is a larger void in our souls, more room for thus at a distance, he can examine and comthe truth than we can fill during our short prehend it under all its points of view, calmterrestrial existence. Break the bond of ly, at his ease, without fear of being troubled continuity between ourselves and the genera- by it, or drawn into the sphere of its action tions which have preceded and shall follow and he will see in it all that there is to see, us upon the earth, and what is the devotion to more than others are able to see.

Bring the ideas but a sublime folly? Annihilate the object near to him, and as with Dante's souls connection of all human lives, efface the in- in the 'Inferno,' his vision, his faculty of fallibility which lies in the progression of penetration, is clouded. If his judgment recollective mankind, and what becomes mar- specting the French revolution be in our tyrdom but a suicide without an object? opinion very incomplete, the reason is that Who would sacrifice-not his lite, for that is the event is still continued, and that it aplittle--but all the days of his life, his affec-pears to him living and disturbing. The past tions, the peace of those he loves, for coun- has every thing to expect from himn—the preiry, for human liberty, for the evolution of a sent, nothing-not even common justice. great moral thought, when a few years, per- Have patience, he says, to those who comhaps a few days, will suffice to destroy it? plain; all will come to pass, but not in your Sadness, exhaustless sadness, discordance be- way: God will provide the means. By whom tween the will and the power, disenchant- then will God provide means upon earth unment, discouragement, —such constitute lise, less by us? are we not his agents here bewhen looked at only from the individual | low ? Our destinies are within us : to unpoint of view. A few rare intellects escape derstand them, we need intellect-to accomthe common law and attain calmness; but it plish them, power. And why does he design is the calm of inaction, of contemplation; us the first, without the second ? Wherefore and contemplation here on earth is the sel- does he speak to us, at times, in such beautifishness of genius.

ful passages, of hope and faith, of the divine We repeat, that Mr. Carlyle has instinct- principle that is within us, of the duty which irely all the presentiments of the period; calls us to act, and the next instant smile but not understanding, not admitting with pity upon all that we attempt, and throughout, where he labors with the intel- point to us the night, the vast night of exlect rather than with the heart, the collect- tinction, swallowing up all our efforts ? ive life, it is absolutely impossible for him to There is, in our opinion, something very find the means of realization. A perpetual incomplete, very narrow, in this kind of conantagonism prevails throughout all that he tempt which Mr. Carlyle exhibits, whenever does; his instincts drive him to action, his he meets in his path with any thing that men theory to contemplation. Faith and discour- have agreed to call political reform. The agement alternate in his works, as they must forms of government appear to him almost in his soul. He weaves and unweaves his without meaning: such objects as the extenweb, like Penelope: he preaches by turns sion of suffrage, the guarantee of any kind life and nothingness: he destroys the powers of political right, are evidently in his eyes of his readers, by continually carrying them pitiful things, materialism more or less disfrom heaven to hell, from hell to heaven. guised. What he requires is, that men should Ardent, and almost menacing, upon the grow better, that the number of just men ground of idea, he becomes timid and skep- should increase : one wise man more in the tical as soon as he is engaged on that of its world would be to him a fact of more imapplication. We may agree with him with portance than ten political revolutions. It respect to the aim —we cannot respecting the would be so to us also, were we able to create means; he rejects them all, but he proposes him, as Wagner does his Homunculus, by no others. He desires progress, but dislikes blowing on the furnaces,-if the changes in progressives : he foresees, he announces as the political order of things did not preciseinevitable, great changes or revolutions in the ly constitute those very manifestations which

appear to us indispensable to the life of the the notion of life, of sacred life, to him who just and wise man. When a creed is the knows it only by the material labor that professed object, we must not capriciously crushes him, and by the wages that abase destroy the instruments which may enable us him? Alas! this man's name is Million ; he is fully to attain it.

met with on every side; he constitutes nearly We know well enough, that there are too three-fourths of the population of Europe. many men who lose the remeinbrance of God How will you give him more time and more in the symbol, who do not go beyond ques- energy to develope his faculties, except by tions of form, contract a love for them, and lessening the number of his hours of labor, end in a kind of liberalism for liberalism's and increasing his profits? How can you sake. We do not need to enter our protest render his contact with the enlightened classagainst this caprice, if the reader has paid at- es serviceable to him, except by altering the tention to what we have already said. In nature of his relations toward them ? How, our view the real problem, which rules all above all, will you raise this fallen soul, expolitical agitation, is one of education. We cept by saying to him,-by telling him in believe in the progressive moral amelioration acts, not reasonings which he does not underof man, as the sole important object of all stand, Thou, too, art man; the breath of labor, as the sole strict duty which ought to God is in thee: thou art here below to devedirect us: the rest is only means. But lope thy being under all its aspects: thy body where the liberty of means does not exist, is a temple; thy immortal soul is the priest, is not its attainment the first thing needful? which ought to sacrifice there for all ”? And Take an enslaved country, Italy for exam- what is this act, this token destined to raise ple,—there we find no education, no press, him in his own eyes, to show to him that he has no public meetings; but censors, who, after a mission upon earth, to give him the conhaving mutilated a literary journal for years, sciousness of his duties and his rights, except seeing that it still survives, suppress it alto- his initiation into citizenship, the suffrage ? gether ; * -archbishops, who preach against What is meant by “re-organizing labor," but all kinds of popular instruction, and declare bringing back the dignity of labor ? What the establishment of infant schools to be im- is a new form, but the case of a new idea? moral ;t-princes, who stamp all the books We perhaps have had a glimpse of the ideal belonging to their subjects. [ What can be in all its purity,—we feel ourselves capable done to ameliorate in such a country the of soaring into the invisible regions of the moral and intellectual condition of the peo- spirit. But are we, on this account, to isople? Take a country of serfs,-Poland or late ourselves from the movement which is Russia, for example, -how can we set about going on among our brethren beneath us? the attempt to annihilate the really existing Must we hear ourselves addressed thus, distinction ? Could the education of these na- “You profane the sanctity of the idea," betions be commenced otherwise than by a re- cause the men into whoin we seek to instil it volution ? Take a man, for instance, who la- are flesh and blood, and we are obliged to bors hard from fourteen to sixteen hours a speak to their senses ? Condemn all action, day to obtain the bare necessaries of exist- then; for action is only a form of thought, ence; he eats his bacon and potatoes (when -its application, practice. “The end of indeed he can get them) in a place which man is an action, and not a thought." Mr. might rather be called a den than a house; Carlyle himself repeats this in his 'Sartor and then, worn out, lies down and sleeps : he Resartus' (Book 2. ch. vi.), and yet the is brutalized in a moral and physical point spirit which pervades his works seems to us of view; he has not ideas, but propensities, too often of a nature to make his readers for-not belief, but instinct; he does not read, get it. -he cannot read; he has not within his It has been asked, * what is at the present reach the least means of self-enlightenment, day the duty of which we have spoken so and his contact with the upper class is only much? A complete reply would require a the relation of a servant to a master, of a ma- volume, but we can point it out in a few chine to the director of the machine. Of what words. Duty consists of that which the life use are books to such a being ? How can of the individual represents in all possible you come at him, how kindle the divine acts, for the love of God and of man, all that spark which is torpid in his soul, how give he believes to be the truth, absolute or rela

tive. Duty is progressive, as the evolution * The 'Subalpino, the 'Letture Popolari, in of the truth; it is modified and enlarges with

+ The Archbishop of Turin, Franzoni, in a pas ages; it changes its manifestations according toral letter. | The Duke of Modena.

* Mr. Horne, in his Preface to Gregory VII.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

to the acquirement of times and circum- so far as, taken literally, and falling into the stances There are times in which we must hands of men whose tendencies to self-sacri. be able to die like Socrates ; there are others, fice are feeble, it may lead to the revival of in which we must be able to struggle like selfishness, and cause that which at bottom Washington: one period claims the pen of should only be regarded as the wages of duty the sage, another requires the sword of the to be mistaken for duty itself. It is well hero. But ever, and every where, its source known what use Goethe, the high-priest of is God and his law,--its object, Humanity, the doctrine, made of this maxim, shrouding -its guarantee, the mutual responsibility of himself in what he called · Art;' and amidst men,-its measure, the intellect of the in- a world in misery, putting away the question dividual and the demands of the period,-its of Religion and politics, -"a troubled eleJimit, power. Study the universal tradition ment for Art,” though a vital one for man, of humanity, with all the faculties, with all —and giving himself up to the contemplation the disinterestedness, with all the compre- of forms and the admiration of self. There hensiveness of which God has made you are at the present day but too many who capable; where you find the general per- imagine they have perfectly done their duty, manent voice of humanity agreeing with the because they are kind toward their friends, voice of your conscience, be sure that you affectionate in their families, inoffensive tohold in your grasp something of absolute ward the rest of the world. The maxim of truth, -gained, and for ever yours. Study Goethe and of Mr. Carlyle will always suit also with interest, attention, and comprehen- and serve such men, by transforming into siveness, the tradition of your epoch and of duties the individual, domestic, or other afyour nation,—the idea, the want, which fer- fections,-in other words, the consolations ments within them : where you find that of life. Mr. Carlyle probably does not carry your conscience sympathizes with the gen- out his maxim in practice; but his principle eral aspiration, you are sure of possessing leads to this result, and cannot theoretically the relative truth. Your life must embody have any other. “Here on earth we are as both these truths, must represent and com- soldiers," he says :true, but we undermunicate them, according to your intelli- stand nothing, nor do we require to undergence and your means; you must be not stand any thing, of the plan of the camonly man, but a man of your age; you must paign.” What law, what sure object can we act as well as speak; you must be able to then have for action, excepting those to die without being compelled to acknow- which our individual instincts lead us? Reledge, “I have known such a fraction of the ligion is the first of our wants, he will go on truth, I could have done such a thing for its to say: but whilst to us religion is a belief triumph, and I have not done it.” Such is, and a worship in common, an ideal, the in our opinion, duty, in its most general ex- realization of which mankind collectively pression. As to its special application to must seek,-a heaven, the visible symbol of our times, we have said enough on this point which the earth must be rendered by our in the commencement of the part of our arti- efforts,—to him it is only a simple relation cle which establishes our difference from the of the individual to God. It ought therefore, views of Mr. Carlyle, to render its deduction according to our view, to preside over the easy. The question at the present day is a development of collective lise; according to perfecting the principle of association, a his view, its only office is to pacify the trouchange of the medium in which mankind bled soul. moves : duty therefore lies in a collective la- Does it at least lead to this conclusion ? bor,-every one to measure his powers, and Is he (we speak of the writer, of whom to see what part of this labor falls to him alone we have a right to speak) calm ? The greater the intellect and influence a No, he is not : in this continual alternation man enjoys, the greater his responsibility ; between aspirations as of a Titan and powers but assuredly contemplation cannot satisfy necessarily very limited, between the feeling duty in any degree.

of life and that of nothingness, his powers are Ńr. Carlyle's expression of duty is natural- paralyzed as well as those of his readers. At ly different. Thinking only of individuality, times there escape from his lips accents of calculating only the powers of the individual, distress, which, whatever he may do, he canhe would rather restrict than enlarge its not remove from the minds of those who sphere. The rule which he adopts is that listen to him with attention and sympathy. laid down by Goethe,—" Do the duty which What else is that incessant and discouraged lies nearest thee.” And this rule is good, yearning after rest, which, although he has inasfar as it is, like all other moral rules, formally renounced the happiness of life, persusceptible of a wide interpretation,-bad, vades all his works,-'Sartor Resartus' espe

[ocr errors]

away."

[merged small][ocr errors]

cially, -and which so constantly calls to our re-attaching life to heaven,-in raising it minds the expression of Arnaud to Nicolle, again, in restoring to it the consciousness of

“N’avons-nous pas toute l'éternité pour its power and sanctity. The means consist nous reposer ?”—“Let me rest here, for I am in tempering the individual life in the comway-weary, and life-weary; I will rest here, mon elements, in the universal life: they conwere it but to die; to die or to live is alike sist in restoring to the individual that which to me, alike insignificant .....

. . Here, then, we have from the outset called the feeling of as I lay in that CENTRE OF INDIFFERENCE the collective, in pointing out to him his place

the heavy dreams rolled gradually in the tradition of the species, in bringing

Alas! no, poor Teufelsdröck! him into communion, by love and by works, there is no repose here on earth. It matters with all his fellow-men. By isolating ourlittle if the limbs be bruised, the faculties selves, we have begun to feel ourselves feeble exhausted. Life is a conflict and a march; and little; we have begun to despise our efthe “heavy dreams” will return; we are still forts and those of our brethren toward the at. too low; the air is still too heavy around us tainment of the ideal; and we have in despair for them to “roll away." Strength consists set ourselves to repeat and comment upon in advancing in the midst and in spite of the Carpe diemof the heathen poet : we them, — not in causing them to vanish. must make ourselves great and strong again They will vanish higher, when, after mount- by association; we must not dishonor life, ing a step upon the ladder, life shall expand but make it holy. By persisting to search in a purer medium : the flower, too, springs out the secret, the law of individuality in the and unfolds in the earth, to expand only in individuality itself, man ends only in egoism, another element, in the air and sun of God. if he is evil-minded-in skepticism, in fatalMeanwhile suffer and act; suffer for thyself, ism, or in contemplation, if he is virtuous. act for thy brethren, and with them. Speak Mr. Carlyle, whatever he may himself think, not ill of science, of philosophy, of the spirit Auctuates between these last three tendof inquiry; these are the implements which encies. God has given us for our labor,-good or The function which Mr. Carlyle at present bad, according as they are employed for good fulfils in England appears to us therefore imor for evil. Tell us no longer that “life it- portant, but incomplete. Its level is perhaps self is a disease,-knowledge, the symptom not high enough for the demands of the age; of derangement;" talk no more of a “first nevertheless it is noble, and nearer to the obstate of freedom and paradisiacal unconscious- ject which we have pointed out than that ness.”+ There is more Byronism in these perhaps of any other living writer. All that few words than in the whole of Byron. he combats is indeed really false, and has Freedom and paradise are not behind, but never been combated more energetically: that before us. Not life itself, but the deviation which he teaches is not always true. His from life, is disease: life is sacred; life is longings belong to the future,—the temper our aspiration toward the ideal,-our affec- and habits of his intelligence attach him to tions, engagements, which will one day be the past. Our sympathies may claim the one fulfilled, our virtues, advanced toward great- half of the man,—the other half escapes us. er. It is blasphemy to pronounce a word of All that we regard as important, he considers disrespect against it.

so also: all that we foresee, he foresees likeThe evil at the present day is, not that wise. We only differ respecting the road to men assign too much value to life, but the re- follow, the means to be adopted : we serve verse. Life has fallen in estimation, because, the same God, we separate only in the woras at all periods of crisis and disorganization, ship. Whilst we dive into the midst of presthe chain is broken which in all forms of be- ent things, in order to draw inspiration from lief attaches it through humanity to heaven. them, while we mingle with men in order to It has fallen, because the consciousness of draw strength from them, he retires to a dismutual human responsibility, which alone tance and contemplates. We appeal perhaps constitutes its dignity and strength, being more than he to tradition ; he appeals more lost together with the community of belief, than we to individual conscience. its sphere of activity has become restricted, haps run the risk of sacrificing something of and it has been compelled to fall back upon the purity of the idea, in the pursuit of the material interests, little objects, minor pas- means; he runs the risk, without intending sions. It has fallen, because it has been too it, of deserting his brother-laborers. much individualized; and the remedy lies in Nevertheless, let each follow his own path.

There will always be a field for the fraternity * Sartor Resartus, Book ii. ch.9.

of noble spirits, even if they differ in their + Essays— Characteristics.'

notion of the present life. Their outward

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

We per

[ocr errors]

manifestations may vary, but only like the And if they're sent 10 thee alone, radiations of light upon the earth. The ray

Or if they come alike to all,

Thou carest not; but mak'st thine own assumes different colors, according to the dif

The blessings that around thee fall. ferent media through which it passes, accord- The sunshine and the breath of heaven, ing to the surface of the objects upon which The beauty of the field and wood, it falls; but wherever it falls, it warms and

To thee these blessed gifts are given,vivifies more or less visibly, and all the

Enough for thee, thou know'st them good. beams proceed from the same source. Like

I love to cast all cares aside, the sun, the fountain of terrestrial light, there And, calming down each hope and fear, is a common element in heaven for all hu- To watch the smiles of lighi tbat glide man spirits which possess strong, firm, and

Across thy face when none are near,

And think that glories hid from eyes disinterested convictions. In this sanctuary

Long dimmed with mists of grief and ill Mr. Carlyle will assuredly meet, in a spirit Before thy holier vision rise, of esteem and sympathy, all the chosen spirits Clad in their vernal beauty still. that adore God and truth, who have learned to suffer without cursing, and to sacrifice

Young stranger in a world of care,

Keep, keep thy keen unclouded sight; themselves without despair.

No thoughts of ours are half so fair We can but briefly refer to Mr. Carlyle's As those which give thy soul delight. last work, recently published, entitled 'Past Our laughter is an empty sound and Present.' We have read it with atten

To that clear, silvery tone of thine,

Our very hopes are check'd and bound, tion, and with a desire to find cause to alter

Our thoughts in vain for freedom pine. our opinions. We however find nothing to retract: on the contrary the present work ap- In thee so lovely life doth seem, pears to us to confirm those opinions. Past So rich in stores of happy thought, and Present is a work of power, and will do

So calm, so sweet, that I could deem

All joys men feel must needs be brought incalculable good. No one will close its pages From far-off shores of infancy; without having felt awakened in him thoughts Borne onward o'er the wastes of life and feelings which would perhaps have still

Like bursts of music o'er the sea, slept long in his heart : yet should the reader

Dull’d, but still heard amid the strife. desire to open it again, with a view to study

My child! I blessed thee at thy birth, how he may realize these sentiments and Yet knew not then how much had come thoughts in the world, he will often, in the Of happiness, and love, and mirth, midst of eloquent pages, of fruitful truths ex- With thee, to haunt my heart and home.

I dream'd not thy young life could shed pressed with an astonishing energy, meet with

Such joy and beauty upon mine, disappointment. 'Past and Present' is, in our

Nor 1, by watching thee, be led opinion, remarkable rather for the tendencies To beiter thoughts of things divine. and aptitudes which it presents than for the paths which it points out. It is a step toward the future, not a step in the future. Will Mr. Carlyle take this step? We know not, THE AFFINITY OF VEGETABLES FOR MOISTURE, but we have every thing to hope for.

is one of the most striking phenomena in natural history. “ There is nothing more unaccountable," says a correspondent of the Gardener's Chronicle, “than the fact that of certain plants teeming with

moisture, and growing to a large size, in places TO A CHILD,

where no other vegetable can withstand the burn

ing temperature. In the deserts of the East, in From Fraser's Magazine.

Arabia, and those extensive plains where nothing

save sand is seen on the ground; where the heat My happy child! I smile to see

reflected from the earth dissipates the passing cloud, How wisdom I have sought so long, which hastens, as it were, 10 shed its refreshing Hath come to thee spontaneously

moisture on a more grateful spot; where no water In thine unconsciousness of wrong; ever rises from a spring, or falls from on high, and How, wheresoe'er thine eyes may stray, where the burning soil is intolerable to the foot

Their pure, unclouded sight can find even of the camel, the water-melon attains the A something beautiful or gay,

size of a foot and more in diameter, and while all A joy, to which mine eyes are blind. around is parched, offers in its cold and copious

juice a draught to the traveller, which has often The red leaves dancing in the breeze, saved him from a lingering and painful death. In The falling of the autumn rain,

a similar, though less efficient manner, the melon The solemn waving of the trees,

cactus refreshes the wild herds of the Pampas; and For us are beautiful in vain;

the formidable prickles are not a sure guard against But thou, with better wisdom far,

the powerful kick of the wild horse, who has no Canst find new joy in every change; other mode of getting at its interior, but who is often Contented with the things that are,

permanently lamed in this extraordinary contest." Thy wishes ask no farther range.

-Chambers's Ed. Jour.

« PreviousContinue »