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ought to be, the source of material life to the prehend those beautiful words of St. Paul state in all its members: the intellectual an-l(Romans xii. 5), “We being many, are one archy to which we are a prey, has shown us body in Christ, and every one members one of that liberty of conscience does not suffice to another.” We resolve the incertitude and render religion the source of moral life to the caprices of individuals into a universality: we state in all its members. We have begun to seek the intelligence and harmonizing of persuspect, not only that there is upon the earth sons in the collective mass. Such is the tensomething greater, more holy, more divine, dency of the present times, and whosoever than the individual,-collective Humanity,— does not labor in accordance with it, necesan existence always living, learning, advanc- sarily remains bebind. ing toward God, of which we are but the in- Mr. Carlyle comprehends only the individstruments,-but that it is alone from the ual; the true sense of the unity of the human summit of this collective idea, from the con- race escapes him. He sympathizes with all ception of the Universal Mind, “ of which," men, but it is with the life of each one, and not as Emerson says,
“ each individual man is with their collective life. He readily looks one more incarnation,” that we can derive at every man as the representative, the inour function, the rule of our life, the ideal of carnation, in a manner, of an idea; he does our societies. We labor at this at the pres- not believe in a supreme idea,” representent day. It signifies little that our first es- ed progressively by the development of mansays are strange aberrations: it signifies kind taken as a whole. He feels forcibly little, that falling upon their weak side, the (rather indeed by the instinct of his heart, doctrines of St. Simon, of Owen, of Fourier, which revolts at actual evil, than by a clear and others, who have arisen or shall arise, conception of that which constitutes life) the may be condemned to ridicule. That which want of a bond between the men who are is important is the idea common to all these around him; he does not feel sufficiently the doctrines, and the breath of which has ren- existence of the bond between the generadered them fruitful; it is the object which tions past, present, and future. The great they all instinctively propose, the starting- religious thought, the continued development point they take. Half a century ago, all the of Humanity by a collective labor, according boldest and most innovating theories sought to an educational plan assigned by Prociin the organization of societies guarantees for dence, fore-felt from age to age by a few rare free individual action ; society was funda- intellects, and proclaimed in the last fifty mentally only the power of all directed to years by the greatest European thinkers, the support of the rights of each: at the pres finds but a feeble echo, or rather no echo at ent day, the most timid reformers start with all, in his soul. Progressive from an impulse a social principle to define the part of the in- of feeling, he shrinks back from the idea as dividual, --with the admission of a law, to soon as he sees it stated explicitly and sysseek what may be its best interpreter and its tematically; and such expressions as “ the best application. What, in the political progress of the species" and "perfectibility" world, are all these tendencies to centraliza-never drop from his pen unaccompanied by a tion, to universal suffrage, to the annihilation taint of irony, which we confess is to us inexof castes ? Whence arise, in the religious plicable. He seems to regard the human world, all these discontents, all these rever- race rather as an aggregate of similar indisions toward the past, all these aspirations viduals, distinct powers in juxtaposition, than toward a future, confused, uncertain, but as an association of laborers, distributed in wide, tolerant, and reconciliatory of creeds at groups, and impelled on different paths topresent opposed ? Why is history, which in ward one single object. Nation itself, counold times was satisfied with relating the deeds try,--the second collective existence, less of princes or of ruling bodies of men, direct-vast, but still for many centuries not less saed at the present day so much to the masses, cred than humanity,-vanishes, or is modiand why does it feel the want of descending fied under his hand : it is no longer the sign from the summits of society to its base? of our portion of labor in the common work, And what means that word Progress, which, the workshop in which God has placed the understood in a thousand ways, is yet found instruments of labor to fulfil the mission most on every lip, and becomes more from day to within our reach; it is no longer the symbol day the watchword of all labors? We thirst of a thought, of a special vocation to be folfor unity: we seek it in a new and larger ex- lowed, indicated by the tradition of the race, pression of the mutual responsibility of all by the affinity of tendencies, by the unity of men towards each other,-the indissoluble language, by the character of localities; it is copartnery of all generations and all individu- something reduced, as much as possible, to als in the human race. We begin to com-| the proportions of the individual. The na
tionality of Italy is the glory of having pro-occasion to trace the history of this doctrine, duced Dante and Christopher Columbus ; which, treated as it still is with neglect, the nationality of Germany that of having reckons nevertheless amongst its followers given birth to Luther, to Goethe, and to others. men who bore the names of Dante, of Bacon, The shadow thrown by these gigantic men and of Leibnitz. We can at present only appears to eclipse to his view every trace of mark the existence of the contrary doctrine the national thought of which these men were in the writings of Mr. Carlyle, and the conseonly the interpreters or prophets, and of the quences to which, in our opinion, it leads him. people, who alone are its depositary. All It is evident that, of the two criteria of cergeneralization is so repugnant to Mr. Car- tainty, individual conscience and universal lyle, that he strikes at the root of the error as tradition, between which mankind has hithhe deems it, by declaring that the history of the erto perpetually fluctuated, and the reconcileworld is fundamentally nothing more than the ment of which appears to us to constitute biography of great men (Lectures'). This is the only means we possess of recognizing to plead, distinctly enough, the falseness of the truth, Mr. Carlyle adopts one alone—the idea which rules the movement of the times.* first. He rejects, or at least wholly neglects,
We protest, in the name of the democratic the other. From this point, in his view, all spirit of the age, against such ideas. Histo- follows in a natural connexion : individualiry is not the biography of great men: the ty being every thing, the doctrine of unconhistory of mankind is the history of the pro- sciousness follows. The voice of God is gressive religion of mankind, and of the heard in the intuition, in the instincts of the translation by symbols, or external actions, soul: to separate the individuality from every of that religion. The great men of the earth | human external agency, and to offer it in naare but the marking-stones on the road of hu- tive purity to the breath of inspiration from manity; they are the priests of its religion. above, this is to prepare a temple to God; What priest is equal in the balance to the God and the individual man-Mr. Carlyle whole religion of which he is a minister ? sees no other object in the world. But how There is yet something greater, more divine- can the individual alone approach God, unly mysterious, than all the great men,—and less by transport, by enthusiasm, by the unthis is the earth which bears them, the hu- premeditated upward flight of the spirit, unman race which includes them, the thought shackled by method or calculation ? Hence of God which stirs within them, and which arises all Mr. Carlyle's antipathy to the lathe whole human race collectively can alone bors of philosophy; they must appear to him accomplish. Disown not, then, the common like the efforts of a Titan with the strength of a mo her for the sake of certain of her children, pigmy. Of what avail are the poor analythowever privileged they may be; for at the ical and experimental faculties of the individ, same time that you disown her, you will lose the ual intellect, in the solution of this immense intellect of these rare men whom you admire. and infinite problem ? Hence, likewise, his Genius is like the flower, which draws one bitter and often violent censure of all those half of its life from the moisture that circu- who labor against the social state as it exists. lates in the earth, and inhales- the other half Victory may indeed justify them, for victory from the atmosphere. The inspiration of is the intervention of God by his decree, from genius belongs one half to heaven, the other which there is no appeal; but where is the to the crowds of common mortals from whose man who can pretend to fore-calculate, to delife it springs. No one is gifted with a right termine this decree! What avails it to fill comprehension of it, without studying the the echoes with complaint, like Philoctetes ? medium in which it lives.
What avails it to contend convulsively in a We cannot, however, here attempt to es- powerless struggle? What is, is. All our tablish any positive ideas respecting the voca- endeavors will not alter it before the time tion of our epoch, or the doctrine of the col- decreed; that time God alone determines. lective progress which appears to us to char- What is to happen God will bring to pass, acterize it : perhaps we may one day take an very probably by wholly different means from
those which we, feeble and ephemeral crea• This is the essence of Mr. Carlyle's ideas, as
Point out the evil, they appear to us to be deducible from the body of tures, may imagine. his views and opinions and the general spirit which calmly, wisely; then resign yourself, trust, breathes in his works. Of course we meet here and wait! There is a deep discouragement, and there with passages in opposition to this spirit, a very despair, at the bottom of all that bold and in accordance with that of the age. It is im- fervor of belief which characterizes many of possible for a writer of Mr. Carlyle's stamp to avoid
To us he seems to this; but we do not think we can be accused, if Mr. Carlyle's pages. our remarks are read with attention, of unfuithful- seek God rather as a refuge, than as the ness in the material point.
source of right and of power; from his lips,
at times so daring, we seem to hear everyject to be attained ; it matters little that the instant the cry of the Breton mariner—"My result of our action be lost in a distance God, protect me! my bark is so small and which is beyond our calculation; we know the ocean so vast!”
that the powers of millions of men, our brethNow all this is partly true, and neverthe-ren, will succeed to the work after us, in the less it is all partly false; true, inasmuch as it same track,—we know that the object atis the legitimate consequence from Mr. Car- tained, be it when it may, will be the result lyle's starting-point; false, in a higher and of all our efforts combined. more comprehensive point of view. If we The object-an object to be pursued colderive all our ideas of human affairs and la- lectively, an ideal to be realized as far as posbors from the notion of the individual, and sible here below, by the association of all our see only in social life " the aggregate of all faculties and all our powers—“operatio huthe individual men's lives”-in history only manæ universitatis," as Dante says in a work “the essence of innumerable biographies "* little known, or misunderstood, in which, -if we always place man, singly, isolated, in five centuries ago, he laid down many of the presence of the universe and of God, we shall principles upon which we are laboring at the have full reason to hold the language of Mr. present day—"ad quam ipsa universitas Carlyle. If all pbilosophy be in fact, like hominum in tanta multitudine ordinatur, ad that of the ancient schools, merely a simple quam quidem operationem nec homo unus, physiological studyof the individual, -an anal- nec domus una, nec vicinia, nec una civitas, ysis, more or less complete, of his faculties, nec regnum particulare, pertingere potest"* -of what use is it, but as a kind of intellect--this alone gives value and method to the ual gymnastics? If our powers be limited life and acts of the individual. Mr. Carlyle to such as each one of us may acquire by him- seems to us almost always to forget this. Beself, between those moments of our earthly ing thus without a sound criterion whereby to career which we call birth and death, they estimate individual acts, he is compelled to are indeed enough to attain the power of value them rather by the power which has guessing and of expressing a small fragınent been expended upon them, by the energy and of the truth : let him who can realize it here. perseverance which they betray, than by the But if we place ourselves in the point of view nature of the object toward which they are of tlfe collective existence, Mankind, and re-directed, and their relation to that object. gard social life as the continued development Hence arises that kind of indifference which of an idea by the life all its individuals,—if makes him, we will not say esteem, but love, we regard history as the relation of this de- equally men whose whole life has been spent velopment in time and space through the in pursuing contrary objects, -Johnson and works of individuals; if we believe in the co- Cromwell, for example. Hence proceeds partnery and mutual responsibility of genera- that spirit of fatalism (to call things by their tions, never losing sight of the fact that the right names) which remotely pervades his life of the individual is his development, in a work on the French Revolution ; which medium fashioned by the labors of all the in- makes him sympathize so much with bold dividuals who have preceded bim, and that deeds, admire ability, under whatever form the powers of the individual are his powers displayed, and so often hail, at the risk of begrafted upon those of all foregoing humanity, coming an advocate of despotism, might as -all our ideas will change. Philosophy will the token of right. He desires undoubtedly appear to us as the science of the law of life, the good every where and always; but he dethe soul ”
(Mr. Carlyle himself once sires it, from whatever quarter it may come uses this expression in contradiction to the —from above or from below,-imposed by general spirit of his works), "of which reli- power, or proclaimed by the free and spontagion, worship, is the body;" and the complaint neous impulse of the multitude; and he forof the intellect, so often looked upon as idle, gets that the good is above all a moral quesfrom Byron down to George Sand, will be to tion; that there is no good apart from the us, what it is in truth, the registered, effica- consciousness of good : that it exists only cious protest of the spirit, torinented by pre- where it is made, not obtained, by man: he sentiments of the future, against a present forgets that we are not machines for produccorrupted and destroyed; and we shall feel tion, from which as much work as possible is that it is not only our right, but our duty, to to be extracted, but free agents, called to incarnate our thought in action. For it stand or fall by our works. His theory of matters little that our individual powers be unconsciousness, the germ of which
appears in of the smallest amount in relation to the ob. the Life of Schiller,' and is clearly defin
ed in his essay 'Characteristics,' although al| We know there are many men who pretend, first view it may indeed appear to acknow- without right and without reality, that they ledge human spontaneity, yet does emphati- already possess a complete knowledge of the cally involve its oblivion, and sacrifices, in its means. Is it this that he attacks? If so, let application, the social object to an individual him attack the premature cry of triumph, point of view.
the pride, not the plaint. This is but the Genius is not, generally speaking, uncon- sign of suffering, and a stimulus to research: scious of what it experiences or of what it is it is doubly sacred. capable. It is not the suspended harp which Doubly sacred, we say,—and to murmur sounds (as the statue of Memnon in the desert at the plaint is both unjust and vain ; vain, sounds in the sun) at the changing unfore--for whatever we may do, the words, "the seen breath of wind that sweeps across its whole creation groaneth,” of the apostle strings: it is the conscious power of the soul whom we love to quote will be verified the of a man, rising from amidst his fellow-men, most forcibly in the choicest intellects, whenbelieving and calling himself a son of God, ever an entire order of things and ideas shall an apostle of eternal truth and beauty upon be exhausted; whenever, in Mr. Carlyle's the earth, the privileged worshipper of an ideal phrase, there shall exist no longer any social as yet concealed from the majority: he is faith :-unjust, for while on one side it atalmost always sufficiently tormented by his tacks those who suffer the most, on the other contemporaries, to need a compensation, it would suppress that which is the symptom that of feeling his life in the generations to of the evil, and prevent attention being awakcome. Cæsar, Christopher Columbus, were ened to it. Suffer in silence, do you say? not unconscious: Dante, when, at the open- no, cry aloud upon the housetops, sound the ing of the twenty-fifth chapter of the 'Para- tocsin, raise the alarm at all risks, for it is diso,' he hurled at his enemies that sublime not alone your house that is on fire, but that menace, which commentators without heart of your neighbor, that of every one. Silence and without head have mistaken for a cry of is frequently a duty, when suffering is only supplication,–Kepler, when he wrote, "My personal; it is an error and a fault, when the book will await its reader : has not God suffering is that of millions. Can we possiwaited six thousand years before he created bly imagine that this complaining, this exa man to contemplate his works ?''*_Shak- pression of unrest and discontent which at the speare himself, when he wrote,
present day bursts out on every side, is only * And nothing stands
the effect of the personal illusions of a few And yet, to times in hope, my verse shall stand"t egoistical writers? Do we imagine that there -these men were not unconscious : but even can be any pleasure in parading one's own had they been so, even were genius always real sufferings before the public? It is more unconscious, the question lies not there. It pleasant to cause smiles than tears in those is not the consciousness of genius that is im- around us. But there are times in which every portant to a man, but of that which he pro- oracle utters words of ill omen; the heavens poses to do: it is the consciousness of the are veiled, evil is every where ; how should it object, and not that of the means, which we not be in the heart of those, whose life viassert to be indispensable, whenever man has brates most at the trembling of the universal any great thing to accomplish. This con
life? What! after proving the evil every insciousness pervaded all the great men who have stant in our pages, after showing society adembodied their thought,--the artists of the vancing through moral anarchy and devoid of middle ages themselves, who have transferred belief towards its dissolution, can we expect to stone the aspiration of their souls towards the features to remain calm ? are we astonishheaven, and have bequeathed to us Christian ed if the voice trembles, if the soul shudders? cathedrals, without even graving their names
Human thought is disquieted; it questions on a corner-stone. What then becomes of itself, listens to itself, studies itself: this is the anathema hurled by Mr. Carlyle at phi- evidently not its normal state. Be it so: but losophy? What becomes of the sentence what is to be done? must we abolish thought, passed with so much bitterness against the -deny the intellect the right, the duty of restless complaints of contemporary writers ? studying itself, when it is sick? This is inWhat is philosophy but the science of ends ? deed the result of the essay on 'CharacterisAnd is that which he calls the disease of the tics, one of Mr. Carlyle's most remarkable times, at the bottom aught else than the con- works. The first part is truly admirable; the sciousness of a new object, not yet attained ? evil is there perfectly charactered and the Harmonices Mundi : Jibri quinque.
principal symptoms described ; but the con† Sonnets, 60. See also Sonnets 17, 18, 55, 63, clusion is most lame and impotent. It ends 81, etc.
by suppressing (how, is not indicated) the disquietude, or what he terms the "self-sen- and when the human intelligence should be ripe tience," the "self-survey,” the consciousness. for a higher initiation. When this period arWould it not be better to endeavor to suppress rives, all isolated exortation to faith is useless. the malady which produces it? There is a What is preached may be eminently sage and brilliant passage at the end of this same essay, moral ; it may have, here and there, the auwhich serves us as a conclusive reply :- thority of an individual system of philosophy, “Do we not already know that the name of the with a sterile theoretic approbation, but it will
but it will never compel belief. It may meet Infinite is Goop, is God? Here on earth we are as soldiers, fighting in a foreign land, that under- not command the practice, it will not dictate stand not the plan of the campaign, and have no the action, it will not gain that mastery over need to understand it; seeing well what is at the life of men which can make it fruitful in our hand to be done. Let us do it like soldiers, all its manifestations. If the contrary were with submission, with courage, with a heroic joy: true, there is no religion that could not make Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all the universe exist for ever in harmony, by the thy might.' Behind us, behind each one of us,
morality which is either developed or involvlie six thousand years of human effort, human
ed in it. But there are times in which all conquest : before us is the boundless Time, with its as yet uncreated and unconquered continents efforts are paralyzed by apathy, except we and Eldorados, which we, even we, have to con- change (by the development of new relations quer, to create; and from the bosom of Eternity between men, or by calling into action an eleshine for us celestial guiding-stars."
ment hitherto suppressed) the starting-point
of social energy, and give a strong shake to We have selected this passage, because, the intellect, which has fallen asleep from approaching as it does near to the truth in want of nourishment. the last lines, and contradicting them (in our We all seek God; but we know that here opinion) in the first, it appears to us to in- below we cannot attain unto him, nor comclude in essence all the certainties and un- prehend him, nor contemplate bim; the abcertainties, the "everlasting Yea” and the sorption into God of the Brahminical reli
everlasting No” of Mr. Carlyle. God and gions, of Plato and of some modern ascetics, Duty-these are in fact the two sacred words is an illusion that cannot be realized : we which mankind has in all critical periods re- are too far off. Our aim is to approach God: peated, and which at the present day still con- this we can do by our works alone. To intain the means of salvation. But we must carnate, as far as possible, his Word; to transknow in what manner these words are under- late, to realize his Thought, is our charge stood.
here below. It is not by contemplating his We all seek God; but where, how, with works that we can fulfil our mission upon what aim? This is the question. Seek him, earth; it is by devoting ourselves to the evoMr. Carlyle will say, in the starry firmament, lution of his work, without interruption, on the wide ocean, in the calm and pure brow without end. The earth and man touch at of a heroic man; above all, in the words of all points on the infinite; this we know well, genius and at the bottom of your heart, freed but is it enough to know this ? have we not from all egoistic passions. God is every to march onwards, to advance into this infiwhere: learn to find him. You are surround- nite? But can the individual finite creature ed by his mira les; you swim in the Infinite: of a day do this, if he relies only upon his the Infinite is also within you. BELIEVE, - own powers? It is precisely from having you will be better; you will be what man found themselves for an instant face to face should be. True indeed,—but how create with infinity, without calculating upon other belief? This, again, is the question. In all faculties, upon other powers than their own, periods of the history of mankind there have that some of the greatest intellects of the been inspired men who have appealed to day have been led astray into skepticism or every generous, great, divine emotion in the misanthropy. Not identifying themselves human heart, against material appetites and sufficiently with mankind, and startled at the selfish instincts. These men have been lis- disproportion between the object and the tened to; mankind has believed: it has, dur- means, they have ended by viewing every ing several centuries, done great and good where death and annihilation, and have no things in the name of its creeds. Then it has longer had courage for the conflict. The stopped, and ceased to produce. Why so? ideal has appeared to them like a tremenWas the thing it had believed, false? No, it dous irony. was incomplete: like all human things, it was In truth, human life regarded from a a fragment of absolute truth, combined with merely individual point of view is a melanmany truths relative to time and place, destin- choly thing. Glory, power, grandeur, all ed to disappear after having borne their fruit, I perish,-playthings of a day, broken at night.