Thomas Carlyle - Biography
by John Nichol
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Alas, poor Byron! the news of his death came upon me like a mass of lead; and yet the thought of it sends a painful twinge through all my being, as if I had lost a brother. O God! that so many souls of mud and clay should fill up their base existence to the utmost bound; and this, the noblest spirit in Europe, should sink before half his course was run.... Late so full of fire and generous passion and proud purposes, and now for ever dumb and cold.... Had he been spared to the age of threescore and ten what might he not have been! what might he not have been! ... I dreamed of seeing him and knowing him; but ... we shall go to him, he shall not return to us.

This in answer to her account of the same intelligence: "I was told it all alone in a room full of people. If they had said the sun or the moon was gone out of the heavens, it could not have struck me with the idea of a more awful and dreary blank in the creation than the words 'Byron is dead.'" Other letters of the same period, from London, are studded or disfigured by the incisive ill-natured sarcasms above referred to, or they relate to the work and prospects of the writer. Those that bear on the progress of his suit mark it as the strangest and, when we look before and after, one of the saddest courtships in literary history. As early as 1822 Carlyle entertained the idea of making Jane Welsh his wife; she had begun to yield to the fascinations of his speech—a fascination akin to that of Burns—when she wrote, "I will be happier contemplating my beau-ideal than a real, substantial, eating, drinking, sleeping, honest husband." In 1823 they were half-declared lovers, but there were recalcitrant fits on both sides. On occasion of a meeting at Edinburgh there was a quarrel, followed by a note of repentance, in which she confessed, "Nothing short of a devil could have tempted me to torment you and myself as I did on that unblessed day." Somewhat earlier she had written in answer to his first distinct avowal, "My friend, I love you. But were you my brother I should love you the same. No. Your friend I will be ... while I breathe the breath of life; but your wife never, though you were as rich as Croesus, as honoured and renowned as you yet shall be." To which Carlyle answered with characteristic pride, "I have no idea of dying in the Arcadian shepherd's style for the disappointment of hopes which I never seriously entertained, and had no right to entertain seriously." There was indeed nothing of Corydon and Phyllis in this struggle of two strong wills, the weaker giving way to the stronger, the gradual but inexorable closing of an iron ring. Backed by the natural repugnance of her mother to the match, Miss Welsh still rebelled, bracing herself with the reflection, "Men and women may be very charming without having any genius;" and to his renewed appeal (1825), "It lies with you whether I shall be a right man or only a hard and bitter Stoic," retorting, "I am not in love with you ... my affections are in a state of perfect tranquillity." But she admitted he was her "only fellowship and support," and confiding at length the truth about Irving, surrendered in the words, "Decide, and woe to me if your reason be your judge and not your love." In this duel of Puck and Theseus, the latter felt he had won and pressed his advantage, offering to let her free and adding warnings to the blind, "Without great sacrifices on both sides, the possibility of our union is an empty dream." At the eleventh hour, when, in her own words, she was "married past redemption," he wrote, "If you judge fit, I will take you to my heart this very week. If you judge fit, I will this very week forswear you for ever;" and replied to her request that her widowed mother might live under their wedded roof in terms that might have become Petruchio: "It may be stated in a word. The man should bear rule in the house, not the woman. This is an eternal axiom, the law of nature which no mortal departs from unpunished. . . . Will your mother consent to make me her guardian and director, and be a second wife to her daughter's husband!"

Was ever woman in this humour woo'd, Was ever woman in this humour won?

Miss Welsh at length reluctantly agreed to come to start life at Scotsbrig, where his family had migrated; but Carlyle pushed another counter: "Your mother must not visit mine: the mere idea of such a visit argued too plainly that you knew nothing of the family circle in which for my sake you were willing to take a place." It being agreed that Mrs. Welsh was to leave Haddington, where the alliance was palpably unpopular, Carlyle proposed to begin married life in his mother-in-law's vacant house, saying in effect to his fiancee that as for intrusive visitors he had "nerve enough" to kick her old friends out of doors. At this point, however, her complaisance had reached its limit. The bridegroom-elect had to soothe his sense of partial retreat by a scolding letter. As regards difficulties of finance he pointed out that he had L200 to start with, and that a labourer and his wife had been known to live on L14 a year.

On the edge of the great change in her life, Jane Welsh writes, "I am resolved in spirit, in the face of every horrible fate," and says she has decided to put off mourning for her father, having found a second father. Carlyle proposed that after the "dreaded ceremony" he and his bride and his brother John should travel together by the stage-coach from Dumfries to Edinburgh. In "the last dying speech and marrying words" she objects to this arrangement, and after the event (October 17th 1826) they drove in a post-chaise to 21 Comely Bank, where Mrs. Welsh, now herself settled at Templand, had furnished a house for them. Meanwhile the Carlyle family migrated to Scotsbrig. There followed eighteen comparatively tranquil months, an oasis in the wilderness, where the anomalous pair lived in some respects like other people. They had seats in church, and social gatherings—Wednesday "At Homes," to which the celebrity of their brilliant conversational powers attracted the brightest spirits of the northern capital, among them Sir William Hamilton, Sir David Browster, John Wilson, De Quincey, forgiven for his review, and above all Jeffrey, a friend, though of opposite character, nearly as true as Irving himself. Procter had introduced Carlyle to the famous editor, who, as a Scotch cousin of the Welshes, took from the first a keen interest in the still struggling author, and opened to him the door of the Edinburgh Review. The appearance, of the article on Richter, 1827, and that, in the course of the same year, on The State of German Literature, marks the beginning of a long series of splendid historical and critical essays—closing in 1855 with the Prinzenraub—which set Carlyle in the front of the reviewers of the century. The success in the Edinburgh was an "open sesame;" and the conductors of the Foreign and Foreign Quarterly Reviews, later, those of Fraser and the Westminster, were ready to receive whatever the new writer might choose to send.

To the Foreign Review he contributed from Comely Bank the Life and Writings of Werner, a paper on Helena, the leading episode of the second part of "Faust," and the first of the two great Essays on Goethe, which fixed his place as the interpreter of Germany to England. In midsummer 1827 Carlyle received a letter from Goethe cordially acknowledging the Life of Schiller, and enclosing presents of books for himself and his wife. This, followed by a later inquiry as to the author of the article on German Literature, was the opening of a correspondence of sage advice on the one side and of lively gratitude on the other, that lasted till the death of the veteran in 1832. Goethe assisted, or tried to assist, his admirer by giving him a testimonial in a candidature for the Chair (vacant by the promotion of Dr. Chalmers) of Moral Philosophy at St. Andrews. Jeffrey, a frequent visitor and host of the Carlyles, still regarded as "a jewel of advocates ... the most lovable of little men," urged and aided the canvass, but in vain. The testimonials were too strong to be judicious, and "it was enough that" the candidate "was described as a man of original and extraordinary gifts to make college patrons shrink from contact with him." Another failure, about the same date and with the same backing, was an application for a Professorship in London University, practically under the patronage of Brougham; yet another, of a different kind, was Carlyle's attempt to write a novel, which having been found—better before than after publication—to be a failure, was for the most part burnt. "He could not," says Froude, "write a novel any more than he could write poetry. He had no invention."

[Footnote: Carlyle's verses also demonstrate that he had no metrical ear. The only really good lines he ever wrote, save in translations where the rhythm was set to him, are those constantly quoted about the dawn of "another blue day." Those sent to his mother on "Proud Hapsburg," and to Jane Welsh before marriage are unworthy of Macaulay's school-boy, "Non di non homines;" but it took much hammering to persuade Carlyle of the fact, and when persuaded he concluded that verse-writing was a mere tinkling of cymbals!]

"His genius was for fact; to lay hold on truth, with all his intellect and all his imagination. He could no more invent than he could lie."

The remaining incidents of Carlyle's Edinburgh life are few: a visit from his mother; a message from Goethe transmitting a medal for Sir Walter Scott; sums generously sent for his brother John's medical education in Germany; loans to Alexander, and a frustrate scheme for starting a new Annual Register, designed to be a literary resume of the year, make up the record. The "rift in the lute," Carlyle's incapacity for domestic life, was already showing itself. Within the course of an orthodox honeymoon he had begun to shut himself up in interior solitude, seldom saw his wife from breakfast till 4 P.M., when they dined together and read Don Quixote in Spanish. The husband was half forgotten in the author beginning to prophesy: he wrote alone, walked alone, thought alone, and for the most part talked alone, i.e. in monologue that did not wait or care for answer. There was respect, there was affection, but there was little companionship. Meanwhile, despite the Review articles, Carlyle's other works, especially the volumes on German romance, were not succeeding, and the mill had to grind without grist. It seemed doubtful whether he could afford to live in Edinburgh; he craved after greater quiet, and when the farm, which was the main Welsh inheritance, fell vacant, resolved on migrating thither. His wife yielding, though with a natural repugnance to the extreme seclusion in store for her, and the Jeffreys kindly assisting, they went together in May 1828 to the Hill of the Hawks.

Craigenputtock is by no means "the dreariest spot in all the British dominions." On a sunny day it is an inland home, with wide billowy straths of grass around, inestimable silence broken only by the placid bleating of sheep, and the long rolling ridges of the Solway hills in front. But in the "winter wind," girt by drifts of snow, no post or apothecary within fifteen miles, it may be dreary enough. Here Carlyle allowed his wife to serve him through six years of household drudgery; an offence for which he was never quite forgiven, and to estimate its magnitude here seems the proper place. He was a model son and brother, and his conjugal fidelity has been much appraised, but he was as unfit, and for some of the same reasons, to make "a happy fireside clime" as was Jonathan Swift; and less even than Byron had he a share of the mutual forbearance which is essential to the closest of all relations.

"Napoleon," says Emerson, "to achieve his ends risked everything and spared nothing, neither ammunition, nor money, nor troops, nor generals, nor himself." With a slight change of phrase the same may be said of Carlyle's devotion to his work. There is no more prevailing refrain in his writing, public and private, than his denunciation of literature as a profession, nor are there wiser words than those in which the veteran warns the young men, whose questions he answers with touching solicitude, against its adoption. "It should be," he declares, "the wine not the food of life, the ardent spirits of thought and fancy without the bread of action parches up nature and makes strong souls like Byron dangerous, the weak despicable." But it was nevertheless the profession of his deliberate choice, and he soon found himself bound to it as Ixion to his wheel. The most thorough worker on record, he found nothing easy that was great, and he would do nothing little. In his determination to pluck out the heart of the mystery, be it of himself, as in Sartor; of Germany, as in his Goethes and Richters; the state of England, as in Chartism and Past and Present; of Cromwell or of Friedrich, he faced all obstacles and overthrew them. Dauntless and ruthless, he allowed nothing to divert or to mar his designs, least of all domestic cares or even duties. "Selfish he was,"—I again quote from his biographer,—"if it be selfish to be ready to sacrifice every person dependent on him as completely as he sacrificed himself." What such a man wanted was a housekeeper and a nurse, not a wife, and when we consider that he had chosen for the latter companionship a woman almost as ambitious as himself, whose conversation was only less brilliant than his own, of delicate health and dainty ways, loyal to death, but, according to Mr. Froude, in some respects "as hard as flint," with "dangerous sparks of fire," whose quick temper found vent in sarcasms that blistered and words like swords, who could declare during the time of the engagement, to which in spite of warnings manifold she clung, "I will not marry to live on less than my natural and artificial wants"; who, ridiculing his accent to his face and before his friends, could write, "apply your talents to gild over the inequality of our births"; and who found herself obliged to live sixteen miles from the nearest neighbour, to milk a cow, scour floors and mend shoes—when we consider all this we are constrained to admit that the 17th October 1826 was a dies nefastus, nor wonder that thirty years later Mrs. Carlyle wrote, "I married for ambition, Carlyle has exceeded all that my wildest hopes ever imagined of him, and I am miserable,"—and to a young friend, "My dear, whatever you do, never marry a man of genius."

Carlyle's own references to the life at Craigenputtock are marked by all his aggravating inconsistency. "How happy we shall be in this Craig o' Putta," he writes to his wife from Scotsbrig, April 17th 1827; and later to Goethe:—

Here Rousseau would have been as happy as on his island of Saint Pierre. My town friends indeed ascribe my sojourn here to a similar disposition, and forebode me no good results. But I came here solely with the design to simplify my way of life, and to secure the independence through which I could be enabled to be true to myself. This bit of earth is our own; here we can live, write, and think as best pleases ourselves, even though Zoilus himself were to be crowned the monarch of literature. From some of our heights I can descry, about a day's journey to the west, the hill where Agricola and the Romans left a camp behind them. At the foot of it I was born, and there both father and mother still live to love me.... The only piece of any importance that I have written since I came here is an Essay on Burns.

This Essay,—modified at first, then let alone, by Jeffrey,—appeared in the Edinburgh in the autumn of 1828. We turn to Carlyle's journal and find the entry, "Finished a paper on Burns at this Devil's Den," elsewhere referred to as a "gaunt and hungry Siberia." Later still he confesses, when preparing for his final move south, "Of solitude I have really had enough."

Romae Tibur amem ventosus, Tibure Romam.

Carlyle in the moor was always sighing for the town, and in the town for the moor. During the first twenty years of his London life, in what he called "the Devil's oven," he is constantly clamouring to return to the den. His wife, more and more forlorn though ever loyal, consistently disliked it; little wonder, between sluttish maid-servants and owl-like solitude: and she expressed her dislike in the pathetic verses, "To a Swallow Building under our Eaves," sent to Jeffrey in 1832, and ending—

God speed thee, pretty bird; may thy small nest With little ones all in good time be blest; I love thee much For well thou managest that life of thine, While I! Oh, ask not what I do with mine, Would I were such!

The Desert.

The monotony of the moorland life was relieved by visits of relations and others made and repaid, an excursion to Edinburgh, a residence in London, and the production of work, the best of which has a chance of living with the language. One of the most interesting of the correspondences of this period is a series of letters, addressed to an anonymous Edinburgh friend who seems to have had some idea of abandoning his profession of the Law for Literature, a course against which Carlyle strenuously protests. From these letters, which have only appeared in the columns of the Glasgow Herald, we may extract a few sentences:—

Don't disparage the work that gains your bread. What is all work but a drudgery? no labour for the present joyous, but grievous. A man who has nothing to admire except himself is in the minimum state. The question is, Does a man really love Truth, or only the market price of it? Even literary men should have something else to do. Katnes was a lawyer, Roscoe a merchant, Hans Sachs a cobbler, Burns a gauger, etc.

The following singular passage, the style of which suggests an imitation of Sterne, is the acme of unconscious self-satire:—

You are infinitely unjust to Blockheads, as they are called. Ask yourself seriously within your own heart—what right have you to live wisely in God's world, and they not to live a little less wisely? Is there a man more to be condoled with, nay, I will say to be cherished and tenderly treated, than a man that has no brain? My Purse is empty, it can be filled again; the Jew Rothschild could fill it; or I can even live with it very far from full. But, gracious heavens! What is to be done with my empty Head?

Three of the visits of this period are memorable. Two from the Jeffreys (in 1828 and 1830) leave us with the same uncomfortable impression of kindness ungrudgingly bestowed and grudgingly received. Jeffrey had a double interest in the household at Craigenputtock—an almost brotherly regard for the wife, and a belief, restrained by the range of a keen though limited appreciation, in the powers of the husband, to whom he wrote: "Take care of the fair creature who has entrusted herself so entirely to you," and with a half truth, "You have no mission upon earth, whatever you may fancy, half so important as to be innocently happy." And again: "Bring your blooming Eve out of your blasted Paradise, and seek shelter in the lower world." But Carlyle held to the "banner with a strange device," and was either deaf or indignant. The visits passed, with satirical references from both host and hostess; for Mrs. Carlyle, who could herself abundantly scoff and scold, would allow the liberty to no one else. Jeffrey meanwhile was never weary of well-doing. Previous to his promotion as Lord Advocate and consequent transference to London, he tried to negotiate for Carlyle's appointment as his successor in the editorship of the Review, but failed to make him accept the necessary conditions. The paper entitled Signs of the Times was the last production that he had to revise for his eccentric friend. Those following on Taylor's German Literature and the Characteristics were brought out in 1831 under the auspices of Macvey Napier. The other visit was from the most illustrious of Carlyle's English-speaking friends, in many respects a fellow-worker, yet "a spirit of another sort," and destined, though a transcendental mystic, to be the most practical of his benefactors. Twenty-four hours of Ralph Waldo Emerson (often referred to in the course of a long and intimate correspondence) are spoken of by Mrs. Carlyle as a visit from the clouds, brightening the prevailing gray. He came to the remote inland home with "the pure intellectual gleam" of which Hawthorne speaks, and "the quiet night of clear fine talk" remained one of the memories which led Carlyle afterwards to say, "Perhaps our happiest days were spent at the Craig." Goethe's letters, especially that in which he acknowledges a lock of Mrs. Carlyle's hair, "eine unvergleichliche schwarze Haar locke," were also among the gleams of 1829. The great German died three years later, after receiving the birthday tribute, in his 82nd year, from English friends; and it is pleasant to remember that in this instance the disciple was to the end loyal to his master. To this period belong many other correspondences. "I am scribble scribbling," he says in a letter of 1832, and mere scribbling may fill many pages with few headaches; but Carlyle wrestled as he wrote, and not a page of those marvellous Miscellanies but is red with his life's blood. Under all his reviewing, he was set on a work whose fortunes were to be the strangest, whose result was, in some respects, the widest of his efforts. The plan of Sartor Resartus is far from original. Swift's Tale of a Tub distinctly anticipates the Clothes Philosophy; there are besides manifest obligations to Reinecke Fuchs, Jean Paul Richter, and other German authors: but in our days originality is only possible in the handling; Carlyle has made an imaginary German professor the mere mouthpiece of his own higher aspirations and those of the Scotland of his day, and it remains the most popular as surely as his Friedrich is the greatest of his works. The author was abundantly conscious of the value of the book, and super-abundantly angry at the unconsciousness of the literary patrons of the time. In 1831 he resolved if possible to go up to London to push the prospects of this first-born male child. The res angusta stood in the way. Jeffrey, after asking his friend "what situation he could get him that he would detest the least," pressed on him "in the coolest, lightest manner the use of his purse." This Carlyle, to the extent of L50 as a loan (carefully returned), was induced ultimately to accept. It has been said that "proud men never wholly forgive those to whom they feel themselves obliged," but their resenting benefits is the worst feature of their pride. Carlyle made his second visit to London to seek types for Sartor, in vain. Always preaching reticence with the sound of artillery, he vents in many pages the rage of his chagrin at the "Arimaspian" publishers, who would not print his book, and the public which, "dosed with froth," would not buy it. The following is little softened by the chiaroscuro of five-and-thirty years:—

Done, I think, at Craigenputtock between January and August 1830, Teufelsdroeckh was ready, and I decided to make for London; night before going, how I remember it.... The beggarly history of poor Sartor among the blockheadisms is not worth recording or remembering, least of all here! In short, finding that I had got L100 (if memory serve) for Schiller six or seven years before, and for Sartor, at least twice as good, I could not only not get L200, but even get no Murray or the like to publish it on half profits. Murray, a most stupendous object to me, tumbling about eyeless, with the evidently strong wish to say "Yes" and "No,"—my first signal experience of that sad human predicament. I said, We will make it "No," then; wrap up our MS., and carry it about for some two years from one terrified owl to another; published at last experimentally in Fraser, and even then mostly laughed at, nothing coming of the volume except what was sent by Emerson from America.

This summary is unfair to Murray, who was inclined, on Jeffrey's recommendation, to accept the book; but on finding that Carlyle had carried the MS. to Longmans and another publisher, in hopes of a better bargain, and that it had been refused, naturally wished to refer the matter to his "reader," and the negotiation closed. _Sartor_ struggled into half life in parts of the Magazine to which the writer had already contributed several of his German essays, and it was even then published with reluctance, and on half pay. The reception of this work, a nondescript, yet among the finest prose poems in our language, seemed to justify bookseller, editor, and readers alike, for the British public in general were of their worst opinion. "It is a heap of clotted nonsense," pronounced the _Sun_. "Stop that stuff or stop my paper," wrote one of _Fraser's_ constituents. "When is that stupid series of articles by the crazy tailor going to end?" cried another. At this time Carlyle used to say there were only two people who found anything in his book worth reading—Emerson and a priest in Cork, who said to the editor that he would take the magazine when anything in it appeared by the author of _Sartor_. The volume was only published in 1838, by Saunders and Otley, after the _French Revolution_ had further raised the writer's name, and then on a guarantee from friends willing to take the risk of loss. It does not appear whether Carlyle refers to this edition or to some slighter reissue of the magazine articles when he writes in the _Reminiscences: "I sent off six copies to six Edinburgh literary friends, from not one of whom did I get the smallest whisper even of receipt—a thing disappointing more or loss to human nature, and which has silently and insensibly led me never since to send any copy of a book to Edinburgh.... The plebs of literature might be divided in their verdicts about me; though by count of heads I always suspect the guilty clear had it; but the conscript fathers declined to vote at all."

[Footnote: Tempora mutantur. A few months before Carlyle's death a cheap edition of Sartor was issued, and 30,000 copies were sold within a few weeks.]

In America Sartor was pieced together from Fraser, published in a volume introduced by Alexander Everett, extolled by Emerson as "A criticism of the spirit of the age in which we live; exhibiting in the most just and novel light the present aspect of religion, politics, literature, and social life." The editors add: "We believe no book has been published for many years ... which discovers an equal mastery over all the riches of the language. The author makes ample amends for the occasional eccentricity of his genius not only by frequent bursts of pure splendour, but by the wit and sense which never fail him."

Americans are intolerant of honest criticism on themselves; but they are, more than any other nation, open to appreciate vigorous expressions of original views of life and ethics—all that we understand by philosophy—and equally so to new forms of art. The leading critics of the New England have often been the first and best testers of the fresh products of the Old. A land of experiment in all directions, ranging from Mount Lebanon to Oneida Creek, has been ready to welcome the suggestions, physical or metaphysical, of startling enterprise. Ideas which filter slowly through English soil and abide for generations, flash over the electric atmosphere of the West. Hence Coleridge, Carlyle and Browning were already accepted as prophets in Boston, while their own countrymen were still examining their credentials. To this readiness, as of a photographic plate, to receive, must be added the fact that the message of Sartor crossed the Atlantic when the hour to receive it had struck. To its publication has been attributed the origin of a movement that was almost simultaneously inaugurated by Emerson's Harvard Discourse. It was a revolt against the reign of Commerce in practice, Calvinism in theory, and precedent in Art that gave birth to the Transcendentalism of The Dial—a Pantheon in which Carlyle had at once assigned to him a place. He meanwhile was busy in London making friends by his conspicuous, almost obtrusive, genius, and sowing the seeds of discord by his equally obtrusive spleen. To his visit of 1831-1832 belongs one of the worst of the elaborate invectives against Lamb which have recoiled on the memory of his critic—to the credit of English sympathies with the most lovable of slightly erring men—with more than the force of a boomorang. A sheaf of sharp sayings of the same date owe their sting to their half truth, e.g. to a man who excused himself for profligate journalism on the old plea, "I must live, sir." "No, sir, you need not live, if your body cannot be kept together without selling your soul." Similarly he was abusing the periodicals—"mud," "sand," and "dust magazines"—to which he had contributed, inter alia, the great Essay on Voltaire and the consummate sketch of Novalis; with the second paper on Richler to the Foreign Review, the reviews of History and of Schiller to Fraser, and that on Goethe's Works to the Foreign Quarterly. During this period he was introduced to Molesworth, Austin, and J.S. Mill. On his summons, October 1st 1832, Mrs. Carlyle came up to Ampton Street, where he then resided, to see him safe through the rest of his London time. They lamented over the lapse of Irving, now lost in the delirium of tongues, and made a league of friendship with Mill, whom he describes as "a partial disciple of mine," a friendship that stood a hard test, but was broken when the author of Liberty naturally found it impossible to remain a disciple of the writer of Latter-Day Pamphlets. Mill, like Napier, was at first staggered by the Characteristics, though he afterwards said it was one of Carlyle's greatest works, and was enthusiastic over the review of Boswell's Johnson, published in Fraser in the course of this year. Meanwhile Margaret, Carlyle's favourite sister, had died, and his brightest, Jean, "the Craw," had married her cousin, James Aitken. In memory of the former he wrote as a master of threnody: to the bridegroom of the latter he addressed a letter reminding him of the duties of a husband, "to do as he would be done by to his wife"! In 1832 John, again by Jeffrey's aid, obtained a situation at L300 a year as travelling physician to Lady Clare, and was enabled, as he promptly did, to pay back his debts. Alexander seems to have been still struggling with an imperfectly successful farm. In the same year, when Carlyle was in London, his father died at Scotsbrig, after a residence there of six years. His son saw him last in August 1831, when, referring to his Craigenputtock solitude, he said: "Man, it's surely a pity that thou shouldst sit yonder with nothing but the eye of Omniscience to see thee, and thou with such a gift to speak."

The Carlyles returned in March, she to her domestic services, baking bread, preserving eggs, and brightening grates till her eyes grew dim; he to work at his Diderot, doing justice to a character more alien to his own than even Voltaire's, reading twenty-five volumes, one per day, to complete the essay; then at Count Cagliostro, also for Fraser, a link between his last Craigenputtock and his first London toils. The period is marked by shoals of letters, a last present from Weimar, a visit to Edinburgh, and a candidature for a University Chair, which Carlyle thought Jeffrey could have got for him; but the advocate did not, probably could not, in this case satisfy his client. In excusing himself he ventured to lecture the applicant on what he imagined to be the impracticable temper and perverse eccentricity which had retarded and might continue to retard his advancement.

[Footnote: The last was in 1836, for the Chair of Astronomy in Glasgow.]

Carlyle, never tolerant of rebuke however just, was indignant, and though an open quarrel was avoided by letters, on both sides, of courteous compromise, the breach was in reality never healed, and Jeffrey has a niche in the Reminiscences as a "little man who meant well but did not see far or know much." Carlyle went on, however, like Thor, at the Diamond Necklace, which is a proem to the French Revolution, but inly growling, "My own private impression is that I shall never get any promotion in this world." "A prophet is not readily acknowledged in his own country"; "Mein Leben geht sehr uebel: all dim, misty, squally, disheartening at times, almost heartbreaking." This is the prose rather than the male of Byron. Of all men Carlyle could least reek his own rede. He never even tried to consume his own smoke. His Sartor is indeed more contained, and takes at its summit a higher flight than Rousseau's Confessions, or the Sorrows of Werther, or the first two cantos of Childe Harold: but reading Byron's letters is mingling with a world gay and grave; reading Goethe's walking in the Parthenon, though the Graces in the niches are sometimes unclad; reading Carlyle's is travelling through glimpses of sunny fields and then plunging into coal black tunnels. At last he decided, "Puttock is no longer good for me," and his brave wife approving, and even inciting, he resolved to burn his ships and seek his fortune sink or swim—in the metropolis. Carlyle, for once taking the initiative of practical trouble, went in advance on a house-hunt to London, and by advice of Leigh Hunt fixed on the now famous house in Chelsea near the Thames.




The curtain falls on Craigenputtock, the bleak farm by the bleak hills, and rises on Cheyne Row, a side street off the river Thames, that winds, as slowly as Cowper's Ouse, by the reaches of Barnes and Battersea, dotted with brown-sailed ships and holiday boats in place of the excursion steamers that now stop at Carlyle Pier; hard by the Carlyle Statue on the new (1874) Embankment, in front the "Carlyle mansions," a stone's-throw from "Carlyle Square." Turning up the row, we find over No. 24, formerly No. 5, the Carlyle medallion in marble, marking the house where the Chelsea prophet, rejected, recognised, and adulated of men, lived over a stretch of forty-seven years. Here were his headquarters, but he was a frequent wanderer. About half the time was occupied in trips almost yearly to Scotland, one to Ireland, one to Belgium, one to France, and two to Germany; besides, in the later days, constant visits to admiring friends, more and more drawn from the higher ranks in English society, the members of which learnt to appreciate his genius before he found a hearing among the mass of the people.

The whole period falls readily under four sections, marking as many phases of the author's outer and inner life, while the same character is preserved throughout:—

I. 1834-1842—When the death of Mrs. Welsh and the late success of Carlyle's work relieved him from a long, sometimes severe, struggle with narrow means. It is the period of the French Revolution, The Lectures, and Hero-Worship, and of Chartism, the last work with a vestige of adherence to the Radical creed.

II. 1842-1853—When the death of his mother loosened his ties to the North. This decade of his literary career is mainly signalised by the writing and publication of the Life and Letters of Cromwell, of Carlyle's political works, Past and Present and the Latter-Day Pamphlets, and of the Life of Sterling, works which mark his now consummated disbelief in democracy, and his distinct abjuration of adherence, in any ordinary sense, to the "Creed of Christendom."

III. 1853-1866—When the laurels of his triumphant speech as Lord Rector at Edinburgh were suddenly withered by the death of his wife. This period is filled with the History of Friedrick II., and marked by a yet more decidedly accentuated trust in autocracy.

IV. 1866-1881.—Fifteen years of the setting of the sun.

The Carlyles, coming to the metropolis in a spirit of rarely realised audacity on a reserve fund of from L200 to L300 at most, could not propose to establish themselves in any centre of fashion. In their circumstances their choice of abode was on the whole a fortunate one. Chelsea,

Not wholly in the busy world, nor quite Beyond it,

was, even in those days of less constant communication, within measurable distance of the centres of London life: it had then and still preserves a host of interesting historic and literary traditions. Among the men who in old times lived or met together in that outlying region of London, we have memories of Sir Thomas More and of Erasmus, of the Essayists Addison and Steele, and of Swift. Hard by is the tomb of Bolingbroke and the Square of Sir Hans Sloane; Smollett lived for a time in Laurence Street; nearer our own day, Turner resided in Cheyne Walk, later George Eliot, W.B. Scott, Dante Rossetti, Swinburne for a season, and George Meredith. When Carlyle came to settle there, Leigh Huntin Upper Cheyne Row, an almost next-door neighbour, was among the first of a series of visitors; always welcome, despite his "hugger-mugger" household and his borrowing tendencies, his "unpractical messages" and "rose-coloured reform processes," as a bright "singing bird, musical in flowing talk," abounding in often subtle criticisms and constant good humour. To the Chelsea home, since the Mecca of many pilgrims, there also flocked other old Ampton Street friends, drawn thither by genuine regard, Mrs. Carlyle, by the testimony of Miss Cushman and all competent judges, was a "raconteur unparalleled." To quote the same authority, "that wonderful woman, able to live in the full light of Carlyle's genius without being overwhelmed by it," had a peculiar skill in drawing out the most brilliant conversationalist of the age. Burns and Wilson were his Scotch predecessors in an art of which the close of our century—when every fresh thought is treasured to be printed and paid for—knows little but the shadow. Of Carlyle, as of Johnson, it might have been said, "There is no use arguing with him, for if his pistol misses fire he knocks you down with the butt": both men would have benefited by revolt from their dictation, but the power to contradict either was overborne by a superior power to assert. Swift's occasional insolence, in like manner, prevailed by reason of the colossal strength that made him a Gulliver in Lilliput. Carlyle in earlier, as in later times, would have been the better of meeting his mate, or of being overmatched; but there was no Wellington found for this "grand Napoleon of the realms" of prose. His reverence for men, if not for things, grew weaker with the strengthening of his sway, a sway due to the fact that men of extensive learning are rarely men of incisive force, and Carlyle—in this respect more akin to Johnson than to Swift—had the acquired material to serve as fuel for the inborn fire. Hence the least satisfactory of his criticisms are those passed on his peers. Injustices of conversation should be pardoned to an impulsive nature, even those of correspondence in the case of a man who had a mania for pouring out his moods to all and sundry; but where Carlyle has carefully recarved false estimates in cameo, his memory must abide the consequence. Quite late in life, referring to the Chelsea days, he says, "The best of those who then flocked about us was Leigh Hunt," who never seriously said him nay; "and the worst Lamb," who was not among the worshippers. No one now doubts that Carlyle's best adviser and most candid critic might have been John Stuart Mill, for whom he long felt as much regard as it was possible for him to entertain towards a proximate equal. The following is characteristic: "He had taken a great attachment to me (which lasted about ten years and then suddenly ended, I never knew how), an altogether clear, logical, honest, amicable, affectionate young man, and respected as such here, though sometimes felt to be rather colourless, even aqueous, no religion in any form traceable in him." And similarly of his friend, Mrs. Taylor, "She was a will-o'-the- wispish iridescence of a creature; meaning nothing bad either"; and again of Mill himself, "His talk is sawdustish, like ale when there is no wine to be had." Such criticisms, some ungrateful, others unjust, may be relieved by reference to the close of two friendships to which (though even these were clouded by a touch of personal jealousy) he was faithful in the main; for the references of both husband and wife to Irving's "delirations" are the tears due to the sufferings of errant minds. Their last glimpse of this best friend of earlier days was in October 1834, when he came on horseback to the door of their new home, and left with the benediction to his lost Jane, "You have made a little Paradise around you." He died in Glasgow in December of the same year, and his memory is pathetically embalmed in Carlyle's threnody. The final phases of another old relationship were in some degree similar. During the first years of their settlement, Lord Jeffrey frequently called at Cheyne Row, and sent kind letters to his cousin, received by her husband with the growl, "I am at work stern and grim, not to be interrupted by Jeffrey's theoretic flourish of epistolary trumpeting." Carlyle, however, paid more than one visit to Craigcrook, seeing his host for the last time in the autumn of 1849, "worn in body and thin in mind," "grown lunar now and not solar any more." Three months later he heard of the death of this benefactor of his youth, and wrote the memorial which finds its place in the second volume of the Reminiscences.

[Footnote: Cf. Byron's account of the same household at Pisa. Carlyle deals very leniently with the malignant volume on Byron which amply justified the epigram of Moore. But he afterwards spoke more slightly of his little satellite, attributing the faint praise, in the Examiner, of the second course of lectures to Hunt's jealousy of a friend now "beginning to be somebody."]

The work "stern and grim" was the French Revolution, the production of which is the dominant theme of the first chapter of Carlyle's London life. Mr. Froude, in the course of an estimate of this work which leaves little room for other criticism, dwells on the fact that it was written for a purpose, i.e. to show that rulers, like those of the French in the eighteenth century, who are solely bent on the pleasures and oblivious of the duties of life, must end by being "burnt up." This, doubtless, is one of the morals of the French Revolution—the other being that anarchy ends in despotism—and unquestionably a writer who never ceased to be a preacher must have had it in his mind. But Carlyle's peculiarity is that he combined the functions of a prophet and of an artist, and that while now the one, now the other, was foremost, he never wholly forgot the one in the other. In this instance he found a theme well fit for both, and threw his heart into it, though under much discouragement. Despite the Essays, into each of which he had put work enough for a volume, the Reviews were shy of him; while his Sartor had, on this side of the Atlantic, been received mainly with jeers. Carlyle, never unconscious of his prerogative and apostolic primogeniture, felt like an aspirant who had performed his vigils, and finding himself still ignored, became a knight of the rueful countenance. Thoroughly equipped, adept enough in ancient tongues to appreciate Homer, a master of German and a fluent reader of French, a critic whose range stretched from Diderot to John Knox, he regarded his treatment as "tragically hard," exclaiming, "I could learn to do all things I have seen done, and am forbidden to try any of them." The efforts to keep the wolf from his own doors were harder than any but a few were till lately aware of. Landed in London with his L200 reserve, he could easily have made way in the usual ruts; but he would have none of them, and refused to accept the employment which is the most open, as it is the most lucrative, to literary aspirants. To nine out of ten the "profession of literature" means Journalism; while Journalism often means dishonesty, always conformity. Carlyle was, in a sense deeper than that of the sects, essentially a nonconformist; he not only disdained to write a word he did not believe, he would not suppress a word he did believe—a rule of action fatal to swift success. During these years there began an acquaintance, soon ripening into intimacy, the memories of which are enshrined in one of the most beautiful of biographies. Carlyle's relation to John Sterling drew out the sort of affection which best suited him—the love of a master for a pupil, of superior for inferior, of the benefactor for the benefited; and consequently there is no line in the record of it that jars. Sterling once tried to benefit his friend, and perhaps fortunately failed. He introduced Carlyle to his father, then the chief writer in the Times, and the Editor invited the struggling author to contribute to its columns, but, according to Mr. Froude, "on the implied conditions ... when a man enlists in the army, his soul as well as his body belong to his commanding officer." Carlyle talked, all his life, about what his greatest disciple calls "The Lamp of Obedience"; but he himself would obey no one, and found it hard to be civil to those who did not see with his eyes. Ho rejected—we trust in polite terms—the offer of "the Thunderer." "In other respects also," says our main authority, "he was impracticable, unmalleable, and as independent and wilful as if he were the heir to a peerage. He had created no 'public' of his own; the public which existed could not understand his writings and would not buy them; and thus it was that in Cheyne Row he was more neglected than he had been in Scotland." Welcome to a limited range of literary society, he astonished and amused by his vehement eloquence, but when crossed he was not only "sarcastic" but rude, and speaking of people, as he wrote of them, with various shades of contempt, naturally gave frequent offence. Those whose toes are trodden on, not by accident, justifiably retaliate. "Are you looking for your t-t-turban?" Charles Lamb is reported to have said in some entertainer's lobby after listening for an evening to Carlyle's invectives, and the phrase may have rankled in his mind. Living in a glass case, while throwing stones about, super-sensitive to criticism though professing to despise critics, he made at least as many enemies as friends, and by his own confession became an Ishmaelite. In view of the reception of Sartor, we do not wonder to find him writing in 1833—

It is twenty-three months since I earned a penny by the craft of literature, and yet I know no fault I have committed.... I am tempted to go to America.... I shall quit literature, it does not invite me. Providence warns me to have done with it. I have failed in the Divine Infernal Universe;

or meditating, when at the lowest ebb, to go wandering about the world like Teufelsdroeckh, looking for a rest for the sole of his foot. And yet all the time, with incomparable naivete, he was asserting:—

The longer I live among this people the deeper grows my feeling of natural superiority to them.... The literary world here is a thing which I have no other course left me but to defy.... I can reverence no existing man. With health and peace for one year, I could write a better book than there has been in this country for generations.

All through his journal and his correspondence there is a perpetual alternation of despair and confidence, always closing with the refrain, "Working, trying is the only remover of doubt," and wise counsels often echoed from Goethe, "Accomplish as well as you can the task on hand, and the next step will become clear;" on the other hand—A man must not only be able to work but to give over working.... If a man wait till he has entirely brushed off his imperfections, he will spin for ever on his axis, advancing no whither.... The French Revolution stands pretty fair in my head, nor do I mean to investigate much more about it, but to splash down what I know in large masses of colours, that it may look like a smoke-and-flame conflagration in the distance.

The progress of this work was retarded by the calamity familiar to every reader, but it must be referred to as throwing one of the finest lights on Carlyle's character. His closest intellectual link with J.S. Mill was their common interest in French politics and literature; the latter, himself meditating a history of the Revolution, not only surrendered in favour of the man whose superior pictorial genius he recognised, but supplied him freely with the books he had accumulated for the enterprise. His interest in the work was unfortunately so great as to induce him to borrow the MS. of the first volume, completed in the early spring of 1835, and his business habits so defective as to permit him to lend it without authority; so that, as appears, it was left lying about by Mrs. Taylor and mistaken by her servant for waste paper: certainly it was destroyed; and Mill came to Cheyne Row to announce the fact in such a desperate state of mind that Carlyle's first anxiety seems to have been to console his friend. According to Mrs. Carlyle, as reported by Froude, "the first words her husband uttered as the door closed were, 'Well, Mill, poor fellow, is terribly cut up; we must endeavour to hide from him how very serious this business is to us.'" This trait of magnanimity under the first blow of a disaster which seemed to cancel the work of years should be set against his nearly contemporaneous criticisms of Coleridge, Lamb, Wordsworth, Sydney Smith, Macaulay, etc.

[Footnote: Carlyle had only been writing the volume for five months; but he was preparing for it during much of his life at Craigenputtock.]

Mill sent a cheque of L200 as "the slightest external compensation" for the loss, and only, by urgent entreaty, procured the acceptance of half the sum. Carlyle here, as in every real emergency, bracing his resolve by courageous words, as "never tine heart or get provoked heart," set himself to re-write the volume with an energy that recalls that of Scott rebuilding his ruined estate; but the work was at first so "wretched" that it had to be laid aside for a season, during which the author wisely took a restorative bath of comparatively commonplace novels. The re-writing of the first volume was completed in September 1835; the whole book in January 1837. The mood in which it was written throws a light on the excellences as on the defects of the history. The Reminiscences again record the gloom and defiance of "Thomas the Doubter" walking through the London streets "with a feeling similar to Satan's stepping the burning marl," and scowling at the equipages about Hyde Park Corner, sternly thinking, "Yes, and perhaps none of you could do what I am at. I shall finish this book, throw it at your feet, buy a rifle and spade, and withdraw to the Transatlantic wilderness." In an adjacent page he reports himself as having said to his wife—

What they will do with this book none knows, my lass; but they have not had for two hundred years any book that came more truly from a man's very heart, and so let them trample it under foot and hoof as they see best.... "They cannot trample that," she would cheerily answer.

This passage points at once to the secret of the writer's spell and to the limits of his lasting power. His works were written seldom with perfect fairness, never with the dry light required for a clear presentation of the truth; they have all "an infusion from the will and the affections"; but they were all written with a whole sincerity and utter fervour; they rose from his hot heart, and rushed through the air "like rockets druv' by their own burnin'." Consequently his readers confess that he has never forgot the Horatian maxim—

Si vis me flere, dolendum est Primum ipsi tibi.

About this time Carlyle writes, "My friends think I have found the art of living upon nothing," and there must, despite Mill's contribution, have been "bitter thrift" in Cheyne REow during the years 1835-1837. He struggled through the unremunerative interval of waiting for the sale of a great work by help of fees derived from his essay on the Diamond Necklace (which, after being refused by the Foreign Quarterly, appeared in Fraser, 1837), that on Mirabeau in the Westminster, and in the following year, for the same periodical, the article on Sir Walter Scott. To the last work, undertaken against the grain, he refers in one of the renewed wails of the year: "O that literature had never been devised. I am scourged back to it by the whip of necessity." The circumstance may account for some of the manifest defects of one of the least satisfactory of Carlyle's longer' reviews. Frequent references in previous letters show that he never appreciated Scott, to whom he refers as a mere Restaurateur.

Meanwhile the appearance of the French Revolution had brought the name of its author, then in his forty-third year, for the first time prominently before the public. It attracted the attention of Thackeray, who wrote a generous review in the Times, of Southey, Jeffrey, Macaulay, Hallam, and Brougham, who recognised the advent of an equal, if sometimes an adverse power in the world of letters. But, though the book established his reputation, the sale was slow, and for some years the only substantial profits, amounting to about L400, came from America, through the indefatigable activity and good management of Emerson. It is pleasant to note a passage in the interesting volumes of their Correspondence which shows that in this instance the benefited understood his financial relation to the benefactor: "A reflection I cannot but make is that, at bottom, this money was all yours; not a penny of it belonged to me by any law except that of helpful friend-ship.... I could not examine it (the account) without a kind of crime." Others who, at this period, made efforts to assist "the polar Bear" were less fortunate. In several instances good intentions paved the palace of Momus, and in one led a well-meaning man into a notoriously false position. Mr. Basil Montagu being in want of a private secretary offered the post to his former guest, as a temporary makeshift, at a salary of L200, and so brought upon his memory a torrent of contempt. Undeterred by this and similar warnings, the indefatigable philanthropist, Miss Harriet Martineau, who at first conciliated the Carlyles by her affection for "this side of the street," and was afterwards an object of their joint ridicule, conceived the idea of organising a course of lectures to an audience collected by canvass to hoar the strange being from the moors talk for an hour on end about literature, morals, and history. He was then an object of curiosity to those who knew anything about him at all, and lecturing was at that time a lucrative and an honourable employment. The "good Harriet," so called by Cheyne Row in its condescending mood, aided by other kind friends of the Sterling and Mill circles—the former including Frederick Denison Maurice—made so great a success of the enterprise that it was thrice repeated. The first course of six lectures on "German Literature," May 1837, delivered in Willis's Rooms, realised L135; the second of twelve, on the "History of European Literature," at 17 Edward Street, Portman Square, had a net result of L300; the third, in the same rooms, on "Revolutions," brought L200; the fourth, on "Heroes," the same. In closing this course Carlyle appeared for the last time on a public platform until 1866, when he delivered his Inaugural Address as Lord Rector to the students of Edinburgh. The impression he produced on his unusually select audiences was that of a man of genius, but roughly clad. The more superficial auditors had a new sensation, those who came to stare remained to wonder; the more reflective felt that they had learnt something of value. Carlyle had no inconsiderable share of the oratorical power which he latterly so derided; he was able to speak from a few notes; but there were comments more or less severe on his manner and style. J. Grant, in his Portraits of Public Characters, says: "At times he distorts his features as if suddenly seized by some paroxysm of pain ... he makes mouths; he has a harsh accent and graceless gesticulation." Leigh Hunt, in the Examiner, remarks on the lecturer's power of extemporising; but adds that he often touches only the mountain-tops of the subject, and that the impression left was as if some Puritan had come to life again, liberalised by German philosophy. Bunsen, present at one of the lectures, speaks of the striking and rugged thoughts thrown at people's heads; and Margaret Fuller, afterwards Countess Ossoli, referred to his arrogance redeemed by "the grandeur of a Siegfried melting down masses of iron into sunset red." Carlyle's own comments are for the most part slighting. He refers to his lectures as a mixture of prophecy and play-acting, and says that when about to open his course on "Heroes" he felt like a man going to be hanged. To Emerson, April 17th 1839, he writes :—

My lectures come on this day two weeks. O heaven! I cannot "speak"; I can only gasp and writhe and stutter, a spectacle to gods and fashionables,—being forced to it by want of money. In five weeks I shall be free, and then—! Shall it be Switzerland? shall it be Scotland? nay, shall it be America and Concord?

Emerson had written about a Boston publication of the Miscellanies (first there collected), and was continually urging his friend to emigrate and speak to more appreciative audiences in the States; but the London lectures, which had, with the remittances from over sea, practically saved Carlyle from ruin or from exile, had made him decide "to turn his back to the treacherous Syren"—the temptation to sink into oratory. Mr. Froude's explanation and defence of this decision may be clenched by a reference to the warning his master had received. He had announced himself as a preacher and a prophet, and been taken at his word; but similarly had Edward Irving, who for a season of sun or glamour gathered around him the same crowd and glitter: the end came; twilight and clouds of night. Fashion had flocked to the sermons of the elder Annandale youth—as to the recitatives of the younger—to see a wild man of the woods and hear him sing; but the novelty gone, they passed on" to Egyptian crocodiles, Iroquois hunters," and left him stranded with "unquiet fire" and "flaccid face." "O foulest Circaean draft," exclaimed his old admirer in his fine dirge, "thou poison of popular applause, madness is in thee and death, thy end is Bedlam and the grave," and with the fixed resolve, "De me fabula non narrabitur," he shut the book on this phase of his life.

The lectures on "Hero-Worship" (a phrase taken from Hume) were published in 1841, and met with considerable success, the name of the writer having then begun to run "like wildfire through London." At the close of the previous year he had published his long pamphlet on Chartism, it having proved unsuitable for its original destination as an article in the Quarterly. Here first he clearly enunciates, "Might is right"—one of the few strings on which, with all the variations of a political Paganini, he played through life. This tract is on the border line between the old modified Radicalism of Sartor and the less modified Conservatism of his later years. In 1840 Carlyle still speaks of himself as a man foiled; but at the close of that year all fear of penury was over, and in the following he was able to refuse a Chair of History at Edinburgh, as later another at St. Andrews. Meanwhile his practical power and genuine zeal for the diffusion of knowledge appeared in his foundation of the London Library, which brought him into more or less close contact with Tennyson, Milman, Forster, Helps, Spedding, Gladstone, and other leaders of the thought and action of the time.

There is little in Carlyle's life at any time that can be called eventful. From first to last it was that of a retired scholar, a thinker demanding sympathy while craving after solitude, and the frequent inconsistency of the two requirements was the source of much of his unhappiness. Our authorities for all that we do not see in his published works are found in his voluminous correspondence, copious autobiographical jottings, and the three volumes of his wife's letters and journal dating from the commencement of the struggle for recognition in London, and extending to the year of her death. Criticism of these remarkable documents, the theme of so much controversy, belongs rather to a life of Mrs. Carlyle; but a few salient facts may here be noted. It appears on the surface that husband and wife had in common several marked peculiarities; on the intellectual side they had not only an extraordinary amount but the same kind of ability, superhumanly keen insight, and wonderful power of expression, both with tongue and pen; the same intensity of feeling, thoroughness, and courage to look the ugliest truths full in the face; in both, these high qualities were marred by a tendency to attribute the worst motives to almost every one. Their joint contempt for all whom they called "fools," i.e. the immense majority of mankind, was a serious drawback to the pleasure of their company. It is indeed obvious that, whether or not it be correct to say that "his nature was the soft one, her's the hard," Mrs. Carlyle was the severer cynic of the two. Much of her writing confirms the impression of those who have heard her talk that no one, not even her husband, was safe from the shafts of her ridicule. Her pride in his genius knew no bounds, and it is improbable that she would have tolerated from any outsider a breath of adverse criticism; but she herself claimed many liberties she would not grant. She was clannish as Carlyle himself, yet even her relations are occasionally made to appear ridiculous. There was nothing in her affections, save her memory of her own father, corresponding to his devotion to his whole family. With equal penetration and greater scorn, she had no share of his underlying reverence. Such limited union as was granted to her married life had only soured the mocking-bird spirit of the child that derided her grandfather's accent on occasion of his bringing her back from a drive by another route to "varry the shane."

Carlyle's constant wailings take from him any claim to such powers of endurance as might justify his later attacks on Byron. But neither had his wife any real reticence. Whenever there were domestic troubles—flitting, repairing, building, etc., on every occasion of clamour or worry, he, with scarce pardonable oblivion of physical delicacy greater than his own, went off, generally to visit distinguished friends, and left behind him the burden and the heat of the day. She performed her unpleasant work and all associated duties with a practical genius that he complimented as "triumphant." She performed them, ungrudgingly perhaps, but never without complaint; her invariable practice was to endure and tell. "Quelle vie," she writes in 1837 to John Sterling, whom she seems to have really liked, "let no woman who values peace of soul ever marry an author"; and again to the same in 1839, "Carlyle had to sit on a jury two days, to the ruin of his whole being, physical, moral, and intellectual," but "one gets to feel a sort of indifference to his growling." Conspicuous exceptions, as in the case of the Shelleys, the Dobells, and the Brownings, have been seen, within or almost within our memories, but as a rule it is a risk for two supersensitive and nervous people to live together: when they are sensitive in opposite ways the alliance is fatal; fortunately the Carlyles were, in this respect, in the main sympathetic. With most of the household troubles which occupy so exaggerated a space in the letters and journals of both—papering, plastering, painting, deceitful or disorderly domestics—general readers have so little concern that they have reason to resent the number of pages wasted in printing them; but there was one common grievance of wider and more urgent interest, to which we must here again finally refer, premising that it affected not one period but the whole of their lives, i.e. their constant, only half-effectual struggle with the modern Hydra-headed Monster, the reckless and needless Noises produced or permitted, sometimes increased rather than suppressed, by modern civilisation. Mrs. Carlyle suffered almost as much as her husband from these murderers of sleep and assassins of repose; on her mainly fell the task of contending with the cochin-chinas, whose senseless shrieks went "through her like a sword," of abating a "Der Freischuetz of cats," or a pandemonium of barrel organs, of suppressing macaws for which Carryle "could neither think nor live"; now mitigating the scales on a piano, now conjuring away, by threat or bribe, from their neighbours a shoal of "demon fowls"; lastly of superintending the troops of bricklayers, joiners, iron-hammerers employed with partial success to convert the top story of 5 Cheyne Row into a sound-proof room. Her hard-won victories in this field must have agreeably added to the sense of personality to which she resolutely clung. Her assertion, "Instead of boiling up individuals into the species, I would draw a chalk circle round every individuality," is the essence of much of her mate's philosophy; but, in the following to Sterling, she somewhat bitterly protests against her own absorption: "In spite of the honestest efforts to annihilate my I—-ity or merge it in what the world doubtless considers my better half, I still find myself a self-subsisting, and, alas, self-seeking me."

The ever-restive consciousness of being submerged is one of the dominant notes of her journal, the other is the sense of being even within the circle unrecognised. "C. is a domestic wandering Jew.... When he is at work I hardly ever see his face from breakfast to dinner."... "Poor little wretch that I am, ... I feel as if I were already half-buried ... in some intermediate state between the living and the dead.... Oh, so lonely." These are among the suspiria de profundis of a life which her husband compared to "a great joyless stoicism," writing to the brother, whom he had proposed as a third on their first home-coming:—"Solitude, indeed, is sad as Golgotha, but it is not mad like Bedlam; absence of delirium is possible only for me in solitude"; a sentiment almost literally acted on. In his offering of penitential cypress, referring to his wife's delight in the ultimate success of his work, he says, "She flickered round me like a perpetual radiance." But during their joint lives their numerous visits and journeys were made at separate times or apart. They crossed continually on the roads up and down, but when absent wrote to one another often the most affectionate letters. Their attraction increased, contrary to Newton's law, in the direct ratio of the square of the distance, and when it was stretched beyond the stars the long-latent love of the survivor became a worship.

Carlyle's devotion to his own kin, blood of his blood and bone of his bone, did not wait for any death to make itself declared. His veneration for his mother was reciprocated by a confidence and pride in him unruffled from cradle to grave, despite their widening theoretic differences; for with less distinct acknowledgment she seems to have practically shared his belief, "it matters little what a man holds in comparison with how he holds it." But on his wife's side the family bond was less absolute, and the fact adds a tragic interest to her first great bereavement after the settlement in London. There were many callers—increasing in number and eminence as time went on—at Cheyne Row; but naturally few guests. Among these, Mrs. Carlyle's mother paid, in 1838, her first and last visit, unhappily attended by some unpleasant friction. Grace Welsh (through whom her daughter derived the gipsy vein) had been in early years a beauty and a woman of fashion, endowed with so much natural ability that Carlyle, not altogether predisposed in her favour, confessed she had just missed being a genius; but she was accustomed to have her way, and old Walter of Pefillan confessed to having seen her in fifteen different humours in one evening. Welcomed on her arrival, misunderstandings soon arose. Carlyle himself had to interpose with conciliatory advice to his wife to bear with her mother's humours. One household incident, though often quoted, is too characteristic to be omitted. On occasion of an evening party, Mrs. Welsh, whose ideas of hospitality, if not display, were perhaps larger than those suited for her still struggling hosts, had lighted a show of candles for the entertainment, whereupon the mistress of the house, with an air of authority, carried away two of them, an act which her mother resented with tears. The penitent daughter, in a mood like that which prompted Johnson to stand in the Uttoxeter market-place, left in her will that the candles were to be preserved and lit about her coffin, round which, nearly thirty years later, they were found burning. Carlyle has recorded their last sight of his mother-in-law in a few of his many graphic touches. It was at Dumfries in 1841, where she had brought Jane down from Templand to meet and accompany him back to the south. They parted at the door of the little inn, with deep suppressed emotion, perhaps overcharged by some presentiment; Mrs. Welsh looking sad but bright, and their last glimpse of her was the feather in her bonnet waving down the way to Lochmaben gate. Towards the close of February 1842 news came that she had had an apoplectic stroke, and Mrs. Carlyle hurried north, stopping to break the journey at her uncle's house in Liverpool; when there she was so prostrated by the sudden announcement of her mother's death that she was prohibited from going further, and Carlyle came down from London in her stead. On reaching Templand he found that the funeral had already taken place. He remained six weeks, acting as executor in winding up the estate, which now, by the previous will, devolved on his wife. To her during the interval he wrote a series of pathetic letters. Reading these,—which, with others from Haddington in the following years make an anthology of tenderness and ruth, reading them alongside of his angry invectives, with his wife's own accounts of the bilious earthquakes and peevish angers over petty cares; or worse, with ebullitions of jealousy assuming the mask of contempt, we again revert to the biographer who has said almost all that ought to be said of Carlyle, and more: "It seemed as if his soul was divided, like the Dioscuri, as if one part of it was in heaven, and the other in the place opposite heaven. But the misery had its origin in the same sensitiveness of nature which was so tremulously alive to soft and delicate emotion. Men of genius ... are like the wind-harp which answers to the breath that touches it, now low and sweet, now rising into wild swell or angry scream, as the strings are swept by some passing gust." This applies completely to men like Burns, Byron, Heine, and Carlyle, less to the Miltons, Shakespeares, and Goethes of the world.

The crisis of bereavement, which promised to bind the husband and wife more closely together, brought to an end a dispute in which for once Mrs. Carlyle had her way. During the eight years over which we have been glancing, Carlyle had been perpetually grumbling at his Chelsea life: the restless spirit, which never found peace on this side of the grave, was constantly goading him with an impulse of flight and change, from land to sea, from shore to hills; anywhere or everywhere, at the time, seemed better than where he was. America and the Teufelsdroeckh wanderings abandoned, he reverted to the idea of returning to his own haunts. A letter to Emerson in 1839 best expresses his prevalent feeling:—

Carlyle's devotion to his own kin, blood of his blood and bone of his bone, did not wait for any death to make itself declared. His veneration for his mother was reciprocated by a confidence and pride in him unruffled from cradle to grave, despite their widening theoretic differences; for with less distinct acknowledgment she seems to have practically shared his belief, "it matters little what a man holds in comparison with how he holds it." But on his wife's side the family bond was less absolute, and the fact adds a tragic interest to her first great bereavement after the settlement in London. There were many callers—increasing in number and eminence as time went on—at Cheyne Row; but naturally few guests. Among these, Mrs. Carlyle's mother paid, in 1838, her first and last visit, unhappily attended by some unpleasant friction. Grace Welsh (through whom her daughter derived the gipsy vein) had been in early years a beauty and a woman of fashion, endowed with so much natural ability that Carlyle, not altogether predisposed in her favour, confessed she had just missed being a genius; but she was accustomed to have her way, and old Walter of Pefillan confessed to having seen her in fifteen different humours in one evening. Welcomed on her arrival, misunderstandings soon arose. Carlyle himself had to interpose with conciliatory advice to his wife to bear with her mother's humours. One household incident, though often quoted, is too characteristic to be omitted. On occasion of an evening party, Mrs. Welsh, whose ideas of hospitality, if not display, were perhaps larger than those suited for her still struggling hosts, had lighted a show of candles for the entertainment, whereupon the mistress of the house, with an air of authority, carried away two of them, an act which her mother resented with tears. The penitent daughter, in a mood like that which prompted Johnson to stand in the Uttoxeter market-place, left in her will that the candles were to be preserved and lit about her coffin, round which, nearly thirty years later, they were found burning. Carlyle has recorded their last sight of his mother-in-law in a few of his many graphic touches. It was at Dumfries in 1841, where she had brought Jane down from Templand to meet and accompany him back to the south. They parted at the door of the little inn, with deep suppressed emotion, perhaps overcharged by some presentiment; Mrs. Welsh looking sad but bright, and their last glimpse of her was the feather in her bonnet waving down the way to Lochmaben gate. Towards the close of February 1842 news came that she had had an apoplectic stroke, and Mrs. Carlyle hurried north, stopping to break the journey at her uncle's house in Liverpool; when there she was so prostrated by the sudden announcement of her mother's death that she was prohibited from going further, and Carlyle came down from London in her stead. On reaching Templand he found that the funeral had already taken place. He remained six weeks, acting as executor in winding up the estate, which now, by the previous will, devolved on his wife. To her during the interval he wrote a series of pathetic letters. Reading these,—which, with others from Haddington in the following years make an anthology of tenderness and ruth, reading them alongside of his angry invectives, with his wife's own accounts of the bilious earthquakes and peevish angers over petty cares; or worse, with ebullitions of jealousy assuming the mask of contempt, we again revert to the biographer who has said almost all that ought to be said of Carlyle, and more: "It seemed as if his soul was divided, like the Dioscuri, as if one part of it was in heaven, and the other in the place opposite heaven. But the misery had its origin in the same sensitiveness of nature which was so tremulously alive to soft and delicate emotion. Men of genius ... are like the wind-harp which answers to the breath that touches it, now low and sweet, now rising into wild swell or angry scream, as the strings are swept by some passing gust." This applies completely to men like Burns, Byron, Heine, and Carlyle, less to the Miltons, Shakespeares, and Goethes of the world.

The crisis of bereavement, which promised to bind the husband and wife more closely together, brought to an end a dispute in which for once Mrs. Carlyle had her way. During the eight years over which we have been glancing, Carlyle had been perpetually grumbling at his Chelsea life: the restless spirit, which never found peace on this side of the grave, was constantly goading him with an impulse of flight and change, from land to sea, from shore to hills; anywhere or everywhere, at the time, seemed better than where he was. America and the Teufelsdroeckh wanderings abandoned, he reverted to the idea of returning to his own haunts. A letter to Emerson in 1839 best expresses his prevalent feeling:—

This foggy Babylon tumbles along as it was wont: and as for my particular case uses me not worse but better than of old. Nay, there are many in it that have a real friendliness for me.... The worst is the sore tear and wear of this huge roaring Niagara of things on such a poor excitable set of nerves as mine.

The velocity of all things, of the very word you hear on the streets, is at railway rate: joy itself is unenjoyable, to be avoided like pain; there is no wish one has so pressingly as for quiet. Ah me! I often swear I will be buried at least in free breezy Scotland, out of this insane hubbub ... if ever the smallest competence of worldly means be mine, I will fly this whirlpool as I would the Lake of Malebolge.

The competence had come, the death of Mrs. Welsh leaving to his wife and himself practically from L200 to L300 a year: why not finally return to the home of their early restful secluded life, "in reducta, valle," with no noise around it but the trickle of rills and the nibbling of sheep? Craigenputtock was now their own, and within its "four walls" they would begin a calmer life. Fortunately Mrs. Carlyle, whose shrewd practical instinct was never at fault, saw through the fallacy, and set herself resolutely against the scheme. Scotland had lost much of its charm for her—a year later she refused an invitation from Mrs. Aitken, saying, "I could do nothing at Scotsbrig or Dumfries but cry from morning to night." She herself had enough of the Hill of the Hawks, and she know that within a year Carlyle would again be calling it the Devil's Den and lamenting Cheyne Row. He gave way with the protest, "I cannot deliberately mean anything that is harmful to you," and certainly it was well for him.

There is no record of an original writer or artist coming from the north of our island to make his mark in the south, succeeding, and then retracing his steps. Had Carlyle done so, he would probably have passed from the growing recognition of a society he was beginning to find on the whole congenial, to the solitude of intellectual ostracism. Scotland may be breezy, but it is not conspicuously free. Erratic opinions when duly veiled are generally allowed; but this concession is of little worth. On the tolerance of those who have no strong belief in anything, Carlyle, thinking possibly of rose-water Hunt and the litterateurs of his tribe, expressed himself with incisive and memorable truth: "It is but doubt and indifference. Touch the thing they do believe and value, their own self-conceit: they are rattlesnakes then."

[Footnote: The italics are Mr. Froude's.]

Tolerance for the frank expression of views which clash with the sincere or professed faith of the majority is rare everywhere; in Scotland rarest. English Churchmen, high and broad, were content to condone the grim Calvinism still infiltrating Carlyle's thoughts, and to smile, at worst, at his idolatry of the iconoclast who said, "the idolater shall die the death." But the reproach of "Pantheism" was for long fatal to his reception across the Tweed.

Towards the close of this period he acknowledged that London was "among improper places" the best for "writing books," after all the one use of living "for him;" its inhabitants "greatly the best" he "had ever walked with," and its aristocracy—the Marshalls, Stanleys, Hollands, Russells, Ashburtons, Lansdownes, who held by him through life—its "choicest specimens." Other friendships equally valued he made among the leading authors of the age. Tennyson sought his company, and Connop Thirlwall. Arnold of Rugby wrote in commendation of the French Revolution and hailed Chartism. Thackeray admired him and reviewed him well. In Macaulay, condemned to limbo under the suspicion of having reviewed him ill, he found, when the suspicion was proved unjust, a promise of better things. As early as 1839 Sterling had written an article in the Westminster, which gave him intense pleasure; for while contemning praise in almost the same words as Byron did, he loved it equally well. In 1840 he had crossed the Rubicon that lies between aspiration and attainment. The populace might be blind or dumb, the "rattlesnakes"—the "irresponsible indolent reviewers," who from behind a hedge pelt every wrestler till they found societies for the victor—might still obscurely hiss; but Carlyle was at length safe by the verdict of the "Conscript Fathers."

[Footnote: The italics are Mr. Froude's.]




The bold venture of coming to London with a lean purse, few friends, and little fame had succeeded: but it had been a terrible risk, and the struggle had left scars behind it. To this period of his life we may apply Carlyle's words,—made use of by himself at a later date,—"The battle was over and we were sore wounded." It is as a maimed knight of modern chivalry, who sounded the reveil for an onslaught on the citadels of sham, rather than as a prophet of the future that his name is likely to endure in the history of English thought. He has also a place with Scott amongst the recreators of bygone ages, but he regarded their annals less as pictures than as lesson-books. His aim was that expressed by Tennyson to "steal fire from fountains of the past," but his design was to admonish rather than "to glorify the present." This is the avowed object of the second of his distinctly political works, which following on the track of the first, Charlism, and written in a similar spirit, takes higher artistic rank. Past and Present, suggested by a visit to the poorhouse of St. Ives and by reading the chronicle of Jocelin de Brakelond, was undertaken as a duty, while he was mainly engaged on a greater work,—the duty he felt laid upon him to say some thing that should bear directly on the welfare of the people, especially of the poor around him. It was an impulse similar to that which inspired Oliver Twist, but Carlyle's remedies were widely different from those of Dickens. Not merely more kindness and sympathy, but paternal government, supplying work to the idle inmates of the workhouse, and insisting, by force if need be, on it being done, was his panacea. It had been Abbot Samson's way in his strong government of the Monastery of St. Edmunds, and he resolved, half in parable, half in plain sermon, to recommend it to the Ministers Peel and Russell.

In this mood, the book was written off in the first seven weeks of 1843, a tour de force comparable to Johnson's writing of Rasselas. Published in April, it at once made a mark by the opposition as well as by the approval it excited. Criticism of the work—of its excellences, which are acknowledged, and its defects as manifold—belongs to a review of the author's political philosophy: it is enough here to note that it was remarkable in three ways. First, the object of its main attack, laissez faire, being a definite one, it was capable of having and had some practical effect. Mr. Froude exaggerates when he says that Carlyle killed the pseudo-science of orthodox political economy; for the fundamental truths in the works of Turgot, Smith, Ricardo, and Mill cannot be killed: but he pointed out that, like Aristotle's leaden rule, the laws of supply and demand must be made to bend; as Mathematics made mechanical must allow for friction, so must Economics leave us a little room for charity. There is ground to believe that the famous Factory Acts owed some of their suggestions to Past and Present. Carlyle always speaks respectfully of the future Lord Shaftesbury. "I heard Milnes saying," notes the Lady Sneerwell of real life, "at the Shuttleworths that Lord Ashley was the greatest man alive: he was the only man that Carlyle praised in his book. I daresay he knew I was overhearing him." But, while supplying arguments and a stimulus to philanthropists, his protests against philanthropy as an adequate solution of the problem of human misery became more pronounced. About the date of the conception of this book we find in the Journal:—

Again and again of late I ask myself in whispers, is it the duty of a citizen to paint mere heroisms? ... Live to make others happy! Yes, surely, at all times, so far as you can. But at bottom that is not the aim of my life ... it is mere hypocrisy to call it such, as is continually done nowadays.... Avoid cant. Do not think that your life means a mere searching in gutters for fallen figures to wipe and set up.

Past and Present, in the second place, is notable as the only considerable consecutive book—unless we also except the Life of Sterling,—which the author wrote without the accompaniment of wrestlings, agonies, and disgusts. Thirdly, though marking a stage in his mental progress, the fusion of the refrains of Chartism and Hero-Worship, and his first clear breach with Mazzini and with Mill, the book was written as an interlude, when he was in severe travail with his greatest contribution to English history. The last rebuff which Carlyle encountered came, by curious accident, from the Westminster, to which Mill had engaged him to contribute an article on "Oliver Cromwell." While this was in preparation, Mill had to leave the country on account of his health, and gave the review in charge to an Aberdonian called Robertson, who wrote to stop the progress of the essay with the message that he had decided to undertake the subject himself. Carlyle was angry; but, instead of sullenly throwing the MS. aside, he set about constructing on its basis a History of the Civil War.

Numerous visits and tours during the following three years, though bringing him into contact with new and interesting personalities, were mainly determined by the resolve to make himself acquainted with the localities of the war; and his knowledge of them has contributed to give colour and reality to the finest battle-pieces in modern English prose. In 1842 with Dr. Arnold he drove from Rugby fifteen miles to Naseby, and the same year, after a brief yachting trip to Belgium—in the notes on which the old Flemish towns stand out as clearly as in Longfellow's verse—he made his pilgrimage to St. Ives and Ely Cathedral, where Oliver two centuries before had called out to the recalcitrant Anglican in the pulpit, "Cease your fooling and come down." In July 1843 Carlyle made a trip to South Wales; to visit first a worthy devotee called Redwood, and then Bishop Thirlwall near Carmarthen. "A right solid simple-hearted robust man, very strangely swathed," is the visitor's meagre estimate of one of our most classic historians.

On his way back he carefully reconnoitred the field of Worcester. Passing his wife at Liverpool, where she was a guest of her uncle, and leaving her to return to London and brush up Cheyne Row, he walked over Snowdon from Llanheris to Beddgelert with his brother John. He next proceeded to Scotsbrig, then north to Edinburgh, and then to Dunbar, which he contrived to visit on the 3rd of September, an anniversary revived in his pictured page with a glow and force to match which we have to revert to Bacon's account of the sea-fight of the Revenge. From Dunbar he returned to Edinburgh, spent some time with his always admired and admiring friend Erskine of Linlathen, a Scotch broad churchman of the type of F.D. Maurice and Macleod Campbell, and then went home to set in earnest to the actual writing of his work. He had decided to abandon the design of a History, and to make his book a Biography of Cromwell, interlacing with it the main features and events of the Commonwealth. The difficulties even of this reduced plan were still immense, and his groans at every stage in its progress were "louder and more loud," e.g. "My progress in Cromwell is frightful." "A thousand times I regretted that this task was ever taken up." "The most impossible book of all I ever before tried," and at the close, "Cromwell I must have written in 1844, but for four years previous it had been a continual toil and misery to me; four years of abstruse toil, obscure speculation, futile wrestling, and misery I used to count it had cost me." The book issued in 1845 soon went through three editions, and brought the author to the front as the most original historian of his time. Macaulay was his rival, but in different paths of the same field. About this time Mr. Froude became his pupil, and has left an interesting account (iii. 290-300) of his master's influence over the Oxford of those days, which would be only spoilt by selections. Oxford, like Athens, ever longing after something new, patronised the Chelsea prophet, and then calmed down to her wonted cynicism. But Froude and Ruskin were, as far as compatible with the strong personality of each, always loyal; and the capacity inborn in both, the power to breathe life into dry records and dead stones, had at least an added impulse from their master.

The year 1844 is marked by the publication in the Foreign Quarterly of the essay on Dr. Francia, and by the death of John Sterling,—loved with the love of David for Jonathan—outside his own family losses, the greatest wrench in Carlyle's life. Sterling's published writings are as inadequate to his reputation as the fragmentary remains of Arthur Hallam; but in friendships, especially unequal friendships, personal fascination counts for more than half, and all are agreed as to the charm in both instances of the inspiring companionships. Archdeacon Hare having given a somewhat coldly correct account of Sterling as a clergyman, Carlyle three years later, in 1851, published his own impressions of his friend as a thinker, sane philanthropist, and devotee of truth, in a work that, written in a three months' fervour, has some claim to rank, though faltering, as prose after verse, with Adonais, In Memoriam, and Matthew Arnold's Thyrsis.

These years are marked by a series of acts of unobtrusive benevolence, the memory of which has been in some cases accidentally rescued from the oblivion to which the benefactor was willing to have them consigned. Carlyle never boasted of doing a kindness. He was, like Wordsworth, frugal at home beyond necessity, but often as generous in giving as he was ungenerous in judging. His assistance to Thomas Cooper, author of the Purgatory of Suicides, his time spent in answering letters of "anxious enquirers,"—letters that nine out of ten busy men would have flung into the waste-paper basket,—his interest in such works as Samuel Bamford's Life of a Radical, and admirable advice to the writer; his instructions to a young student on the choice of books, and well-timed warning to another against the profession of literature, are sun-rifts in the storm, that show "a heart within blood-tinctured, of a veined humanity." The same epoch, however,—that of the start of the great writer's almost uninterrupted triumph—brings us in face of an episode singularly delicate and difficult to deal with, but impossible to evade.

[Footnote: These letters to Bamford, showing a keen interest in the working men of whom his correspondent had written, point to the ideal of a sort of Tory Democracy. Carlyle writes: "We want more knowledge about the Lancashire operatives; their miseries and gains, virtues and vices. Winnow what you have to say, and give us wheat free from chaff. Then the rich captains of workers will he willing to listen to you. Brevity and sincerity will succeed. Be brief and select, omit much, give each subject its proper proportionate space; and be exact without caring to round off the edges of what you have to say." Later, he declines Bamford's offer of verses, saying "verse is a bugbear to booksellers at present. These are prosaic, earnest, practical, not singing times."]

Carlyle, now generally recognised in London as having one of the most powerful intellects and by far the greatest command of language among his contemporaries, was beginning to suffer some of the penalties of renown in being beset by bores and travestied by imitators; but he was also enjoying its rewards. Eminent men of all shades of opinion made his acquaintance; he was a frequent guest of the genial Maecenas, an admirer of genius though no mere worshipper of success, R. Monckton Milnes; meeting Hallam, Bunsen, Pusey, etc., at his house in London, and afterwards visiting him at Fryston Hall in Yorkshire. The future Lord Houghton was, among distinguished men of letters and society, the one of whom he spoke with the most unvarying regard. Carlyle corresponded with Peel, whom he set almost on a par with Wellington as worthy of perfect trust, and talked familiarly with Bishop Wilberforce, whom he miraculously credits with holding at heart views much like his own. At a somewhat later date, in the circle of his friends, bound to him by various degrees of intimacy, History was represented by Thirlwall, Grote, and Froude; Poetry by Browning, Henry Taylor, Tennyson, and Clough; Social Romance by Kingsley; Biography by James Spedding and John Forster; and Criticism by John Ruskin. His link to the last named was, however, their common distrust of political economy, as shown in Unto This Last, rather than any deep artistic sympathy. In Macaulay, a conversationalist more rapid than himself, Carlyle found a rival rather than a companion; but his prejudiced view of physical science was forgotten in his personal affection for Tyndall and in their congenial politics. His society was from the publication of Cromwell till near his death increasingly sought after by the aristocracy, several members of which invited him to their country seats, and bestowed on him all acceptable favours. In this class he came to find other qualities than those referred to in the Sartor inscription, and other aims than that of "preserving their game,"—the ambition to hold the helm of the State in stormy weather, and to play their part among the captains of industry. In the Reminiscences the aristocracy are deliberately voted to be "for continual grace of bearing and of acting, steadfast honour, light address, and cheery stoicism, actually yet the best of English classes." There can be no doubt that his intercourse with this class, as with men of affairs and letters, some of whom were his proximate equals, was a fortunate sequel to the duck-pond of Ecclefechan and the lonely rambles on the Border moors.

Es bildet ein Talent sich in der Stille, Sich ein Character in dem Strom der Welt.

The life of a great capital may be the crown of education, but there is a danger in homage that comes late and then without reserve. Give me neither poverty nor riches, applies to praise as well as to wealth; and the sudden transition from comparative neglect to

honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,

is a moral trial passing the strength of all but a few of the "irritable race" of writers. The deference paid to Carlyle made him yet more intolerant of contradiction, and fostered his selfishness, in one instance with the disastrous result of clouding a whole decade of his domestic life. In February 1839 he speaks of dining—"an eight-o'clock dinner which ruined me for a week"—with "a certain Baring," at whose table in Bath House he again met Bunsen, and was introduced to Lord Mahon. This was the beginning of what, after the death of Sterling, grew into the most intimate friendship of his life. Baring, son of Lord Ashburton of the American treaty so named, and successor to the title on his father's death in 1848, was a man of sterling worth and sound sense, who entered into many of the views of his guest. His wife was by general consent the most brilliant woman of rank in London, whose grace, wit, refinement, and decision of character had made her the acknowledged leader of society. Lady Harriet, by the exercise of some overpowering though purely intellectual spell, made the proudest of men, the modern Diogenes, our later Swift, so much her slave that for twelve years, whenever he could steal a day from his work, he ran at her beck from town to country, from castle to cot; from Addiscombe, her husband's villa in Surrey, to the Grange, her father-in-law's seat in Hampshire; from Loch Luichart and Glen Finnan, where they had Highland shootings, to the Palais Eoyal. Mr. Froude's comment in his introduction to the Journal is substantially as follows: Lady Harriet Baring or Ashburton was the centre of a planetary system in which every distinguished public man of genuine worth then revolved. Carlyle was naturally the chief among them, and he was perhaps at one time ambitious of himself taking some part in public affairs, and saw the advantage of this stepping-stone to enable him to do something more for the world, as Byron said, than write books for it. But the idea of entering Parliament, which seems to have once suggested itself to him in 1849, was too vague and transient to have ever influenced his conduct. It is more correct to say that he was flattered by a sympathy not too thorough to be tame, pleased by adulation never gross, charmed by the same graces that charmed the rest, and finally fascinated by a sort of hypnotism. The irritation which this strange alliance produced in the mind of the mistress of Cheyne Row is no matter of surprise. Pride and affection together had made her bear with all her husband's humours, and share with him all the toils of the struggle from obscurity. He had emerged, and she was still half content to be systematically set aside for his books, the inanimate rivals on which he was building a fame she had some claim to share. But her fiery spirit was not yet tamed into submitting to be sacrificed to an animate rival, or passively permitting the usurpation of companionship grudged to herself by another woman, whom she could not enjoy the luxury of despising. Lady Harriet's superiority in finesse and geniality, as well as advantages of station, only aggravated the injury; and this with a singular want of tact Carlyle further aggravated when he insisted on his wife accepting the invitations of his hostess. These visits, always against the grain, were rendered more irritating from a half-conscious antagonism between the chief female actors in the tragi-comedy; the one sometimes innocently unobservant of the wants of her guest, the other turning every accidental neglect into a slight, and receiving every jest as an affront. Carlyle's "Gloriana" was to the mind of his wife a "heathen goddess," while Mrs. Carlyle, with reference to her favourite dog "Nero," was in her turn nicknamed "Agrippina."

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