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Believe that “the deranged condition of our affairs is a universal topic among men at present; and the heavy miseries pressing, in their rudest shape, on the great dumb inarticulate class, and from this, by a sure law, spreading upwards, in a less palpable but not less certain and perhaps still more fatal shape on all classes to the very highest, are admitted everywhere to be great, increasing, and now almost unendurable.
Believe this, and do you not admit that to cry off the pack of Philanthropists from wasting so much good time and good effort and good money on a false scent after the Criminal, and set them off again on the true scent after the Uncriminal -do you
not believe this to be doing service, good and necessary ? Do you not feel that “Philanthropy, emancipation, and pity for human calamity is
very beautiful; but the deep oblivion of the Law of Right and Wrong; this 'indiscriminating mashing up of Right and Wrong into a patent treacle ' of the Philanthropic movement, is by no means beautiful; this, on the contrary, is altogether ugly and alarming."
Can you not discover fitter objects of pity than “those who will not have pity on themselves, and will force the Universe and Laws of Nature to have no pity' on them ? Meseems I could discover fitter objects of pity!”
I shall now, however, without further comment prefixed, set down a few passages, believing that their excellence will be more apparent to you when thus detached;
and I shall then bring this letter to a close.
"If I had schoolmasters, my benevolent friend, do you imagine I would set them on teaching a set of unteachables, who as you perceive have already made up their mind that black is white,—that the Devil namely is the advantageous Master to serve in this world? My esteemed Benefactor of Humanity, it shall be far from me. Minds open to that particular conviction are not the material I like to work upon. When once my schoolmasters have gone over all the other classes of society, from top to bottom; and have no other soul to try with teaching, all being thoroly taught, I will then send them to operate on these regiments of the line: then, and, assure yourself, never till then. The truth is, I am sick of scoundreldom, my esteemed Benefactor; it always was detestable to me; and here, where I find it lodged in palaces and waited on by the benevolent of the world, it is more detest. able, not to say insufferable, to me than ever.”
“What sort of reformers and workers are you, that work only on the rotten material ? That never think of meddling with the material while it continues sound; that stress it and strain it with new rates and assessments, till once it has given way and declared itself rotten; whereupon you snatch greedily at it, and say, Now let us try to do some good
“On the whole, what a reflection is it, that we cannot bestow on an unworthy man any particle of our benevolence, our patronage, or whatever resource is ours,— without with. drawing it, it and all that will grow of it, from one worthy, to whom it of right belongs !"
“Ragged losels gathered by beat of drum from the overcrowded streets of cities, and drilled a little, and dressed in red, do not they stand fire in an uncensurable manner; and handsomely give their life, if needfull, at the rate of a shilling per day? Human virtue, if we went down to the roots of it, is not so rare. The materials of human virtue are everywhere abundant as the light of the sun : raw materials,-0 wo, anıl loss, and scandal, thrice and threefold, that they so seldom are elaborated, and built into a result! That they lie yet unelaborated and stagnant in the souls of wide-spread dreary millions, fermenting, festering; and issue at last as energetic vice instead of strong practical virtue! A Mrs. Manning 'dying game,'-alas, is not that the foiled potentiality of a kind of heroine too ? Not a heroic Judith, not a mother of the Gracchi now, but a hideous murderess, fit to be the mother of hyænas! To such extent can potentialities be foiled. Education, kingship, command,—where is it, whither has it fled? Wo a thousand times, that this, which is the task of all kings, captains, priests, public speakers, land-owners, book-writers, mill-owners, and persons possessing or pretending to possess authority among mankind,—is left neglected among them all; and instead of it so little done but protocolling, black-or-white surplicing, partridge-shooting, parlimentary eloquence, and popular twaddle-literature; with such results as we see!”
“Not the least disgusting feature of this Gospel according to the Platform, is its reference to religion, and even to the Christian Religion, as an authority and mandate for what it does. Christian Religion? Does the Christian or any religion prescribe love of scoundrels, then? I hope it prescribes a healthy hatred of scoundrels ;-otherwise what am I, in Heaven's name, to make of it ? Me, for one, it will not serve as a religion on those strange terms. Just hatred of scoundrels, I say; fixed, irreconcileable, inexorable enmity to the enemies of God: this, and not love for them, and incessant whitewashing, and dressing and cockering of them, must, if you will look into it, be the backbone of any human religion whatsoever.”
“Neglect to treat the hero as hero, the penalties,—which are inevitable too, and terrible to think of, as your Hebrew friends can tell you,-may be some time in coming; they will only gradually come. But neglect to treat even your declared scoundrel as scoundrel, this is the last consummation of the process, the drop by which the cup runs over; the penal. ties of this, most alarming, extensive, and such as you little dream of, will straightway very rapidly come.”
“Let not violence, haste, blind impetuous impulse, preside in executing it: the injured man, invincibly liable to fall into these, shall not himself execute it: the whole world, in person of a Minister appointed for that end, and surrounded with the due solemnities and caveats, and bailiffs, apparitors, advocates, and the hushed expectation of all men, shall do it, as under the eye of God who made all men.”
You would have saved the Sarawak Pirates, then ? The Almighty Maker is wroth that the Sarawak cut-throats, with their poisoned spears, are away? What must his wrath be that the thirty-thousand Needlewomen are still here, and the question of 'prevenient grace' not yet settled ! O my friends, in sad earnest, sad and deadly earnest, there much needs that God would mend all this, and that we should help him to mend it !”
“The noisy wind is not music!' To such sentences as these, is this your answer? O shame on us! There while the deliverer strides, toiling nobly, like a black knight at a castle of Torquilstone, battering the gates of our accursed thraldom,—we only cry from the windows to him, time, man! play up! let us have music to the blows! We are being strangled by a rope, and while Carlyle, with warmest eagerness, frees us by stroke of axe, we can only vent our gratitude in complaints of the noise he makes !
Is Carlyle's dialect so hard, then, that you cannot contrive to see thrö it, or in spite of it, some portion of this marvelous eloquence and pertinence ? Are the clothes so repulsive that you cannot see one trace of the native comeliness of the man? And can you only answer thus ?
What would Carlyle have? The rise and fall of more than one nation is on record: what can he expect of England and Englishmen? No: the world will go on as it is, a little better or a little worse, till finis is placed opposite to England.'
O most comfortable doctrine; most innocent utterance-most unintentional but true expression to the Sceptical Paralysis of the whole era ! As if you had said, 'I dare
but it is just as it has been before—so a little more slumber, and a little more sleep, and a little more folding of the hands to sleep!' Ah! but hark to the brool of this fierce Norse Prophet !-"Ye would sleep, would ye ? and ye would sink down in slumber, would ye? Nay, by the gods, that shall ye not; for look! I have seized, and caught you up in astonishment from your floor; and I have shaken you, till you seem half-awake and half restored to your senses; and I shout in your ears: Do you know where you are ? do
you know where you are ? do you know who sent you here? and do you know for what he sent you ? O Sugar is sweet, is it, and it is pleasant to walk in the sun, and there are devices for keeping the flies away, are there? and you have no doubt it will be right in the end—and, meanwhile, the whole world is weltering round about you, a mass of Misery; and there are screams and shrieks and cries of the last agony issuing from every nook and corner; and you will only fold your hands, will you ?-O no, my lad, you shall bear-you shall understand-or else this world is after all only the accursed torment-machine of some fiend or demon. You shall say Ay or No: you shall not say Ay and No. You shall declare for God or the Devil, for Right or Wrong. You shall not declare for both: you shall not have your easy neutral land of neither God nor the Devil, of neither Right nor Wrong • You shall not have it, I tell you: I have risen once for all, and you
shall on with me, or, in fair battle, I will expunge you. I have no logic for you; I have no unassailable divisions and definitions for you; I cannot make use of long, laborious, wire-drawn inductions, I shall not go to work at you with Syllogisms at all. But I tell you, once for all, that there is written on my heart by the Master aud Maker an uninterchangable Right and an uninterchangable Wrong. you these things are written on my heart: divine men have purged my eyes, and I see that they are so written. And I tell you that these same things are written on your heart.
have grown blind, and see them not; and ye do that which is altogether black, barren, and accursed in the sight of God: and here I cry to you to awake--here I call to you to see; and cry I will, and call I will, till the consummation or the death—Ah, and I cry, and no man hears me, and no man helps me, and my heart faints within me, and despair comes diżzily, like a cloud, before me: but up again, weak heart ! up again and on! and cry
with Milton, but not for that will I abate a jot of heart or hope, but still bear up and steer right onwards !'”
This, I think, is as near as possible, the attitude and utterance of Carlyle at present: and what true man is there, who will not stand by him ? Ah, but 'we cre not valiant neither'-I mean, we are not grateful neither-and we must, like
children, as we have it in Scotland, pap at the King, and praise Oxford Graduates,' and say, when it is Carlyle that is in reality our beginning, our middle, and our end, that that was the book that made us, and we must turn upon him, and call him names, 'morbid' and the like! Like Peter, we have been denying and belying the master in our hearts, and ascribing our debts to every one but the right creditor. But here I for one, cry, Stop, to that! Here I, for one, declare that it is my soul's belief that I have no other work on this earth before me than to labor, with such faculties as I have of my own, on the field that Carlyle has given me: and, if it please God to give me privilege and strength, I will labor on it, and do what in me lies, in common with many whom I see arising, to drain the swamp and clear the jungle for the deposition of the foundations of that New Civilization which as yet has never been witnessed, and hardly ever dreamed of! O, we are crack-brained and mad, are we!-Well, we shall seemeanwhile, I am,
Yours as it may be,
person of the most
Essays and Tales: By JOHN STERLING. Collected and edited, with a memoir of his life, by Julius CHARLES HARE, M.A., Rector of Herstmonceux. In two volumes.
MONG the dullest of dull books will probably be found those that have been given
to the world in the shape of 'Remains. These consist in general, either of the
fragments a great author has left behind him, written for amusement or as hints to be subsequently elaborated into something more complete and finished, but never intended for publication, or of the common places which some over-rated pet of a coterie, or some over-praised favorite of a sect, cut off as his admirers think in the full maturity of his genius, has not had the courage or the time or disposition to print, but which indiscrete friends offer to mankind in elegant octavos as the sublimest of revelations! In the first case a certain interest belongs to the last words of a famous writer, irrespective of their absolute value or import, from the light which they may throw on his character or his history : besides, merely as his last words, they have a certain mournful attraction. In the second case we are simply defrauded of those precious moments which we could so much better have consecrated to reverent and ennobling intercourse with the illustrious dead. Occasionally, as in the case of Novalis, an author little known or altogether unknown during his life, becomes thrö his “Remains' one of the primordial poets and eternal sages that Humanity delighteth to venerate. But, more frequently, we have a repetition of the attempt so successful in reference to Kirke hite, to push and puff into renown mediocre faculty; which would be a small matter if nothing more than a lustre capriciously given to the undeserving, but which becomes of some weight when viewed as one of the potent causes by which the literary taste of a nation is corrupted, and consequently its moral perception darkened. Far different from the usual class of 'Remains' are the volumes before us.
Whatever may be thonght of their artistic qualities, or whatever place criticism may assign to John Sterling among the artists of the pen, they are unquestionably the utterances of one who was pre-eminently earnest, generous, and brave. Even if he had written ten times more, or ten times better than he did, it would ever have been true of him that his most beautiful work was his pure and chivalrous Life. In an age not remarkable for heroism, he was not only a hero himself, but inspired something of the heroic into all who came within the circle of his influence. Authorship with him was nothing more than a mode of being valiant, and we shall do him the most signal injustice if we separate the author from the man. Even his speculative excursiveness, which was one of his main peculiarities, arose less from any decided metaphysical taste, than from that impulsive daring which urged him to grapple with the most formidable problems of the universe, solely because they were so formidable. This knightly and enterprizing gallantry, along with an affectionateness as quick and susceptible as it was intense and enduring, were the leading features of Sterling's character. He was a man of intellect because he was a man of soul; hence his productions, tho affording evidence of the highest talent, convey but a very inadequate idea of what the individual John Sterling was. They require to be read with the feelings which his intimate friends had toward him, or more than half their meaning is lost. None of his writings, therefore, are likely to obtain a very extensive popularity, since an indispensable condition for thoroly appreciating them, is to be kindred in nature and aspiration to the writer. The individu