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Critical Miscellanies, Vol. I Essay 2: Carlyle   By: (1838-1923)

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Mr. Carlyle's influence, and degree of its durability 135

His literary services 139

No label useful in characterising him 142

The poetic and the scientific temperaments 144

Rousseau and Mr. Carlyle 147

The poetic method of handling social questions 149

Impotent unrest, and his way of treating it 152

Founded on the purest individualism 154

Mr. Carlyle's historic position in the European reaction 157

Coleridge 159

Byron 161

Mr. Carlyle's victory over Byronism 163

Goethe 164

Mr. Carlyle's intensely practical turn, though veiled 166

His identification of material with moral order 169

And acceptance of the doctrine that the end justifies the means 170

Two sets of relations still regulated by pathological principle 172

Defect in Mr. Carlyle's discussion of them 174

His reticences 176

Equally hostile to metaphysics and to the extreme pretensions of the physicist 177

Natural Supernaturalism, and the measure of its truth 179

Two qualities flowing from his peculiar fatalism: (1) Contempt for excess of moral nicety 182 (2) Defect of sympathy with masses of men 186

Perils in his constant sense of the nothingness of life 188

Hero worship, and its inadequateness 189

Theories of the dissolution of the old European order 193

Mr. Carlyle's view of the French Revolution 195

Of the Reformation and Protestantism 197

Inability to understand the political point of view 199


The new library edition of Mr. Carlyle's works may be taken for the final presentation of all that the author has to say to his contemporaries, and to possess the settled form in which he wishes his words to go to those of posterity who may prove to have ears for them. The canon is definitely made up. The golden Gospel of Silence is effectively compressed in thirty fine volumes. After all has been said about self indulgent mannerisms, moral perversities, phraseological outrages, and the rest, these volumes will remain the noble monument of the industry, originality, conscientiousness, and genius of a noble character, and of an intellectual career that has exercised on many sides the profoundest sort of influence upon English feeling. Men who have long since moved far away from these spiritual latitudes, like those who still find an adequate shelter in them, can hardly help feeling as they turn the pages of the now disused pieces which they were once wont to ponder daily, that whatever later teachers may have done in definitely shaping opinion, in giving specific form to sentiment, and in subjecting impulse to rational discipline, here was the friendly fire bearer who first conveyed the Promethean spark, here the prophet who first smote the rock.

That with this sense of obligation to the master, there mixes a less satisfactory reminiscence of youthful excess in imitative phrases, in unseasonably apostolic readiness towards exhortation and rebuke, in interest about the soul, a portion of which might more profitably have been converted into care for the head, is in most cases true... Continue reading book >>

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