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Pages from a Journal with Other Papers   By: (1831-1913)

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Contents: A Visit to Carlyle in 1868 Early Morning in January March June August The End of October November The Break up of a Great Drought Spinoza Supplementary Note on the Devil Injustice Time Settles Controversies Talking about our Troubles Faith Patience An Apology Belief, Unbelief, and Superstition Judas Iscariot Sir Walter Scott's Use of the Supernatural September, 1798 Some Notes on Milton The Morality of Byron's Poetry. "The Corsair" Byron, Goethe, and Mr. Matthew Arnold A Sacrifice The Aged Three Conscience The Governess's Story James Forbes Atonement My Aunt Eleanor Correspondence between George, Lucy, M.A., and Hermione Russell, B.A. Mrs. Fairfax


On Saturday, the 22nd of March, 1868, my father and I called on Carlyle at 5, Cheyne Row, Chelsea, with a message from one of his intimate friends.

We were asked upstairs at once, and found Carlyle at breakfast. The room was large, well lighted, a bright fire was burning, and the window was open in order to secure complete ventilation. Opposite the fireplace was a picture of Frederick the Great and his sister. There were also other pictures which I had not time to examine. One of them Carlyle pointed out. It was a portrait of the Elector of Saxony who assisted Luther. The letters V.D.M.I.AE. ("Verbum Dei Manet in AEternum") were round it. Everything in the room was in exact order, there was no dust or confusion, and the books on the shelves were arranged in perfect EVENNESS. I noticed that when Carlyle replaced a book he took pains to get it level with the others. The furniture was solid, neat, and I should think expensive. I showed him the letter he had written to me eighteen years ago. It has been published by Mr. Froude, but it will bear reprinting. The circumstances under which it was written, not stated by Mr. Froude, were these. In 1850, when the Latter day Pamphlets appeared how well I remember the eager journey to the bookseller for each successive number! almost all the reviews united in a howl of execration, criticism so called. I, being young, and owing so much to Carlyle, wrote to him, the first and almost the only time I ever did anything of the kind, assuring him that there was at least one person who believed in him. This was his answer:

"CHELSEA, 9th March, 1850.

"MY GOOD YOUNG FRIEND, I am much obliged by the regard you entertain for me; and do not blame your enthusiasm, which well enough beseems your young years. If my books teach you anything, don't mind in the least whether other people believe it or not; but do you for your own behoof lay it to heart as a real acquisition you have made, more properly, as a real message left with you, which YOU must set about fulfilling, whatsoever others do! This is really all the counsel I can give you about what you read in my books or those of others: PRACTISE what you learn there; instantly and in all ways begin turning the belief into a fact, and continue at that till you get more and ever more beliefs, with which also do the like. It is idle work otherwise to write books or to read them.

"And be not surprised that 'people have no sympathy with you'; that is an accompaniment that will attend you all your days if you mean to lead an earnest life. The 'people' could not save you with their 'sympathy' if they had never so much of it to give; a man can and must save himself, with or without their sympathy, as it may chance.

"And may all good be with you, my kind young friend, and a heart stout enough for this adventure you are upon; that is the best 'good' of all.

"I remain, yours very sincerely,


Carlyle had forgotten this letter, but said, "It is undoubtedly mine. It is what I have always believed . . . it has been so ever since I was at college. I do not mean to say I was not loved there as warmly by noble friends as ever man could be, but the world tumbled on me, and has ever since then been tumbling on me rubbish, huge wagon loads of rubbish, thinking to smother me, and was surprised it did not smother me turned round with amazement and said, 'What, you alive yet?' ... Continue reading book >>

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