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be heard of to his advantage, in England and the East, as his ancestors have been !
The East is not at all a pleasant place at present, since you left it; I have often thought how fatally soon your worst prognostications of it, that evening, have verified themselves! I cannot bear to read those inhuman details in the newspapers, nor do I love in the least the spirit in which the English People mainly have taken it up. To punish the Sepoys and mince them all to pieces, &c., &c. : it were far better if the English People thought of punishing themselves for the very great folly they have manifested there, and indeed I grieve to think, in nearly all departments of their affairs lately, whereby such results have become possible, had become inevitable. People only weary me assigning “ causes,”—I seek, at present, no further than the uppermost cause : An army commanded for fifty years by imaginary captains; probably the most conspicuously portentous Entity the sun can look down upon; and capable of fermenting into results of any required degree of hideousness, against a given (though unknown) day. The English army generally, in India and elsewhere, has to me in these late years (whilst I have been reading about real armies) been a subject of endless wonder, deep and far from joyful. England thinks herself the "wisest nation of the world ” quite as a settled truism, not worth asserting: England will, before long, become less conspicuously the most blockhead Nation in the world, or India will not be the last ill-news she hears! In fact, I am grieved and miserable about these things; and have no resource but to banish them wholly out of my head, and to think of my own work while I have any.
My wife came home, Wednesday last, from a two-months in Scotland, undertaken for health's sake, evidently not without some profit that way. I have been grinding along here, and shall be, without interval, for a period alarming to think of. Do not neglect us when you come to town again. With best regards to the young mother, I am always, Yours sincerely,
(signed) T. CARLYLE. The first volume of the work which has placed Carlyle's name by the side of those of Thucydides, Guicciardini, and Gibbon was entitled, with a certain sarcastic intention, History of Frederick the Second of Prussia, "called” Frederick the Great. During its gestation his letters and talk were thickly larded with curses of the bad luck that had led him to look for a hero in that mother of dead dogs, the eighteenth century. This “unutterable book," he said, had inflicted on him a slavery” which was “far beyond that of any penal colony or treadmill," and he compared his life under such hateful pressure to that of a galley slave. My Chelsea correspondence relative to “the nightmare King” included a reply from Carlyle to the announcement that I had discovered in Holland some secret diplomatic documents calculated to throw light on the latter years of Frederick's life. He commences (date November 25th, 1862) with the congratulations of Mrs. Carlyle and
himself on a sentimental incident of which he had been informed, and, after indulging in some personal prophecies which have remained elaborately unfulfilled, shortly gravitates to the familiar growl at the nightmare King.
He writes :
I got your letter several days ago; but have not had the least minute to myself; and this is literally the first note I have written since to any address whatever. Never in my days was I kept in such a perpetual whirl of hurries and botherations,--you know with what, and how extremely profitable it is likely to be! In six months, if it be possible to hold out so long, I shall be thro' the worst; and in eight or nine months hence shall have done with it altogether -that is the one blessed quality I know in the affair.
I do not intend much upon the Furstenbund; but of course I shall have to mention it; and if your pleasure and opportunities do lead you to examine those old Fascicles at the Hague (how they got there I cannot guess) and to give me, in compass of a few pages, what you can excerpt of most remarkable in Frh.'s utterances or actions, it will be a real kindness to me. I am curious to know, had he any smell then (1784-5, I think) of the terrible French conflagration which was so near breaking out, to consume all manner of Princes and their covenants, or reduce them to a charred !-Yours, with the kindest regard to a certain lady,
Of a visit to Cheyne Row in the autumn of 1875 a full record is at hand. The incomparable mistress of the familiar red house was no longer there to nod from the window of the ground floor parlour, and, like the Frau Gräfin in Sartor Resartus, to dispense "æsthetic tea.” Nero had been gathered to his fathers, soon to attain to immortality with Muff, the friend of Gibbon, and the dogs of Abbotsford and Newstead. The sense of desolation caused by these blanks was spared me, for the surviving inmate of the room had migrated to the first floor. The change of locality was almost more striking than the alteration in Carlyle's appearance, voice, or manner. That he wore a dressing-gown might seem a symptom of decline in a Briton : however, to that Teutonic garment he had occasionally descended before. His greetings were hearty, and after precise inquiries concerning a particular fraction of the population of the German city---Dresden--from which I last came, he plunged into a discussion of the latest news and prospects of our clan, devoting, exactly as in carlier years, a separate excursus to my cousin, the Blumine of Sartor Resartus. These preliminaries disposed of, he put
on an interrogatory relative to the Court and Government of
Saxony, the constitutional relations of the kingdom to the Imperial power, and so forth. In earlier days Carlyle had been exhaustively ignorant of everything German except the books and authors which he discussed. In one of his Essays he speaks with scorn of the suggestion that in Germany the kings of literature were "excluded from society,” and there had been a time when Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle were hard to convince that if their lot had been in the Fatherland those words would have defined with scientific accuracy their place in life. However, various Anglo-German informants had enlarged our friend's knowledge in these respects, and he now made pertinent inquiries into some modern developments of the Aryan rules of caste, the segregation of men of science and learning from polite circles, and the like. He was much interested in the account of a recent attempt to localise the Dresden incident described in his Frederick, when the "Man of Sin,” suddenly drawing back a curtain, revealed to old Friedrich Wilhelm and the youthful Fritz a vision of Paradise, in which Eve was represented by the lovely operatic named Formera. His eye brightened when he heard that the Royal proprietor of the premises in question had explained that the scene of the temptation could hardly be identified now, and had proceeded to quote the French traveller's lament, given by Carlyle, over the three hundred and sixty-five pairs of breeches of Count Brühl : "Montrezmoi, donc, des vertus !”
Upon this the sluices of anecdote and reflection were let go, and the descent was effected from “ Augustus the Strong ” to that diplomatic meteor, Hugh Elliot, whose emoluments Carlyle would like to have bestowed on one of his remote successors. From the old Germany he travelled to the new, and the survival of his prejudices of 1848 against the modern map of Europe was visible enough. He had never shown much disposition to separate King Victor Emmanuel and Cavour from the ruck of “the supreme scoundrels," and not even the crowning of the Italian edifice in 1870 had quite reconciled him to the “immense nonsense" and “incoherent Jacobinisms” of his friend Mazzini. Perhaps he could not forgive Italy for poisoning a Luxemburg Kaiser in Sacramental wine-a proceeding on which there are such bitter imprecations in the Frederick. Towards United Germany he was otherwise disposed. Still, it was plain that, in spite of his official newspaper description of the war with France as “the grandest and most beneficent of Heavenly providences in the history of my time,” he was a long way from infatuation either with “pious Deutschland," as edited in 1870-71, or, be it added, with the editor-in-chief. The politics of the Empire interested him less than the new German field-gun : of the calibre, gas-check, and initial velocity of this weapon too much could not be said.
He had not made any particular study of the late war, and asked for the name of "some solid readable history of the affair.” The reply was that nothing to suit his purpose was in print except" the Genera Staff” work, which was trustworthy, but as voluminous as Kinglake himself. And, being the Law and the Prophets from which good manners did not permit the German military to dissent, no local writers had subjected it to any discussion amounting to criticism. To this Carlyle rejoined that he would have nothing to do with an official book, and went on to let fall certain expressions of scepticism in regard to Count Moltke, though without adducing reasons. The probability is that he could not bring himself to admit that Gravelotte and Sedan were comparable as strokes of art to Rossbach and Leuthen. As the historian of Frederick his feelings would naturally resemble those of the old campaigner in the French play who scorned the rapid accomplishment of Napoleon's campaigns: “Parlez-moi de la guerre de sept ans Parlez-moi de la guerre de trente ans !”
Carlyle was an uncompromising enemy of art—the subject on which he hated to hear John Sterling talk, on which, he said, "earnest men abhorrent of hypocrisy and speech that has no meaning ought to hold their tongues.” If he exempted portraits, at least when engraved, from his curses on goat-footed Pan and the Correggiosity of Correggio, it was because they are a material basis of history and biography. In spite of all this, critics have solemnly discussed his obiter dicta on such topics, gathering them up into a system, as if they were the judgments of Diderot or Winckelmann. And, absurd to relate, he has even been quoted as an authority on matters musical. The ridicule with which Carlyle spoke of the admirers of Paganini is well known : his perceptions in regard to the concords of sweet sounds were fully on a level with those of our common friend Dean Stanley, whose incipient love for Jenny Lind was checked by his dislike of the ugly noises that came from her throat. He now said, horribile dictu, “Music is mostly nonsense,” which, it is to be feared, drew from me the reply that he really must remember that it was a nonsense which suited my nonsense.” He then partially compromised matters by observing that he had once heard Fidelio, which was of a different character from the ordinary melodious rows : "there was air in that.”
The “musical glasses” could not fail to lead by natural concatenation, to Shakespeare, whom he almost preferred, as in the days of HeroWorship, to our Indian Empire. His ipsissima verba were : “He was the biggest of the sons of Adam.” Carlyle was an illustration of Dugald Stewart's notion that “Greek had never crossed the Tweed in great force."
He stated in the Reminiscences that his young pupil Charles Buller knew far more of that language than himself; it need hardly be said that his tastes never set strongly toward the ancients. I asked him if he ever looked into the classics, and he said that he was reading Thucydides, but that he stuck to the narrative. The speeches might be all very fine, but they bored him; and then they were as hard as the very deuce. He heard with satisfaction that the learned Madvig had told me in Copenhagen that, in his belief, Epaminondas or Alexander the Great would have found the said speeches hard nuts to crack: they were too involved and affected in style, and to a certain extent in the thoughts, for an average Greek to have read them, as Macaulay put it, with the feet on the fender. Carlyle supposed this was true, and passed to Herodotus, of whom he spoke as the best of all historians, especially praising his scepticism. His verdict may be taken as a set-off to some recent British scholastic estimates of the Father of History, in which, though his “malignancy” no longer figures, he is dismissed as a mere travelling loyómocós, who swallowed without criticism the old wives' stories told him by dragomen and donkey-boys in return for their backsheesh. Next on the roll was the “wonderful ” Gibbon, by whose " fiery darts” and sarcasms he had been immensely impressed when he first read the Decline and Fall, at the age of twenty-four. His matured judgment was that Gibbon was the modern who approached the nearest to the standard of Herodotus, although " quite solid and real, he was not.” These adjectives were used in a Carlylese sense, and his appraisement of Gibbon might on the whole have been borrowed from Grote's eulogy on the Decline and Fall, as reported by his widow, with the difference that Carlyle did not dislike Gibbon's style.
After thus praising his predecessors, he began to vilipend certain of his contemporaries. Macaulay was as great a humbug as ever-in fact a quack-with a pomp of words, of the Sangrado or Dulcamara type. The dead dog disposed of, it was the turn of a living lion. Yes! Freeman might be firm in his facts, but he told you nothing new, and was wearisome to the flesh-a bore! Then consider his disgraceful