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attacks on Froude, which were scandalously" gross” and “unjust. On Mr. Froude's merits, or demerits, he was very reticent, and all attempts to draw him by the mention of Anna Boleyn or by other baits were unsuccessful. Of Grote he did not profess to know much, but thought him weighty, both in the good and in the evil sense. As to Motley, he was in. credulus, but not quite to the extent of odi. “Philip II. a bigot and a brute? Certainly not; according to his lights a man of solidity and insight."
The Germans were in the next degree. The “inorganic platitudes of the Prussian Dry-as-dust, with his tramplings of human heroisms into cinders,” were rebuked with all the sharpness of Smelfungus in the Frederick the Great. Ranke's works were not quite dismissed as owl'sdroppings, but they were unhandsomely treated. Mention being made of that Excellency's literary servility towards the house of Hohenzollern, and of his defects as a narrator, Carlyle said : “No! it will not do.
He is such a skipping little fellow-books generally broken-backed.” A very different reception was given to Köhler, a writer cited in the Frederick with superlatives of approval, and now called by Carlyle "the best German historian." On the strength of the earlier notice, Köhler's principal work had been examined by me, and had turned out to be a concise, well-methodised summary of facts, with an adequate supply of the titles, tables of contents, dates, indexes, and those other typographical adjuncts to intelligent study which German books now usually abjure. But the Deutsche Reichshistorie is a very Sahara of arid details, and Carlyle's approval can only have been given on the ground that Köhler's materials are well sifted and stratified, and not "edited as rubbish is edited.” A variety of other topics were then discussed, and when the hour of departure arrived Carlyle said : "Come again soon." My reply was: “It cannot be-cras ingens iterabimus æquor” ; but that he might expect me back in another two years. He rejoined : "If I am still here"; a pessimist remark which did not disturb me. On leaving the house a touch of the lues Boswelliana came over me, and I took advantage of the slow descent of the steamer from Chelsea Pier to Westminster Bridge to put on paper notes of as much of our conversation as related to history. Let me call attention here to the curious Grub Street fact, that "the German reading public ” (a nice derangement of epitaphs) is familiar with Carlyle's writings. The idea is as original as the assertion, canonical with his biographers, that the official curriculum of the Sandhursts of Berlin and Dresden includes the marches and battles of the Frederick.
In the autumn of 1877, being in London, my programme of November ist, 1875, was carried out. My brother, General Strachey, who had gone to see our old friend, reported him as being in complete possession of his faculties, in good spirits, and full of his usual fun. He had spoken with great insight of many things, and much besides, talking in particular of the Indian topics of the day in a masterly, practical manner, and relating amusing incidents of the journey to Paris in 1825, when " personally conducted” by our father and “Miss Kitty," as detailed in the Reminiscences. He sent a summons to myself, to which it seemed proper to reply by proposing to him to take a king's privilege and fix his own time for the visit. His answer was by the hand of his lady amanuensis—an innovation on his former habits that looked ominous of descent down the vital slope. He received me with all the old cordiality, the warm shake of the hand, the kind inquiries as to my welfare and immediate surroundings. But the outer man was visibly changed. He was somewhat withered, grizzled, unkempt, his hands were bony and trembled with some vehemence, and his movements, like his looks, belonged to advanced old age. He filled and lighted his long clay pipe, squatted down on the floor like a Turk, wrapped the skirts of the old slaty dressing-gown round his legs, and talked for nearly an hour between the puffs of tobacco smoke, administering, like myself, an occasional pat to the cat Tib, who had succeeded “ Nero" on his hearthrug. After some private topics had been ventilated, he turned the conversation to Germany, past and present. Mr. Froude's true remark that Carlyle was at his best when talking of history, poetry, or biography, was well exemplified on this occasion, He spoke with force and fluency of the great Weimar period, narrating facts in the lives of Goethe and Schiller, and then, on my mention of the Ahnfrau, which had recently been re-staged by the Saxe-Meiningen troupe, flew off to its author, the Austrian "fate tragedian," Grillparzer, to whose plays, considered as poems and as acting dramas, he was as unjust as he was in his youthful essay on German playwrights. Carlyle had at all times a surprising remembrance of himself. Whether or not he followed the practice of Dumaine_“Once more I'll read the ode that I have writ”—his talk frequently embodied sentences written by him many years before. In this instance his memory supplied him with the cream of his former remarks on Grillparzer, and also with a précis of his notice, of the same date, on the Danish poet Oehlenschläger, of whom, as in 1829, he spoke in a strain of undue depreciation. The catechism with which I had come prepared included a question regarding the German literature of the post-Goethe and recent periods; but my attempts to elicit his judgment on the Asra and the Pine and the Palm, and on “ blackguard Heine" generally, were baffled. After a flow of miscellaneous talk, too discursive to be accurately recalled, he began to rise—not a very easy operation for him. He strove to do so, as far as possible, without help, and when on his legs motioned me, in the manner of royalty, that the audience must close. On my saying—not quite in accordance with my belief—that on my next visit to England he would see me again, he responded with a sad and sceptical smile, expressed in a few final phrases the pleasure caused to him by the visit, and then silently pressed my hand for the last time.
In these conversations the geyser did not quite bubble up with the perfervid glow of earlier years, and Carlyle's peculiar ejaculatory laugh, no longer rolling forth“ without intervallums," had softened into a ripple of hilarity. But his talk was still saturated with humour, and the characteristic "Ay! Ay!” of assent was not wanting. The Whole Duty of Pigs had been laid on the shelf, and the place of the Apes of the Dead Sea knew them no more: even M. Scherer would have allowed that the transcendental“ charlatan” of his aversion had spoken as an apostle of concrete reality and sober wisdom. Carlyle had more poisonous enemies than M. Scherer : one of them has called him "an ungainly peasant." In his youthful days, no doubt, his ways were not those of the il-du-Beuf, but in advanced life his bucolic behaviour left him, and he possessed considerable charm and polish of manner. According to the testimony of survivors of the admirable society which used to gather in the 'forties and 'fifties at the Grange and Bath House, there was then nothing in Carlyle's demeanour to separate him to his disadvantage from the average frequenters of the London drawing-rooms of the period.
Mr. Froude thinks that Ecclefechan and Craigenputtock will hereafter receive the pilgrimages of the faithful, like Abbotsford and Ferney. But Carlyle seems more identified with Chelsea than with his youthful Dumfriesshire homes. The hand of modern improvement, which has devastated the Quirinal and the Pincio, has marked the right bank of the Thames, in the latitude of Battersea, with beauties of Victorian architecture, sculpture, and gardening, which almost obliterate the historic physiognomy of old Cheyne Row. However, there runs the river beneath Sir Thomas More's parade-there, in undisturbed order, stand the venerable pollard limes. While the antique brick house,
with its railings and wainscotings, can still be recognised by an effort:
Hac ibat Simois : hic est Sigeia tellus. In countries, whose wealth is not that of Peru, the liberality of individuals, or of municipalities, or of the State, has permitted the purchase and maintenance, for the public credit and advantage, of the houses and relics of some of the heroes of the nation. Cologne, Dresden, Weimar, Marbach, Salzburg, have thus paid respect to the manes of Beethoven, Körner, Goethe, Schiller, Mozart. Is it hoping beyond hope to wish that, by a similar application of "the cash nexus," rich England and America might do like honour to the memory of Thomas Carlyle, so that the sanctuary in which he wrote, smoking his long clay, and patting at intervals Nero or Tib, may no longer be described in the daily press as the haunt of astral spirits and of starving cats and dogs ?
VOL. IX.-No. 50.
OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS: THEIR METHODS
MONG the other boasts which Englishmen are fond of making
when they praise God that they are not as other men, a very favourite, if somewhat curious, one is that they live under a “glorious Constitution," of which the best that can be said is that it is a " series of compromises," a workable anomaly, and an adaptation of obsolete forms to modern requirements. This illogical but withal sensible temperament, this tendency to make the best of what we have rather than rush into the unknown, may be seen in almost every department of English life—from the House of Lords to the careful housewife who cuts down her husband's trousers to make a waistcoat for Johnny. Unfortunately, in certain cases, the absence of logic is not counterbalanced by the presence of common-sense, in proof of which no stronger evidence can be brought forward than the system of education at present in vogue at our public schools.
Education has come to be looked upon as an arming for the RamothGilead of competition, to which all alike must go up. Scholarly learning has come to be looked upon as a thing which is not of the nineteenth century. Board schools and commercial seminaries exist in abundance which provide, either free or at a moderate charge, an education which is admirably adapted for its purpose—it is only in our public schools that, on payment of £150 a year or so, the proud parent may provide his son with a first-class education (so called) which, at the end of five years or so, leaves him neither a scholar nor a man of business ; but merely a dustbin of musty particles, and odds and ends of miscellaneous and indigestible learning.
Far be it from me to suggest that our public schools should come to be looked upon merely as training-grounds for a professional or commercial life. They have a most important mission to performnamely, to maintain sound education as opposed to specialised