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Napoleon. At Rossbach with 20,000 men he defeated 60,000 French; at Leuthen, with 30,000, he reduced 90,000 Austrians to a mob of 3000 disorganized fugitives; and at Zornsdorf with 40,000, he routed 60,000 Russians. His personal character and private life were also picturesque in a high degree. Carlyle studied him, as he studied all his subjects, until he knew all that could be learned, reading an enormous amount of rubbish and making two trips to Germany in order to master the subject. In consequence his book contains no mistakes. Military students in Germany are set to learn Frederick's battles in his account of them. The first and second volumes were published 1858, the third 1862, the fourth 1864, the fifth and sixth 1865. They were such a success that Mrs. Carlyle travelled thenceforward first-class, had two servants, and was presented with a brougham. Their popularity is not surprising. Mrs. Carlyle, no mean judge, called it the best of his books; forcible, clear, and sparkling as “ The French Revolution "; compact and finished as “ Cromwell.” As a specimen of its style the opening paragraph, which is neither better nor worse than many others, will serve:
“ About fourscore years ago there used to be seen sauntering on the terraces of Sans Souci for a short time in the afternoon, or you might have met him elsewhere at an earlier hour, riding or driving in a rapid business manner on the open roads or through the scraggy woods and avenues of that intricate amphibious Potsdam region, a highly interesting lean little old man, of alert though slightly stooping figure, whose name among strangers was King Friedrich the Second or Frederick the Second of Prussia, and at home among the common people, who much loved and esteemed him, was Vater Fritz, Father Fred, a name of familiarity which had not bred contempt in that instance. He is a king every inch of him, though without the trappings of a king. Presents himself in a Spartan simplicity of vesture: no crown but an old military cocked hat-generally old, or trampled and kneaded into absolute softness if new; no sceptre but one like Agamemnon's, a walking-stick cut from the woods, which serves also as a riding-stick (with which he hits the horse between the ears, say authors); and for royal robes a mere soldier's blue coat with red facings, coat likely to be old and certain to have a good deal of Spanish snuff on the breast
of it; rest of the apparel dim, unobtrusive in color or cut, ending in high over-knee military boots, which may be brushed (and, I hope, kept soft with an underhand suspicion of oil), but are not permitted to be blackened or varnished.”
Our Civil War Carlyle failed to understand, as Samuel Johnson, with whose intolerant spirit he had much in common, failed to understand our Revolutionary War. Not sympathizing with the emancipation of the slaves, whom he considered unfit for freedom, he did not see that the North stood for the very assertion of Right as Might, for order against anarchy, in which he so heartily believed. Accordingly in 1863 we find him publishing this:
“ Peter of the North (to Paul of the South): Paul, you unaccountable scoundrel, I find you hire your servants for life, not by the month or year as I do. You are going straight to Hell, you—.”
Paul: Good words, Peter. The risk is my own. I am willing to take the risk. Hire you your servants by the month or day, and get straight to Heaven; leave me to my own method.”
“ Peter: No, I won't. I will beat your brains out first! (And is trying dreadfully ever since but cannot yet manage it.)”
Such mistakes, however, could not shake his fame. In America, in England, in Germany, even in his own Scotland, his position was now secure. In 1865 he was elected Lord Rector of Glasgow University and went north with Professor Tyndall for his installation. His address, which was on the “Reading of Books,” was received with such enthusiasm that the occasion has been called the climax of his career. But his joy, if joy there was, was short-lived. On his way south he stopped at Dumfries to visit his sister, and there a telegram informed him that Mrs. Carlyle had been found dead in her brougham from heart disease after a drive round Hyde Park. Over her tomb in the old Abbey Kirk at Haddington the desolate old man inscribed these words:
“In her bright existence she had more sorrows than are common, but also a soft invincibility, a capacity of discernment, and a noble loyalty of heart which are rare. For forty years she was the true and loving helpmate of her husband, and hy act and word unweariedly forwarded him as none else could in all of worthy that he did or attempted.”
Carlyle survived his wife fifteen years, but neither friends nor
fame could console him for her loss. The Queen herself sent him letters of sympathy. Professor Tyndall took him to Mentone. He tried to forget by the composition of his “ Reminiscences " what he could not forget. His charities were generous and unobtrusive. He wrote a "History of the Early Kings of Norway.” In 1871 he rejoiced to see “noble, patient, deep, pious, and solid Germany victorious over vapouring, vainglorious, gesticulating, quarrelsome, restless, and oversensitive France.” Great artists painted his portrait. Gladstone came to visit him. From Bismarck he received a letter thanking him for his services to Germany. He growled at Darwin, at evolution, and at George Eliot. He made John Forster and James Anthony Froude his literary executors. But, through it all, he mourned for his Jean. "Oh, that I had you yet but five minutes beside me, to tell you all!” he wailed. Yet he was not altogether unhappy. In 1867 he wrote: “'Youth is a garland of roses '; I did not find it such. Age is a crown of thorns.' Neither this altogether true for me.” Thus his strength ebbed until he died February 4, 1881.
At his own desire, he was buried in the little churchyard at Ecclefechan rather than in Westminster Abbey. In this request we have a characteristic instance of the same vigorous determination to stand on his own merits that distinguished his whole career. No divided aim wrecked his life. He met and overcame difficulties far greater than those which conquered Burns. “Strange mixture of strength and weakness, he preached," somebody has said, "the doctrine of silence in thirty volumes.” Sham was his pet aversion; truth, his passion; his watchword, duty. “Do the Duty which lies nearest to thee, which thou knowest to be a duty.” Produce! Produce! Were it but the pitifullest infinitesimal fragment of a product, produce it in God's name.” "Obey.” “Be true.” These are the Key Words to the life and works of Thomas Carlyle.
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES 1. What do you know of Thomas Carlyle's father? 2. Name three cther great Scotchmen whose books will live? 3. Describe Carlyle's school experiences and impressions. 4. To what great literature did Carlyle introduce England ?
5. Who was Jane Baillie Welsh ? 6. Name six of Carlyle's most brilliant essays. 7. What are the special features of “Sartor Resartus”? Of the “French
Revolution”? 8. Discuss Carlyle's belief in "heroes and hero worship.” 9. Give the class an outline of Carlyle's life. 10. Discuss Carlyle's “Gospel of Work.”
Suggested Readings.--Carlyle is an author for youth as well as age. Read “Sartor Resartus” (twice) and the first chapters from the “ French Revolution.” His letters to his wife are of deep personal interest; the standard biography is that by James A. Froude.
mitel poet diplomat larator
“The spirited poet, the splendid orator, the brilliant historian, the delightful essayist."-Mary Russell Mitford.
There are no limits to his knowledge, on small subjects as well as great; he is like a book in breeches."-Sydney Smith.
“The Macaulay-flowers of literature.”—O. W. Holmes.
THOMAS BABINGTON, Baron Macaulay of Rothley Temple, as the peerages and encyclopædias call him, or plain Tom Macaulay, as his simplicity, manliness, and perennial boyish vigor tempt one to think of him, is one of the wholesomest figures in history. As a man he was honest, simple, strenuous, gentle; as a writer he is brilliant yet clear, witty yet instructive, polished yet full of human interest. He was born in 1800 in Leicestershire, but he grew up in London until he was thirteen, at which age, in happy defiance of superstition, he was sent away to school. His father was a crusty Puritan of sterling character and common sense, who hated slavery, uncombed hair, loud talk, novels, and all other forms of sin, weakness, and diversion. This worthy gentleman knew intimately many of the best men of his time, grew rich in trade, and waxed poor again in a successful fight against slavery. Macaulay's mother was a Quakeress and had a knack of telling stories; he said that he got his joviality from her.
In the days of his maturity, Macaulay had the good luck to offend that same Christopher North whom Tennyson in his wrath later immortalized as “ Fusty Christopher." North spitefully declared in those days that Macaulay would never be anything but a clever lad all the days of his life, a remark which the student as he contemplates Macaulay's vitality and the fascination he exerts over boys, must recognize as containing a kernel of reason which, rightly understood, may be construed as a compliment. If, in his manhood, however,
Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin, from Riverside Classics, 221,