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foresee what he will produce and effect. GOETHE: Conversations of Goethe with Eckermann and Scott. (July 25, 1827, a year before the Essay on Burns was written.) Translated by John Oxenford. London, 1874. p. 276.
There is no philosophy here for philosophers, only as every man is said to have his philosophy. No system but such as is the man himself; and, indeed, he stands compactly enough; no progress beyond the first assertion and challenge, as it were, with trumpet blast. One thing is certain, that we had best be doing something in good earnest henceforth forever; that's an indispensable philosophy. The before impossible precept, 'know thyself,' he translates into the partially possible one, 'know what thou canst work at!' - THOREAU: Thomas Carlyle and His Works. A Yankee in Canada. p. 240. (Houghton, Mifflin & Co.)
I did not, however, deem myself a competent judge of Carlyle. I felt that he was a poet, and that I was not; that he was a man of intuition, which I was not; and that as such, he not only saw many things long before me, which I could only when they were pointed. out to me, hobble after and prove, but that it was highly probable he could see many things which were not visible to me even after they were pointed out. I knew that I could not see round him, and could never be certain that I saw over him; and I never presumed
to judge him with any definiteness, until he was interpreted to me by one greatly the superior of us both who was more of a poet than he, and more of a thinker than I - whose own mind and nature included his, and infinitely more. JOHN STUART MILL: Autobiography.
He did not believe in democracy, in popular sovereignty, in the progress of the species, in the political equality of Jesus and Judas: in fact, he repudiated with mingled wrath and sorrow the whole American idea and theory of politics; yet who shall say that his central doctrine of the survival of the fittest, the nobility of labor, the exaltation of justice, valor, pity, the leadership of character, truth, nobility, wisdom, etc., is really and finally inconsistent with, or inimical to, that which is valuable and permanent and formative in the modern movement? I think it is the best medicine and regimen for it that could be suggestedthe best stay and counterweight. For the making of good Democrats, there are no books like Carlyle's, and we in America need especially to cherish him, and to lay his lesson to heart. JOHN BURROUGHS: Fresh Fields, p. 281. (Houghton, Mifflin & Co.)
One of Mr. Carlyle's chief and just glories is, that for more than forty years he has clearly seen, and kept constantly and conspicuously in his own sight and that of his readers, the profoundly important crisis in the midst of which we are living. The moral and social
dissolution in progress about us, and the enormous peril of sailing blindfold and haphazard, without rudder or compass or chart, have always been fully visible to him, and it is no fault of his if they have not become equally plain to his contemporaries. The policy of drifting has had no countenance from him. MORLEY: Carlyle. In Critical Miscellanies, London, 1871. (Chapman and Hall.)
It is not the intellect alone, or the imagination alone, which can become sensible of the highest virtue in the writings of Mr. Carlyle. He is before all else a power with reference to conduct. He too cannot live without a divine presence. He finds it in the entire material universe, "the living garment of God." Teufelsdröckh among the Alps is first awakened from his stony sleep at the “Centre of Indifference" by the glory of the white mountains, the azure dome, the azure winds, the black tempest marching in anger through the distance. He finds the divine presence in the spirit of man, and in the heroic leaders of our race. -— DOWDEN: Studies in Literature, p. 74. London, 1878. (Kegan Paul, Trench & Co.)
In Switzerland I live in the immediate presence of a mountain, noble alike in form and mass. A bucket or two of water, whipped into a cloud, can obscure, if not efface, that lordly peak. You would almost say that no peak could be there. But the cloud passes
away, and the mountain, in its solid grandeur, remains. Thus, when all temporary dust is laid, will stand out, erect and clear, the massive figure of Carlyle. TYNDALL: On Unveiling of the Statue to Thomas Carlyle. New Fragments of Science, p. 397. (D. Appleton & Co.)
Though not the safest of guides in politics or practical philosophy, his value as an inspirer and awakener cannot be over-estimated. It is a power which belongs only to the highest order of minds, for it is none but a divine fire that can so kindle and irradiate. The debt due him from those who listened to the teachings of his prime for revealing to them what sublime reserves of power even the humblest may find in manliness, sincerity, and self-reliance, can be paid with nothing short of reverential gratitude. As a purifier of the sources whence our intellectual inspiration is drawn, his influence has been second only to that of Wordsworth, if even to his. Indeed he has been in no fanciful sense the continuator of Wordsworth's moral teaching.-LOWELL: Carlyle. Literary Essays, Vol. II., p. 118. (Houghton, Mifflin & Co.)
Carlyle, therefore, .must be judged as a poet, and not as a dealer in philosophic systems; as a seer or a prophet, not as a theorist or a man of calculations. And, therefore, if I were attempting any criticism of his literary merits, I should dwell upon his surpassing
power in his peculiar province. Admitting that every line he wrote has the stamp of his idiosyncrasies, and consequently requires a certain congeniality of temperament in the reader, I should try to describe the strange spell which it exercises over the initiated. If you really hate the grotesque, the gloomy, the exaggerated, you are of course disqualified from enjoying Carlyle. You must take leave of what ordinarily passes even for common-sense, of all academical canons of taste, and of any weak regard for symmetry or simplicity before you enter the charmed circle. But if you can get rid of your prejudices for the nonce, you will certainly be rewarded by seeing visions. such as are evoked by no other magician. The common-sense reappears in the new shape of strange vivid flashes of humor and insight casting undisputed gleams of light into many dark places; and dashing off graphic portraits with a single touch. And if you miss the serene atmosphere of calmer forms of art, it is something to feel at times, as no one but Carlyle can make you feel, that each instant is the "conflux of two eternities"; that our little lives, in his favorite Shakespearian phrase, are "rounded with a sleep"; that history is like the short space lighted up by a flickering taper in the midst of infinite glooms and mysteries, and its greatest events brief scenes in a vast drama of conflicting forces, where the actors are