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University of Northern Iowa

Emerson and Carlyle


The Correspondence of Thomas Carlyle and Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1834-1872 by Thomas
Carlyle; Ralph Waldo Emerson
Review by: Edwin P. Whipple
The North American Review, Vol. 136, No. 318 (May, 1883), pp. 431-445
Published by: University of Northern Iowa
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AND CARLYLE.*
EMERSON
"
such as are written
Bacon
from
says of private letters, that
wise men, are, of all the words of men, in my judgment,
the best ;
for they are more natural
than orations,
and
public
speeches,
or present
more advised than conferences
speeches."
This remark, frequently
is evidently true
quoted by Emerson,
him and Carlyle from 1834
of the letters which passed between
to 1872. They are natural, in the sense of expressing
the inmost
and are thus thoroughly
natures of the correspondents,
sincere.
But the sincerity of Emerson was that of a sweet, serene, hope
and aspiring
nature ; the sincerity
of
ful, tolerant, wholesome,
intol
Carlyle was that of a nature harsh, unquiet, despondent,
Both of the correspondents
and unhealthy.
erant, despairing,
was
men
were eminently
it
that either could
;
impossible
strong
course by fear or flattery, by
be swayed from his predetermined
or social favor, by the apprehension
of poverty
social ostracism
or the seduction of wealth
; but the strength of Emerson was ever
Emersonr
calm, while that of Carlyle was oftentimes
spasmodic.
indifferent to the received
relying on his intuitions, was sublimely
which
and accredited
reputations
savagely
Carlyle
opinions
assailed.

a difference
the two was not merely
The difference between
in respect to phys
of character and experience, but a difference
ical health.
Brought up to receive, as absolute truth, the auster
of Scotch Presbyterianism,
est doctrines
by a father
professed
"
"
for
destined
whom he held to be the best of men, Carlyle was
can
reason
be little doubt
There
the ministry.
that, had his
the dogmas he was to preach, he would have been a
accepted
The trouble was that his cult
preacher greater than Chalmers.
ure made him doubt the truth of the dogmas he was expected to
*

The

1834-1872.

correspondence
Boston:

of
James

Thomas
and Ralph
Waldo
Carlyle
2 vols.
R. Osgood
16mo.
& Co.

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Emerson.

432

THE NORTH

AMERICAN

REVIEW.

In a great many
instances
the young
students of the
expound.
offends them at first sight, in the rigid
ology glide over what
articles of their creed, and become
by relative super
clergymen
and
without
mind
of
imagination
character,
ficiality
enough to
of the articles
to which
realize the terrible consequences
they
"
in the laudable desire to make a living."
subscribe
They wish
their profes
to be married
; they wish to do good in practising
in a wife and family devoted
to them, they
sion ; and, happy
the doctrine of divine wrath to the chil
in the morning
preach
dren of men, and then, in the evening, mingle
cheerfully with
their flock, and are the most
genial,
entertaining,
instructive,
Their
and humane of the company
they call together.
helpful,
; they insensibly modify
humanity
triumphs over their theology
of their theoretical
creed when
the harsh elements
they are in
needs of their congregations
the practical
actual contact with
;
with
and no fair-minded
person, who has a large acquaintance
our towns and villages,
could think of the abolition of our Chris
a shudder of apprehension
tian churches and pastors without
Whatever
of our civilization.
for the prospects
may be the
stand
the
which
creeds
profess, they resolutely
clergymen
special
of ethics in practical
for absolute principles
life, and for larger
than obtain in their respective parishes.
ideas in philosophy
to realize to his reason, heart,
But Carlyle, after endeavoring
creed in which he
the dogmas of the religious
and imagination,
that he could not
had been brought up, came to the conclusion
accept it, and became a man of letters in despair of submitting
of the Church of Scotland.
to the stern doctrines
his intelligence
so strong as
and a character
The struggle, in a mind so vigorous
what
he
found he
he
wished
to
and
believe
between
what
his,
of
could not believe, was accompanied
spiritual expe
by agonies
and Bun
Luther
to
which
the
similar
through
experience
rience,
an
struggle
yan passed : but Carlyle came out of his spiritual
we
case
and
of
Luther
in
the
incurable dyspeptic
;while,
Bunyan,
in their souls left any
that the disturbances
are not informed
in their digestion.
Carlyle became
derangements
permanent
and heart ;
brain
his
but
in
in
his
not
stomach,
only
dyspeptic,
of history and of
and his whole view of life, here and hereafter,
from the
and distorted,
discolored
annals, was
contemporary
of his
center
to
the
extended
fact that his indigestion
very
a questionable
was
to
him
Existence
;
blessing
spiritual being.
exacted
and his poverty
for his will, his genius, his conscience,

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EMEBSON

AND

CABLYLE.

433

labor ; and labor brought


him the duty of constant
him,
to his own account, none of the sweet compensations
according
a force com
of labor. He had in him a certain barbaric force,?
all
with
civilized
which
energy appears
comparatively
pared
on whom
the culture
weak ; but he was an invalid barbarian,
and the sick giant wailed, and
of Europe
had been lavished;
and
almost
sometimes
and growled,
blasphemed,
mourned,
in which
toiled.
He
he resolutely
the whole
period
during
of
and
to
severest
acted
its
the
up
require
preached
work,
gospel
In his ut
ments
; but the gospel gave no joy to the workman.
most
to Emerson:
"Me Mammon
stress of poverty,
he wrote
will pay or not, as he finds convenient;
buy me, he will not."
that " it is hard to
One is reminded
of Dr. South's
statement
maintain
by it."
truth, but still harder to be maintained
no
on
in his early life
had
the
experiences
Emerson,
contrary,
at all resembling
He was born in a family
those of Carlyle.
where
the fear of God was absorbed
in the love of God.
His
soul was infused with
cheer from his infancy.
He entered and
a blemish
on his name.
He
through
passed
college without
"
became by
did
natural selection " a Unitarian
and
his
minister,
No
work
to the entire satisfaction
of his parish.
appointed
loved than he by those who
clergyman was ever more heartily
to his discourses,
listened
and were favored with his Christian
He brought
cheer and hope into every house
companionship.
hold where he appeared.
memorials
There are many unpublished
the effect which
the sweet and unaffected
celebrating
sanctity
of his character
in towns remote from Boston, when
produced
"
he
services with his brother clergymen.
One letter,
exchanged"
woman
then
and self-sacrificing
written by the most
cultivated
in
Association
testified
that
the
Unitarian
living
Massachusetts,
an
had sent, for one Sunday,
to the Northampton
Unitarians,
But Emerson
angel when the latter only asked for a preacher.
found in the Unitarian
to
he considered
body some rule which
limit his entire
his
abandoned
and he quietly
independence,
connection
with
the denomination,
and retired to his country
home to think and to study freely, without
any association
qual
even with
to
ified to call him to account
for heresy
respect
the doctrines
All this was done without
of Unitarianism.
any
He never lost his
shock either to his soul or to his digestion.
serene in all
to
health
and
remained
the
last
;
perfectly
physical
man
as
loved and
as
No
in
all
well
matters.
practical
spiritual
from

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434

THE NORTH

A3IERICAN

REVIEW.

than he, or feared him less. He


is an
God more
man
a
of
instance
of
extraordinary
religious
genius,
passing
to any
without
submitted
through
changes,
religious
being
stress and storm of religious
passion.
This was the Emerson who, at the age of thirty, visited,
for
one day, Carlyle at his lonely residence
He
of Craigenputtock.
he made, both on Car
staid but for a day ; but the impression
and led to a life-long friend
lyle and his wife, was permanent,
ship. Years afterward, Mrs. Carlyle wrote that she could never
" out
of the clouds, as it
forget the visitor who had descended
one
"and
made
into
their
desert,
day there look like
were,"
for us, and left me weeping
enchantment
that it was only one
"
" that
reckoned
only three
Carlyle himself
happinesses
day."
first two of which
had occurred to him in the year 1833?the
were trivial, but the third of memorable
; for the
importance
who appeared both to
third happiness was the visit of Emerson,
as "one of the most
lovable creatures
Jane and himself
they
had ever looked on."
return to the United
On Emerson's
States, the correspondence
dated May,
between
the two began by a letter from Emerson,
"
in the brave
Sartor
welcomes
in
he
which
Resartus,"
glories
1834,
but is repelled
stand that the author has made for Spiritualism,
"
chosen to convey
this treasure,"
by the oddity of the vehicle
"
when the word will be as sim
and looks forward to the time
as the thought."
Indeed, Emerson was,
ple, and so as resistless,
liberties which his
with the strange
for many years, dissatisfied
in 1835, that
He wrote,
friend took with the English
language.
'
"
he cherished a salutary horror of the German
style of Sartor
" It was
Resartus.'
only long after this letter that, in recommend
"
Cromwell "to a friend, he was met by the ordinary
ing Carlyle's
"
Read him for his style," was
to
the
writer's
style.
objection
of a
and
Emerson's
;
indeed, if the excellence
emphatic rejoinder
it
which
with
to
the
be
expresses
felicity
style
judged according
individual
and embodies a peculiar
nature, the style of Carlyle
in Car
It is only when his imitators write
is unobjectionable.
of
the
dialect
that
we
how
English
pernicious
lylese, that
perceive
in other
it becomes
and how ridiculous
tongue is as a model,
to select a sentence
It would be difficult
hands than his own.
its peculiarities
in which
of Emerson
appear. Yet, while Emer
"
strain"
son protests
Teutonic
the
apocalyptic
grotesque
against
that the strange
of the book, he admits that it may be inevitable
reverenced

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EMEBSON

AND

CABLYLE.

435

of
jargon, as it seems to him, is Carlyle's most natural method
"are not all our little circlets of
"for," he declares,
utterance;
as so many
in by the great Circle of
little eddies rounded
will
the
could
and
Necessity?
Truth-speaker,
perhaps now the best
thinker of the Saxon race, have written
otherwise ? And must
we not say that Drunkenness
is a virtue rather than that Cato
to conceive
Is it possible
has erred?"
that recognition
and
and gracefully
could be more genially
combined?
reproof
This letter led to a correspondence
between
the two friends
which was continued,
with intervals
of silence, for forty years.
of matter,
In richness
and fullness
there is nothing
superior,
one is prompted
to say?
equal to it in literary annals.
nothing?
The sentences which a reviewer would be inclined? to quote are
so numerous
he would be in
that, if he indulged his inclination,
the
law
of
of
There
copyright.
danger
infringing
will, of course,
demand for the book from that large por
immediate
be a wide
readers who are stimulated by mere intellectual
tion of cultivated
so swarm with
but
volumes
the
curiosity;
striking
thoughts,
are so "rammed with
Ben
in
old
Jonson's
and,
vernacular,
life,"
that we can confidently
be read a century
they will
predict
as recording
hence with delight.
They are specially interesting
communion
of two of the most
the intimate
original minds,
and two of the most contrasted
which our century
individualities,
at
the
It would
first
has produced.
that it was
seem,
glance,
men
two
to
such
be
for
bound
in a vital
impossible
together
the lapse of time and frequent
friendship,?a
friendship which
in opinion
and action only rendered more
close
disagreement
and indissoluble.
The difference,
the two men
the
indeed, between
impresses
was the champion
Emerson
reader on almost
of
every page.
asserted
the absolute
the Ideal;
of Fact.
dominion
Carlyle
declared that Truth is mighty
and will prevail ; Carlyle
Emerson
is mighty,
and has prevailed.
that Truth
retorted
Emerson
looked serenely at the ugly aspect of contemporary
life, because,
as an optimist, he was a herald of the Future
; Carlyle, as a pes
and
the
threw
all
the energy of his
denounced
Present,
simist,
the Past.
into vitalizing
vivid dramatic
Emerson was a
genius
Emerson
; Carlyle, a resurrectionist.
gloried in what was
prophet
to be ; Carlyle exulted in what had been. Emerson
declared, even
to
events
the
current
when
that
appeared ugliest
philanthropist,
"
on
the highest
thought and the deepest love is born with Victory

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436

THE NORTH

AMERICAN

REVIEW.

sur
in the end ; Carlyle, gloomily
his head," and must
triumph
insisted
that high
and deep love
the present,
thought
veying
must be sought and found in generations
long past, which Dr.
of mud, that it
so
mountains
his
had
with
covered
up
Dryasdust
was only by immense toil he (Carlyle) had been able to reproduce
Look up, says Emerson,
them as they actually existed.
cheerily ;
"look
to a star";
"hitch
down," growls Carlyle,
your wagon
"
is an honest one, safe and strong in
and see that your wagon
over
to look
before
you have the impudence
miry roads,
passing
heavens."
in
the
to
the
smallest
star
up
rebuking
The practical value of Emerson's
by
friendship was proved
his strenuous efforts to disseminate
Carlyle's works in the United
of
his own credit to pay the expenses
States, and by pledging
In this way all the profits of the volumes,
their republication.
for selling
commission
less the publisher's
them, were sent to
"
French
The
That
prose
Revolution,"
epic,
magnificent
Carlyle.
in the United
fell almost dead on the English
public; while
the
that the author obtained
it was so warmly welcomed
States
in this
for writing
it principally
from his admirers
remuneration
for the lone, unap
enthusiasm
country,
inspired by Emerson's
an
there is something
creator
immortal
work.
But
of
preciated
in the business
relations between
Nei
the two friends.
comical
or has penetrated
into the mys
ther understands
book-keeping,
as to
Emerson
is always doubtful
teries of an account current.
from the
worth
he has got his money's
whether
the question
to the fam
but still sends scores of pounds sterling
publishers,
ishing author ; Carlyle gladly pockets the coin, but is more help
in understanding
he has
whether
himself
less than Emerson
are "hideous
To Carlyle, all publishers
been cheated or not.
;"
is less hideous
but he thinks that Fraser
(of "the sand magazine")
to him.
than the others, because he has become more accustomed
one
of
the
the
ablest
into
conference
At last Emerson,
by calling
with
the
American
of Boston merchants,
representative
together
and the cashier of a Boston bank, finds that
of Baring Brothers,
are about right.
to think of
But
it is ludicrous
the publishers
a
in accounts
in to decide upon
such great experts
brought
of a few pounds and shillings.
matter
"
a name."
A New York
become
Meanwhile,
Carlyle had
and
with
the terms
dissatisfied
firm,
book-selling
publishing
on which they could purchase
that
Carlyle's books, and finding
or threatened
to issue
it would
pay to reprint
them, began

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EMEBSON

AND

CABLYLE.

437

This they had a perfect


them in cheaper editions.
legal right
to do, whatever
may be said of the "courtesy"
title, which
was afterward, by the leading publishing
to the
firms, accorded
a
If
of
first American
author's
works.
any
foreign
reprinter
had a right to complain of the absence of inter
English writer
in this
it was Dickens
national
; for his popularity
copyright,
friend had under
country was so immense that if an American
did for Carlyle, and his claim
taken to do for him what Emerson
had been admitted by the book-sellers,
the gains of Dickens would
have been scores of thousands
of dollars from the United
States
seems
alone.
to
have
considered
Emerson,
however,
Carlyle an
No decent publisher,
exception.
though he made but a few
hundred
dollars by the transaction,
should dare to touch his
unauthorized
The result was a num
special rights by
reprints.
ber of indignant
letters between
the friends, in which
all the
resources of ingenious
on the unhappy
invective were lavished
was on the eve of publi
When
"Past
and Present"
"pirate."
an
Emerson
his irascible
with
suggested
cation,
arrangement
to
the
have
volume
issued
in
and
friend,
England
simultaneously
in this country.
"The practical
business
is:
Carlyle replies:
How to cut out that New York scoundrel, who fancies that, be
cause there is no gallows,
it is permitted
to steal ? I have a dis
to do that, altogether
tinct desire
to be
apart from the money
A friend's goodness
gained thereby.
ought not to be frustrated
destitute
of gallows."
Then follows a letter in
by a scoundrel
"
which he prophesies
that
the gibbetless
thief in New York will
beat us after all"; and Emerson
answers, "you are
despairingly
no longer secure of any respect
to your property
in our free
"
America."
Now
all
this
came
Much
Ado
About
Little"
booting
from the simple fact that one prominent
bookseller
quarreled
with another on a question of the proper discount
to be made
from the retail price of one or two books of
limited
necessarily
circulation.
Emerson made
the mistake
of insisting
that the
retail dealer in Carlyle's works
should have the most
beggarly
on the volumes
commission
on his counters.
he displayed
He
thus checked the sale of the writings
he most desired to circulate.
Who would
venture
to order twenty copies of a book, without
in case
being pretty sure that he would not lose by the bargain,
he sold only twelve ?
It is well known
that Emerson's
of the fine
appreciation
and
beautiful
character
of A. B. Alcott
was as true as
genius

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THE NORTH

438

AMERICAN

REVIEW.

He considered him the most


it was intense.
inspired converser
in the country ; but he also affirmed
that what he wrote
and
indication
of his powers,?that,
gave but the slightest
published
with him, the tongue was a more potent
instrument
of expres
was a born
Mr.
Alcott
sion than the pen.
Indeed,
idealist,
the principles
of his philosophy
to the
unflinchingly
applying
concerns
a
of
life.
There
is
current
of
ordinary practical
story
a certain sturdy politician, who remained
faithful
to his party
and sect until his death in extreme old age. It was alleged that,
"
in a minute
after his birth, he exclaimed,
Now, I want all you
to
round
here
understand
that I am born a
fooling
people
in politics, and aUnivarsalist
Jefiirsonian Dimmicrat
in religion;
and don't you forgit it." The legend goes on to say that he
would not take a sip of mother's milk until the rigid conditions
on which he condescended
to accept
existence were
complied
that the infant Alcott might have an
with.
One can imagine
as peremptorily
that he was to be brought
nounced
up as a
in philosophy.
At any
in diet and a Platonist
Pythagorean
the most
of
serene, the most humane
rate, he was the sweetest,
human beings ; and even when he carried his ideas to extremes
in conduct, all who knew and loved him had the widest
tolera
tion for his eccentricities.
com
to Europe,
Mr. Alcott
went
in 1842, Emerson
When
him to Carlyle in a characteristic
fashion :
mended
a new
he arrives
at your gate, make
when
of him ; and
to forget what
you have heard
be sure to
to which
is attached,
his name
anything
You may
love him, or hate him, or apathetically
pass by him, as
shall dictate
; only I entreat
this, that you do not let him go quite
seen him, and know
for
reach until you are sure that you have
of the man."
nature
"Let

impression.
ever
read

the

stranger,
Be sure

and primary
if you have
forget

that.

your genius
out of your
certain

the

"
And, in his next letter, he adds : My friend Alcott must have
visited
any relation
you before this, and you have seen whether
so differently
excellent."
could subsist between men
Indeed,
that was the exact relation between Carlyle and Emerson.
Emerson must have feared the impression which the optimis
on the somewhat
the
tic Alcott would make
cynical pessimist,
as
contrasted
of
of
the
Letters,
Despotism
literary Diogenes
" of the same name.
with the old time " Republic
Carlyle tried
"
his irritable
when
used
his
to be good,"?the
wife
which
phrase
or by a dinner which
softened
temper was
by friendship,

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EMEBSON

AND

CABLYLE.

439

his stomach
less than usual,?
and he wrote
back to
oppressed
that his friend was found to be "a genial, innocent,
Emerson,
and goodness,
man, of much natural intelligence
simple-hearted
and dignity withal, which
with an air of rusticity, veracity,
in
me.
The
to
his
lean
many ways appeals
good Alcott,?with
long,
face and figure, with his gray, worn
temples and mild, radiant
eyes, all bent on saving the world by a return to acorns and the
comes before one like a venerable Don Quixote,
Golden Age,?he
can
even laugh at without
whom
Emerson
nobody
loving."
seem
seen
to
in
not
"As
do
have
him
his pure
you
replied:
some new and
and noble
I fear that it lies under
intellect,
was evidently
denser
clouds."
Alcott
with
his
disappointed
was
It
reception.
rumored, at the time, that he wrote to Emer
son in these words : " I accuse T. Carlyle of inhospitality
to my
one
At
must
he
have
to
of
his
any rate,
felt,
thought."
employ
" was
own phrases,
that Carlyle
not iws-pirate, but d^s-perate."
He brought back to New England
a follower or two, whom Car
Aleott's
to
lyle styled
"English
Tail"; and he implored Emerson
"
avoid it. " Bottomless
he
not
to
be
imbeciles,"
wrote,
ought
seen in company with Ealph Waldo
Emerson, who has already
l
men listening
to him on this side of the water.
The Tail' has
an individual
or two of that genus, and the rest is mainly
unde
cided.
For example, I know old-myself
; and can testify,
4
if you will believe me, that few greater blockheads
(if block
head may mean exasperated
imbecile,' and the ninth part of a
a care of
bread
in his day. Have
thinker) broke the world's
such!"
It must be admitted
that the "Tail" of the returning
did him no honor, and led him into some absurdi
philosopher
ties ; but such mistakes
were merely
chance incidents
in a life
which has been devoted to all noble and honorable
ends.
Emer
son's shrewdness
and good sense saved him from any participa
tion in the follies of the " Ta?."
Thomas
in a
power of sketching,
Carlyle had a wonderful
few words, physical
and mental
of the men he met,
portraits
somewhat resembling
the skill of Thomas Nast in the grotesque
caricatures
he has contributed
to "Harper's Weekly."
The two
Thomases
had this in common, that every peculiarity
of face,
of the
feature, shape of the head, color of the hair, movement
was made
body, or any other merely
physical
characteristic,
or moral qualities
of mental
in the person delineated.
significant
Nast
more
than
of
contributed,
anybody else, to the overthrow

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440

THE NORTH

AMERICAN

REVIEW.

"the Tweed Ring" which ruled, robbed, and might


have ruined
New York, and he did it by his marvelous
appeals to the eye of
to form a
the ordinary honest voter, who was perhaps incompetent
of
rational
words
rascalities
addressed
to his
opinion
through
reason and imagination.
!" groaned Tweed ;
"Oh, them picters
us!"
"that was what wrecked
portraits
by the pen
Carlyle's
are similar to those of Nast by the pencil,
as they
inasmuch
in
and
with
agree
connecting
physiology
making
psychology,
a man's
inward nature correspond
traits of
to the exaggerated
his bodily organization.
even in
Carlyle could not restrain this tendency of his mind,
as
his
friends.
Much
in
he
Emerson's
characterizing
delighted
that his thoughts,
full of soul,
though
books, he complained
even on the highest
lacked body.
His own thinking,
themes,
forms ; and, except in the
tended to embody itself in palpable
came
the Eternal
where
of his word-pictures,
vague background
"
" that which
his
his
bodied
forth
spirit
imagination
in,
really
as a
in which
he appeared
ual eye discerned.
In the moods
and satirist,?as
from his loftiest moods
humorist
distinguished
in which he appeared as a thinker and seer,?his
wit and humor
In particular,
rushed by instinct
into forms truly Rabelaisian.
he cannot help letting his mind run riot in picturing
individuals.
as " a gen
Thus he speaks, in 1837, of his friend, Miss Martineau,
into socin
uine little poetess, buckramed,
swathed like a mummy
ian and political-economy
formulas
; and yet verily alive in the
" In a
inside of that !
letter, dated November,
1838, he invites
to visit England,
Emerson
and after mentioning
several men who
"
old Rogers, with his pale head,
will welcome
him, he adds that
as
those
and
cold
work on you with
?white,
snow,?will
bare,
shelf-chin."
and that sardonic
large, blue eyes, cruel, sorrowful,
in England,
in 1839, and he writes to his friend :
He met Webster
"
of all your
the notablest
Not many days ago, I saw at breakfast
a
He
is
Daniel
Webster.
;you
specimen
magnificent
notabilities,
'
such
This is your Yankee Englishman;
say to all the world,
might
As a logic-fencer,
limbs we make in Yankeeland.'
advocate, or par
one would be inclined to back him at first
liamentary Hercules,
that
The tanned complexion,
sight against all the extant world.
amorphous,
crag-like face ; the dull, black eyes, under their preci
only to be
furnaces, needing
pice of brows, like dull anthracite
not
traced
have
the
closed,?I
accurately
mastiff-mouth,
blown;
as much of silent Bersekir-rage,
that I remember of, in any other

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EMEBSON

AND

441

CABLYLE.

:
of Walter
man."
After
this comes a portrait
Savage Landor
"A tall, broad, burly man, with gray hair, and large, fierce-roll
ing eyes ; of the most restless, impetuous vivacity, not to be held
itself in high-col
in by the most perfect breeding,?expressing
now and then
ored superlatives,
indeed, in reckless exaggeration,
in a short, dry laugh, not of sport, but of mockery
; a wild man,
whom no extent of culture had been able to tame." Landor was
in "Bleak House";
of Dickens's
the original
but is
Boythorn,
own wild diatribes
of Boythorn
in Carlyle's
there not much
one of the English
friends
against things and persons ? Milnes,
"
who most appreciated
him, he describes as a pretty, little robin
of a man."
redbreast
How
cruel this is!
Sumner
told the
about
writer
the
wrote
when
this to
time
present
that,
Carlyle
he was a guest at one of Rogers's
had
and
Emerson,
breakfasts,
occasion to mention, with great warmth,
of Carlyle as
the merits
a writer and thinker.
He found not the slightest response from
the many eminent men present ; and Milnes, who sat near him,
in his ear that he perfectly
whispered
agreed with him, but that
he was
the only Englishman
with
present who
sympathized
Sumner's

admiration

of

the

great

man.

was

another friend of Carlyle.


The latter liked
Tennyson
him as a companion, but often lectured and hectored him on the
in verse.
in these volumes
is described
He
folly of writing
" as one
men in the world.
A great
of the finest-looking
(1844)
shock of rough, dusty-dark
hair ; bright, laughing
hazel eyes ;
of sal
massive,
yet most delicate;
aquiline face?most
massive,
low-brown
almost
clothes
complexion,
Indian-looking;
cynically
loose,

; smokes

free-and-easy

infinite

tobacco.

His

voice

is music

fit for loud laughter and piercing wail, and all that
ally metallic,
:I
free and plenteous
may lie between
; speech and speculation
over a pipe."
in these late decades, such company
do not meet,
stories of the many
if he chose, could tell strange
Tennyson,
in which
the
controversies
the two smokers
engaged, which
from
of
not
occasion
tobacco
could
influence
soothing
prevent
an irritating and almost furious form of disagree
ally assuming
once present
ment.
A friend of both was
at a conversation
between
the two, in which
for the horrible
Carlyle
apologized
on his Saxon
cruelties
sub
inflicted by William
the Conqueror
as
The
narrated
discussion
waxed
jects,
minutely
by Tennyson.
warm
between
of the accused;
the accuser
and the defender
from the pitying
all the more exasperating
Carlyle
becoming
vol.

cxxxvi.?no.

318.

31

31
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THE NORTH

442

AMERICAN

REVIEW.

to inform Tennyson
that he did
way in which he condescended
should be governed,
when
not know how savage populations
was intrusted
to a firm hand, utterly
their government
regard
of
and the sentimentality
less of Exeter Hall
philanthropy
to Emerson
that he
In 1867, Carlyle writes
of verses.
writers
"
" " with
and a lady friend had read Tennyson's
Idyls of the King
also
and
of the finely elaborated
execution,
recognition
profound
con
to
with
of
inward
of the
vacancy, and,
say truth,
perfection
at being treated so very like infants, though
siderable impatience
for one
so superlative.
We
the lollipops were
changed
gladly
of Emerson'sL English Traits,' and read that, with increasing and
that
ever increasing
satisfaction
every evening, blessing Heaven
There
is
too."
for
were
books
still
there
really
grown-up people
as its tone of con
subtle in this criticism, exaggerated
something
"
is ; and most readers of the
demnation
Idyls" must feel its force,
Amid all the clash of
however much
they may like the poems.
of
deeds
heroes,
they must
Tennyson's
arms, and the heroic
of
true
the
a
"inward
of
that
have
vacancy"
knightly
feeling
in what
this inward
to define
be difficult
It would
spirit.
vacancy consists ; but it is not felt by the reader of Scott's heroic
"
in History."
and the Heroic
or of Carlyle's
Heroes
romances,
in the opinion of those Amer
injured Carlyle more,
Nothing
than the
his genius,
and appreciated
admired
icans who most
our civil
Before
to
in
he
took
negro
slavery.
regard
position
"
"
that
war broke out, he had declared his conviction
Quashee
the
lash.
of
even
the
stimulus
to work
be compelled
must
by
he spoke of the lazy African
He always raved whenever
; and
He
two
with
he always
absolutely
appeared
g's.
spelt negro
came
the "nigger"
or inhuman, whenever
question
insane,
Some thirty years ago, a
for settlement.
before his judgment
of members
in Boston,
radical club was established
composed
and philosophi
of
religious,
every
political,
variety
representing
assem
of the room where the members
The walls
cal dissent.
of the most prominent
bled were lined with photographs
foreign
"
of
and domestic
ought to be." On
things as they
champions
one

evening,

Emerson

made

some

remarks

on

purely

intel

to slavery, except the


no possible
relation
topic, having
to routine,
of the country
slavery of even the educated mind
one
most
earnest
as
of
its
was
to
referred
and Carlyle
oppo
rose from his seat, glared through his
Then Garrison
nents.
and said that no club
of Carlyle,
at the portrait
spectacles
lectual

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EMEBSON

AND

443

CABLYLE.

and hopeful men could look at that face without


of humane
horror and disgust, and he trusted that the moral
sentiment
of
not that the portrait
those present would
should be
demand,
taken down, but that it should be turned to the wall, so that the
not affront
of that enemy of freedom might
lineaments
hateful
Of course the advice was not
the eyes of any honest reformer.
of hatred which
the great
but it showed the intensity
followed;
felt for the cynical defender
of the
leader of the abolitionists
the negro to his daily task, if he
scourge
policy which would
The truth is that Carlyle was him
would not go to it willingly.
on by his sense of duty to undertake work in which
self whipped
and much pain; and he considered
he found little enjoyment
to do by outward compulsion what
that others should be made
of will.
the grain, by inward strength
he did, against
One of
in
this
is the letter to
the most striking
epistles
correspondence,
he furiously
in August,
1849, in which
Emerson,
inveighs
one half of the whole
Ireland.
of
the
Nearly
against
pauperism
"
Poor-Law
he says, receives
rations," while the land
population,
are hiding
and the landlords
is uncultivated,
from bailiffs.
a state of things was never heard
of under
"Such
this sky
before.

L
. What

is to be

done

'

asks

every

one.

. .

. LBlack

idle beggars,'
I sometimes
two million
lead these
advised,
as niggers,?perhaps
on
'and sell them in Brazil
Parliament,
"'
sweet constraint, will allow you to advance them to be niggers
!
if taken as an expression
Of course, this burst of wrath,
of
of Dahomey,
after he had
opinion, would rather befit the King
a more
of "fire-water,"
amount
than usual
imbibed
than a
civilized human being ; but through all this grotesque
exaggera
that all persons who will not work
tion there runs this principle,
for a living should be either forced to work for it, or should
cease to live. He detested
all philanthropy
which
saved lazy
"
of
their
from
laziness.
the
them
Let
work
consequences
people
"
or die," seems to have been his austere motto
; and the sooner
Clean the earth of these unclean
they die, the better.
things
who have the impudence
to declare their right to #r-ist, while
they depend on the charity of real laborers to sw?-sist."
he applied this principle,
When
that pauperism was the worst
of crimes, to our civil war, he was met by the obvious
objec
tion that about all the work done at the South was done by
that the owners of these niggers
of
devoted most
"niggers";
their time to that constitutional
palaver which he held in special

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THE NORTH

444

AMERICAN

abhorrence

"
; and that, as
captains

or

to

nothing

promote,

advance,

of
or

REVIEW.
industry,"
increase

the

they did

little

remuneration

of Labor.
A New Englander
invented
the cotton-gin;
they
care
the inventor, and then were
starved
stole the invention,
one machine
less of almost all other improvements
by which
made
the
does the work
of a hundred men.
They necessarily
to war because
and then went
South
poor;
they conceived
to the encroach
of the South was
that the poverty
owing
ments of the North on their constitutional
the
rights.
During
; and the warm
war, Carlyle was on the side of the Confederates
cooled.
regarded his friend palpably
feeling with which Emerson
libels on the North were not con
Meanwhile
Carlyle's fiercest
in organs of
Some were published
tained in letters to Emerson.
were
some
to
Americans
uttered
who called
English
opinion;
upon him at his Chelsea home ; and there is a rumor that he
to the accomplished
his opinion on the whole matter
condensed
in his
in the following words, delivered
editor of these volumes
Scotch accent : "And as for your war, it seems to me
broadest
?
God bless you,
simply this : that the South said to the nigger,
'
'
and be a
and be a slave ; and the North
said, G-d-you,
'
tells him, in
! " After
the war was
freeman
closed, Emerson
holds you in excep
in America
reading person
1870, "Every
. .
have
tional regard.
your scarlet sins before
forgotten
They
or during the war.
I have long ceased to apologize for or explain
or other republics, or publics,
your savage sayings about America
and am willing
that anointed men bearing with them authentic
as Plato willed."
charters shall be laws to themselves,
Indeed, it
:
mind has a very feeble memory
would seem that the American
a few years roll on, and benefactors
and traducers are alike for
of the past slip out of the public
and the animosities
gotten;
as both are in the Present
heart and brain,
intently
engaged
and the Future.
As almost every letter of this unique correspondence
suggests
it is difficult
is tempted to comment,
topics on which a reviewer
about it. The letters of Carlyle
to stay the hand while writing
and
best
his worst ; the letters of Em
him
both
at
his
represent
and the style is as
erson throng with thoughts
and experiences,
These
as that of his published
essays.
compact and brilliant
to
have
to
each other because they
friends write
say ;
something
which
and they say it with >all the care and labor in composition
for the public
they would have exerted in works directly written

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CABLY LE.

445

The perfect sincerity of each is preserved;


eye.
and sentiment
is genuine and true to character
none of the diffuseness
expression
displays

every reflection
;yet the form of
and slovenliness

EMEBSON

common

to

the

familiar

AND

correspondence

of

even

eminent

men.

to last for
this brief notice of a book which
is destined
Perhaps
a century or two, at least, cannot be more appropriately
brought
to an end than by referring
to a single incident which
brought
com
into close and pathetic
the hearts of the two strong men
"
of
his
lost
the hyacinthine
the
munion.
Emerson
subject
boy,"
"
but
to
He
he
other
writes
children,"
Threnody."
had,
Carlyle,
a promise like that boy's I shall never
see. How
often I have
that one day I should send to you this Morning
pleased myself
Star of mine, and stay at home so gladly behind
such a repre
to inquire
I dare not fathom the Invisible
sentative.
and Untold
ones I yet sustain.
what relations
the
to my Departed
Lydian,
will
at home by day and night.
poor Lydian, moans
too,
You,
This letter reached Carlyle when he was in
grieve for us, afar."
of the death of his
called thither by the intelligence
Dumfries,
"
"
wife's mother.
It is many
he
since I have
replies,
years,"
stood so in close contact face to face with
the reality of Earth,
of
its depths
with
its haggard
its divine beauty,
ugliness,
one of the stillest Sundays,
I sat
Death and of Life.
Yesterday,
long by the side of the swift river Nith ; sauntered among woods
birds.
The hills are often
all vocal only with rooks and pairing
rush
brief
with
white
black,
spring-tempests
snow-powder;
fiercely down from them, and then again the sky looks forth with
a pale, pure brightness, ?like
from behind Time.
The
Eternity
one thinks of it, is always blue, pure, changeless
sky, when
azure ; rains and tempests are only for the little dwellings where
men abide.
Think of this, thou sor
Let us think of this, too.
rowing mother

! Thy boy has escaped many

showers."

Edwin

P. Whipple.

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