Critical Miscellanies, Vol. I

John Moody
Critical Miscellanies, Vol. I, by John Morley

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Title: Critical Miscellanies, Vol. I Essay 2: Carlyle
Author: John Morley
Release Date: March 22, 2007 [EBook #20878]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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Mr. Carlyle's influence, and degree of its durability 135
His literary services 139
No label useful in characterising him 142
The poetic and the scientific temperaments 144
Rousseau and Mr. Carlyle 147
The poetic method of handling social questions 149
Impotent unrest, and his way of treating it 152
Founded on the purest individualism 154
Mr. Carlyle's historic position in the European reaction 157
Coleridge 159
Byron 161
Mr. Carlyle's victory over Byronism 163
Goethe 164
Mr. Carlyle's intensely practical turn, though veiled 166
His identification of material with moral order 169
And acceptance of the doctrine that the end justifies the means 170
Two sets of relations still regulated by pathological principle 172
Defect in Mr. Carlyle's discussion of them 174
His reticences 176
Equally hostile to metaphysics and to the extreme pretensions of the physicist 177
Natural Supernaturalism, and the measure of its truth 179
Two qualities flowing from his peculiar fatalism:-- (1) Contempt for excess of moral nicety 182 (2) Defect of sympathy with masses of men 186
Perils in his constant sense of the nothingness of life 188
Hero-worship, and its inadequateness 189
Theories of the dissolution of the old European order 193
Mr. Carlyle's view of the French Revolution 195
Of the Reformation and Protestantism 197
Inability to understand the political point of view 199

The new library edition of Mr. Carlyle's works may be taken for the final presentation of all that the author has to say to his contemporaries, and to possess the settled form in which he wishes his words to go to those of posterity who may prove to have ears for them. The canon is definitely made up. The golden Gospel of Silence is effectively compressed in thirty fine volumes. After all has been said about self-indulgent mannerisms, moral perversities, phraseological outrages, and the rest, these volumes will remain the noble monument of the industry, originality, conscientiousness, and genius of a noble character, and of an intellectual career that has exercised on many sides the profoundest sort of influence upon English feeling. Men who have long since moved far away from these spiritual latitudes, like those who still find an adequate shelter in them, can hardly help feeling as they turn the pages of the now disused pieces which they were once wont to ponder daily, that whatever later teachers may have done in definitely shaping opinion, in giving specific form to sentiment, and in subjecting impulse to rational discipline, here was the friendly fire-bearer who first conveyed the Promethean spark, here the prophet who first smote the rock.
That with this sense of obligation to the master, there mixes a less satisfactory reminiscence of youthful excess in imitative phrases, in unseasonably apostolic readiness towards exhortation and rebuke, in interest about the soul, a portion of which might more profitably have been converted into care for the head, is in most cases true. A hostile observer of bands of Carlylites at Oxford and elsewhere might have been justified in describing the imperative duty of work as the theme of many an hour of strenuous idleness, and the superiority of golden silence over silver speech as the text of endless bursts of jerky rapture, while a too constant invective against cant had its usual effect of developing cant with a difference. To the incorrigibly sentimental all this was sheer poison, which continues tenaciously in the system. Others of robuster character no sooner came into contact with the world and its fortifying exigencies, than they at once began to assimilate the wholesome part of what they had taken in, while the rest falls gradually and silently out. When criticism has done its just work on the disagreeable affectations of many of Mr. Carlyle's disciples, and on the nature of Mr. Carlyle's opinions and their worth as specific contributions, very few people will be found to deny that his influence in stimulating moral energy, in kindling enthusiasm for virtues worthy of enthusiasm, and in stirring a sense of the reality on the one hand, and the unreality on the other, of all that man can do or suffer, has not been surpassed by any teacher now living.
One of Mr. Carlyle's chief and just glories is, that for more than forty years he has
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