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taste or fashion of the day; nor was the general voice disturbed by the barking of any profane critic. The favour of mankind is most freely bestowed on a new acquaintance of any original merit; and the mutual surprise of the public and their favourite is productive of those warm sensibilities which at a second meeting, can no longer be rekindled. If I listened to the music of praise, I was more seriously satisfied with the approbation of my judges. The candour of Dr. Robertson embraced his disciple. A letter from Mr. Hume overpaid the labour of ten years; but I have never presumed to accept a place in the triumvirate of British Historians.
Nearly two years had elapsed between the publication of my first and the commencement of my second volume, and the causes must be assigned to this long delay. 1. After a short holiday, I indulged my curiosity in some studies of a very different nature, a course of anatomy, which was demonstrated by Dr. Hunter; and some lessons of chemistry, which were delivered by Mr. Higgins. The principles of these sciences, and a taste for books of natural history, contributed to multiply my ideas and images; and the anatomist and chemist may sometimes track me in their own snow. 2. I dived, perhaps too deeply, into the mud of the Arian controversy, and many days of reading, thinking, and writing were consumed in the pursuit of a phantom. 3. It is difficult to arrange, with order and perspicuity, the various transactions of the age of Constantine; and so much was I displeased with the first essay, that I committed to the flames above fifty sheets. 4. The six months of Paris and pleasure must be deducted from the account. But when I resumed my task, I felt my improvement; I was now master of my style and subject, and while the measure of my daily performance was enlarged, I discovered less reason to cancel or correct. It has always been my practice to cast a long paragraph in a single mould, to try it by my ear, to deposit it in my memory, but to suspend the action of the pen till I had given the last polish to my work. Shall I add, that I never found my mind more vigorous nor my composition more happy than in the winter hurry of society and parliament? . . .
So flexible is the title of my History, that the final era might
be fixed at my own choice; and I long hesitated whether I should be content with the three volumes, the Fall of the Western Empire, which fulfilled my first engagement with the public. In this interval of suspense, nearly a twelvemonth, I returned by a natural impulse to the Greek authors of antiquity; I read with new pleasure the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Histories of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon, a large portion of the tragic and comic theatre of Athens, and many interesting dialogues of the Socratic school. Yet in the luxury of freedom I began to wish for the daily task, the active pursuit, which gave a value to every book and an object to every inquiry; the preface of a new edition announced my design, and I dropped without reluctance from the age of Plato to that of Justinian. The original texts of Procopius and Agathias supplied the events and even the characters of his reign; but a laborious winter was devoted to the Codes, the Pandects, and the modern interpreters, before I presumed to form an abstract of the civil law. My skill was improved by practice, my diligence perhaps was quickened by the loss of office; and excepting the last chapter, I had finished the fourth volume before I sought a retreat on the banks of the Leman Lake. . . .
My transmigration from London to Lausanne could not be effected without interrupting the course of my historical labours. The hurry of my departure, the joy of my arrival, the delay of my tools, suspended their progress; and a full twelvemonth was lost before I could resume the thread of regular and daily industry. A number of books most requisite and least common had been previously selected; the academical library of Lausanne, which I could use as my own, contained at least the Fathers and Councils; and I have derived some occasional succour from the public collections of Berne and Geneva. The fourth volume was soon terminated by an abstract of the controversies of the Incarnation, which the learned Dr. Prideaux was apprehensive of exposing to profane eyes. It had been the original design of the learned Dean Prideaux to write the history of the ruin of the Eastern Church. In this work it would have been necessary, not only to unravel all those controversies which the Christians made about the hypostatical union, but also to unfold all the niceties and subtle notions which each sect entertained concerning it. The
pious historian was apprehensive of exposing that incomprehensible mystery to the cavils and objections of unbelievers; and he durst. not, "seeing the nature of this book, venture it abroad in so wanton and lewd an age.
In the fifth and sixth volumes the revolutions of the empire and the world are most rapid, various, and instructive; and the Greek or Roman historians are checked by the hostile narratives of the barbarians of the East and the West.2
It was not till after many designs and many trials that I preferred, as I still prefer, the method of grouping my picture by nations; and the seeming neglect of chronological order is surely compensated by the superior merits of interest and perspicuity. The style of the first volume is, in my opinion, somewhat crude and elaborate; in the second and third it is ripened into ease, correctness, and numbers; but in the three last I may have been seduced by the facility of my pen, and the constant habit of speaking one language and writing another may have infused some mixture of Gallic idioms. Happily for my eyes, I have always closed my studies with the day, and commonly with the morning; and a long but temperate labour has been accomplished without fatiguing either the mind or body; but when I computed the remainder of my time and my task, it was apparent that, according to the season of publication, the delay of a month would be productive of that of a year. I was now straining for the goal, and in the last winter many evenings were borrowed from the social pleasures of Lausanne. I could now wish that a pause, an interval, had been allowed for a serious revisal.
I have presumed to mark the moment of conception: I shall now commemorate the hour of my final deliverance. It was on the day, or rather night, of the 27th of June 1787, between the hours of eleven and twelve, that I wrote the last lines of the last page in a summer-house in my garden. After laying down my pen, I took several turns in a berceau, or covered walk of acacias, which commands a prospect of the country, the lake, and the
1 See preface to the Life of Mahomet, p. xxi. - GIBBON.
2 I have followed the judicious precept of the Abbé de Mably (Manière d'écrire l'Histoire, p. 110), who advises the historian not to dwell too minutely on the decay of the eastern empire; but to consider the barbarian conquerors as a more worthy subject of his narrative. "Fas est et ab hoste doceri."
mountains. The air was temperate, the sky was serene, the silver orb of the moon was reflected from the waters, and all nature was silent. I will not dissemble the first emotions of joy on the recovery of my freedom, and perhaps the establishment of my fame. But my pride was soon humbled, and a sober melancholy was spread over my mind, by the idea that I had taken an everlasting leave of an old and agreeable companion, and that whatsoever might be the future date of my History, the life of the historian must be short and precarious.
LIFE IN LONDON
[From "Jane Welsh Carlyle," written in 1866, Reminiscences, Vol. I, pp. 171-175, 185-203. Edited by C. E. Norton, Macmillan & Co., London, 1887.
CARLYLE, THOMAS (1795-1881), essayist and historian; son of a mason at Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire; educated at the parish school, and (1805) at Annan academy; entered Edinburgh University, 1809; studied mathematics; intended for the church; mathematical teacher at Annan, 1814; schoolmaster at Kirkcaldy, 1816, where he became intimate with Edward Irving; read law in Edinburgh, 1819, where he developed extreme sensitiveness to physical discomforts; took pupils; read German; met his future wife [see JANE BAILLIE WELSH CARLYLE], 1821; tutor to Charles Buller at Edinburgh and Dunkeld, 1822-4; contributed a 'Life of Schiller' to the 'London Magazine,' 1824; translated Legendre's 'Geometry' and Goethe's 'Wilhelm Meister,' 1824; visited Paris, 1824; lodged in Islington, 1825; retired to Dumfriesshire, 1825; married and settled in Edinburgh, 1826; contributed to the 'Edinburgh Review,' 1827-9; unsuccessful candidate for the moral philosophy chair at St. Andrews; removed to Craigenputtock, Dumfriesshire, 1828, where he wrote on German literature for the magazines; in great monetary difficulties, 1831; in London, 1831, where he failed to get 'Sartor Resartus' published; returned to Craigenputtock, 1832; removed to Cheyne Row, Chelsea, 1834; the manuscript of the first volume of his 'French Revolution' accidentally burnt by John Stuart Mill, March 1835; met John Sterling, 1835; published his 'French Revolution,' 1837, and made his reputation; gave four lecturecourses in London, 1837-40, the last on 'Hero-worship' (published 1841); urged formation of London Library, 1839; published Chartism,' 1839, 'Past and Present,' 1843, and 'Oliver Cromwell,' 1845; visited Ireland, 1846 and 1849; published 'Life of Sterling,' 1851; wrote 'Frederick the Great,' 1851-1865 (published 1858-65); travelled in Germany, 1852 and 1858; lord rector of Edinburgh University, 1865-6; lost his wife, 1866; wrote his 'Reminiscences' (published 1881); published pamphlet in favour
of Germany in regard to Franco-German war, 1870; his right hand paralysed, 1872; received the Prussian order of merit, 1874; buried at Ecclefechan; benefactor of Edinburgh University. His 'Collected Works' first appeared 1857-8. His 'life' was written with great frankness by his friend and disciple, James Anthony Froude. - Index and Epitome of D. N. B.
"The paper of this poor Notebook of hers is done; all I have to say, too (though there lie such volumes yet unsaid), seems to be almost done: and I must sorrowfully end it, and seek for something else. Very sorrowfully still; for it has been my sacred shrine, and religious city of refuge from the bitterness of these sorrows, during all the doleful weeks that are past since I took it up: a kind of devotional thing (as I once already said), which softens all grief into tenderness and infinite pity and repentant love; one's whole sad life drowned as if in tears for one, and all the wrath and scorn and other grim elements silently melted away. And now, am I to leave it; to take farewell of Her a second time? Right silent and serene is She, my lost Darling yonder, as I often think in my gloom; no sorrow more for Her, there long be for me." CARLYLE, Note at end of Reminiscences of Jane Welsh Carlyle.
"Two hours of hysterics can be no good matter for a sick nurse, and the strange, hard old being, in so lamentable and yet human a desolation crying out like a burnt child, and yet always wisely and beautifully - how can that end, as a piece of reading, even to the strong but on the brink of the most cruel kind of weeping? I observe the old man's style is stronger on me than ever it was, and by rights, too, since I have just laid down his most attaching book. God rest the baith o' them! But even if they do not meet again, how we should all be strengthened to be kind, and not only in act, in speech also, that so much more important part. See what this apostle of silence most regrets, not speaking out his heart.". ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON, Letter to Colvin, “Spring, 1881," Letters, Vol. I, p. 231. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1899.]
She1 liked London constantly; and stood in defence of it against me and my atrabilious censures of it; never had for herself the least wish to quit it again, though I was often talking of that, and her practice would have been loyal compliance for my behoof. I well remember my first walking her up to Hyde Park Corner in the summer evening, and her fine interest in everything. At the corner of the Green Park, I found something for her to sit on; "Hah, there is John Mill coming!" I said; and her joyful ingenuous blush is still very beautiful to me. The good Child! It did not prove to be John Mill (whom she knew since 1831, and liked for my sake): but probably I showed her the Duke of Wellington, whom
1 Mrs. Carlyle,