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to a greater degree than is usually desirable in matter that is intended to go into a book. It follows that the published correspondence of authors is frequently disappointing. Whether they have any anticipation or not that their letters to their friends may some day appear in print, they find it very difficult, when a pen is once in their hands, to escape from the deliberate style which has become their second nature. Further, it is not often that this correspondence really adds much to our knowledge of the man himself; for any writer of vigorous personality is certain to reveal in his books not only the extent of his knowledge and the general trend of his opinions, but also the idiosyncrasies of his character. Occasionally a series of dated letters may enable the reader to trace the development of a writer's mind; but even this result can commonly be attained by a careful study of his books and articles in chronological order.

There is another obstacle in the way of a professional writer becoming a satisfactory correspondent. The inditing of letters in the evening may be an intellectual and physical relief to any one save the man who has been engaged in literary work all the day. To the author or journalist, this exercise is not so much a diversion from his regular toil as an extension of it. It does not even provide such refreshment as was enjoyed by the fabulous bus-driver who was accustomed to spend his holidays as a passenger on some other man's bus. Carlyle, it is true, speaks of writing a letter as "a little piece of recreation" after the completion of another chapter in a book; but in this respect, as in so many others, Carlyle was not a representative literary man. The average member of his profession will be rather of the opinion of Lowell, who, in the busy days of his editorship of "The Atlantic Monthly," declared:

I believe that none but an idle man can write a good letter. I mean by idle, a man who is not under the necessity of tapping his brain on the public side, and tapping so freely that the runnings on the other cannot be sprightly for want of head. This is why women are such good letter writers. Their ordinary employments do not suck them dry of all communicativeness - I can't think of any other word—and their writing is their play, as it should be. As for me, nowadays, taking up my pen is only the reminder of work.

Even more pathetic is Grant Allen's apology for his remissness as a correspondent. "I am often so ill," he explains, "that moments fit for writing are too precious to be used for anything but bread-winning." An evidence of the pluck of Robert Louis Stevenson has often been drawn from the cheerful tone of his letters to his friends in times of struggle and anxiety; but this quality, considering everything, was shown quite as notably in the number of these letters as in their character.


The announcement of two volumes of "NEW LETTERS OF THOMAS CARLYLE" is likely to have a depressing effect upon those who feel it their duty to be well-informed on literary history, and who remember the controversies that have been provoked by each successive publication about Carlyle for several years past. In the editing of this book, Mr. Alexander Carlyle has shown a welcome and unexpected restraint. His foot-notes, with a few exceptions, are no longer weapons of war. He makes a valuable distinction by reminding us that the normal Carlyle is exhibited more correctly in his letters than in his journal. It was only, it seems, after restless nights or attacks of dyspepsia that the diary was brought out and entries were made in it of the sensations of the moment. Letters, on the other hand, expressed his feelings on days when he was not suffering from any special affliction. The object of this book, according to its editor, is to contribute toward the completion of a picture of Carlyle's life "self-drawn and therefore indisputably true and faithful in outline." Without staying to discuss whether this "therefore" is entirely justified by the implied premises, we may note that the general result of these volumes is to confirm by additional data the prevalent conception of Carlyle and not to alter or modify it.

We learn, for example, of the frequent impairment of his working capacity through dyspepsia. As early as 1836 he describes himself as "all biliousness and fret, and palpitating haste and bewilderment." A curiosity of literature is the publication here of the full text of the letter in which "with many apologies and neighborly respects" Carlyle remonstrated with Mr. G. Remington, of 6 Cheyne Row, Chelsea, for keeping on his premises a Cock (the capital is Carlyle's, as was natural for a writer on whom it produced the effect of one of the powers of evil) by no means particularly loud or discordant, but nevertheless giving "a degree of annoyance which, except to the unhealthy, is not easily conceivable." One is glad to learn that Carlyle's request to Mr. Remington "to remove that small animal or in any way render him inaudible from midnight to breakfast time" was immediately and politely complied with; but we have to await the next collection of Carlyleana for information as to the means of suppression employed.

Again, abundant testimony is given in this collection of correspondence of the distress through which Carlyle had to pass in the writing of his books. Every new enterprise, to use a graphic colloquialism, "got on his nerves" and stayed there till it was completed. In turn, his books on the French Revolution, Cromwell, and Frederick the Great

1 London and New York: John Lane.

make his life almost unendurable. "My one wish is to have the miserable rubbish washed off my hands"; "I sit down to write, there is not an idea discernible in the head of me; one dull cloud of pain and stupidity; it is only with an effort like swimming for life that I get begun to think at all"; "all that I have written hitherto has gone straight to the fire"; "work is not possible for me except in a red-hot element which roasts the life out of me "such are his expressions at times when, according to his editor, he was in normal health. When he has accomplished one of his tasks he exclaims: "Here is this Book actually tied up under pack-thread, the burning Nessus Shirt stripped off me."

The style of the letters reproduced here is unmistakable evidence of their authorship. Not quite as closely packed as that of the books, it nevertheless displays all their mannerisms. Capitals, for instance, are plentifully sprinkled whenever the writer has to do with the Eternal Melodies, the Grand Silence, and the like. Carlyle's characteristic sententiousness of utterance is illustrated again and again. Such a passage as: "It is a fast-changing world this; and To-day nowhere consents to be Yesterday" might have appeared anywhere in the "French Revolution," and no other writer would have thought of describing a January fog at Chelsea thus: "Erebus, Nox, and the great deep of gases, miasmata, soot, and despair; bipeds of prey reduced to hunt by torch-light."

If we consider these letters, too, as a body of doctrine, we learn nothing that has not been dinned into our ears by the same homilist in many exhortations. The condition of England is hopeless. It is a country "which all quietly industrious poor and faithful men ought to be in haste to quit." It is a "cursed pluister of Lies and Misery coming tumbling into incoherent ruin." It has a destiny before it "of unknown degrees of blackness." These quotations are taken from the period before the Repeal of the Corn Laws; but as late as 1871 Carlyle declares that England is growing "more and more uninhabitable for the natural-minded man of any rank," and he apprehends that "before many years the huge abominable Boil will burst and the British Empire fall into convulsions, perhaps into horrors and confusions which nobody is yet counting on." In the light of these extracts, which might easily be multiplied, it is plain that there is as yet no necessity to revise the general judgment as to the teaching of Carlyle which has been drawn from his own books and Froude's biography.

On the whole, then, the publication of these letters makes no sig

nificant contribution to the understanding of their author. Many of them are utterly unimportant. The first letter in the second volume, for instance, is a mere request to FitzGerald to look up certain genealogical and topographical information required for the "Cromwell.” There is much other matter of this kind whose publication reminds us of the Chinese superstition that it is unlucky to destroy any piece of paper once written upon. A judicious selection, reducing the book to one-half or one-quarter of its present size, would have made it actually much more interesting. There would then still have been found room for the epigrammatic sayings scattered here and there through this correspondence and distinctly worth preserving. "There are always," says Carlyle, "two parties to a good style; the contented Writer and the contented Reader." Referring to some recent contributions to the magazines he says: "If I ever write again, I may do far better than sell my alcohol for small-beer by the Periodical gallon-measure in that way." And a criticism of Sterling's translation of Goethe is followed by the shrewd comment that "a translator is properly a perfect reader; one never reads honestly till one tries translation."

So, too, some of his graphic personal descriptions deserve permanent record, though they are often in terms of exaggerated depreciation. As a rule, his American visitors seem to have been a sore trial to him, but there were exceptions. Webster is depicted as "a terrible, beetlebrowed, mastiff-mouthed, yellow-skinned, broad-bottomed, grim-taciturn individual; with a pair of dull-cruel looking black eyes, and as much Parliamentary intellect and silent-rage in him, I think, as I have ever seen in any man. Some fun too; and readiness to speak in drawling didactic handfast style about 'our Republican institutions.'" Alcott produced upon Carlyle the same impression as upon many of his acquaintance in this country, for he is set down here as "a bore of the first magnitude." Carlyle takes note of the application to him of the nickname "a Potato Quixote," and explains that "he came along in Autumn to reform all England, by reducing us first of all to live exclusively on vegetables; all England, of course, was deaf as Ailsa Craig; and Alcott is home in a Highland rage at their stupidity." To the Ambassador Buchanan, afterward President, who stayed two nights in a country house with Carlyle, there is this reference: "He looked like Ker the clockmaker"-apparently an Ecclefechan artificer, for this letter is addressed to Carlyle's mother 'grown oldish; really a most mechanic-looking though rather clever man; and he bustled about, as Jane said, 'like a man with his pockets full of hot cinders'; we took kind leave of him;

but did not shed many tears when he went." There is no mention of Carlyle's meeting Margaret Fuller, but her autobiography is "dreadfully long-winded and indistinct, as if one were telling the story not in words, but in symbolical tunes on the bagpipe."

Allusions to Emerson are naturally frequent. Carlyle is warmly sensible of his friend's kindness in seeing to the publication of his books in America, and in proposing a lecture-tour in this country. The receipt of money from the sale of his books in America touches him deeply. "Was any braver thing ever heard of?" he asks, when a draft comes to him from the publishers of the Boston edition of "The French Revolution." "A hundred and fifty pounds from beyond the salt sea, while not a sixpence could be realized here in one's own country by the thing! I declare, my American friends are right fellows, and have done their affair with effect." Emerson's proposal for a lecture-tour is seconded by Arthur Buller, just returned from America and the Durham mission. Carlyle replies, so he tells his brother, in banter and laughter, but the suggestion is not without attraction:

If one could make once for all a couple of thousand pounds, and retire to the back of a stiff-trotting horse, to green fields, free air and one's own reflections, out of this Malebolga forever and a day? I do not altogether reject the thing as I was wont; all manner of Americans invite me too, and advise me. Could one not write a dozen Lectures (I find I could quite easily), and hawk them like a mountebank for one time and no more in one's life? We shall keep it at least as a resource in the background, ready for any Autumn that may be ready for it.

Incidentally we get comments on Emerson's own work. His "Essays" are "the sign of a New Era in Yankee-land." His contributions. to "The Dial" show that "he is becoming a phenomenon worth forming a theory about." His "Society and Solitude," sent with an inscription on the fly-leaf, "To the General in Chief from his Lieutenant," is "a high, radiant, searching kind of thing; but in general much too ideal and unpractical and impracticable, totally neglecting the frightful amount of Friction and perverse Impediment, perverse but insuperable, which attends every one of us in this world." Withal, "I like the man Emerson right well, and have reason to do so."

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While the letters of Carlyle serve merely as a confirmation of what is already known, the "LETTERS OF LORD ACTON TO MARY GLADSTONE are nothing less than a revelation. The reputation of Carlyle had been made long ago by a substantial row of books open to every man's reading, but that of Lord Acton rested on the precarious basis of the judg

'London: George Allen. New York: The Macmillan Company.

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