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But truly, were we to point out to our readers all the fine suggestive passages in this great author's writings, it would occupy all our volume:—Space therefore compels us to close this notice of one of the most original and gifted men of the age, by observing that the nearest approach to him either in mind or manner is the American author, Ralph Waldo Emerson, of whom, by the way, we shall relate a little anecdote. During Fanny Essler's visit to the United States he accompanied Miss Fuller, the celebrated authoress, to the Opera: delighted at one of the dancer's most triumphant pirouettes, Miss Fuller turned to Emerson and said, “Waldo—that's poetry.”— The other replied, “Margaret, it is religion.” This is one of the happiest “capping of a climax” we have heard for many a long day. A reader might hunt a long while before he found any system of philosophy in Carlyle's writings. A few great principles lie at the bottom of all he has done. There is a strong hatred of everything conventional—a deep desire that more earnestness should be displayed in all we say, and all we do. He is a witness to the usurpation of the intellect in every thing around us, to the neglect of the still small voice that dwells in the heart of man, which should temper and guide that almost irresistible power. This cunning faculty of the will is worshipped because it is powerful—because it commands the means of life with certainty—but in doing this it tramples on hearts and affections and human ties in a fearful manner. It is cleverness, tact, intelligence, knowledge, all in one mind; but these only, and without a heart. It was this same picture that caused that great master to exclaim, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?” Carlyle's whole philosophy is a battle for the truth—a fight against shallowness, insincerity, dullness and lying, wherever they appear; and he is as firm an upholder of simple dealing and straightforwardness, if it have but earnestness in it. Sometimes, we fancy he carries this admiration of mere earnestness to an extent not warranted even by his own philosophy. Witness his life of Cromwell, who is as much a hero in his eyes while singing a psalm after the slaughter of thousands of his countrymen, as he is when speaking a good bold speech in favor of his country's freedom. Much of the merit of Carlyle's writings depends upon the fearless and unreserved manner in which the thought is spoken—what he says, he says as one man should say it to another; his language is not meant to conceal his thoughts, but to blazon them, as it were. His own earnestness, too, in what he does, is another reason of his weight with thinking minds—he is a follower of the philosophic teachers—he is like Chaucer’s “poor parson,” who taught, “Criste's Love,” “But first he folowed it himselve.” It matters little where he appears, whether as advocate or whether as enemy, With this spirit he enters the field, and wo:to him who is wanting in sincerity, humanity or ability; see what scorn there is in some of his epithets! some of his compound nicknames absolutely are crushing. Gigmanity for respectability, and gigmanity disgigged for the sunken respectable. His sincerity is so sincere, and the thought which a sincere look leads to, is so sad, at the same time so startling, that sometimes you feel quite appalled at the man's power in getting at and exhibiting to you the mysteries of life; this, too, by no greater stretch of reason than we all possess, if we did but use what we have. There is something of this in the following—
“The highborn (highest-born, for he came out of heaven) lies drowning in the despicablest puddles; the priceless gift of life, which he can have but once, for he waited a whole eternity to be born, and now he has a whole eternity waiting to see what he will do when born—this priceless gift we see strangled slowly out of him by innumerable packthreads; and there remains of the glorious possibility, which we fondly named man, nothing but an inanimate mass of foul loss and disappointment, which we wrap in shrouds and bury under ground—surely with well-merited tears. To the thinker, here lies tragedy enough; the epitome and marrow of all tragedy whatsoever.”
The Diamond Necklace.
Carlyle would emancipate man—man inthralled—man in chains s —the chains of custom and creeds: he would like to see the human soul working in the human body, and some respect paid to it also, instead of the disrespect, or rather the no respect it meets: he would be glad to see it acknowledged even: for what is man, generally, to his brother man, but a good machine who casts his ledger correctly, or who strikes a good blow, or is cunning in putting wheels together to make another machine not nearly so complex as ! himself. Mr. Carlyle's writings are very numerous; the chief are “Past and Present,” “Sartor Resartus,” “Chartism,” “History of the French Revolution,” and “Hero-Worship;” the latter, a republication of some lectures he delivered in London. We well remember how he impressed one of the most intellectual audiences the queen of cities ever gathered into one room. Here he held up to the admiring eye Dante, Shakspere, Johnson, Mahomet, Rousseau, and others long past away: his powerful mind flashed a new light upon these withered antiquities. It seemed as though 'neath his spell the grave had given up its dead to be again visible, and clothed with those passions and conflicting elements which had formerly made them famous among their fellows. His lectures excited every listener to a self-activity, which enlarged the mind and braced its powers, and at once strengthened and extended the kingdom of thought.
CHARLES MAC KAY.
Charles Mackay, one of the most popular authors of the time, was born in Scotland about 1810, and after receiving a good general education, practised for the bar: here, however, his poetical temperament got the better of his legal prudence, and he rushed into the world of letters! Coming to London he got introduced to the editor of the Morning Chronicle, and was engaged as subeditor of that leading whig journal for some years. In 1844 he went to Glasgow, and undertook the editing of the “ Glasgow Argus,” a paper of considerable reputation. He returned to London some short time ago, where he still remains. Few men have made more friends than the author of “The Salamandrine,” and “Voices of the Crowd;” his manners being pleasant and his conduct generous. He is about the middle height, hair inclined to a “dark golden,” eyes dark, and of a ruddy happy countenance. He has contributed many of the most genial articles in “Chambers’ Journal.”
In “The Salamandrine” we have the etherialised love of a “supernatural nature” developed in the person of Amethysta.
Sir Gilbert, the hero, is gazing upon a fire: in the midst of the flame,
“In the fiercest of the heat
Unscorched amid the fire they stand
The harmless flames around them play,
* * * 3:
A conversation ensues; he learns from the tenor of it that they are brother and sister |
Sir Gilbert discovers also that the fair Salamandrine mourns over the mortality of her race, and envies the immortality of man.
“‘O happy! happy man,’
In this “Salamandrine” Mr. Mackay had ample scope for his