Memorable Quotations: Thomas Carlyle
Mill arrived at the Carlyle residence one evening thereafter bearing the news that the draft had been accidentally burned by a servant. The exact circumstances under which the mistaken incineration occurred are unknown.
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Carlyle, who with his wife consoled the distraught Mill that night, later further reassured him in a generous, almost gay, missive. The truth seems to be that he could bear grand and terrible trials more easily than petty annoyances. His habitual, frustrated melancholy arose, in part, from the fact that his misfortunes were not serious enough to match his tragic view of life, and he sought relief in intensive historical research, choosing subjects in which divine drama, lacking in his own life, seemed most evident.
His book on the French Revolution is perhaps his greatest achievement. After the loss of the manuscript, he worked furiously at rewriting it, having eventually accepted some financial compensation from his friend for the setback. It was finished early in and soon won both serious acclaim and popular success, besides bringing him many invitations to lecture, thus solving his financial difficulties. This simple idea was backed with an immense mass of well-documented detail and, at times, a memorable skill in sketching character.
The following extract is characteristic of the contorted, fiery, and doom-laden prose, which is alternately colloquial , humorous, and grim:. Time is around it, and Eternity, and the Inane; and it does what it can, what is given it to do. In Chartism he appeared as a bitter opponent of conventional economic theory, but the radical-progressive and the reactionary elements were curiously blurred and mingled. With the publication of On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History his reverence for strength, particularly when combined with the conviction of a God-given mission, began to emerge.
It is perhaps in his treatment of poets that Carlyle shows to the best advantage. Perverse though he could be, he was never at the mercy of fashion, and he saw much more, particularly in Dante, than others did. With Elucidations in His next important work was Latter-Day Pamphlets , in which the savage side of his nature was particularly prominent.
In the essay on model prisons, for instance, he tried to persuade the public that the most brutal and useless sections of the population were being coddled in the new prisons of the 19th century. Though incapable of lying, Carlyle was completely unreliable as an observer, since he invariably saw what he had decided in advance that he ought to see. Carr , The Romantic Exiles.
Unfortunately, Carlyle was never able to respect ordinary men. Here, perhaps, rather than in any historical doubts about the veracity of the Gospels, was the core of his quarrel with Christianity: it set too much value on the weak and sinful. His fierceness of spirit was composed of two elements, a serious Calvinistic desire to denounce evil and a habitual nervous ill temper, for which he often reproached himself but which he never managed to defeat. You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.
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Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak. A mystic bond of brotherhood makes all men one. No great man lives in vain. The history of the world is but the biography of great men. Everywhere in life, the true question is not what we gain, but what we do.
Choose well. Your choice is brief, and yet endless.
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Imagination is a poor matter when it has to part company with understanding. Imperfection clings to a person, and if they wait till they are brushed off entirely, they would spin for ever on their axis, advancing nowhere.
Do the duty which lies nearest to you. The second duty will then become clearer. For all right judgment of any man or things it is useful, nay, essential, to see his good qualities before pronouncing on his bad. Our life is not really a mutual helpfulness; but rather, it's fair competition cloaked under due laws of war; it's a mutual hostility. One must verify or expel his doubts, and convert them into the certainty of Yes or NO.
Man is a tool-using animal [ Handthierendes Tier ] Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all. From 'Stump-Orator' 1 May , No. Neither had Watt of the Steam engine a heroic origin, any kindred with the princes of this world. From Chartism , collected in James Wood ed. The Carlyle Reader , Philosophy dwells aloft in the Temple of Science, the divinity of its inmost shrine; her dictates descend among men, but she herself descends not : whoso would behold her must climb with long and laborious effort, nay, still linger in the forecourt, till manifold trial have proved him worthy of admission into the interior solemnities.
Professors of the Dismal Science, I perceive the length of your tether is now pretty well run; and I must request you to talk a little lower in the future. Science has done much for us; but it is a poor science that would hide from us the great deep sacred infinitude of Nescience, on which all science swims as a mere superficial film.
Shakespeare says, we are creatures that look before and after; the more surprising that we do not look round a little, and see what is passing under our very eyes. Long stormy spring-time, wet contentious April, winter chilling the lap of very May; but at length the season of summer does come. When the oak is felled the whole forest echoes with it fall, but a hundred acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze. Permanence, perseverance.