Beacon Lights of History, Volume 13 eBook

John Lord
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 368 pages of information about Beacon Lights of History, Volume 13.

“In future years,” says his able and interesting biographer, “Scotland will have raised a monument over his remains; but no monument is needed for one who has made an eternal memorial for himself in the hearts of all to whom truth is the dearest possession.

“’For, giving his soul to the common cause, he won for himself a wreath which will not fade, and a tomb the most honorable,—­not where his dust is decaying, but where his glory lives in everlasting remembrance.  For of illustrious men all the earth is the sepulchre; and it is not the inscribed column in their own land which is the record of their virtues, but the unwritten memories of them in the hearts and minds of all mankind.’” [1]

[Footnote 1:  Quoted by Froude from the Funeral Oration of Pericles in honor of the Athenians slain during the first summer of the Peloponnesian War, as given by Thucydides,—­“their,” “they,” etc. being changed to “his,” “he,” etc.]

Thomas Carlyle will always have an honorable place among the great men of his time.  He was pre-eminently a profound thinker, a severe critic, a great word-painter,—­a man of uncommon original gifts, who aroused and instructed his generation.  In the literal sense, he was neither philosopher nor poet nor statesman, but a man of genius, who cast his searching and fearless glance into all creeds, systems, and public movements, denouncing hypocrisies, shams, and lies with such power that he lost friends almost as fast as he made them,—­without, however, losing the respect and admiration of his literary rivals, or of the ablest and best men both in England and America.  Although no believer in the scientific philosophies of our time, he was a great breaker of ground for them, having been a pioneer in the cause of honest thinking and plain speaking.  His passion for truth, and courage in declaring his own vision of it, were potent for spiritual liberty.  He stands as one of the earliest and stoutest champions of that revolt against authority in religious, intellectual, and social matters which has chiefly marked the Nineteenth Century.




Among the eminent men of letters of the present century, Thomas Babington Macaulay takes a very high position.  In original genius he was inferior to Carlyle, but was greater in learning, in judgment, and especially in felicity of style.  He was an historical artist of the foremost rank, the like of whom has not appeared since Voltaire; and he was, moreover, no mean poet, and might have been distinguished as such, had poetry been his highest pleasure and ambition.  The same may be said of him as a political orator.  Very few men in the House of Commons ever surpassed him in the power of making an eloquent speech.  He was too impetuous and dogmatic to be a great debater, like Fox or Pitt or Peel or Gladstone; but he might have reached a more exalted and influential position as a statesman had he confined his remarkable talents to politics.

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Beacon Lights of History, Volume 13 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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