Famous Reviews eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 678 pages of information about Famous Reviews.

Anyone who should take up the writings themselves with no other preconception than that which we have attempted to give him, would doubtless be startled at the strangeness of the style which prevails more or less throughout them.  They are not careless, headstrong, passionate, confused; but they bear a constant look of oddity which seems at first mere wilful wantonness, and which we only afterwards find to be the discriminating stamp of original and strong feeling.  This—­ this feeling, rooted in profound susceptibility and matured into a central vivifying power—­is, we should say, the author’s most extraordinary distinction.  For it is not the ostentatious, impetuous sentiment, which calls, a sufficient audience being by, on heaven and earth for sympathy, and would wish for that of Tartarus too, as an additional acknowledgment of its sublime sincerity.  Here, on the contrary, the feeling is not that which the man is proud of, and would fain exhibit.  He shrinks from the profession, nay from the sense of it; even painfully labours to trifle, and be at ease, that he may hide from others, and may for himself forget, the thorny fagot load of his own emotions.  Yet make them known he must; for they are not those of some private personal grief or passion, from which he may escape into literature or science, and leave his pains and longings behind him; but his sensibilities are burning with a slow, immense fire, kindled by the very theme on which he writes, and compelling him to write.  The greatness and weakness, the infinite hopes and unquenchable reality of human life; the aching pressure of the body and its wants on the myriads of millions in whom celestial force sleeps and dreams of hell; the sight of follies, frauds, cruelties, and lascivious luxury in the midst of a race then endowed and thus suffering; and the unconquerable will and thought with which the few work out the highest calling of all men; these it is, and not self-indulging distresses and theatrical aspirations of his own, which boil and storm within.  Therefore does he speak with the solid strength and energy, which gives so serious and rugged an aspect to his sentences; while, perpetually checking himself, from a wise man’s shame at excessive emotion, and from the knowledge that others will but half sympathise with him, he adds to his most weighty utterances a turn of irony which relieves the excessive strain....  Add to this, that Mr. Carlyle’s resolution to convey his meaning at all hazards, makes him seize the most effectual and sudden words in spite of usage and fashionable taste; and that, therefore, when he can get a brighter tint, a more expressive form, by means of some strange—­we must call it—­Carlylism; English, Scotch, German, Greek, Latin, French, Technical, Slang, American, or Lunar, or altogether superlunar, transcendental, and drawn from the eternal nowhere—­he uses it with a courage which might blast an academy of lexicographers into a Hades, void even of vocables....

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Famous Reviews from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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