On the Choice of Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 136 pages of information about On the Choice of Books.
only an extremely good-will to himself—­which he has a right to have—­and is moving on towards his object.  Keep out of literature as a general rule, I should say also. (Laughter.) If you find many people who are hard and indifferent to you in a world that you consider to be unhospitable and cruel—­as often, indeed, happens to a tender-hearted, stirring young creature—­you will also find there are noble hearts who will look kindly on you, and their help will be precious to you beyond price.  You will get good and evil as you go on, and have the success that has been appointed to you.

I will wind up with a small bit of verse that is from Goethe also, and has often gone through my mind.  To me it has the tone of a modern psalm in it in some measure.  It is sweet and clear.  The clearest of sceptical men had not anything like so clear a mind as that man had—­freer from cant and misdirected notion of any kind than any man in these ages has been This is what the poet says:—­

  The Future hides in it
  Gladness and sorrow: 
  We press still thorow;
  Nought that abides in it
  Daunting us—­Onward!

  And solemn before us,
  Veiled, the dark Portal,
  Goal of all mortal. 
  Stars silent rest o’er us—­
  Graves under us, silent.

  While earnest thou gazest
  Comes boding of terror,
  Come phantasm and error;
  Perplexes the bravest
  With doubt and misgiving.

  But heard are the voices,
  Heard are the Sages,
  The Worlds and the Ages: 
  “Choose well:  your choice is
  Brief, and yet endless.”

  Here eyes do regard you
  In Eternity’s stillness;
  Here is all fulness,
  Ye brave, to reward you. 
  Work, and despair not.[A]

[Footnote A:  Originally published in Carlyle’s “Past and Present,” (Lond. 1843,) p. 318, and introduced there by the following words:—­

“My candid readers, we will march out of this Third Book with a rhythmic word of Goethe’s on our tongue; a word which perhaps has already sung itself, in dark hours and in bright, through many a heart.  To me, finding it devout yet wholly credible and veritable, full of piety yet free of cant; to me joyfully finding much in it, and joyfully missing so much in it, this little snatch of music, by the greatest German man, sounds like a stanza in the grand Road Song and Marching Song of our great Teutonic kindred,—­wending, wending, valiant and victorious, through the undiscovered Deeps of Time!”]

One last word. Wir heissen euch hoffen—­we bid you be of hope.  Adieu for this time.


The following is a letter addressed by Mr. Carlyle to Dr. Hutchison Stirling, late one of the candidates for the Chair of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh:—­

  “Chelsea, 16th June, 1868.

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