He was a true prophet, but, Elijah-like, he seemed to himself to be alone. His derision of the current religion seems sometimes needless. Yet even that has the grand note of sincerity. What he desired he in no small measure achieved—that his readers should be arrested and feel themselves face to face with reality. His startling intuition, his intellectual uprightness, his grasp upon things as they are, his passion for what ought to be, made a great impression upon his age. It was in itself a religious influence. Here was a mind of giant force, of sternest truthfulness. His untruths were those of exaggeration. His injustices were those of prejudice. He invested many questions of a social and moral, of a political and religious sort with a nobler meaning than they had had before. His French Revolution, his papers on Chartism, his unceasing comment on the troubled life of the years from 1830 to 1865, are of highest moment for our understanding of the growth of that social feeling in the midst of which we live and work. In his brooding sympathy with the downtrodden he was a great inaugurator of the social movement. He felt the curse of an aristocratic society, yet no one has told us with more drastic truthfulness the evils of our democratic institutions. His word was a great corrective for much ‘rose-water’ optimism which prevailed in his day. The note of hope is, however, often lacking. The mythology of an absentee God had faded from him. Yet the God who was clear to his mature consciousness, clear as the sun in the heavens, was a God over the world, to judge it inexorably. Again, it is not difficult to accumulate evidence in his words which looks toward pantheism; but what one may call the religious benefit of pantheism, the sense that God is in his world, Carlyle often loses.
Materialism is to-day so deeply discredited that we find it difficult to realise that sixty years ago the problem wore a different look. Carlyle was never weary of pouring out the vials of his contempt on ‘mud-philosophies’ and exalting the spirit as against matter. Never was a man more opposed to the idea of a godless world, in which man is his own chief end, and his sensual pleasures the main aims of his existence. His insight into the consequences of our commercialism and luxury and absorption in the outward never fails. Man is God’s son, but the effort to realise that sonship