At Home And Abroad eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 587 pages of information about At Home And Abroad.
as the hawk its prey, and which knows not how to stop in the chase.  Carlyle, indeed, is arrogant and overbearing, but in his arrogance there is no littleness or self-love:  it is the heroic arrogance of some old Scandinavian conqueror,—­it is his nature and the untamable impulse that has given him power to crush the dragons.  You do not love him, perhaps, nor revere, and perhaps, also, he would only laugh at you if you did; but you like him heartily, and like to see him the powerful smith, the Siegfried, melting all the old iron in his furnace till it glows to a sunset red, and burns you if you senselessly go too near.  He seemed to me quite isolated, lonely as the desert; yet never was man more fitted to prize a man, could he find one to match his mood.  He finds such, but only in the past.  He sings rather than talks.  He pours upon you a kind of satirical, heroical, critical poem, with regular cadences, and generally catching up near the beginning some singular epithet, which, serves as a refrain when his song is full, or with which as with a knitting-needle he catches up the stitches if he has chanced now and then to let fall a row.  For the higher kinds of poetry he has no sense, and his talk on that subject is delightfully and gorgeously absurd; he sometimes stops a minute to laugh at it himself, then begins anew with fresh vigor; for all the spirits he is driving before him seem to him as Fata Morganas, ugly masks, in fact, if he can but make them turn about, but he laughs that they seem to others such dainty Ariels.  He puts out his chin sometimes till it looks like the beak of a bird, and his eyes flash bright instinctive meanings like Jove’s bird; yet he is not calm and grand enough for the eagle:  he is more like the falcon, and yet not of gentle blood enough for that either.  He is not exactly like anything but himself, and therefore you cannot see him without the most hearty refreshment and good-will, for he is original, rich, and strong enough to afford a thousand, faults; one expects some wild land in a rich kingdom.  His talk, like his books, is full of pictures, his critical strokes masterly; allow for his point of view, and his survey is admirable.  He is a large subject; I cannot speak more or wiselier of him now, nor needs it; his works are true, to blame and praise him, the Siegfried of England, great and powerful, if not quite invulnerable, and of a might rather to destroy evil than legislate for good.  At all events, he seems to be what Destiny intended, and represents fully a certain side; so we make no remonstrance as to his being and proceeding for himself, though we sometimes must for us.

I had meant some remarks on some fine pictures, and the little I saw of the theatre in England; but these topics must wait till my next, where they may connect themselves naturally enough with what I have to say of Paris.

LETTER X.

Copyrights
Project Gutenberg
At Home And Abroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook