Such is some very broken sketch of this great book. It will at least serve to recall to the memory of some readers thoughts and words which long ago stirred their blood in youth. No volume could so fitly be chosen as a background against which to view the modern surge of the age-long battle. But the charm of Sartor Resartus is, after all, personal. We go back to the life-story of Teufelsdroeckh, out of which such varied and such lofty teachings sprang, and we read it over and over again because we find in it so much that is our own story too.
In the last lecture we began the study of the modern aspects of our subject with Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus. Now, in a rapid sketch, we shall look at some of the writings which followed that great book; and, with it as background, we shall see them in stronger relief. It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of the influence which was wielded by Carlyle, and especially by his Sartor Resartus. His was a gigantic power, both in literature and in morals. At first, as we have already noted, he met with neglect and ridicule in abundance, but afterwards these passed into sheer wonder, and then into a wide and devoted worship. Everybody felt his power, and all earnest thinkers were seized in the strong grip of reality with which he laid hold upon his time.
The religious thought and faith both of England and of Scotland felt him, but his mark was deepest upon Scotland, because of two interesting facts. First of all, Carlyle represented that old Calvinism which had always fitted so exactly the national character and spirit; and second, there were in Scotland many people who, while retaining the Calvinistic spirit, had lost touch with the old definite creed. Nothing could be more characteristic of Carlyle than this Calvinism of the spirit which had passed beyond the letter of the old faith. He stands like an old Covenanter in the mist; and yet a Covenanter grasping his father’s iron sword. It is because of these two facts Sartor Resartus has taken so prominent a place in our literature. It stands for a kind of conscience behind the manifold modern