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Chapter 2


Thus it went on for some months at Herstmonceux; but thus it could not
last. We said there were already misgivings as to health, &c. in
September:[12] that was but the fourth month, for it had begun only in
June. The like clouds of misgiving, flights of dark vapor, chequering
more and more the bright sky of this promised land, rose heavier and
rifer month after month; till in February following, that is in the
eighth month from starting, the sky had grown quite overshaded; and
poor Sterling had to think practically of departure from his promised
land again, finding that the goal of his pilgrimage was _not_ there.
Not there, wherever it may be! March again, therefore; the abiding
city, and post at which we can live and die, is still ahead of us, it
would appear!

"Ill-health" was the external cause; and, to all parties concerned, to
Sterling himself I have no doubt as completely as to any, the one
determining cause. Nor was the ill-health wanting; it was there in
too sad reality. And yet properly it was not there as the burden; it
was there as the last ounce which broke the camel's back. I take it,
in this as in other cases known to me, ill-health was not the primary
cause but rather the ultimate one, the summing-up of innumerable far
deeper conscious and unconscious causes,--the cause which could boldly
show itself on the surface, and give the casting vote. Such was often
Sterling's way, as one could observe in such cases: though the most
guileless, undeceptive and transparent of men, he had a noticeable,
almost childlike faculty of self-deception, and usually substituted
for the primary determining motive and set of motives, some ultimate
ostensible one, and gave that out to himself and others as the ruling
impulse for important changes in life. As is the way with much more
ponderous and deliberate men;--as is the way, in a degree, with all

Enough, in February, 1835, Sterling came up to London, to consult with
his physicians,--and in fact in all ways to consider with himself and
friends,--what was to be done in regard to this Herstmonceux business.
The oracle of the physicians, like that of Delphi, was not exceedingly
determinate: but it did bear, what was a sufficiently undeniable
fact, that Sterling's constitution, with a tendency to pulmonary
ailments, was ill-suited for the office of a preacher; that total
abstinence from preaching for a year or two would clearly be the safer
course. To which effect he writes to Mr. Hare with a tone of
sorrowful agitation; gives up his clerical duties at
Herstmonceux;--and never resumed them there or elsewhere. He had been
in the Church eight months in all: a brief section of his life, but
an important one, which colored several of his subsequent years, and
now strangely colors all his years in the memory of some.

This we may account the second grand crisis of his History.
Radicalism, not long since, had come to its consummation, and vanished
from him in a tragic manner. "Not by Radicalism is the path to Human
Nobleness for me!" And here now had English Priesthood risen like a
sun, over the waste ruins and extinct volcanoes of his dead Radical
world, with promise of new blessedness and healing under its Wings;
and this too has soon found itself an illusion: "Not by Priesthood
either lies the way, then. Once more, where does the way lie!"--To
follow illusions till they burst and vanish is the lot of all new
souls who, luckily or lucklessly, are left to their own choice in
starting on this Earth. The roads are many; the authentic
finger-posts are few,--never fewer than in this era, when in so many
senses the waters are out. Sterling of all men had the quickest sense
for nobleness, heroism and the human _summum bonum_; the liveliest
headlong spirit of adventure and audacity; few gifted living men less
stubbornness of perseverance. Illusions, in his chase of the _summum
bonum_, were not likely to be wanting; aberrations, and wasteful
changes of course, were likely to be many! It is in the history of
such vehement, trenchant, far-shining and yet intrinsically light and
volatile souls, missioned into this epoch to seek their way there,
that we best see what a confused epoch it is.

This clerical aberration,--for such it undoubtedly was in
Sterling,--we have ascribed to Coleridge; and do clearly think that
had there been no Coleridge, neither had this been,--nor had English
Puseyism or some other strange enough universal portents been.
Nevertheless, let us say farther that it lay partly in the general
bearing of the world for such a man. This battle, universal in our
sad epoch of "all old things passing away" against "all things
becoming new," has its summary and animating heart in that of
Radicalism against Church; there, as in its flaming core, and point of
focal splendor, does the heroic worth that lies in each side of the
quarrel most clearly disclose itself; and Sterling was the man, above
many, to recognize such worth on both sides. Natural enough, in such
a one, that the light of Radicalism having gone out in darkness for
him, the opposite splendor should next rise as the chief, and invite
his loyalty till it also failed. In one form or the other, such an
aberration was not unlikely for him. But an aberration, especially in
this form, we may certainly call it. No man of Sterling's veracity,
had he clearly consulted his own heart, or had his own heart been
capable of clearly responding, and not been dazzled and bewildered by
transient fantasies and theosophic moonshine, could have undertaken
this function. His heart would have answered: "No, thou canst not.
What is incredible to thee, thou shalt not, at thy soul's peril,
attempt to believe!--Elsewhither for a refuge, or die here. Go to
Perdition if thou must,--but not with a lie in thy mouth; by the
Eternal Maker, no!"

Alas, once more! How are poor mortals whirled hither and thither in
the tumultuous chaos of our era; and, under the thick smoke-canopy
which has eclipsed all stars, how do they fly now after this poor
meteor, now after that!--Sterling abandoned his clerical office in
February, 1835; having held it, and ardently followed it, so long as
we say,--eight calendar months in all.

It was on this his February expedition to London that I first saw
Sterling,--at the India House incidentally, one afternoon, where I
found him in company with John Mill, whom I happened like himself to
be visiting for a few minutes. The sight of one whose fine qualities
I had often heard of lately, was interesting enough; and, on the
whole, proved not disappointing, though it was the translation of
dream into fact, that is of poetry into prose, and showed its unrhymed
side withal. A loose, careless-looking, thin figure, in careless dim
costume, sat, in a lounging posture, carelessly and copiously talking.
I was struck with the kindly but restless swift-glancing eyes, which
looked as if the spirits were all out coursing like a pack of merry
eager beagles, beating every bush. The brow, rather sloping in form,
was not of imposing character, though again the head was longish,
which is always the best sign of intellect; the physiognomy in general
indicated animation rather than strength.

We talked rapidly of various unmemorable things: I remember coming on
the Negroes, and noticing that Sterling's notion on the Slavery
Question had not advanced into the stage of mine. In reference to the
question whether an "engagement for life," on just terms, between
parties who are fixed in the character of master and servant, as the
Whites and the Negroes are, is not really better than one from day to
day,--he said with a kindly jeer, "I would have the Negroes themselves
consulted as to that!"--and would not in the least believe that the
Negroes were by no means final or perfect judges of it.--His address,
I perceived, was abrupt, unceremonious; probably not at all
disinclined to logic, and capable of dashing in upon you like a charge
of Cossacks, on occasion: but it was also eminently ingenious,
social, guileless. We did all very well together: and Sterling and I
walked westward in company, choosing whatever lanes or quietest
streets there were, as far as Knightsbridge where our roads parted;
talking on moralities, theological philosophies; arguing copiously,
but _except_ in opinion not disagreeing

In his notions on such subjects, the expected Coleridge cast of
thought was very visible; and he seemed to express it even with
exaggeration, and in a fearless dogmatic manner. Identity of
sentiment, difference of opinion: these are the known elements of a
pleasant dialogue. We parted with the mutual wish to meet
again;--which accordingly, at his Father's house and at mine, we soon
repeatedly did; and already, in the few days before his return to
Herstmonceux, had laid the foundations of a frank intercourse,
pointing towards pleasant intimacies both with himself and with his
circle, which in the future were abundantly fulfilled. His Mother,
essentially and even professedly "Scotch," took to my Wife gradually
with a most kind maternal relation; his Father, a gallant showy
stirring gentleman, the Magus of the _Times_, had talk and argument
ever ready, was an interesting figure, and more and more took interest
in us. We had unconsciously made an acquisition, which grew richer
and wholesomer with every new year; and ranks now, seen in the pale
moonlight of memory, and must ever rank, among the precious
possessions of life.

Sterling's bright ingenuity, and also his audacity, velocity and
alacrity, struck me more and more. It was, I think, on the occasion
of a party given one of these evenings at his Father's, where I
remember John Mill, John Crawford, Mrs. Crawford, and a number of
young and elderly figures of distinction,--that a group having formed
on the younger side of the room, and transcendentalisms and theologies
forming the topic, a number of deep things were said in abrupt
conversational style, Sterling in the thick of it. For example, one
sceptical figure praised the Church of England, in Hume's phrase, "as
a Church tending to keep down fanaticism," and recommendable for its
very indifferency; whereupon a transcendental figure urges him: "You
are afraid of the horse's kicking: but will you sacrifice all
qualities to being safe from that? Then get a dead horse. None
comparable to that for not kicking in your stable!" Upon which, a
laugh; with new laughs on other the like occasions;--and at last, in
the fire of some discussion, Sterling, who was unusually eloquent and
animated, broke out with this wild phrase, "I could plunge into the
bottom of Hell, if I were sure of finding the Devil there and getting
him strangled!" Which produced the loudest laugh of all; and had to
be repeated, on Mrs. Crawford's inquiry, to the house at large; and,
creating among the elders a kind of silent shudder,--though we urged
that the feat would really be a good investment of human
industry,--checked or stopt these theologic thunders for the evening.
I still remember Sterling as in one of his most animated moods that
evening. He probably returned to Herstmonceux next day, where he
proposed yet to reside for some indefinite time.

Arrived at Herstmonceux, he had not forgotten us. One of his Letters
written there soon after was the following, which much entertained me,
in various ways. It turns on a poor Book of mine, called _Sartor
Resartus_; which was not then even a Book, but was still hanging
desolately under bibliopolic difficulties, now in its fourth or fifth
year, on the wrong side of the river, as a mere aggregate of Magazine
Articles; having at last been slit into that form, and lately
completed _so_, and put together into legibility. I suppose Sterling
had borrowed it of me. The adventurous hunter spirit which had
started such a bemired _Auerochs_, or Urus of the German woods, and
decided on chasing that as game, struck me not a little;--and the poor
Wood-Ox, so bemired in the forests, took it as a compliment rather:--

"_To Thomas Carlyle, Esq., Chelsea, London_.
"HERSTMONCEUX near BATTLE, 29th May, 1835.

"MY DEAR CARLYLE,--I have now read twice, with care, the wondrous
account of Teufelsdrockh and his Opinions; and I need not say that it
has given me much to think of. It falls in with the feelings and
tastes which were, for years, the ruling ones of my life; but which
you will not be angry with me when I say that I am infinitely and
hourly thankful for having escaped from. Not that I think of this
state of mind as one with which I have no longer any concern. The
sense of a oneness of life and power in all existence; and of a
boundless exuberance of beauty around us, to which most men are
well-nigh dead, is a possession which no one that has ever enjoyed it
would wish to lose. When to this we add the deep feeling of the
difference between the actual and the ideal in Nature, and still more
in Man; and bring in, to explain this, the principle of duty, as that
which connects us with a possible Higher State, and sets us in
progress towards it,--we have a cycle of thoughts which was the whole
spiritual empire of the wisest Pagans, and which might well supply
food for the wide speculations and richly creative fancy of
Teufelsdrockh, or his prototype Jean Paul.

"How then comes it, we cannot but ask, that these ideas, displayed
assuredly with no want of eloquence, vivacity or earnestness, have
found, unless I am much mistaken, so little acceptance among the best
and most energetic minds in this country? In a country where millions
read the Bible, and thousands Shakspeare; where Wordsworth circulates
through book-clubs and drawing-rooms; where there are innumerable
admirers of your favorite Burns; and where Coleridge, by sending from
his solitude the voice of earnest spiritual instruction, came to be
beloved, studied and mourned for, by no small or careless school of
disciples?--To answer this question would, of course, require more
thought and knowledge than I can pretend to bring to it. But there
are some points on which I will venture to say a few words.

"In the first place, as to the form of composition,--which may be
called, I think, the Rhapsodico-Reflective. In this the _Sartor
Resartus_ resembles some of the master-works of human invention, which
have been acknowledged as such by many generations; and especially the
works of Rabelais, Montaigne, Sterne and Swift. There is nothing I
know of in Antiquity like it. That which comes nearest is perhaps the
Platonic Dialogue. But of this, although there is something of the
playful and fanciful on the surface, there is in reality neither in
the language (which is austerely determined to its end), nor in the
method and progression of the work, any of that headlong
self-asserting capriciousness, which, if not discernible in the plan
of Teufelsdrockh's Memoirs, is yet plainly to be seen in the structure
of the sentences, the lawless oddity, and strange heterogeneous
combination and allusion. The principle of this difference,
observable often elsewhere in modern literature (for the same thing is
to be found, more or less, in many of our most genial works of
imagination,--_Don Quixote_, for instance, and the writings of Jeremy
Taylor), seems to be that well-known one of the predominant
objectivity of the Pagan mind; while among us the subjective has risen
into superiority, and brought with it in each individual a multitude
of peculiar associations and relations. These, as not explicable from
any one _external_ principle assumed as a premise by the ancient
philosopher, were rejected from the sphere of his aesthetic creation:
but to us they all have a value and meaning; being connected by the
bond of our own personality and all alike existing in that infinity
which is its arena.

"But however this may be, and comparing the Teufelsdrockhean Epopee
only with those other modern works,--it is noticeable that Rabelais,
Montaigne and Sterne have trusted for the currency of their writings,
in a great degree, to the use of obscene and sensual stimulants.
Rabelais, besides, was full of contemporary and personal satire; and
seems to have been a champion in the great cause of his time,--as was
Montaigne also,--that of the right of thought in all competent minds,
unrestrained by any outward authority. Montaigne, moreover, contains
more pleasant and lively gossip, and more distinct good-humored
painting of his own character and daily habits, than any other writer
I know. Sterne is never obscure, and never moral; and the costume of
his subjects is drawn from the familiar experience of his own time and
country: and Swift, again, has the same merit of the clearest
perspicuity, joined to that of the most homely, unaffected, forcible
English. These points of difference seem to me the chief ones which
bear against the success of the _Sartor_. On the other hand, there is
in Teufelsdrockh a depth and fervor of feeling, and a power of serious
eloquence, far beyond that of any of these four writers; and to which
indeed there is nothing at all comparable in any of them, except
perhaps now and then, and very imperfectly, in Montaigne.

"Of the other points of comparison there are two which I would chiefly
dwell on: and first as to the language. A good deal of this is
positively barbarous. 'Environment,' ' vestural,' 'stertorous,'
'visualized,' 'complected,' and others to be found I think in the
first twenty pages,--are words, so far as I know, without any
authority; some of them contrary to analogy: and none repaying by
their value the disadvantage of novelty. To these must be added new
and erroneous locutions; 'whole other tissues' for _all the other_,
and similar uses of the word _whole_; 'orients' for _pearls_; 'lucid'
and 'lucent' employed as if they were different in meaning; 'hulls'
perpetually for _coverings_, it being a word hardly used, and then
only for the husk of a nut; 'to insure a man of misapprehension;'
'talented,' a mere newspaper and hustings word, invented, I believe,
by O'Connell.

"I must also mention the constant recurrence of some words in a quaint
and queer connection, which gives a grotesque and somewhat repulsive
mannerism to many sentences. Of these the commonest offender is
'quite;' which appears in almost every page, and gives at first a
droll kind of emphasis; but soon becomes wearisome. 'Nay,'
'manifold,' 'cunning enough significance,' 'faculty' (meaning a man's
rational or moral _power_), 'special,' 'not without,' haunt the reader
as if in some uneasy dream which does not rise to the dignity of
nightmare. Some of these strange mannerisms fall under the general
head of a singularity peculiar, so far as I know, to Teufelsdrockh.
For instance, that of the incessant use of a sort of odd superfluous
qualification of his assertions; which seems to give the character of
deliberateness and caution to the style, but in time sounds like mere
trick or involuntary habit. 'Almost' does more than yeoman's,
_almost_ slave's service in this way. Something similar may be
remarked of the use of the double negative by way of affirmation.

"Under this head, of language, may be mentioned, though not with
strict grammatical accuracy, two standing characteristics of the
Professor's style,--at least as rendered into English: _First_, the
composition of words, such as 'snow-and-rosebloom maiden:' an
attractive damsel doubtless in Germany, but, with all her charms,
somewhat uncouth here. 'Life-vision' is another example; and many
more might be found. To say nothing of the innumerable cases in which
the words are only intelligible as a compound term, though not
distinguished by hyphens. Of course the composition of words is
sometimes allowable even in English: but the habit of dealing with
German seems to have produced, in the pages before us, a prodigious
superabundance of this form of expression; which gives harshness and
strangeness, where the matter would at all events have been surprising
enough. _Secondly_, I object, with the same qualification, to the
frequent use of _inversion_; which generally appears as a
transposition of the two members of a clause, in a way which would not
have been practiced in conversation. It certainly gives emphasis and
force, and often serves to point the meaning. But a style may be
fatiguing and faulty precisely by being too emphatic, forcible and
pointed; and so straining the attention to find its meaning, or the
admiration to appreciate its beauty.

"Another class of considerations connects itself with the heightened
and plethoric fulness of the style: its accumulation and contrast of
imagery; its occasional jerking and almost spasmodic violence;--and
above all, the painful subjective excitement, which seems the element
and groundwork even of every description of Nature; often taking the
shape of sarcasm or broad jest, but never subsiding into calm. There
is also a point which I should think worth attending to, were I
planning any similar book: I mean the importance, in a work of
imagination, of not too much disturbing in the reader's mind the
balance of the New and Old. The former addresses itself to his
active, the latter to his passive faculty; and these are mutually
dependent, and must coexist in certain proportion, if you wish to
combine his sympathy and progressive exertion with willingness and
ease of attention. This should be taken into account in forming a
style; for of course it cannot be consciously thought of in composing
each sentence.

"But chiefly it seems important in determining the plan of a work. If
the tone of feeling, the line of speculation are out of the common
way, and sure to present some difficulty to the average reader, then
it would probably be desirable to select, for the circumstances,
drapery and accessories of all kinds, those most familiar, or at least
most attractive. A fable of the homeliest purport, and commonest
every-day application, derives an interest and charm from its turning
on the characters and acts of gods and genii, lions and foxes, Arabs
and Affghauns. On the contrary, for philosophic inquiry and truths of
awful preciousness, I would select as my personages and interlocutors
beings with whose language and 'whereabouts' my readers would be
familiar. Thus did Plato in his Dialogues, Christ in his Parables.
Therefore it seems doubtful whether it was judicious to make a German
Professor the hero of _Sartor_. Berkeley began his _Siris_ with
tar-water; but what can English readers be expected to make of
_Gukguk_ by way of prelibation to your nectar and tokay? The
circumstances and details do not flash with living reality on the
minds of your readers, but, on the contrary, themselves require some
of that attention and minute speculation, the whole original stock of
which, in the minds of most of them, would not be too much to enable
them to follow your views of Man and Nature. In short, there is not a
sufficient basis of the common to justify the amount of peculiarity in
the work. In a book of science, these considerations would of course
be inapplicable; but then the whole shape and coloring of the book
must be altered to make it such; and a man who wishes merely to get at
the philosophical result, or summary of the whole, will regard the
details and illustrations as so much unprofitable surplusage.

"The sense of strangeness is also awakened by the marvellous
combinations, in which the work abounds to a degree that the common
reader must find perfectly bewildering. This can hardly, however, be
treated as a consequence of the _style_; for the style in this respect
coheres with, and springs from, the whole turn and tendency of
thought. The noblest images are objects of a humorous smile, in a
mind which sees itself above all Nature and throned in the arms of an
Almighty Necessity; while the meanest have a dignity, inasmuch as they
are trivial symbols of the same one life to which the great whole
belongs. And hence, as I divine, the startling whirl of incongruous
juxtaposition, which of a truth must to many readers seem as amazing
as if the Pythia on the tripod should have struck up a drinking-song,
or Thersites had caught the prophetic strain of Cassandra.

"All this, of course, appears to me true and relevant; but I cannot
help feeling that it is, after all, but a poor piece of quackery to
comment on a multitude of phenomena without adverting to the principle
which lies at the root, and gives the true meaning to them all. Now
this principle I seem to myself to find in the state of mind which is
attributed to Teufelsdrockh; in his state of mind, I say, not in his
opinions, though these are, in him as in all men, most
important,--being one of the best indices to his state of mind. Now
what distinguishes him, not merely from the greatest and best men who
have been on earth for eighteen hundred years, but from the whole body
of those who have been working forwards towards the good, and have
been the salt and light of the world, is this: That he does not
believe in a God. Do not be indignant, I am blaming no one;--but if I
write my thoughts, I must write them honestly.

"Teufelsdrockh does not belong to the herd of sensual and thoughtless
men; because he does perceive in all Existence a unity of power;
because he does believe that this is a real power external to him and
dominant to a certain extent over him, and does not think that he is
himself a shadow in a world of shadows. He had a deep feeling of the
beautiful, the good and the true; and a faith in their final victory.

"At the same time, how evident is the strong inward unrest, the
Titanic heaving of mountain on mountain; the storm-like rushing over
land and sea in search of peace. He writhes and roars under his
consciousness of the difference in himself between the possible and
the actual, the hoped-for and the existent. He feels that duty is the
highest law of his own being; and knowing how it bids the waves be
stilled into an icy fixedness and grandeur, he trusts (but with a
boundless inward misgiving) that there is a principle of order which
will reduce all confusion to shape and clearness. But wanting peace
himself, his fierce dissatisfaction fixes on all that is weak, corrupt
and imperfect around him; and instead of a calm and steady
co-operation with all those who are endeavoring to apply the highest
ideas as remedies for the worst evils, he holds himself aloof in
savage isolation; and cherishes (though he dare not own) a stern joy
at the prospect of that Catastrophe which is to turn loose again the
elements of man's social life, and give for a time the victory to
evil;--in hopes that each new convulsion of the world must bring us
nearer to the ultimate restoration of all things; fancying that each
may be the last. Wanting the calm and cheerful reliance, which would
be the spring of active exertion, he flatters his own distemper by
persuading himself that his own age and generation are peculiarly
feeble and decayed; and would even perhaps be willing to exchange the
restless immaturity of our self-consciousness, and the promise of its
long throe-pangs, for the unawakened undoubting simplicity of the
world's childhood; of the times in which there was all the evil and
horror of our day, only with the difference that conscience had not
arisen to try and condemn it. In these longings, if they are
Teufelsdrockh's, he seems to forget that, could we go back five
thousand years, we should only have the prospect of travelling them
again, and arriving at last at the same point at which we stand now.

"Something of this state of mind I may say that I understand; for I
have myself experienced it. And the root of the matter appears to me:
A want of sympathy with the great body of those who are now
endeavoring to guide and help onward their fellow-men. And in what is
this alienation grounded? It is, as I believe, simply in the
difference on that point: viz. the clear, deep, habitual recognition
of a one Living _Personal_ God, essentially good, wise, true and holy,
the Author of all that exists; and a reunion with whom is the only end
of all rational beings. This belief... [_There follow now several
pages on "Personal God," and other abstruse or indeed properly
unspeakable matters; these, and a general Postscript of qualifying
purport, I will suppress; extracting only the following fractions, as
luminous or slightly significant to us:_]

"Now see the difference of Teufelsdrockh's feelings. At the end of
book iii. chap. 8, I find these words: 'But whence? O Heaven,
whither? Sense knows not; Faith knows not; only that it is through
mystery to mystery, from God to God.

'We _are such stuff_
As dreams are made of, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.'

And this tallies with the whole strain of his character. What we find
everywhere, with an abundant use of the name of God, is the conception
of a formless Infinite whether in time or space; of a high inscrutable
Necessity, which it is the chief wisdom and virtue to submit to, which
is the mysterious impersonal base of all Existence,--shows itself in
the laws of every separate being's nature; and for man in the shape of
duty. On the other hand, I affirm, we do know whence we come and
whither we go!--

... "And in this state of mind, as there is no true sympathy with
others, just as little is there any true peace for ourselves. There
is indeed possible the unsympathizing factitious calm of Art, which we
find in Goethe. But at what expense is it bought? Simply, by
abandoning altogether the idea of duty, which is the great witness of
our personality. And he attains his inhuman ghastly calmness by
reducing the Universe to a heap of material for the idea of beauty to
work on!--

... "The sum of all I have been writing as to the connection of our
faith in God with our feeling towards men and our mode of action, may
of course be quite erroneous: but granting its truth, it would supply
the one principle which I have been seeking for, in order to explain
the peculiarities of style in your account of Teufelsdrockh and his
writings.... The life and works of Luther are the best comment I know
of on this doctrine of mine.

"Reading over what I have written, I find I have not nearly done
justice to my own sense of the genius and moral energy of the book;
but this is what you will best excuse.--Believe me most sincerely and
faithfully yours,


Here are sufficient points of "discrepancy with agreement," here is
material for talk and argument enough; and an expanse of free
discussion open, which requires rather to be speedily restricted for
convenience' sake, than allowed to widen itself into the boundless, as
it tends to do!--

In all Sterling's Letters to myself and others, a large collection of
which now lies before me, duly copied and indexed, there is, to one
that knew his speech as well, a perhaps unusual likeness between the
speech and the Letters; and yet, for most part, with a great
inferiority on the part of these. These, thrown off, one and all of
them, without premeditation, and with most rapid-flowing pen, are
naturally as like his speech as writing can well be; this is their
grand merit to us: but on the other hand, the want of the living
tones, swift looks and motions, and manifold dramatic accompaniments,
tells heavily, more heavily than common. What can be done with
champagne itself, much more with soda-water, when the gaseous spirit
is fled! The reader, in any specimens he may see, must bear this in

Meanwhile these Letters do excel in honesty, in candor and
transparency; their very carelessness secures their excellence in this
respect. And in another much deeper and more essential respect I must
likewise call them excellent,--in their childlike goodness, in the
purity of heart, the noble affection and fidelity they everywhere
manifest in the writer. This often touchingly strikes a familiar
friend in reading them; and will awaken reminiscences (when you have
the commentary in your own memory) which are sad and beautiful, and
not without reproach to you on occasion. To all friends, and all good
causes, this man is true; behind their back as before their face, the
same man!--Such traits of the autobiographic sort, from these Letters,
as can serve to paint him or his life, and promise not to weary the
reader, I must endeavor to select, in the sequel.

Thomas Carlyle

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