Carlyle till Marriage (1795-1826)

Carlyle till Marriage (1795-1826)

Carlyle till Marriage (1795-1826)

Carlyle till Marriage (1795-1826)


From 1890 to 1912 I collected for pleasure whatever could be known about Carlyle. In 1890 at Ecclefechan I inspected what had been the original of the cottage in Sartor, the home of his boyhood; and at Middlebie sat by the bedside of a very old woman who wanted to tell me all she knew--her mother had been the midwife who brought Carlyle into the world. In 1895, when I returned to Ecclefechan, the cottage was demolished. What is visited now is the house where he was born.

To be as candid as Froissart, I must say what he said: "The true reason of my undertaking this book was for my own amusement." Besides, it seemed sad that human curiosity about one so important to the world as Carlyle would soon be in vain. So I started to make notes, recognizing they might some day be used for a "Life":

"For whatsoe'er we perpetrate
We do but row,--we're steered by Fate."

My trade was official work in Burma, where Europeans die sooner than at home, and I could not begin to write a "Life" till after retirement.

In the house of Prof. C. E. Norton, near Boston, in 1895, when he urged me to write at once, I had to answer: "If I live to 1920 or so, a 'Life' of Carlyle by me is sure to be written. If not, then Providence, whom it concerns, must find some other to do it."

"What is done in 1920 cannot possibly concern me-- nothing will interest me then," he answered gravely.

The method of composition has been like that of the artist who began by elaborately drawing everything, and then struck out the most of it. When I retired in 1912, the . . .

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