Letters and Speeches]
A long expectation is awarded at last by the appearance of this book. We cannot wonder that it should have been long, when Mr. Carlyle shows us what a world of ill-arranged and almost worthless materials he has had to wade through before achieving any possibility of order and harmony for his narrative.
The method which he has chosen of letting the letters and speeches of Cromwell tell the story when possible, only himself doing what is needful to throw light where it is most wanted and fill up gaps, is an excellent one. Mr. Carlyle, indeed, is a most peremptory showman, and with each slide of his magic lantern informs us not only of what is necessary to enable us to understand it, but how we must look at it, under peril of being ranked as Imbeciles, Canting sceptics, disgusting Rose-water Philanthropists, and the like. And aware of his power of tacking a nickname or ludicrous picture to any one who refuses to obey, we might perhaps feel ourselves, if in his neighborhood, under such constraint and fear of deadly laughter, as to lose the benefit of having under our eye to form our judgment upon the same materials on which he formed his.
But the ocean separates us, and the showman has his own audience of despised victims or scarce less despised pupils, and we need not fear to be handed down to posterity as “a little gentleman in a gray coat” “shrieking” unutterable “imbecilities” or with the like damnatory affixes, when we profess that, having read the book, and read the letters and speeches thus far, we cannot submit to the showman's explanation of the lantern, but must more than ever stick to the old “Philistine” “Dilettant” “Imbecile” and what not view of the character of Cromwell.
We all know that to Mr. Carlyle Greatness is well nigh synonymous with Virtue, and that he has shown himself a firm believer in Providence by receiving the men of Destiny as always entitled to reverence. Sometimes a great success has followed the portraits painted by him in the light of such faith, as with