Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

XXIII
MACAULAY AND THE STUARTS, &c. (1849)

IN February Carlyle and his wife stayed a while at Headly Grove, Epsom, as the guests of Captain Anthony Sterling, and writing to John Forster from there1 ( 19.2-49), Carlyle described his solitary rides, 'amid the beautiful chalk hills,'--yesterday to Reigate, the day before to Dorking, the day before that on Epsom race-course,--and said,--'I find the sermon which this old Earth preaches to me, when she has the opportunity, worth all other sermons.' Macaulay's History was the sensation of the season; and Carlyle confessed to Forster that it had disappointed him, tho he had expected little.--'Flat: without a ray of genius . . . and as for story, there is no story, and the Devil himself couldn't make one! Stuart Kings and their fetid canaille (or stinking doggery), what story is in them or ever can be? Oblivion, zero, and eternal silence, that is their story. . . .'

When Neuberg called on Monday, 12.3.49, he reported to his sister2 that Mrs. Carlyle was out, but that he had 'a very pleasant evening. I had him all to myself. We made tea together, and he told me many things that I desired to know. He was in a very good humour, and is the tenderest of mankind when one can look somewhat into the depths of his nature.'

Soon after then Carlyle was writing what was printed as an article in the Spectator of 14.4.49, denouncing the hopeless methods of Lord John Russell's government in Ireland, and proving the need there for common-sense in command and-- Sir Robert Peel. He told his sister that what made him write was 'real conscience. . . . I really ought to stick to my paper; and work away till I get heated: part of my big monstrous meaning, which everybody would be apt to shriek over, might then perhaps be got uttered soon.'

____________________
1
John Forster MSS., S. Kensington Museum, letter of 19.2. 49).
2

Carlyle and Neuberg, Macmillan's Mag., Aug., 1884, pp. 281-3.

-83-

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