Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

II
ON TEMPERANCE, CATHERINE II, &c. (1851)

JOHN STERLING was selling well,--so much the worse for its author's popularity with most professional Christians. The same was true of the Latter-Day Pamphlets and most politicians. When Carlyle came home from Paris in the first week of October, 1851, he settled down to steady reading about the history of Europe before the French Revolution. The only trifle of other business worth mention is that he got from Mazzini a letter of introduction for the Brownings to George Sand, whom Mrs. Browning worshipped--till she met her. In sending it on 28.10.51, Carlyle replied to Browning's suggestion to return to Paris in the Spring.--'If I were to go to France, I think my next object would be Normandy rather; to see the Bayeux tapestry, the Grave of W. Conqueror, and the footsteps (chiefly Cathedrals I believe) of those huge old Kings of ours. I read a Ducarel (French Englishman of 1750) the other week, who roused all my old aspirations for a while. But after all it is better to sit still.' This agrees with what appears in other letters, such as those to Neuberg and to Varnhagen von Ense. He had settled down to reading history, but he was not yet sure that it would be best to write about Frederick. He was now sating his curiosity in order to see and determine that, and had by no means lost hope of some day writing about William the Conqueror and Company, either instead of Frederick, or after he had finished with him.

About the same time, the assistant-editor of the Westminster Review, the Miss Evans known as "George Eliot," was trying to coax articles out of him, regretting that her Review had not got the article on the Opera which had appeared in Procter's ( Barry Cornwall) Keepsake and been much quoted in the Press.1 ' Carlyle called the other day,'

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1
Life of George Eliot, by J. W. Cross, pp. 136-40.

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