Imágenes de páginas

terribly cut up; we must endeavor to hide from him how very serious this business is to us.” Mill insisted on Carlyle's taking £200 as part compensation for the loss; Carlyle refused to take it, but finally accepted £100, as he was in great need of money at the time.

To many the French Revolution is the most brilliant product of Carlyle's genius; it is not a history in the usual sense, but rather a prose-poem dealing with an event considered by some the most significant since the birth of Christ. It presupposes knowledge of the Revolution, so that unless the reader is familiar with the French Revolution it is advisable to read a brief history on that subject before reading Carlyle's work. It is a work to be read in its entirety rather than in extracts, for it is only by gathering the cumulative effect of its 900 pages that one's spirit can feel the force of this book from the flaming "heart of a loving man.”

“The book (writes Leslie Stephen] shows a unique combination; on the one hand is the singularly shrewd insight into character and the vivid realization of the picturesque; on the other, is the 'mysticism' or poetical philosophy which relieves the events against a background of mystery. The contrast is marked by the humor which seems to combine a cynical view of human folly with a deeply pathetic sense of the sadness and suffering of life.”

The following extract from the chapter on Charlotte Corday in the French Revolution is a good illustration of his style, his art, and his broad sympathy:

"About eight on the Saturday morning, she purchased a large sheathknife in the Palais Royal; then straightway, in the Place des Victoires, takes a hackney-coach: ‘To the Rue de l'École de Médicine, No. 44.' It is the residence of the Citoyen Marat! - The Citoyen Marat is ill, and cannot be seen; which seems to disappoint her much. Her business is with Marat, then? Hapless, beautiful Charlotte; hapless, squalid Marat! From Caen in the utmost West, from Neuchâtel in the utmost East, they two are drawing nigh each other; they two have, very strangely, business together. — Charlotte, returning to her Inn, despatches a short Note to Marat; signifying that she is from Caen, the seat of rebellion; that she desires earnestly to see him, and 'will put it in his power to do France

a great service.' No answer. Charlotte writes another Note, still more pressing; sets out with it by coach, about seven in the evening, herself. Tired day-laborers have again finished their week; huge Paris is circling and simmering, manifold, according to its vague wont: this one fair Figure has decision in it; drives straight — towards a purpose.

“ It is yellow July evening, we say, the thirteenth of the month; eve of the Bastille day — when ‘M. Marat,' four years ago, in the crowd of the Pont Neuf, shrewdly required of that Benseval Hussar-party, which had such friendly dispositions, 'to dismount and give up their arms, then;' and became notable among Patriot men. Four years: what a road he has traveled; — and sits now, about half-past seven of the clock, stewing in slipper-bath; sore afflicted; ill of Revolution Fever - of what other malady this History had rather not name. Excessively sick and worn, poor man: with precisely eleven-pence half-penny of ready money, in paper; with slipper-bath; strong three-footed stool for writing on, the while; and a squalid - Washerwoman, one may call her: that is his civic establishment in Medical-School Street; thither and not else-whither has his road led him. Not to the reign of Brotherhood and Perfect Felicity; yet surely on his way towards that? Hark, a rap again! A musical woman's-voice, refusing to be rejected; it is the Citoyenne who would do France a service. Marat, recognizing from within, cries, Admit her. Charlotte Corday is admitted.

Citoyen Marat, I am from Caen, the seat of rebellion, and wished to speak with you. Be seated, mon enfant. Now what are the traitors doing at Caen? What Deputies are at Caen? - Charlotte names some Deputies. “Their heads shall fall within a fortnight,' croaks the eager People's-Friend, clutching his tablets to write: Barbaroux, Petion, writes he with bare-shrunk arm, turning aside in the bath: Petion, and Louvet, and - Charlotte has drawn her knife from the sheath; plunges it, with one sure stroke, into the writer's heart. 'A moi, chère amie, Help, dear!' no more could the Death-choked say or shriek. The helpful Washerwoman running in, there is no Friend of the people, or Friend of the Washerwoman left; but his life with a groan gushes out, indignant, to the shades below.

"And so Marat People's-Friend is ended; the lone Stylites has got hurled down suddenly from his Pillar - whitherward, He that made him knows. Patriot Paris may sound triple and tenfold, in dole and wail; re-echoed by Patriot France; and the Convention ... and Jacobin Societies, in lamentable oratory, summing up his character, parallel him to One, whom we think it honor to call 'the Good Sansculotte'- whom we name not here; also a Chapel may be made, for the urn that holds his Heart, in the Place du Carrousel; and new-born children be named Marat. ... One sole circumstance we read with clear sympathy, in the old Moniteur

[ocr errors]

Newspaper : how Marat's Brother comes from Neuchâtel to ask of the Convention, 'that the deceased Jean-Paul Marat's musket be given him.' For Marat too had a Brother, and natural affections; and was wrapt once in swaddling-clothes, and slept safe in a cradle like the rest of us. Ye children of men!..

"As for Charlotte Corday, her work is accomplished; the recompense of it is near and sure. The chère amie, and neighbors of the house, flying at her, she 'overturns some moveables,' entrenches herself till the gendarmes arrive; then quietly surrenders; goes quietly to the Abbaye Prison; she alone quiet, all Paris sounding, in wonder, in rage or admiration, round her...

“On Wednesday morning, the thronged Palais de Justice and Revolutionary Tribunal can see her face; beautiful and calm: she dates it 'fourth day of the Preparation of Peace.' A strange murmur ran through the Hall, at sight of her; you could not say of what character. Tinville has his indictment and tape-papers: the Cutler of the Palais Royal will testify that he sold her the sheath-knife; 'all these details are needless,' interrupted Charlotte; 'it is I that killed Marat.' By whose instigation? – 'By no one's.' What tempted you then? His crimes. 'I killed one man,' added she, raising her voice extremely (extrêmement), as they went on with their questions, 'I killed one man to save a hundred thousand; a villain to save innocents; a savage wild-beast, to give repose to my country. I was a Republican before the Revolution; I never wanted energy. There is therefore nothing to be said. The public gazes astonished; the hasty limners sketch her features, Charlotte not disapproving; the men of law proceed with their formalities. The doom is Death as a murderess. To her Advocate she gives thanks; in gentle phrase, in high-flown classical spirit. To the Priest they send her she gives thanks; but needs not any shriving, any ghostly or other aid from him.

“On this same evening, therefore, about half-past seven o'clock, from the gate of the Conciergerie, to a City all on tiptoe, the fatal Cart issues: seated on it a fair young creature, sheeted in red smock of Murderess; so beautiful, serene, so full of life; journeying towards death,— alone amid the World. Many take off their hats, saluting reverently; for what heart but must be touched? Others growl and howl. Adam Lux, of Mentz, declares that she is greater than Brutus; that it were beautiful to die with her: the head of this young man seems turned. At the Place de la Revolution, the countenance of Charlotte wears the same still smile. The executioners proceed to bind her feet; she resists, thinking it meant as an insult; on a word of explanation, she submits with cheerful apology. As the last act, all being now ready, they take the neckerchief from her neck; a blush of maidenly shame overspreads that fair face and neck; the cheeks were still tinged with it, when the executioner lifted the

severed head, to show it to the people. “ It is most true," says Forster, " that he struck the cheek insultingly; for I saw with my eyes: the Police imprisoned him for it.”

In this manner have the Beautifullest and Squalidest come in collision, and extinguished one another. Jean-Paul Marat and Marie-Ann Charlotte Corday both, suddenly, are no more. Day of the Preparation of Peace?" Alas, how were peace possible. .... O ye hapless Two, mutually extinctive, the Beautiful and the Squalid, sleep ye well,- in the mother's bosom that bore you both!


Life of Thomas Carlyle. FROUDE.
Reminiscences. CARLYLE.
Letters of Jane Welsh Carlyle.
Love Letters of Thomas Carlyle and Jane Welsh.
New Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle.
New Letters of Thomas Carlyle.
Thomas Carlyle. CONWAY.
Thomas Carlyle. GARNETT.
Thomas Carlyle. NICHOL.

The Nemesis of Froude. CRICHTON-BROWNE and A. CARLYLE.

Impressions of Thomas Carlyle in 1848. EMERSON. Scrib., vol. 22, p. 89.
Carlyle's Political Doctrines. COURTNEY. Ecl. M., vol. 94, p. 242.
Carlyle as an Historian. TREVELYAN. Liv. Age, vol. 223, p. 366.
Carlyle's Dramatic Portrayal of Character. HOTCHKISS. Cent., vol. 35,

p. 415.
Goethe and Carlyle. WILSON. Ecl. M., vol. 121, p. 775.
Goethe and Carlyle. MULLER. Contemp., vol. 49, p. 772.
Carlyle's Place in Literature. HARRISON. Forum, vol. 17, p. 537.
Thomas Carlyle: His Work and Influence. THAYER. Forum, vol. 20,

p. 465. Arnold on Emerson and Carlyle. BURROUGHS. Cent., vol. 5, p. 925.




of the rarest, most beautiful, and saddest of souls. There are critics who think that in some respects his influence is like that of a “dim comet wagging its useless tail of phosphorescent nothing across the steadfast stars." But there are many who feel that Ruskin was an inspired prophet with the voice of an angel and the heart of the Son of Man, belonging to the few of whom it may be written,

“Through such souls alone God stooping shows sufficient of His light For us i' the dark to rise by.”

Birth and Parentage. - On February 8, 1819, the year of the birth of Kingsley, Clough, Lowell, and Whitman, John Ruskin was born in London. The house, now marked by a small memorial tablet, is a plain brick edifice of three and a half stories, No. 54 Hunter Street, Brunswick Square, Bloomsbury. The father, John James Ruskin, a London sherry merchant of the wholesale firm of Ruskin, Telford, and Domecq, had been born and bred in Edinburgh. He was a thrifty Scotchman who prospered so well that he left a fortune of nearly £200,000. He was so conscientious that he had delayed his marriage for years, because he first insisted on paying off the debts of a father who had not possessed his son's business ability. The inscription on his tomb, written by his famous son, declares he was “an entirely honest merchant,” but he was more than that. He was a man of culture, a lover of art and literature, and a devoted and sympathetic father. The mother, a first cousin of her husband, was a woman of decided individuality, with a stern philosophy of life, and of so absorbing an affection for her son, her only child, that her conduct suggests Tennyson's line in Gareth and Lynette,

« AnteriorContinuar »