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bewildering, inextricable jungle of delusions, confusions, falsehoods and absurdities, and this 'mis-worship’ is not allowed to be the quackery of priests or the allegory of poets, but it is said to be the wonder with which the wild children of nature gazed on the power that spread its mysteries around them. This is not the whole truth, and, given as the whole, it is false. In the Norse religion he sees the impersonation of the visible workings of nature; in the mythic chaunts of the Iceland Edda, and the sagas, he traces the successions of ancestral beliefs ; in the Runes of Odin, and in the divine honours paid to him, as the father of letters and poetry, by the rude men of the north, he admires the ancient reverence of sincerity, valour, and destiny; and in the Skald, which records the exploits of Thor, he hails the deep thought, the manly sincerity, the broad humour, and the fantastic imagination, from which have come many of the tales of our modern nursery, some of the Scottish ballads, and one of the greatest poems in our language-the Hamlet of Shakespeare.
Whoever has visited the Library and Museum of Northern Antiquities at Copenhagen, must have been impressed by the power with which the minds of these forgotten northmen are ruling our spirits even in the present day : and such readers can enter heartily with us into Mr. Carlyle's feelings.*
There is much fascination, and, as it appears to us, some truthfulness, in Mr. Carlyle's delineation of the character of Mahomet; of the country, and natural features of the Arabs, the Italians of the East, and of the religion and the propagation of the Koran; and we are ready to admire the frankness with which he means to say of the prophet 'all the good he justly can.' We give up, with all modern scholars, the story of the pigeon. We are sure that there must be a basis of truth for every error that lasts long. We are willing to believe, as far as we can, that Mahomet was in some sort sincere; that taciturn as he was, in his good laugh-his beaming black eyes—his swelling vein in the brow-there was the heartiness of a genuine man; and that his religion was, in many respects, an improvement on the formalities which it destroyed. At the same time we must say that we have read this lecture again and again, and always with increased regret and Mr. Carlyle would forgive our plainnessdisapprobation.
When Mahomet is styled 'a true prophet' the words ought to mean, and their connection shews they do mean that, in his "egree, he was as true a prophet as Mosesor Isaiah. We
* See a Review of Works on the Northern Antiquities in the present ies of the Eclectic, vol. I., Feb. 1837.
cannot think that this is Mr. Carlyle's deliberate belief: he is too enlightened and too sincere a man for that. Indeed when he is speaking, afterwards, of Shakespeare as a greater prophet than Mahomet, he candidly acknowledges that it is a questionable step for me here, and now to say, as I haye done, that Mahomet was a true speaker at all, and not rather an ambitious charlatan, perversity and simulacrum, no speaker, but a babbler.' Why, we would ask Mr. Carlyle, with all possible respect, why leave uncorrected the more than questionable passages about Mahomet's true prophet-dom, and his freedom from cant? We are staggered by the bold declaration that ‘Mahomet was not a sensual man.' Has Mr. Carlyle not examined Abulfeda, or has he not read in Sale's translation, the fourth and thirty-fourth suraton, of the Koran? or has he forgotten the difficulties out of which he calls his great master, Goethe, to help him? We believe that Golius, Hottinger, Erpenius, and all the Arabic scholars would dissent from Goethe's notion of Islam, which Mr. Carlyle borrows.
Mr. Carlyle says, it seems to be the true opinion that Mahomet never could write,' Then, who wrote the Koran ? Gabriel ? Does not Al Bochari tell us that he did write certain words at the gate of Mecca ? And does not Abulfeda say that in his last sickness he asked for ink and paper that he might write a book ?
We are sorry that Mr. Carlyle should be unconscious of the confusion that disfigures his defence, for it looks like a vindication of Mahomet's propagation of his religion by the sword. Instead of comparing him to Charlemagne, we should have thought of the divine prophet of the Christian faith, who called his followers, not to fight, but, to deny themselves, and to love their enemies. More than once Mr. Carlyle calls Mahomedanism a 'kind of Christianity. So slavery may be a kind of liberty, and arsenic a kind of food. A false, sensual, proud, cruel religion 'a kind of christianity !'—which christianity Mr. Carlyle knows to be true, and pure, and meek, and full of mercy!
Mr. Carlyle's idea of poets and poetry is that which constitutes the charm of the richest literature of Germany. The true poet is a great man, conversing with realities, piercing the sacred mystery, 'the open secret,' of the universe, and dealing earnestly with what he sees. In the degree in which this element is developed in a man, he is counted for a poet.
Poetry is musical thought expressed in verse.' The types of this class of great men selected for illustration are Dante and Shakespeare. While he describes Dante as embodying musically the religion of the middle ages, and Shakespeare as embodying for us the outer life of our Europe as developed
mis followers, not to prophet of the Christie, we should ha
then-its chivalries, courtesies, humours, ambitions—the Italian deep and fierce; the Englishman wide, placid, and far-seeing; he holds Shakespeare to be the greater poet, indeed the greatest of intellects, and the highest glory of the English nation.
We have but little space to follow Mr. Carlyle through his sketches of the heroes of the reformation, which teem with graphic descriptions, just sentiments, admirable reflections, and noble principles. But we are bound by our reverence for the highest truth to protest against the ill founded and mischievous opinion which he has taken pains to dress in the most attractive colours,—that 'idolatry is to be condemned only when it is insincere. We have not so read those Hebrew prophets to whose genius Mr. Carlyle does graceful homage, and in whose miraculous inspiration we will presume to hope that he believes.
The idolatry which they denounce, in the name of the living God, is the bowing down of worshippers to any symbol of any god, nay even of HIMSELF; and greater men than any of those whom Mr. Carlyle beatifies with the apotheosis, went out into the world to turn men from the dumb idols which he would have us to leave unmolested.
We cannot but admire Mr. Carlyle's enlightened though somewhat too patronizing vindication of protestantism, and his honest sympathy with the earnestness and the strength of such men as Luther and Knox. It is natural enough for a writer in his position to look at these men and their labours rather in their intellectual and moral characteristics, than in connection with the religious beliefs which braced the firmness of their endurance, and the spiritual feelings which fired the ardour of their zeal. But he does the men justice. He discovers a sharp insight into their function as the lights of their age. He sees, with the eye of a philosopher, the connection of their labours with those of men that went before, and of men who have come after them. His mention of the puritans will be as gratifying to their successors as it is honourable to them, and to him. We hail this as one of the auspicious omens of that better day which is at hand, when these traduced heroes of truth, freedom, and earnest piety will be known and loved as they deserve.
Mr. Carlyle introduces the hero, a man of letters,' as a new and singular phenomenon, slowly recognised by the world, but teaching that world how to think and what to do.
Without questioning, on the contrary, devoutly believing the higher and more awful inspiration of prophets and apostles, we would not fail to ascribe all superiority of understanding to the 'inspiration of the Almighty ;'* nor would we rashly charge
with pantheism the writers who—though it be in phraseology which we condemn as not only vague but mischievous—are calling on a sensual, mechanical, and formal age to see in every man and in every thing the presence of the unseen God.
Such is Mr. Carlyle's view of the highest rank of literary men. In his estimation the writer is the modern teacher of the people, preaching to all men in all times and places; books are the purest embodiment of that thought which has built cities and cathedrals; libraries are the true universities of these days; and the press in fact, not in figure, is, as Burke expressed it, 'a fourth estate. With the seriousness of a practical man Mr. Carlyle discusses the standing of the men of letters in our present social condition, and the importance to the whole society of some new arrangement which will secure for them an acknowledged status. He makes the Chinese teach us something in this matter; and from the examples of Prussia and of France he augurs hopes even for England. He might have added Denmark and Russia. The heaviest evil through which he sees the thinking men of the eighteenth century struggling, is not the poverty of writers, nor their obscurity, nor their want of patronage or public organization; but the scepticism and utilitarianism and atheistic insincerity of their times.
Mr. Carlyle's type of the class of men of whom he is now speaking would of course be GOETHE. He considers him a true hero, 'by far the greatest, though one of the quietest of the great things, that have come to pass in these times. But, finding that the general state of English knowledge about Goethe makes it impossible for him to convey his own impression to others, he leaves him to future times, and passes to earlier though inferior names as better suited to his present purposes; those names are Johnson, Rousseau and Burns. Most Englishmen will smile at Mr. Carlyle's adoration of a man whom the most literary nation in the world has hailed as the greatest genius of the age, and whom most men of other nations who have seen him, or made themselves acquainted with his voluminous and varied works, have been accustomed to regard with a reverence and admiration which, however excessive they may seem, and sometimes extravagantly expressed, are certainly not without some reasonable foundation. For Mr. Carlyle's partiality, it would not, we think, be difficult to account, from the temperament of his intellect, from his literary habits, and from early personal intercourse with the patriarch of . Weimar, who is said to have been greatly interested in the young Englishman. It may not perhaps be amiss to inform or to remind our readers that neither all Germans, nor all Englishmen conversant with their literature are such Goethianer.' Among the Germans and comparatively among ourselves, there
are large numbers of well-read and thoughtful men who look on this enthusiasm as an evil, chiefly from its tendency to increase that love of the ideal which keeps the Germans from the practical. Of no other literary man has so much been written and spoken. His great distinction was the healthy calmness of his nature, producing a singular completeness and equipoise in his great and highly cultivated mental powers. The later and larger portion of his long life was spent in outward circumstances the most auspicious for his tastes and objects; and it seems to have been devoted almost entirely to the culture of one mind; and that one mind-his own;—the man thus selfdisciplined, and self-cultured, appears in all his later writings, where he brings out the highest philosophy of criticism, and the most perfect exemplification of the literary art.
We return from this digression to Mr.Carlyle's literary trio,-men differing most remarkably from each other in all respects save one.
To begin with Johnson. Though there are but slender materials for judging of the formation and progress of his mind, there is no man of whom so much is known in the maturity of his life and reputation. It is not the least remarkable thing about Johnson that one of the silliest of men and not the least sycophantic of hero-worshippers—became, in the narration of his life, the most welcome of biographers, and that the gossiping of Boswell raises our admira!ion of Johnson higher than the reading of Johnson's own works. Mr. Carlyle's portrait of Johnson in this lecture wants distinctness of outline and fulness of colouring. He touches slightly on his diseased body, his poverty, his high rugged spirit, his reverence for old opinions, his sincerity, his inculcation of practical wisdom, his hatred of cant, his wondrous buckram style, and the 'archi. tectural nobleness of his dictionary,' but he does not here attend to the discrepancies of his character, the etherial and the earthly; the sagacity hoodwinked by credulity; the bigoted denunciation of bigotry ; the scrupulosity and formality of his religion; the one-sidedness of his political orthodoxy ; his large views and miserably little prejudices; and his natural conversation, contrasted with his turgid writing. His great recommendation, we doubt not, is the brave, true and generous nature which leaves him, after all his foibles and inconsistencies, a truly great man — worthy of the affectionate reverence of Englishmen.
It would not be easy at the first glance to see the classifying principle which associates Johnson with Rousseau. In the presence of the massive Englishman who thought Rousseau ' a fellow that deserved to be hanged, the vain and shallow Genevese republican reminds us of a grasshopper teasing a giant with his chirp. Mr. Carlyle himself says most truly, he is