Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 09.djvu/128

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which had ruined the West India islands and left the negro to sink into barbarism. Mill replied forcibly in ‘Fraser,’ and the separation between them became complete. In the course of 1850 Carlyle published the ‘Latter-day Pamphlets,’ the most vehement and occasionally savage assertions of his principles. Mr. Froude (iv. 41) describes him at this time as pouring out the still unpublished matter ‘in a torrent of sulphurous denunciation.’ His excitement carried him away into astonishing displays of grotesque humour and vivid imagination, while his hearers listened in silence or were overpowered by his rhetoric. The pamphlets gave general offence. Mr. Froude says (iv. 58) that the outcry stopped the sale for many months and even years. An outcry generally has the opposite effect. The truth rather seems to be that, in spite of their power and eloquence, the pamphlets were failures. Carlyle had too little experience of actual business to deliver telling blows. The denunciations were too indiscriminate to be biting, and the only satisfactory reform suggested, the miraculous advent of a hero and conversion of the people, was hardly capable of application to facts. The pamphlets were neglected as stupendous growls from a misanthropic recluse, though perhaps they were in reality neither misanthropic nor without a sound core of common sense.

In 1851 he at last set to work upon a life of Sterling, the final impulse coming, as Mr. Froude conjectures (iv. 61), from a conversation at Lord Ashburton's in which Carlyle and Bishop Thirlwall had an animated theological discussion in presence of Dr. Trench (the dean of Westminster), Sir John Simeon, and others. Carlyle's immediate purpose was to write an account of Sterling to supplant the life by Julius Hare, where the theological element had received, as he thought, undue prominence. He agreed with Emerson in the summer of 1848 (Froude, iii. 419) that Sterling must not be made a ‘theological cockshy.’ Carlyle wished to exhibit him as raised above the turbid sphere of contemporary controversy. The result was a book so calm, tender, and affectionate as to be in singular contrast with his recent utterances, and to be perhaps his most successful piece of literary work.

He was now slowly settling to a life of Frederick. In 1851 he tried the water-cure at Malvern, and made friends with Dr. Gully, but considered the cure to be a humbug. He visited Scotsbrig, and, after spending a few days at Paris with the Ashburtons, began seriously working at ‘Frederick.’ Six months of steady reading followed, during which he secluded himself almost entirely. Repairs of the house maddened him in July, and, finding it impossible to stay, he visited Thomas Erskine at Linlathen, and sailed from Leith (30 Aug. 1852) to Rotterdam, whence, with Mr. Neuberg, a German admirer resident in London, for courier, he made a tour through Germany, much worried by noises and bugs, but acquiring materials for his work. The book, however, gave him much trouble, and caused the usual fits of despondency and irritability before it was started. He stayed in London through 1853, nailing himself to his work, through troubles of fresh paint and ‘demon fowls’ next door, while Mrs. Carlyle went to stay with John Carlyle at Moffat. She was at Scotsbrig during an alarming illness of his mother, and the sympathy called forth brought the husband and wife into closer relations for the time. On 4 Dec. he wrote to his mother a most affectionate letter, as he was leaving for the Grange. Mrs. Carlyle, who accompanied him, returned to Chelsea to make an arrangement for permanently quelling the ‘demon fowls,’ whose proprietors were coming to an end of their lease. She was better qualified for such negotiations than he, but appears to have resented the employment. He then heard of his mother's serious illness. He reached Scotsbrig on Friday, 23 Dec. 1853. She was able to recognise him, but died quietly on 25 Dec. aged about eighty-four. Carlyle had loved no one better, and had done all that a son could do to make a mother happy. He returned to shut himself up and try to settle to his work. The wrestle with ‘Frederick’ went on through 1854, with scarcely a holiday. A ‘sound-proof’ room, begun in 1853, built at the top of the house and lighted only from above (see Froude, iv. 136, 153; Reminiscences, ii. 238), gave him a retreat, where he remained buried for hours, emerging only at tea-time for a short talk with his wife, whose health became gradually weaker. After eighteen months' steady labour, he took a holiday with Edward Fitzgerald at Woodbridge (August 1855), and afterwards spent a little time at the Ashburtons' vacant house at Addiscombe, where Mrs. Carlyle chose to leave him alone. In 1856 the Carlyles went to Scotland with the Ashburtons, when a miserable little incident about a railway journey caused fresh annoyance (Froude, iv. 181, 182). Carlyle went to Scotsbrig and the Gill (his sister Mary Austin's house near Annan), taking his work with him. A short visit to the Ashburtons in the highlands, and a dispute about the return home, caused fresh bitterness. The winter found him again at his work, and the days went by monotonously, a