« PreviousContinue »
valuable to him, the shrine, as it were, "I am much obliged by your goodof a true man of genius. He sent him ness to me. If the French pamphlet cordial letters, and made up boxes of
is of any value to you, as I suppose presents—books and medals, con
likely, please do not send it hitherto.
I could get little or no good of it, exdescending even to ask for a lock of
cept what is already got, what is imMrs. Carlyle's hair! Wonderful! The
plied in your kind offer of it. You more we think over this singular epi
mistake much if you consider me sode, the more firm is the conviction,
blind to the beautiful natural faculties that here is the truest, most genuine and capabilities of the Irish character, compliment an English writer has ever or other than a loving friend to Ire received.
land (from a very old date now), Here is the title page of this most
though I may have my own notions as
to what would be real friendship to significant little book:
Ireland and what would be only sham THOMAS CARLYLE
friendship. LEBEN SCHILLERS
"Believe me, Yours, aus dem Englischen eingeleitet
"With many thanks and wishes,
"T. Carlyle." DUBOH
I could always understand that Irish GOETHE
friend of Johnson's, and his rapturous devotion when I came to see Carlyle.
Of all living men at that time you felt: FRANKFURT AM MAIN, 1830.
"Here is a really great one,” and this VERLAG VON HEINRICH
owing to his complete lack of affectaWILZANS.
tion, and his ever saying, like his The eager and earnest Goethe sup- brother sage, what he thought. This plied a preface of his own, with an Irish Doctor used to call out “Och! introduction of over twenty-five pages, sure I'd like to give him half my sleep!” in which were introduced the Carlyle a truly original testimonial; or, “I'd go letters, and where he also speaks of down on my bare knees every night him as unser freund. He seemed to and black his shoes!" Is there anyone take a sort of pride in him, and a gen- now “worth while attending to at all” uine enthusiasm. There could be no after such tributes these? No; feeling of being flattered by the praises surely we are all mediocre togetherof a humble adviser: with him that an age of mediocrity. was a drug in the market. His ad- All familiar with Carlyle's letters miration even extended to his ad- will recall his vehemently expressed mirer's wife. This work is a rarity. detestation of those who suggested his
There is many a young enthusiast, sitting to them for his portrait. He at this moment, who, aflame with lit- would spurn the idea with his most erary admiration, sits down and writes contemptuous expressions. Not many to his idol of the moment a sort of weeks before his death I had begun to rapturous, admiring screed. In most entertain myself by modelling-or cases he will receive an encouraging striving to model-his noble head, reply. Being enchanted by perusal of partly from recollection, partly from a The French Revolution, I once wrote to photograph. It occurred to me: "What its author an admiring, almost ecstatic if I ask him to let me bring with me tribute, together with what I fancied my apparatus, clay, &c., and try to do was a rare French pamphlet.
my best with him in this direction?" To my surprise came this kindly and To my literal amazement, his niece, truly amiable and indulgent reply:- Mary Carlyle Aitken—then in careful
charge of him-wrote to me saying up my tools, apparatus, &c., and took that her uncle would be pleased to sit! my way thence, much marvelling at How gracious this was of him and my own assurance. The work, such bow good natured! I was friend to as it is, has found a refuge in Chelsea "Fooster," Boz and the “set." I can Town Hall. It represents him in the call up the whole scene of that notable notorious felt hat and shawl. I ferday: the quaint old house for back- vently begged of his niece to give me, ground, the panelled walls, the cab as a souvenir of this meeting, one of laden with clay, my trusty man carry- his precious churchwardens, and she ing up the sacred head in its moist was good enough to say she would wrappings; I following the whole, send it on; but it never reached me rather tremulous, as the procession not a surprising thing as it was entered the solemn chamber. Here ticklish, impossible thing to pack, bewas the grim sage, waiting-solemn ing so brittle. and expectant—the excellent niece His friend, Forster dear, was not one standing watchful. He greeted me in of those niggard monopolists, who kindly fashion. Alas! that day must jealously keep their great literary be at least thirty years ago, so it is friends in a preserve to themselves, as much faded out; sad, too, to think though in dread of impairing their own that I was but indifferently skilled at influence. He was ever large-hearted the time to make profit of so precious and generous in this direction. You an opportunity. What was worse, I constantly heard him: “My dear friend, felt a shyness in dealing boldly with you must know Dickens," or "You the clay for fear of losing such like- shall meet Carlyle." With Forster to ness as I had got.
announce or engage for a thing, to say I see him now, wrapped in his "shall” or “must,” and it was as good Scotch plaid by the fire, and clearly in as done. some sort of anticipation. About ten Indeed, it is difficult to think of Caryears later I was in the house, then lyle or appreciate him without calling become the museum, and was called up the image of John Forster, wdo upon to fix the room, but could not was really almost as much his invalurecall it. I fancy it was his bedroom. able ally and assistant as he was of
At first he disposed himself with a Boz. In both cases, wherever, whensort of alacrity.
ever, there was a difficulty "Noo, of course I may talk freely?" troublesome business Forster came and
"Well," I said doubtfully, “I settled it—settled it successfully. They really—"
both “consulted Forster," as their con"Oh, I may talk-and smoke too." fidential and certain friend. Forster's
His niece, who seemed to supervise, life, on account of these relations with supported my hesitation, but I inter- so many important persons, would be posed, and so set to work. I forget well worth doing. I myself have now the many things he touched upon written a small volume in this direction -mostly "poor Foosther-trew honest -put forth as “by one of his friends" fellow !-Dickens-a noble hairt—both —but it deals rather with him as a long since dead." I recall the actual high comedy or humorous character, words of one question put with a which he certainly was.' It may be shrewd, sarcastic tone: “What d'ye assumed as a certainty that he did all hear noo of our Jew Premier?”
1 That clever lady who used to write as Finally, after about an hour's stay- “George Paston" was, some years ago, very
eager to write a full and personal life of him, for I would not trespass—I gathered and consulted me on the matter
manner of good offices and kindly, and that you have no surer way of useful things for Carlyle which we making me happy and obliged than by shall never hear of. One of the wit- coming to see me. Do you know what
Wallenstein said of Maxnesses to Carlyle's will was Hares, or
“ 'For oh! he stood beside me like my Haires, Forster's own butler at Palace
youth.' Gate House, the same who, on his
“But don't forget my opening injuncmaster's death, quaintly informed me
tion." what was the real cause of his death.
Later I recall being bidden to a sort “Fact was, sir, he had no staminer.”
of banquet at Palace Gate. The sage I can recall meetings with the great always made an exception in favor of man of a quite unofficial kind. Here
"the good Foorsther,” as distinguished was a quartette: Forster, Dickens,
from common lion-hunters, and by Thomas Carlyle and myself! That was
special favor would consent to dine a privilege, indeed! And a delightful
and be exhibited to a few. On this meeting it was. I recall Boz "playing occasion “the table was full"; and we round" the sage as Garrick did round
had a notable gathering: The BrownJohnson-affectionately and in high ings, father and son, Robert Lytton, good humor and wit, and, I could well
Elwin the Editor, who was in obsee, much pleasing the old lion. It
streperous spirits and told humorously was pleasing to see him after dinner
to the whole table an account of bis smoking away in his rough garments, drive with a madman on that very day. for he was privileged to dress as he
This was, in truth, a reconciliation would. And it will be asked, what did
dinner, for the once eternally beloved I in that galère? How did I get there
Browning. “My dear friend,” used and into such company? Well, simply Forster to say to me, "you should come by no merit of my own, but by favor
to dine on Sunday, but know that is and owing to the unwearying kindness
consecrated to Browning-nothing interof my host. I may be absolved from feres with that Sunday dinner. 'Tis an appearance of egotism or vanity if I
sacred. It has gone on for years.” quote the following, which will explain As the cynic might expect or prophhow it came about, and which is really esy—delight so violent would lead as typical of the hundreds of good offices
of course to “violent ending." One which "Fuz” was ever doing:
day the news went round of a sad "Thank the young ladies for me, and altercation between the two old friends say all the kindest and prettiest things at a dinner party, when it seems you can for me. I only wish I could
Forster sneered at his friend's "snobsay them for myself. Because in this
bish” praises of a titled friend of his, particular I doubt you.
on which came the answer “that he "I will be very angry with you
would throw this decanter, &c.," if the (really angry and discontented every way) if you do not teach yourself, be
speech was repeated. With difficulty fore you next cross the Channel, to re- and great exertion the thing was made gard this house as in some sort a sec- up, and this dinner was a result. Alas! ond 'roof-tree-and if you do not come towards the close I actually heard our here as a matter of course, and with- host somewhat scornfully gibing at his out any nonsense or botheration, very friend, and saw the latter, with great frequently indeed. That is, as long as
effort, biting his lips and striving hard it may be pleasant to you to do som and not to refuse a genuine pleasure
to restrain himself. A year or so later to me.
the poet said to me, “Seen Forster? “On this head I will not say more
0, I never see him now." than that I have a real regard for you,
Forster was a most "tempestuous" man-a perfect Berserker; yet with was delightful to listen to—a sort of Carlyle it was wonderful to see how chanting or monotone, very rich, rising gentle, how devotional almost, he could and falling. The laugh, or "chuckle" be; treating him like some altogether was hardly so pleasant, having some“superman," to use the jargon of our thing bitter and scoffing, a sort of time, attuning his voice to the lowest, "gibing," as it were. sweetest accents,
anticipating his The dinner was a pleasant one. Our every wish, and striving to show grati. host had the art, from long practice, of tude for the condescension of a visit keeping all “in movement,” and rather or an accepted dinner. I well recall skilfully drew out his great friend how the host, in a very delicate way, without unduly pressing him. It was showed how much he wished to please after the ladies had gone that my his guest. After dinner, when the turn came rather unexpectedly in the ladies had gone, there was the usual shape of a regular bear's hug, much little flourish about “Mr. Carlyle's as Bozzy got shaken and mauled at churchwarden and tobacco," which had his first presentation to his sage. The been sent out for to a special tobac- Irish Church was being abolished, and conist, brought in and laid before him the sage declaimed rather vehemently with much formality, we all looking on on the topic; but, to our surprise, conreverently as he filled the bowl and lit. demned it as "puir foolish, hasty We looked again as he drew his first thing." He spoke in a very interest. inhalation; and a very old-fashioned, ing way, deploring the loss of the local and not unpicturesque, figure he pre- clergyman who, he protested, “had a sented, sunk in armchair by the fire, vara ceovalizin' influence on the native." with the yard-long clay in his fingers. He then spoke of the various agita. I and Robert Lytton, thinking there tions, repeal of the Union, &c. But was now a general license, drew forth when I incautiously ventured to halfour cigars and lit up. But we pres- laughingly say: “There you have, at ently heard our host calling from the least, the logical solution-departure,” top of the table in friendly rebuke: a perfect coup de théâtre followed“My dear Robert Lytton and Percy, coup de foudre rather. With a look of this is all very well, but Mr. Carlyle is fury and in hoarse tones he roared out, one thing—you areanother. Anything he “We'n joost out every one of yer thraets pleases to do here he is welcome to do, first." Shall I ever forget the deand I am proud that he does it. He lighted roar of enjoyment that burst may smoke, but I have not given the from the listeners! They were privilege to others at this table of mine. chanted, as they told me later-were all You have both taken it on yourselves infinitely obliged to me for "poking up without consulting me at all. Well, the old Lion," and I had done so well, what's done is done. So I suppose effectively. I forget what reply I you must go on.” We, of course, were made, but I saw that "the old Lion" penitent, but perfectly understood for enjoyed the situation and the general whom the speech was really intended. applause. And the great Thomas chuckled In the drawing-room I was standing boarsely to himself, enjoying his apart-perhaps looking a little rueful friend's humor. This illustrates what after my castigation-when I heard now seems a singular social restraint- the chime of his fine voice at my ear: the law against smoking after dinner. "Well, tell me now," he said gently,
There was something highly musical "and how goes on your account of that or melodious in Carlyle's voice which it wratched creature, Dodd, the forger
pairson? Jest tell me all aboot him." And he entered into the matter with apparent or real interest. Here was his little amende for the rough-andtumble onset below. How amiable of him! It reminded me irresistibly of the scene in Boswell's book, of Johnson's rude setting down of Goldy, and of his coming up to him later in the night with some soothing words. "It is much, sir, from you that I can take ill!" I might have replied with Goldy.
I recall yet another interesting night at this same Palace Gate House, where an unbounded hospitality seemed ever to reign. The kindly John had asked me and my two sisters, welltrained musicians, to dine and meet the sage. It was a large party-Mrs. Lehmanns, née Chambers (of Edinburgh) and some more. By a rare stroke I found myself beside the great man, but discovered, rather to my surprise, that he did not encourage talk, being otherwise busy. And the cue was not to disturb him. But at times I would hear him breaking into an odd sotto voce comment as if to himself-on any statement that caught his ear, as when some Bishop's or Archbishop's proceedings or speeches were mentioned: "Ach! the puir auld dotard!" followed by a sort of ferocious chuckle. This was really very funny, and the drollery was that almost everyone alluded to was invariably described as "a wratched auld dodderin' fule." As he spoke his words were literally addressed to his plate! The cue, however, was to leave him entirely alone.
He had a passion for all national airs -notably for his own, also relishing the Irish-above all, the Marseillaise, Ca ira, and the like. My sisters knew many of these lilts, as did the Scotch lady, so we were likely to have a "field night." My youngest sister, who bad a well-trained voice, knew what was expected, and came prepared with
her stock of "Irish melodies"-Meeting of Waters, and the rest-with others of a more florid east. I had warned her that the way to the sage's heart was not by "show off" paths, but by appealing to his sympathies; but this advice was not followed. At the close there came a long-sustained chuckling, with a sort of private commentary, addressed half to himself, though not to the singer: "Ach! the puir Tammypuir little Tammy Moore!"-this over again several times. "Puir Tammy! 'call my spirit from this troubled world.' Likely he'd go! Hech! hech!" It would be hard to give an idea of the profound dramatic contempt conveyed in these words. It seemed to say: "That trumpery tatter of a creatur!" To me I confess they seemed convincing, and the "puir Tammy's" reputation was demolished on the spot. "Ach! but then Rabbie Burens!" he broke out again in a deeply admiring fit, adding a clever criticism contrasting the two Bards. He graciously and good-naturedly tried to admire, as one song of "puir Tammy's" came after the other. "Ach! yes, that's pratty wellbut not much, Somehow it does not reach the hairt. Ah! the puir Tammy! hech! hech! hech! wi' his Bulbuls and Bendemeer streams. Hech! hech!"
Then came the turn of the Scottish lady, who was well fitted for her duty, having a genuine national spirit, and putting much native feeling into her songs. Of course she captured the sage, and furnished song after song to his delight and approbation. But when the elder sister, ever a thoughtful, capable person, found herself at the piano, playing snatches of the melodies, straying through the minstrelsy, touching a few snatches here, a few there, hither and thither, by a happy chance the sage called out, "D'ye ken Coulin?" Her answer was to strike up at once in soft appealing chords, and with due feeling