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Ever read Carlyle?

Aug 05, 2006 08:06 AM
by Mark Jaqua

Ever Read Carlyle?
      Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) is a great 
example of a natural born theosophist and 
someone "taught from within," I think.  His 
books are full of Theosophy-like observations 
of humanity, and especially the idea of karma 
in the actions of nations and people, although 
I doubt he ever used the term or knew it.  
Blavatsky quotes him in a few places.  He grew 
up on a farm in Scotland and later moved to 
London where he spent most of his life.  
     His first book "Sartor Resartus" is a 
fantasy-fiction and full of genuine mysticism, 
and I really wonder how someone in his cultural 
times could have written such a thing.  It is 
about a genius-professor who developed a new 
"philosophy of clothes", and is full of such 
subtle statements as this, (which is good for 
internet talk-groups):
       "...Thought without Reverence is barren, 
perhaps poisonous; at best, dies like cookery 
with the day that called it forth;  does 
not live, like sowing, in successive tilths 
and wider-spreading harvest, bringing food 
and plenteous increase to all Time."
     Curiously, without America's Ralph Waldo 
Emerson, Carlyle may have never developed as 
a writer, other than some magazine pieces.  
Out of the blue, more or less, Emerson took 
the long journey to meet Carlyle, and got his 
Sartor Resartus publised in the US, as he 
couldn't get it published in book form in 
England.  Emerson was his publicist at no 
cost and got several of Carlyle's later books 
published in the US, even putting up the 
money himself, and Carlyle became popular 
in England because of his success in the US.  
(The long Emerson-Carlyle correspondence in 
2 vols. is on
    Emerson did this type of thing and one 
wonders where his inspiration to do it came 
from.  Emerson, not rich himself, had a whole 
circle of Transcendentalists around him who he 
supported psychologically and even financially.   
Thoreau, who got his income from his family's 
pencil-factory, also made a living doing 
odd-jobs for Emerson and others.  Thoreau's 
Walden Cabin and Walden Pond was on Emerson's 
property, given free use of.
    Most of Carlyle's work other than Sartor 
is in History.  His "The French Revolution" 
is regarded by some as the best piece of 
prose writing in the English Language.  
(Better get out your 20-pound dictionary 
to read it.)  He finished about half of the 
huge "French Revolution" and gave the 
manuscript to a friend to comment on.  
The friends servant mistaked it as scrap 
paper and burned it in the fireplace!  
(Some think the friend's jealous wife did 
it.)  After recovering, Carlyle started 
all over from scratch and re-wrote it.
              - jake j.

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