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
"...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 gutenberg.org)
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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