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In the preceding Book Carlyle has been talking of the twelfth century i. In this Book he talks of the Present and its most outstanding fact, namely the Modern Worker or the rise of Labour.
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All the multivolume novels with their sad and amusing intricacies, all the edifying and meditative, scholarly and unscholarly Bible commentaries — and novels and books of edification are the two staples of English literature — all these you may with an easy conscience leave unread. Perhaps you will find some books on geology, economics, history or mathematics which contain a small grain of novelty — however these are matters which one studies, but does not read , they represent dry, specialised branches of science, arid botanising, plants whose roots were long ago torn out of the general soil of humanity from which they derived their nourishment.
All energy, all activity, all substance are gone; the landed aristocracy goes hunting, the moneyed aristocracy makes entries in the ledger and at best dabbles in literature which is equally empty and insipid.
Political and religious prejudices are inherited from one generation to another; everything is now made easy and there is no longer any need to worry about principles as one had to formerly; they are now picked up already in the cradle, ready made, one has no notion where they come from. What more does one need? Where should intellect come from, in such a life, and if it did come, where might it find a home with them?
Everything there is as fixed and formalised as in China — woe be to the man who oversteps the narrow bounds, woe, thrice woe to the man who offends against a timehonoured prejudice, nine times woe to him if it is a religious prejudice. For all questions they have just two answers, a Whig answer and a Tory answer; and these answers were long ago prescribed by the sage supreme masters of ceremony of both parties, you have no need of deliberation and circumstantiality, everything is cut and dried, Dicky Cobden or Lord John Russell has said this, and Bobby Peel or the Duke, that is, the Duke of Wellington, has said that, and that is an end of the matter.
You good Germans are told year in, year out by the liberal journalists and parliamentarians what wonderful people, what independent men the English are, and all on account of their free institutions, and from a distance it all looks quite impressive.
The debates in the Houses of Parliament, the free press, the tumultuous popular meetings, the elections, the jury system — these cannot fail to impress the timid spirit of the average German, and in his astonishment he takes all these splendid appearances for true coin. But ultimately the position of the liberal journalist and parliamentarian is really far from being elevated enough to provide a comprehensive view, whether it be of the development of mankind or just that of a single nation.
The English Constitution was quite good in its day and has achieved a fair number of good things, indeed since it has set to work on its greatest achievement — that is to say, on its own destruction — but it has not achieved what the liberal attributes to it.
It has not made independent men of the English. The English, that is, the educated English, according to whom the national character is judged on the Continent, these English are the most despicable slaves under the sun. Only that part of the English nation which is unknown on the Continent, only the workers, the pariahs of England, the poor, are really respectable, for all their roughness and for all their moral degradation.
The aristocracy — and nowadays that also includes the middle classes — has exhausted itself; such ideas as it had, have been worked out and utilised to their ultimate logical limit, and its rule is approaching its end with giant strides. The Constitution is its work, and the immediate consequence of this work was that it entangled its creators in a mesh of institutions in which any free intellectual movement has been made impossible. The rule of public prejudice is everywhere the first consequence of socalled free political institutions, and in England, the politically freest country in Europe, this rule is stronger than anywhere else — except for North America, where public prejudice is legally acknowledged as a power in the state by Iynch law.
The Englishman crawls before public prejudice, he immolates himself to it daily — and the more liberal he is, the more humbly does he grovel in the dust before his idol. If you should go amongst educated Englishmen and say that you are Chartists or democrats — the balance of your mind will be doubted and your company fled.
Or declare you do not believe in the divinity of Christ, and you are done for; if moreover you confess that you are atheists, the next day people will pretend not to know you. Thus the minds of the educated classes in England are closed to all progress and only kept to some degree in movement by the pressure of the working class.
It cannot be expected that the literary diet of their decrepit culture should be different from these classes themselves.
If, by the way, either of the two parties into which the educated section of the English people is split deserves any preference, it is the Tories. In the social circumstances of England the Whig is himself too much of an interested party to be able to judge; industry, that focal point of English society, is in his hands and makes him rich; he can find no fault in it and considers its expansion the only purpose of all legislation, for it has given him his wealth and his power.
The Tory on the other hand, whose power and unchallenged dominance have been broken by industry and whose principles have been shaken by it, hates it and sees in it at best a necessary evil. This is the reason for the formation of that group of philanthropic Tories whose chief leaders are Lord Ashley, Ferrand, Walter, Oastler, etc. Thomas Carlyle too was originally a Tory and still stands closer to that party than to the Whigs. This much is certain: a Whig would never have been able to write a book that was half so humane as Past and Present.
Thomas Carlyle has become known in Germany through his efforts to make German literature accessible to the English. For several years he has been mainly occupied with the social conditions of England — the only educated man of his country to do so! Chartism was the natural successor to the old radicalism which had been appeased for a few years by the Reform Bill and reappeared in with new strength and with its ranks more solid than ever before.
The Whigs thought they had suppressed this Chartism, and Thomas Carlyle took this as his cue to expound the real causes of Chartism and the impossibility of eradicating it before these causes were eradicated. It is true that as a whole the position taken by that book is the same as in Past and Present , though with rather stronger Tory colouring, but this is perhaps merely a result of the fact that the Whigs as the ruling party were the most open to criticism.
At all events, everything that is in the smaller book is to be found in Past and Present , with greater clarity, with the argument further developed, and with an explicit description of the consequences, and therefore makes a critical analysis of Chartism on our part superfluous.
England is full of wealth [ This fiat falls on the workers first. In England and Wales counted 1,, paupers, of whom , were incarcerated in workhouses — Poorlaw Bastilles the common people call them.
Scotland has no poor law, but poor people in plenty. Ireland, incidentally, can boast of the gigantic number of 2,, paupers. Such instances are like the highest mountain apex emerged into view; under which lies a whole mountain region and land, not yet emerged. A human Mother and Father had said to themselves, What shall we do to escape starvation? We are deep sunk here, in our dark cellar; and help is far. It is thought, and hinted; at last it is done.
And now Tom being killed, and all spent and eaten, Is it poor little starveling Jack that must go, or poor little starveling Will? And we here, in modern England, exuberant with supply of all kinds, [ Wherefore are they, wherefore should they be?
This happened in I would add that five months ago Betty Eules of Bolton was hanged in Liverpool; she had poisoned three children of her own and two stepchildren for the same reason. Are they better, beautifuller, stronger, braver? The masterworker is not happier, the masteridler — that is, the aristocratic landowner — is not happier.
Who is it that it blesses; makes happier, wiser, beautifuller, [ He got gold, so that whatsoever he touched became gold, — and he, with his long ears, was little the better for it. Midas had misjudged the celestial musictones; Midas had insulted Apollo and the gods: the gods gave him his wish, and a pair of long ears, which also were a good appendage to it.
What a truth in these old Fables! Sphinxlike nature — German mysticism, say the English, when they read this chapter — has a question to put to every man and every age — happy is the man who answers it aright; he who does not answer it or answers wrongly, falls a prey to that part of the Sphinx which is brutish and ferocious, instead of the beautiful bride he finds a devouring lioness. And so it is with nations too: can you solve the riddle of destiny? England, as Carlyle later puts it, has fallen a prey to atheism and its present condition is the necessary consequence of that.
We shall have occasion to speak of this later, for the present let us simply observe that the parable of the Sphinx, if it is to be accepted in the above pantheistic sense reminiscent of the older Schelling, could well have been developed somewhat further by Carlyle — the answer to the riddle today is, as it was in the myth: man; indeed he is the answer in the widest possible sense.
That too will be settled. The next chapter gives us the following description of the Manchester insurrection of August What other could they do? Their wrongs and grief were bitter, insupportable, their rage against the same was just: but who are they that cause these wrongs, who that will [ Our enemies are we know not who or what; our friends are we know not where!
How shall we attack any one, shoot or be shot by any one? O, if the accursed invisible Nightmare, that is crushing out the life of us and ours, would take a shape approach us like the Hyrcaniana tiger, the Behemoth of Chaos, the Archfiend himself; in any shape that we could see, and fasten on! But the misfortune of the workers in the summer insurrection of was precisely that they did not know whom to fight against. The evil they suffered was social — and social evils cannot be abolished as the monarchy or privileges are abolished.
Social evils need to be studied and understood, and this the mass of the workers has not yet done up till now. The question can now no longer be evaded. England must answer it or perish. We have abandoned, Carlyle continues, the piety of the Middle Ages and acquired nothing in its place: we have. We quietly believe this Universe to be intrinsically a great unintelligible Perhaps; extrinsically, clear enough, it is a great, most extensive Cattlefold and Workhouse, with most extensive Kitchenranges, Diningtables, — whereat he is wise who can find a place!
All the Truth of this Universe is uncertain; only the profit and loss of it, the pudding and praise of it, are and remain very visible to the practical man. This is verily the plaguespot; centre of the universal Social Gangrene [ The foul [ Since however the place of the old religion could not remain entirely vacant, we have acquired a new gospel in its stead, a gospel that accords with the hollowness and lack of substance of the age — the gospel of Mammon.
We call it a Society; and go about professinge openly the totalest separation, isolation. We have profoundly forgotten [ Did I not pay them, to the last sixpence, the sum covenanted for? What have I to do with them more? She took typhusfever, and killed seventeen of you! The forlorn Irish Widow applies to her fellowcreatures [ I am your sister, bone of your bone; one God made us: ye must help me! Had man ever to go lower for a proof?
Carlyle, incidentally, is in error here, as is Alison. Overproduction: runs it not so? We accuse you of making above twohundred thousand shirts for the bare backs of mankind. Your trousers too, which you have made, of fustian, of cassimere, of Scotchplaid, of [ Of hats [ You have produced, produced; — he that seeks your indictment, let him look around.
Millions of shirts, and empty pairs of breeches, hang there in judgment against you. We accuse you of overproducing: you are criminally guilty of producing shirts, breeches, hats, shoes and commodities, in a frightful overabundance. And now there is a glut, and your operatives cannot be fed! My lords and gentlemen, of what do you accuse those poor workers? These poor shirtspinners have forgotten much, which by the virtual unwritten law of their position they should have remembered: but by any written recognised law of their position, what have they forgotten?
They were set to make shirts. The Community [ Too many shirts?
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Past and Present is a book by Thomas Carlyle. It combines medieval history with criticism of 19th-century British society. Carlyle wrote it in seven weeks as a respite from the harassing labor of writing Cromwell.
All the multivolume novels with their sad and amusing intricacies, all the edifying and meditative, scholarly and unscholarly Bible commentaries — and novels and books of edification are the two staples of English literature — all these you may with an easy conscience leave unread. Perhaps you will find some books on geology, economics, history or mathematics which contain a small grain of novelty — however these are matters which one studies, but does not read , they represent dry, specialised branches of science, arid botanising, plants whose roots were long ago torn out of the general soil of humanity from which they derived their nourishment. All energy, all activity, all substance are gone; the landed aristocracy goes hunting, the moneyed aristocracy makes entries in the ledger and at best dabbles in literature which is equally empty and insipid.
PRESENT. THOMAS CARLYLE, PDF document may approach facsimile status, it requires the City past or present, what a lamblike Insurrection!—.Winifreda E. 04.06.2021 at 08:05
Download Past and Present free in PDF & EPUB format. Download THOMAS CARLYLE's Past and Present for your kindle, tablet, IPAD, PC or.FrГ©dГ©rique L. 05.06.2021 at 01:29
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