Nothing happened today. Are you kidding me? Thomas Carlyle was born on this date in 1795 (Anniversaries and Holidays: A Calendar of Days and How to Observe Them, 1928). I don’t know about you but that seems like a significant event in the History of English Literature. Maybe this, from That Infallible Source, explains it:
Carlyle occupied a central position in Victorian culture, being considered not only, in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the “undoubted head of English letters”, but a secular prophet. Posthumously, his reputation suffered as publications by his friend and disciple James Anthony Froude provoked controversy about Carlyle’s personal life, particularly his marriage to Jane Welsh Carlyle. His reputation further declined in the 20th century, as the onsets of World War I and World War II brought forth accusations that he was a progenitor of both Prussianism and fascism. Since the 1950s, extensive scholarship in the field of Carlyle Studies has improved his standing, and he is now recognised as “one of the enduring monuments of our literature who, quite simply, cannot be spared.”[
Let us see what Kunitz & Haycraft have to say (British Authors of the Nineteenth Century, 1936).
“[N]o English writer has done more to elevate and purify our ideas of life and to make us conscious that the things of the spirt are real, and that in the last resort there is no other reality.” Whether or not you agree with the sentiment, you’d think his birthday was worth a mention. I note that the date on which he died (February 5, 1881) has no mention of him either.
- Hermann Suderman’s The Gooseherd (part of Iolanthe’s Wedding. PG#34358)
My dear man, I’ve been listening to you now for a long while and you fill me with astonishment. You usually show–more than I do myself–an honest wish to take things as they are. Then whence all of a sudden, in making these nice observations of human emotions, do you draw this idealistic illusion of yours?
It seems to me your levelling-down democratic sentiment has been playing you a naughty trick again. You maintain, if I understand you correctly, that there is not a profound difference in the way the various social classes feel and express their feelings; while, as a matter of fact, life proves the very reverse every day. Oh, it would be beautiful as a dream if you were right. The ideals of brotherhood and equality that I, the bred-in-the-bone aristocrat–that is what you say I am–must necessarily consider mere figments of the brain, would then be reality, or, rather, have already become reality; because the bit of knowledge more or less cannot possibly produce an organic difference in men’s natures.
<– Hermann Suderman