Nonfiction > Harvard Classics > Thomas Carlyle > Inaugural Address at Edinburgh
Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881).  Inaugural Address at Edinburgh.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Paras. 25–51
  And for the rest, in regard to all your studies and readings here, and to whatever you may learn, you are to remember that the object is not particular knowledges,—not that of getting higher, and higher in technical perfections and all that sort of thing. There is a higher aim lying at the rear of all that, especially among those who are intended for literary or speaking pursuits, or the sacred profession. You are ever to bear in mind that there lies behind that the acquisition of what may be called wisdom;—namely, sound appreciation and just decision as to all the objects that come round you, and the habit of behaving with justice, candour, clear insight, and loyal adherence to fact. Great is wisdom; infinite is the value of wisdom. It cannot be exaggerated; it is the highest achievement of man: ‘Blessed is he that getteth understanding.’ And that, I believe, on occasion, may be missed very easily; never more easily than now, I sometimes think. If that is a failure, all is failure!—However, I will not touch further upon that matter.  25
  But I should have said, in regard to book-reading, if it be so very important, how very useful would an excellent library be in every University! I hope that will not be neglected by the gentlemen who have charge of you; and, indeed, I am happy to hear that your library is very much improved since the time I knew it, and I hope it will go on improving more and more. Nay, I have sometimes thought, why should not there be a library in every county town, for benefit of those that could read well and might if permitted? True, you require money to accomplish that;—and withal, what perhaps is still less attainable at present, you require judgment in the selectors of books; real insight into what is for the advantage of human souls, the exclusion of all kinds of claptrap books which merely excite the astonishment of foolish people [Laughter], and the choice of wise books, as much as possible of good books. Let us hope the future will be kind to us in this respect.  26
  In this University, as I learn from many sides, there is considerable stir about endowments; an assiduous and praiseworthy industry for getting new funds collected to encourage the ingenuous youth of Universities, especially of this our chief University [Hear, hear]. Well, I entirely participate in everybody’s approval of the movement. It is very desirable. It should be responded to, and one surely expects it will. At least, if it is not, it will be shameful to the country of Scotland, which never was so rich in money as at the present moment, and never stood so much in need of getting noble Universities, and institutions to counteract many influences that are springing up alongside of money. It should not be slack in coming forward in the way of endowments [A laugh]; at any rate, to the extent of rivalling our rude old barbarous ancestors, as we have been pleased to call them. Such munificence as theirs is beyond all praise; and to them, I am sorry to say, we are not yet by any manner of means equal, or approaching equality [Laughter]. There is an abundance and over-abundance of money. Sometimes I cannot help thinking that probably never has there been, at any other time, in Scotland, the hundredth part of the money that now is, or even the thousandth part. For wherever I go, there is that same gold-nuggeting [A laugh],—that ‘unexampled prosperity,’ and men counting their balances by the million sterling. Money was never so abundant, and nothing that is good to be done with it [Hear, hear, and a laugh]. No man knows,—or very few men know,—what benefit to get out of his money. In fact, it too often is secretly a curse to him. Much better for him never to have had any. But I do not expect that generally to be believed [Laughter]. Nevertheless, I should think it would be a beneficent relief to many a rich man who has an honest purpose struggling in him, to bequeath some house of refuge, so to speak, for the gifted poor man who may hereafter be born into the world, to enable him to get on his way a little. To do, in fact, as those old Norman kings whom I have been describing; to raise some noble poor man out of the dirt and mud, where he is getting trampled on unworthily by the unworthy, into some kind of position where he might acquire the power to do a little good in his generation! I hope that as much as possible will be achieved in this direction; and that efforts will not be relaxed till the thing is in a satisfactory state. In regard to the classical department, above all, it surely is to be desired by us that it were properly supported,—that we could allow the fit people to have their scholarships and subventions, and devote more leisure to the cultivation of particular departments. We might have more of this from Scotch Universities than we have; and I hope we shall.  27
  I am bound, however, to say that it does not appear as if, of late times, endowment were the real soul of the matter. The English, for example, are the richest people in the world for endowments in their Universities; and it is an evident fact that, since the time of Bentley, you cannot name anybody that has gained a European name in scholarship, or constituted a point of revolution in the pursuits of men in that way. The man who does so is a man worthy of being remembered; and he is poor, and not an Englishman. One man that actually did constitute a revolution was the son of a poor weaver in Saxony; who edited his Tibullus, in Dresden, in a poor comrade’s garret, with the floor for his bed, and two folios for pillow; and who, while editing his Tibullus, had to gather peasecods on the streets and boil them for his dinner. That was his endowment [Laughter]. But he was recognised soon to have done a great thing. His name was Heyne [Cheers]. I can remember, it was quite a revolution in my mind when I got hold of that man’s edition of Virgil. I found that, for the first time, I understood Virgil; that Heyne had introduced me, for the first time, into an insight of Roman life and ways of thought; had pointed out the circumstances in which these works were written, and given me their interpretation. And the process has gone on in all manner of developments, and has spread out into other countries.  28
  On the whole, there is one reason why endowments are not given now as they were in old days, when men founded abbeys, colleges, and all kinds of things of that description, with such success as we know. All that has now changed; a vast decay of zeal in that direction. And truly the reason may in part be, that people have become doubtful whether colleges are now the real sources of what I called wisdom; whether they are anything more, anything much more, than a cultivating of man in the specific arts. In fact, there has been in the world a suspicion of that kind for a long time [A laugh]. There goes a proverb of old date, ‘An ounce of mother-wit is worth a pound of clergy’ [Laughter]. There is a suspicion that a man is perhaps not nearly so wise as he looks, or because he has poured out speech so copiously [Laughter]. When ‘the seven free arts,’ which the old Universities were based on, came to be modified a little, in order to be convenient for the wants of modern society,—though perhaps some of them are obsolete enough even yet for some of us,—there arose a feeling that mere vocality, mere culture of speech, if that is what comes out of a man, is not the synonym of wisdom by any means! That a man may be a ‘great speaker,’ as eloquent as you like, and but little real substance in him,—especially if that is what was required and aimed at by the man himself, and by the community that set him upon becoming a learned man. Maid-servants, I hear people complaining, are getting instructed in the ’ologies,’ and are apparently becoming more and more ignorant of brewing, boiling, and baking [Laughter]; and above all, are not taught what is necessary to be known, from the highest of us to the lowest,—faithful obedience, modesty, humility, and correct moral conduct.  29
  Oh, it is a dismal chapter all that, if one went into it,—what has been done by rushing after fine speech! I have written down some very fierce things about that, perhaps considerably more emphatic than I could now wish them to be; but they were and are deeply my conviction [Hear, hear]. There is very great necessity indeed of getting a little more silent than we are. It seems to me as if the finest nations of the world,—the English and the American, in chief,—were going all off into wind and tongue [Applause and laughter]. But it will appear sufficiently tragical by and by, long after I am away out of it. There is a time to speak, and a time to be silent. Silence withal is the eternal duty of a man. He won’t get to any real understanding of what is complex, and what is more than aught else pertinent to his interests, without keeping silence too. ‘Watch the tongue,’ is a very old precept, and a most true one.  30
  I don’t want to discourage any of you from your Demosthenes, and your studies of the niceties of language, and all that. Believe me, I value that as much as any one of you. I consider it a very graceful thing, and a most proper, for every human creature to know what the implement which he uses in communicating his thoughts is, and how to make the very utmost of it. I want you to study Demosthenes, and to know all his excellencies. At the same time, I must say that speech, in the case even of Demosthenes, does not seem, on the whole, to have turned to almost any good account. He advised next to nothing that proved practicable; much of the reverse. Why tell me that a man is a fine speaker, if it is not the truth that he is speaking? Phocion, who mostly did not speak at all, was a great deal nearer hitting the mark than Demosthenes [Laughter]. He used to tell the Athenians, “You can’t fight Philip. Better if you don’t provoke him, as Demosthenes is always urging you to do. You have not the slightest chance with Philip. He is a man who holds his tongue; he has great disciplined armies; a full treasury; can bribe anybody you like in your cities here; he is going on steadily with an unvarying aim towards his object; while you, with your idle clamourings, with your Cleon the Tanner spouting to you what you take for wisdom-! Philip will infallibly beat any set of men such as you, going on raging from shore to shore with all that rampant nonsense.” Demosthenes said to him once, “Phocion, you will drive the Athenians mad some day, and they will kill you.” “Yes,” Phocion answered, “me, when they go mad; and as soon as they get sane again, you!” [Laughter and applause.]  31
  It is also told of him how he went once to Messene, on some deputation which the Athenians wanted him to head, on some kind of matter of an intricate and contentious nature: Phocion went accordingly; and had, as usual, a clear story to have told for himself and his case. He was a man of few words, but all of them true and to the point. And so he had gone on telling his story for a while, when there arose some interruption. One man, interrupting with something, he tried to answer; then another, the like; till finally, too many went in, and all began arguing and bawling in endless debate. Whereupon Phocion struck-down his staff; drew back altogether, and would speak no other word to any man. It appears to me there is a kind of eloquence in that rap of Phocion’s staff which is equal to anything Demosthenes ever said: “Take your own way, then; I go out of it altogether” [Applause].  32
  Such considerations, and manifold more connected with them,—innumerable considerations, resulting from observation of the world at this epoch,—have led various people to doubt of the salutary effect of vocal education altogether. I do not mean to say it should be entirely excluded; but I look to something that will take hold of the matter much more closely, and not allow sit to slip out of our fingers, and remain worse than it was. For, if a ‘good speaker,’ never so eloquent, does not see into the fact, and is not speaking the truth of that, but the untruth and the mistake of that,—is there a more horrid kind of object in creation? [Loud Cheers.] Of such speech I hear all manner of people say “How excellent!” Well, really it is not the speech, but the thing spoken, that I am anxious about! I really care very little how the man said it, provided I understand him, and it be true. Excellent speaker? But what if he is telling me things that are contrary to the fact; what if he has formed a wrong judgment about the fact,—if he has in his mind (like Phocion’s friend, Cleon the Tanner) no power to form a right judgment in regard to the matter? An excellent speaker of that kind is, as it were, saying, “Ho, every one that wants to be persuaded of the thing that is not true; here is the man for you!” [Great laughter and applause.] I recommend you to be very chary of that kind of excellent speech [Renewed laughter].  33
  Well, all that sad stuff being the too well-known product of our method of vocal education,—the teacher merely operating on the tongue of the pupil, and teaching him to wag it in a particular way [Laughter],—it has made various thinking men entertain a distrust of this not very salutary way of procedure; and they have longed for some less theoretic, and more practical and concrete way of working out the problem of education;—in effect, for an education not vocal at all, but mute except where speaking was strictly needful. There would be room for a great deal of description about this, if I went into it; but I must content myself with saying that the most remarkable piece of writing on it is in a book of Goethe’s,—the whole of which you may be recommended to take up, and try if you can study it with understanding. It is one of his last books; written when he was an old man above seventy years of age: I think, one of the most beautiful he ever wrote; full of meek wisdom, of intellect and piety; which is found to be strangely illuminative, and very touching, by those who have eyes to discern and hearts to feel it. This about education is one of the pieces in Wilhelm Meister’s Travels; or rather, in a fitful way, it forms the whole gist of the book. I first read it many years ago; and, of course, I had to read into the very heart of it while I was translating it [Applause]; and it has ever since dwelt in my mind as perhaps the most remarkable bit of writing which I have known to be executed in these late centuries. I have often said that there are some ten pages of that, which, if ambition had been my only rule, I would rather have written, been able to write, than have written all the books that have appeared since I came into the world [Cheers]. Deep, deep is the meaning of what is said there. Those pages turn on the Christian religion, and the religious phenomena of the modern and the ancient world: altogether sketched out in the most aerial, graceful, delicately wise kind of way, so as to keep himself out of the common controversies of the street and of the forum, yet to indicate what was the result of things he had been long meditating upon.  34
  Among others, he introduces in an airy, sketchy kind of way, with here and there a touch,—the sum-total of which grows into a beautiful picture,—a scheme of entirely mute education, at least with no more speech than is absolutely necessary for what the pupils have to do. Three of the wisest men discoverable in the world have been got together, to consider, to manage and supervise, the function which transcends all others in importance,—that of building up the young generation so as to keep it free from that perilous stuff that has been weighing us down, and clogging every step;—which function, indeed, is the only thing we can hope to go on with, if we would leave the world a little better, and not the worse, of our having been in it, for those who are to follow. The Chief, who is the Eldest of the three, says to Wilhelm: “Healthy well-formed children bring into the world with them many precious gifts; and very frequently these are best of all developed by Nature herself, with but slight assistance, where assistance is seen to be wise and profitable, and with forbearance very often on the part of the overseer of the process. But there is one thing which no child brings into the world with him, and without which all other things are of no use.” Wilhelm, who is there beside him, asks, “And what is that?” “All want it,” says the Eldest; “perhaps you yourself.” Wilhelm says, “Well, but tell me what it is?” “It is,” answers the other, “Reverence (Ehrfurcht); Reverence!” Honour done to those who are greater and better than ourselves; honour distinct from fear. Ehrfurcht; the soul of all religion that has ever been among men, or ever will be.  35
  And then he goes into details about the religions of the modern and the ancient world. He practically distinguishes the kinds of religion that are, or have been, in the world; and says that for men there are three reverences. The boys are all trained to go through certain gesticulations; to lay their hands on their breasts and look up to heaven, in sign of the first reverence; other forms for the other two: so they give their three reverences. The first and simplest is that of reverence for what is above us. It is the soul of all the Pagan religion; there is nothing better in the antique man than that. Then there is reverence for what is around us,—reverence for our equals, to which he attributes an immense power in the culture of man. The third is reverence for what is beneath us; to learn to recognise in pain, in sorrow and contradiction, even in those things, odious to flesh and blood, what divine meanings are in them; to learn that there lies in these also, and more than in any of the preceding, a priceless blessing. And he defines that as being the soul of the Christian religion,—the highest of all religions; ‘a height,’ as Goethe says (and that is very true, even to the letter, as I consider), ‘a height to which mankind was fated and enabled to attain; and from which, having once attained it, they can never retrograde.’ Man cannot quite lose that (Goethe thinks), or permanently descend below it again; but always, even in the most degraded, sunken and unbelieving times, he calculates there will be found some few souls who will recognise what this highest of the religions meant; and that, the world having once received it, there is no fear of its ever wholly disappearing.  36
  The eldest then goes on to explain by what methods they seek to educate and train their boys; in the trades, in the arts, in the sciences, in whatever pursuit the boy is found best fitted for. Beyond all, they are anxious to discover the boy’s aptitudes; and they try him and watch him continually, in many wise ways, till by degrees they can discover this. Wilhelm had left his own boy there, perhaps expecting they would make him a Master of Arts, or something of the kind; and on coming back for him, he sees a thunder-cloud of dust rushing over the plain, of which he can make nothing. It turns out to be a tempest of wild horses, managed by young lads who had a turn for horsemanship, for hunting, and being grooms. His own son is among them; and he finds that the breaking of colts has been the thing he was most suited for [Laughter].  37
  The highest outcome, and most precious of all the fruits that are to spring from this ideal mode of educating, is what Goethe calls Art:—of which I could at present give no definition that would make it clear to you, unless it were clearer already than is likely [A laugh]. Goethe calls it music, painting, poetry: but it is in quite a higher sense than the common one; and a sense in which, I am afraid, most of our painters, poets and music-men would not pass muster [A laugh]. He considers this as the highest pitch to which human culture can go; infinitely valuable and ennobling; and he watches with great industry how it is to be brought about in the men who have a turn for it. Very wise and beautiful his notion of the matter is. It gives one an idea that something far better and higher, something as high as ever, and indubitably true too, is still possible for man in this world.—And that is all I can say to you of Goethe’s fine theorem of mute education.  38
  I confess it seems to me there is in it a shadow of what will one day be; will and must, unless the world is to come to a conclusion that is altogether frightful: some kind of scheme of education analogous to that; presided over by the wisest and most sacred men that can be got in the world, and watching from a distance: a training in practicality at every turn; no speech in it except speech that is to be followed by action, for that ought to be the rule as nearly as possible among men. Not very often or much, rarely rather, should a man speak at all, unless it is for the sake of something that is to be done; this spoken, let him go and do his part in it, and say no more about it.  39
  I will only add, that it is possible, all this fine theorem of Goethe’s, or something similar! Consider what we have already; and what ‘difficulties’ we have overcome. I should say there is nothing in the world you can conceive so difficult, prima facie, as that of getting a set of men gathered together as soldiers. Rough, rude, ignorant, disobedient people; you gather them together, promise them a shilling a day; rank them up, give them very severe and sharp drill; and by bullying and drilling and compelling (the word drilling, if you go to the original, means ‘beating,’ ‘steadily tormenting’ to the due pitch), they do learn what it is necessary to learn; and there is your man in red coat, a trained soldier; piece of an animated machine incomparably the most potent in this world; a wonder of wonders to look at. He will go where bidden; obeys one man, will walk into the cannon’s mouth for him; does punctually whatever is commanded by his general officer. And, I believe, all manner of things of this kind could be accomplished, if there were the same attention bestowed. Very many things could be regimented, organised into this mute system;—and perhaps in some of the mechanical, commercial and manufacturing departments some faint incipiences may be attempted before very long. For the saving of human labour, and the avoidance of human misery, the effects would be incalculable, were it set about and begun even in part.  40
  Alas, it is painful to think how very far away it all is, any real fulfilment of such things! For I need not hide from you, young Gentlemen,—and it is one of the last things I am going to tell you,—that you have got into a very troublous epoch of the world; and I don’t think you will find your path in it to be smoother than ours has been, though you have many advantages which we had not. You have careers open to you, by public examinations and so on, which is a thing much to be approved of, and which we hope to see perfected more and more. All that was entirely unknown in my time, and you have many things to recognise as advantages. But you will find the ways of the world, I think, more anarchical than ever. Look where one will, revolution has come upon us. We have got into the age of revolutions. All kinds of things are coming to be subjected to fire, as it were: hotter and hotter blows the element round everything. Curious to see how, in Oxford and other places that used to seem as lying at anchor in the stream of time, regardless of all changes, they are getting into the highest humour of mutation, and all sorts of new ideas are afloat. It is evident that whatever is not inconsumable, made of asbestos, will have to be burnt, in this world. Nothing other will stand the heat it is getting exposed to.  41
  And in saying that, I am but saying in other words that we are in an epoch of anarchy. Anarchy plus a constable! [Laughter.] There is nobody that picks one’s pocket without some policeman being ready to take him up [Renewed laughter]. But in every other point, man is becoming more and more the son, not of Cosmos, but of Chaos. He is a disobedient, discontented, reckless and altogether waste kind of object (the commonplace man is, in these epochs); and the wiser kind of man,—the select few, of whom I hope you will be part,—has more and more to see to this, to look vigilantly forward; and will require to move with double wisdom. Will find, in short, that the crooked things he has got to pull straight in his own life all round him, wherever he may go, are manifold, and will task all his strength, however great it be.  42
  But why should I complain of that either? For that is the thing a man is born to, in all epochs. He is born to expend every particle of strength that God Almighty has given him, in doing the work he finds he is fit for; to stand up to it to the last breath of life, and do his best. We are called upon to do that; and the reward we all get,—which we are perfectly sure of, if we have merited it,—is that we have got the work done, or at least that we have tried to do the work. For that is a great blessing in itself; and I should say, there is not very much more reward than that going in this world. If the man gets meat and clothes, what matters it whether he buy those necessaries with seven thousand a year, or with seven million, could that be, or with seventy pounds a year? He can get meat and clothes for that; and he will find intrinsically, if he is a wise man, wonderfully little real difference [Laughter].  43
  On the whole, avoid what is called ambition; that is not a fine principle to go upon,—and it has in it all degrees of vulgarity, if that is a consideration. ‘Seekest thou great things, seek them not:’ I warmly second that advice of the wisest of men. Don’t be ambitious; don’t too much need success; be loyal and modest. Cut down the proud towering thoughts that get into you, or see that they be pure as well as high. There is a nobler ambition than the gaining of all California would be, or the getting of all the suffrages that are on the Planet just now [Loud and prolonged cheers].  44
  Finally, Gentlemen, I have one advice to give you, which is practically of very great importance, though a very humble one. In the midst of your zeal and ardour,—for such, I foresee, will rise high enough, in spite of all the counsels to moderate it that I can give you,—remember the care of health. I have no doubt you have among you young souls ardently bent to consider life cheap, for the purpose of getting forward in what they are aiming at of high; but you are to consider throughout, much more than is done at present, and what it would have been a very great thing for me if I had been able to consider, that health is a thing to be attended to continually; that you are to regard that as the very highest of all temporal things for you [Applause]. There is no kind of achievement you could make in the world that is equal to perfect health. What to it are nuggets and millions? The French financier said, “Why, is there no sleep to be sold!” Sleep was not in the market at any quotation [Laughter and applause].  45
  It is a curious thing, which I remarked long ago, and have often turned in my head, that the old word for ‘holy’ in the Teutonic languages, heilig, also means ‘healthy.’ Thus Heilbronn means indifferently ‘holy-well’ or ‘health-well.’ We have in the Scotch, too, ‘hale,’ and its derivatives; and, I suppose, our English word ‘whole’ (with a ‘w’), all of one piece, without any hole in it, is the same word. I find that you could not get any better definition of what ‘holy’ really is than ‘healthy.’ Completely healthy; mens sana in corpore sano [Applause]. A man all lucid, and in equilibrium. His intellect a clear mirror geometrically plane, brilliantly sensitive to all objects and impressions made on it, and imagining all things in their correct proportions; not twisted up into convex or concave, and distorting everything, so that he cannot see the truth of the matter without endless groping and manipulation: healthy, clear and free, and discerning truly all round him. We never can attain that at all. In fact, the operations we have got into are destructive of it. You cannot, if you are going to do any decisive intellectual operation that will last a long while; if, for instance, you are going to write a book,—you cannot manage it (at least, I never could) without getting decidedly made ill by it: and really one nevertheless must; if it is your business, you are obliged to follow out what you are at, and to do it, if even at the expense of health. Only remember, at all times, to get back as fast as possible out of it into health; and regard that as the real equilibrium and centre of things. You should always look at the heilig, which means ‘holy’ as well as ‘healthy.’  46
  And that old etymology,—what a lesson it is against certain gloomy, austere, ascetic people, who have gone about as if this world were all a dismal prison-house! It has indeed got all the ugly things in it which I have been alluding to; but there is an eternal sky over it; and the blessed sunshine, the green of prophetic spring, and rich harvests coming,—all this is in it too. Piety does not mean that a man should make a sour face about things, and refuse to enjoy wisely what his Maker has given. Neither do you find it to have been so with the best sort,—with old Knox, in particular. No; if you look into Knox, you will find a beautiful Scotch humour in him, as well as the grimmest and sternest truth when necessary, and a great deal of laughter. We find really some of the sunniest glimpses of things come out of Knox that I have seen in any man; for instance, in his History of the Reformation,—which is a book I hope every one of you will read [Applause], a glorious old book.  47
  On the whole, I would bid you stand up to your work, whatever it may be, and not be afraid of it; not in sorrows or contradictions to yield, but to push on towards the goal. And don’t suppose that people are hostile to you or have you at ill-will, in the world. In general, you will rarely find anybody designedly doing you ill. You may feel often as if the whole world were obstructing you, setting itself against you: but you will find that to mean only, that the world is travelling in a different way from you, and, rushing on in its own path, heedlessly treads on you. That is mostly all: to you no specific ill-will;—only each has an extremely good-will to himself, which he has a right to have, and is rushing on towards his object. Keep out of literature, I should say also, as a general rule [Laughter],—though that is by the bye. If you find many people who are hard and indifferent to you, in a world which you consider to be inhospitable and cruel, as often indeed happens to a tender-hearted, striving young creature, you will also find there are noble hearts who will look kindly on you; and their help will be precious to you beyond price. You will get good and evil as you go on, and have the success that has been appointed you.  48
  I will wind-up with a small bit of verse, which is from Goethe also, and has often gone through my mind. To me it has something of a modern psalm in it, in some measure. It is deep as the foundations, deep and high, and it is true and clear:—no clearer man, or nobler and grander intellect has lived in the world, I believe, since Shakespeare left it. This is what the poet sings;—a kind of road-melody or marching-music of mankind:
        ‘The future hides in it
Gladness and sorrow;
We press still thorow,
Nought that abides in it
Daunting us,—onward.
And solemn before us,
Veiled, the dark Portal;
Goal of all mortal:—
Stars silent rest o’er us,
Graves under us silent!
While earnest thou gazest,
Comes boding of terror,
Comes phantasm and error;
Perplexes the bravest
With doubt and misgiving.
But heard are the Voices,
Heard are the Sages,
The Worlds and the Ages:
“Choose well; your choice is
Brief, and yet endless.
Here eyes do regard you,
In Eternity’s stillness;
Here is all fulness,
Ye brave, to reward you;
Work, and despair not.”’
  Work, and despair not: Wir heissen euch hoffen, ‘We bid you be of hope!’—let that be my last word. Gentlemen, I thank you for your great patience in hearing me; and, with many most kind wishes, say Adieu for this time.
          FINIS OF RECTORSHIP.‘Edinburgh University. Mr. Carlyle ex-Lord Rector of the University of Edinburgh, has been asked to deliver a valedictory address to the students, but has declined. The following is a copy of the correspondence.
‘2 S.-W. Circus Place, Edinburgh, 3d December 1868.
  ‘SIR,—On the strength of being Vice-President of the Committee for your election as Lord Rector of the University of Edinburgh, I have been induced to write to you, in order to know if you will be able to deliver a Valedictory Address to the Students. Mr. Gladstone gave us one, and we fondly hope you will find it convenient to do so as well. Your Inaugural Address is still treasured up in our memories, and I am sure nothing could give us greater pleasure than once more to listen to your words. I trust you will pardon me for this intrusion; and hoping to receive a favourable answer, I am, etc.,
‘Chelsea, 9th December 1868.
  ‘DEAR SIR,—I much regret that a Valedictory Speech from me, in present circumstances, is a thing I must not think of. Be pleased to assure the young Gentlemen who were so friendly towards me, that I have already sent them, in silence, but with emotions deep enough, perhaps too deep, my loving Farewell, and that ingratitude, or want of regard, is by no means among the causes that keep me absent. With a fine youthful enthusiasm, beautiful to look upon, they bestowed on me that bit of honour, loyally all they had; and it has now, for reasons one and another, become touchingly memorable to me,—touchingly, and even grandly and tragically,—never to be forgotten for the remainder of my life.
  ‘Bid them, in my name, if they still love me, fight the good fight, and quit themselves like men in the warfare, to which they are as if conscript and consecrated, and which lies ahead. Tell them to consult the eternal oracles (not yet inaudible, nor ever to become so, when worthily inquired of): and to disregard, nearly altogether, in comparison, the temporary noises, menacings and deliriums. May they love Wisdom as Wisdom, if she is to yield her treasures, must be loved,—piously, valiantly, humbly, beyond life itself or the prizes of life, with all one’s heart, and all one’s soul:—in that case (I will say again), and not in any other case, it shall be well with them. Adieu, my young Friends, a long adieu.—Yours with great sincerity,
Note 1. Edinburgh Newspapers of December 12–13, 1868. [back]


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