Thus the plant is the ideal prolétaire of the living world, the worker who produces; the animal, the ideal aristocrat, who mostly occupies himself in consuming, after the manner of that noble representative of the line of Zähdarm, whose epitaph is written in "Sartor Resartus."
His three greatest books, containing more than half his work in bulk, The French Revolution, the Cromwell, and the Frederick, are all openly and avowedly historical. The Schiller and the Sterling are biographies; the Sartor Resartus a fantastic autobiography.
She had been delicately reared, and the hard life wore upon her health. Yet it was here that the young couple established themselves, and here that some of the young author's best works were written, as the "Miscellanies" and "Sartor Resartus."
The young boy has finished his studies at the University; has concluded not to enter the ministry; has studied law; served as tutor; translated a masterpiece of German into English, and finally dedicated his powers to becoming a notability in English literature: wrote Sartor Resartus, the History of the French Revolution, a Life of Cromwell, a Life of Frederick the Great, and has become world-renowned as one of the great figures of the Nineteenth Century.
It is true that he criticises, more or less disparagingly, all his own works, from Sartor, of which he remarks that "only some ten pages are fused and harmonious," to his self-entitled "rigmarole on the Norse Kings": but he would not let his enemy say so; nor his friend.
Born in 1795, died in 1881; educated in Edinburgh; schoolmaster at Kirkcaldy in 1816; wrote for cyclopedias in Edinburgh; became a private tutor in 1822; visited London and Paris in 1824-25; married Jane Welsh in 1826; lived at Craigenputtoch in 1828-34, settled at Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London, in 1834; elected Lord Rector of Edinburgh University in 1866; his "Life of Schiller," published in 1825; "Sartor Resartus" in 1833, "The French Revolution" in 1837, "Heroes and Hero Worship" in 1841, "Oliver Cromwell" in 1845, "Frederick the Great" in 1858-65.
To speak on the best things in an original way, in a distinguished style, is the privilege of the elect in literature; and none of those who were born within, or closely upon, the beginning of the century has had these gifts in English as have the authors of The Lotos Eaters and Sartor Resartus.
In Sartor Resartus Carlyle let himself go. It was willful, uncouth, amorphous, titanic. There was something monstrous in the combination the hot heart of the Scot married to the transcendental dream of Germany. It was not English, said the reviewers; it was not sense; it was disfigured by obscurity and "mysticism."
In his previous writings he had insisted upon the sacredness and infinite value of the human soul, upon the wonder and mystery of life, and its dread surroundings, upon the divine significance of the universe, with its star pomp, and overhanging immensities, and upon the primal necessity for each man to stand with awe and reverence in this august and solemn presence, if he would hope to receive any glimpses of its meaning, or live a true and divine life in the world; and in the "Sartor" he has embodied and illustrated this in the person and actions of his hero.
When I first read through these, I was somewhat surprised at the omission of all reference to books which I know marked most striking periods in Narcissus' spiritual life: Sartor Resartus, Thoreau's Walden, for example, Mr. Pater's Marius the Epicurean, and Browning's Dramatis Personae.