Page images

with marked distinction, and at various times employed him on diplomatic missions of honour

“ COSMOS”; A GREAT END TO A GREAT and importance, especially to Paris. The King

CAREER took especial pleasure in Humboldt's society, Finis coronat opus; the greatest triumph of and chose him as his travelling companion on

his scientific career was still to be achieved in his visit to England in 1841, and to Denmark in

the form of a book that to a certain extent em 1845. Amid all the honour and respect of this

bodied and summed up the experiences of bi later period of Humboldt's life, there was, how. long and eminently useful life. This work wa ever, one exceedingly black spot, which the sage his magnificent “ Cosmos; "and was left as 1 was compelled perforce to contemplate from time legacy in the first instance to his German fellow to time,-a bitter drop in the cup of his life,

countrymen, and then to all searchers afte which interfered most unfortunately with the

knowledge in every civilized country in th flavour of the draught. Thackeray somewhere world. In the preface the venerable author tell relates how once, when a housekeeper had shown

his readers that the design had been present id and expounded to him all the glories of a grand nearly fifty years in his mind before it fomn country house, he turned upon the stately dame, definite expression in this book. The Greek wor after the treasures of various cupboards and

Cosmos indicates the scope and intention of th cabinets had been displayed and adınired, and

work. The design is to exhibit, as he expresse utterly put her out of countenance with the it, “ the appearance of corporeal things in the startling question : “And pray, ma'am, where do

relation to each other, for the comprehensica you keep the skeleton ?” There was a skeleton nature as a whole, animated by inner forces in Humboldt's cupboard that occasionally thrust

The idea of the universe as exhibiting in its highe itself forth amid all the satisfactions and all the development the perfection of order, beauty, an useful labours of his distinguished life, and would

harmony is carried out with wonderful completi not be banished. This skeleton was Debt. ness in the “ Cosmos," a worthy conclusion to Though, at the outset of his career, Humboldt had splendid and glorious life-work. The task inherited a considerable fortune, that fortune uniting the various branches of scientific knon had been entirely absorbed in the expenses of his

ledge, before isolated and separate, into 1 travels and of his publications, in which he orderly and systematic whole, was a gigant spared no cost, his one object being to attain the effort for a veteran; but Humboldt achieved utmost completeness, especially in illustrations. in a most satisfactory manner. Never had at For him money had no value apart from his of his books being welcomed with such enthi scientitic pursuits, and in distributing to the siasm, never had the appearance of successi necessities of others he was generous to a fault. volumes been watched for with such impatience In his later days, accordingly, he found to his anticipation, as was exhibited in Germany, Frang dismay that his fortune had not only melted and England alike, as the various volumes away completely, but that the pension awarded the “ Cosmos " were issued from the press ; to! to him by Frederick William III., and continued immediately translated into the principal Ear by that king's successor, was all he had left for his pean languages, and eagerly studied by all al maintenance. It was insufficient, for he was care- scientific world. It was not until 1854 that e less of his atfairs, and benerolent to a fault, easily concluding volume appeared; and the anthor w imposi on by a fictitious tale of distress, and eighty-five years old, when at length be is unable to answer an application with a refusal. down his pen, and felt that his life's work w Thus his embarrassments increased, and were a done. To the last he was a student, anxious source of annoyance to him almost to the end of comparing, enquiring, adding fact to fact, 21 his long life. It was the brother of the king, conscious that the scientist, like every oth afterwants Emperor of North Germany, who, searcher after truth, after all only " sees throw during the time he acidi as Result, relieved the a glass darkly." It is touching to note t illustrious old man of the lichi of debt that had modesty with which he spoke and wrote of bin 12 wei hei upun bin, His activity continued self and his attainments, while all Europe w undiminuisce, and long after he had passed his ringing with his praises, extolling what heb serentkih rear bis correspeadende sounted to deze, and holding him up as the model of between the and fourthcuand letters annually. rotary of science. “I am at once surprised an

Ettered," he writes to a London publisher 1:31. in reply to a letter proposing an Engin

version of the “Cosmos” “ at the interest esiba

gent country for the funnel shape ; a dull straw-coloured twilight is " and in answer to a spread by the apparently lowering sky over the yould indicate another desert plain ; the view suddenly narrows, and as zral public, in an Eng. the plain contracts, the heart of the wanderer

uredly observes that sinks within him. The hot, dusty sand, floating --ple to consult on such in the misty, veiled horizon, increases the sultri.

hat the “Ansichten der ness of the pestilential air.
rin Germany, and might

“ As the animals in the icy north grow torpid land also; but he gives through cold, so here the crocodile and the boa

diffidence exceedingly slumber motionless, buried deep in the dry clay. I done so much, and held Everywhere drought signifies death, everywhere

could command in the the thirsty creature is pursued by the delusive owledge.

ærial mirage of a waving mirror of waters.

With thick clouds of dust whirling round them, DT ; SPECIMEN OF His and tormented by burning thirst and by hunger,

the horses and oxen roam to and fro, the latter TYLE, sty years, full of days and

with frightened roar, the former with outvon Humboldt was laid at

stretched necks snuffing the wind to detect, by his family at Tegel, on the

the dampness of the current of air, the proximity He was never married.

of some water-puddle not yet entirely evaporated. in he left behind him, his

When the burning heat of day is succeeded by

the coolness of the night of equal length, ever had bequeathed to his faith

then horses and oxen cannot enjoy their rest. ant, and friend, Seiffert, the travels. It was afterwards

Enormous bats suck their blood in vampire

fashion, attaching themselves closely to their ca. xtract, descriptive of the great

backs, where they cause festering wounds, into steppes of Venezuela, is taken

which swarms of stinging insects penetrate. sts of Nature." It will give an

When at length, after a long drought, the benefi. or's picturesque style in the de

cent rainy season succeeds, the scene suddenly aral scenes :

changes. The deep blue of the till then un. y days' journeys from each other,

clouded sky becomes at once overcast. At constructed of bundles of reeds

night the weak light in the constellation of with thongs, and roofed with ox

the Southern Cross can barely be recognized. ess herds of wild cattlé, horses, and

The soft phosphoric gleam of the magellanic a the steppes. Forests, thousands

clouds is extinguished, even the constellations of and an impenetrable gloom cover

the Eagle and of Ophiucus in the zenith glimmer on that surrounds the desert; and

with a trembling light. Some scattered clouds itic masses narrow the beds of the in the south appear like distant mountains, and Is. The wood resounds with the the vapours spread like mists over the zenith, and falling waters, the roaring of the

distant thunder announces the vivifying rain. . the dull howling of the apes. Where

.. Hardly has the surface of the earth been stream leaves a sandbank exposed,

moistened before the fragrant steppe is covered iched, motionless as masses of rock,

with the most various kinds of grasses. Excited jaws, and frequently covered with by the light, herb-like mimosas unfold their clumsy bodies of the crocodiles ; its slumbering leaves, and welcome the rising sun, I found the branch of a tree, lurks by

together with the morning song of the birds and certain of its prey, the chequered boa.

the opening blossoms of the aquatic plants, ng suddenly forward, it seizes in the Horses and oxen now pasture in the full enjoye young bull or the weaker game, and

ment of life. But in the grass that shoots up prey. covered with saliva, down its

high lurks the beautifully-spotted jaguar, that d throat. But when, beneath the per

springs catlike with airy bound upon the animals mlar rays of the never-clouded sun, the as they pass by. . . . Sometimes, on the margin ap grassy surface has crumbled into dust, of the swamp, the moistened clay is seen slowly urdened ground gapes open, as if shattered rising upward in clods--with a violent noise, as fuighty earthqnake; like rushing water.

at the outbreak of the little mud volcanoes, the npposing currents of air spring upward in

upheaved earth is hurled high into the air;


those who understand the meaning of it flee

nocturnal life of animals on the banks of the from the appearance, for a gigantic watersnake or great rivers of South America :a mailed crocodile comes forth from the depths, “ Below the mission of Santa Barbara d awakened from trance by the downpour of Arichuna we passed the night, as usual, in th rain. . . . As the rivers gradually swell, nature open air, on a sandy flat on the bank of the forces the same animals that during the first

Apure, skirted by the impenetrable forest. W half of the year were fainting with thirst on the

had some difficulty in finding dry wood to kindl dusty parched earth, to live like amphibious

the fires with which it is here customary : creatures—for a portion of the steppe now

surround the bivouac as a safeguard against th appears like an enormous lake. The mares take attacks of the jaguar. The air was bland an refuge with their foals on the higher banks, that

soft, and the moon shone brightly. Seram stand forth like islands above the mirror of crocodiles approached the bank; and I hat waters. Every day the dry space becomes

observed that fire attracts these creatures as For want of pasture the crowded

does our crabs and other aquatic animals. T] animals have to swim about for hours together,

oars of our boats were fixed in the ground cropping a bare subsistence from the blossoming

support our hammocks. Deep stillness prerail grass that rises above the brown-coloured turbid only broken at intervals by the blowing af di water. Many foals are drowned ; many are

fresh-water dolphins, which are peculiar to t caught by the crocodiles, crushed by the pointed

river network of the Orinoco, as, according teeth, and then devoured. Not unfrequently Colebrooke, they are also to the Ganges, as by horses and oxen are seen that have escaped from up the river as Benares; they followed en the jaws of these rapacious lizards, and still

other in long rows. carry on their bodies scars from crocodiles' jagged

"After eleven o'clock, such a noise began fangs.

the adjacent forest, that for the remain icr “ But as in these steppes tigers and crocodiles

the night sleep was impossible. The wild ca fight with horses and oxen, so in certain parts of

of animals resounded through the woods. Ama this wilderness we likewise see man in continual the many voices which echoed together, combat against his fellow. With unnatural

Indians could only recognise those which, af greed the tribes drink the blood of their enemies

short pauses, were heard singly. There was -others, apparently weaponless, yet equipped

plaintive, monotonous cry of the howling mm for murder, slay their foe with a poisoned thumb

keys, the whining flexible notes of the lit nail. The weaker hordes, when they pass along

sapagous, the grunting murmur of the stri the sandy shore, carefully, with their hands,

nocturnal ape, the fitful roar of the great ti efface the marks of their timid footsteps, to con

(jaguar), the cougar, or maneless American li ccal them from the stronger tribes. Thus man,

the peccary, the sloth, and a host of part in the lowest state of brutal savagery, as in the parraquas, and other birds of the pheasant ki fictitious glory of higher civilization, everywhere

Whenever the tigers approached the edge of prepares unrest for himself in life-thus the forest, our dog, which before bad barked in wanderer in distant regions, crossing land and

santly, came howling to seek protection w ocean, like the historical investigator searching

the hammocks. Sometimes the cry of the ti the records of the ages, everywhere encounters

resounded from the branches of a tree, an the lamentable spectacle of a race divided against

was then always accompanied by the plain! itself. And, therefore, he who amid the yet

piping tones of the apes, which were endear unsettled strife of nations longs for spiritual ing to escape from the unwonted pursuit. iepose, gladly casts down his eyes to contem.

“ If the Indians are asked why such s« "late the peaceful life of plants, and the inner

tinuous noise is heard on certain nights, 1 working of the holy power of nature ;-or, fol.

answer with a smile that the animals are rej lowing the innate impulse that bas glowed for

ing in the beautiful moonlight, and celebrat centuries in the human heart, he fixes his gaze

the return of the full moon, To me the s upwards, on the distant stars that in undisturbed

seemed rather to be owing to an accidental, harmony sweep onward in their ancient un. continued, and gradually increasing com changing course."

among the animals," The following is Humboldt's picture of the

I. 1.1

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

CONTENTS. Simpel Pallacie-4 Rugged Prophet of the Truth-Honesty against Deceit-Carlyle's Birth and Education-Edinburgh Suiversity-Doubts as to his work in Life-Teaching School at Kircaldy-Apprenticeship to Literature-The Edinburgh Spelopædia -Carlyle and Irving-Tutor to Charles Buller-Life of Schiller-German Literature-Severe Critics-Carlyle's Lurriage-Craigenputtoch-Correspondence with Goethe-"Sartor Resartus"-"History of the French Revolution"-Its Labertant Efect-A Misfortune Bravely Borne-Carlyle as a Lecturer-"Heroes and Hero-Worship"-Power and Charm ultis Lectures-The Story of Oliver Cromwell-A Man Speaking for Himself-Carlyle as a Politician_The Crowning Werk of his life, "The History of Frederick the Great".-Splendid Merits of the Work-Lord Rectorship of Edinburgh Priversity - A Great Sorrow-Longing for Rest-Last Works of Carlyle-Completeness of his Life.


is worshipped, and earnestness often sneered at AND THE TRUE IN LIFE,

as vulgar-in this nineteenth century, in fact, and times when the language of florid compli

in this civilized England—an uneasy doubt may ment is often found lavished, like the sun

sometimes arise whether a new Diogenes, lighting ht, on the just and the unjust alike,—when the his lamp at noonday after the example of the old resion of wealth is made, like charity, to cynic of Athens, might not go a considerable disper a multitude of sins,—when material success

tance, through highways and byways, before

finding the Greek philosopher's Ideal Man. was, and what kind of men they were to what False standards of respectability are set up, and the epithet " great” might with its true emphas unreal distinctions are established. It is not be applied—what men they are that may be con that the captain's choleric word is rank blas. sidered “the highest specimens and the chal phemy in the soldier, for that has always been so benefactors of mankind ... that keep awai - but outward appearances are made to pass as the finer parts of our souls ; that give us betti equivalent for realities, and the witty French aims than power or pleasure, and withstand t author who declared, “ Nous sommes au siècle total sovereignty of Mammon in this earth .. des quasi,” was not quite wrong in his descrip- the vanguard in the march of mind; the in tion of the century of shams, while some of his lectual backwoodsmen, reclaiming from the id sarcasm would have applied excellently well to wilderness new territories for the thought o the British dominions. During the last decades the activity of their happier brethren." The the spread of education, increased facilities of are the men of intellect and genius. But o travel, bringing men of various ranks into more less vehemently was the same voice rived frequent contact than in the old days of post- demand recognition and honour for those w chaises and exclusiveness, and, more than all, an with no claim to be considered pioneers, are 1 improved tone in the public press, have con- content to be honest labourers in the fiuid tributed to alter this for the better ;-to set human life, good soldiers serving in the ranks up the truth and throw down hypocrisy, and to the army of humanity, zealous servants faith instal worth and goodness in places of honour, over a few things ; and above all, this voice p instead of artificial and hollow proprieties. Men claimed and enforced in every variety of powa are less narrow in their opinions, less apt to argument the truth embodied in the kne jump at conclusions from imperfect data, like Schiller, “ Und ein Gott ist! Ein beiliger W the man of whom it was written by the poet two lebt,"—that there is no such thing as chance, to centuries ago, that “ Railing and praising were “ There's a divinity that shapes our ends, rua his various themes, And both, to show his judg. hew them as we will ”—and that in all the visi ment, in extremes.” Much of this improvement fortunes and changes of the lives of men and is due to the works of such writers as the late nations, the hand of Divine justice and ritni Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thacke- tion is to be recognized by him who mld ray, who laboured hard to make their readers gently and devoutly seek for the truth. W understand the distinction between the shams

merciless scorn, and not without a certain g and the realities of life,—to inculcate the lesson

humour, the owner of that voice would d that wealth, and what is called “ position," and forth some social pretence, or some favca a place in society, are not necessary to happi. fetish of the times, and divest it piece by pi ness, or any criterion of the solid worth of the

of its covering of falsehood, as a lecturer i possessor. “We were snobs," wrote Thackeray, unroll a mummy: and by thus despoiling at in reference to his poorer fellow-students at its outward veil of respectability, he sho Cambridge, "to refuse to take an honest man's what a poor pitiful thing many a remote hand because it had a Berlin glove on it;" and in institution was. The voice that made it his inimitable Book of Snobs," that scathing heard, and to good purpose, even amid the satire on British respectability and wealth-wor

and jangle of Vanity Fair, preaching the ship, he anatomises and disseets false pretence manence and ultimate victory of truth and and the mean admiration of mean things; showing certain overthrow of even the most ingenua how the coronation robes of George the Magnifi. constructed and universally-accepted faleb cent, upon which thousands of pounds had been was thrat of Thomas Carlyle, -one of the cz spent, had come down to form part of the attrac- Worthies," of the noblest gentlemen the w tion of a waxwork show—" Admission only one has ever seen. Speaking of those men of shilling,” says the merciless satirist ; * children who have fulfilled their mission, he says: “I and snobs sixpence-go and pay sispence.” is a congruity in their proceedings which

loves to contemplate ; he who would write A GREAT AND FEARLESS TEACHER OF STERN

poems should make his whole life like a bull TRUTHS.

poem.” And he was not one of those ungra But long before Thackeray had written a line, pastors who “reck not their own rede." and while Charles Dickens was still a boy at whole career, singularly complete and cons school, a powerful voice was raised, to proclaim, is a great and glorious instance of a man i with no uncertain sound, what true greatness trating in his own life the precepts he incuial

« PreviousContinue »