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Past and Present by Thomas Carlyle
page 2 of 398 (00%)
groups and disposes them with a master's mind, and, with a heart
full of manly tenderness, offers his best counsel to his
brothers. Obviously it is the book of a powerful and
accomplished thinker, who has looked with naked eyes at the
dreadful political signs in England for the last few years, has
conversed much on these topics with such wisemen of all ranks and
parties as are drawn to a scholar's house, until, such daily and
nightly meditation has grown into a great connection, if not a
system of thoughts; and the topic of English politics becomes
the best vehicle for the expression of his recent thinking,
recommended to him by the desire to give some timely counsels,
and to strip the worst mischiefs of their plausibility. It is a
brave and just book, and not a semblance. "No new truth," say
the critics on all sides. Is it so? Truth is very old, but the
merit of seers is not to invent but to dispose objects in their
right places, and he is the commander who is always in the mount,
whose eye not only sees details, but throws crowds of details
into their right arrangement and a larger and juster totality
than any other. The book makes great approaches to true
contemporary history, a very rare success, and firmly holds up to
daylight the absurdities still tolerated in the English and
European system. It is such an appeal to the conscience and
honour of England as cannot be forgotten, or be feigned to be
forgotten. It has the merit which belongs to every honest book,
that it was self-examining before it was eloquent, and so hits
all other men, and, as the country people say of good preaching,
"comes bounce down into every pew." Every reader shall carry
away something. The scholar shall read and write, the farmer and
mechanic shall toil, with new resolution, nor forget the book
when they resume their labour.
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