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Heroes in the distance

  What is a hero? A thousand people have a thousand answers. And in the distant nineteenth century, there was such a voice: “The hero is like the North Star, who can guide people through the layers of clouds and dust, and all kinds of rapids and fires.” Before we finished speaking, we saw an old man with sharp eyes and a spirited spirit walking slowly towards us, carrying a banner. He is the great British writer of the Victorian era in the 19th century, “Chelsea’s sage”, and a historian with a heroic complex – Thomas Carlisle.
  Carlisle wrote a lot throughout his life, including essays, reviews, history, and social criticism. And borrowing the past to satirize the present, he is good at pinpointing the evils of the times. Although he is extremely concerned with reality, he is controversial in Western and Chinese society. Some people praised him as a sage and worshipped him, while others denounced him as a fascist prophet and ignored him. The two views are quite different, but it is the Carlyle-style view of heroic history that influences people’s evaluations. Carlylism in English refers to the Carlyle style, which is characterized by easy use of conversation and irregular long sentences, introduction of new words and German words, and extensive use of metaphors and allusions. Marx once compared Carlyle’s style with that of the Berkes-Never hypocrite, saying that the former “is often exaggerated and dull, but often splendid and always unique”. This unique style intensifies the indelible hero worship hidden in Carlisle’s heart. He believes that there is an eternal hope for governing the world in hero worship. “Even if all the traditions, methods, creeds and societies created by human beings disappear, hero worship still exists, and heroes must come into the world. When heroes come to the world, worshiping heroes is people’s duty and people’s needs.” Such descriptions are numerous in his writings.
  And Carlisle, who was born in the small Scottish village of Ixlephasian in 1795, did not set out to write. With devout Calvinist Christian parents, Carlisle, the eldest son, has carried too many expectations from his parents since he was a child. They worked hard for him to study, hoping that he could become a pastor in the future. But it backfired. After Carlisle entered the University of Edinburgh at the age of 14, he was influenced by a free and open cultural atmosphere, and he was widely involved in mathematics, literature and skeptical philosophy, gradually shaking his belief in Christianity. After some painful struggle, he gave up his original plan to be a pastor. Since then, in order to make a living, he has taught and studied law. As for writing, it was initially just a means of making a living.
  In 1821, when Carlisle was 26 years old, he met the most important person in his life, the daughter of a well-to-do doctor, Miss Jane Bailey Welsh. After that, the two people passed on the book, and finally became husband and wife in 1826. After marriage, due to financial constraints, the two lived in seclusion for 6 years in the desolate Craigan-Puttock Hills. The loneliness of recluse did not frustrate Carlisle’s fighting spirit, but prompted him to embark on the path of writing. From 1833 to 1834, Carlisle published his first bizarre book, New Clothes, in the Fraser Magazine. In 1836, under the strong recommendation of Emerson, a single volume of this book was first published in the United States, and it was published in the United Kingdom in 1838. Since then Carlisle’s reputation has gradually increased.
  ”Old Clothes, New Cuts” was written by Carlisle based on his own life experiences. Many times, Carlisle’s shadow can be seen from the protagonist German professor Tufist Deloce. He had renounced his Christian faith, worked as a lawyer, and fell in love with a high-society woman. After the adoration was rejected, Tufistroc wandered around, looking for the existence of truth, and finally concluded that “all symbols are clothes that fit together; all souls are transmitted through the form of the senses, whether external or imaginary.” It’s all clothes, no matter what it is born.” Here, he not only criticizes Christianity as outdated old clothes, but also admonishes the sick Victorian age.
  ”Old Clothes, New Clothes” did not bring much financial income to Carlisle, but it opened the way for his literary career. In 1830, the publication of “On History” was the initial statement of his view of history. Carlisle sees history as a distillation of countless biographies. Even if there are many historical documents and records, it is difficult to give a comprehensive description of history. Because “history is a real manuscript that no one can fully explain”. But as a historical artist, he should investigate history as a whole from a higher perspective. He once said, “As a farmer, his neglect of the higher wonders is beyond reproach; but as a thinker, a seeker of nature, he is wrong to do so”. A historian, on the other hand, who takes a bird’s-eye view of history as a whole along various directions and paths, will “discover that he is not a complete failure”.
  If Carlyle also emphasized the creative role of ordinary people in “On History”, then from 1834 when the couple moved to Chelsea, where the literati were inhabited, Carlyle gradually turned to the heroic view of history. Three years later, The French Revolution came out. In this work, Carlisle combines detailed historical materials with a unique style of writing. The chapters such as the Conquest of the Bastille, The Feast of the Knife, and the Execution of Louis XVI and his Queen are all written with expressiveness and emotion. . What readers see are no longer rigid and passive pawn-like characters, but living men and women with complex emotions and distinct personalities. If the lifelike portrayal of characters is Carlyle’s great contribution to English literature, then the shaping of great characters is even more amazing and the finishing touch. Such as Mirabeau, Lafayette, Napoleon, etc. he admired, he tried his best to write with exaggerated brushwork, which is the embodiment of his hero worship. For example, Mirabeau, sincere nature, eloquent eloquence, loyalty to the royal family and turning the tide are all admired by Carlisle. And Mirabeau’s role as a mainstay in the early days of the French Revolution was the most praised, so that Mirabeau’s death, in Carlyle’s view, such a hero in troubled times, if still alive, then “France and the world” History is a different story.”
  This hero-worship is even more prominent in the 1840 lecture collection On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and Heroic Deeds in History. Here, Carlisle frankly points out that world history is the history of great men. “In my opinion, the history of the world, the history that mankind has accomplished in this world, is ultimately the history of the great men who have worked hard in the world. They are the leaders of mankind, the legendary figures, and the models that all living beings and Wu Qianxian strive to emulate. and role models. It might even be said that they are the creators of the world, and what we have heard and witnessed in this world is nothing but the external material results, the manifestations and manifestations of reality sent by the great men of this world to this world. It is fair to say that the soul of the entire history of the world is the history of these great men.” Six categories of heroes are listed in the speech: 1. Divine heroes, represented by Odin; 2. Prophetic heroes, represented by Muhammad in Islam; Shakespeare as the king; 4. Clergy heroes, represented by Luther who carried the banner of Reformation and Knox who insisted on truth; Puritanism; 5. Heroes of letters: Johnson, Rousseau, Burns; 6. Kings Heroes, represented by Cromwell and Napoleon. The representatives of these heroes, in Carlisle’s view, have the essential character – sincerity. “Sincerity is the foundation of a great man and all his words and deeds. Without sincerity as the first condition, there would be no Mirabeau, Napoleon, Burns and Cromwell, and no one can achieve anything”. Whether it was Muhammad who asked his subordinates to quit because of the hot weather at the Battle of Tabuk, who frankly said “yes, it is hot, but hell is hotter”, or Muhammad who was free from prostitution and made a wooden icon Knox, who was thrown into the water and said that he could swim, or Rousseau, who was confused with excessive sincerity and nervousness and weak character, or Napoleon’s fundamental sincerity based on reality, Carlyle thought it was sincerity that made them hero.
  ”The greatest man is silent”, “Eloquence is silver, silence is gold”, Carlisle emphasizes time and time again that heroes or great men should be silent. But Rousseau did not have the gift of silence, so Carlyle regarded him as a “regrettable hero of small size”. In Carlisle’s view, “Only the kind of person who bears a heavy burden, but is better than walking in the courtyard can be called a strong person, and a person who cannot be calm when the deeds of words and actions are not mature, is not healthy. people”. Cromwell, who was not good at speaking in parliament but good at impromptu prayer, was someone who could keep his temper. Whenever there is a problem that is difficult to solve, he will pray with the ministers until a decision is made. He believed that Cromwell’s prayers penetrated the soul far beyond eloquence. This kind of person who does not give up the cause of God in extremely difficult times, but diligently seeks a solution, is the light of God shining in the world. The hero in Carlisle’s mind is the one who sincerely accepts God’s guidance and leads people to the light.
  From Odin to Cromwell and Napoleon, some people think that the vision of the heroes of Carlisle has shifted from the lower-class heroes in the early stage to the worship of the dictatorship of military emperors in the later period. From 1843’s “Past and Present” (also translated as “Civilization Concerns”) to 1845’s “Interpretation of Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches” to 1865’s “Biography of Frederick II of Prussia” Pushing Carlisle’s heroic history to the extreme. He searched for various reasons to justify the brutality of Frederick II, believing that dictatorship was the only feasible way to rejuvenate the country. These are seen as his homage to military dictators. Therefore, the titles of Hitler’s spiritual teacher and fascist prophet came one after another. His opposition to modern democracy and parliamentary system has caused people to gradually ignore him, alienate him, and even his old friend Mueller gradually drifted away from him. Even so, it is still necessary to see that the mission of Carlisle’s hero is to save the world. When society falls into chaos and cannot extricate itself, heroes, only the advent of heroes can save the world. While Cromwell and Frederick II were autocratic, they still made changes to the current society.
  The likes and dislikes of writers are clear and unrestrained, and the historians are demanding and truthful, and the two distinct personalities converge in one person, which will inevitably lead to complex thoughts. And Carlisle vividly interprets the combination of the two through his own writings. Carlisle’s eternal theme is heroes and hero worship. Whether it is a literati hero, a cleric hero, or an imperial hero, although they have different expressions, they come to save the world. And all the praise and criticism of Carlisle in Western society all originate from this. Regarding the reputation, Liang Qichao once thought: “The world is only a mediocre person who has no blame and no reputation… Therefore, if the world is famous, it may not be a village wish; if the world is slandered, it may not be a great person. The saying is: the conclusion of the coffin. I see the number after the coffin is covered. Ten years and hundreds of years, and it is still undecided. Each is what it is, not what it is, and people will learn from it… There are thousands of people who praise it, and thousands who destroy it; those who praise it reach Its extremity, and those who destroy it also reach its extremity.” Carlisle’s right and wrong, let history judge. As ordinary us, it is enough to calm down and read Carlisle, and after the book is closed, it is enough to recall the past and question the history.

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