From the winter of
1821 I had what might truly be called an object in life:
to be a Reformer.
My conception of my own happiness was
entirely identified with this object.
The personal sympathies I
wished for were those of fellow laborers in this enterprise.
endeavored to pick as many
flowers as I could but as a serious
permanent personal satisfaction
to rest upon, my whole reliance was placed on this.
I was accustomed to the certainty of
a happy life which I enjoyed, by placing my happiness in
something durable and distant, in which
progress might be always making, while it could never be exhausted by complete
The general improvement going on and the idea of myself as
engaged with others in struggling to promote it, seemed enough to fill up an
interesting and animated existence.
The time came when I awakened from
this as from a dream.
It was in
the autumn of 1826.
(1826: First railways begin construction.
Internal Combustion engine patented in US.
Janissary on the rampage,
I was in a dull state of nerves, such as everybody
is occasionally liable to; unsusceptible to
enjoyment or pleasurable excitement; one
of those moods when what is pleasure at other times, becomes insipid or
state, I should think, in which converts to Methodism usually
are, when smitten by their first 'conviction of
In this frame of
mind it occurred to me to put the
question directly to myself:
"Suppose your objects in life were
realized; all the changes in institutions and
opinions which you are looking forward to, could be completely effected at this
very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you?"
self-consciousness distinctly answered, "No!"
At this my heart
sank: the foundation on which my life was
built fell down.
my happiness was to have been found in the continual pursuit of this end.
Once the end ceased to charm, how could
there be any interest in the means?
I seemed to have nothing left
to live for.
For I now saw, or thought I saw, what I had always before
received with incredulity - that the habit of
analysis has a tendency
to wear away the feelings: as indeed it has, when
no other mental habit is
cultivated, and the analyzing spirit remains without
its natural complements and correctives.
The very excellence of analysis
is that it tends to weaken and undermine
whatever is the result of prejudice.
It enables us mentally to
separate ideas which have only casually clung together and
no associations could
ultimately resist this dissolving force.
We owe to analysis our clearest
knowledge of the permanent
sequences in nature; the
real connections between things, not dependent on imaginings.
Natural law finds
one thing is inseparable from
another; our ideas of things joined together in
cohere more and more closely in our
Analytic habits may thus even
strengthen the associations between
causes and effects, means and ends, but tend altogether to weaken those
which are, to speak familiarly,
a mere matter of
They are therefore favorable to prudence and
clear sightedness, but
a perpetual worm
at the root both of
the passions and of
the virtues; and, above all,
fearfully undermine all desires,
and all pleasures.
These were the
laws of human nature, by
which, as it seemed to me, I had been brought to my present state.
Those whom I admired were of opinion that
compassion, especially toward
mankind on a large scale as the object of existence, were the greatest and
surest sources of happiness.
Of the truth of this I was convinced, but
to know that a feeling would make me
happy if I had it, did not give
me the feeling.
My education, I thought, had failed to create these
feelings in sufficient strength to resist
influence of analysis, while the
whole course of my intellectual cultivation had made
pre-mature analysis the inveterate habit of
of vanity and motivation seemed to have
dried up within me, as completely as those of
neither selfish nor
unselfish pleasures were
pleasures to me.
There seemed no
power in nature sufficient to
begin the formation of my character anew, and recreate in
a mind now irretrievably
analytic, fresh associations of pleasure
with objects of human
I frequently asked myself, if I could, or if I was bound to
go on living, when life must be passed in this manner.
answered to myself, that I
did not think I could possibly bear it beyond a year.
probability my case was by
no means so peculiar as I fancied.
A vivid conception of the scene came over me,
and I was moved to tears.
From this moment my burden grew lighter.
The oppression of
the thought that all feeling was dead within me, was gone.
I was no longer hopeless.
Relieved from my present sense
of irremediable wretchedness, I gradually found that the
ordinary incidents of life
could again give me some pleasure.
I found enjoyment, not intense,
but sufficient for cheerfulness, in sunshine and
sky, in books, in conversation, in
There was, once more, excitement, though of a moderate
category, in exerting myself for my
opinions, and for the public
Thus the cloud
gradually drew off.
I never again was as miserable as I had
The experiences of this period led me to adopt a theory of life,
unlike that on which I had before acted having much in common with what at that
time I certainly had never heard of, the automaton theory of
I never, indeed, wavered in the conviction that
happiness is the test of all rules of conduct, and the end
I now understood happiness was
attained by not making it the direct end.
those with minds fixed on some object
other than their own happiness;
on the happiness of
others, on the
improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not
as a means, but as itself an ideal end, are
Aiming thus at something else, they find
happiness by the Way.
Ask yourself whether you are
happy, and you cease to be so.
The only chance is to treat, not
happiness, but some end external to it, as the purpose of life.
otherwise fortunately circumstanced you will
inhale happiness with the air you
breathe, without dwelling on it or thinking about it, without either
forestalling it in imagination, or
putting it to flight by
This theory now became the basis of my philosophy
I still hold to it as the best theory for all those who have
but a moderate degree of sensibility and of capacity for enjoyment, that is,
for the great majority of mankind.
I ceased to attach
exclusive importance on ordering
I had now learnt by experience that the passive
susceptibilities needed to be cultivated as well as the active capacities, and
required to be nourished and enriched as well as guided.
Maintenance of balance among the
faculties, seemed of primary importance.
|1829 Edinburgh Review published Thomas Carlyle's "Signs of
In "Signs of the Times", Carlyle warns the
Industrial Revolution is turning people into mechanical automatons devoid of
individuality and spirituality.
The division of society and the poverty
of the majority began to dominate the minds of the most intelligent and
imaginative people outside politics following the 1832 Reform Act.
"Condition of England Question" was a phrase coined by Thomas Carlyle in 1839
to chronicle the conditions
of the English working-class during the Industrial Revolution.
was a growing sense of anger at the culture of amateurism in official
government circles which produced this misery.
Structural changes in
the economy led many to question whether the country had taken a wrong turning.
Would manufacturing towns ever be loyal?
Was poverty eating up
Was it safe to depend upon imports for food and raw materials?
Could the fleet keep the seas open?
Should government encourage
emigration and require those who remained behind to support themselves by spade
These were the 'Condition of England' questions".
I now began to find meaning in
the importance of poetry and art as
instruments of human culture.
imaginative arts in which I had
from childhood taken great pleasure, was music.
The best effect
consists in winding up to a high pitch those feelings of an elevated category
which are already in the character, but to which this excitement gives a glow
and a fervor, which, though transitory at its utmost height, is precious for
sustaining them at other times.
This effect of music I had often
experienced; but like all my pleasurable susceptibilities it was suspended
during the gloomy period.
I had sought relief again and again from this quarter, but found none.
After the tide had turned, and I was in process of recovery, I had been
helped forward by music, but in a much less elevated manner.
I at this
time first became acquainted with Weber's Oberon, and the
extreme pleasure which I drew
from its delicious melodies did me good, by showing me
a source of pleasure to which I
was as susceptible as ever.
The good, however, was much impaired by
the thought, that the pleasure of music
fades with familiarity, and requires either to be revived by intermittence,
or fed by continual novelty.
It is very characteristic both of my then state, and of the general
tone of my mind at this period of my life, that I was seriously tormented by
the thought of the exhaustibility of musical
This source of
anxiety may, perhaps, be
thought to resemble that of the
Laputa, who feared lest the sun
should be burnt out.
In the power of rural beauty, there was a
foundation laid for pleasure in
Wordsworth's poetry as his scenery lies mostly mountains,
which, owing to my early Pyrenean excursion, were my
ideal of natural beauty.
Wordsworth's poems a medicine
for my state of mind, was that
not mere outward beauty, but states of
feeling, of thought colored by feeling,
under the excitement of beauty.
They seemed to be the very culture of the feelings, which
I was in quest of.
them I seemed to draw from a source of inward joy,
of sympathetic and
imaginative pleasure, which could be shared in by all human beings; which had
no connection with struggle or
imperfection, but would be made richer by every improvement in the physical
or social condition of mankind.
From them I seemed to learn what would be
the perennial sources of
happiness, when all the greater evils of life shall have been
And I felt myself
at once better and happier as I came under their influence.
have certainly been greater poets than Wordsworth; poetry of deeper and loftier
feeling could not have done for me at that time what his did.
I needed to feel there
was permanent happiness in tranquil contemplation.
taught me this, not only without turning away from, but with a greatly
increased interest in the common feelings and
destiny of people.
delight which these poems
gave me, proved that with culture of this sort, there was nothing to dread from
the most confirmed habit of analysis.
The aim, therefore, of
patriots, was to set
limits to the power which the ruler should exercise over the community; and
this limitation was what they meant by liberty;
protection from the tyranny of political
It was attempted in two ways.
First, by obtaining a
recognition of certain immunities, called
political liberties or rights,
which it was to be regarded as a breach of duty in the ruler to infringe, and
which, if he did infringe, specific résistance, or general rebellion,
was held to be justifiable.
A second, and generally a later
the establishment of constitutional
checks; by which the consent of the community, or of
a body of some sort supposed to
represent its interests, was made a necessary condition to some of the more
important acts of the governing power.
A time, however, came in the
progress of human affairs, when men ceased to think it
a necessity of nature that
their governors should be an independent
power, opposed in interest to
It appeared to them much better that the various
magistrates of the State should be their tenants or
delegates, revocable at their
In that way alone,
it seemed, could they have complete security that the powers of government
would never be abused to their disadvantage.
If all mankind minus one
were of one opinion and only one individual were of the contrary opinion,
mankind would be no more justified in silencing that individual than, if he had
the power, would be in silencing mankind.
If the opinion is right,
they are deprived of the opportunity of
exchanging error for truth, if wrong, they lose nothing but repute.
What is almost as great a benefit is the clearer perception and livelier
impression of truth produced by its collision with error.
opinion be compelled to
silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true.
To deny this is to
assume our own
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American social mores and values
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corporate media psychological operations. The results have been the destruction
of the family and the destruction of social structures that do not adhere to
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