Oliphant, her favourites (and mine) among women novelists, or if it be a Carlyle, and we move softly, she will read, entranced, for hours.
One lady lent her some scores of Carlyle letters that have never been published, and crabbed was the writing, but though my mother liked to have our letters read aloud to her, she read every one of these herself, and would quote from them in her talk.
Elizabethan prose, all too chaotic in the beauty and force which overflowed into it from Elizabethan poetry, and incorrect with an incorrectness which leaves it scarcely legitimate prose at all: then, in reaction against that, the correctness of Dryden, and his followers through the eighteenth century, determining the standard of a prose in the proper sense, not inferior to the prose of the Augustan age in Latin, or of the "great age in France": and, again in reaction against this, the wild mixture of poetry and prose, in our wild nineteenth century, under the influence of such writers as Dickens and Carlyle: such are the three periods into which the story of our prose literature divides itself.
The followers of Chaucer, and the precursors of Shakespeare, are alike real persons to him--old Langland reminding him of Carlyle's "Gospel of Labour." The product of a large store of reading has been here secreted anew for the reader who desires to see, in bird's-eye view, the light and shade of a long and varied period of poetic literature, by way of preparation for Shakespeare,  (with a full essay upon whom the volume closes,) explaining Shakespeare, so far as he can be explained by literary antecedents.
"The Sunday before, young Sandy MacNair had been in Carlyle
I tried other essayists, other critics, whom the machinist had in his library, but it was useless; neither Sidney Smith nor Thomas Carlyle
could console me; I sighed for more Macaulay and evermore Macaulay.
From their original inch or so of private handwriting they have spread and spread out across the world, and now whole generations of men find intellectual accommodation within them,--drinking fountains and other public institutions are erected upon them; yea, Carlyle
has become a Chelsea swimming-bath, and "Highland Mary" is sold for whiskey, while Mr.
Browning, 1806- Charlotte Bronte, Carlyle
, and as I knew he could not do it, I would not believe that it could be done by Toby Dammit.
They arrived because they were Carlyle
's battle-scarred giants who will not be kept down.
You open a book and try to read, but you find Shakespeare trite and commonplace, Dickens is dull and prosy, Thackeray a bore, and Carlyle
Most of her hearers knew little of Carlyle
or Emerson, or they might have remembered that the one said, "We are all poets when we read a poem well," and the other, "'T is the good reader makes the good book."