LIFE OF JOHN STERLING.
By Thomas Carlyle.
Near seven years ago, a short while before his death in 1844, John
Sterling committed the care of his literary Character and printed
Writings to two friends, Archdeacon Hare and myself. His estimate of
the bequest was far from overweening; to few men could the small
sum-total of his activities in this world seem more inconsiderable
than, in those last solemn days, it did to him. He had burnt much;
found much unworthy; looking steadfastly into the silent continents of
Death and Eternity, a brave man's judgments about his own sorry work
in the field of Time are not apt to be too lenient. But, in fine,
here was some portion of his work which the world had already got hold
of, and which he could not burn. This too, since it was not to be
abolished and annihilated, but must still for some time live and act,
he wished to be wisely settled, as the rest had been. And so it was
left in charge to us, the survivors, to do for it what we judged
fittest, if indeed doing nothing did not seem the fittest to us. This
message, communicated after his decease, was naturally a sacred one to
Mr. Hare and me.