Footpaths give a private, human touch to the landscape that roads do not. They are sacred to the human foot. They have the sentiment of domesticity, and suggest the way to cottage doors and to simple, primitive times.
Men and communities in this world are often in the position of Arctic explorers, who are making great speed in a given direction, while the ice-floe beneath them is making greater speed in the opposite.
No man perhaps suspects how large and important the region of unconsciousness in him is; what a vast, unknown territory lies there back of his conscious will and purpose, and which is really the controlling power of his life.
No surer does the Auldgarth bridge, that his father helped to build, carry the traveller over the turbulent water beneath it, than Carlyles books convey the reader over chasms and confusions, where before there was no way, or only an inadequate one.
Temperament lies behind mood; back of the caprice of will lies the fate of character; back of both is the bias of family; back of that, the tyranny of race; still deeper, the power of climate, of soil, of geology, the whole physical and moral environment. Still we are free men only so far as we rise above these.
The Carlyles were men who lavished their heart and conscience upon their work; they builded themselves, their days, their thoughts and sorrows, into their houses; they leavened the soil with the sweat of their rugged brows.
The way to get rid of wretchedness is to despise it; to conquer the devil is to defy him; to gain heaven is to turn your back upon it, and be as unflinching as the gods themselves. Satan may be roasted in his own flames; Tophet may be exploded with its own sulphur. Upon Carlyles teaching.
Whatever these two men (the Carlyles, father and son) touched with their hands in honest toil became sacred to them, a page out of their own lives. A silent, inarticulate kind of religion they put into their work.