Pity that all Metaphysics had hitherto proved so inexpressibly unproductive! The secret of Man`s Being is still like the Sphinx`s secret: a riddle that he cannot rede; and for ignorance of which he suffers death, the worst death, a spiritual. What are your Axioms, and Categories, and Systems, and Aphorisms? Words, words. High Air-castles are cunningly built of Words, the Words well bedded also in good Logic-mortar; wherein, however, no Knowledge will come to lodge. The whole is greater than the part: how exceedingly true! Nature abhors a vacuum how exceedingly false and calumnious! Again, Nothing can act but where it is: with all my heart; only, WHERE is it? Be not the slave of Words: is not the Distant, the Dead, while I love it, and long for it, and mourn for it, Here, in the genuine sense, as truly as the floor I stand on? But that same WHERE, with its brother WHEN, are from the first the master-colors of our Dream-grotto; say rather, the Canvas (the warp and woof thereof) whereon all our Dreams and Life-visions are painted. Nevertheless, has not a deeper meditation taught certain of every climate and age, that the WHERE and WHEN, so mysteriously inseparable from all our thoughts, are but superficial terrestrial adhesions to thought; that the Seer may discern them where they mount up out of the celestial EVERYWHERE and FOREVER: have not all nations conceived their God as Omnipresent and Eternal; as existing in a universal HERE, an everlasting Now? Think well, thou too wilt find that Space is but a mode of our human Sense, so likewise Time; there is no Space and no Time: WE are--we know not what;--light-sparkles floating in the ether of Deity!This seems orthodox Kantish, I suppose: 'but that same WHERE (ie Space), with its brother WHEN (ie Time), are from the first the master-colors of our Dream-grotto; say rather, the Canvas (the warp and woof thereof) whereon all our Dreams and Life-visions are painted' (indeed, I've seen this passage glossed as straightforward Kant by Richard Albert Wilson). But isn't it a bit odder than that? Not just the implied personification of space and time, or the troping of them as painters, but the way Carlyle wants to elide space with infinity and time with eternity, and we are sparkily floating around in an etheric sea. It's almost Marie Corelli. The capitalisation doesn't help. It's a shame, since this:
Is not the Distant, the Dead, while I love it, and long for it, and mourn for it, Here, in the genuine sense, as truly as the floor I stand on?... is both eloquent and moving.