Carlyle’s “On History” and Michelet’s “The People”

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Carlyle’s “On History” and Michelet’s “The People”

In his article, “The People”, Michelet reiterates that the true history of France is not in the textbooks, but it is found within the people. He further adds that he chose to write from his experiences and observations, rather than depend on history books. This has enabled him to see things, which were passed as obvious by other writers or were considered of less importance. He notes that the artists focused on what attracted more people, rather than what represented the reality. The article is a clear discussion of how the history writers misrepresent the country’s history. He also points out that poor people offer to do things out of the goodness of their heart and not because of what they can afford. This rings true in almost every society today. Poor people will seek to share the little they have. The situation has changed for the upper class and well to do people in the society. They have tended to give more as a way of seeking publicity. Their main intention of assisting the poor is to ensure that they are noticed. They give out of their riches and they remain rich. Yet they have not managed to raise the people they are helping. They have not given them enough to raise them from poverty.

On the other hand, in his article, “On History” Thomas Carlyle notes the importance of experience when writing history. Although experience is important in history, it is different for every person. This means that those who encounter similar events will have different experiences concerning the same event. A classic example in many of the countries’ history, are the experiences gathered about the wars they fought. Each side wants to tell the story in its own way. Thus, it has become common for events that were taught in the history books to be changed for future generations, as people gather more evidence about the events. He notes that laws and political constitutions only act as ways of regulating people’s existence but they do not define people’s lives. There is a lot of religious influence in Carlyle’s thinking. He in fact states that people will only know of the events that happened when God will reveal them to them. This is unlike today, when most people have decided to disregard religion. Some people do not believe that religion and faith have any significance and importance in their lives. Others have decided to embrace both religion and science. Others, on the other hand have chosen to depend on their religious beliefs entirely and they have ignored scientific evidence. Science has enabled people to know some of the events that happened in the past. It however takes faith to try to understand some of these events.

Carlyle and Michelet have both noted the importance of experience in history. They have both noted that research and history as written in history books can be misrepresented. Both authors cite the fact that everyone, and every society has history. They both note the importance of memory in defining people’s memories. Michelet dwells on the fact that history is embedded on people’s memories. Carlyle notes that people are historians, noting that they inherit history once they are born. Art is an important way of representing people’s history. Michelet notes that artists have tended to represent using the worst possible cases. He has noted their great need to show exceptional details, some of which were vulgar, trivial and accidental. Carlyle has echoed this view, noting that the part that creates the most remarkable action is placed among the highest arts. He notes that it has served to satisfy people’s appetites for the unknown and the wonderful. Both writers are clearly influenced by religion. Michelet observes that God has given him the ability to participate in everything and this has enabled him to have a history. Carlyle notes that people’s spiritual life is built in their history. He further notes that people make many mistakes and that God is the only one who can be able to rectify these mistakes. He believes in the power of God to see everything and to know everything that happens at all times.