Thomas Carlyle: 1795-1881

b. 4 Dec., Ecclefechan, Annadale, Dumfriesshire; son of stonemason; ed. Annan Academy, and Univ. of Edinburgh, reading widely in French and English literature, and also in mathematics; admiration for a Miss Gordon (prob. Blumine of Sartor); abandoned plans for ministry; taught at Annan and Kirkcaldy, meeting Edward Irving, who became a close friend and encouraged his literary interests; resigned, 1818; began to read German, 1819; tutor to the Bullers; trans. Legendre’s Geometry; visited Coleridge at Highgate, resulting in a singular chapter in his life of Sterling; life of Schiller appeared in London Magazine, 1823-24 (book-form 1825);
trans. Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, and Wilhelm Meister’s Travels (1824, 1827); received friendly letter from Goethe, acknowledging translation; suggested and carried through the gift of a seal to Goethe on his birthday from 15 English friends, incl. Scott and Wordsworth; ed. German Romance, 4 vols. (1827); developed a hectoring prose style based on Jean-Paul Richter; m. Jane Baillie Welsh (1801-1866), 17 Oct. 1826; resided at Comely Bank, Edinburgh, and attracted attention by brilliant conversation; became known as head of ‘mystic’ school; candidature for chair in St Andrews fails; lived for two years on her farm at Craigenputtock, Nithsdale; attacked Utilitarianism in ‘Signs of the Times’, Edinburgh Review (1829);
moved to London with loan of £50 from Jeffrey to look for work, 1831; returned to Craigenputtock, Spring 1832; used materials in advocate’s Library, Edinburgh, to write the Diamond Necklace; Sartor Resartus, centered on the philosopher Teufelsdrochk, appeared in Fraser’s, 1833-34; the Carlyles moved to 5 (now 24) Cheyne Walk, 1834, to better to study French affairs; Ralph Waldo Emerson visited Carlyle at Craigenputtock, bearing a letter of introduction from John Stuart Mill whom he [Emerson] had met in Rome during his tour of Europe, 1833; afterwards invited by Emerson to visit America, and served by Emerson as his America agent; suffered the accidental burning of manuscript of History of the French Revolution, at house of Mrs Taylor, the lover of Mill, who offered a cheque for £200 in compensation; completed History of the French Revolution (1837);
issued Chartism (1839) in which he wrote that ‘crowds of miserable Irish darken all our towns’; the pamphlet was first offered to the Quarterly and rejected by Lockhart in Dec. 1839, to be printed by Fraser, Carlyle having been unwilling to published it in the Westminister Review; widely supposed on the strength of it to favour strong government for its own sake; gives his “Lectures on Heroes”, commencing with “The Hero as Divinity [...]”, delivered on Tues. 5th May 1840, and including “The Hero as Man of Letters”, delivered 19th May 1840, soon after published as On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History (1841); wrote Past and Present (1843), examining the ‘Condition-of-England question and attacking especially the tendencies by which the cash nexus became the sole relation between man and man’;
[ top ]
ed. Oliver Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches (2 vols. 1845); ‘Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question’ (1849), leading to breach with Mill, who answered it; visited Ireland, 1846, and again in 1849, meeting John Mitchel in company with Charles Gavan Duffy on Kingstown pier on the first occasion; issued Latter-Day Pamphlets (1850), expressing anti-democratic views in exaggerated form, and suffering lack of sales; suffered through mental ill-health of his wife from the 1840s; exacerbated difficulties from dyspepsia; established himself in sound-proof room at top of house after death of his mother in 1853; biography of Frederick the Great (6 vols., 1858-65); Life of John Sterling [his disciple, d.1844] (1851), incl. reminiscences of Coleridge at Highgate; appointed Rector of Edinburgh University, 1866;
suffered the death of Jane Carlyle following the shock of accident to her dog, 1866; Carlyle gave her papers to J. A. Froude (published as Letters and Memorials, 1883, with his own annotations), including love-letters that the editor misconstrued to her disadvantage in his biography of Carlyle; other letters seen by Froude finally published by Alexander Carlyle, 1887; began writing Reminiscences at Mentone, [Menton, S. France] 1866; Froude edited Carlyle’s Reminiscences in Century Monthly Magazine, 1881, and wrote a biography (4 vols., 1882-84); Carlyle visited Ireland (ODNB: 1846 and 1849); issued Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question (1849); Carlyle’s visit was attended and memorialised by Charles Gavan Duffy;
the manuscript of Reminiscences of My Irish Journey in 1849 was edited with preface by J. A. Froude (Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, vol. 24, May-July 1882), who also wrote a biography taking the controversial view that Miss Welsh [Jane Carlyle] married him for ambition and came to be unhappy on account of it; the publication of his edition of Oliver Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches, which includes 160pp. on Ireland, provided the occasion for several volleys against him in works on Drogheda and other matters by Denis Murphy and other Irish writers; Wilde possessed Carlyle’s writing table which was sold at the auction of his household goods ‘To order of the Sherriff’, 24 April 1895. OCEL OCIL FDA

Thomas Carlyle (1791-1881)
[ top ]
Contemporary & early editions
  • Chartism [2nd edn.] (London: J. Fraser 1840), [4], 113, [2]pp., 12o.;
  • On Heroes, Hero-worship and the Heroic in History: Six Lectures, reported with emendations and additions by Thomas Carlyle [1st Edn. 1841; 2nd Edn.] (London: Chapman and Hall, 1842), 382pp. [see contents];
  • Oliver Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches, with elucidations by Thomas Carlyle, 2nd edn. [enl.] (London: Chapman & Hall 1846), and Do. [rep. edn.] (London: Ward, Lock & Co. 1892), ill., incl. 160pp.;
  • Reminiscences of My Irish Journey in 1849, with a preface by J. A. Froude (London: Sampson, Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington 1882), vii, 263pp.; Do. (NY: Harper & Bros. 1882), 8o.;
  • Rescued Essays of Thomas Carlyle, ed. Percy Newberry (London: The Leadenhall Press 1892);
  • The French Revolution (London: Chapman & Hall 1888 [Edn.]) - available at Internet Archive - online; Do. [another edn.], introduced by Hilaire Belloc [Everyman’s library], 3 vols. (London: Dent 1906) [Vol. 1: xxiii, 351pp.], 8°.
Modern editions
  • Carl Niemeyer, ed. & intro, On Heroes, Hero-worship and the Heroic in History, by Thomas Carlyle [Bison book, No. 334] (Nebraska UP 1966), xxv, 255pp., ill. [3 lvs. of pls.] 

[ See also various editions of major works issued by Chapman & Hall, Ward & Lock, and Everyman [Dent]; also, The French Revolution: A History, with an introduction by Richard Cobb (London: Folio Society 1989). ]

Correspondence (incls.)
  • Collected Letters of Thomas Carlyle and Jane Welsh Carlyle, gen. ed. C. R. Sanders [Duke UP 1970-], of which: Vol. 9 (1997);
  • George Allen Cate, ed., The Correspondence of Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin (Stanford UP 1982), [q.pp.; 199 letters of which 114 not previously published].
  • Ian Campbell, et al., eds., The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, Vol. 34. (Duke UP 2006), xxxviii, 310pp.
See also Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, Conversations With Carlyle (London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. 1892).
Journals (on Ireland)
  • ‘Ireland’, in The Irishman, 1, 33 (18 Aug. 1849);
  • ‘To the Editor’, The Times [London] Wed, 19 June 1844, p. 6;
  • ‘Wanted: A Few Workmen’, in Nation [n.s.] Vol. VII, No. 5 (29 Sept. 1849), p.72;
  • ‘Ireland Not the Bravest’, in Nation, Vol. V, No. 242 (29 May 1847), p. 537;
  • ‘Sir James Graham’’, in Nation, Vol. III, No. 136 (17 May 1845), p.505.
Collected & reprint editions:
  • The Centenary Edition of the Works of Thomas Carlyle [27 vols] (London: Chapman & Hall 1899).
  • The Selected Works of Thomas Carlyle, ed. F. Randolph Ludovic [Bibliotheca Cakravarti Foundation; Series No. 1], (2014) 737pp. []
  • The Selected Writings of Thomas Caryle, ed. Alan Shelton (Penguin 2015), 400pp.

[ top ]

Works of Carlyle publicly available at Gutenburg Project at University of Pennsylvania server.
Vol. I Vol. II Vol. III
Vol. IV Vol. IX Vol. V
Vol. VI Vol. VII Vol. VIII
Vol. X Vol. XI Vol. XII
Vol. XIII Vol. XIV Vol. XIX
Vol. XV Vol. XVI Vol. XVII
Vol. XVIII Vol. XX Vol. XXI
- accessed 8.02.2011

Thomas Carlyle, Heroes and Hero-worship (1841)
“Sterling Edition” of Carlyle’s Complete Works, in 20 Volumes.
—Available at Gutenberg Project - online

[ top ]

Early commentary
  • [?anon.,] ‘Carlyle’s Politics’, in The Irishman, 1, 36 (8 Sept. 1849), p.567;
  • ‘Thomas Carlyle: First Sitting’, by TCD, in The Irishman, II, 11 (16 March 16 1850), p.171;
  • ‘Thomas Carlyle: Second Sitting’, by TCD, in The Irishman, II, 12 (23 March 1850);
  • Charles Gavan Duffy, Conversations with Carlyle (London: Sampson. Low, Marston 1892), x, 261pp., ill., 2 ports; and Do. [another edn.] (NY 1892);

A Bibliography of Carlyle’s Young Ireland connection: Thomas Carlyle, ‘Ireland’, in The Irishman, 1, 33 (August 18 1849); J. A. Froude, ed. [Carlyle,] Reminiscences of My Irish Journey of 1849 (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington 1882); Percy Newberry, ed., Rescued Essays of Thomas Carlyle (London: Leadenhall Press 1892); ‘To the Editor,’ [London] Times, Wed, June 19 1844, p.6; Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, Conversations With Carlyle (London: Sampson Low, Marston. and Co, 1892); ‘Wanted: A Few Workmen,’ in The Nation, n.s., Vol. VII, No. 5 (Sept. 29 1849), p. 72; ‘Ireland Not the Bravest,’ in The Nation, Vol. V, No. 242 (May 29 1847), pp.537; ‘Sir James Graham,’ in The Nation, Vol, III, No. 136 (May 17 1845), p.505; ‘Carlyle’s Politics’, The Irishman, I, 36 (Sept. 8 1849), p.567; ‘Thomas Carlyle: First Sitting’, by TCD, in The Irishman, Vol. II, 11 (March 16 1850), p.171; ‘Thomas Carlyle: Second Sitting’, by TCD, in The Irishman, Vol. II, 12 (March 23 1850) [q.p.]. Additional bibliography kindly supplied by Chris Morash, St. Patrick’s College (NUI), Maynooth - 28 May 1998.

See also remarks by Matthew Arnold, John Mitchel, Charles Gavan Duffy, William Allingham, W. B. Yeats, et al., all under Commentary - infra. Note that Carlyle is the subject of a chapter in Raymond Williams"s Culture and Society 1780-1950 (Columbia UP 1958; Anchor Books 1959, 1960 &c.), Pt. I: A Nineteenth-century Tradition, Chap. IV: Thomas Carlyle (pp.77-93.)

Irish interest
  • Malcolm Brown, ‘Besides the Sick-bed: Carlyle, Duffy, Dr. Cullen’, in Politics of Irish Literature: From Thomas Davis to W. B. Yeats (London: George Allen & Unwin 1972), Chap. 8 [p.116ff];
  • Fred Kaplan, Thomas Carlyle: A Biography (Cambridge UP 1983), and Do. [rep. edn.] (California UP 1993), 614pp., 49 ills., pb.; Harold Bloom, ed., Thomas Carlyle (NY: Chelsea House Publ. 1986);
  • Steven Helmling, The Esoteric Comedies of Carlyle, Newman and Yeats (Cambridge UP 1988), xi, 273pp. [esp. Chap. 3 on Sartor Resartus];
  • Christopher Morash, ‘The Rhetoric of Right in Mitchel’s Jail Journal’, in The Literature of Politics, The Politics of Literature [Proceedings of IASIL Leiden 1993], Vol. 1: ed. C. C. Barfoot, Theo D’haen, and Tjebbe Westendorp, ed., ‘Forging in the Smithy: National Identity and Representation in Anglo-Irish Literary History’ (Amsterdam: Rodopi 1995), pp.207-17; Thomas Carlyle, ‘Chartism and the Irish in early Victorian England’, in Victorian Literature and Culture, 29, 1 (2001), 67-83pp.
  • Geraldine Higgins, Heroic Revivals from Carlyle to Yeats (London: Palgrave Macmillan 2012), 236pp.
  • Daphne Dyer Wolf, ‘“Beggar’s Gabardine”: Thomas Carlyle, the Irish Famine, and the Book He Did Not Write’, in Australasian Journal of Irish Studies, Vol. 15 (2015) [noticed in IR-D@JISCMAIL.AC.UK - 07/11/2015]

See also Graham Davis, The Irish in Britain, 1815–1914 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1991); R. F. Foster, ‘The Magic of Its Lovely Dawn: Reading Irish History as Story’, in Times Literary Supplement (16 Dec. 1994), pp.16-18; Roger Swift, ‘Thomas Carlyle, Chartism and the Irish in Early Victorian England’, in Victorian Literature and Culture, 29, 1 (2001), 67-83pp. [available at JSTOR - online]; See also under James Anthony Froude [q.v.].


There is a study of the Carlyles by J. S. Collis (1971); see also C. R. Sanders, Carlyle’s Friendships and Other Studies (Duke UP 1977), 342pp.

See also David R. Sorensen & Brent E. Kinser, eds., On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History, with essays by Sara Atwood, Owen Dudley Edwards, Christopher Harvie, Kinser, Terence James Reed, Sorensen, Beverly Taylor (Yale UP 2013) [available at Quotebang - online; accessed 27.0.2010.)

[ top ]


Carlyle and James Joyce
According to Stanislaus Joyce, ‘Falsity of purpose was the literary sin against the Holy Ghost, and he [JAJ] was vigilant to detect it. In his fashion not unlike Carlyle's ideal of the poet as priest, he watched, though he did not pray.’ (My Brother’s Keeper; quoted in Gordon Bowker, James Joyce: A New Biography (NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2012), q.pp. [Chap. 18: Exile in Paris].
See extensive notes on the Joyce-Carlyle connection under Joyce > Notes > Literary People - as infra.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Matthew Arnold
Arthur Symons
John Mitchell
Charles Gavan Duffy
William Allingham
W. B. Yeats
Benedict Kiely
John Gross
John Kelly
Raymond Williams
Malcolm Brown
Daithí Ó hÓgáin
Vicki Mahaffey
R. F. Foster
Christopher Morash
Bill Ashcroft
Eleni Loukopoulou
Margaret Kelleher

Ralph Waldo Emerson - on visiting Carlyle at Craigenputtock, in “First Visit to England” [Chap. 1], English Traits (1850): ‘[...] We talked of books. Plato he does not read, and he disparaged Socrates; and, when pressed, persisted in making Mirabeau a hero. Gibbon he called the splendid bridge from the old world to the new. His own reading had been multifarious. Tristram Shandy was one of his first books after Robinson Crusoe, and Robertson’s America an early favorite. Rousseau’s Confessions had discovered to him that he was not a dunce; and it was now ten years since he had learned German, by the advice of a man who told him he would find in that language what he wanted. / He took despairing or satirical views of literature at this moment; recounted the incredible sums paid in one year by the great booksellers for puffing. Hence it comes that no newspaper is trusted now, no books are bought, and the booksellers are on the eve of bankruptcy. / He still returned to English pauperism, the crowded country, the selfish abdication by public men of all that public persons should perform. “Government should direct poor men what to do. Poor Irish folk come wandering over these moors. My dame makes it a rule to give to every son of Adam bread to eat, and supplies his wants to the next house. But here are thousands of acres which might give them all meat, and nobody to bid these poor Irish go to the moor and till it. They burned the stacks, and so found a way to force the rich people to attend to them.”’ (For full version of this chapter, see Emerson’s English Traits and Representative Men [Macmillan Edn. 1902], in RICORSO Library, “Criticism / International Critics” - as attached.)

Matthew Arnold: Arnold credited Thomas Carlyle with doing more than any man to bring German literature to the attention of English readers; see Arnold’s essay on Heine, in Works, ed., Super, Vol. 3, p.107; note also that Carlyle called national literatures ‘repulsive’ [cited in Chris Corr, ‘English Literary Culture and Irish Literary Revival’, PhD Thesis, UUC 1995].

Arthur Symons, in The Symbolist Movement (1899) - Symons quotes Carlyle as an epigraph to his Introduction: ‘It is in and through Symbols that man, consciously or unconsciously, lives, works, and has his being: those ages, moreover, are accounted the noblest which can the best recognise symbolical worth, and prize it highest.’ (Carlyle).

Arthur Symons, The Symbolist Movement [1899] (NY: Dutton 1919)
[Note that Symons quotes Carlyle on symbolism, thus placing him at the head of the modern English tradition in respect of this concept and practice [as infra.]

WITHOUT symbolism there can be no literature; indeed, not even language. What are words themselves but symbols, almost as arbitrary as the letters which compose them, mere sounds of the voice to which we have agreed to give certain significations, as we have agreed to translate these sounds by those com- binations of letters? Symbolism began with the first words uttered by the first man, as he named every living thing; or before them, in heaven, when God named the world into being. And we see, in these beginnings, precisely what Symbolism in literature really is: a form of [2] expression, at the best but approximate, essentially but arbitrary, until it has obtained the force of a convention, for an unseen reality apprehended by the consciousness. It is some- times permitted to us to hope that our conven- tion is indeed the reflection rather than merely the sign of that unseen reality. We have done much if we have found a recognisable sign. “A symbol,” says Comte Goblet d’Alviella, in his book on The Migration of Symbols, “might be defined as a representation which does not aim at being a reproduction. Originally, as he points out, used by the Greeks to denote “the two halves of the tablet they divided between themselves as a pledge of hospitality,” it came to be used of every sign, formula, or rite by which those initiated in any mystery made themselves secretly known to one another. Gradually the word etended its meaning, until it came to denote every conventional representation of idea by form, of the unseen by the visible. (pp.1-2.)

Symbolism (tp)
Symbolism (3)

‘In a symbol,” says Carlyle, “there is concealment and yet revelation: hence, therefore, by Silence and Speech acting together, comes a double significance.” And, in that fine chapter of Sartor Resartus, he goes further, vindicating for the word its full value: “In the Symbol proper, what we can call a Symbol, there is ever, more or less distinctly and directly, some embodiment and revelation of the Infinite; the Infinite is made to blend itsel with the Finite, to stand visible, as it were, attainable there”. It is in such a sense as this that the word Symbolism has ben used to describe a movement which, during the last generation, profoundly effected the course of French literature. [...] What distinguishes the Symbolism of our day from Symbolism of the past is that it has bow become conscious of itself, in a sense in which it was unconscious even in Gerard de Nerval, to whom I trace the particular origin of the literature which I call Symbolist.’ (p.3.)

The Symbolist Movement (1899) - Introduction [cont.]; on the antecedent French Romantic period and after]: ‘It was the age of Science, the age of material things; and words, with that facile elasticity which there is in them, did miracles in the exact representation of everything that visibly existed, exactly as it existed. Even Baudelaire, in whom the spirit is always an uneasy guest at the orgie of life, had a certain theory of [4] Realism, which tortures many of his poems into strange, metallic shapes, and fills them with imitative odours, and disturbs them with a too deliberate rhetoric of the flesh. Flaubert, the one impeccable novelist who has ever mlived, was resolute to be the novelist of a world in art, formal arl, was the only escape from the burden of reality, and in which the soul was of use mainly as an agent of literature. The Goncourts caught at Impressionist to render the fugitive aspects of a world which existed only as a thing of flat spaces, and angles, and coloured movement, [...] Zola tried to think in brick and mortar inside the covers of a book; he is quite sure that the soul is a nervous fluid, which he is quite sure some man of sicence is about to catch for us, as a man of science has bottled the air, a pretty, blue liquid. [...] And, with all of these writers, form [5] aimed above all things at being precise, at saying rather than suggesting, at saying what they had to say so completely that nothing remained over, which it might be the business of the reader to divine. [...] Meanwhile, something which is vaguely called Decadence had come into being. [6; ...] Nothing, not even conventional virtue, is so provincial as conventional vice; and the desire to "bewilder the middle-classes" is itself middle-class. The interlude, half a mock-interlude, of Decadence, diverted the attention to the critics while something mere serious was in preparation. That something more serious has crystallised, for the time, under the form of Symbolism, in which art returns to the one pathway, leading through beautiful things to the eternal beauty.’ (Ibid., pp.4-6.)’ [Available at Internet Archive - online; accessed 29.05.2017.]

[ top ]

John Mitchel, ‘But what is this? Is it the abyss of metaphysics I see yawning before me? Assuredly, I will not plunge into that bottomless pit again, after having drawn myself out of it, with pain and labour, full fifteen years ago - just so long is it since I endeavoured to walk with my own head in my teeth, like the decapitated Chrisian martyr celebrated by Mr Gibbon - to rival that “Irish Saint” known as Thomas Carlyle, who sam across the Channel with his dead so secured - “a miracle”, saith Carlyle, “which has never been repeated”.’ (Jail Journal, 1913 Edn., pp.121-22; quoted in Christopher Morash, ‘The Rhetoric of Right in Mitchel’s Jail Journal’, in The Literature of Politics, The Politics of Literature, Vol. 1, ed. C. C. Barfoot, et al., Amsterdam: Rodopi 1995, p.216.)

John Mitchel, Jail Journal [1854], ed. Arthur Griffith (Dublin: M. H. Gill 1913) —
But Ireland, as I see by these same papers, has had a far more royal visitor. Carlyle has been there again, in company with a gentleman named Forster. I have no doubt that he will be delivered of a book on the subject of Ireland soon. Unless I much mistake his symptoms, he was going on with such a book eighteen months ago. There will be a curious book!* I trust that I may be in some part of the world whither its winged words will find their way ; for, indeed, Thomas Carlyle is the only man in these latter days who produces what can properly be termed books.

*It has not come to light yet; and one is even inclined to hope that it may have miscarried. Carlyle cannot write rationally about Ireland; and he believes that Carthage has a mission to onquer the world. Bothwell, 1st January, 1852.


Charles Gavan Duffy: ‘The Young Irishmen were greatly impressed by the philosopher and his wife. They did not accept his specific opinions on almost any question, but his constant advocacy of veracity, integrity, and valour touched the most generous of their sympathies, and his theory that under the divine governent of the world right and might are identical, as right infallibly became might in the end, was very welcome teaching to men struggling against enormous odds for what they believed to be intrinsic justice.’ (Conversations with Thomas Carlyle, London 1892, p.4; quoted in Christopher Morash, ‘The Rhetoric of Right in Mitchel’s Jail Journal’, in C. C. Barfoot, et al., eds., The Literature of Politics, The Politics of Literature [Proceedings of IASIL Leiden 1993], Vol. 1, Amsterdam: Rodopi 1995, pp.207-17; p.213.) Note that Morash also quotes Carlyle’s explicit view of ‘right’ and ‘might’.

William Allingham: ‘I ask Carlyle has he read Mr Martineau on Tyndall in the Contemporary Review? “No, I care nothing about it. It is an utterly contemptible theory, that out of dead blind dust could spring the sense of right and wrong! Fit only for a dog, if a dog could speculate. Don’t come to me to certify that you have an intellect with such [materialist] notions on your head.’ (Quoted in Alan Warner, ‘The Diary of William Allingham’, in Dublin Magazine, Summer 1967, p.20ff.; p.22. See idem for Carlyle’s views on Charlotte Bronte, &c.

W. B. Yeats (Autobiographies 1955) - quoting William Morris: ‘[S]omebody should have been beside Carlyle and punched his head every five minutes’ [146]. Further: ‘The movement of thought which had, in the ’fifties and ’forties in Paris and London and Boston, filled literature, and especially poetical literature, with curiosities about science, about history, about politics, with moral purpose and educational fervour - abstractions all - had created a new instrument for Irish politics, a method of writing that took its poetical style from Campbell, Scott, Macauley, and Béranger, with certain elements from Gaelic, its prose style – in John Mitchel, the only Young Ireland prose-writer who had a style at all – from Carlyle. To recommend this method of writing as literature without much reservation and discrimination, I contended, was to be deceived or to practise deception.’ [204]. Note also that this latter passage attributes to Daniel O’Connell the phrase ‘the finest peasantry on earth’, which Carlyle ridiculed in a chapter of that title; and cf. Yeats’s remark in ‘Irish National Literature’ (Bookman, July 1895): ‘a patriot who wanted to prove that we did indeed possess, in the words of Daniel O’Connell, the “finest peasantry upon earth”, quoted in Frayne, Uncollected Prose, Vol. I, Pref. p.39]. (Cont.)

W. B. Yeats (Autobiographies 1955) - cont.: ‘[J. F. Taylor] had shaped his style from Carlyle, the chief inspirer of self-educated men in the ’eighties and the ’nineties’. “I prefer Emerson’s Oversoul” , the Clondalkin cobbler said to me, “but I always read Carlyle when I am wild with my neighbours”; he [Taylor] used his master’s style, as Mitchel had done before, to abase what his master loved, to exalt what his master scorned.’ [214] Further: ‘[Sir Charles Gavan Duffy] hired a young man to read him after dinner, Carlyle’s Heroes and Hero-Worship, and before dinner he was gracious to all our men of authority and especially to our Harps and Pepperpots.’ [224-25] (Cont.)

Ragged coats: Carlyle reported his disappointment on seeing Dublin, a shabby and decrepit city ‘like a ragged coat’: ‘Not now the “Capital” of Ireland [...] Here are no longer lords of any kind; not even the sham-lords with their land-revenus come hither now." (Reminiscences of My Irish Journey in 1849, 1882, p.55; quoted in Eve Patten, Samuel Ferguson and the Culture of Nineteenth-Century Ireland, Dublin: Four Courts Press 2004, p.14.) Note Yeats’s phrases &145;a ragged coat upon a stick’ and ‘lords and ladies of Byzantium’ in the poem “Sailing to Byzantium”.

W. B. Yeats (Autobiographies 1955) - cont.: refers to ‘Davidson with a jealousy that may be Scottish, seeing that Carlyle had it’ [317]. Further, quotes Taylor’s description of George Moore in Paris ‘in phrases that were perhaps influenced by Carlyle’s description at the opening of his French Revolution, of the “Scarlet Woman” Dubarry.’ [423; and note that the reference corresponds to the account of the dismissal of Choiseuil at the behest of Louis’[s] ‘wonderfully bedizened Scarlet-woman’, French Revolution, par. 6 of Chap. 1]. Further: ‘to discover “enmity eternal” as Carlyle did when he met Charles Lamb for the first time’ [456]. (Cont.)

See also W. B. Yeats, Autobiographies, in Yeats > Quotations [File 2], supra.

W. B. Yeats, A Vision (1937 Edn.): in A Vision Yeats placed Carlyle in the 7th Phase of the Moon: ‘He neither could, nor should have cared for anything but the personalities of history, but he used them as so many metaphors in a vast popular rhetoric, for the expression of thoughts that seemed his own and were the work of preachers to angry ignorant congregations. So noisy, so threatening, that rhetoric, so great his own energy that two generations passed before men noticed that he had written no sentence not of coarse humour that clings to the memory. […] Sexual impotence had doubtless weakened the Body of Fate and so strengthened the False Mask, yet one doubts if any mere plaster of ant’s eggs could have helped where there was so great insincerity.’ (A Vision, 1937, p.116; quoted in Claude Rawson, ‘A Question of potency’, review essay of The Making of Yeats’s A Vision, et al.; in Times Literary Supplement [‘Irish Literature’], 24 July 1987, p.783ff.)

W. B. Yeats: Cruise O’Brien got Yeats to admit that he had not read Carlyle, addding: ‘No, but my wife has’. The story is narrated by R. M. Smyllie in a BBC interview with W. R. Rodgers, reprinted in Irish Portraits (1972); and quoted in Patricia Boylan, All Cultivated People (1988), p.34; see also Tuohy, Yeats (1975), p.184. Note also that John Kelly [editor of W.B.Y’s Collected Letters] suggests that ‘Yeats’s true precursor is not Burke but [the Scottish] Thomas Carlyle.’ (See Okifumo Komescu & Masaru Sekine, eds., Irish Writers and Politics, Colin Smythe, 1991; quoted in Books Ireland review, March 1992.)

[ top ]

Benedict Kiely, Poor Scholar: A Study of the Works and Days of William Carleton 1794-1869 (London & NY: Sheed & Ward, 1947; Dublin: Talbot Press 1972), remarks on Carlyle anent John Mitchel’s language and also in connection with Fr. Mathew, whom Carlyle praised: ‘Across the sea, Thomas Carlyle, with a complacency that, because the man had no manners, was generally mistaken for prophetic discontent, was assuring the people of England, Scotland, and Wales, that deep down within them they had the divine something that would yet … remake the world.’ (Kiely, op. cit., p.117).

Benedict Kiely, Drink to the Bird (London: Methuen 1991): professes to believe that it was a hint in Thomas Carlyle that ‘suggested’ to him that he might join the Jesuits: ‘Some time about the end of 1936, or the beginning of 1937, the Lord, or Somebody, suggested to me that I might enlist among the sons, or followers, of St Ignatius of Loyola. Actually I have an uneasy feeling that the suggestion came from Thomas Carlyle. […; 2] the three Fathers [at Belvedere] asked me why I wished to become a Jesuit. / Now the brutal truth was that I did not know. But under the circumstances, and see that I had travelled that far [from Omagh], I had to think of something. So I called to my aid my good friend Thomas Carlyle, and came out with something that Carlyle had, with all the suavity and courtesy of Ecclesfechan, Scotland, said about the Jesuits. What it was, right or wrong, I cannot now remember. Something absolutely bloody, I might guess, out of the grindings and groanings of the “Latterday Pamphlets”. But, as I may later on mention, I had at an early age a freak gift, nothing to do with intelligence, for remembering and rattling off anything in prose or verse (but not in statistics) that I had read once or twice. And, like the whitefaced Fauntleroy that I was, I capped my quotation by saying that it was what poor Carlyle, who I am sure meant no hard, and other enemies of the Church (guess which) had said that determined me to join the Jesuits [… T]hey accepted me as a novice.]’

John Gross, The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters: English Literary Life Since 1800 (Harmonsworth: Penguin 1973), ‘Heroes and Men of Letters’ [Chap.]: ‘[…] The notorious set of lectures On Heroes and Hero-Worship (1840) mark as clear a turning-point as any in Carlyle’s shifting outlook. After considering in turn the Divinity, the Prophet, the Poet, the Priest - antique varieties of hero, all of them pretty well extinct - he comes in his fifth lecture to their one modern counterpart, who is not surprisingly ‘our most important modern person’, the Hero as Man of Letters. An ideal type, admittedly, and only very imperfectly emboffied by the actual examples whom Carlyle cites, the oddly-assorted trio of Dr Johnson, Rousseau and Robert Burns. Yet even this hypothetical paragon doesn’t altogether satisfy him. Action was what the times required, unflinching leadership, blood and iron. His sixth and final lecture, misleadingly entitled ‘The Hero as King’, is a celebration of the strong man which sounds menacing chords of what was soon to be the dominant theme of his work.’ [38; Cont.]

John Gross (The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters, 1973) - cont.: ‘His most enduring distinction as a social critic is to have brought into dramatic focus the disruptive effects of unrestrained laissez-faire industrialism. Trying to describe the larger forces at work in his society, fell back on metaphors of homesickness, uprooting, disaharmony. As metaphors, they are brilliantly suggestive, but as the point of departure for any kind of comprehensive political programme, they need to be handled with care. Like many other romantics, Carlyle ultimately seems to be judging society as though though it were an unsuccessful work of art, The analogy is dangerous, since social cohesion can never be as absolute as artistic unity; it will always be easy for those who dream of restoring an organic society to despair, and tempting to assume that a deliberately imposed uniformity will come to much the same thing in the end. A romantic is concerned with integrity - the integrity of a persons, integrity of a poem. But politics is the art of rough, very rough, approximations; and ever since Plato, the desire and pursuit of the whole has usually turned out, taken far enough and translated into political terms, to be a first-class recipe for totalitarianism.’ [43.] See longer extract, see RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Guests”, infra. Note: Gross also remarks that the term “man of letters” which Carlyle identified with ‘our most important modern person’ in 1840 seemed ‘faintly pompous and absurd’ a generation later (Foreword, p.9.)

John Kelly (St. John’s Coll., Oxford) suggests that ‘[W. B.] Yeats’s true precursor is not Burke but [the Scottish] Thomas Carlyle.’ (Okifumo Komescu and Masaru Sekine, eds., Irish Writers and Politics, Colin Smythe, 1991; quoted in Books Ireland review, March 1992.)

[ top ]

Raymond Williams - Culture and Society (1958) - cited in David R. Sorensen & Brent E. Kinser, eds., On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History (Yale UP 2013) - as ‘the boldest and most successful attempt to revive Carlyle’s standing as a prophet—Raymond Williams referred to Heroes and Hero-Worship as a turning point in the author’s career, signaling his “steady withdrawal from genuinely social thinking into the preoccupations with personal power”; (Williams, op. cit., p.83; here p.1 [Sorensen, Introduction]) Sorensen writes further:

[David S. Sorensen, Intro. to On Heroes, ... &c. (Yale 2013): ‘Today neither Carlyle nor his book is widely known among students of English literature. However unfairly, both have been tarnished by their association with the authoritarian and totalitarian personality cults that brought European civilization to the brink of destruction in World War II and that left what Michael Burleigh has called a “dystopian stain” (xi) on the historical record. Renowned in the early Victorian period as the indomitable opponent of mechanistic social engineering, Carlyle later became implicated in its worst excesses. Significantly, in Culture and Society (1958) - the boldest and most successful attempt to revive Carlyle’s standing as a prophet - Raymond Williams referred to Heroes and Hero-Worship as a turning point in the author’s career, signaling his “steady withdrawal from genuinely social thinking into the preoccupations with personal power”. / Carlyle’s contemporaries themselves were equally dismayed by the direction his thinking took in the wake of this “withdrawal.” His notorious [1] slurs on Africans, Jews, Irish Catholics, and Poles, his equivocal support of the Confederacy in the American Civil War, his adulation of Prussian militarism, and his defense of Governor John Eyre’s brutal suppression of the Jamaican revolt in 1866 offended those who had been moved by his earlier polemics against laissez-faire economics and his tenacious prosecution of the “Condition of England” question. His reputation reached its nadir in early 1945, when in his diary Joseph Goebbels cited Carlyle’s History of Frederick the Great (1858–65) as Adolf Hitler’s chief source of solace during his final months in the Berlin bunker. Never again was the “Sage of Chelsea” readily identified with the cause of common humanity. Like the Prussian state that he revered, Carlyle, the prophet recognized by Williams as “qualified to become the most important social thinker of his century” (76), effectively ceased to exist as an intellectual force in the years after the war. / Hero-worship itself has followed a similar downward trajectory [...]. (David Sorensen, op. cit., pp.1.-2; available at Quotebang - online; accessed 27.01.2021.]

Malcolm Brown, Politics of Irish Literature: From Thomas Davis to W. B. Yeats (London: George Allen & Unwin 1972), ‘Chap. 8, ‘Besides the Sickbed: Carlyle, Duffy, Dr. Cullen’ [p.116ff]: ‘Human swinery has here reached its acme … In face of all the twaddle on the earth, shoot a man rather than train him (with heavy expense to his neighbours) to be a deceptive human swine’ [Carlyle, Irish Tour, p.201, as infra]; ‘Such was the judgement [viz., ‘swinery’, &c.] of Dr Anti-Cant, Ireland’s sometime friend [...]. Carlyle himself seems to have senses some lack of penetration in his Irish thoughts. He never developed the notes of his Irish tour; and the publication of the diary itself we owe to Froude, who brough it out in the year after Carlyle’s death as a boost for Gladstone’s 1881 Irish Coercion Bill. The peevishness of Carlyle’s last judgement on Ireland did not break his habit of weeping briefly over evicted Irish peasants “dying there in the ditch” whenever he wished to make a piquant contrast against the “humanitarian cant” that insisted upon “pampering West-Indian niggers”. Note also Brown’s account of the influence of Carlyle on John Mitchel, and the latter’s adoption of Teufelsdrochk’s favourite abominations, “comfort” and “happiness” , as well as “cant” - Carlyle’s verbal tic for the extermination of the irksome’ (Brown, 1972, p.138). See also further remarks that Carlyle’s ‘downward path from Chartism to the Latter Day Pamphlets after the shocks of 1848 was an exact parallel to Mitchel’s course from the United Irishman to the Southern Citizen.’ (pp.142-43.)

Daithí Ó hÓgáin, The Hero in Irish Folk History (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1985): ‘For their part, the Young Ireland movement were sufficiently influenced by Carlyle’s idea of the supreme significance of great men to guarantee their approval of the individualism of folk heroes. / The spirit of the new drift was to overtly honour the hero was one who symbolises the nation. This was a case of cultural sentiment being developed into a medium for political philosophy; and it accours well with Balzac’s tribute to Daniel O’Connell who, he said, “incarnated a whole people” [n. source]. We can thus understand the fascination [316] shown in his poetry by the Young Ireland leader, Thomas Davis, for the folk image of great Irish leaders. “They slew with poison him they feared to meet with steel”, he says of Owen Roe O’Neill, and ’ (p.316.)

R. F. Foster, ‘The Magic of Its Lovely Dawn: Reading Irish History as Story’ [Carroll Inaugural Lecture], in Times Literary Supplement (16 Dec. 1994) - calls Carlyle an ‘unrecognised founding-father of Irish national rhetoric’, noting his influence on James Standish O’Grady History of Ireland: ‘the influence of that unrecognised founding-father of Irish national rhetoric, Thomas Carlyle, is stamped upon this epiphanic history as on Mitchel’s, twenty years before.’ (‘The Magic of Its Lovely Dawn, Reading Irish history as Story’ [Carroll Inaugural Lecture], Times Literary Supplement, 16 Dec. 1994)

Cf. Foster, The Story of Ireland: Telling Tales and Making it Up in Ireland (London Allen Lane; Penguin Press 2001), [Chap. 1:] ‘The Story of Ireland’ - on Standish James O’Grady’s The Heroic Period [Philosophical History, Vol. 1]: ‘And the influence of that unrecognised founding-father of Irish national rhetoric, Carlyle, is stamped upon this epiphanic history as much as on Mitchel’s, twenty years before.’ (p.11; with quotation from “Dawn”, [being] the first chapter of his History of Ireland: The Heroic Period (Dublin 1878) - as given under O’Grady, Quotations, infra.

R. F. Foster, Modern Ireland (London: Allen Lane 1988), Foster notes that Carlyle helped construct a wall of ‘anti-Irish prejudice’, but was much read by Young Irelanders on Heroes (pp.363, 313).

Vicki Mahaffey, Reauthorizing Joyce (Cambridge UP 1988): ‘Ulysses resuscitates the ancient notion that language and clothes comprise comparable systems of signification. Both are composed of what Carlyle called “symbols”, in which “there is concealment and yet revelation”. […; 161] Joyce certainly isn’t the first to adopt the philosophical view that “clothes” are all we can know. […] Shakespeare draws attention [in King Lear] to the omnipresence of “clothes” by exposing nakedness as a lonely illusion. Two hundred years later, Carlyle compels a similar recognition using strikingly different techniques. [Ftn. quotes Finnegans Wake, “so sartor’s resorted why the sinner he badder!” [314.17-18] [The aim of the] philosophy of clothes is to reinforce the realization that there is no such thing as unmediated reality. In Sartor Resartus, the entire purpose of Teufelsdröch’s philosophy of clothes is to demonstrate the “grand Proposition” [162] that our earthly interests “are all hooked and buttoned together, and held up, by Clothes” (Book First, Chapter VIII). Teufelsdröch goes on to show that the world as we know it is constituted entirely by clothes: nature, language, society all serve as “garments” for other, less tangible, realities. Such “clothes” are the primary agents of connection. In social terms, “hooks and buttons” represent the possibility of communication, and even community; in philosophical terms, material represents materiality, our only alternative to the Void: “Society sails through the Infinitude on Cloth, as on a Faust’s Mantle, or rather like the Sheet of clean and unclean beasts in the Apostle’s Dream; and without such Sheet or Mantle, would sink to endless depths, or mount to inane limboes, and in either case be no more” (Book First, Chapter VIII). Peter’s dream of a “great sheet” to which Teufelsdröch alludes (Acts I0:9-20) represents the continuity of human society. It teaches Peter not to call any man common or unclean (Acts 10:28), persuading him, a Jew, to keep company with a gentile, and thereby to attain a new appreciation of the notion of community. Teufelsdröch’s implication is that the study of clothes can give birth to a stronger social conscience and a more cohesive society, a possibility also raised in King Lear. […’ ; &c.] (p.163.)

Christopher Morash, ‘The Rhetoric of Right in Mitchel’s Jail Journal’, in The Literature of Politics, The Politics of Literature [Proceedings of IASIL Leiden 1993], Vol. 1: ed. C. C. Barfoot, et al., eds., ‘Forging in the Smithy: National Identity and Representation in Anglo-Irish Literary History’ (Amsterdam: Rodopi 1995), pp.207-17. Morash remarks extensively on Carlyle’s ‘discourse of power’ and particularly Mitchel’s use of his style - writing Carlylese” (Morash, p.215; see under Mitchel, q.v. Further, quotes passages from Carlyle’s “Chartism” which obviously influenced Young Ireland thinking: ‘Oppression has gone far further than into the economics of Ireland; inwards to her very heart and soul, The Irish National character is degraded, disordered; till this recover itself, nothing is yet recovered, Immethodic, headlong, violent, mendacious: what can you make of the wretched Irishman? [169]; ‘‘We English pay, even now, the bitter smart of long centuries of injustice to our neighbour Island, Injustice, doubt it not, abounds; or Ireland would not be miserable, The Earth is good, bountifullly sends food and increase; if man’s unwisdom did not intervene and forbid … England is guilty towards Ireland; and reaps at last, in full measure, the fruit of fifteen generations of wrong-doing,’ [170]; ‘The time has come when the Irish population must either be improved a little, or else exterminated […] In a state of perennial ultra-savage famine, in the midst of civilisatiion, they cannot continue,’ [172-73]; ‘Ireland is in chronic atrophy these five centuries; the disease of nobler England, identified now with that of Ireland, becomes acute, has crises, and will be cured or kill’ [176]. ‘If we examine, we shall find that, in this world, no conquest could ever become permanent which did not withal show itself beneficial to the conquered as well as to the conquerors.’ [178] (Supplied privately by Morash; edition not identified.) See also some quotations, under Quotations [infra].

[ top ]

Bill Ashcroft, et al., Postcolonial Studies: The Key Concepts (London: Routledge 2000), sect. on “Race”, speaks of ‘Thomas Carlyle’s notorious Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question (1849) [in which he] propounded the right to coerce “indolent” black man into the service of colonial plantation agriculture, and by the 1870s, before the last phase of imperial expansion into Africa, such prejudice, supported as it was by Social Darwinism, had virtually overshadowed liberal brands of thought on issues of race.’ (p.202.)

Eleni Loukopoulou, ‘London, Language and Empire in “Oxen of the Sun” of James Joyce’s Ulysses’, in Literary London: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Representation of London, 3, 1 (March 2005): ‘In “Oxen” the social conflict both in Ireland and in Britain is understood through textual conflict: the imperial version of culture is juxtaposed with working class culture. Joyce’s simulation of Carlyle’s style signifies the epilogue of such a tour de force in explorations of the stylistics of English prose masters. Hence, in the parody of Carlyle, the whole episode is defined as a “chaffering allincluding most farraginous chronicle” (U 554). Moreover, it marks a gulf, between the rational Englishness and the cultural and linguistic melange that follows in the “frightful jumble of Pidgin English, nigger English, Cockney, Irish, Bowery slang and broken doggerel” (Joyce, Letters, 1966: 138-49). Carlyle’s moral writings are interconnected with the farraginous final extract that voices London’s popular culture. In [William] Peacock’s anthology (English Prose from Mandeville to Ruskin, Henry Frowde OUP, 1911, pp.330-39) one of the three extracts representing Carlyle is from Past and Present (1843). In this, Carlyle addressed the huge socio-economic gulf that defined the Victorian society, despairing of the harsh British reality that “in the midst of plethoric plenty, the people perish” (Keating Peter, ed., Into unknown England, 1866-1913: Selections from the Social Explorers, Manchester UP 1976, p.11)’. [Accessed online, 06.05.2010.]

Margaret Kelleher, ‘Prose Writing and Drama in English; 1830-1890 […]’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature, ed. Kelleher & Philip O’Leary (Cambridge UP 2006), Vol. 1: ‘While [Lady Henrietta Georgiana] Chatterton [in Rambles in the South of Ireland, 1839] and others sought to encourage upper-class tourists to Ireland, the large-scale migration of the Irish poor to English cities generated alarm among English commentators of the period, most notably Thomas Carlyle in his 1839 essay Chartism: “Crowds of miserable Irish darken all our towns … With an Ireland pouring daily in on us, in these circumstances; deluging us down to its own waste confusion, outward and inward.” (‘Chartism’ [1839]); rep. in Carlyle, English and Other Critical Essays , London: Dent 1964, pp.182, p.185;.) The influence of Irish migrants also became an anxious subject in a number of later English novels, for example Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South (1854-55) and Charles Kingsley’s Alton Locke (1850), and received a more ambivalent treatment in Engels’s Condition of the Working Class in England (1845) as a force that could hasten social crisis.Carlyle’s comments on England’s “guilt” and injustice towards Ireland led to his being regarded by Charles Gavan Duffy and his contemporary Young Irelanders as a potential advocate of Irish national interests. However, in the longer term, Carlyle’s fears ofthe Irish as social and political contaminant are the more revealing, expressed in his now infamous depiction of the Irish national character: “For the oppression has gone far farther than into the economics of Ireland; inwards to her very heart and soul. The Irish National Character is degraded, disordered; till this recover itself, nothing is yet recovered … Such a people circulates not order but disorder, through every vein of it; — and the cure, if there is to be a cure, must begin at the heart: not in his condition only but in himself must the Patient be all changed.” ( ‘Chartism’, p.181.){461} / As Amy Martin observes, Carlyle’s influential representation combines tenets of cultural and biological racism to powerful effect: “the Irish difference of which he writes is simultaneously the result of a historically contingent process of degeneration and of racial descent” (Amy E. Martin, ‘Blood Transfusions: Constructions of Irish Racial Difference, the English Working Class, and Revolutionary Possibility in the Work of Carlyle and Engels’, in Victorian Literature and Culture, 32, 1, 2004), pp.83-102; p.92).’

Margaret Kelleher (‘Prose Writing and Drama in English; 1830-1890 […]’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature, 2006), Vol. 1 - further: ‘[D]discontent with British policies in Ireland …] appears to have motivated the posthumous and, in Charles Gavan Duffy’s view, the “unhappy” publication of Thomas Carlyle’s Reminiscences of My Irish Journey, a grimly pessimistic account of Carlyle’s travels in Ireland in July 1849. As Froude, Carlyle’s biographer, drily observed in his preface to the volume, “The Irish problem has not yet been solved since Mr Carlyle’s visit, nor has it been made more easy of solution by the policy of successive ministries, which has been precisely opposite to what Mr Carlyle would have himself recommended.”’ ( J. A. Froude, preface to Thomas Carlyle, Reminiscences of My Irish Journey in 1849, London: Sampson Low, 1882), p.vii.)

[ top ]

See separate file [infra].

[ top ]

Jonathan Swift: In A Tale of a Tub Swift describes the worshippers of the deity of the Tailor [by those] who held the Universe to be a suit of clothes and who worshipped their god in the posture of a Persian emperor sitting with his legs interwoven under him under the ensign of the goose, the sartoristic idol being placed in the highest parts of the house on an altar three feet high; the cult is described as very popular ‘especially in the grande monde and among everybody of good fashion.’ (A Tale of A Tub, sect. 3; see Gerry Nolan, paper on Edward Martyn in That Other World: The Supernatural and the Fantastic in Irish Literature: Transactions of the Princess Grace Irish Library Conference, 1998.)

James Joyce: There is reason to believe that Joyce was a close reader of Sartor Resartus and the Lectures on Heroes - especially the lecture on “The Hero as a Man of Letters”. See some relevant quotations under Joyce, Notes, infra.

Booklore: Joyce had copies of The French Revolution (Chapman 1888) and Past and Present (Oxford 1907) in his Trieste Library. See Richard Ellmann, The Consciousness of Joyce (London: Faber & Faber 1977), Appendix, and “James Joyce Online” website > Catalogue > C - link.

Stanislaus Joyce: For references to Carlyle in My Brother’s Keeper (1957) and The Complete Dublin Diary of Stanislaus Joyce [1971] (Dublin 1994), see under Stanislaus Joyce, infra.

Oscar Wilde: one of the literary mementoes that was sold from Wilde’s house at the date of his bankruptcy, 24 April 1895, was Carlyle’s writing desk. (See Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde, Hamish 1987, p.431.)

Sean O’Faolain cites humorously the lady who said to Carlyle, ‘I have decided to accept the universe’. (The Irish, 1947, p.79.)

Frank O’Connor (Book of Ireland, 1969) quotes him on Irish physiognomy, and on the Protestant congregations praying ‘amid a black howling Babel of superstitious savagery’.

William Bullen Morris, Ireland and St Patrick (London & NY: Burns and Oates; Dublin M. H. Gill & Son, 1891), contains comments on Carlyle, citing his remarks on the ‘foul tutelage’ of ‘the dirty, muddy-minded, semi-felonious, proselytising Irish Priest’ (Reminiscences, ii, 268; here 159).

Derek Mahon alludes to Carlyle and Mrs Siddons in Beyond Howth Head (1970): ‘… but still, like Mrs. Siddons, must / “accept the universe” on trust …’. See also Note, ‘I accept the universe!’; ‘Madam, you’d better’ (Ibid., p.16).

James McNeill Whistler: There is a portrait of Carlyle (aetat. 78) by Whistler in the Glasgow Gallery of Art depicting a black figure seated against a papered wall much in the manner of his portrait of his mother, and actually painted following Carlyle’s viewing of that painting in the artist’s studio; here called one of the first works of Whistler to enter a public collection anywhere. (Glasgow Gallery notice.)

White chimpanzees’: the anti-Irish remark attributed to Charles Kingsley of Water Babes fame was recorded during a fishing trip in the summer of 1860. (See Peter Gray, Victoria’s Irish? Irishness and Britishness, 1837-1901, Four Courts; quoted in Books Ireland, Nov. 2004.)

Pessimism: A letter written by one William Whewell (1794-1866) to Aubrey [Thomas] De Vere on 26 Oct. 1847, addressed from Trin[ity] Lodge, Cambridge expresses dismay at the influence of Carlyle’s pessimism among friends and in society. See further under De Vere [q.v.].

[ top ]