Latter-Day Pamphlets

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The first edition of Carlyle's Latter-Day Pamphlets, 1850.

Latter-Day Pamphlets was a series of "pamphlets" published by Thomas Carlyle in 1850,[1] in vehement denunciation of what he believed to be the political, social, and religious imbecilities and injustices of the period. The book, which at one point vindicated slavery, failed to gain the approval of the Victorian public, and is often seen as a negative turning point in Carlyle's career.

Overview[edit]

The best known of the essays in the collection is Hudson's Statue, an attack on plans to erect a monument to the bankrupted financier George Hudson, known as the "railway king".[2] The essay expresses central theme of the book — the corrosive effects of populist politics and of a culture driven by greed.[3] Carlyle also attacked the prison system,[4] which he believed to be too liberal, and democratic parliamentary government.

The imaginary figure of "Bobus", a corrupt sausage-maker turned politician first introduced in Past and Present, is used to epitomise the ways in which modern commercial culture saps the morality of society.

Contents[edit]

Carlyle (left) depicted with Frederick Maurice in Ford Madox Brown's painting Work (1865). A woman with a Bobus sandwich board appears to the left of his head.

The essays are:

  • No. 1. The Present Time (1st February 1850)
  • No. 2. Model Prisons (1st March 1850)
  • No. 3. Downing Street (1st April 1850)
  • No. 4. The New Downing Street (15th April 1850)
  • No. 5. Stumporator (1st May 1850)
  • No. 6. Parliaments (1st June 1850)
  • No. 7. Hudson's Statue (1st July 1850)
  • No. 8. Jesuitism (1st August 1850)

Influence[edit]

In his painting Work, inspired by the book, Ford Madox Brown depicted Carlyle watching honest workers improving the social infrastructure by laying modern drains in a suburb of London, while agents of the dishonest Bobus disfigure the area by marketing his political campaign with posters and sandwich boards.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Carlyle, Thomas (1850). Latter-Day Pamphlets. London: Chapman & Hall.
  2. ^ Lambert, Richard Stanton (1934). The Railway King, 1800-1871. London: G. Allen & Unwin ltd.
  3. ^ Cumming, Mark (2004). "Latter-Day Pamphlets." In: The Carlyle Encyclopedia. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, p. 271.
  4. ^ Seigel, Jules (1976). "Carlyle's Model Prison and Prisoners Identified," Victorian Periodicals Newsletter 9 (3), pp. 81-83.

 One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). "Latter-Day Pamphlets". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Frye, Lowell T. (2012). "'This Offensive and Alarming Set of Pamphlets': Thomas Carlyle’s Latter-Day Pamphlets and the Condition of England in 1850," Studies in the Literary Imagination 45 (1), pp. 113-138.

External links[edit]