Latter-Day Pamphlets

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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.

Latter-Day Pamphlets was a series of "pamphlets" published by Thomas Carlyle in 1850, 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.

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". The essay expresses central theme of the book — the corrosive effects of populist politics and laissez faire capitalism. Carlyle also attacked the prison system, 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.


The essays are:

  • The present time
  • Model prisons
  • Downing street
  • The new Downing street
  • Stumporator
  • Parliaments
  • Hudson's statue
  • Jesuitism


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.

External links[edit]

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). "article name needed". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne.