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.[2] 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".[3] The essay expresses central theme of the book — the corrosive effects of populist politics and of a culture driven by greed.[4] Carlyle also attacked the prison system,[5] 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 (1 February 1850)
  • No. 2. Model Prisons (1 March 1850)
  • No. 3. Downing Street (1 April 1850)
  • No. 4. The New Downing Street (15 April 1850)
  • No. 5. Stump-Orator (1 May 1850)
  • No. 6. Parliaments (1 June 1850)
  • No. 7. Hudson's Statue (1 July 1850)
  • No. 8. Jesuitism (1 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. ^  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. 
  3. ^ Lambert, Richard Stanton (1934). The Railway King, 1800-1871. London: G. Allen & Unwin ltd.
  4. ^ Cumming, Mark (2004). "Latter-Day Pamphlets." In: The Carlyle Encyclopedia. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, p. 271.
  5. ^ Seigel, Jules (1976). "Carlyle's Model Prison and Prisoners Identified," Victorian Periodicals Newsletter 9 (3), pp. 81–83.

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]