Thomas Carlyle

Carlyle by Millais

(December 4, 1795 – February 5, 1881)

His venerable appearance, his utter independence, his doomladen view of the folly and triviality of the world, his powerful and idiosyncratic command of language, to which a strong Scottish accent lent unfamilar emphasis…were all manifestations of genius to which the Victorian imagination readily responded...”*

Injustice pays itself with frightful compound-interest.”^

Robespierre was sitting on a chair, with pistol-shot blown through not his head but his under-jaw; the suicidal hand had failed. With prompt zeal, not without trouble, we gather these wrecked Conspirators; fish up even Henriot and Augustin, bleeding and foul; pack them all, rudely enough, into carts; and shall, before sunrise, have them safe under lock and key. Amid shoutings and embracings.”**

(of Carlyle): “No one, surely, was ever such a master of belittlement. Even at his emptiest sneer (as when he said that Whitman ‘thought he was a big man because he lived in a big country’) the victim does seem to shrink a little.”^^

[* The National Trust, Carlyle’s House (1992)] [^ Heroes and Hero-Worship (1840)] [** The French Revolution (1837)] [^^ George Orwell, review of The Two Carlyles (1931)]


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