Many ancient religions followed the practice of sacrificing valuable goods, often lifestock, to spirits or divinities in orderto make ammends for the failings of believers. Carlyle, however, almost certainly refers to the Old Testament version of such compensatory sacrifices, which Victorian Christians ranging from Roman Catholics to a wide range of dissenting Protestant groups understood as prefiguring Christ and His sacrifice. William Holman Hunt's painting, The Scapegoat (1856), creates a devotional image out of the materials Carlyle here uses for satiric purposes.

Victorian Web Overview Thomas Carlyle Hudson's Statue

Last modified October 1993