[Chapter 2, note 12, of the author's Carlyle and the Search for Authority, which the Ohio State University Press published in 1991. It appears in the Victorian web with the kind permission of the author, who of course retains copyright. indicates a link to material not in the original print version. GPL]

Not long thereafter, according to another late report, Carlyle admitted to his friend Irving that he had lost his faith in Christianity (Rem., 225). Note, however, that David Masson reports the episode as the end of a process rather than a critical event in itself, claiming that it was "from that first well-remembered reading of Gibbon in twelve days, at the rate of a volume a day, that he dated the extirpation from his mind of the last remnant that had been left in it of the orthodox belief in miracles" (263-64). What counts here is the imaginative reconstitution of events, not their "reality." There is no precise date at which one can fix Carlyle's loss of faith; we know only from the letters that the sufferings of disbelief intensified around 18 19 (see EL, 1: 6468; Kaplan, 48-59; Allingham, Diary, 232, 253, 268; Wilson, 1:78, 132-33, 145-47).


Contents last modified 23 October 2002