< From the "Irish Question" to "The Nigger Question"

decorated initial 'w' hen Carlyle finished seeing the first edition of "Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches" through the press in August 1845, it seemed for a short while that he had indeed succeeded in bringing Cromwell to life. Carlyle had almost certainly been thinking of his own time when he wrote in the Letters and Speeches that "to them, and to us, there can only one thing be done: search be made, Whether there is any King, Könning, Canning, or Supremely Able-Man that you can fall in with" (2:286). Peel now seemed ready to fill that role by abrogating the Corn Laws in fulfillment of the prophecy Carlyle had made in 1841. But the politics of the nineteenth century would not permit Peel to make himself either king or lord protector, and just six months after finishing Cromwell, Carlyle felt that he must act on his own to release "imprisoned" heroism (see LDP, 335)

To reinforce the symbolic relationship between Peel and Cromwell and to encourage Peel to emulate Cromwell, Carlyle sent him a copy of the second edition of the Letters and Speeches in May 1846, the month the Corn Laws were repealed. The letter that accompanied his book encouraged Peel to assume the role of hero, to act forcefully rather than waste his time with parliamentary speech-making (LL, 1:402-3; see Seigel, "Carlyle and Peel").fn48 Carlyle would have liked to see Peel deal with Parliament as Cromwell had. In spite of their loyalty to Cromwell and the Puritan cause, Cromwell's parliaments, not unlike the reform parliaments of the 1840s, proved unable to act because they [121/122] became enmeshed in debate. Instead ofarguing with his deadlocked parliaments, Cromwell took action, simply dissolving them (3:194, 4:179-80). Yet Peel could not even maintain discipline in his own party, let alone dissolve Parliament and rule England through majorgenerals. On the contrary, repeal of the Corn Laws brought a swift end to his ministry and virtually ended his political career. Although Carlyle hoped that Peel would return to power, an aim that Latter-Day Pamphlets was partly intended to effect, he could not help but see in Peel's fall the rejection of his own political program.

Carlyle soon discovered that, although readers were impressed and persuaded by his representation of the seventeenth-century Cromwell, they had no desire for a Cromwell of their own. Robert Vaughn's notice in the British Quarterly Review was typical. He praised Carlyle's scholarly ability and was persuaded that Cromwell's religious piety was sincere, but he disparaged Carlyle's "endless lamentation over modern degeneracy" as well as "his prostrate adoration before the real or imaginary greatness of bygone days," and treated the attempt to make Cromwell live for the nineteenth century — for Carlyle the sole purpose of the book — as an irrelevant deviation from history (Seigel, Critical Heritage, 271). Carlyle concluded that "Nobody on the whole 'believes my report.' The friendliest reviewers, I can see, regard me as a wonderful athlete, a ropedancer whose perilous somersets it is worth sixpence ... to see; or at most I seem to them a desperate half mad, if usefullish fireman, rushing along the ridge tiles in a frightful manner to quench the burning chimney. Not one of them all can or will do the least to help me" (LL, 1:452-53). The public now respected Cromwell, but, as he was to reflect bitterly in "Hudson's Statue," it did not worship him.

If, in the absence of Peel, Carlyle were to play the role of Cromwell, he would need once again to seek a means of turning writing into action. The rhetoric he employed in "The Negro/Nigger Question" and Latter-Day Pamphlets seeks to coerce and attack rather than persuade and convert his audience. In the process of developing this rhetoric, he also transformed what was originally a plan for a sympathetic analysis of the "Irish Question" into the antagonistic "Negro/ Nigger Question" and the apocalyptic Latter-Day Pamphlets.

The "Irish Question," particularly the issue of repeal of the union between England and Ireland, was a major issue in the 1840s. From the time of Sartor Resartus, in which he represented the poor as Irish [126/127] peasants, to 1848, when he lamented the influx of indigents driven out of Ireland by irresponsible landlords, Carlyle had considered the condition of Ireland a key to understanding the condition of England (SR, 283-84; Marrs, 668). In spite of the fact that he held the Irish aristocracy responsible for the poverty of Ireland, he opposed the repeal of the union of England and Ireland that would pave the way for Irish self-determination.fn49 As usual, he forged a position between the two parties. In 1845, he had become acquainted with several leaders of the Young Ireland movement, visiting them in Ireland in 1846. In 1849, he offended the government, which also opposed repeal, by touring Ireland with Gavan Duffy, an Irish nationalist who remained his lifelong friend. But, during the same tour, he privately depicted Duffy's associates as "canaille" (Bliss, 250). At first he argued, as he had in Past and Present, that the problem was not essentially political or economic, but moral:

For it is want of sense and honesty, not want of potatoes, that we now suffer under," he wrote in 1847, "all the yearly potatoes of the British Empire are supposed to be worth some 20, or 25 or 30 millions; and all the yearly harvest of the British Empire . - - must be between 200 and 300 millions: — a Nation, one would say, that reaped such a harvest (good all of it, except the potatoes) last year, and had so many Manchester and other big Workshops going,-this Nation should not die for the loss of a few potatoes, if it had 'sense and honesty' in it!"

Yet he had lost hope that he could convert his contemporaries and restore to them the "moral sense" he had called for in Past and Present.

During 1846-47, Carlyle prepared himself to write a book on Ireland, but it was not until the revolutions of 1848 that he finally set to work in earnest.fn51 No sooner had he heard the news of the first uprising on the Continent than he returned to his journal after a long period of silence to set down four possible writing projects, three of which were concerned with the condition of England: "Ireland: Spiritual Sketches," which would examine the misery of Ireland in terms of its spiritual history; "Exodus from Houndsditch," on the need to rid England of its old clothes (Houndsditch was the district where used clothing was sold), particularly institutional Christiani ty; and "The Scavenger Age," on the need to clean the metaphoric gutters of England as the "indispensable beginning of all" reform (LL, 1:455; Kaplan, 33'2)In March, he rejoiced to hear of the revolution in France, responding with jubilant letters to his friends and a newspaper article on the dethroned [127/128] Louis-Philippe. At home, the Irish nationalists attempted an uprising, and Chartism, preparing its third and final petition, threatened violence. This time, he hoped, revolution, having completed the destruction of outworn authority, would discover a new Cromwell who would prove that the "righteous gods do still rule this earth." 52

In April and May, he wrote a series of articles on Ireland that shocked and offended not only his Irish acquaintances but his old friend John Stuart Mill (see Tarr, "Carlyle and Henry M'Cormac"). He argued that repeal of the union of England and Ireland was another instance of the government abdicating its responsibility to govern, that what was needed was not less government but better government. No one could have been surprised that he opposed repeal; his arguments against it are entirely consistent with his previous writings. But what his friends were probably not prepared for was the tone of the articles, the strenuousness with which he insisted that "Eternal law," the "Law of the Universe," "the laws of fact," and "the inexorable gods" had decreed the unity of England and Ireland and laid upon England a "terrible job of labour," to create order in Ireland (Shepherd, 2:379-380, 381, 383, 377). Putting his paternalism at the service of imperialism, he argued that the Irish must either "become British," or-and here he certainly had his defense of Cromwell at Drogheda in mind become "extinct; cut off by the inexorable gods" (383).

Mill immediately recognized the "new phasis" of Carlyle's writings. Whereas Carlyle had previously placed the blame for England's problems on the aristocracy, he now was arguing that the aristocracy alone could solve these problems: "Instead of telling of the sins and errors of England, and warning her of 'wrath to come,' as he has been wont to do, he preaches the divine Messiahship of England." Mill also recognized that Carlyle longed for a Cromwell to fill the messianic role, but objected that Lord Russell was no Cromwell and that the same England that had mismanaged the governing of Ireland for centuries seemed unlikely to succeed any better now (Newspaper Writings, 1096, 1098-99). Mill could not have been expected to realize that Carlyle was calling for the return of Peel.

However, Carlyle's last remaining hope that the breakdown of government would permit a new Cromwell to emerge was crushed when it became clear in the summer of 1848 that the revolutions had failed. The French had replaced Louis Philippe not with a hero but with a conventional government. The crisis in Britain had not even been sufficient [128/129] to unseat Russell, let alone provide an opening for Peel. Rather than heeding the demand for reform, Russell simply suppressed the opposition, jailing the Irish rebels, including Carlyle's friend Gavan Duffy, and the leaders of the Chartists.

In the spring of 1849, Carlyle decided that his ideas "might perhaps get nearer to some way of utterance if [he] were looking face to face upon the ruin and wretchedness that [was] prevalent" in Ireland (LL, 1:490- Although he had never been more desperate to addres; the problems of his era, he still could not decide how to approach them. As early as 1846, he was complaining, "I am at the bottom, and nothing is yet said I" and, three years later, that "a Book is sticking in my heart, which cannot get itself written at all; and till that be written there is no hope of peace or benefit for me anywhere" (Marrs, 635; Duffy, 135). He had produced a great deal of manuscript and the series of newspaper articles, but the feeling that he was getting nowhere oppressed him so much that he felt as if he had been utterly idle (LL, 1:436-37, 452; LMSB, 282; RWE, 437; Faulkner, 168, 169, 170). Yet although he felt that he "ought to go and ... must go" to Ireland, he anticipated that he would not "find much new knowledge" there (LL, 1:491; see NL, 2:70). His anticipation was fulfilled, perhaps even desired. Although he considered Ireland "the notablest of all spots in the world at present," he found himself upon his return "farther from speech on any subject than ever" and never wrote the book on Ireland (Duffy, 135; RWE, 455)

The surviving manuscripts reveal Carlyle's inability to imagine constructive approaches to England's problems. While he had initially intended to analyze the Irish Question in terms of religious belief-in a series of "spiritual sketches"-he kept turning to the old problems: laissez-faire political and economic policy. He no longer could persuade himself that religious belief alone, or literature, would solve England's problems, and concluded that "Plugson," whom he had imagined converting in Past and Present, had gained "almost no insight into the laws of this universe whatever" ("Rakes," fol. 12).55 "The Negro Question" and Latter-Day Pamphlets manifest Carlyle's despair at being unable to effect any meaningful change.

In November of 1849, still worried that what he had written thus far was "wrongish, every word" of it, but feeling that he needed to 11 give vent to" himself, Carlyle decided to proceed with publication of a series of pamphlets (LL, 2:24; NL, 2:86). Serial publication allowed [129/130] him to go ahead with publication at a time when he still had not worked out a complete plan of the work. His original plan to publish twelve pamphlets suggests an attempt to give the work an epic structure, but although the desire to write a new epic was there, the vision was lacking. Even as he wrote the sixth pamphlet he still had no plan for a conclusion, and he abandoned the project after completing only eight.fn56 Whereas Past and Present had moved toward a conclusion in which Carlyle imagined and represented the conversion of his audience, Latter-Day Pamphlets never reached a conclusion. Instead of attempting to create a community of fellow believers-as he had sought to do when he moved to London in 1834 — he went on the attack against his contemporaries for failing to understand him. In part, he was angry because they had not understood the real message of Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches; in part, he was venting on his audience his frustration at his inability to achieve something with his writing. He saw himself beset by a public that was determined to cause him pain and to keep him from writing, the only means he possessed "to defend [him]self against the world without, and keep it from overwhelming [him], as it often threatens to do" (LL, 1:476-77) — "1 mean to hurt nobody, I," he wrote a few months later, "and the hurt that others (involuntarily for most part) do me is incalculable.... It seems as if all things were combining against me to hinder any book or free deliverance of myself I might have in view at present" (LL, 1:483-84). In the Latter-Day Pamphlets, the speaker is not the prophet warning his audience of the day of reckoning to come, but the divine scourge itself, "rag[ing]" and "growl[ing]" at his audience, and running verbal "red-hot poker[s]" through its cherished beliefs (LDP, 315, 21; NL, 2:85).57

Whereas Carlyle represents the audience of Past and Present as morally inadequate but capable of discovering moral truth, he represents the audience of Latter-Day Pamphlets as permanently blinded, fools and "blockheads" (e.g., 265). In Past and Present, he creates at least the semblance of debate between his avatars and his audience; in Latter-Day Pamphlets he tends to cut off debate. While he employs once again a wide range of fictional personae, his handling of Quashee, the Duke of Trumps, the Hon. Hickory Buckskin, Duncan M'Pastehorn, Friend Heavyside, and Gathercoal is far more satirical and heavyhanded than the use of Plugson of Undershot or Friend Prudence in Past and Present. The Carlyle of Latter-Day Pamphlets hopes that "one [130/131] in the thousand" will "see . . . what [he] see[s]" and "forgive" him for berating them, but he is never able to envision this moment as he had in Past and Present; he has despaired of converting Plugson (296). Although he reintroduces the captains of industry as an incipient aristocracy in the first pamphlet, he no longer addresses, or manifests any faith in, a specific class in which he hopes to find converts (35; see 24). Rather than imagining the industrial middle class as leaders who will reshape society, he imagines that some higher authority will have to "force" them "to co6perate" with the state and its "public Captains" (166).

The rhetorical strategy of these works is to test his audience in order to discover whether they belong to the elect and to drive away unbelievers. The altered relationship between Carlyle and his audience can be observed in "The Nigger Question," which he framed as a discourse delivered before a philanthropic audience dedicated to the abolition of slavery, the "UNIVERSAL ABOLITION-OF-PAIN ASSOCIATION." This speech is punctuated with representations of audience reactions modeled on the simulated audience responses Carlyle had interpolated into Cromwell's speeches. In the resulting metanarrative, the audience of the fictional speaker dwindles steadily until only a "small remnant"-suggestive of the "saving remnant of Israel" — remains to give assent to his doctrines (see August 21, 33) — If this is a reflection of Carlyle's recognition that "The Negro Question" and Latter-Day Pamphlets had driven away many of his faithful readers, it also reveals something about the technique of these works, in which the speaker does not seek to convert but to test his audience, to discover the saving remnant.

Unable to convert his contemporaries, Carlyle cut himself off from them, leaving himself a "minority of one" (CME, 4:348; see HHW, 61). In "dissent from all the world," he insisted that he could no longer be identified with or accepted by conventional parties, sects, and institutions, even the literary vehicles in which he had so often appeared (LL, 2:24). While in the 183os he had been frustrated when editors refused to accept his writings, he now proudly claimed that "There is no Newspaper that can stand my articles, no single Newspaper that they would not blow the bottom out of in a short while!" (LL, 1:470) .59 Where he had once hoped to astonish all parties, he now wanted to alienate them: "All the twaddling sects of the country, from Swedenborgians to Jesuits, have for the last ten years been laying claim to 'T. Carlyle,' each for itself; and now they will all find that said 'T.' [131/132] belongs to a sect of his own, which is worthy of instant damnation" (NLI 1: 86-87) — With Latter-Day Pamphlets, which cuts off speakers and allows only Carlyle's own personae to speak, Carlyle locked himself up once more in a world even more isolated than Craigenputtoch.

Carlyle's self-enclosure manifests itself in Latter-Day Pamphlets in the reduction of the dialogue between the narrator and the many factions of English society to a dialogue with himself. The principal audience is the prime minister-Carlyle frequently addresses "your Lordship"yet the prime minister he imagines is ultimately himself. Latter-Day Pamphlets envisions a prime minister modeled on Cromwell who will reform "Downing Street" and regiment the nation. In addressing and dramatizing the prime minister, Carlyle has in mind three figures: the incumbent Russell, his predecessor Peel, and himself. He addresses several appeals to Russell, but he has no desire to reform him. Russell, he claims, has donned the "battle-harness" of Cromwell but does not really intend to do battle against anarchy and will never be capable of governing (123).fn60 Russell should be turned out in favor of "the one likely man or possible man to reform" Downing Street, "King" Peel (92; see 97). Peel would reestablish hierarchy by animating "intelligent circles" of followers through whom he would transmit his plans for reform and establish social order. But, although Carlyle appears to sustain some hope that Peel will return to office, his representation of the Cromwellian prime minister has less to do with Peel's parliamentary initiatives than with his own fantasies about what he would do if "they were to make [him] Cromwell of it all" (CL, 14:47).

Although Latter-Day Pamphlets is overtly an argument for making Peel prime minister, it is more subtly an argument for a prime minister modeled on the Carlylean persona. Carlyle's identification with Burns and his lament that the man of letters does not have a more active career available to him, together with his argument that men like Burns, who are "born king[s] of men" should not be excluded from governing merely because they come from the "lowest and broadest stratum of Society," become arguments in favor of his own eligibility for public office (118). The speech by the prime minister that concludes the first pamphlet, "The Present Time," could never have been uttered by Russell or Peel; it belongs entirely to the Carlyle who indulges throughout the Pamphlets in imagining what he would do if he "had a commonwealth to reform or to govern" (58). Not surprisingly, a good deal of Cromwell is infused into this persona. When the prime [134/133] minister of this speech warns his audience of Irish paupers that, if they continue to disobey him, he will "admonish," "flog," and "if still in vain ... shoot" them, he is repeating Cromwell's warning to the Irish at Drogheda: "Refuse to obey [the laws], I will not let you continue living" (LDP, 46; OCLS, 2:54) .61

A number of critics have argued convincingly that, while Carlyle's social analyses remain much the same in Latter-Day Pamphlets, his rhetoric has changed (LaValley, 279-86; Levine, "Use and Abuse," 117-23; Goldberg, "A Universal 'howl,"' 138). Yet it would be wrong to stop with an analysis of the rhetoric of these works. Although in many regards Carlyle's arguments do remain the same, their emphasis has shifted in significant ways. What made and makes these works offensive is that changes in the nature of his analyses of freedom, of the necessity of work, and of social responsibility shift the blame for social problems from the ruling classes to the working class, and in the process resort to racial stereotyping. Although his conception of industrial regiments, which would "regenerate" society and produce a theocratic "Civitas Del," is an extention of the idea of building a "green flowery world" with which he had concluded Past and Present, it shifts the source of the labor from the ruling class-the captains-to the poverty-stricken laboring class (159, 166).fn62 The shift in his military metaphors is telling. In Past and Present, where he was concerned with "captains of industry," he attacked and sought to reform the ruling classes. In Latter-Day Pamphlets, where he proposes empressing the unemployed in "Industrial Regiments," he attacks and seeks to control the poor. Because he would force all able-bodied paupers to enlist, his proposal for industrial regiments, which would impose a hierarchical military order on industry, is in effect a proposal for establishing slavery in England (41-43). It is, in fact, of a piece with his arguments against abolition in "The Negro/Nigger Question."

"The Negro/Nigger Question" takes up the discourse of the debate on the nature of freedom touched off by the abolition movement. At the center of this debate, which began in the 1770s and developed further in the early nineteenth century, was the analogy between slaves and factory workers widely used both by defenders of slavery and critics of industry. Political economists, who defined freedom in strictly economic terms as the freedom to buy and sell one's labor in the marketplace, generally regarded abolition of slavery as an extension [133/34] of laissez-faire principle. Critics of the laissez-faire marketplace, and of industry in particular, challenged this notion of freedom, arguing that slaves were better off than the majority of English laborers, who were slaves of necessity, as the simple need to survive deprived them of their theoretical freedom to seek better employment. Carlyle, like his predecessors in this debate, often gives an ironic intonation to the word free by putting it in quotation marks, implying that the freedom offered by emancipation is only nominal, that it would not free slaves from the hardships of human existence (LDP, 24, 40).

The slaves-of-necessity argument was used by anti-abolitionists to argue that slavery was no different than industrial labor, and by critics of industry, like Coleridge, to argue that slavery should be abolished and industrial capitalism regulated. Both Coleridge and Carlyle attempted to define freedom in ethical rather than economic terms, but they could do no better than claim that freedom was "best expressed and enforced through a traditional hierarchy of social relationships that defined one's 'duty"' (Gallagher, 18). The "free man," Carlyle writes, "is he who is loyal to the Laws of this Universe" (LDP, 251). When Carlyle supported slavery, he was not really departing from Coleridge's position but admitting more frankly that the hierarchical social order they both desired, harkening back as it did to medieval serfdom, entailed a form of slavery. He thus inverts Coleridge, arguing, in effect, that slavery should be extended to the British working class.

Latter-Day Pamphlets and "The Nigger Question" represent the relationship between masters and laborers through the metaphor of farmers and horses, a transformation of the metaphor of horse and halterrepresenting rebellion and authority-that Carlyle had developed in the 1830s. When, in Sartor Resartus, the young sansculotte Teufelsdröckh rejects the constraints of the law, he is depicted as a "colt" who breaks off his "neck-halter"; and, in The French Revolution, the French people are depicted as "gin-horses" who rear up when threatened with the "whip" (SR, 12 1; FR, 1: 5). In Sartor Resartus, Carlyle also points out that whereas a manufacturer will lay off his workers and let them starve during a slack season, horse owners would never think of neglecting their horses just because they have no work for them (230). In Chartism and Past and Present, Carlyle combined the two figures to suggest that treating horses according to the principles of laissez-faire-abandoning them to survive through the winter when [134/135]one has no work for them-would lead to a horse rebellion, horses "leaping fences" and "eating foreign property" (CME, 4:142, 158; PP, 27; see 277). Horses would bejustified in rebelling because they need to eat, he implies, but rebellion is not necessary if masters do their duty. In Latter-Day Pamphlets, and later in "The Nigger Question," he appears much less concerned that the horses might eventually starve than that they refuse to work for Farmer Hodge and are "wasting the seedfields of the world" (LDP, 27). The analogy is no longer an argument against laissez-faire so much as an extension of the proslavery argument against the emancipation of slaves. Whereas the Carlyle of 1830, the struggling author, had identified with the rebellious horse, the Carlyle of 1850 identifies with the agrarian capitalist.fn64

Carlyle's desire to rationalize his proposal for industrial regiments led him to take up positions that contradicted his critique of political economy. The situation in the West Indies provided the opportunity to shift the focus of his analysis. He had long argued that the English poor were starving because employers failed to provide for them in times of dearth when employment was not available, but the situation in the Indies was different. The West Indians were refusing the work offered them because they preferred to work for themselves, to establish their own subsistence economy. Carlyle argues that they are refusing the only real work available to them, that their work, as opposed to that done by English planters, is not productive: "the gods wish beside pumpkins, that spices and valuable products be grown," and so the English have produced "fruit spicy and commercial, fruit spiritual and celestial" (CME, 4:375, 373; emphasis added). But, as Mill immediately perceived, Carlyle's argument relies upon the assumption that spices and sugar are more valuable because they are "commercial," because they have value in the capitalist economy, a startling contradiction of his belief that value cannot be defined in economic terms (Essays on Equality, 90, 92). fn65

Carlyle's advocacy of forced labor-in the guise of prime minister he warns the idle Irish that he will make them work-similarly reverses his earlier critiques of the political economists (LDP, 44)- Whereas he had once argued that the poor were forced by -circumstances (e.g., that no work was available) to go on relief, in 1849 he complains that the "one or two thousand great hulks of men lying piled up within brick walls" of the workhouse in Killarney simply refuse to work (RIJ, 77; see 175-76). But, once again, work has become allied to capital [135/135] ist production-his industrial regiments produce "green crops, and fresh butter and milk and beef without limit"-rather than a means of realizing an ideal social order (LDP, 46; see CME, 4:355-56, 377-78). Carlyle's "green flowery world" is a capitalist utopia built with forced labor.

Carlyle's loss of sympathy for the poor makes itself manifest everywhere in Latter-Day Pamphlets. In Past and Present, he had attacked those who denied their kinship-their "sisterhood"-with the Irish widow, but in Latter-Day Pamphlets he denies his kinship with the Chartists arrested by Russell in 1848: "In brotherhood with the base and foolish 1, for one, do not mean to live" (PP, 151; LDP, 66; see 77)In Past and Present, he could sympathize with a poor couple guilty of murdering their children for insurance money, arguing that the guilt lay equally with the social system that drove them to this act, but he now attacks those who lament the plight of seamstresses (PP, 9-10; LDP, 2 7). Carlyle insists in Latter-Day Pamphlets (and later in the 1853 "Nigger Question") that it is the greed of these distressed seamstresses, who have given up goodjobs as servants, rather than the greed of employers that is responsible for their poverty. Yet he adduces nothing but anecdotal evidence on behalf of his argument and fails to see, as he might have ten years earlier, that the seamstresses might be justified in rejecting an oppressive servitude.fn66

Significantly, Carlyle holds those with the least power in British domains — women, Irish, and blacks-responsible for its social ills. Moreover, he exploits his own as well as his culture's racial prejudices in order to reinforce his criticisms of the poor and unemployed. Although he denied the charge of racism in Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches and the 1853 "Nigger Question," it can be readily demonstrated that he employed racial stereotyping and the premise of racial hierarchy to justify his defense of slavery and his proposals for industrial regiments.

Carlyle's racism is most evident in "The Negro Question," which argues that blacks "have to be servants to those that are born wiser than [they], that are born lords of [them]" (CME, 4:379). Even after Mill publicly criticized these imputations of racial inferiority — he was quick to point out that Carlyle was treating cultural traits as natural ones — Carlyle continued to insist, in Latter-Day Pamphlets, that blacks were slaves by the authority of God (Essays on Equality, 92-93; LDP, [136/137] 248-49). "The Nigger Question" did not substantially alter this view. Although he now claimed that he did not "hate the Negro"-and there is no reason to believe he was being insincere-he continued to depict blacks as racially inferior.67 The problem in discussions of Carlyle's racial attitudes is that it is incorrectly assumed by his defenders that an absence of racial hatred is incompatible with the presence of racial prejudice. Carlyle was not being inconsistent; the claim that one loves one's inferiors is the foundation of paternalism.

Carlyle's prejudice against Celts enabled him to substitute the West Indian blacks of "The Negro/Nigger Question" for the Irish of the projected book on the Irish Question. A letter to Emerson, writtenjust after his 1849 visit to Ireland, reveals how the two groups were related to one another in his mind: "'Blacklead these 2 million idle beggars,' I sometimes advised, 'and sell them in Brazil as Niggers,-perhaps Parliament, on sweet constraint, will allow you to advance them to be Niggers!'" (RWE, 456). He made it clear elsewhere that he believed he and his Annandale forebears were descended from the Danish rather than the Celtic settlers of Scotland: "The Annandale Scotch ... are all Danes ... stalwart Normans: terrible Sea-Kings are now terrible drainers of Morasses, terrible spinners of yarn, coal-borers, removers of mountains.... The windy Celts of Galloway meet us, not many miles from this, on the edge of Nithsdale: is it not a considerable blessing to have escaped being born a Celt?" (CL, 13:192; see 278-79 and n. 2). Although he recognized that subjection to unjust landlords might be responsible for the development of undesirable cultural traits, nonetheless, as early as Chartism, he represented the Irish stereotypically as "Immethodic, headlong, violent, mendacious" (CME, 4:137). By 1849, in spite of his friendship with and admiration for Gavan Duffy, he had come to consider the majority of Irish as incorrigible beggars, reduced 68 to "deceptive human swine" (RIJ, 176; see 193) .

Carlyle seems to conclude that if the transcendental word cannot persuade the poor to work, it can only be because they are racially incapable of vision. His caricatures of blacks and Irish as well as the impoverished working class insist that they, like Cagliostro, merely eat and drink, that they consume rather than create. In "The Negro/ Nigger Question," the blacks of the West Indies loll about eating pumpkin, and in Latter-Day Pamphlets, paupers, seamstresses, and the Irish are drunkards who turn down every opportunity to do honest work [137/138] (e.g., 28, 39-40; see August, xviii-xix). Whereas Carlyle had earlier sought to convert the middle class, he now turned to trying to coerce the working class (LDP, 93-94; see RIJ, i 2o; CME, 4:355-57, 375-76).

The Carlyle who had once recoiled from the Bucanier morality of the middle class now recoils from the "ape-faces, imp-faces, angry dog-faces, heavy sullen ox-faces" of a monstrous and bestial working class (LDP, 55). The rhetoric of Latter-Day Pamphlets, as manifested in the passage just cited, dehumanizes the working class, depicting the poor as animals, or even inanimate offal. "Pauperism" becomes the poisonous dripping from all the sins, and putrid unveracities and godforgetting greedinesses and devil-serving cants andiesuitisms, that exist among us" (158). In spite of the fact that, as Carlyle must have known, the foul odors, slime, ooze, and fetid effluvia to which he repeatedly alludes were the inescapable conditions of life in the povertystricken districts of major cities, in the Pamphlets he transfers what had once been a revulsion against the putridness of greed to the poison of poverty (27-28, 159, 164, 167).

Carlyle's anger against the working class was rooted in his contradictory desire for a revolution that would complete the Puritan revolution by reestablishing hierarchical authority. Although he had demonstrated in The French Revolution, and even in Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches, that revolution unleashes anarchy that cannot be controlled except by repression, he had continued to hope that revolution could reestablish authority. The anger of Latter-Day Pamphlets manifests his bitter disappointment that the revolutions of 1848 did not bring England a new Cromwell. Whereas in 1789 the French people had risen up and rid themselves of false government, he complained, the people now let themselves be the "dupes" of "Sham-Kings" (12, 11; see 13-14). Latter-Day Pamphlets argues for the use of the "whip" to control the rebellious working classes and simultaneously brandishes the whip at them because they have failed to rebel.

This contradiction is most fully evident in the final Pamphlet, "Jesuitism," which unexpectedly sides with sansculottism. rather than authority. On the face of it, Ignatius Loyola might be one of Carlyle's heroes. At a time when belief was being challenged, Loyola-using the same metaphor Carlyle favored when he conceived the "industrial regiments" — had created a symbolic army to defend the hierarchical authority of the pope against "Sansculottism" (330). Indeed, Carlyle cannot help praising the Jesuits' emphasis on obedience to authority. [138/139] But, of course, Loyola was fighting against the Reformation that had produced his beloved Puritans. He therefore attacks Loyola on the grounds that the authority Loyola served was a sham and defines "Jesuitism" as the practice of sustaining the pretense of authority in institutions that no longer possess it. Although he names the practice after the Jesuits, the pamphlet is, in fact, an attack on the Church of England, the chief practitioner of jesuitism in Victorian Eng!and. Much as he fears anarchy, Carlyle takes the side of the sansculottes, because they intended to reinstate the authority that had vanished from the churches of Rome and England. Latter-Day Pamphlets expresses the anger and frustration of a man who, expecting apocalyptic revolution to produce epic society, had in 1848 seen revolution debased from tragedy to farce.

The contradictory impulses of "The Negro Question" and LatterDay Pamphlets also emerge in Carlyle's attitude toward his own authority. At certain moments, his inflated sense of authority makes him capable of imagining himself ruling England as a Cromwell, while at other moments his doubts about the authority of literature lead him to question the entire enterprise of writing social criticism. On the one hand, as Mill recognized when reading "The Negro Question," Carlyle was now writing as if he possessed transcendental authority: "The author issues his opinions, or rather ordinances, under imposing auspices; no less than those of the'immortal gods. "The Powers," the Destinies,' announce through him, not only what will be, but what shall be done" (Essays on Equality, 87).fn69 But Mill did not seem to realize that Carlyle's exaggerated claims to authority may have been intended to cover up his anxiety that he lacked any authority at all. When Latter-Day Pamphlets attacks English literature for failing to transform the heroic actions of the English into a written epic, it implicitly draws attention to Carlyle's failure in regard to Cromwell (281-82, 322-27). If the Latter-Day Pamphlets express his anger at his contemporaries for failing to discover a Cromwell, they also express anger at himself for failing to convince them that they need one.

Mill's response to Carlyle's persistent command that the poor work must have hit home: "I do not include under the name labour," wrote Mill, "such work, if work it be called, as is done by writers and afforders of 'guidance,' an occupation which, let alone the vanity of the thing, cannot be called by the same name with the real labour, the exhausting, stiffening, stupefying toil of many kinds of agricultural and manufac turing [139/140] labourers" (Essays on Equality, 91; see August, xxvi-xxvii). Is writing, even writing social criticism, work?

Carlyle himself had long been apprehensive that it was not, that speech or writing could never become action but always displaced and deferred it, and he dedicated one pamphlet, "Stump-Orator," to this question. Perhaps recalling how as a young student he had aspired to achieve "glory in literature," he now rues an educational establishment that entices young men into the literary profession by telling them that they will "astonish mankind" (172). "[There never was a talent even for real Literature," he replies, "but was primarily a talent for something infinitely better of the silent kind," while defending himself against Mill's charge by claiming that no other profession is open to men of talent (212; see 190-91). In the conclusion of "Stump Orator," Carlyle virtually acknowledges that his time has passed,'that his opportunity to become a heroic Cromwell has been wasted in his enslavement to literature. He leaves the future to the young: they "are in the happy case to learn to be something and to do something, instead of eloquently talking about what has been and was done and may be! The old are what they are, and will not alter; our hope is in you " (213) .fn70 Carlyle, age fifty-five, clearly includes himself among the old who can only talk eloquently about "what has been" (Abbot Samson, Oliver Cromwell) or "what may be" (a green flowery world). If the author of Latter-Day Pamphlets always seems to be on the attack, it may be because he believes, at bottom, that his words are impotent.

In moving to London in 1834, Carlyle had hoped to "commune" with fellow souls, but by the time he wrote Latter-Day Pamphlets he felt cut off from almost everyone. Whereas The French Revolution established his authority, "The Negro Question" and Latter-Day Pamphlets expressed his suspicion that his authority was specious and served in turn to undermine that authority in the minds of the reading public. His relationship with Mill, whom he met rarely in the 184os and almost never afterward, is exemplary. just one decade after writing the rave review of The French Revolution that confirmed Carlyle's reputation as a major writer, Mill felt compelled to rebut publicly the views Carlyle put forth in "The Repeal of the Union" and "The Negro Question." Carlyle later regarded the period following the publication of Latter-Day Pamphlets as a time when even friends whose political views were much closer to his own than Mill's, friends like Forster and Spedding, "fell away ... into terror and surprise;-as indeed every [140/141] body did" (Rem., 126; Spedding, 753; see NLM, 2:14). As he at least half intended, "The Negro Question" and Latter-Day Pamphlets drove away those who were not of his faith; but instead of leaving behind a saving remnant, this strategy left him virtually alone. For the next fifteen years, he abandoned the attempt to address his contemporaries about the problems of the day and, turning inward, meditated on the authority of fathers and the careers of their sons.

Contents last modified 2002; reformatted 2006 & 2015