According to Carlyle, a Hudson's statue would inform his contemporaries of the true nature of universal suffrage, which is the particular target of this Latter-Day Pamphlet. Carlyle, who had decisively tumed from his earlier radical sympathies to embrace the reactionary political beliefs for which he is generally known, claims that giving the vote to everyone is but "a scheme to substitute for the revelation of God's etemal Law, the official dedaration of the account of heads! It is as if men had abdicated their right to attempt following the abovesaid Law, and with melancholy resignation had agreed to give it up, and take temporary peace and good agreement as a substitute" (20.274). For Carlyle of The Latter-Day Pamphlets, the fact that Englishmen subscribed to build a statue of the Railway King means, in essence, that they have fallen away from God (or whatever it is that he defines as God) . As he explains in terms which parody the New Testament,

Know whom to honour and emulate and follow, know whom to dishonour and avoid, and coerce under hatches, as a foul rebellious thing: this is all the Law and all the Prophets. All conceivable evangels, bibles, homiletics, liturgies and litanies, and temporal and spiritual law-books for a man or people, issue practically here.

Carlyle, who devoted his later career to biographies of heroes such as Frederick, and Cromwell whom he could honor, uses "Hudson's Statue, " as he uses all The Latter-Day Pamphlets, to instruct his contemporaries "whom to dishonour and avoid, and coerce under hatches, as a foul rebellious thing"ß (20.279). Since, unlike revolutionaries and working-class radicals, he is unwilling to follow the people, he must find someone else to honor and emulate, and the central problem of his later career is that he cannot find anyone in contemporary Britain worthy of his faith. For all his writing about brave, self-sacrificing captains of industry and heroes and hero worship, Carlyle never found anyone worthy of his faith.

References

Landow, George. Victorian Types, Victorian Shadows: Biblical Typology in Victorian Literature, Art, and Thought (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980). Follow for complete on-line version].


Victorian Overview Thomas Carlyle Hudson's Statue

Last modified 23 October 2002