Throughout his essay, Thomas Carlyle inserts voices into his piece that are not actually there. One of the most notable examples of this is in the final two paragraphs of his essay when he first makes a plea for the "Commisioners of Sewers" to condemn the brazen statues of monsters polluting his city, and then gives voice to the decree that he wishes them to issue:

The Woods-and-Forests, or if not they, then the Commissioners of Sewers, Sanitary Board, Scavenger Board, Cleansing Committee, or whoever holds or call usurp a little of the aedile authority, — cannot some of them, in the name of sense and common decency, interfere at least thus far? Namely, to admonish the misguided citizens, subscribers to the next Brazen Monster, or sad sculptural solecism, the emblem of far sadder moral ones and exhort them, three successive times, to make warming-pans of it and repent; — or failing that, finding them obstinate, to say with authority:

Well then, persist; set up your Brazen Calf, ye misguided citizens, and worship it, you, since you will and can. But observe, let it be done in secret: not in public; we say, in secret, at your peril! You have pleased to create a new Monster into this world; but to make him patent to public view, we for our part beg not to please. Observe, therefore. Build a high enough brick case or joss-house for your Brazen calf; with undiaphanous walls, and lighted by sky-windows only: put your Monster into that, and keep him there. Thither go at your pleasure, there assemble yourselves, and worship your bellyful, you absurd idolaters; ruin your own souls only. and leave the poor Population alone; the poor speechless unconscious Population whom we are bound to protect, and will!

Questions

1. What is the effect this technique has on the reader?

2. How does Carlysle use this technique both for strategical and satirical objectives?

3. Are we to believe that any public decree would read like Carlyle suggests here?


Victorian Web Overview Thomas Carlyle Leading Questions

Last modified 25 September 2003