Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Carlyle, Much Lauded Man of Letters and a Disgrace to Humanity

Brad Delong on his inimitable Blog performs a useful service in revealing more dubious filth from Thomas Carlyle, lauded man of letters, but also a man of appalling views on poor people, black slaves, and economists. Read this short extract:

“Enemies of economics: Thomas Carlyle and his ‘Latter Day Pamphlets’:
[T]o these floods of Irish Beggars, Able-bodied Paupers, and nomadic Lackalls, now stagnating or roaming everywhere, drowning the face of the world (too truly) into an untenantable swamp and Stygian quagmire, has the Chief Governor of this country no word...?... Perhaps... the following...: Speech of the British Prime-Minister to the floods of Irish and other Beggars, the able-bodied Lackalls, nomadic or stationary, and the general assembly, outdoor and indoor, of the Pauper Populations of these Realms.

"Vagrant Lackalls, foolish most of you, criminal many of you, miserable all; the sight of you fills me with astonishment and despair. What to do with you I know not; long have I been meditating, and it is hard to tell. Here are some three millions of you, as I count.... The question, What to do with you? especially since the potato died, is like to break my heart!
"One thing, after much meditating, I have at last discovered.... Vagrant Lackalls, I at last perceive, all this that has been sung and spoken, for a long while, about enfranchisement, emancipation, freedom, suffrage, civil and religious liberty over the world, is little other than sad temporary jargon, brought upon us by a stern necessity,--but now ordered by a sterner to take itself away again a little. Sad temporary jargon, I say: made up of sense and nonsense,--sense in small quantities, and nonsense in very large... no better than fatal infinite nonsense eternally untrue. All men, I think, will soon have to quit this....’

Brad Delong comments:

“We are proud to have such enemies.
Note that this is not cherry-picked. Carlyle has much worse: his "Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question," for example.”

Need I say more? Congratulations to Brad delong for publicising Carlyle's views on Irish immigration in the 19th century. He has his imitators today who go on about 'threats' of Polish, Romanian and Bulgarian immigration today with equal empty credibility.

I shall return to Brad’s posting and his comment on Carlyle's notorious essay (1849) in my third report of the Columbia University Conference tomorrow.


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