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Thomas Carlyle

1795-1881. Scottish writer. Son of a Scottish peasant farmer, he was early attracted to German literature. His concern with social conditions (Chartism, 1839, and Past and Present, 1843) led to his propounding the need for hero-rulers-strong, just men who emerged to leadership by their own innate powers rather than by election (Heroes and Hero-Worship, 1841). He produced two massive works on Oliver Cromwell (1845) and Frederick the Great (1858-65) respectively, besides the earlier French Revolution (1837). Carlyle believed in order and that order is realized only through power, which evokes a sense of duty from those who obey. There may be something of his own religious background in the stress that he placed on the responsibility of the individual will, as there certainly is in his admiration of the Puritans and Covenanters. In Sartor Resartus (1843-44) and Past and Present he proclaims his gospel of action. It is a sad, but not surprising, reaction to this that expresses itself in the bitter, disillusioned, and mocking tone of Latter-Day Pamphlets (1850).

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