CDV of Thomas Carlyle, along with a set of 37 books by Thomas Carlyle, published in the 1800's. This is the People's Edition, cloth with gilt spines. It includes a copy of Thomas Carlyle's infamous essay, "Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question." This essay was published in 1849 in Fraser's Magazine of London. Carlyle revamped this essay and reprinted it in 1853 as a pamphlet entitled by the same name. In response to Carlyle, John Stuart Mill published his own "The Negro Question" in Fraser's Magazine. Carlyle did not, to our knowledge, respond. But in 1867, Carlyle published his Shooting Niagara -- And After? in Macmillan's Magazine, where he took aim at the Jamaica Committee, in which Mill was actively involved. These are the central exchange of blows in the Carlyle-Mill debate on the "Negro" question. In Carlyle's initial 1849 essay, Dr. Phelin M'Quirk, the purported narrator, is naturally a fiction. "Exeter Hall" refers to the coalition formed in 1830s of liberal dissenting Christians active in the ending of slavery. The "dismal science" is, of course, economics -- in fact, the jeer makes its first appearance here. "Quashee" is a derogatory Caribbean term for a "feisty" black slave. Why this Scottish man of letters took up this peculiar cause -- and with so much passion and venom -- remains puzzling. But Carlyle's 1849 essay should not be read merely as a reactionary defense of slavery. There are subtler veins in the paper, consistent with Carlyle's more youthful Romanticist philosophy. Add to this his personally deeply-held racism and the obvious enjoyment he takes at annoying the bourgeoisie and poking at Christian sensitivities, and his strange choice of subject may become just a bit clearer. There is still absolutely no justification for the chosen topic and the way he treated it.
Here is an excerpt: "...Do I, then, hate the negro? No, except when the soul is killed out of him, I decidedly like poor quashee; and find him a pretty kind of man. With a pennyworth of oil, you can make a handsome glossy thing of Quashee, when the soul is not killed in him A swift, supple fellow; a merry-heart- ed, grinnin', dancing, singing, affectionate kind of creature, with a great deal of melody and amenability in his composition. This certainly is a notable fact: the black African, alone of wild men, can live among men civilized. While all manner of Caribs and others pine into annihilation in presence of the pale faces, he contrives to continue; does not die of sullen, irreconcilable rage, of rum, of brutish laziness and darkness, and fated incompatibility with his new place; but lives and multiplies, and evidently means to abide among us, if we can find the right regulation for him. We shall have to find it; we are now engaged in the search; and have at least discovered that of two methods, the old Demerara method and the new Demerara method, neither will answer. Alas, my friends, I understand well your rage against the poor negro’s slavery; what said rage proceeds from; and have a perfect sympathy with it, and even know it by experience. Can the oppressor of my black fellow-man be of any use to me in particular? Am I gratified in my mind by the ill usage of any two or four-legged thing; of any horse or any dog? Not so, I assure you. In me too the natural sources of human rage exist more or less, and the capability of flying out into “fiery wrath against oppression,” and of signing petitions, both of which things can be done very cheap. Good heavens, if signing petitions would do it, if hopping to Rome on one leg would do it, think you it were long undone!"