Portsmouth Literary and Scientific Society (23 january 1886)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

This article is a report of the Portsmouth Literary and Scientific Society published in the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle on 23 january 1886.

The report is about the lecture on "Thomas Carlyle and his works" given by Arthur Conan Doyle on 19 january 1886 at the Small Hall of the Soldiers' Institute (Portsmouth).


Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle (23 january 1886, p. 2)

Portsmouth Literary and Scientific Society

On Tuesday night the fourth ordinary meeting of the Portsmouth Literary and Scientific Society was held at the Small Hall of the Soldiers' Institute, Portsmouth. The President (the Rev H Maxwell Egan Desmond) occupied the chair, and the company included General A W Drayson, F R A S, General T N Harward, Colonel T Bryson. Captain Jackson, R N, Captain Holbrook, Surgeon-Major W R Wall, Dr Bernard J Guillemard, Dr J D Mortimer, Dr C C Claremont, Rev E M Johnstone, M A, R N, Messrs J Hay, G Ollis, J M Ollis, R N, H Percy Boulnois, W Read, S Pittis, W E Atkins, E Byrne, W E Welch, A Howell, W Inglis, R N, E F Burton, H R Jones, J A Wilson, R N, G F Bell, &c. The following gentlemen were elected members of the Society: Rev Dr W Stern, PhD, Dr B H Mumby, and Mr R W Stainer. Mr Alfred E Petrie and Mr Charles de Grace Sells were nominated for membership. Dr A Conan Doyle read a paper on "Thomas Carlyle and his Works," in which, at the commencement, he detailed the early life of Carlyle in Northumberland, and his removal to Edinburgh for the purpose of being educated, then being prominent for his thought and earnestness. After obtaining his position at Harrow, and given up his engagement as a schoolmaster, he commenced his literary career, but his first two productions were altogether ignored, and even when he published his work "Sartor Resartus," it was regarded by some as the ravings of a fanatic; but when his first historical production, "The French Revolution," was sent out it removed all doubt as to his being a writer of the highest order. Carlyle's acquaintanceship with John Stuart Mill was depicted, and the four years' literary work, it was stated, had so weakened Carlyle at that period that he quitted the country for a time, but when he returned he found himself the "lion" among those in high places. In 1845 he finished his great work "Cromwell," a book which secured a place among classics which it never could lose, and after noticing the other works of the great author, the reader touched upon the death of Carlyle's wife, the honours which flowed in upon him in his later years, and his death at the age of 85 years. With Carlyle politics and religion were one; he had an absolute horror of cant and falsehood; but the strange and obscure style in which he wrote prevented his works reaching the lower classes, although when once the writings were known they were preferred to others. Carlyle was dead, but his spirit by his writings ruled among them, for he had set a host of inferior men working and thinking. — The Chairman remarked that the prominent direction of Carlyle's works was doubtless against cant and sham, and an influence to be honourable, upright, noble, and sincere, and to abominate every form of hypocrisy. Carlyle's idea upon hero worship was that the heroes which he put before them — such as Luther and Cromwell — were those who were inspired by god. — The Rev E H Johnstone moved a vote of thanks to the lecturer, and mentioned that if Carlyle's memoirs occupied a hundred lectures they would not be exhausted. — The resolution was surrounded by Captain Fenton, and carried unanimously.