Thomas Carlyle and his Works

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On tuesday 19 january 1886, Arthur Conan Doyle gave a lecture about "Thomas Carlyle and his Works" at the Portsmouth Literary and Scientific Society (PLSS) meeting held at the Small Hall of the Soldiers' Institute (Portsmouth).


  • President/Chairman
    • Rev H Maxwell Egan Desmond
  • Attendees
    • 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.
    • Mr. J. Hay,
    • Mr. G. Ollis,
    • Mr. J. M. Ollis, R.N.
    • Mr. H. Percy Boulnois
    • Mr. W. Read
    • Mr. S. Pittis
    • Mr. W. E. Atkins
    • Mr. E. Byrne
    • Mr. W. E. Welch
    • Mr. A. Howell
    • Mr. W. Inglis, R.N.
    • Mr. E. F. Burton
    • Mr. H. R. Jones
    • Mr. J. A. Wilson, R.N.
    • Mr. G. F. Bell
  • Elected members
    • Rev. Dr. W. Stern, PhD
    • Dr. B. H. Mumby
    • Mr. R. W. Stainer
  • Nominated for membership
    • Mr. Alfred E. Petrie
    • Mr. Charles de Grace Sells

Conan Doyle contribution

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.

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