Thomas Carlyle

Application and perseverence: Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

Thomas Carlyle was a Scottish author, historian and social critic whose own works and theories were influential to the development of Samuel Smiles' ideas. In his book, Smiles tells a story about Carlyle to demonstrate overcoming adversity and loyalty.

Overcoming adversity

While Carlyle was writing his book, 'The French Revolution' the manuscript of the first volume which he lent to a friend, was accidently burnt. It's unclear today exactly how this happened but the story goes that a maid thought it was waste paper and burned it.

The day after hearing of the accident, Carlyle had to write to his publisher James Fraser to explain what had happened. He was obviously upset by the accident and the task of rewriting. However, he was also concerned that his friend would not be blamed or feel bad about the incident.

Determination of purpose

Smiles wrote that Carlyle's 're-writing of it a second time was one of pain and anguish almost beyond belief'. That he persevered and finished the volume under such circumstances, affords an instance of determination of purpose which has seldom been surpassed.'

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