Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

XVI
ALBANY FONBLANQUE (1849)

DUFFY ran down Albany Fonblanque,1 who had been a radical journalist and editor of the Examiner till 1847, and then taken an office under the Board of Trade. Said Duffy now:--"I asked Forster who was writing feeble imitations of Fonblanque in the Examiner, and was surprised to learn the writer was Fonblanque himself. The philosophical Radicals proclaim him the greatest journalist in England; but he seems to want seriousness. His articles are pleasant, but Jeremy Bentham and Jonathan Wild do not always amalgamate naturally, and public interests cannot be successfully treated in the spirit of an opera-bouffe" (or farce).

" Fonblanque is a better man than you suppose," replied Carlyle,--"a serious-looking man, with fire in his eyes. He seems to consider that his task in the world is to expose fallacies of all sorts, which in fact he does with considerable adroitness and skill."

"His paper was the organ of the educated Radicals in the Reform era," rejoined Duffy. "It has shifted round and become a Government organ." What was taken for granted as a known fact, but may need to be mentioned here, was that Fonblanque as a proprietor of the Examiner had still a general control of it. Carlyle replied:--" Fonblanque has changed under the influence of circumstances, but not at all with conscious dishonesty. Lord Durham when he came home," meaning from Canada in 1838, "asked him to dinner and he began to circulate up and down in society yonder in London, and so came to look at Government from another point of view. Philosophical Radicalism is intrinsically barren. Fonblanque has said all that is in him to say on that."

____________________
1
Conversations with Carlyle, by Sir C. Gavan Duffy, pp. 84-5.

-134-

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