Carlyle (and Rosen) on Arkwright

(p. 236) The greatest hero-worshipper of them all, Thomas Carlyle. described Arkwright as

A plain, almost gross, bag-checked, potbellied, much enduring, much inventing man and barber… . French Revolutions were a-brewing: to resist the same in any measure, imperial Kaisers were impotent without the cotton and cloth of England, and it was this man that had to give England the power of cotton…. It is said ideas produce revolutions, and truly they do; not spiritual ideas only, but even mechanical. In this clanging clashing universal Sword-dance which the European world now dances for the last half-century, Voltaire is but one choragus [leader of a movement, from the old Greek word for the sponsor of a chorus] where Richard Arkwright is another.

. . .
Arkwright was not a great inven-(p. 237)tor, but he was a visionary, who saw, better than any man alive, how to convert useful knowledge into cotton apparel and ultimately into wealth: for himself, and for Britain.

Source:
Rosen, William. The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention. New York: Random House, 2010.
(Note: internal ellipses in original; ellipsis between paragraphs added.)

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