Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) is well known as one of the earliest and most vociferous critics of Benthamite utilitarianism. However, Carlyle understood Benthamism as the culmination of a much longer eighteenth-century tradition of Epicurean thought. Having been an enthusiastic reader of David Hume during his youth, Carlyle later turned against him, waging an increasingly violent polemic against all forms of Epicureanism. In these later works, Carlyle not only rejected the pursuit of “pleasure” as an appropriate end for the life of the individual, but also took umbrage with Epicurean accounts of sociability as the philosophical underpinnings of laissez-faire, representative democracy, and “public opinion.” For Carlyle, self-interest, no matter how “enlightened,” balanced, or channeled by institutions, could never provide a stable foundation for a political community. Carlyle's contemporaries were aware that his work was intended as an attack on the Epicurean tradition. When John Stuart Mill attempted to defend Epicureanism against Carlyle, several of the latter's disciples and sympathizers responded by extending Carlyle's earlier censures on Epicureanism.