He had been born into a pious and devout Christian family but abandoned his inherited faith while in college, an occurrence not unique to his times and epidemic in our own. Carlyle was born in Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland in 1795, at the end of the French Revolution, the historic event to which he devoted his most successful book. His parents belonged to a “Secession” Church known as the Burghers. Their denomination rejected the state church, though remaining Presbyterian and strongly Calvinistic, perhaps helping instill in Thomas a somewhat contentious spirit or at least an independent manner. Sickly as a youth and plagued by stomach ailments the rest of his life, he nonetheless became accomplished in Latin and mathematics, entering the University of Edinburgh at fourteen to study for the Gospel ministry, at the urging of his father. He continued his math studies, joined a debate society, where he was appreciated for his wit, and read voraciously, a lifetime habit. He dropped out, however, and taught literature to boys in his home shire. Carlyle returned to Edinburgh at twenty-three, having abandoned all desire to enter the ministry, and began his career as a writer.