January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 23 July 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430723-TC-JWC-01; CL 16: 307-309


Liverpool, 23 july, 1843—


Last night, about half past seven, I arrived here safe at Maryland-Street, and my weary pilgrimings have again for a day or two terminated!

The Letter despatched from Glo'ster would give you at the end of it a faint shadow of my desperate situation there. It was like a section of Bedlam that Bell Inn. Sound of harps and stringed instruments; ruffing [foot-stamping] of applausive barristers over table-oratory heard from the distance; waiters running about in a distracted state; hapless bagmen sitting round one, either preparing to go off “by mail,”1 or else swallowing punch in the hope to escape from their wretchedness by getting drunk. I had felt thankful and hap-hap-happy in the morning; but then I was mees-erable. I fled out into the streets, where indeed my duty lay, and there I wandered till late in the bright summer twilight; returning to my Inn, found it madder than ever; then called for my glass of brandy and hot-water too, and took it up to my bedroom, where, once I had locked the door, a kind of noble defiance came over me, and I went to sleep in the middle of the tumult, saying to it, What have I to do with thee? No gladder sight since I went on my travels than that of the railway omnibus next morning that was to take me out of the Bell Inn for all time and all eternity! The dirty scrub of a waiter grumbled about his allowance which I reckoned liberal; I added sixpence to it, and produced a bow which I was near rewarding with a kick,—accursed be the race of flunkies!—the Boots then clambered to the omnibus to say that he also had been hardly dealt with; I thought, As we are never to meet more thro' all Eternity, thou too shall have another sixpence;—and so at last by God's blessing we did get away, and embarked thro' the verdant Carse or plain of Severn, and could look abroad in peace over God's handiworks, and man's unflunkeyish industry, and in particular descry the hills (not entirely without emotion) where the Glo'ster Puritans in their strait siege saw Essex's signal fires blaze up, and notice to them in spite of the bad weather that help was nigh.2 Thanks Heaven!3— We saw only the roofs and steeples of Cheltenham;4 quite enough for me. The country was lovely even under the grey blustery sky; I rode in the “second class,”—much the best class in such circumstances as mine. Wor'ster was three miles off the Station, westward of the station; I rode thither smoking, by the London road; duly noticed Malvern5 &c, duly honoured every thing, and then was set down at some Crown Inn, quite vacant of customers, to a most blessed breakfast of coffee and ham and accompaniments about eleven o'clock; a considerable Christian comfort.6 Before breakfast ceased, the Sky began pouring rain; I purchased a cotton umbrella; cleared up the distracting mysteries of my future railway course (for they have no “time bills” in those countries), and set rapidly out to explore the City. From Severn Bridge I could see the ground of Oliver's battle;7 it was a most brief survey: a poor labourer whom I consulted “had heerd of sitch a thing,” wished to God “we had another Oliver, Sir; times is dreadful bad!” I spoke with the poor man a while; a shrewd well-conditioned fellow;—left a shilling with him, about the only good deed I did all day. In the railway train (second class still) and on the road to the train, I had adventures of a small evil kind: two men to quench, who attempted (partly by mistake) to use me ill; they proved quenchable without difficulty,—for indeed I myself was in somewhat sulphurous condition, not handy to quarrel with. One of them, my fellow—passenger in the railway, took it into his head to smile visibly when I laid off my white broadbrim and suddenly produced out of my pocket my grey glengarry. He seemed of the mercantile head—clerk species, and had been tempted to his impropriety by a foolish—looking pampered young lady in tiger—skin mantle whom he seemed to have charge of. I looked straight into his smiling face and eyes, a look which I suppose inquired of him, “Miserable ninth part of the fraction of a tailor, art thou sure thou hast a right to laugh at me?” the smile instantly died into another expression of emotion. When a man is just come out of a section of bedlam, and has still a long confused journey, in bad weather in the second class train, that is the time for getting himself treated with the respect due to genius! At Birmingham I had to take the first—class, there being no second without waiting; and we whirled along hitherward,—poor Goody's Letter within a few yards of me, but unattainable till the morrow; a curious reflexion for me at the moment. Foolish young women nearly sta[r]ved8 us with bad air, and windows closed for the rain; but it was beautiful to get along without either flunkeyism or disorder; and when the ready porter at the Station here seized hold of my luggage, and toiled with it till he was all in a sweat to get me some conveyance, and did at last get me a foot porter, I could not but thank the man with real gratitude real respect.— At Maryland—Street, where they still sat at wine, with Jack here, and a certain Miss Baird (I think) from Rossshire,9 I was welcomed with open arms: I felt and feel comparatively as if I had got home; and having kept pretty well last night, and received Goody's Letter this morning, it is now all right; in spite of the headache, the showery weather and all the rest of it. I did kiss Babbie for you; showing her my Letter for credential! But you must not give me any more such commissions; they are too delicate to transact before company. Poor little Jeannie, I was right glad to see her blithe bonny face again: she seems to me looking well, and is Mistress of the house here and bound to care for all.

The money order I will get cashed tomorrow; I had but 18/ left. I have spent all this morning talking to John; and now they are home from Church, and wait till I finish my Letter. I have to write to my Mother also.— John is of course totally planless, wavers between a journey on foot into Wales, and one by sea into the United States! The weather too is bad and broken. Nothing can be settled, except that we must stay here “for a day or two,” and see. The two young damsels, John apprises me, are for being off to Helensburgh (the news from that are good); Alick will be left in the house himself. You, I suppose, would not at all like Liverpool in these circumstances! Jack is lodged at a place called “the Feathers”; seems to dine here pretty often. We are going to see the Paulets, the Chorleys,10 the—who all and the what all? I will “fall in love” with nobody. I will also write no more to thee today for one.

Adieu with blessings and kisses, / T. C.