April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO EDWARD FITZGERALD; 22 June 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490622-TC-EF-01; CL 24: 76-79


Chelsea, 22 june, 1849—

Dear Fitzgerald,

On Thursday next I am going off for Ireland; intending to have a stroll for three or four weeks there,—my patriotic feelings, and my state of health bodily and mental, suggesting such an expedition to me. Quod faustum sit [May it be successful]. I do not well know my course yet; but think generally of crossing and thwarting the whole Island (perhaps going round by the Coast Towns mainly); so that I may carry off some real view of that unfortunate province of God's Creation, such as my own eyes and observation shall authentically yield. Duffy, Traitor Duffy, who, apart from the repeal frenzy which indeed he has now abandoned, is a really excellent fellow,—will probably escort me thro' part of my course; at least initiate me into the modes of Irish travel; after whom there is a certain English Forster, a young Devonshire-Yorkshire man, “Transition-Quaker”1 and extensive man of business at Bradford, an excellent cheery friendly character too, who will perhaps carry me into Munster. I think of bathing once or twice at Kilkee,2 and of looking in for half a day upon Gweedore and Lord G. Hill:—in short, all is yet in nubibus [uncertain], and a most manageable matter; except that I am to sail from the Tower wharf for Dublin by steam on Thursday morning first, and that is a matter that can only be managed by such rules as are its own.— Meanwhile I am picking up all manner of notices of notabilia, a few introductions to desirable men included; these will constitute so many lucent-points in the dark labyrinth of Ireland, and serve to indicate routes for me when once in Dublin. It is partly with that view too that I now send you this advertisement.

If you were a sufficiently adventurous fellow, and would appear with your knapsack on board the Dublin Steamer on Thursday, and undertake to bear me company by sea and land,—that would really be a handsome and hopeful thing; that would be the right thing! And I do believe good would come of it; and it might easily be made to answer very well. But failing that—you see what it is I want. If you remember anywhere in Ireland a man whom you think would in real truth be mutually profitable that I should see in passing, give me a Note to him, and I will at least try to deliver it Failing men, or along with men, give me note of things worth seeing,—such as rise first in your mind; for these probably will be the truest;—and indeed it is not worth while, either as to men or things intended here, that you should be at the cost of any study or bother: such hints as occur to you, dashed off in half an hour, will fully satisfy me; and if there should be no “man” mentioned at all, perhaps that would be no damage,—for it is very uncertain whether, even with letters in my pocket, I shall be able to muster “faith and hope” enough to make many new acquaintances in the Sister Island, or penetrate into private houses there. Aubrey de Vere (of the Limerick Monteagle clan)3 has undertaken to present me to “Six really good Landlords,” of whom I can remember only a Sir Charles Coote,4 and the Gweedore Lord above mentioned. Ay Sterling and Commissioner Twistleton5 give me notes for some Dublin people; Duffy, I calculate, has the freest access to Priests &c (which class I naturally want to look at); I am asking myself whether any of the big English Irish (Fitzwillm6 &c to whom I might procure access or application) who perhaps have intelligent “Agents” on their Estates, capable of enlightening me, might be worth disturbing with that view? And to such length hitherto, and no farther, has the adventure proceeded; and there I leave it with you, to try what threads out of your skein will suit into the tissue of it;—to beg your blessing on the business at any rate. If you would go with me indeed— But you will not! Remember however that Thursday is the day, and that time is getting valuable.

I have nearly got the Cromwell hustled off my shoulders, tho' the Printers are yet far behind with it; hardly more than half done, I think. The Squire Papers go as a kind of outlying baggage into a corner of one of the volumes, where a gap of room was at any rate ready for them; they and certain Committee Lists &c, which you will get in a separate shape so soon as they are printed. I am utterly sick of that business; and often ask impatiently, Quando sit finis [When will it end]?

We are much interested in Mazzini and Roman matters during these weeks. It is beautiful and even solemn to me to reflect on poor Mazzini (one of the purest and highest souls now in this world, but filled with democratic and other nonsense in the head of him); and how the Eternal Destinies take note of what real good is in a man, and do at last [bring]7 him to the place where he can to right profit expend the same! It is Mazzini's shrill, religious, enthusiastic spirit that I believe to be now principally animating Rome to this resolute resistance: a protest against the “wretched old Chimera of a Pope,” which is fast becoming important, and is already impressive to all the world. Honour to the poor noble Mazzini; and joy to him if he even leave his life there,—as he will be right willing to do, I believe, if there be a call for it among other things.8

London offers no point of news to me that is in the least worth transmitting by pen and ink. Flunkeyism, Fashionablism; idle talk, idle thought, and still idler action fill up as heretofore the (intrinsically scandalous) course of men's life in this place. “Quamdiu, Domine [How long, O Lord]!”9

[signature cut away]