April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO EDWARD FITZGERALD; 10 July 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490710-TC-EF-01; CL 24: 111-112


Halverstown, Kilcullen / 10 july, 1849—

Dear Fitzgerald,

I enclose for you, by way of symbol, a twig of heath plucked yesterday among the ruins of Glendalough; whither your Brother honourably escorted me, where we had a day full of interesting adventures, a day which I find I shall very long remember. No more striking object, full of ragged tragical pathos, ever offered itself to my contemplation than those old black ruins and the crowds of famishing beggars that hovered round us all the time we were there. Thanks for your mention of Glendalough; I had meditated the thing before, but perhaps might have omitted it had not your suggestion come to second me.

All Ireland seems as if it flung its arms open to receive me; in Dublin I really was like to be done to death by the civilities of men,—all sorts of men from the King or Vice-King upon the throne to the Theology Professor of Maynooth:1 surely a social race of men, for one thing! Your Kinsfolk here have welcomed me as if I had been their own Brother; and have done, and are doing, the sacred rites in a way to touch the heart of the Pilgrim who, for the time, has no home of his own. Long life to them; and, as the people yesterday said, “St Kevin's be their bed!”2

This afternoon (it is now close on breakfast, in a room you well know, one of the nicest in Ireland, looking out on the “big stone” I have heard of your sitting on while reading), I set off (after the Curragh3 &c) for Kilkenny, and thence to Waterford, Cork and the barbarous regions of the West. Pray for me,—and pray for those! The potatoes, numerous beyond former years, are all in luxuriant flower, and everybody looks at them, for the next two weeks especially, as at the horn of Doom,4—for countless multitudes will again die starved, if the potatoe still fail. Good Heavens! In spite of my indignation, I have almost lost the heart to continue my old prayer on that point, That the potatoe might continue dead. Breakfast bell! Adieu, dear F.— Your Letter waited me at Dublin, and you perceive it is all right.

Yours ever truly /

T. Carlyle