April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 28 July 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490728-TC-JAC-01; CL 24: 149-151


Westport, Cy Galway, 28 july 1849—

My dear Brother

I duly found your Letter1 yesterday at Galway, and was very glad indeed to have a word of news from you again. I got newspapers at Cork and some other place, but of articulate writing nothing for a good while before. To my Mother I have written repeatedly; I wrote also to Jean once: but indeed my existence of late has been such a swift-rushing whirlpool, I have hardly memory of whom I wrote to or what I did.

After Limerick, the Bourke of whom I wrote last, the younger Bourke, accompanied me in a Car to Killaloe, then along to Scariff (one of the wretchedest spots in Nature), and so along to Gort, an “insolvent union” 16 miles to the east of Galway,—a drive in all of some 30 or 40 miles. We got there latish; he had a friend, “Inspector Horsley” (grandson of Bishop Horsley)2 with whom I also had some talk and tea; with him B. staid, I went to the inn to sleep,—but, owing to a snoring neighbour &c &c, had rather indifferent success. Next morning, a bright sunshiny morning, I got on the Coach-roof for Galway: 16 miles of the stoniest country I ever beheld; infinitely stonier than any Craigenputtoch, indeed in many places nothing else but stones. A very poor and desolate country indeed. Yet when cultivated and cleared, the soil proves excellent, and everything, shaded and fringed with wood and vegetation, grows really beautiful. Galway itself at length hove in sight, on the northward side of the bright Bay, a very curious, much poverty-struck, yet still respectable old “Spanish” City;3 where Duffy, parted from me since Limerick, was again in waiting to welcome me to land. It was Assize-time; the Town one vortex of lawyers, not a quiet nook to be had for love or money: so I decided to see swiftly whatsoever was to be seen and then take myself away. Letters once read &c, I accordingly did the sights, Duffy and an Able Editor4 escorting me on a car: about 4 p.m. we had “all by,” and were upon a “bianconi”5 for Tuam, a small town 16 miles on the Sligo side; where we passed last night; and whence we this day, on a Mail Coach starting at 6½ a.m. arrived at Westport—the poorest of all poor Unions in Ireland. It has already spent of British cash £133,000; needs £1100 per week, has 28,000 paupers (population guessed to be about 45,000), and did gather (last week) in actually paid poor-rate the sum of £28, the week before, zero! These are strange facts,—facts unexampled hitherto in the annals of Adam's posterity. Accordingly the place, for beggars and such like, passes all belief.6

Castlebar (same day 8 p.m). Dear Brother we had intended to stay at Westport where there is an excellent Hôtel (only slightly in disorder just now); but being on the way to Sligo, and having done our affairs at Westt, we decided to come along hither which much improved the hour of starting, for tomorrow, and shortens the journey 9 miles, as well as saves us from the begging aspects a little. In short here we are; some 50 miles from Sligo, face decidedly northward and homeward; and the next thing you hear of me, I hope, will be that I am at Londonderry (say, about 6 days7 hence), and preparing to run homewards!

Duffy keeps with me to Sligo, where a certain “Counsellor” Walker8 (friend of Ay Sterling's) has invited both of us to stay in his Country-house certain days; we intend to stay one day (at least, I do), and then I fancy D.y and I will finally part; he towards Dublin, I towards Lord George Hill's place (Ballyare, and then Gweedore), from whom I had a very kind Letter9 at Galway, inviting me, describing the roads and so forth. After him (whom I intend to be with on Wedy evg), comes Londonderry in a day,—or Belfast in some two, if I can learn rightly on what the Steamer sails there.— And this, dear Brother, is what I can write just now, while the evening twilight is fast thickening, and it is getting time to close. My dear Mother will be very glad to hear I am coming home: of that I am sure enough! So I believe will you all; thanks, thanks; and my blessing to every one of you.

Your affecte /

T. Carlyle