The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 16 August 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500816-TC-JWC-01; CL 25: 156-158


Boverton, 16 Augt, 1850—

Only one word, my Dear, to keep thy heart easy; for I am quite wearied today, and besides the Post-hour is just at hand. But if something do not go today, then can nothing reach you till monday morning;—and then perhaps you will be “vaixed.”1

We accomplished our expedition yesterday; saw the Valley of the Taff2 in all its beauty, and the foul sulphurous Purgatorio of Merthyr Tydvil in all its ugliness: a laborious business,—from 6 in the morning till 11 at night, hard work without interval; it is in this way that mortal creatures seek “diversion” for themselves! But it was not of my doing; nay I find, after all, it will be well worth while to have seen Merthyr, for surely under the Canopy there are few stranger things in the way of human town than it is. In 1755, Merthyr Tydvil was a mountain Hamlet of 5 or 6 houses, stagnant and silent as it had been ever since Tydvil (the King's or Laird's daughter was martyred there, say 1300 years before): but about that time a certain Mr Bacon, a cunning Yorkshireman, passing that way, discovered that there was iron in the ground,— iron and coal;—he took a 99 years lease in consequence:3 and—in brief there are now about 50,000 grimy mortals, black and clammy with soot and sweat, screwing out a livelihood for themselves in that spot of the Taff valley. Such a set of unguided, hard-worked, fierce and miserable-looking sons and daughters of Adam as I never saw before. Ah me, it is like a vision of Hell, and will never leave me, that of those poor creatures broiling, all in sweat and dirt, amid their furnaces, pits and rolling-mills. For here is absolutely no “aristocracy,” or guiding class; nothing but one or two huge Iron-masters, and the rest are operatives, petty shopkeepers, Scotch hawkers &c &c. Our Innkeeper (a Bath man) was the most like a gentleman of any I saw. The Town might be (and will be) one of the prettiest places in the world; and it is one of the sootiest, squalidest and ugliest, all cinders and dust-mounds and soot; their very greens they bring from Bristol, tho' the ground is excellent all round: nobody thinks of gardening in such a locality, all devoted to metallic gambling. Heigho!— But here is Postie; wants the letter, if farther trouble is not to be given. I add therefore only that on arriving at 11 we had some tea; that I fell dead asleep immediately thereafter; woke again between 4 & 5, was a prey to all the animal creation for some 3 hours more, then finally got asleep again for 1½ hours, and had what may be called an “indifferent night”

In fact I shall never learn to sleep here; the feat is impossible on such terms; and I have told poor Redwood this morning, much to his sorrow, poor fellow, and a little to his anger too I rather doubt,—that I must be off about Thursday next, which was my original time. Alas, alas, there is no rest for the son of Adam here below.

‘Tomorrow’ you say, and nothing more! Well I shall hear a word tomorrow then.— — I have two Notes from John in succession, nothing more. I bid thee Adieu, dear Jeannie. God help us both. I mean to sit under these trees all day; and have told Redwood that I absolutely will go on no other excursion whatsoever. Tie up the Leader well; Jack says the last didn't come

Adieu, Dearest—

T. C.

Stick this Note4 into your Copy of Past and Present; it is an indicatn I found in a Book here.— And if it be lost by any bad accidt, don't grieve too much: I keep another and better copy here!— —

I ride to Cowbridge to catch the mail with this Note of yours; and now my time is up. / Adieu