July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


JANE WELSH CARLYLE'S NOTEBOOK, April 1845–November 1852; 2002; DOI: 10.1215/ed-30-jane-carlyle-notebook; CL 30: firstpage-30-157-lastpage-30-172

JANE WELSH CARLYLE'S NOTEBOOK, April 1845–November 1852

JWC's Notebook, 1845–52. MS: privately owned. Pbd: Froude, LM 1:299–310 inc. The passages excerpted in Froude are the first 3 paras. of the 13 April entry; the story of the strayed child, from “After I had been in London a short time” to “and went off avec explosion”; and the 27 April entry, about the visit to Cheyne Row by the young Irishmen. The rest previously unpbd. The two secs. from April 1845 are clearly written, with some words or phrases crossed out firmly and alternatives written in, indicating a second reading. The 1847 entry seems more hurried, with larger handwriting and no deletions; the shortest section, 1852, seems the most hurried with more crossings out. The notebook is 6½ by 7¾ ins. (16.5 cm by 19.5 cm), with a hard mottled cover and marbled paper edges. A torn scrap of paper has been attached to the cover by TC: “1845–1852 / Anecdotes, (Autobiogrl/ 4o [circled] / for most part).” Only 35 pages of it have been written on, with 35 left blank; about 10 leaves have been cut out at the end. TC has written in pencil on the back of the last leaf, with a balloon around his words and a line pointing to the remaining ends of the cut pages: “Piece of the destroyed Autobiogr hy (most likely). ‘Imaginary Letter’ 1 was found loosely lying here. See Book ‘1849,’” after which he has added in ink: “(now enclosed here).” The “Imaginary Letter” is presumably “Much Ado About Nothing,” 2 Aug. 1849 (see JWC's MAAN, 2 Aug. 1849). TC refers to the “destroyed Autobiogrhy” in Reminiscences: “She had written at one time something of her own early life; but she gave up, and burnt it” (72; see also 157). TC's notes on the MS are given below, but not those of Alexander Carlyle, to whom the notebook once belonged; he mainly noted which passages Froude had omitted. Froude gave no indication of these omissions. He heads it “From Mrs. Carlyle's Note Book,” with the footnote, presumably by Froude, “Only fragments of these note books survive. Most of them were destroyed by Mrs. Carlyle herself.” TC refers in the Reminiscences to JWC writing “at various times in Notebooks; refusing all sight of them even to me: but she has destroyed nearly every vestige of them” (73, 95, 157–58). The other notebook which also survived, TC describes as “one little Book, consisting of curious excerpts and jottings not biographic (in which she would often look practically for Addresses (Street and number) as one item), is all that remains” (Carlyle, Reminiscences 73; see also 95). Alexander Carlyle partly pbd. it, describing it as a “little Note-book” that JWC kept “during her residence in London, for jotting down addresses, phrases, witty sayings, excerpts from books she was reading, and memorabilia of all kinds” (NLM 2:109–15).



13th April 1845

Today,1 oddly enough, while I was engaged in re-reading Carlyle's Philosophy of Clothes2 Count d'Orsay walked in! I had not seen him for four or five years.3 Last time he was as gay in his colours as a Humming Bird—blue satin cravat, blue velvet waistcoat, cream-coloured coat lined with velvet of the same hue, trousers also of a light colour—I forget what—white french gloves—two glorious breast-pins attached by a chain—and length enough of gold watchguard to have hanged himself in. Today, in compliment to his five more years, he was all in black and brown—a black satin cravat, a brown velvet waistcoat, a brown coat some shades darker than the waistcoat lined with velvet of its own shade and almost black trowsers—one breast-pin—a large pear-shaped pearl set into a little cup of diamonds—and only one fold of gold chain round his neck tucked together right on the centre of his spacious breast with one mgnificent turqoise. Well! that man understands his trade!—if it be but that of Dandy; nobody can deny that he is a perfect Master of it, that he dresses himself with consumate skill! A bungler would have made no allowance for five more years, at his time of life—but he had the fine sense to perceive how much better his dress of today sets off his slightly enlarged figure and slightly worn complexion than the humming-bird colours of five years back would have done. Poor D'Orsay he was born to have been something better than even the King of Dandies!— He did not say nearly so many clever things this time, as on the last occasion, his wit I suppose is of the sort that belongs more to Animal Spirits than to real genius—and his Animals Spirits seem to have fallen many degrees. The only thing that fell from him today worth remembring was his account of a masque he had seen of Charles Fox4—““all pinched and flattened as if he had slept in a book.” He told us that when Sir Francis Chantrey had been doing Sir Walter Scotts bust he (Sir Francis) was just beginning to despair of ever catching anything like a gleam of expression in his subject when Jack Fuller5 came into an adjoining apartment making a great noise as usual—whereupon Scott recognizing the voice exclaimed “Ah that is Jack Fuller”—and in that one moment his countenance had some expression, which Sir Francis seized on with thankfulness and made the best of. “But if it had not been for Jack Fuller,” Sir Francis used to say, “Heaven knows what would have become of me”!— So, that even Jack Fuller had a use found for him”! observed Carlyle.

Lord Jeffrey6 came, unexpected, while the Count was here; what a difference! “The Prince of Critics” and the Prince of Dandies. How washed out the beautiful dandaical face looked beside that little clever Old Man's! The large blue dandiacal eyes, you would have said, had never contemplated anything more interesting than the reflection of the handsome personage they pertained to in a looking glass; while the dark penetrating ones of the other had been taking note of most things in God's universe—even seeing a good way into millstones!

Jeffrey told us a very characteristic trait of Lord Brougham.7 He (Brougham) was saying that some Individual they were talking of would never get into aristocratic society—first because his manners were bad, and secondly said Brougham because “there is such a want of truth (!) in him. In aristocratic society there is such a quick tact for detecting everything unveracious that no man who is not true can ever get on in it!” “Indeed!” said Jeffrey, “I am delighted to hear you give such a character to the Upper Classes—I thought they had been more tolerant.” “Oh,” said Brougham “I assure you it is the fact—any man who is deficient in veracity immediately gets tabooed in the Aristocratic Circles”— The force of Impudence could no further go!

Of all the people who come about our house nobody tells me more “interesting particulars” than my fivetimes-removed Cousin John Dunlop, the Father Mathew of Scotland and England.8 Pity that with so many genuine things to articulate, he should have so defective a gift of articulation! Pity too that he should give that weary ‘chick’ with one corner of his mouth, in every pause of his sentences! Surely his Wife was very neglectful of her duty that she did not drive that ‘chick’ out of him in the first years of their wedlock—she might; by making a row every time he committed it— I have driven more than one such tendency out of my Husband, of which his future Biographers will never know to thank me. Among the things which he (John Dunlop) told me on his last visit were two adventures which had befallen little Balfour, his Agent in the Temperance business, or as he calls him his ‘Lieutenant9— Lovers of Adventures seem to me the only class of Mortals in this world who verily find always what they seek— This little Balfour has a great love of adventures and his luck for them is quite wonderful. He has been ‘working’ of late months in the Seven Dials—10 that is to say he has been going about there knocking at all doors, and if allowed to loose his jaw, haranguing the Inmates on the desirableness of total abstinence, and strange to think of, considering what off-scourings of Creation are there huddled together, he is listened to for most part without insult, and a considerable number sign his pledge! Being in a house one night in this tabooed quarter with many persons about to crown his wishes by signing; he asked; “but can you? you are rather a rum-looking set for being able to write”! “Oh yes” said they “we can all read and write—and more than that, there is one up stairs who knows Greek and Hebrew”! Balfour of course did not come away without mounting up stairs to investigate into this Seven Dials Phenomenon of Scholarship and there in a wretched garret he found a middle-aged man, horrid-looking with sickness and want—his clothes in rags, and his shoes tied on his feet in seperate pieces. When Balfour had spoken with him a little, the other, seeing he had to do with a Temperance-Man, enquired whether he knew Mr Dunlop? Balfour was only too happy to answer in the affirmative, and then it came out that this Unfortunate with his Shoes in several pieces, starving in a garret of the Seven Dials, had been some ten years ago an acquaintance of Mr Dunlop's and a prosperous Physician in Glasgow. He had in the most sudden incomprehensible manner, fallen into drink,—lost his practice, been cut by his friends, tried what beating his Wife could do for him; until she also took to drinking in sheer despair: and these were the Couple cast on the wide world, with no prospect when little Balfour found them but that of Death by Starvation and delirium Tremens in a garret of Seven Dials.

Balfour prevailed on Dr Wood11 (so the Unfortunate called himself) to sign the pledge—and both he and his wife have actually abstained from drink since then, up to the present time—a period of four months— The indefatigable little “Lieutenant” also found them a lodging in a much “cheerfuler neighbourhood,” and costing no more than the miserable one in SevenDials that is to say 2/ per week! A few pounds have been subscribed for them, and Dr Wood has made 15/ by an article on Thomas Campbell for Grants Magazine.12 If some suitable occupation could only be found for them! Can I do nothing? How helpless in gods Universe do I sit here, compared with little Balfour ci-devant Marine Stores-Dealer and himself a reformed drunkard!


Robertson13 has been at my request to examine into the Dr Wood case and see whether he could recommend him to some literary employment. Wood himself was out but the Wife received him in a small garret-room provided with a “shake-down” of the humblest description in one corner—a small deal-table—two chairs and voila tout! “Is there any thing interesting about her”; I asked, with true femenine silliness. “No—she is a decent-looking very scotch-faced woman with—if the truth must be told—a red nose.” Alas for poor human Benevolence especially of the female gender! how fantastical, illogical, irrational it is apt to be! the mercury of mine sunk many degrees under these two monisyllables “red nose”! What could be more natural than that the habit of drunkenness in this woman should have produced such “outward visible sign”?14 but tho' I could pardon her the drunkenness on the score of her penitence and penancies, I could hardly pardon her the symbol! nay the bare mention of it gave me a sort of shock! While figuring her with something of the “interesting female” saved from her degradation—something of the “tho'-in-ruins Majestic-Still”-air15 about her; I had entertained devout Imaginations of going to encourage her in well-doing by my personal attentions; but no sooner was I certified that she was “neither pretty nor Ladylike” and had withal a red nose; than I decided in my own mind to have further proofs of her reformation before committing myself to be “a comfort to her”! Robertson guessed her at forty—making allowance for the hardship of her latter years. The mercury of my Benevolence rose again a little, when he told me she had “no gown; only an old thin shawl over some sort of wrapper”; and fell again when he went on to say that like all poor people entertaining angels awares16 she “seemed to feel it incumbent on her to evince a good deal of piety”— “Dr Wood's morning and evening prayer” she said was for repentance”—and again it rose—and this was the last variation—on hearing of “a sort of choking in her throat” when she spoke of Mr Dunlop and those who had been kind to them. Indeed I rather believe the no-gown and the choking in the throat raised it to the same boiling point at which it had stood before the chill from the red nose. Robertson desired to have some speciments—as R McTurk17 would say—of Dr Woods writing sent to him and there the matter rests for the present—


The second adventure of the little Temperance Lieutenant was of a still more romantic character.

In leaving a house in Seven Dials one day he saw two men at the end of the street who seemed to be watching and waiting for him, and these men he knew by heaven knows what mysterious signs to be pick-pockets or “Crack-Men.” Being a brave little Balfour however, he would not turn out of his natural direction, but walked on keeping all his eyes about him until he had come up to the men who accosted him with the question; whether he was not in the habit of praying with the people thereabouts? He told them that he did not meddle with anything so sacred as that and that they might easily find themselves a seemlier joke. But the men insisted that he could pray, and they were not joking at all; but really wanted his prayers for a sick friend of theirs who had sent them there to look for him. Since that was the case said Balfour he would attend them to their sick friend and do his best—and they led him away into Drury Lane thro most questionable looking stairs and closes and up into a little room—very poor but very clean and comfortable—where he found a young woman whose face he had seen often enough—on “the streets”—a street-walker in fact who led him to a bed on which was lying a young man of twenty two or so in the last stage of consumption. The sick man thanked him for coming and begged him to read to him the 5th Chapt. of James.18 While Balfour was reading he heard a noise of persons running up the stair, and then the two men who had fetched him and who had stationed themselves like sentinels at the open door, exclaimed hush hush! and gently closed the door, themselves remaining outside. After a little more fuss on the stair a voice called thro' the keyhole “Joe's acquitted”! the sick man made a gesture of satisfaction, and a gleam of satisfaction lighted up his face—for a moment—but he took no further notice. He told Balfour that his only comfort was in thinking of the Thief on the Cross.19 Balfour visited him twice afterwards, but when he went again the poor young man was dead— From a Scotch Baker close by, and other persons in the neighbourhood, he learned that this sick Thief had been thro the whole of his long illness—that is to say for eight or nine months supported in [e]very possible comfort by the two thieves who fetched Balfour to pray with him, and tenderly nursed and cared for by the young woman whom Balfour saw there—a Common Prostitu[t]e!20 When Balfour spoke to these about the wickedness of their lives; they told him “they knew all that as well as he did, but what could they do? their characters were gone—nobody would give them honest work”—“What could they do?” repeated Carlyle at this point in the story— “They could do this at least—die—rather than go on in such a coil of infamy”— But dear Carlyle, is not life sweet even to “the scum of Creation”? Is it not very very hard to make up ones mind to die rather than crib a gentlemans silk handkerchief?—


Once when Sir John Ross21 was stuck fast among the icebergs; he bethought him, as a resource against ennui, to make every man on board tell him what was the greatest thing he remembered ever to have done in Life.— When it came to the Barber's turn to tell; this Individual declared the greatest thing he remembered to have done was “having shaved the Duke of Devonshirein a stormat at sea—”!22

When Mr Dunlop was in Scotland last autumn he went to the house of an old friend of his a Clergyman23 where he had engaged to stop a night. Being shown into the sittingroom he found the Revd Gentleman at tea with his Wife and a Lady visitor. After the first salutations had subsided Dunlop observed one of these Ladies slip aside and draw to a door communicating with another apartment but not before he had perceived “with the tail of his eye”24 something that made him “feel rather queer”—viz: a female figure in white, to all appearance stiff-dead, stuck bolt upright in an arm-chair! Nothing was said and the tea went on— Poor Dunlop eating with what appetite he could muster. In the course of the evening the same Lady who had shut the door, asked the Host “Mr —will it be time to take her out.” The C[l]ergyman looked his watch and declared it time— Whereupon he proceeded to the mysterious Chamber and made—Mesmeric back-passes over the supposed Dead. who stretched herself—rubbed her eyes—and finally walked away. The supposed Dead was servant to the Lady-Visitor—had some slight paralitic affection which weakened her so much on one side that she could not wash heavy clothes without mesmeric help. After one of these sleeps she could go on washing bravely she said for two or three months, and then she returned to our Clergyman for a new doze of mesmeric Influence.


‘Tiger Wull’25 and some friends of his sailed once to Ailsey Craig26 in search of the picturesque and went on shore there. Was there ever such “beautiful Nature”? So sublime a scene? their Lyrical recognition of it had just reached the highest point of ecstasy when turning a corner they found themselves face to face with a Paisley27 Weaver, wearing his unmistakeable green apron— They did not strangle him—tho his apparition there had been death to their picturesque enthusiasm they merely expressed a courteous surprise that he should be “so far from home.” It was a wonder he owned; he had “never been on that spot before”; but could they tell him how he might lay hands on a young solan goose? he had “come for two Goose to eat the snails in Provost Dagleish's garden—”28 The Gentlemen made themselves very merry over his wild goose Chase—might not he have done the same over theirs.

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William Dunlop, “Tiger Wull” (ca. 1832). Artist almost certainly Daniel Maclise.

Reproduced from Fraser's Magazine 7 (April 1833): opp. 436, by permission of the National Library of Scotland



That distorted little Mr Bunbury29 whom I pitied so sincerely when I saw him three years ago; imagining in my simplicity that he must feel his rank and fortune a cruel mockery since he could never hope for any Wife to share it with him or any Child to inherit it; has since then not only realized himself a Wife but a Mistress—many Mistresses for anything I know—I no longer comprehend my sex! The disclosed Mistress however had at the same time a Husband a Tailor and a bad man, who thinking he might help his cabbage30

with a few of Mr Bunbury's guineas brought a prosecution against him for “the ruin of his domestic happiness—no where does one hear so much of domestic happiness as in Trials for crim. con!31 The Verdict was given for the Defendant conspiracy being clearly proven. But the exposure was deplorable—one note of Mr B's to the Lady Tailoress was ‘put in’ and read After which there remained nothing said Darwin32 for the man who had written it but to go home and shoot himself—it was brief enough— “Dear Eliza—I do not think it is right to do wrong either on good Friday or Sunday and so I shall not go to you till Monday.”

Yours &c

The Tailors maidservant stated in evidence that the Gentleman when he came to see her Mistress “seemed very tenacious of his countenance—always turning his head on one side”— Ah! The gentleman would have been so happy not to turn his head on one side if he could have helped it—a horrible wry-neck is in fact the poor little creature's special deformity!


Mazzini Plattnauer and I were talking of Count Krasinski's33 immortal activity of Body— Mazzini said his activity increased with years, that “each year seemed to take merely somewhat of his flesh, for want of which he went along all the lighter”—He is to be sure as lean as a flail— Plattnauer told apropos of this, that the maidservant of his (K's) Lodging, having come upon him the other day in puris naturalibus [stark naked] about to take a bath, dropt down in a faint mistaking him for Death!— Last Winter K—— had an illness which confined him some days to bed—with no one to tend him but the Maid of all work. Miss Porter34 an elderly Lady of his friends thought it would be a nice benevolent action and not without a dash of Adventure in it to go and visit the sick old Foreigner in bed. So off she went taking a young female Relation along with her for the better protection of her fair fame. These Ladies glided “without note of preparation35 into the Count's solitary chamber, and there they saw what they saw! a strange spectacle upon my honour! On a bed of the most squalid and chaotic appearance lay the long lean man—without his wig—no night cap—the pate of him as smooth as a marble—and—oh pudor [the shame of it]! Oh decencies of Life!—his throat and chest—if chest it could be called—exposed in all their anatomical terrors! The sight was too much for these Ladies; uttering a simultaneous scream they turned and fled—without even Virtues own reward; leaving the Count as much shocked as themselves. Pity that Benevolence would not oftener look before it leapt! since even when powerfulest in its own conceit it is apt to loose sense in any concussion with unforseen circumstances.


After I had been in London a short time36 my Husband advised me ironically of course to put an Advertisement in the Window “House of Refuge for stray Dogs and Cats”— The number of Dogs and Cats in distressed circumstances who imposed themselves on my country-simplicity was in fact prodigious— Now it strikes me, I might put in the window more appropriately—“General Audit Office for all the Miseries of the Universe.” Why does every miserable Man and Woman of my acquaintance come to me with his and her woes—as if I had no woes of my own—nothing in the world to do but to console “others.” Ach Gott! my head is getting to be a perfect chaos of other peoples disasters and despairs—

Here has been that illfated C—– T—–37 next— But to begin at the beginning. Returning from the Savings Bank I observed in the Kings Road a Child of “the Lower Orders, about two years old, in the act it seemed of dissolving all away into tears. A croud of tatter-demallion-Boys had gathered about it—but the genteel of both sexes were passing by on the other side.38 Of course I stopt, and enquired, and learnt from the Boys that the child was lost. There was no time for consideration, if I meant to save the creature from going all into water, so I took its little hand and bade it give over crying and I would help it to find its Mother. It clung to me quite trustfuly and dried itself up and toddled along by my side— The cortège of Boys dropt off by degrees and then I fell to questioning my foundling—but with the blankest result—of its name it knew not a syllable—nor of the street where it lived— Two words “up here—up here” seemed to constitute its whole vocabulary— In pursuance of this direction I led it into Manor Street—but in the midst it stood still with a mazed look and proved that It had yet another monisyllable by screaming out “No No”! Here we were joined by a lad of fourteen smoking a short pipe, and carrying a Baby a degree smaller than mine; he evidently suspected I was stealing the child; and felt it his duty not to lose sight of me and it. Nay he took its other hand without asking by your leave, and I, respecting his intention, tho' not very flattering to me, did not protest— By and by he hailed a bigger lad, and with Cockney silence deposited his own Baby in the arms of this other, put his short pipe into his pocket (a move which I was really thankful for) and so remained free to divote himself to my Baby with heart and hand— By this time my Baby was wearied and so was I—so I begged the Boy since he would accompany me to carry it to my house, as there was clearly no chance of our discovering its home— In the Boys arms my Baby grew a little more expansive “Have you a Father”? the Boy asked it. answer: an inarticulate sound— “Is your Father living” asked the Boy more loud.— The Child smiled sweetly, and said so that one could understand, “I HAVE a pretty Brother, and they put him in a pretty coffin”! Ah me!— At the bottom of my own street I met two Policemen whom I asked how I should proceed to get the Child restored to its family— “Send it to the Police Station”—that I would not “then send your Address to the Police Station” that I would— So I gave the Boy sixpence and sent him, when he had set down the Child at my own door, to the Station House with a slip of paper

“Stray Child at Mrs Carlyle's
No 5 Cheyne Row”

The Boy went off with an evident change in his feelings towards me—thro the fact I suppose of my having spoken to the Police men—and partly it might be on account of my respectable-looking house and the sixpence— Helen was at work in the bedrooms so I was obliged to keep my Child in the room with me, that it might not fill the house with wail to the astonishment and wrath of my Husband at his writing39—as it would have been sure to do if left all alone in the kitchen— And now ecco la combinazione [here's the coincidence]! On the table was a note which had been left Helen said by a young Lady40 who looked so distressed at finding me out that she (Helen) had invited her to come in and wait for me—but she prefered waiting at some shop in the neighbourhood—I opened the note with a presentiment that somebodys “finer sensibilities of the Heart”41 were about to get me into new trouble—and so it was— This Lady whom I had seen but once in Life, “felt it due to herself to make some disclosures to me” in addition to the certain awkward disclosures already made to me on her subject “and to throw herself on my mercy for advice under a new misfortune that had come upon her”— And the Child? I could not refuse to see anyone who had come so great a way and with such prodigious faith to “throw herself on my mercy” but how to keep the Child quite42 during her “disclosures”— I saw only one chance—to give it as much butter and bread and hard biscuit as would suffice to keep it munching for an hour or two—and this was forthwith brought—and with that consideration for les details which Cavaignac used to call my ruling passion43 a table cloth was spread on my new carpet in the midst of which the Child was placed that whatever mess it might create should be without permanent consequences— My preparations were hardly completed when the Lady arrived—how changed since our former interview— I had never before found myself in presence of a woman in ‘my own sphere of Life,’ known to me to be seduced— I have a strong prejudice against seduced Women in the Abstract—it indicates such stupidity to let oneself be seduced!— But this poor seduced Woman in the Concrete—covered with crimson and tears went to my heart like a knife— Stranger as she was to me, I could “do no otherwise so help me God”44 but receive her into my open arms not figuratively but literally speaking— And then this reception “so different from what she had dared to hope” produced a sort of hysteric on her part—and she laid her poor face on my lap and—covered my hands with kisses— Oh Mercy!—what a false position for one woman to be in towards another! It was a desperate interview—the only comfort was that the child gave us no trouble but munched away unconscious of the tragic scene—never stirring from its enchanted table-cloth—45 A greater contrast could not be than betwixt these my two protegées for the time being—that two-year-old duddy child—drowning its recent sorrows in bread and butter—ignorant that there were such things as Love— Seduction &c in the world—and that elegantly-dressed young Lady living and having her being46 in sentiment forgetful apparently that the world contained anything else but Love,—Seduction,—and Consequences. At last she went away consoled a little by my kindness perhaps but as for my “advice” tho I gave her the best—she will not of course follow a syllable of it— When Carlyle came to dinner he looked rather aghast at my Child—“Only think” said I to enlist his sympathies on its behalf “what a state of distraction the poor Mother must be running about in all that while”— “The poor Mother”! repeated he scornfully—“how do you know that the poor Mother did not put it down there in the King's Road for some such simpleton as you to pick it up—and saddle yourself with it for life?”—This was giving me a new idea “rather exquisite”47 I began to look at the child with a mixed feeling—of terror—and interest—to look at it critically as a possible possession, while little ideas of an educational sort flitted thro my brain— This state of uncertainty was cut short however by a young woman knocking at the door and with many protestations of gratitude applying for the creature; about five hours after I had found it. The young woman was not the Mother but a grown up Sister—the poor Mother was “at home in fits”—they feared the Child had staggered down into the Thames— It evinced no “fine feelings” at sight of its Sister—in fact it looked with extreme indifference on her, and indicated an inclination to remain where it was— But so soon as she took it into her arms it began to tell her “its travels history”48 with renewed tears and went off avec explosion

27th April 1845

Last night we had a novelty in the way of Society—a sort of Irish rigg— Mr Lucas came in before tea with a tail, consisting of three stranger-Irishmen49—real hot and hot live Irishmen—such as I had never before sat at meat with; or met in “flow of soul”—newly imported Irishmen with the brogue “rather exquisite” and “repale50 “more exquisite still! They came to ADORE Carlyle and also remonstrate with him, almost with tears in their eyes, on his opinion as stated in his Chartism that “a finer People (than the Irish) never lived only they have two faults; they do generally lie and steal”! The poor fellows got into a quite epic strain over this most calumnious exaggeration (pity but my Husband would pay some regard to the sensibilities of “others” and exaggerate less!) The Youngest one Mr Pigot—a handsome youth of the romantic cast—pale-faced with dark eyes and hair—and an Emancipator-of-the-Species-melancholy spread over him, told my Husband after having looked at and listened to him in comparative silence for the first hour with How to Observe51 written in every lineament that now he (Mr Pigot) felt assured he (my Husband was not in his heart so unjust towards Irland as his Writings led one to suppose—and so he would confess—for the purpose of retracting it—the strong feeling of repulsion with which he had come to him that night—he ought to have said in good Irish; “the strong feeling of repulsion which had brought him to him that night! “Why in the name of goodness then did you come”? I could not help asking—thereby producing a rather awkward result. Several awkward results were produced in this “nicht wi Paddy” They were speaking of the scotch intolerance towards Catholics—and Carlyle as usual took up the cudgels for Intolerance— “Why, said he, how could they do otherwise—if one sees one's fellow creature following a damnable error, by continuing in which the Devil is sure to get him at last and roast him in eternal fire and brimstone are you to let him go on towards such consumation or are you not rather to use all means to save him”?— “A nice prospect for you! to be roasted in fire and brimstone” I said to Mr Lucas, the redhottest of Catholics.—“for all of us” said poor Lucas laughing goodnaturedly “we are all Catholics”!. Nevertheless the evening was got over without bloodshed—at least malice prepense [malice aforethought] bloodshed—for a little blood was shed—involuntarily whilst they were all three at the loudest in their defence of Irland against the foul aspersions Carlyle had cast on it and “scornfully” cast on it; one of their noses burst out bleeding! It was the nose of the gentleman whose name we never heard52—he let it bleed into his pocket handkerchief privately till nature was relieved, and was more cautious of exciting himself afterward. The third—(Mr Duffy) quite took my Husbands fancy and mine also to a certain extent—he is a writer of National Songs—and come here to “eat his terms.”53 With the coarsest of human faces—decidedly as like a horse's as a man's he is one of the people that I should get to think beautiful—there is so much of the power both of Intellect and Passion in his phisiognomy—As for young Mr Pigot I will here in the spirit of prophecy inherited from my great great Ancestor John Welsh the Covenanter,54 make a small prediction on his subject: if there be in his time an Insurrection in Irland as these gentlemen confidently anticipate; Mr Pigot will rise to be a Robespierre of some sort—will cause many heads to be removed from the shoulders they belong to—and will “eventually” have his own head removed from his own shoulders.55 Nature has written on that handsome but fatal looking countenance of his quite legibly to any prophetic eye—“go and get thyself beheaded but not before having lent a hand towards the great work of “immortal smash”!”56 All these Irishmen went off without their hats; and had to return into the room to seek them; two of them found theirs after a moderate search—the third, the one whose nose bled had hid his under the sofa where I discovered it by help of my aforementioned second sight. I have now seen what Sir James Graham would call “fine foamy patriotism57 dans sa plus simple expression [expressed most simply]58


That dismal Christie,60 who has taken the part, decidedly, of using me up as a safety-valve for his inward griefs was here last night again61—moaning and maundering on for two mortal hours, till I could hardly help saying to him with emphasis—“give over that in God's name—and fall rather to cursing—like a Man!— He told me that “his wife's end was the most blessed! the only thing that troubled her was a great wish for—two mutes at the door on the day of her funeral!! and doubt whether he would be able to raise them!— “Two mutes”?! “Yes she said it looked so respectable that! she would be very sorry not to have it”! How ghastly-ludicrous!—what a thing is respectability after all! now consisting in keeping a gig,—now limiting itself to two mutes! “And I was determined she should have them” said he “tho I knew that they would cost 9/ a-piece!— Then he went on to tell how he was sitting by her dead body—looking round the room, to see if there was anything left he could sell for twice nine shillings—the six pounds he had borrowed being inadequate for this additional expence— When Capt Sterling62 came and left five soverigns on the mantle piece! “Oh God bless him forever! it was a glad sight for me that money; for now SHE should have the MUTES”! said Christie


Novr 1852

Irish Gratitude

My Irish Fanny63 was telling me today of an old woman she had often seen in Tipperary, who “engaged on her death-bed to come back,—if she possibly could.”64 A Catholic herself, she had received much kindness in her latter years from a Protestant gentleman of the Place had indeed been almost entirely supported by him. So on [her] deathbed65 she sends for this gentleman to thank him with her last breath, and nothing she said should prevent her doing him a kindness66 after death—if she could—67

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