January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 25 July 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430725-TC-JWC-01; CL 16: 313-316


Liverpool, Tuesday, 24 [25] july 1843—


Your Letter lay waiting on the table this morning; many thanks to Goody for it, a poor sick Goody! I did not write yesterday, and have hardly a quarter of an hour for that object today: if you add John to Liverpool, you will not expect Letters from me at present. Tomorrow we quit but for what place becomes again uncertain; out of this place, with Jack appended to me, I must soon go; whitherward is not of much moment: to the air, to the Sea or the grass, all shall be equal to me. We had after some slight but sufficient deliberation settled for a week's walking in North Wales, to commence by a sail over to Bangor or the Menai Bridge: by that I think we are likeliest to hold, tho' today all manner of questionabilities, weather and what not have risen; and a sail to the Isle of Man1 is proposed instead: this latter, as I at once declared my indifference as to the whitherward, is likely to be given up again, and Wales to return whatever weather it may be. The whole thing is to last but a week; that I have stipulated for; and then I consider that it will be wise to become a single man again, or at all events to go across to Annandale soon, if Jack is to continue with me. I think he will do better if I resolutely take the command. His friendliness is great; but he goes about like a “torch of confusion”;2 an intolerable element of chaos tied to your right hand. Poor Jack, I have many things to ask of him too; and gradually get them out of him by patience. His account of poor Alick is sufficiently distressing on some sides: a tragic history; may that prove the crisis of it! My poor Brother, true companion of my young days, which all rise with a strange sad distinctness in my solitary hours at present, will be about arriving on a new shore in these very days. On a new arena to begin a new life; God grant it might be a wiser and more prosperous one!

Yesterday we went to call for the Chorleys:3 joy to the ridge-tile at sight of us; and a long ethico-philosophical and miscellaneous discourse with the elder Brother the Mother and Daughter; which latter two are just bound for Wales, to the second Brother's house, who has gone to live in Tremadoc in that country: the invitations to bend thitherward were many and pressing,—but waved aside, as was the invitation to a dinner here. The Brother's passionate entreaty to come and bear him company in his silent empty house on our return was much more tempting; nor did I entirely say NO to it. You direct your Letters hitherward however; I will leave my trunks and all things here, in little Jeannie's care, who already has taken wife-like4 charge of me (blessings on her), and sent out my things to be washed without plague to me!

This day we went to call for Mrs Paulet;—after a good deal of burbling from Jack, who however paid for the fly, we got thither, half an hour before our time: there had been a Note sent about it by Jeannie, and as no answer had come I was not for going at all; but had we waited half an hour (which I found afterwards would have brought us to the time she mentioned) all would have been well, for— Mrs Paulet was gone to Liverpool, and we drove quietly home again! The chances now are, it would appear, twofold: first, that she never got Jeannie's Note till her arrival in town this morning; which will do very well: second, that she counted herself safe till the hour we had mentioned (or rather they had mentioned); which will do rather ill! But Jeannie seems to have no misgiving as to that latter chance; and so, at any rate, it must stand;—and so, at any rate, I am well contented that it stand, for I was in no mood today to encounter the Moral Sublime in female headdress, and liked greatly better to return home in a silent condition.— Passing along near some Catholic Chapel, and noticing a great crowd in a yard there, with flags, white sticks and brass-bands, we stopt of [our?] hackneycoachman; stept forth into the thing,—and found it to be Father Matthew distributing the Temperance Pledge to the lost sheep of this place;5 thousands strong, of both sexes, a very ragged, lost-looking squadron indeed! Father is a broad solid, most excellent-looking man, with grey hair, mild intelligent grey eyes, massive rather aquiline nose and countenance; in a long black frock-coat and white neckcloth, of aspect like any other excellent clergyman (Kingsley for example beaten down four inches shorter6): the very face of him attracts you. His speech, in a strong Cork accent, with the softest mild voice, worn hoarse at present by much work, is quiet, clear, rational, and listened to with profound assent by the poor ragged people, about half or more of whom seemed to be Irish. We saw him go thro' one whole act of the business,—“do,” as Darwin would say, an entire batch of teetotallers: I almost cried to listen to him; and could not but lift my broadbrim at the end, when he called for God's blessing on the vow these poor wretches had taken, and murmur audibly, “So be it!” He has done about 80,000 in Manchester; already some 60,000 here (as a man told us), and means to continue “all this day, plase7 God, and till tomorrow at sunset,”—which announcement the audience responded to with a low but heartfelt sound, far better than a shout.8 I have seen nothing so religious since I set out on my travels, as the squalid scene of this day; nay nothing properly religious at all, tho' I have been in Laud's Chapel, and heard duly, with damnable iteration, of “the means of graice and the hope of dlary9 from that portentous human snipe,—not a bad fellow either, poor devil! But we are in a dreadful mess as to all that; and even a strong Bishop Thirlwall constitutes himself a Macready of Episcopacy as the best he can do, and does it uncommonly well;—and is “a strong-minded man, sir,” and a right worthy man in his unfortunate kind. As to Cuittikins—O my Goody, what would have become of thee as Mrs Bishop Cuittikins, a “noughty” creature?

On the whole, it seems terribly absurd to run away for a week out of earshot from thee, and hide among foolish Welsh Hills which I do not even wish to see! Write for Saturday hitherward; Jeannie will forward it,—I will tell her how when I have had time to consider. Perhaps I shall return hither on Saturday: the one point I have any wish about was to see Snowdon, and that can be done before then. I will write to thee out of Wales: look out, but not with impatience on the third postday after this; the second, I doubt, is not possible.— Wet news, but otherwise good from Helensburgh. God bless thee my darling. And so ends, thy unfortunate / T. C.