January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 26 July 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430726-TC-JWC-01; CL 16: 316-319


Llanberws (foot of Snowdon) Wednesday Evg 26 july, 1843—


You got no Letter from me today; but Babie was appointed to inform you what had become of me; and here I am safe in the heart of Carnarvonshire, and in a condition (were the ink a little more fluid—which by libations from a punch-jug I have just made it!) to scribble you an authentic word, in hope of falling in with a Post-Office somewhere tomorrow. The Herr Zangbein [Mr. Tongleg],1 poor fellow, has been of real use to me today; he knows the country and its conveyances, regulations, and peculiarities thoroughly well; he pays all the bills &c for me; and if Carnarvonshire contained in it one tolerable tobacco-pipe accessible to me, I should really have cause to declare myself “far better than could be expected.” We have had a most quiet grey day,—for I insisted on sitting silent amid the pure green inarticulate Lea and blue Winds; to all waiters, crimps of inns, and other fatal-looking persons I merely responded by a silent beckoning towards Tongleg, who seemed to take delight in the office of answering. He is now out of doors smoking a cigar in the rain under the porch, and I am very glad to write once more a word to my own poor Goody, the patient recipient of all my twaddle.— Alas here he is again, the cigar done! Nevertheless I continue, having handed him a Newspaper.

We got fairly on board a Steamer called the Ayrshire Lassie about eleven o'clock this day; a rainy morning issuing in a grey west-wind day, not unfavourable to the pensive mind that loves withal a moderate temperature. Arbuckle attended us on board: he is going to the equatorial regions again,2 poor fellow, in about a month—under better auspices this time: a really admirable man in his still way; to whom I wish heartily well. Babie at parting was constituted mistress of all my goods, the keys were left with her; your Letters only being sealed. She is to darn socks for me, to sew on buttons &c &c: I kissed her pretty lips at parting, poor Babie; for she has been the cheerfullest thing I have seen since leaving thee: a really bonny phenomenon; one of the nicest bits of lassies you will find in a summer days riding. It is really sad that she should be left yonder in the reek of cookery and wine-drinking, and stolid dulness;—I wonder what the young men are about that they do not marry her forthwith, and almost steal her away the good little child! Nothing could be kinder or wiser than she has all along shewn herself.

But as for our journey,—it was sea and lime-stone Mountain, bay and promontory; Great Orme's Head, Little Orme's Head, Pen Maen Maur (a Mountain not unlike Criffel, washed by the Sea),3 and then towns, Beaumaris, Bangor, the Strait of Anglesea, and the Menai Bridge, clearly a wonder of the world: altogether a very reasonable day, since you were allowed to sit silent and look at it. In the Mersey River, coming out along with us, were from 3 to 2 hundred ships, the morning's message of that great smoky Monster; and at night we are here, in the eternal slate wilderness; one of the dullest Inns I ever sat in, truly almost an enchanted palace, for it is a huge place like a Castle, and of the best equipment; all kept by a solid Scotch Farmer named Johnstone;—and owing to the badness of trade, there seems to be not a soul in it but our two selves; or the rest at least are all in apartments, and sit remote from the “Coffee-room,” thro' which only the Mountains and the Night have the privilege of looking in at the windows. We came in a kind of tub-gig from Bangor, 14 miles; well defended from the rain; already supplied with tea, and possessed of a pipe tho' a scandalously bad one. We have had one temperate glass of brandy, and a walk out to look at “the old tower”; it is now past ten, all quiet, and if I had done scribbling here, I am off to bed.— Tomorrow we propose climbing Snowdon; but the weather alas promises ill. Small matter to me which way! I have already seen somewhat; and shall know always where to conceive Silence as resident in future. This place is some four miles from the end of a narrow Lake among wild barren gnarly slate hills; or rather it stands at the junction of two Lakes (once one), which gradually contract a little farther eastward (Snowdon crushing himself there very close upon his neighbour Glyddir) into a certain Pass of Llanberws, very frightful to see (it would appear); at the old Tower tonight about nine in a drizzly evening, it was the strangest scene I ever looked on: A world all of slate, huge Mountains, stumpy blunt blocks, small fragments and fractions sticking thro' the patches of grass,—slate, slate everywhere. The two Lakes once one [look?]ed earnest as very death, a few intermittent lights glimmered fitfully (not abov[e] three I think) about the foot of the hills; and far up on the mountain sides, there arose ever and anon a rustling among the slate-quarry rubbish, which hangs like a river all down the declivity, and jingles in that way, we are told, all days and all nights of the year, never entirely done with jingling at all! It was most strange in the dead solitude. I shall remember Llanberws. By the bye you pronounce it Lanberries in Christian speech; and so enough of it now.4

Dear Goody how many thousand things deserved better to be said than this Tourist twaddle! Thou hast saved the old Stimabile, saved the young Mudie, thou art a wise good Goody!— Babie doubtless told you about the end of the Paulet adventure: well, I have only to add that the Lady somewhat—disappointed me! She is not beautiful entirely; she is not wise entirely; there is no danger at all of falling in love with her, I should conjecture! Yet I doubt not I shall like her very well; for there is endless animation, good humour, and a dash of haverilism [silliness] (I almost think) which will do excellently, and best of all, to dine with;—as I engage to do on our return.

The whole house is to bed but myself, even Jack has just gone; and this Letter has to be “left on the table,” and will go tomorrow morning, by some mysterious early conveyance, by some route or other. From the heart of the Mountains I send a blessing and goodnight to my Dearest. Fail not to write! Good Night, & sleep! / T. C.