August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO C. G. DUFFY; 29 August 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460829-TC-CGD-01; CL 21:33-34.


Scotsbrig, 29 Augt, 1846—

My dear Sir,

I am still here, lounging about, with occasional excursions, in a very idle manner, for some weeks past: one of the stillest, most mournfully interesting scenes for me in all this world. The moors are still silent, green and sunny, and the great blue vault is still a kind of Temple for one there,—almost the only kind of Temple one can try to worship in in these days. Otherwise the country is greatly in a state of defacement: the Harvest, with its black potato-fields no great things; and all roads and lanes overrun with drunken Navvies; for our great Caledonian Railway passes in this direction, two railways, and all the world here as elsewhere calculates on getting to Heaven by steam! I have not in my travels seen anything uglier than that disorganic mass of Labourers, sunk threefold deeper in brutality by the threefold wages they are getting. The Yorkshire and Lancashire men, I hear, are reckoned the worst; and not without glad surprise I find that the Irish are the best in point of behaviour. The Postmaster tells me several of the poor Irish do regularly apply to him for money-drafts, and send their earnings home:1 the English, who eat “twice” as much beef, consume the residue in whiskey, and do not trouble the Postmaster. If there were any Legislator in this country, he would swiftly and somewhat sternly I think interfere in the matter: a poor self-cancelling “National Palaver” cannot interfere. “Parliament in College Green”:2 O Heaven, you!—ought daily to thank Heaven, that that is forever an impossibility for you!— I could like also to shew Exeter Hall and the Anti-Slavery Convention3 a glimpse of these free and independent Navvies on the evening of monthly pay-day, and for a fortnight after!— But enough of them and their affairs.

I am now looking homewards; but have not yet by any means given up my purpose to have a glance at Ireland first. On the contrary I am now busy seeking out an eligible route. One or two on closer investigation have been renounced: my view at present is towards Ayrshire, towards some of the Western Scotch Ports. Glasgow, at any rate, will not fail to offer a steamer, but I do not except on necessity care to see Glasgow at present. One way or other I think it likely I may be in Ireland, on some point or other, in a week hence. You shall hear from me again, with more minute specifications, in not many days.

If Dundrum be, as I fancy, a clean sea-village,4 it might be possible to procure, what I find for most part very unattainable away from home, a lodging with a quiet bedroom in which the wretched Traveller might hope for natural sleep! All else is indifferent but that; and that too has generally to make itself indifferent. But if such were the case, I might very pleasantly stay two or three days beside you, and bathe in the Irish Sea, before I went farther. In any case I mean to see you there, to have a considerable colloquy with you, if I can.— My next Address will be Dumfries (Mrs Aitken, Assembly Street); but after Wednesday I shall not be sure of getting it at once. Pray let the Nation henceforth be sent to Chelsea as heretofore, where my wife will now in two days be. I wish I were there myself, and my travels well over! / Yours ever truly

T. Carlyle

I cannot read your Landlord's name at Dundrum; so must stand by the old address