April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 8 July 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490708-TC-JWC-01; CL 24: 106-109


Halverstown, Kilcullen Cy Kildare, Sunday 8 july, 1849.—

Well Dearest, here I am, after multiplied confusions, safe in Fitzgerald's Country; one of the queerest elegant exotic-looking establishments I have ever been in: surrounded by green trees, rose-bushes, beautifullest summer afternoon, and the sacred atmosphere of human hospitality (a virtue surely prevalent in Ireland),—to all which is now added (thank God!) for an hour or two till dinner perfect quiet, the divine liberty to sit by myself, and altogether hold my tongue! To my felicities in Dublin there was this wanting, if nothing else was; this by day, and the opportunity and faculty to sleep by night: which made a formidable drawback indeed.— Yesterday, after a sleep of considerably longer and better quality, I was as usual dragged about all, till my life was cheap at sixpence: breakfast with zoological society; visit to Irish Academy,—where were shown me the Sacred Book of Clogher1 (the Oath by which, in Ireland, is as that by the River Styx);2 the Crucifix of O' something (an indubitable article really, and dated by the Maker himself, whose smith-work looked quite superior, about the year 1100); item firkins of Bog-butter (say only a thousand years old) which tasted much like spermaceti; then copper razors, torques, gold bracelets of the Tarah potentates, gold headgear, spears, porridge-pots of tremendous antiquity,—really very interesting all, for they had an authenticity unexpected to me; and friend Petrie,3 “dear old Petrie” one of the most likeable of men, rose quite into enthusiasm in speaking of them— After which Captn Larcom and his workshop,4 excellent too,—an Englishman he: after which some other body; after which—I fair struck work, shut my door, and took resolutely to pack and get away. You have no idea what diplomacy I had to shew to get away from the Lord Lieut's dinner without violating etiquette, and also with the prospect (realized, thank Heaven!) of getting for myself a little human sleep when night should come. To Howth (6 or 8 miles out), to one of the Huttons (father of a worshipper of mine) was my recourse;5 and there I got a salutary dip in the sea (only scratching my heel slightly, because the Irish Artist forgot the bathing-slippers in his box);6 after which, at the expense of rational Socinian conversation, fiercely trampled down by me, but met by divine patience and even by some lurking assent from both Father & Mother (excellent people, on my honour!) I did at last get to bed,—oh joy, a quiet bed, where almost six hours of real sleep fanned by the clear sea-breeze, and infinitely refreshing, were vouchsafed me. Ten o'clock set me down again this morning at the further (Eastern) verge of Dublin, Station of the Cashel Railway; and two hours more at the edge of Kildare town, where, after some burbling avoidable enough but not avoided, “Peter Fitzgerald” and his Wife, fresh from divine (Catholic) service, caught me up surveying the gaunt old Monastery and Round Tower, and seeking for “St Bridget's Fire House” (now demolished): and amid a crowd of beggars of all ages, sexes and figures, our acquaintance was begun. ‘P. F.’ (whisper it not!) is a tremendously fat man, like our Fitzgd buried under half a ton of adipose substance, bodily and alas mental; but the warmest welcome looks from every feature of him, the politest eagerness to oblige; his Wife (his Aunt's sister,—aunt-in-law) a smart Dublin Lady has wit enough; so has the Aunt or elder sister herself whom I found here; and a brother, a Landlord O'Connor of English figure and breeding who I suppose has been brought over to meet me.7 The House, not very large, not larger perhaps than Addiscombe with a wing or two, is full of originality, hall all carpeted, sofaed, dining room lighted from above, and tolerable oil-pictures on the walls; chapel (Mass-priest is to appear at dinner), greenhouse,—a big crag lying on the lawn, where I have already sat and smoked a pipe. My bedroom is superb: I am to be forwarded tomorrow to the vale of Glendalough and back (round tower, and churches, older than the deluge; beautiful Lake, hills and valley do or at least as old) next day the Curragh of Kildare,—and [name illegible] a Friend of Ay Sterling might by hard driving be included, but I decide, not;—and then at 6 p.m. I am to be put into the Railway again; and so to Kilkenny at 9½ p.m. where Duffy waits me, and is guest of “Dr Cane the Mayor,”8 a sensible man, with whom I also have consented to lodge.— Oh Heaven, there are two Letters more to be written, and only about half an hour remains,—half past five at present, 6½ is dinner.

I forgot to tell you of my dinner with Sir Duncan Macgregor, an excellent old Scotchman,—voice and manner (allowing for sex) strikingly like Mrs Rich's: a pleasant dinner; two native Irish there, of singular vernacularity, yet gentlemen both, one of whom brought me home in his car. National School of Agriculture (whither a Dignitary Macdonnell had driven me in the afternoon) was far the hopefullest thing I saw yet in Ireland: 45 rough peasant Lads, from the far west as from other regions, all getting themselves actually trained and bred not to be Irish blackguards, but effective, cleanly, decent methodic men and tillers of the soil,—sure to be missionaries of Order, irrefragable preachers of much that is needfullest here, wherever they go. Larcom, whom I saw first at M'Gregor's, seemed to take to me, as I did to him.— The aspect of Dublin generally is sad and distressing to me: class filled with raging animosity against class; and idleness, and sumptuously-housed poverty looking out everywhere; and one black ruin seeming to be imminent over all that is established there. Groups of ragged savages are more, but not so very much more, numerous than one has seen them as imported in London: Kildare first showed me Irish beggars; a wretched little ruined Town, half the size of Ecclefechan, nearly all of huts, and with hardly anything but beggars, all in rings[?], some of them above half naked to be seen in it. Oh me! I was deaf to all solicitation; at length two young rag-scruns [thin scraggy persons] who had long stood silent within sight of the carriage where I sat waiting a little, attracted me (the rest had all gone in despair): these I called to me, gave them 4 pence in silver to divide: “Long life to your honour! Oh may the Almighty &c!” and so off they went: but presently one, rather the bigger one, came back, “Ach yor honor! he's gone and tuk it from me, won't give me any of it!”— “Then why don't you,” I said, “go and lick him till he cannot stand, and make him give it you?” With which decision two unbegging men within reach of us seemed to be well satisfied;—feeling, I suppose, like myself that it was all fudge. A Hawker did me in Dublin out of a penny,—they are apt to think all things allowed in that game, poor wretch.

Alas, how I am clatter-clattering; and you tomorrow, all day, will be whirling thro' the world, full of wild bustle too!— Here actually is the man with hot water: warning to dress: Oh my dear!— But you may send this Letter to Jack and my Mother, that will save me all but a few short words at present on that quarter? Yes, send it;—only bid Jack send it back to you, that it be not lost; for I cannot get the smallest leisure to jot a word on paper; and if this go on, all memorials of me on this expeditn may be useful one day.

Your Letter yesterday waited when I returned from the zoological,—read (only half, then) along the streets toward the Rl [Royal] I. A. (Irish Academy, that is): many thanks to thee, Goodykin!— This will get to Nottingham I compute on Tuesday: whither can I bid you write? Cork, I think: “Post-Office, Cork”; and to attain even that you must not delay beyond two days. Waterford, I give up as too hurried for you: but there also I will call at the Post-Office on chance. Dublin is arranged to forward thither.

Every kind regard to Mr Neuberg: take care of yourself, and grow fresh and strong. Blessings be with you, and a good journey tomorrow.

Ever yours /

T. Carlyle