April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO AUBREY DE VERE; 13 July 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490713-TC-ADV-01; CL 24: 118-119


Waterford, 13 july, 1849—

Dear Ay de Vere,

Thanks for your Letter1 which found me here yesterday; thanks too for your bundle of blue-book papers, which got safe to the “Imperial” in Dublin, but which, alas, fell overboard there in the universal tempest and whirlpool of people and things that marked all my days and moments in that City. I will try somewhere to get another copy, and to have it conveyed to “Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan, N.B.,” where (and not here) there is some chance of getting them duly read. Your Papers are lost, you see; but your Letter I have, and like well, and thoroughly agree with in all essentials;2 and in fact receive as a very welcome and friendly voice from over the water just now.

I have seen an immensity of kinds of people; find them all distinguished by two qualities: generous warmth of hospitality, welcoming the stranger of whatever colour with open arms; and secondly by mutual animosity, each class bitterly accusing every other, and in fact blaming and accusing all things, except its own self the one accusable thing! This temper of theirs, in this condition of theirs, saddens me exceedingly. The land is covered with winged flights of migratory beggars,—past computation, past imagination! True human beggary I never dreamed of till I got to the ancient “City” of Kildare,—a place strange to me almost as a village in Timbuctoo. The crops are beautiful beyond precedent, the weather beautiful and bright;—and far and wide, waves once more in boundless breadth the fatal Potatoe; as yet quite luxuriant, but which all people are regarding as their Hour of Doom: the reasonablest men I talk with, not to speak of poor wretched serfs and savages miscalled free citizens, seem to consider the Potatoe their one chance of salvation: if the potatoe will revive, we live; if it die, what can we also do but die? More grievous stupor and stolidity I never witnessed on as wide a scale before.— It seems to me the sufferings of this people will be great before they learn their lesson. Learn it, however, they must; continue on upper earth without learning it they cannot, let the potatoe do its best.

Lord Stuart de Decies, warned I find by some Dublin hand, had a kind Note waiting me here; I enclosed Lord Monteagle's Letter, and engaged to see Dromana this evening;3 to leave Cork-wards on the morrow, or at farthest early next morning. Lord Carew's4 servant happened to be in this Hôtel; the Master, 8 miles off, was inaccessible; I sent my Note by the accidental opportunity, along with my regrets. It is Assize-time; which hinders various people: but on the whole excess is the error of my fortune in that particular, by no means defect. The Duke of Devonshire's Agent, a very pleasant clear experienced Englishman,5 is here in this place too, waiting as grand-juror: I spent a comfortable hour with him last night, but beyond a sight of Lismore prohibited farther efforts or regrets on his part. No Priest that I have yet seen pleases me at all; and no Repealer except Dr Cane of Kilkenny—a man to be warranted genuine. The rest are a sad imbroglio, to be shunned and not sought, except for scientific purposes. Poor Ireland!

Will you join me at Limerick then about the 17th of this month? Duffy (if he shd be there), you and my friend Forster the “Transition Quaker” wd make one of the worthiest and pleasantest groups in all Ireland,—with me for Elder.

Ever yours /

T. Carlyle