April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 17 July 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490717-TC-JWC-01; CL 24: 125-129


Imperial Hotel, Cork, 17 july (Tuesday forenoon) 1849—

Well, dear Goody, here I am, and your Letter is here; safe both, tho' exposed to injuries and the chances of travel: but where you are is much a mystery to me at present, for you make no prophecy of times to me after Rawdon, and it is somewhat dubious to me whether you are still there, or gone forward into the twilight region that intervenes between Fife and the Yorkshire Hills. Good weather, and all good,—including, if it were possible, a little good sleep,—go with you whatsoever the steps of your course be! Yesternight I shot a Newspaper off to “Liverpool,” but with hardly any expectation of its finding you on that side of the Island; I will write to Rawdon, all will surely follow you from that, were it even with a day or two days of delay. From Waterford I told you my next “Post-Office” was Limerick (probably 4 days hence), to which I hope some Letter from you is now under way: after Limerick comes “Galway” (but observe, very shortly after, 3 days at most); after Galway, “Sligo” is likely, but I have written to Lord George Hill this moment, and he must decide as to Sligo. At any rate a Letter thither would get to me, for if I do not pass that way, I will write to the Postmaster.— And this is all I can say at present as to routes and times; for all ahead is one unravelled mass, depending on possibilities not yet disclosed, and many details of it are obliged to change from day to day. Do you write to Galway (I will make them forward it, if needful); and say there, if you can, about what date I may begin addressing you at Walter's (Auchtertoul, is it not?) in Fife. Somehow I shall feel more easy about you there. Poor Goody,—I know it well, that of wandering about, without sleep, with a sick body, with an escort only of sad thoughts for company! I wish I could but pluck away that latter element from you; but, alas, I cannot, and my poor wish is not worth the ink it costs. Insist at least on the hospitable people leaving you alone: that is an immense point, not to be tormented with talk, to lay oneself down on a sofa, and say, “Silence in the name of Allah!”—

I continue to get on admirably in all respects except that one fatal respect of the faculty of sleep. Little sleep going; too little for a wae fellow like me! Ach Gott, I have been dreadfully off for a little quietude more than once; at Waterford the morning after last writing, I rose rather than awoke, very ill fitted indeed for breakfasting with revd Fathers1 and seeing sights in the hot weather: accordingly about one o'clock I resolutely struck work; gave up, went home to my inn, and lay down on two chairs, deciding to speak no more till the hour came for leaving Waterford. Which really did somewhat relieve me!— What negociations I had with the Duke of Devonshire's Agent at Waterford, and how he would take no denial, but do the impossible to entertain me at Lismore (which really, with the Lord Stuart so close, was quite needless, nay superfluous), I will tell you some other day: also of the said Ld Stuart and Dromana House (the Drum of Ana), a huge grey pile in the middle of woods and lawns in the grey of 9 p.m. with a traveller in pilot-jacket, all one heap of road dust, and dreary dispiritment,—which the social welcome, polite mild-toned, hearty, and the blessed stillness of the place dispatched. Ld Stuart a man about my own age, is altogether English in manner and character; his Wife had gone to the German Baths, a step-daughter Irish-German, Baroness (I really never can remember what), whose Husband it is hoped will soon thrash the Hungarians,—she a little talking, musical, melodious-insipid Lady, and his Lp a man of Twistleton dialect and manner,2 were our only company in the huge house,—where doubtless any one to talk a little must be welcome enough if there were food going! I had a room (best bedroom, I suppose) of almost an acre in extent; and silent, Oh with the silence as of the flight of Time. Had I not been driven nearly out of my skin by former excitations, I must have slept here;—indeed I did sleep, and Devonshire Currey let me alone, I should have quite recovered here before Monday. But no, that was not to be: after one night there, I was bowled away late next night to “the Duke's” big palace,3—room almost for a little House of Peers in it,—and no soul visible there but one or two domestics, especially one old halting Irishwoman, who seemed to keep the rooms, and have an eye for shillings: truly a place worth seeing however, and which could not under better auspices, or at less expenditure of comfort by me, be seen. From Currey too, and from Dromana, I learned a variety of things. Finally I passed the Sunday night in Sir Walter Raleigh's House (or College) at Youghall,4 and there—had a sleep; two sleeps, amounting in sum to almost 8 hours! So that yesterday Evening on getting hither, to rendezvous again with Duffy I hoped the bitterness of misery was past! Alas, last night, the wind blew rattling my window (my bed one of those accursed “French” crotchets), so that with all my industry I could not get adjusted till 3 a.m; and then I did fall sound asleep, and then,—O Heaven!—a voice was heard, and again and again ever louder heard, “SEVEN O'clock, Sir! SEVEN O' &c &c,” till I did awake, and there stood a little bottlebrush head of the infatuated Boots, with a little jug in his hand:—a mistake of “the slate,” my name was on the slate. A malison rest on thee, wretched Boots. And so my head again is aching; and busy sight-seeing, dinner with some Cork dignitary being unavoidable, my outlooks are none of the best. Courage, however; we are getting thro' it, and if Heaven will, we shall get some benefit of it too.

Last night Duffy was out at dinner; did not see me till after 11; as harbinger to him came a little “Father Shea,”5 one of the two souls in the world (beside my Goody's, which I had within myself) who approved of Sartor in Fraser's time.6 I thought fully surely the good Father had been dead, years ago; but no here he was, a little squat grey figure, considerably gone in drink at the moment; could hardly be kept from falling into my arms;—is to dine in our party today. A party that goes down the river or Harbour, a celebrated “Sail,” and comes up again &c— I wish only, for my own share, it were well done.— Tomorrow, all day in open car, we run right over to Killarney, omitting Miss O'Neil, Ld Doneraile,7 Ld Lansdowne's people, are to see the Lake,8 the people, and one Shine Lawlor, a Repeal Landlord of Note;9 after that, if possible, one Crosbie a Tory Landlord,10 and then Limerick and Letters from Goody and others. Did Forster write as I suggested? I do not think it is much matter to me now whether he come or not. Indeed I rather think of parting with Duffy before long; who (in my sleepless state, he being a sleeper) does me almost as much ill as good.— He is about beginning the Nation again; is the idol, and sacred martyr of all the repeal population, which I think means all the mere-Irish population taken together,—something sadly canaillish in that kind of relation; but it shews me at present the inside of repeal, and has its worth for a while.

Adieu dear Jeannie, O adieu! My heart and head are very weary; in all dispiritments I turn (as by old wont) to you. I have still a word to answer Jack.— This birthday I was among the Knockmeldown Mountains in a real live “Monastery of La Trappe” there,11 and could send my dear Goody no gift,—only wishes, wishes. Yours ever

T. Carlyle