April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE; 29 July 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490729-TC-JWC-01; CL 24: 154-156


Ballina, Sligo, 29 July, 1849.

Well, Dearest, I trust you have got safe to Auchtertool, and are quiet in Walter's Manse this day: here also am I arrived safe—2 o'clock of a showery day,—and the first thing I do after washing my face, is to write you account of myself. My poor little Goody, to whom else can I write my sorrows, my “complaints,”—my joys, if I had any considerable?— Bad luck to that quavering, trilling musical jackass with mustachios, a Lieutenant of Foot I judge, who scared us out of one room with his tobacco, and is now singing audibly over all the house, Sabbath tho' it is, and interrupting me here!—

… The day before yesterday I wrote to you from Tuam, under the shadow of the big Cathedral of “John of Chume!” A nasty product, “John of Chume”: we passed his birthplace today; a wild grim patch of farm by the shore of a big desolate lake among the wilderness of stony moors and mountains: a place to nurse a man of some talent into a priest of much fanaticism,—poor “John of Chume,” cursing with bell, book and candle, according to his trade!1— From Tuam, after a baddish night, we got under way upon the Mail for Castlebar, the County Town of Mayo, and thence for Westport, some forty miles in all: the morning was wettish, but I preferred the outside; smoked and looked, pretty well wrapped up, and nothing to complain of; Duffy inside, and silence allowed me. At Castlebar, the rain increasing, Duffy proposed to stop, and not see Westport the acme of the Beggary in these parts: I again was clear for persisting; sat accordingly, swiftly wafted into the teeth of a fierce wind and rain, tobacco and my poor umbrella being my only comfort, for the next ten miles; when Westport came in view, a nice-looking Town (for all those towns had corn-factors, butter, bacon, land-factors, who built big houses), and the mountain behind it called “Croagh Phaedrig” (Patrick's Hill), where St. Patrick gathered all the serpents and also all the devils, and making a big mass of them all, in one night, hurled them next morning into Clew Bay and the general Atlantic,—more power to his elbow! … The “Dean Bourke,” Catholic Priest to whom I had a letter from Lord Sligo2 never shows his face but forty or fifty scarecrows of both sexes fasten on him, soon swelling to four or five hundred; and the poor man, a good-humoured elderly fellow with much snuff on his breastworks, has a sad time of it. “Go, I don't keer if ye were dead,” he says to them, and doesn't affect any sensibility he cannot feel. A short look at all this,—where every second soul is a pauper, and some three score Mothers with infants were to be seen, at the national charges nourishing a chattery of new paupers,—sufficed us, and we decided to come back to Castlebar that same night, instead of on the morrow (to-day); and there accordingly, we staid, doing all that was doable with new Pauper Unions, etc.;—and were about to start this morning hitherward at 11 o'clock, when, lo, the coach horn from the westward sounded; and very blue in the face, but otherwise brisk and lively there rushed in,—W. E. Forster! Shot like a bullet all the way from Rawdon, by excellent calculation he had there hit us! I laughed at the singularity of the thing, and again laughed; and in fact was and am very glad at the rencounter. He stept into our Car, public Car occupied by us alone; and here he is, as large as life, and as full of locomotion as ever!— Let me tell thee now what awaits of motion for the coming few days. My pen is very bad; and in addition to the music, here are able editors coming, etc., etc.!

To-morrow Duffy and I go to Sligo (only 20 or 30 miles); there, Walker (A. Sterling's friend) keeps us as guests till Wednesday morning; Forster in the meanwhile has other excursions to make along the shore here, and will rejoin us on Sligo Streets, and mount the Coach or Car with us,—for 30 or 40 miles on; to a little town called Donegal, there I leave him, to make his way round by the coast to Gweedore; … Enough, enough, my poor little wearied woman. To-morrow I expect to hear of you at Sligo; on Wednesday, I am to ask for Forster's Letters at “Letter Kenny,” and will ask for myself too, he having advised you to write thither, tho' I guess there will be nothing, you being rather unadvisable!

My poor little Goody—ah me, my heart is sore for thee, and that sad Haddington night (for I have got all your bits of news out of Forster as we came along, having the whole side of the Car to ourselves): however, it was perhaps right; indeed I imagine I should have done the very same myself. God help thee, my little one; think that, beside that Grave, there is also one soul still alive who can never cease to love thee. Yes, after his own wild way,—stern as the way of death,—to love thee: that is a truth, and will remain one. Eheu, eheu [Alas, alas]!—

But now having got safe to Auchtertool harbour, you will send me Letters in plenty, will you not? At any rate you will lie quiet, and get into heart and health again. And you have your MS.3 with you to copy, if you like; a precious thing indeed!

Duffy has always been kind and loyal to me; but he is not half so good a manager as Forster is: …

But, alas, my Dear, I am leaving the able editor to rot; I really must give up. Best regards to your Uncle,4 whom I hope soon to see; to Walter himself and Jeannie if she be there. Good be ever with you my Jeannie!

Ever your affectionate