Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

XXVIII
"O'BRIEN BRANDY-FACE & CO.," (1849)

AS the evening wore on two priests and an editor came to them in the hotel, and the talk that followed over tea was more copious than pleasant to Carlyle. For tho he had all along been earnest in dissuading big John Mitchel from violence, he had liked the man; and the senior of these priests, as Carlyle had doubtless learned from Duffy, was 'he that roused the (Limerick) mob against Mitchel last year, a brandy-faced, pock-marked, very ugly man, of Irish' features, and 'a baddish kind of priest.'1 At a Nationalist soiree at Limerick in 1848 this fellow had been able to make the rabble run to stone John Mitchel, apparently because of his hostility to Dan O'Connell.2 As soon as possible Carlyle had an urgent call to pay which took him out, and he only returned in time to say Good Night on the stairs to 'O'Brien Brandy-face & Co.'

Next morning, or maybe a day or two later, he recurred to Mitchel and enquired of Duffy:3--"Was difference of policy the main cause of your separation?"

"Certainly it was," replied Duffy. "He wanted to advise the people not to pay poor-rate, poor-rate being the poor man's rent, and to prepare for immediate insurrection, when famine was everywhere and the French Revolution had not revived the national spirit." Thus far Carlyle was on Duffy's side, but Duffy went on.--"You are accountable for another difference. You taught Mitchel to oppose the liberation of the negroes and the emancipation of the Jews. He wanted to preach these opinions in the Nation, but I could not permit this to be done, (as) my own convictions were altogether different."

According to Duffy's report, Carlyle replied:--"Mitchel

____________________
1
Reminiscences of My Irish Journey, by T. Carlyle, pp. 167-72.
2
My Life in Two Hemispheres, by Sir C. Gavan Duffy, I. pp. 270-1.
3
Conversations with Carlyle, by Sir C. Gavan Duffy, pp. 116-7.

-162-

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