Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

XXXIX
TO SCOTLAND (1849)

TWELVE hours after leaving Derry, the steamer was approaching Glasgow, and by 2 a.m. Carlyle and Forster were at ease in their inn near the quay. Next morning his old friend David Hope took them to his house and did the honours of the 'Commercial Capital of Britain,' while Carlyle thanked Heaven 'for the sight of real human industry with human fruits from it once more.'

On Wednesday, 8.8.49, they took leave of Hope and went by train together to Ecclefechan station, where the faithful Forster parted from him. Then he drove to Scotsbrig, where his mother still lived and was eagerly looking for him. Besides his brother the farmer who lived there always, his brother Dr. John seems to have been there too at this time on a visit, and letters were awaiting him from his wife, who was at Auchtertool in Fifeshire, on a long visit to her cousin there, the Rev. Walter Welsh.

Carlyle was as happy as a schoolboy, tho, as usual, he did not think of that at the time. What he recorded two months later of these days was this: -- 'The sight of fenced fields, weeded crops, and human creatures with whole clothes on their backs, --it was as if one had got into spring water out of dunghill-puddles; the feeling lasted with me for several days.'1

On 13.8.49 he wrote to Emerson.--'By all laws I owe you a letter. . . . Your second Barrel of Indian Corn arrived perfectly fresh and admirable . . . seven good weeks ago,' when in short I was 'on the wing for a "tour in Ireland." I hoped somewhere in my Irish wayfarings to fling you off a letter; but finding nowhere half a minute left to me . . . it is my earliest leisure, after all, that I employ in this purpose. I have been terribly knocked about too,--jolted in Irish cars, bothered almost to madness with Irish balderdash,

____________________
1

Reminiscences of My Irish Journey, by T. Carlyle, pp. 261-3.

-195-

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