Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

XLII
EXHORTING DUFFY, &c. (1849)

ON arriving home, Carlyle found waiting a letter from Duffy and answered it at once at great length, incidentally mentioning he had already on the same day 'written two letters, all on Ireland.' He had received the first numbers of the revived newspaper the Nation, and wrote (29.9.49):1 --

'I like the new Nation very well, especially No. 3 of it. I seem to see there a beam of real star-fire and manful insight and endeavour, shooting forth from amid the old too-smoky and fuliginous elements; and destined yet, by Heaven's blessing, to subdue them all to itself, and beam clearer and clearer. . . . Better or worse, yours is the only voice I hear in Ireland entitled to any considerable regard from me--the one human voice there amid the infinite barking and howling. May you truly love wisdom, and regard all other things, popularities, nationalities, &c., &c., as mere noise and nonsense in comparison. Him that is loyal to wisdom, wisdom will reward and him only; he shall "acquire strength by going," for all the universe is on his side, and his light, in the darkest of nights, even in Ireland's night of 1849, "shall shine more and more unto the perfect day." Your temptations, and open and disguised impediments, I discern too well, will be many; but the task is great, and, if you front them well, the prize, too, is great. Courage, patience, the eye to see and the heart to endure and do, may these be yours, and all that follows from them!'

Then he discussed the potato rot of this year, and told of 'a farmer in the Perth region, who had gained £2000 by his potatoes alone last year,' which Carlyle lamented as demoralising, 'making agriculture a kind of gambling.' He went on to curse the land-laws.--

'You are surely right in what you argue about the state

____________________
1
Conversations with Carlyle, by Sir C. Gavan Duffy, pp. 127-32.

-203-

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