Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

XXXI
SEEING BATH, MERTHYR TYDVIL, &c. (1850)

It was Charles Redwood, the honest attorney practising at Cowbridge,1 whom Carlyle was going to visit, and writing to tell Redwood that he would arrive at Cardiff by steamer on Thursday, 1.8.50, Carlyle remembered how in 1843 his friend had come to meet him, and he said,--"If engaged, don't mind; your man will perfectly serve the turn; tell him he is to look out for an elderly thin man of your own stature; he will know him by his grim look, sober clothing, grizzled temples, and white hat--the last mark perhaps the best."

It seems to have been merely an accidental coincidence that Carlyle was to be writing a Life of John Sterling next year, and that Sterling went to school at Cowbridge, and had spent many of his early years thereabouts. Carlyle was coming to rest in the country and not to work there. Since his last visit to Wales, in 1843, the good Quaker Redwood had become an intimate friend. He had been sending Christmas boxes to Mrs. Carlyle regularly, containing Welsh mutton, sheep's milk cheese, and so on, and whenever he came to London he was welcome at Cheyne Row, and spent many a happy evening there. He wrote in the Examiner, and in 1839 had published a book on Folk Lore. In short, as a credible reporter tells us,2 it was 'a case of literary friendship from the first.'

On Wednesday, 31.7.50, Carlyle took train for Bath, where Savage Landor, an old man of seventy-five now, was expecting him. He found Landor at home, awaiting him, with no other company but 'a nice Bologna dog. Dinner not far from ready; his apartments all hung round with

____________________
1
Carlyle's Holidays in Wales, by John Howells, Red Dragon Magazine, April, May, and June, 1884; and also Carlyle Letters.
2
Wales as Carlyle saw it Forty Years Ago, by James Harris, in the Red Dragon Magazine, December, and perhaps 1881, but the year is uncertain.

-304-

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