1 JULY 1882, Page 19


A CERTAIN exaggeration of Carlyle's qualities is the note of this book. He went to Ireland in July, 1849, when he was more than usually sick with indigestion and megrims,-and Ireland was more than usually sick with poverty and discontent ; and the effects of the double sickness are visible on every page of the account of his visit, which, we may add, he never meant to publish in its present form. Seldom was even. Carlyle so querulous over the minor miseries of life, and especially the insomnia which seems in this journey to have especially har- assed him. Somebody was always keeping him awake or waking him, and he curses that somebody with an energy which at last roused in himself something of a sense of shame. He was incapable, in his irritation, of being pleased either with things or people, and used, we imagine, to abuse both with a frankness which in patriotic Irishmen obviously produced occa- sional ebullitions. Carlyle throughout considers the English view the sane view, and sometimes explains the bitterness of his opponents' language by their descent from the men of 1798. His hosts were very kind to him ; but their friendli- ness, as usual, awakened no gratitude. Sir Philip Cramp. ton, the leading physician of the day in Dublin, evidently put himself out of his way to show the visitor the lions; and gets for his pain's the remark that "lie was vain and. not very deep- looking," and "much celebrated. his place in -Wicklow," Dr.

Bomioioconoeo of My Irish Journey in 1849, By Thom ao Carlyle, London: Sampson Low and Co,

Stokes invites Carlyle to dinner, and is a " clever, energetic, bu squinting, rather fierce, sinister-looking man ;" while his wife is scourged in this fashion :- " Foolish Mrs. Stokes, a dim Glasgow lady, with her I made the reverse of progress,—owing chiefly to ill-luck. She did boro me to excess, but I did not give way to that ; had difficulty, however, in resisting it ; and at length once, when dinner was over, I, answering somebody about something, chanced to quote Johnson's, Did Isay anything that you understood, Sir P ' The poor foolish-lady took it to herself ! bridled, tossed her head with some kind of indignant-polite ineptitude of a reply ; and before long flounced out of the room (with her other ladies, not remembered now), and became, I fear,. my enemy for over !"

In all human probability, Carlyle did intend the quotation for her, and her wrath, poor lady I was not unnatural. Another day he meets Dr. Cooke Taylor, who was villain enough to be more than courteous, to profess a certain regard for the distinguished visitor, and is sent down to posterity thus :—

" Dr. Cooke Taylor' is announced, a snuffy, babbling, baddish fellow, whom I bad not wished at all specially to see—Strange dialect of this man, a Youghal native, London had little altered that; immense lazy gurgling about the throat and palate regions, speech coming out at last not so much in distinct pieces and vocables, as in continuous condition, semi-masticated apeeeb. A peculiar smile, too, dwelt on the face of poor, snuffy Taylor I pitied, but could not love him—with hid lazy, gurgling, semi-masticated, semi-deceitful (and self-deceiving) speech, thought and action. Poor fellow, one of his books that I read On the Manufacturing Regions in 1843,' was not so bad; Lord Clarendon a great patron of his, had got him a pension, brought him over to Ireland :---and now (about a fortnight ago, end of September) I learn that he is dead of cholera, that, better or not so good, I shall never see him again ! We drove home together that night, in Dr. Kennedy's car ; I set him out at his house (in some modest, clean street, near Merrion Square) ; two days after, I saw him at the Zoological breakfast; gurgle-snuffle, Cookney-and-Youghal wit again in semi-masticated dialect, with great estpressions of regard for me, as well as with othet half or whole untruths ;—and so poor Taylor was to vanish, and the curtains rush down between ua impenetrable for evermore. Allah akbar, Allah Keritn ! "

That description, written because its subject had just died suddenly, is, we think, of all Carlyle's outbursts, the one *Lich

most conclusively shows the absence of innate amenity in hie nature. Most men pardon even a bore when he is dead, and Dr. Taylor had done nothing to Carlyle, except bore him a veil little, and that by over-plain professions of regard. Gavau Duffy, who made himself cicerone for a considerable part of the- island, is constantly accused of over-loquacity ; and. indeed, with few exceptions, chiefly members of the aristocracy, everybody is treated in the same fashion, as if Carlyle could not write down a. kindly thought. It is useless to quote more instances ; the world now knows the style, too well.

The judgment of Ireland is at least as harsh. The unhappy country was just escaping from the last effects of the famino,.

yet it is its poverty which, above all things, offends the traveller. He cannot say enough against the beggars, whom on one occa- sion he actually put down, gravely asking them if they did not think suicide would be their right course, whereat the poor Catholics "withdrew in horror ;" against the multitudes in the poor-houses, which he always calls "swineries," evidently think- ing the people could keep out of them, if they would ; against the very country itself. He is driving through the Killarney district up to the Gap of Dunloe :—

" A most somnolent, dusty establishment: perhaps some sixteen little scholars ; unshaven, sleepy schoolmaster, 'has no best class,' he says ; and indeed it is all a shrine of dusty sleep, among the worst of National Schools ;' not at all without rivals and even surpassere (victors in that bad race) as I found. Outdoor relief' next; at is wretched little country shop ; Shine's frank, swift talk to the squalid crowd ; dusty squalor, fall of a noisy bum, expressing greed, sus- picion, and incarnated nonsense of various kinds. Ragged, wen hedges; weedy ditches; nasty, ragged, spongy-looking flat country hereabouts; like a drunk country fallen down to sleep amid the mud.'

That is the tone throughout, Carlyle feeling something of " squalor " even on the Lake of Killarney, and professing that he only sees its marvellous beauty through that. He has hardly a kindly word for the scenery anywhere, except in Sligo ; and for the people, never one. He seldom pities them, and never sympathises with them, believing from first to last that their misery is due to laziness, and that the thing they chiefly want.

is the beneficent whip. There is no other suggestion, unless it be contained in one or two words of praise for Scotch settlers, in the whole book, nor one which shows the least insight, or wish for insight, into the cause of the miseries of the land. "Ye are idle, ye are idle," or, it may, be by nature incompetent and confused,—that is its whole drift. With Irishmen, Carlyle cannot sympathise at all, cannot even see that the justice he would mete to them is to such a people most exasperating. He is at breakfast in Dublin

"Dr. Murray, Theology-Professor of Maynooth, a big, burly mass of Catholic Irishism ; he and Duffy, with a certain vinaigrous, pale shrill logician figure who came in after breakfast, made up the party—Talk again England versus Ireland ; a sad, unreasonable humour pervading all the Irish population on this matter—` England does not hate you at all, nor love you at all ; merely values and will pay you according to the work you can do !' No teaching of that unhappy people to understand so much. Dr. Murray, head cropt like stubble, red-skinned face, harsh grey Irish eyes ; full of fiery Irish zeal, toe, and rage, which, however, he had the art to keep down under battery vocables man of considerable strength, man not to be ' loved ' by any manner of means ! Hancock, and now Ingram, too, were wholly English (that is to say, Irish-rational) in sentiment. Duffy very plaintive with a strain of rage audible in it. Yinaigrous logician, intolerable in that vein, drove me out to smoke. Not a pleasant breakfast in the humour I was then in."

And yet what pictorial power there is in the book I It is a more mass of rough notes, it notices only the bad side of things, but when it is read you have of that bad aide an indelible im- pression. The squalor and the misery, the suffering and the faults of Ireland, are graven, as it were, into the reader's mind by a pen that 'does not traverse only, but actually bites into it. Take this almost accidental description, and see what it tells you of wretchedness which has almost killed pity :—

" Scariff; straggling, muddy avenues of wood begin to appear ; woman in workhouse-yard, fever-patient, we suppose ; had come fiat, seemingly without pillow, on the bottom of a stone-cart; was lying now under blue cloaks and tatters, her long, black hair streaming out beyond her—motionless' outcast, till they found some place for her in this hospital. Grimmest of sights, with the long, tatter,' cloud of black hair. Procession next of workhouse girls ; healthy, clean in whole coarse clothes; the only well-guided group of children visible to us in these parts,—which, indeed, is a general fact. Soariff itself, dim, extinct-looking, hungry village (I should guess 1,000 in- habitants) on the top and steep sides of a rocky height. Houses seemed deserted, nothing doing, considerable idle groups on the upper Part (bill top) of the street, which after its maximum of elevation spreads out into an irregular wide triangular space,—two main roads going out from it, I suppose, towards Gore and towards Portumna. Little ferrety shopkeeper, in whole clothes, seemingly chief man of the place."

Or this,—

" Lord Limerick's estate ; ground untilled soda° of it, thistles, docks, dilapidated cottages, ragged men ; two years troublous in. solvency, and now they are evicted : 'here is one of them • I will just sot him going for you ; turn the spigot, and he will run all day !' Middle-aged farmer-peasant, accordingly, takes off his hat, salutes low, walks hat in hand, wind blowing his long, thick hair, black with a streak of grey. His woes, his bad usages. I distinguish little but at all turns 'tham vagobonds ;' he has been fellow sub. lessee of lands along with various other vagobonds; he paid always to the nail, they not; all are now turned out into the road together, the innocent along with the guilty ; kind neighbour has taken him in, with wife and children, for the time. A reasonably good kind of man, to appearance, and in the truest perplexity, with laws of the truest injustice. And have you any notion what you are to do now ?' 'Not a ha'p'orth, yer honour Mr. W. can give no work, wishes he could ; the poor man will write to Mr. Somebody (the agent) at Cork, begging passage to America, begging something or other. W. will ratify his respectability ; and so we make away, and leave him to clap on his hat again. Sad contrast continues ; ugly cottages, un- ploughed lands, all gone to savagery ; poor-house alone like to reap much produce from this kind of culture. Lord Limerick's method, and his father's before him."

The book is full of such sketches, written, be it remembered, thirty-three years ago, yet true in a sense even now, all, except an account of Gweedore, leaving the same hopeless impression, which, indeed, they were intended to leave. Hopelessness was evidently the single feeling with which Carlyle came away. though he does not sum up his impressions. We know of no book which so deepens the conviction that Britons will never

understand Ireland as these notes of the keen Scotchmam, who saw so much, yet saw nothing on which to build a hope of any kind. Would he have been as hopeless, had he travelled over Arthur Young's route in Prance? Yet even Irishmen in 1849 were not more wretched than the peasants for whom the elder Mirabeau pleaded, and who are now well-to-do freeholders, believing in the State as their best friend.