August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO JOHN GREIG; 17 April 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470417-TC-JG-01; CL 21:195-197.


Chelsea, London, 17 April, 1847—

My dear Sir,

A good many months ago I did myself the pleasure of addressing to you a Copy of the second edition of a Book on Cromwell, which was just coming out here. Another Copy was adjoined, with the ad[d]ress1 of my Brother in Canada (A. Carlyle, Brantford, Canada West): and there went a Note for you, I know not now whether in the Parcel itself or by Post, requesting that you would have the goodness to forward this second Copy to Brantford, as you had once before very kindly served me on a similar occasion,—the route to Brantford for Parcels not being very open to us in London.2

No notice has reached me that this Packet ever yet got to Canadaigua; a circumstance I should only have imputed to some natural delay on your part, perhaps to some purpose you might have of writing to me on a more important matter. But learning yesterday, by a Letter from my Brother, that his Copy too has never come to hand, I begin to fear that some bad chance has befallen the Parcel altogether, and that I get no notice from Canadaigua because there is no thing there to be noticed!

Accordingly I have been to my Bookseller here; who turns up his records, and points out to me, entered in due form, the reception of the Parcel, altogether as ordered by me, at the London shop of Messrs Wiley and Putnam the New-York Booksellers, on the 22d of June last. On that day of June, 1846, Mr Putnam's people here accepted the Parcel for transmission to the Wiley and Putnam establishment at New York,—by whom, I think, there is little doubt, it would be received some time in July following. That is the state of the fact.— And now, would you be so kind as address a little inquiry to the Wiley and Putnam House at New York, as to How the matter stands there,—we should get upon the trace of this small affair, and soon hunt it home, wherever its home may be. Pray do me this favour; that so my poor little purpose be not quite foiled by mismanagement, but do still take effect, tho' late. And so enough of that.

We are pretty well here; my Wife rallying in fair strength out of the storms of Winter, which were a little hard upon her this year, and seem still rather loath to quit us altogether. We had an unusually cold sharp winter; neither has the Sun even yet got the final victory, tho' now near it: meanwhile an excellent seedtime, say the wise, tho likely to give us a harvest rather late,—which will not be very suitable in present circumstances. It is inconceivable what an uproar and misery has been, and is like to be, in consequence of that wretched Irish root taking to rot, last year! I believe it will prove the most serious thing we have ever had to deal with in England since you and I first knew it. Worth a hundred “reform-bills,”—if the Potatoe do but continue rotten: which, as a lover of sharp rather than of chronic maladies, I confess I wish it may do. For it is want of sense and honesty, not want of potatoes, that we now suffer under: all the yearly potatoes of the British Empire are supposed to be worth some 20, or 25 or 30 millions; and all the yearly harvest of the British Empire (the general fruit of the soil each year, independently of manufactures, and work in all other kinds) must be between 200 and 300 millions:—a Nation, one would say, that reaped such a harvest (good all of it, except the potatoes) last year, and had so many Manchesters and other big Workshops going,—this Nation should not die for the loss of a few potatoes, if it had “sense and honesty” in it! We must try to get sense and honesty, in some adequate measure; nay we shall have to do it, as I see: wherefore my prayer is, The potatoe may stay well away, if it please!— We here, in this house, have been learning to eat Indian meal to our meat, all winter; but have not yet made much of it: “Not good, but may be eaten”; that is all.— Next time you come over, or still better if Mrs Greig were with you, it would be charitable to bring us a receipt or two.

Last autumn I was two days at Moffat:3 they are tearing up the whole country there; carrying their railway from Carlisle and London thro' the Evan valley, towards Glasgow and Edinr: to be open as far north as Beattock in August next, they say.4 The Country was redolent of more whiskey and blackguardism, every village (Moffat among others) full of drunk Navvies; not pleasant to see!

Adieu, my dear Sir: we salute you and yours heartily, with the feeling of old friends. Are you not coming soon to see us? Very sincerely yours

T. Carlyle