July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 31 December 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18471231-TC-AC-01; CL 22: 190-192


Chelsea, 31 decr, 1847—

My dear Brother,

I rather suspect John is writing to you; but today is the last day of the Year, and the last too for your American Packet, so I will not let it pass without at least one word from me. A word of heartfelt good-wishes, and prayers for a “Good New year” to you,—prayers which indeed we can do little to fulfil, but cannot avoid forming in our hearts. They can do no ill; and they abide with us naturally while we continue, however far asunder, in this world! As poor Edward Irving used to say, “May the worst of our days be past,”—which indeed I hope and believe they really are.

Last time I wrote to you, or one of the last times, was from Scotsbrig. Since that, I have had your Letter, which was eagerly expected here, and was welcome especially to our Mother as you may believe. I sent it forward without loss of a moment.— Our dear old Mother, as Jack will probably tell you, has had a kind of ill-turn lately; it [was]1 a sudden feeling of giddiness lasting for several days, which very much alarmed her, tho' Jack said always, it was probably nothing but derangement in the stomach,—as indeed it proved; for they write us now, for some weeks past, that it is as good as gone again, and that if the weather were kindlier, all would be in its old state, or nearly so. They are very kind and attentive to our Mother, Isabella and Jamie, as I believe; she eats with them (as Jamie was suggesting, before I left, that she ought); they kindle her fire &c: Jean too was out from Dumfries about a week ago, and wrote to us satisfactorily while there.— This, I think, is all the news, dear Brother; this little touch of bad news,—which, however, we ought to rejoice is no worse.

Indeed there hardly ever was, in man's memory, such an unhealthy year as this hitherto has been; for several weeks the deaths in London have been above 2½ times what they commonly are; and it is the same story in all parts of the Country, and even on the Continent far and wide: a kind of Influenza, they call it, which cuts off all manner of old or already weakly people. Happily it is now said to be very considerably abating: if once we had good blackfrost, it would probably altogether disappear;—but we can get no frost yet, and must just wait patiently. I suppose you have plenty of it.

The Irish too, as you see by the Newspapers, are worse than ever; busy murdering and shooting, this year: and in England here there have been continued failures, “Commercial pressure” &c, and on the whole more than usual distress among the working classes, and indeed almost all classes, of the people.— We in our small circle have much reason for thankfulness, that we have mercifully been spared from all these common calamities.

Dear Brother, here has a visitor come in: I have set him to read till I finish;—but it is evidently impossible to go on with any effect, in these circumstances. Not to say that the daylight is just about departing (in this dismal damp fog we have), and, a little after 3, I must send for a candle if I wish to see any longer. Let me end, therefore, for the present: I will write again soon by a new opportunity. Jane is gone out; cannot join with me in word as she does in heart,—in blessings to one and all of you,—from the poor little Baby2 (now got well again, but very ill-natured) up to Jenny and yourself the heads of the House. Good be with you, dear Brother;—a valiant heart and a wise be always with you,—that brings blessings to every House where it inhabits.— Remember us also expressly to Tom and Jane; these two I can always recollect as well as any of you,—but the others grow dim and small, when I try to specify them in my imagination. May they all grow brave lads and bonny honest lasses yet! So prays

Your ever affectionate

T. Carlyle

Did the Cromwell (2d edition) ever come from Mr Greig?3 Mention that, if you can mind.