April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO JAMES CARLYLE; 29 November 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18481129-TC-JC-01; CL 23: 166-167


Chelsea, 29 Novr, 1848—

Dear Jamie,

Here is the price of the meal, sent in my name; no better meal could have come as a specimen to strangers; and Sterling, having a Scotch maid down in the country,1 professes to be enjoying the porridge &c of it, not a little. Thanks to you for being so punctual and successful in accomplishing one's requests.

This morning we have all had a painful shock: poor Charles Buller, not reckoned to be in danger till within the last two days, is dead! He died this morning “at five minutes to six,”—that was the answer to our messenger: John and I had been at the house last night; and, tho' the case was evidently very grave, we did not quite anticipate this end, or at least not so soon. You may fancy it has hurled all my thoughts into a strange confusion, and brought up many a remembrance now grown very sorrowful! Jane hurried off immediately to attend poor Mrs Buller,—a poor thin old woman, wasted to a shadow,—whom I think this will be apt to overwhelm altogether! Poor woman, she was at Clifton, 100 miles off in the West, not thought to be able to travel a mile, when hearing of her son's state, she hurried hither; and was sitting yesterday when Jane called in a state of calm collectedness which Jane said was almost frightful. She was not allowed to see him either; nobody was; and to this also she was meekly resigned. Alas, alas!—

Buller was about your own age, a thin, tall, loose-made, but active man; and, I think, had some complaint like that you now labour under. Not quite the same, but one of the same sort, in the same organs of the body. He had undergone two or more operations at different times; and had now (that is, Monday gone a fortnight) to undergo another. I saw him the day before; and he attached no importance to it whatever,—having found formerly that, except the momentary pain, it amounted to nothing. This time, unfortunately, he had a new Doctor, and they used the newfangled chloroform: the operation was of course done without pain, and it seemed to prosper, and the healing to proceed as well as possible; but his strength never returned, there was a fever always, and now on the 14th day this is the end of it! Poor Buller, he was one of the clearest, blithest, wittiest and cleverest of all men living; after 20 years toil and confusion in Parliament &c, he was just beginning to rise into some practical eminence, and reap some fruit of the kind he coveted,—and here it all ends! Dear Brother, I cannot write any more today; my thoughts, as you may fancy, are turning all on one subject.—— —— Some day this week will Isabella or you write me a word to say how my Mother is, and that this has come to hand. Here is a cover; and you have only to say (if you can) “Well” and “recd.

The Doctor and Jane are both well; our weather is westerly, generally dryish, and very warm, which agrees best with poor thin-skinned people.

My kind love and blessings to my Mother and to you all.

Ever your affectionate Brother

T. Carlyle