April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN; 8 December 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18481208-TC-JCA-01; CL 23: 171-172


Chelsea, 8 decr, 1848—

Dear Sister,

Here is a Letter from Alick; which has been at Scotsbrig, and opened there, where it was immensely longed for; being now read here, I forward it to Dumfries without delay. Alick ought to send our Mother a Newspaper weekly; that would be the far best method: I think I must write to him today, recommending that.

We never understood till last night, when the Standard Newspaper came,1 that there was any dangerous epidemic of cholera at Dumfries:2 the disease has been here for many weeks, but is in the highest degree insignificant, and except for the talk made of it in the Newspapers, would never be heard of. A Note of yours to my Mother had given us a somewhat similar impression about Dumfries; but here are two new Letters of yours, this morning, one to Isabella, one to John, which disclose to us a very different state of matters! The most comforting circumstance we can hitherto gather is, that you do not seem to be thrown into panic by it: panic, nobody doubts, is an immense aggravation to the danger; and it really would be wise if Doctors, who can do so very little towards defence against the malady, would at least carefully forbear agitating people's minds about it. That of the “hearses” in your street, for example, I consider to be a real crime against the public.— Keep up your hearts, do calmly your duties as if there were no cholera there,—death is always and has always been there; and we shall not die a moment before our time, were a hundred choleras there!— — Our Doctors say, great things can be done, and the disease is generally curable, if you can take it at the very first. Here are a dozen cholera pills which were advised upon us here;3 I know they are at least entirely harmless, and must have a tendency in the right direction: feeling properly, any tendency to purge, oftenest without pain any twinge of cholic or griping in the bowels, one has to swallow one of these,—or a drop of sound brandy, or anything that you know will tend to check that affair; if at once checked, all is understood to be safe again. I stick in the poor little box: no ill in it, if little good! And pray let us hear constantly, one word and a penny stamp will be well bestowed for a few days. And God be with you all, and the brave and pious heart which is His best gift in all dangers and trials!

Charles Buller is dead suddenly; there have been many deaths in our circle here lately: we are still all well. Your affectionate Brother

T. Carlyle