1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO JAMES CARLYLE; 8 April 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550408-TC-JC-01; CL 29: 285-286


Chelsea, 8 April, 1855

Dear Brother,

I send you today a little Picture, which will not fail to be interesting to you. You know I got a Portrait taken at Dumfries, some 8 or 9 years ago; I have now had seven copies done from it, of the kind they call Photograph (a Shadow, or Likeness caught up by the Sunlight by an apparatus they have); there is a very fair degree of resemblance,—enough to recal to us vividly what is gone away not to return;—and this is the one that falls to your share out of the Seven. You can have it put into a little frame without difficulty: in the meanwhile you have only to keep it in the Cover now sent, so that no dust get to it.— I put 30 Septr as Birthday, tho' I remember, that was a little uncertain: “roodfair,” that year, was on the 25th of the month; and whether it was the Monday after or the monday before seemed not capable of perfect settlement: my own faint recollection inclines to say “after.” And so there it is: the last little service I can do in regard to one so dear; who attends me still daily throughout my life, and will not be forgotten so long as there is any remembrance left me.

The other morning we got news of George Bell of Whitecastle's departure from the world. I had not heard there was anything out of order with him: I fancy he was the Brother of poor Thomas Bell of Craigenputtoch;1 one of those three brisk young men that rode past us on swift ponies, that day of Miss Corrie's Burial:2 two of them are now dead; gone before us, who are so much older, to their long home. It is a wild tragedy this life of ours; one fate attends us all; and the day or the hour knoweth no man!3

The Doctor has been rather ailing for a ten days lately,—not without apprehension of having some ugly surgeon-business, like what yours was some years ago;4—but the matter has passed slightly for the present, being taken in time; and he hopes he is well out of it; going about as before, “without any pain,” tho' not entirely mended yet. He has looked this good while rather thin and colourless; I design to advise him today to take to a more generous diet, for one thing. He does not seem in actual pain either of body or mind, runs about among Books, among Parliamentary Committees, News &c; but he is very grave, and much changed from a few years back,—the mirth knocked quite out of him, as out of some others of us; not without cause! He has the three little Boys all with him just now: two return to that School directly; the other (for whom a place has now been got) goes to sea again next month.

Spring has come upon us, on a sudden, at last. For three days past the beautifullest weather, almost too hot rather than otherwise; and today there is a brisk Northwester blowing, the sun looking out at intervals, and dustclouds inclined to rise.— I am quiet in my garret here (really a nice place for writing &c if I were rightly used to it), and keep howking (a word very expressive of my procedure) at the huge continent of rubbish I have got round me. We consider you to be busy sowing; hope Isabella and the rest of you are moderately well; and bid you in all ways right cordially Good-speed. some of you should write to us again, as soon as possible. Adieu dear Brother. Ever yours

T. Carlyle