October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 3 June 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460603-TC-AC-01; CL 20: 200-201


Wednesday, 3 june, 1846—

My dear Brother,

Half an hour ago I receive this Note from Scotsbrig, which calls upon me to write to you—now when there is not a minute of deliberation for doing it in! I will enclose you the Note itself as the last news from Scotsbrig; which being good news will be welcome to you, and supply all the uses of a more formal letter.

I have seen at least two Letters of yours since I wrote last; the Second of the two was one to Jenny, I think;—as they both went immediately round to Dumfries, I have not the dates of either of them here. I must not forget poor little Tom's Letter either, which interested us very much here! I suppose he is not “little Tom,” at least not so little any more; but is growing a great hulk of a fellow, able to help his Father in all manner of things, and make a figure, honestly equal to his strength, on the face of that new Country! Tell him we all heartily love him, and wish the best speed to him there. By Heaven's blessing, he shall do his part well in the world yet, when ours is done.—

I know not if you saw in the Courier the mournful tragedy of poor Dobbie the Burgher Minister, who was poisoned one day by a glass of porter got from Jamie Ewart's shop to give to one Pool (whom I do not know). Pool was nearly killed by his share; and Mrs Dobbie too by hers: poor Dobbie died the same day! It is supposed Jamie Ewart had bought the bottles from some Doctor's Roup1 (a Doctor Moffat I think, who was removing to Liverpool), and by undue thrift ventured to put porter in them; giving them only an insufficient rincing: the poison would be sticking on the glass, and would only slowly dissolve itself in the liquor. It is a most shocking thing.— What may well add to our feeling about it, moreover, is this: Jamie of Scotsbrig, it seems, was paying somebody an account only a day or two before in Ewart's, and was just about ordering porter (whereby this fatal bottle might possibly have fallen to his share), but on consulting they preferred ale.— This will enable you to understand what Jack's Note2 is mainly taken up with.

My poor Book is never yet entirely out of the hands of the Printer; tho' in a day or two it now must and will. The work people are all drinking at present and keeping the “Whitsuntide holidays.” I shall be glad enough to be free. The weather has grown terribly hot; neither of us yet well inured to it; with Jane however it usually agrees. Of course you have it far hotter. The Corn bill here is as good as passed: never fear that it can do you any ill in Canada; on the contrary I think it possible you may get a great accession of traffic by this and the Free Trade generally which is sure to follow. The Irish are many of them living on Indian Corn this year; and probably we shall all give up potatoes and take to that. Farewell dear Brother. I will write again before long. Yours ever affectionate

T. Carlyle