October 1831-September 1833

The Collected Letters, Volume 6


TC TO JOHN AITKEN; 16 October 1832; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18321016-TC-JAI-01; CL 6:243-244.


Craigenputtock, 16th October 1832.

My dear Uncle— Judge if I am anxious to hear from you! Except the silence of the Newspapers, I have no evidence that you are still spared. The Disease, I see, has been in your street; in Shaw's; in Jamie Aitken's; it has killed your friend Thomson:1 who knows what further was its appointed work! You I strive to figure in the meanwhile, as looking at it, in the universal terror, with some calmness, as knowing and practically believing that your days, and the days of those dear to you, were now, as before and always, in the hand of God only; from whom it is vain to fly; towards whom lies the only refuge of man. Death's thousand doors have ever stood open; this indeed is a wide one, yet it leads no farther than they all lead.2

Our Boy was in the town a fortnight ago (for I believe, by experience, the infectious influence to be trifling, and quite inscrutable to man; therefore go and send whithersoever I have business, in spite of cholera); but I had forgot that he would not naturally see Shaw or some of you, and gave him no letter; so got no tidings. He will call on you to-morrow; and in any case bring a verbal message. If you are too hurried to write in time for him, send a letter next day “to the care of Mrs. Welsh, Templand, Thornhill”: tell me only that you are all spared alive!

We are for Annandale, after Thornhill, and may possibly enough return by Dumfries. I do not participate in the panic. We were close beside cholera for many weeks in London: “every ball has its billet.”3

I hear the Disease is fast abating. It is likely enough to come and go among us; to take up its dwelling with us among our other maladies. The sooner we grow to compose ourselves beside it, the wiser for us. A man who has reconciled himself to die need not go distracted at the manner of his death.

God make us all ready; and be His time ours!—No more tonight.— Ever your affectionate,

T. Carlyle