The Collected Letters, Volume 10


TC TO MARGARET A. CARLYLE ; 25 August 1838; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18380825-TC-MAC-01; CL 10: 148-151


Kirkcaldy, 25th August, 1838—

My dear Mother,

No doubt you are much surprised to see me date in answer to you from Kirkcaldy, the “Long Toun.”1 I had done with long ago; but I will explain how it is. For several weeks, indeed all summer I had been suffering as I usually do from London dust and London tumult; and regretting considerably that I had not fled to the country directly on the ending of my Lectures. But Jack's Ladies with their constant change of schemes had prevented that, and now only the present and the future belonged to me. Jack too, as you would see by his Letter, was indeed absolutely coming, but not for some weeks yet, not till the good weather would be mostly gone. Now as my sleeplessness and restless fecklessness still continued, as various persons, the Ferguses of Kirkcaldy among others, had invited me pressingly to pay them visits, I did at last (Jane encouraging me) get under way and on board of an Edinburgh steamer, last Saturday; and so, winds and waves proving moderately favourable, here I am since Tuesday last,—very greatly bettered already by the shaking up I have had. I thought long whether I should not take Manchester by the road; but it struck me I might readily enough arrive at the wrong time there, and at any rate that you would grudge to see me go to Scotsbrig by myself: so I came this way, and calculate now that I shall meet you at Scotsbrig. Thus it stands. Jack's Letter, which I forwarded to you exactly about the day you and Jenny were writing off to me; this Letter (which I hope you got, tho' it was addressed to Jarman Street) would instruct you what we had to look for from the Doctor. I calculate that he will stay only a day or two in London; that he will then come to Manchester (if all be ready) by himself, and so bring you home that we may all meet on the Annan shore. If I were to be in Scotsbrig long before you, and you wanted to get home, I would run over myself by the Steamer and fetch you: but I think we shall perhaps all arrive moderately near one another by mere course of things, and all prove right without effort of mine. For besides this Kirkcaldy visit, I have to give a glance at Edinburgh as I pass, and then to spend some days with Aitken the Minister of Minto near Hawick, who was with us in London lately; so that we may hope Jack will have arrived, and you be about ready to start with him by the time I get sight of the Solway again. This then is the figure of the thing, dear Mother; you are to fancy me waiting here, and slowly wending southward, in hope of a glad meeting for all of us in Scotsbrig soon. I add only that Jane was moderately stout when I came away, and anxious mainly that I would get a little better. A Lady of her acquaintance, now travelling for six weeks in Germany, had lent her a nice little carriage of the clatch sort, with horse and man, in which she could go driving about, and there were two or three friends of hers at hand; so that she was likely to do very well till my return. All are very kind to me and her.

As for myself no man is better off since I got hither. The people are proud to have me, and are in themselves good people, amply provided for both with kindliness of spirit, and with worldly goods. They are two elderly unmarried sisters, and one unmarried brother, John Fergus, lately Member of Parliament, but who has now given it up, and lives here minding his own farming and flax-manufacturing, one of the jolliest, healthiest best-conditioned of men. They have set me on a fine horse, swift strong and quiet, on which I scour about for some two hours daily. D[aily] too I bathe in the beautiful blue sea-water, at what hour I li[ke.] For the rest they let me alone: all is rightly arranged about their house[.] I sleep sound, eat moderately, bathe and ride, and go along as well as anybody could wish. It is quite wonderful to myself what an improvement is made in my health since I got here. Let me be thankful for it. So long as I can stay here without wearying, it will be good for me to stay I think.

I wrote yesterday to Alick, explaining as I have now done to you. I despatched you a Newspaper that day I arrived. I will study to send you at least one weekly till I get to Scotsbrig. I have written to Jane; but she cannot write to me till I write again, my motions are so uncertain. My chief anxiety at present is about poor Jenny: you must send a note to Jane at Chelsea instantly when there is any news of her; Jane will then know how to write to me. In the meanwhile all I can appoint you to do is to send a Newspaper to me within three or four days of your getting this; addressed “care of the Revd David Aitken, Minto, Hawick”: two strokes will indicate that nothing is wrong; if all were over and had gone well, I would take one stroke as a symptom of that, and be right glad to see it. If anything of the smallest moment occur with me, I will write to you again wherever I be.

And so dear Mother accept this hastiest dud of a Letter, as better than none, and indeed the best I can give at present. Our Post prevents deliberate writing; unless you do it the day before!— Thank good little Jenny for her help in writing me that letter; thank yourself too, for I am much obliged to you both. Let me hope, you continue well, in spite of the clashy weather, and have had no return of illness.2 Take care of yourself, and of the poor little lassie, till I see you— Tell Robert that the Book Parcel did indubitably (Fraser says) leave London; but there are two Agents of his in Manchester; it is probably lying with the wrong one of these. I got their names: Sowles is the name of one; but I have forgot the other;—“Bankes” or some such thing. If you know one, he can probably tell you of the other. The Books were I dare say of little value; but one would rather get them than not. I must end here, dear Mother; my pen is a most thriftless one; my letter is a perfect splash; but what then?— Mrs Welsh, I suppose I told you, is in Liverpool; attending to her sister-in-law,3 who is not at all in good health. The weather is often rainy here; the crops all the way up from London looked extremely backward.

Take care of yourself my dear Mother, and let us hope to meet again soon once more under this sun.

Your affectionate / T. Carlyle