January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


TC TO LADY SANDWICH ; 22 August 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18590822-TC-LS-01; CL 35: 174-176


Auchtertool House, Kirkcaldy N. B. / 22 Augt 1859—

Dear Lady Sandwich,

Your little Note was very interesting; and brought us cheerful glimpses of the southern world; news of various kind,—good news of yourself, for one thing, which was especially welcome. That deliverance out into the free air, and to peaceable thoughts and affectionate remembrances and hopes, with your grand-children1 running about you, in those old scenes so full of meaning for you: what a fine change from your long winter's imprisonment! I doubt not you have had ups and down since that date, for one never goes steady very long, and perhaps you have even flitted before this time; but we hope you are still well enjoying the kind summer Earth and sky, in some kindly place, there or elsewhere, and laying up strength against the bad season that will come. It is with the scheme of picking another little packet of news from you that I write again from these Fife regions.

We had to quit our sea-side ruralities about three weeks ago; our term there being out, and a successor inexorably at the door. We took shelter here, three miles inland, in a small vacant Country Mansion that turned up; a far better Lodging, and essentially still a very pleasant region, nothing but fine green Hills all round us, green to the top, and excellent white crops on the flanks of them (whh are getting reaped just now on happy terms); an excellently cultivated Country, with strange hard warts of rock starting up every here and there thro’ the sweep of greensward or wide expanses of corn: a very pretty country, with the Bass-rock Berwick Law2 and a bit of the sea still visible from our eastward windows,—and all round, such a pother of steep heights and headlong chasms as was never seen before: terribly astonishing to my Cockney Horse (“Fritz” so-called), who cannot find fifty yards of level road, let him try where he will in this Country, for a bit of cantering! This particular piece of Earth (let me add, since yr Ladyship is of historical turn) was at one time the property of the famed “Kirkcaldy of Grange”;3 Grange, his chief manor, is a mile or two off:4 and one sometimes remembers the terrible end he came to, the gallows no less, tho’ a man of true nobleness and worth in that wild day. “Hallyards,” another famed old Castle,5 is within short distance on the other side of us; I rode thither the other night: grim old remnants of walls (mostly carted away by Gothic countrypeople and a bad steward's connivance); it was here that James V lay, the night before he got to Falkland to die;6 a noble enough young man in his way: “Her Majesty is happily brot to bed!” they told him.— “What has she got?” “A Princess” (Mary Queen of Scots that was to be).— “Hmph, it cam wi’ a lass” (a Bruce's Daughter),7 “and it will gang wi’ a lass!”8 said poor James, turning his face to the wall, and spoke no more in this world.— Enough of antiquarianisms; more than enough!

My Wife privately seems to me to prosper a little better here, than she did seaward; tho’ that is not saying much. She is out on the Cuddy even now. As to me I have had an ugly fit of “cold,”—kind of biliary collapse, I judge it to be;—and am fallen extremely lazy since: “a far better state than yr former wild humour of rushing about by land and water, like a youth of 16 rather than a man of 60!”9 says my Wife, who is a bit of a Dr, and perhaps in the right this time. I did not see Ld Ashbn as they passed thro’ Edinr, nor hear from him till his arrival in the Highlands: very kind invitation to us thither; but alas, alas—!— Let us hear of you dear Lady. Our next step is southward, say 10 days hence; thence gradually home. Yours ever T. Carlyle