The Collected Letters, Volume 10


TC TO ALEXANDER CARLYLE ; 24 August 1838; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18380824-TC-AC-01; CL 10: 145-147


Kirkcaldy, Friday 25th [24] Augt, 1838—

My dear Alick,

It will be a most hasty Note you get from me today; but I will rather write you such than none at all, or wait another day to do it, having already waited too long. Your Letter to Chelsea came duly; and just about along with it, one from the Doctor still in Italy: no doubt you are greatly surprised that I should answer you from Kirkcaldy of all places; but be of good heart, my brave boy; nothing wrong has happened, it is all right and in the course of Nature that I date to you here and not elsewhere, nay I have the hope of seeing you face to face before many days. The way of it I will now explain.

Jack's Letter1 which came along with yours indicated that in all likelihood he would get home to London, tho' not till “the first week in September” or later: it appeared farther that he was as good as done with Italy, Lady Clare hardly meaning to go back again. I sent his Letter off to Manchester to our Mother; and before they could well have received it, there came a Letter from them, indicating the same expectation as you had announced, namely, of Jack and me going in by Manchester and bringing our Mother home. A part of the Letter was written by Jenny,2 the rest by my Mother: so far all was well. But now I, for my own part, had become altogether bilious, sleepless &c owing to the London dust; and after long scheming and grumbling had made up my mind to get out of London, at all rates and risks, so long as any good weather remained. To go by Manchester, it struck me, would only confuse matters there, and Scotsbrig itself would be quite solitary without my Mother. On the other hand I had an invitation of long standing to the Ferguses of Kirkcaldy, one of whom Miss Fergus a very good and kind person staid some two weeks with us in coronation time this summer.3 They are all good kind people: You remember Provost Fergus, the Father of them, now deceased?4 I had other pressing invitations here in the North. So after abundance of hesitation (for really I was in a poor feckless way, bodily and spiritually) I did last saturday night fairly stow myself into a Leith Steamer below London Bridge; arrived at Leith on Monday at midnight, and on Tuesday morning landed here, in a pour of “even-down rain,” and was welcomed by the people with all imaginable cordiality. Our party is but one man (John Fergus, late Member for these Burghs, a most jovial social good-natured man), one man besides myself, and two dames his Sisters, one of whom is our old guest. We are very quiet. They let me alone; they have got me a bold swift horse to canter about upon, which I do daily for two hours; I also bathe daily in the blue sea-water which you know of old, in short I do already feel very considerably amended, and could not for the time be better off. I expect Jack in the meantime will be home at his day; will rest himself a little beside Jane at Chelsea; then off for Manchester, and home to Scotsbrig with my Mother, where perhaps the whole of us almost may meet ere long. As for me, my plan is to stay here a day or two yet; indeed so long as I find it not uncomfortable to stay, where could I be better? I will then go across to Edinburgh, stay there for perhaps a day, with John Gordon most probably; then forward to [a] place called Minto near Hawick, where a certain “Reverend Mr Aitken”5 (who was in London lately) will earnestly welcome me; with whom and his Gi[g] and Scenery and Books I can surely put off a day or two without wear[y]ing: he finally will set me on my way to Langholm, and then I have but some twelve miles, which will not beat me we may suppose! I think I have heard there is a coach from Langholm past Scotsbrig on certain days. I will write either to you or Jemmy again, if I want to be met at Langholm, and name the day. Or if I do not want to be met, I will send you a Newspaper with one stroke, the sense of which is to be for you that I am coming soon. Probably the Coach will be the easiest way for us. If there had been an attainable Gig indeed—but I believe there is none.— In short, my dear Brother, you are to learn from this scrawl that all the strangers are on their way homewards; that I for one am here, and likely to be with you in few days hence. How many days I cannot yet say; it may be in a week, it may not be for ten days; we will wait for the Newspaper with one stroke. This for the present is all the news: our Post is setting off in very few minutes; I have had to write at the top of my speed. The rest we will reserve for speech. Jack had kind messages to you all; he was well, and ought to be over the Alps ten days ago, and perhaps about Paris by this time. Jane was in her usual state of health, certainly not worse, when I left home: a lady6 had lent her a very neat little carriage to drive about in daily, said lady being absent on her travels for a few weeks!— Did you get the package of Books addressed to James Aitken Dumfries? Pray secure me a “quarter” of Mundell's Tobacco, and some right pipes, for I shall be in instant want of them. And keep up your heart, my brave Alick; there are better days coming yet. I send affectionate greetings to all the households. God bless you one and all, and let us meet soon.—

Your faithful /

T. Carlyle

The weather is sadly wet ever since I came hither; the crops said to be tolerably good, but so backward that in bad latitudes they will never be got gathered. Not a sheaf seemed to be cut, even in Norfolk. They are calling “to Post.”—Adieu!—