August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO JEAN CARLYLE AITKEN ; 8 September 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430908-TC-JCA-01; CL 17: 122


Kirkcaldy, 8 Septr, 1843

My dear Jean,

You may think it strange that I have never yet found time to send the smallest notice of my fate since I left your kind sisterly house on Friday last, exactly a week ago. It has not been for the want of thinking of you: but the truth is, one's obstructions are m[words obliterated] I have been somewhat unusually out of order; an absurd brute of a horse [t]umbled down with [me] here on perfectly flat ground, the day after my arrival; and tho' no bones were hurt or real injury done, I have been impeded in all my enterprises by a kind of feverish languor ever since. I am now nearly mended however;—you are to say nothing of it, for our Mother does not know, and [need] not for a month or two!— Enough[. I] have literally ten minutes left today, and will use them on your behalf.

Gordon, as you perhaps know, received me at Edinr with open arms; was much astonished, and laughed heartily to hear that little Jane had grown large, and possessed a flock of little children!1 With Gordon I got more talk than I wanted, and less sleep: Next day I went out to Haddington, had the warmest welcome from the “dear Donaldsons,” good [o]ld dames reduced now to a narrow circle of three; on the following day I walked out to Dunbar: I found the battlefield agree well with my ideas of it or the descriptions I had got; much more recogniseable than such scenes usually are. The walk was silent, pious, beautiful; but the return was terribly obstructed by high wind and dust,—still more perhaps by endless shoals of Irish Shearers covering the face of the world [like] locusts, and wandering restle[ssly]