January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


TC TO LORD ASHBURTON ; 18 August 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18590818-TC-LOA-01; CL 35: 170-172


Auchtertool House, Auchtertool, Kirkcaldy, 18 Augt, 1859—

Dear Lord Ashburton,

I am very glad to get hold of you again with a definite British date: the last notice I had, whh came to me in these parts, was from some Chasm in the Pyrenees; and indeed you have been a most wandering Entity for a long while past. I left a notice of my whereabouts, in the end of june, at Bath House:1 I had heard from you once, many months before, from Malta; to whh I responded, directing upon Cairo;2 but whether the missive ever got to hand I did not learn. Lady Sandwich kept us informed of your general proceedings; and from her I learned a while ago that you had actually reappeared in England,3 and were bending Northward; nay, by another accident, the approximate time of your transit thro’ Edinr became known to me;4 and I might have caught you up there, had not an ugly Cold laid me in limbo just then, and forbidden all adventures of that kind. In short I am very glad to have you descend out of the air, and become a definite fact for me again! In October you will pass thro’ London;—like your evil genius I give you rendezvous there; that is the place where I will meet you, if things go to my hope. And let us have no more of taking wing, or as little as possible! The only thing I like ill in your description is that “incapacity of being at rest”;5 that is decidedly an unwholesome item; and must be striven with, and abated, if even with effort. Why not take Buckle,6 and force yourself to sit still, in contemplation of the Progress of civil and religious Liberty all over the world? Better so I can assure you than plunging thro’ the wet heather after deer. Beware of deer, I seriously counsel! You actually ought to understand your limits,—this year, by p[l]aying smart,7 I am actually beginning to learn mine;—for most part (I am persuaded) Buckle and the Infinitely Torpid is wholesome to you in comparison with deer! But we hope your fair Doctor8 will bring you back cured of this last infirmity too: let that be the crown of her beneficences, whh have been great hitherto.

I had a miserable year over my Prussian rubbish, after you left: I toiled day and night in that sordid element, after the manner of a slave too literally, for there was nothing, or not enough, of wisdom in my method, and by sheer force it could not be done. I myself grew more and more stupid; that was nearly all the advancet I could fairly notice! In that wild blast of winter; whh was our month of May, my poor wife had a dreadful attack of illness (probably the settling of her winter accts in that kind): after much consultation, we decided to get awake, and take flight,—hitherward, as it proved.

Her, I am grieved to say, it has not benefited much; yet I hope it has somewhat. As for me, I seemed to flourish greatly, especially for the first month while living close by the sea; but just in removing hither (some 3 miles inland, our term on the shore being out) I was taught a new lesson, and found that much of my “improvet” had been mere biliary excitet, and that as the groom9 says of my horse, I had too much courage: “so much courage, Sir, he goes whether he can or not!”— In fact I am quite miserable with this Prussian millstone hung round my neck; and have in genl no wish but to get done with it and then rest forevermore. Alas, the Highlands,—tell her bounteous Ladyship, with my thanks and regrets,—is far beyond us!10 We go for Annandale in a 2 weeks; thence in perhaps 2 more, home to Chelsea. Good be with you both & all. T. Carlyle