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of you regularly from Jack,* who is very regular in steering this way when packets arrive; and I observe with great satisfaction that you think our good Duke's health is on the mending hand. Climate must operate as an alterative, and much cannot perhaps be expected from it at first. Besides, the great heat must be a serious drawback. But I hope you will try by and by to get away to Cintra, or some of those sequestered retreats where there are shades and cascades to cool the air. I have an idea the country there is eminently beautiful. I am afraid the Duke has not yet been able to visit Torres Vedras, but you must be meeting with things everywhere to put you in mind of former scenes. As for the Senhoras, I have little doubt that the difference betwixt your military hard fare and Florence's high sauces and jellies will make them think that time has rather improved an old friend than otherwise. Apropos of these ticklish subjects. I am a suitor to the Duke, with little expectation of success (for I know his engagements), for the kirk of Middlebie to George Thomson, the very Abraham Adams of Presbytery. If the Duke mentions him to you (not otherwise) pray lend him a lift. With a kirk and a manse the poor fellow might get a good farmer's daughter, and beget grenadiers for his Majesty's service. But as I said before, I daresay all St Hu
* Captain John Fergusson, R. N.
bert's black pack are in full cry upon the living, and that he has little or no chance. It is something, however, to have tabled him, as better may come of it another day.
“ All at Huntly Burn well and hearty, and most kind in their attentions during our late turmoils. Bauby * came over to offer her services as sicknurse, and I have drunk scarce anything but delicious ginger-beer of Miss Bell's brewing, since my troubles commenced. They have been, to say the least, damnable; and I think you would hardly know me. When I crawl out on Sybil Grey, I am the very image of Death on the pale horse, lanthornjawed, decayed in flesh, stooping as if I meant to eat the pony's ears, and unable to go above a footpace. But although I have had, and must expect, frequent relapses, yet the attacks are more slight, and I trust I shall mend with the good weather. Spring sets in very pleasantly and in a settled fashion. I have planted a number of shrubs, &c. at Huntly Burn, and am snodding up the drive of the old farmhouse, enclosing the Toftfield, and making a good road from the parish road to your gate. This I tell you to animate you to pick up a few seeds both of forest trees, shrubs, and vegetables ; we will rear them in the hot-house, and divide honourably. Avis au lecteur. I have been a good deal intrusted to the care
* Bauby — i.e. Barbara, was a kind old housekeeper of the Miss Fergussons.
of Sophia, who is an admirable sick-nurse. Mamma has been called to town by two important avocations. to get a cook -- no joking matter — and to see Charles, who was but indifferent, but has recovered. You must have heard of the death of Joseph Hume, David's only son. Christ! what a calamity — just entering life with the fairest prospects — full of talent, and the heir of an old and considerable family - a fine career before him. All this he was one day, or rather one hour — or rather in the course of five minutes — so sudden was the death — and then a heap of earth. His disease is unknown; something about the heart, I believe; but it had no alarming appearance, nothing worse than a cold and sore throat, when convulsions came, and death ensued. It is a complete smash to poor David, who had just begun to hold his head up after his wife's death. But he bears it stoutly, and goes about his business as usual. A woful case. London is now out of the question with me; I have no prospect of being now able to stand the journey by sea or land; but the best is, I have no pressing business there. The Commie* takes charge of Walter's matters cannot, you know, be in better hands; and Lord Melville talks of gazetting quam primum. I will write a long letter very soon, but my back, fingers, and eyes ache with these three pages. All here send love and fraternity. Yours ever most truly,
* The Lord Chief Commissioner Adam.
“ P.S. - By the by, old Kennedy, the tinker, swam for his life at Jedburgh, and was only, by the sophisticated and timid evidence of a seceding doctor, who differed from all his brethren, saved from a welldeserved gibbet. He goes to botanize for fourteen years. Pray tell this to the Duke, for he was
• An old soldier of the Duke's,
Six of his brethren, I am told, were in court, and kith and kin without end. I am sorry so many of the clan are left. The cause of quarrel with the murdered man was an old feud between two gipsey clans, the Kennedies and Irvings, which, about forty years since, gave rise to a desperate quarrel and battle on Hawick Green, in which the grandfathers of both Kennedy, and Irving whom he murdered, were engaged."
In the next of these letters there is allusion to a drama on the story of the Heart of Mid-Lothian, of which Mr Terry had transmitted the MS. to Abbotsford — and which ultimately proved very successful. Terry had, shortly before this time, become the acting manager of the Haymarket theatre.
“ To D. Terry, Esq., Haymarket, London.
“ Abbotsford, 18th April 1819, “ Dear Terry,
“ I am able (though very weak) to answer your kind enquiries. I have thought of you often, and been on the point of writing or dictating a letter, but till very lately I could have had little to tell you of but distress and agony, with constant relapses into my unhappy malady, so that for weeks I seemed to lose rather than gain ground, all food nauseating on my stomach, and my clothes hanging about me like a potato-bogle,* with from five or six to ten hours of mortal pain every third day ; latterly the fits have been much milder, and have at last given way to the hot bath without any use of opiates; an immense point gained, as they hurt my general health extremely. Conceive my having taken, in the course of six or seven hours, six grains of opium, three of hyoscyamus, near 200 drops of laudanum — and all without any sensible relief of the agony under which I laboured. My stomach is now getting confirmed, and I have great hopes the bout is over ; it has been a dreadful set-to. I am sorry to hear Mrs Terry is complaining ; you ought not to let her labour, neither at Abbotsford sketches nor at anything else,
* Anglice - Scarecrow.