Irving, John to William Elphinstone Malcolm (1835/03/23)
106 Princes Street, Edinburgh,
March 23, 1835.
My dear Malcolm,—I set off to-morrow for London, having only had a week’s stay at home. I shall be in town in the end of the week, and shall call at Harley Street for the parcel of books for Kingston. I hope you will give Miss S. due notice of this, as I should feel it very awkward calling for the books and nobody knowing anything about them. In obedience to my father’s wishes, I am leaving home three or four days sooner than absolutely necessary for being at Falmouth by the 3d of next month. He wishes me to call upon several friends of his in London, whom he has written to, and endeavour to induce them to interest themselves as much as possible in procuring my promotion; but, as they are mostly strangers to me, this will be a most disagreeable employment. Sir George Clerk having a son coming from the West Indies to pass is a great obstacle to me; however, having passed all the examinations, and feeling that I have done my best, as far as it depends on me, I do not feel so very anxious about it. I have also to go away from London one day sooner than I would otherwise be obliged to do, as I have to pay a visit in Dorsetshire, on my way to Falmouth, to Mrs. Stanley, the wife of Captain Stanley, the commander of the “Edinburgh.” She has been long in bed, and was, I believe, despaired of. Captain Stanley could not obtain leave to go home, without losing the ship, and he entreated me, with the tears running down his cheeks, to go and see his wife before I left England. This I promised to do. I shall stop ten or twelve hours there, and proceed with the next coach. The place is called Alington, near Bridport. It vexes me to leave England without seeing you; but it cannot be helped. However, I will take it as a great favour if, when you are next in Scotland (perhaps next summer you will probably be in Edinburgh), you will go and see Mrs. Scott Moncrieff. Her name was Pringle. Her brother is M.P. for Selkirkshire, and, I believe, she is a cousin of your father’s. She is very anxious to see you. She told me she often carried you in her arms when you were an infant. She is a most pious, amiable lady, and I am sure you will be as much pleased with her as she will be with you. She lives at Dalkeith, six miles from Edinburgh; her husband is chamberlain to the Duke of Buccleuch, who has a palace there, so you will have no difficulty in finding her.
I have procured Newton’s Cardiphonia on your recommendation, but I have not had time to read it yet. I shall also get, and, as you desire, consider as a present from you, the little book called Advice to a Young Christian.
I shall be out at Malta about the end of April, and, I am afraid, shall have some difficulty in joining my ship; but I suppose I must stick to the letter-bag. It has been an expensive business this, my coming home; but it is a great comfort to my father to think that nothing has been omitted that has a chance of getting me on. I am afraid you will consider this a terribly egotistical letter, but mine are naturally such to you.—Believe me ever your affectionate friend,