August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO EDWARD FITZGERALD ; 24 September 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420924-TC-EF-01; CL 15: 101-102


Chelsea, Saturday / 25 [24] Septr, 1842—

My dear Sir,

You will do me and the Genius of History a real favour, if you persist in these examinations and excavations to the utmost length possible for you! It is long since I read a Letter so interesting as yours of Yesterday.1 Clearly enough you are upon the very battleground;—and I, it is also clear, have only looked up towards it from the slope of Mill Hill. Were not the weather so wet, were not &c &c, so many etceteras, I could almost think of running up to join you still! But that is evidently unfeasible at present.

The opening of that burial-heap blazes strangely in my thoughts: these are the very jawbones that were clenched together in deadly rage, on this very ground, 197 years ago!2 It brings the matter home to one, with a strange veracity,—as if for the first time one saw it to be no fable and theory but a dire fact.3 I will beg for a tooth and a bullet;4 authenticated by your own eyes and word of honour!— Our Scotch friend too, making turnip manure of it, he is part of the Picture. I understand almost all the Netherlands battlefields have already given up their bones to British husbandry; why not the old English next? Honour to thrift. If of 5000 wasted men, you can make a few usable turnips, why, do it!—

The more sketches and details you can contrive to send me, the better. I want to know for one thing whether there is any house on Cloisterwell; what house that was that I saw from the slope of Naseby height (Mill-hill, I suppose), and fancied to be Dust Hill Farm? It must lie about North by West from Naseby Church perhaps near a mile off. You say, one cannot see Dust Hill at all, much less any farm house of Dust Hill, from that Naseby Height?

But why does the Obelisk stand there? It might as well stand at Charing Cross; the blockhead that it is!— I again wish that I had wings: alas, I wish many things; that the gods would but annihilate Time and Space, which would include all things!

In great haste, Yours most truly,

T. Carlyle

“North York Infantry” is far from satisfactory; but I have yet got nothing better. Do you indubitably read these same Letters N.Y.I; or cannot the “I” be a No 1 &c &c?5