August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO EDWARD STRACHEY ; 3 November 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421103-TC-ES-01; CL 15: 161-162


CHELSEA, November 3 1842

DEAR MR. STRACHEY, — The head must evidently have belonged to some son of Adam who lived a good while ago, and went through strange vicissitudes after burial. Though I doubt there is next to no chance of its ever having belonged to Cromwell, yet merely as an anatomical specimen and envious “product of the arts” it seems well worth a journey to Camberwell, especially to such a courteous host's as Mr.———'s. Pray let my thanks be conveyed to him. I hope also to see your friend Mr. Gregory1 by and by. But at present I am too weakly with a dirty, sneaking sore throat, the fruit of easterly winds; and indeed, through winter generally I am unequal to a night adventure so far as Camberwell. Perhaps Mr. ——— would see me some time by daylight on a Sunday or holiday? I should like to look on this notable piece of Anak-Reality2 (supposing it to be only such), and hear what account it gives of itself. The history of poor Oliver, from his cradle to his grave, and even beyond it, is such a mere mass of stupid fables as never, or hardly ever, elsewhere clustered themselves round the memory of a great man. In other times and conditions he would have been sung of as a demigod, and here Tyburn gallows3 was in all ways the lot of him! It is really painful to consider such depth of sheer thick stupidity, and total want of sense for the godlike in man is very sure to punish itself; as, alas! we find it now in these quack-ridden generations everywhere too fatally doing. But the poor leather head at Camberwell is not to blame for much of this, surely. Let us leave it, therefore.

My wife is out of her cold, but hanging, as her wont is through winter, on the verge of another.

When your good mother approaches this country, I pray you give me notice.

You, I think, will be wise not to stir much out at present. I hope to see you again soon.

Ever truly yours,


My wife wants Mrs. Buller's address at Lady Louis's.4 I have settled with her that she shall write her letter, and that I will inclose it to you, with merely “Mrs. Buller” on it, that you may do the needful.