July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO EDWARD FITZGERALD; 10 July 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470710-TC-EF-01; CL 22: 13-14


Chelsea, 10 July, 1847


You are “a guilty creature,”1 but also a deserving one! The whole of that Squire business has had a vein of insanity running thro' it:2 what can we say? The invaluable old MS. being burnt, the foolish new Letters may even go after it. I must sort up the wrecks of these old Documents in some other way;—and truly any way will be difficult enough; but one cannot call the existing Squire flatly, mad; and yet how else account for his conduct, or explain the dilapidated authenticity of our new Oliver Letters? It really seems a thing of Fate's doing:—O that somebody had tied the mad blockhead, or lodged him safe in Bedlam, while it was yet time!

Thanks, however, for your excellent description of him.3 One assists at the sherry and biscuits with you; hears the gentle raps on the table; sees Bullock Squire face to face. Poor fellow, and he is very good to me too, and did the very wisest he could! “Burying much evil.”4 I dare say your theory of him is perfectly correct: three centuries of Peterborough, a latent strain of madness; and the panic terror that, somehow or other, now that I had heard tell of it, those terrible acts of Squire the Elder must come to light (unless he burnt them), and involve Peterborough in earthquakes!5 We cannot mend it; the most curious MS. in all England is burnt up,6 not to be bought now by the wealth of her Majesty's Exchequer;—and we will try to think it is even best so. Oliver, shewn as a naked Baresark, with his sabre brandished,—tho' to me it is not a strange, and is a highly interesting and instructive sight, in these poor twaddling, quack-spooney times,—might have been a little strong for some of his admirers. There are who think to conquer the world by flinging themselves like a pound of fresh butter on the face of it (see poor Lord Morpeth, 7 for example, and the sinks of London just at present); but that was not Oliver's plan;—nor was it “Jesus Christ's” plan (O sodden-eyed Exeter-Hall “Christianity”!),8 nor that of any man, I think, who was ever good for much in this world and its work! The cant of “‘Benevolence,” Capital Punisht &c &c is, to me, getting very fetid in these days. …