July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO EDWARD FITZGERALD ; 1 March 1848; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18480301-TC-EF-01; CL 22: 258-259


[1 March 1848.]

Of Squire I have heard little; his face I have never yet seen. During the heat of that distracted jargon about the Letters (more distracted jargon never came my way before), I sent, one day, three clippings of Newspapers which I had got somewhere, openly calling in question the authenticity of the Squire story and documents: these three clippings I enclosed in an empty cover, merely writing “compliments” in the inside, and despatched them to Yarmouth. Answer, next day, arrived;1 written as if by a wild lion, or body of lions, several writing at once;—really an affecting Letter, for poor Squire was ill of influenza, and his whole soul was stirred up into astonishment, contempt, and rage literally beyond speech. I saw it would have been easy to bring him up to any negative Editor in London, with a tremendous oak stick in his hand, and a kind of “logic” that would have much surprised the negative Editor! But in fact I was afraid of Bedlam itself for poor Squire, and was filled with respect and pity for him; wrote accordingly a soothing letter, advising him not to mind a whit all that barking of street dogs, but to sit quiet, to grow well, and come and see me,—which last he promised to do, but has never yet done; nor have I heard a whisper of him since.— Yet I must see him by and by, should I even go to Yarmouth on purpose. You are much mistaken in your notion of what he thinks of you, “my intelligent friend;”2—and if you ever come into his neighbourhood, you may with perfect frankness (and really I think, should) go and pay your respects to him again. You can say I never for one moment doubted of his letters; nor am likely, till the age of miracles come back. As to ‘arguments’ like those we had from the negative Editors, I do not see that a mountain of such (mostly false and ignorant even as philologies) are of any weight at all. Besides, what boots it? Let every man believe as he lists; there is properly not a pennyworth of historical value attached to belief or to disbelief! It is literally like the noise of street dogs: one dog barks, another and another takes up the bark, and soon all the parish, and all the nation, is in full bow-wow, barking as for life;—and the whole matter was a poor cracked porringer the cook was flinging out of window in the silent winter evening! You cannot stop it; not you, by rushing out with horsewhips, and field artillery of Woolwich arsenal: sit still in silence; and it will stop of itself!— Spedding tells me, it is mostly quenched now, into a sober doubt on the part of the ignorant looking into a millstone; most people of sense, I believe, are content to take the matter as I give it. And so, till next edition, it must lie … .