April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO THOMAS FREWEN; 21 February 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490221-TC-TF-01; CL 23: 238-239


5-Cheyne Row, Chelsea / 21 feby, 1849—

Dear Sir,

The Third Edition of Cromwell goes into the Printer's hands tomorrow.1 I suppose he will not yet, for perhaps ten days or more, come upon any passage liable to be affected by your Annotations; and probably it may be a month before he is fairly thro' the First Volume. There is not therefore any quite immediate pressure of hurry upon you; only the sooner you can please to favour me with these Marginal Remarks you were so good as promise, it will be the better.2 More especially, as there is at best little time to deliberate upon them.

Wharton's newborn Son, I now discover (or rather, a Gentleman at the Museum has, with labour, discovered for me), was the Duke of Wharton's Father; ‘died in 1715 in the 67th year of his age,’ after a busy and somewhat distinguished life.3

There does not seem the slightest sound basis for any of the pretended Heads of Oliver. The one at present in vogue was visited, the other day, by a friend of mine: it has hair, flesh, beard,—a written history bearing evidence that it was purchased for £100 (I think, and of bad debt) about 50 years ago;—it also appears to have once had resinous unguents, or embalming substances in it, and to have stood upon a spike:—likely enough, the head of some decapitated man of distinction: but by the size of the face, by the very width of the jawbone, were there no other proof, it has not any chance to be Oliver's head. A professional Sculptor, about a year ago, gave me the same report of it: “a very much smaller face than Oliver's; quite another face.”4 The story told, of a high wind, a sentinel &c, is identical with what your old neighbour heard, long since, of the Oliver Head in the shape of a Scull. In short, this whole affair appears to be fraudulent moonshine,—an element not pleasant even to glance into; especially in a case like Oliver's.

I remain always / Yours with sincere thanks

T. Carlyle

Thomas Frewen Esq.