The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO LORD SANDWICH ; 28 June 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500628-TC-LOS-01; CL 25: 106-107


5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea 28 june, 1850—

Dear Lord Sandwich,

When that unfortunate gentleman “with his head in 37 pieces”1 came to call on me, I used all industry to gather from him whatever light I could as to the history and catastrophe of that mysterious Squire Journal burnt by him,—with a view, first, to elucidate the credibility of his strange story about it; and then farther, to recover from his confused memory, and commit to paper, what fragments of it he (from frequent perusal, as his story bore) could still recollect for me. In this way I collected some ten or twelve pages of “Squiriana,” which I keep with great care here; they are not to be published (under dreadful penalties) till we have all died and disappeared, and the “37 pieces” of a certain head have got composed into proper juncture again!— Had I not been afraid to bore you with the trouble of reading blotted writing, solemnly keeping “secrets” that are of no earthly moment, and returning bundles of nearly worthless papers as if they were bank-notes,—I wd have shewn you this precious Manuscript while you were here, which might have amused you for a few minutes, as it did Lady An who read it when first put together. On some calmer occasion,—especially if we ever get to Hinchinbrook2 under good omens!—this may still be done. Meanwhile here inclosed is a small fraction, which I have extracted as claiming a particular interest from the representation of “Sea-General Montagu.”3 It brings into distinct daylight the fact which I had gathered from various inferences, that the First Earl of Sandwich was one of the Ironside Captains,4 and is the “Montagu” frequently mentioned in these “Squire Papers” whh you have read in print. For, on the whole, I have no doubt there is substantial truth in the story this poor “head in 37 pieces” has set forth; no theory of the affair is possible for me, except that it is substantially true.— Permit me to send you this little patch of writing, to be burnt instantly if you so doom; and please do not take the trouble of writing a word of answer on the subject, for that really wd be more than needless.

The First Lord Sandwich, I find, was Forty-seven when he met his death. There are many Letters of his in Thurloe's State Papers,5 and I suppose in Mss. elsewhere; such a man ought to have had a written Biography, and universally legible Memorial, long ago,—if the sacer vates [holy prophet] were not in so confused a state among us in these times!— With many respects and good wishes I have the honour to be,

Your most obedt & obliged

T. Carlyle