The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO AN UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT ; 2 June 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530602-TC-UC-01; CL 28: 158-159


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea / 2 june, 1853—

My dear Madam,

I had not heard before of Hartmann's Novel; nor can I yet recollect of ever having spoken to him on the Bruce-and-Sackville Duel, in the little intercourse we had together.1 I suppose I must have sent him the volume of my poor old Collins's Peerage, where that Transaction is recorded, and the “Letters” &c (all the Letters I ever saw on the subject), together wth Lord Edward's Narrative are given.2 As Hartmann is a Bohemian, I most likely would mention farther that Lord Edward was at the Battle of Prag (or King's Sunday-Dinner during the Battle, I don't now remember which), and that in the sad scramble which closed that Dinner party, he had to take the Queen of Bohemia en croupe [on the saddle behind him], and so gallop with her the best he could;—which fact also I had read in the Old Books somewhere, and find still sticking to me.3 But this is all I ever could have told Hartmann; and this is but little: of any connexion between that Duel and the Queen of Bohemia's History I never heard or dreamt.

Some seven years I did make a good deal of dreary investigation into that old Story; noting down whatever I could find about Bruce and Sackville: but really in the end it amounted to nothing but what is familiar to you already: the wet meadow after dinner, the &c &c. I found it certain that they had been intimate companions a year or two before; but as to what the cause of their deadly quarrel was, I got no light, except what common tradition gives, nor do I think there will any ever be got. I have inquired of the Elgin Bruces,4 who claim to be representatives; but they also know nothing. Why should they? Young gentlemen do quarrel, and get into a very deadly humour with one another, now and then! The point that struck me most of all, was poor Bruce's last life-movement: when the Surgeon in a paroxysm of pity and rage was about drawing his sword on Ld Edward, Bruce again opens his eyes, with these last words to him, “Villain, hold thy hand!”—

Hartmann (who is a beautiful youth, with sumptuous beard, of the Hebrew race, and not without talent), I understand, is again in Town,—beard as sumptuous as ever. I surely am obliged to him for the pleasure he has procured me on this occasion; and remain,

My dear madam

Yours with many regards

T. Carlyle