July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO EDWARD FITZGERALD ; 23 August 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550823-TC-EF-01; CL 30: 40-42


Chelsea, 23 Augt 1855—

Dear Fitzgerald,

Here, after a good deal of bothering to improve it, above all to abridge it, is the proposed Inscription for the Pillar at Naseby.1 You need not scruple a moment to make any change that strikes you; I am well aware it is good for nothing except its practical object, and that I have no skill in lapidary literature.

The worst thing will be, discovering the date of your Naseby diggings.2 I ought to have it here; and probably I have,—in some remote dusty trunk, whither it is a terror to go looking for it! Try you what you can, and the Naseby Farmer too (if he is still extant); then I will try. At worst we can say “Ten years ago”; but the exact date would be better.

The figure of the stone ought to be of Egyptian simplicity: a broadish parallelopipedon (or rather octaedron; the corners well chamfered off, to avoid breakages, will make it 8-faced, I think); in the substance of the stone there is one quality to be looked for, durability; and the letters ought to be cut deep,—and by no means in lapidary lines (attend to that!); but simply like two verses of the Bible, so that he who runs may read. I rather like the Siste Viator,3—yet will let you blot it out,—it is as applicable as to any Roman Tomb, and more so than to ours, which are in enclosed places, where any “Traveller,” if he either “stop” or go, will presently have the constable upon him. This is all I have to say about the stone; and I recommend that it be now done straightway, before you quit hold of that troublesome locality.4

I find I must not promise to myself to go thither with you; alas, nor at all. I cannot get to sleep again since I came out of Suffolk: the stilness5 of Farlingay is unattainable in Chelsea for a second sleep, so I have to be content with the first, which is oftenest about 5 hours, and a very poor allowance for the afflicted son of Adam. I feel privately confident I have got good by my Suffolk visit, and by all the kindness of my beneficent brother mortals to me there: but in the meanwhile it has “stirred up a good deal of bile,” I suppose; and we must wait.

London is utterly vacant to me, of all but noises from Cremorne and such sources: there is not in Britain a better place for work than this Garret, if one had strength or heart for fronting work to any purpose. I try a little, but mostly with very small result.

If you know Glyde of Ipswich, and can understand him to be really worth subscribing for, pray put down your name and mine, as a bit of duty;6 if not, not,—and burn his Letter.

I send the heartiest thanks, and remembrances to kind Mrs Smith, and all the industrious Harvesters; also to Papa and the young lady at Bredfield:—as I well may!— — I recommend myself to your prayers; and hope to come again, if I live, when you have set your own house in order. Yours, dear F., with true regards,

T. Carlyle7

Siste Viator

Here, and for — yards to rearward, lies the Dust of Men slain in the Battle of Naseby, 14 june, 1645. N.L.8 / On and near this spot, it appears by due investigation, was the brunt (crisis?) of the Battle.9

O.L. / Saturday (date is not in the Book; try if you can discount it imfragably)—1844 2(?), this ground was opened (not irreverently), as the last link of evidence; and the ashes of the old Dead answered mutely, Yes. Yea (See Carlyle's “Cromwell,” ?, and the Authorities indicated there).

Edwd Fitzgerald

—Septr 1855

Siste Viator

Here, and for — yards to rearward lies the Dust of men Slain in the Battle of Naseby, 14 june 1645. Hereabouts appears to have been the crisis of the struggle, hereabouts the final charge of Oliver Cromwell and his Ironsides, that day.

This Ground was opened, not irreverently or witht reluctance, Saty 23? Septr 1842, to ascertain that fact, and render the Contemporary recordslegible. Peace henceforth to these old Dead

Edwd Fitzgd (with date)

This10 with a wider margin, or in some other way distinguishable from the rest of the inscription11