August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO EDWARD FITZGERALD ; 18 September 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420918-TC-EF-01; CL 15: 89-91


Chelsea, 18 Septr, 1842—

My dear Sir,

Profiting by the unexpected fact that you are now Master of Naseby Battlefield,1 I have gone over the whole matter once more, probably for the twentieth time; I have copied you my illegible pencil-notes, and reverified everything,—that so, if you can understand the meaning (which will be difficult, I fear), you may append to it what commentary, collected on the spot, you may judge edifying.2 Let me, however, again impress upon you that these statements and descriptions are actual facts, gathered with industry from some seven or eight eyewitnesses, looking at the business with their own eyes from seven or eight different sides; that the present figure of the ground, in my recollection, corresponds very tolerably well with the whole of them;—and that no “theory,” by what Professor soever, can be of any use to me in comparison.— I wish you had Sprigge's complete Plan of the Battle:3 but you have it not; you have only that foolish Parson's4 very dim copy of it, and must help yourself with that.

The things I wish you to give me are first: The whole story of your Blacksmith, or other Oral Chronicler, be it wise and credible, be it absurd and evidently false. Then you can ask, whether there remains any tradition of a Windmill at Naseby? One stands in the Plan, not far from North of the village, probably some 300 yards to the west of where the ass of a column5 now stands: the whole concern, of fighting, rallying, flying, killing and chasing, transacted itself to the west of that,—on the height, over the brow of the height, down the slope, in the hollow, and up again to the grounds of Dust Hill, where the final dispersion took place. Therefore, again, pray ask

Where precisely any dead bodies are known to have been found? Where and when the last-found was come upon; what they made of it,—whether no Antiquarian kept a tooth; at any rate, a button or the like? Cannon-balls ought to be found, especially musket-balls, down in that hollow, and on the slope thitherward: is any extant cabinet master of one?

Farther, are there, on the high ground N.W. or W. of Naseby village, any traces still discoverable of such names as these: “Lantford hedges” (or perhaps “hedge”; a kind of thicket running up the slope, towards the western environs of Naseby village, nearly from the North;—Fairfax had dragoons hidden here, who fired upon Rupert's6 right, as he charged upwards): “Rutput Hill”; “Fanny Hill” (according to Rushworth,7 “Famny Hill” in Sprigge),—probably two swellings in the ground, that lie between the south end of Lantford Hedges and the village; “Lean Leaf Hill” seemingly another swelling, parallel to these, which reaches in with its slope to the very village from the west: “Mill Hill” farther to the east (marked as due west from the windmill, which of course must have stood upon a part of it), lying therefore upon the north part of the village? It is possible, in spite of all ditching and enclosure bills, there may still some vestige of these names adhere to some fields or messuages; the exact position of which it would be satisfactory to fix. You can also tell me whether Burrough Hill is visible from Naseby, and “what it is like”; and what the Sibbertoft height, on the other side, and the Harboro' Heights are like! I suppose one sees Sibbertoft steeple, but no houses, from Naseby Height? Also that it was undoubtedly Clipston (as the good Dr Arnold and I supposed) that we saw there. Dr A. and I came, as I find, thro' Crick, West Hadden, Cold Ashby, and crossed the Welford and Northampton road, perhaps some 3 miles from Naseby.

On the whole, my dear Sir, here seems to be work enough for you! But after all is it not worth your while on other accounts? Were it not a most legitimate task for the Proprietor of Naseby, a man of scholarship, intelligence and leisure, to make himself completely acquainted with the true state of all details connected with Naseby Battle and its localities? Few spots of ground in all the world are memorabler to an Englishman. We could still very well stand a good little book on Naseby! Verbum sapienti [A word to the wise].

As for myself, had I the wings of an eagle, most likely I should still fly to you, and to several other quarters: but with railways and tub-gigs,8 and my talent for insomnolence, and fretting myself to fiddlestrings with all terrestrial locomotion whatsoever—alas, alas!

Believe me always, / My dear Sir, /

Very truly yours

T. Carlyle 9