August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO EDWARD FITZGERALD ; 1 October 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421001-TC-EF-01; CL 15: 112-114


Chelsea, 1 Octr, 1842—

My dear Sir,

Thanks anew for your new Sketches and Details:1 you have anticipated nearly all I wanted in the Sketch way; had I my Sketches Nos. 2 & 3 safe back, it were about all right on that side. Pity, indeed, that those two are on the same paper,—somewhat. One might spread out the whole on the table at once, and construct for oneself a perfect panorama of the ground from them.— You have proved yourself, I must be allowed to say, a most brave Investigator in this matter: had I anticipated any such harvest of results, I should certainly have gone with you, rain and all.

Your Marston-Trussel graves are very likely to be authentic. The chase lasted all the way to Harborough: the King, feeling himself unsafe there, fled on to Ashby de la Zouch that night; and even then rested only a few hours. There was no “ravishing of women”;2—far other fish to fry on that occasion: besides the Fairfax soldiers were no ravishers; even the stealing of a goose was punished with instant hanging. Prince Rupert's chivalry indeed— But you can judge whether they would be in a ravishing humour on that occasion!

That you could not see Burrough Hill from Guilsborough is all as it should be; for Sprigge's error in that name is manifest, and the place he means, there can be no doubt even from his own context, is Kislingbury: it was from the environs of Flower (near Weedon),—somewhere between Flower and Kislingbury,—that Fairfax, on the Friday morning early, saw the King's forces hurrying away from Burrough Hill and their huts on fire. He got to Guilsborough that night,—and if “Gilling” be not a misprint or mistake for that, it is to the present Antiquarian clearly a nonentity, having totally vanished out of that region.

The Cold Ashby tradition is likewise very credible, almost probable.3 For Ireton with light horse hung all that Friday morning upon the King's rear, scuffling with them; finishing off his dayswork at Naseby, on Langdale's Northern Horse. It is as good as certain the King would go thro' Cold Ashby,—I suppose he was marching on all the practicable roads that led up towards Harborough; Ireton keeping him close company on the main road. Ireton therefore we conclude was the saviour of the Ashby bacon: he would not eat it without paying for it! The two sitting skeletons of troopers would most likely be killed in this skirmishing pursuit;—and the chance rather is, since they were not stript, that they might be soldiers of his own; buried by their friends, pushed into any hole, and at least hidden from insult? Or perhaps not so? One would have liked to see the traces of the inscription on their caps! The “bridle-chains” were probably chin-straps for keeping their helmets on.— Fairfax, as I interpret, would not go thro' either Thornby or Cold Ashby, on Saturday morning, from Guilsburough; but straight up by the nearest road and roads he could fall in with. He took two hours: from 3 till 5 in the morning. By the way, there was no sermon at Naseby; but there were exhortations, prayers and psalm-singing: that text from Joshua may well enough have been in many mouths and hearts that morning.4

On the whole I am really much gratified with the fruit of this little antiquarian campaign of yours; and have, for my own share, a real obligation to you for it. But a man who owns Naseby Field in 1842 ought verily to know what is knowable about that bit of ground in 1645. Few more memorable spots are on the Earth's surface,—I do not say England's surface alone: perhaps nowhere else in the world, at no other time in the world, was such a Host gathered together as that of Fairfax, with such a cause as theirs. Charles called them “Rebels”; but he was very far mistaken in that word. It was he, poor Scarecrow, that has been found now to have been rebelling—rebelling against God Almighty and the whole true Universe, little as he dreamt of that!— — Finally tho' I advise no man to become an Author, I again say that if you drew up those details into due shape, and studying the matter effectually, made a Treatise of it, and printed it, you would do not ill, but well. At all events I will preserve what you have written to me, as a valuable thing.

And so farewell till we meet again,—if this is to be the last of Naseby at present.5 I will commend myself heartily to the brave Thackeray, Fitzboodle,6 or whatever he is called, and wish him and you a speedy reappearance here.———

Yours always truly

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