August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO EDWARD FITZGERALD ; 10 October 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421008-TC-EF-01; CL 15: 123-124


Chelsea, 10 Octr, 1842—

My dear Sir,

It is a good sign of you that you are set “a-rolling”; I bid you, Roll, roll!1 There ought to be a correct, complete, and everyway right and authentic Essay, or little Book, written about Naseby as it now is and as it then seems to have been,—with the utmost possible distinctness, succinctness, energy, accuracy and available talent of every sort:—I leave you to consider, Whether the actual Owner and Heaven's-Steward of Naseby ought to have no hand in that!

As to the Pamphlets at Northampton,2 they are not very momentous, and will all be dreadfully dull reading, yet to a Northamptonshire man, I should think that first especially (No 1158, “Fairfax's Orders at Northampn”), and the two “accounts of Naseby,” might be worth something. The usual price of such pamphlets, in the old shops here, is from half-a-crown to 5/ apiece; they come sometimes as low as 1/ or 1/6;—but you can not always find them when you want them. Suppose you offer half a crown for each of the three; with instructions to rise to the sublimity of five shillings for the first, if it can not otherwise be had?— The rest, “Desires of the Army”3 &c, are in Rushworth and elsewhere, usque ad nauseam [even to nausea], considering what terrible stuff they are. “St. John's speeches4 and the like,—avoid them as you would the ooze of Lethe!——— “Fairfax at Northampton in january 1646” (which means 1647, for in those days the new-year did not begin till 24th March) must mean, Fairfax going up to meet the King, now about setting forth from Newcastle to Holdenby; whom Fairfax did meet about ten days later or more, somewhere on the road southward.5 It will be a dirty little dumpy quarto pamphlet, of the dreariest dim brown, and the purport and substance of it not less dreary; but being an official piece, and offered now to the Proprietor of Naseby, and &c &c? On the whole, I think, you may venture five shillings! All these things are nearly sure to be in the British Museum; indeed as good as altogether sure.— Of Nichol's Leicestershire or the other County History6 I know nothing, except what you now tell me, or before told me.7 The Naseby Powder-horn I would look on both sides of before I bought it: the soldiers in 1645 did not carry horns (so far as I know or guess); their powder hung in little tiny Canns (or bottles one may say), each holding a charge, and all suspended by a belt called the bandelier,—hanging like a strop of onions from the soldier's shoulder to his haunch, and rustling as he rode or walked! He lifted off each cann or case, opened the lid of it, and, having emptied it, hung it on again by the hook. He had to carry lighted match in his hand, poor fellow, and often got his powder wet etc. “Pray to the Lord, and keep your powder dry!8

By the by, as to those women said to be killed in your villages, I ought to have mentioned that there did usually follow Prince Rupert's troopers a formidable body of “Irish whores with long skean knives,” who occasionally fought like furies, and of course might get themselves killed in fight,—nay it was only their petticoats that saved them from being hanged after fight; such was then the acknowledged law for “Irish Papists”; which nobody seemed to think very unfair;—neither perhaps was it, such a squad had they become—with no truth in their tongue any more, no pity or justice in their heart any more; a kind of hyena-demons, fit only to be hanged when you could catch them! Whitlocke expressly enumerates “100 Irish Queans” among the Naseby Prisoners; and another blockhead, Rycraft,9 says there were “300” of them killed.— Cannot you come down hither, in your way? I am at home every night after 5 o'clock.—

Yours always