April-December 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 18


TC TO [W. E. FORSTER?] ; 21 April 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440421-TC-WEF-01; CL 18: 17-18


Chelsea, 21 April, 1844—

My dear Sir,

Many thanks for your visit to Marston and your Letter about. I suppose we shall never get to understand that unfortunate Battle; but every intelligent survey and testimony is a contribution towards that. I have read all the wretched old bewildering narrations over again; I find the truest, or perhaps the true one, to be that in the Cromwelliana if well studied.— A modern account by W. Hutton (visit to Coatham in 1810) is as full of blunders nearly as of statements; the old man is to be believed about modern aspects of the ground, nothing more.1

Can Wilsthorpe Wood ever have been called Gortrey Wood?2 That would explain a variety of things for me. In “Gortrey Wood,” Prince Rupert's Army quartered the night before; only a few of them were ever in York. The trees in Wilsthorp wood says old Hutton have bullets buried in them. I wish still you would make some inquiry about Gortrey (or Gortree) where it is, if not at Wilsthorp.

The Battle was certainly in “the fields where the bullets are found thickest,” not in the Wood at all,—except the last gasp of the royalists' retreating foot, who might (as Hutton says they did) seek shelter there. I suppose it is somewhere near the wood, or in it, that the Graves of the Slain lie? Your Letter “G.” is not to be found on your Plan; after long looking, I conclude it has gone off with the wax.

Perhaps before writing “Marston” (if Alas I ever get to write it), I may get a glimpse of the ground myself. But indeed there is a limit to all things, and too much trouble is as foolish as too little,—and a thing I am more liable to for most part.3

Did you ever apply for the Yarmouth Cromwell Letter?4 If you have any difficulty, pray forbear; I can get at the thing by another course. Perhaps you could ask the owner what exact Date and Address it has: my notion is I have either already seen it, or could otherwise see it.

I have got no horse, and am still in considerable, and perhaps in growing want of one. The botheration and expense of the thing both deter me. We shall see by and by. My taste in a horse is exactly yours, yours also my knowledge. I sometimes think of getting some strong animal that could run in a cab too, and then giving it to my Wife in winter, for the seas of mud on all our raging highways at that season make a riding horse rather a nuisance to have charge of.

There is no haste about either Gortree or the Yarmouth Letter; tho' at present I am working rather on that side of the subject, you are too likely to be in time enough!

With many thanks for the trouble you have taken, and the insight you have given me,

Yours always truly /

T. Carlyle

Poor Sterling has been really dangerously ill, I believe actually at the gates of death; he is now considered out of danger again, tho' extremely weak.