TC TO EDWARD FITZGERALD ; 29 July 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440729-TC-EF-01; CL 18: 157-160
TC TO EDWARD FITZGERALD
Chelsea, 29 july 1844—
I am very glad to hear of you again;—you from the green odoriferous Summerfields,1 I here amid the choking heat of Babylon and the baked bricks!
Alas, it seems to me I shall hardly get out into the Country this year at all. I have succeeded so dreadfully ill with my working affairs, I feel as if my conscience would forbid me to enjoy any rural thing. Besides, I found last year so sorry a result from nearly three whole months of roving and restless wandering,—nothing but increase of sadness, of stupidity and every sort of darkness supervening thereupon: I really think I must try what sitting still will do for me this year. My one poor hope for the present, at least, is that the beautiful Quality will all go about their business in a week or two; and that then we shall have a quiet Town, where a poor wretch may be left alone to try if he can get any work done: he will at least be more solitary than anywhere else, and may meditate on the error of his ways, if he can do no better. I could envy you your beautiful excursions, beautiful to a healthy heart; but I will honestly wish you happiness in them, new health from them and many merry days. I do not envy anybody anything,—that really is true at present: I am as a drowned mouse, to whom additional rains or the brightest sunny weather are very literally all one! Such is the “Curse of Cromwell” resting on me, for the time being.
I never give up, but I make almost no way. Such an element, of brutal dulness and every form of incoherent Ignorance and Falseness and Stupidity, no man ever worked in before! I go plunging about, in a very desperate manner, in that villanous2 Quagmire of History; and on some sides find a little progress possible; on most sides none.— I am fast gathering Oliver's Letters together; have a big sheath of them copied with my own hand, and tolerably elucidated: I find it very useful work; the Letters themselves stript of their ragged misspellings, &c become quite lucid and even lucent. The ground grows always a little firmer as I work in that quarter.
Last week I took a violent resolution that the whole of Cromwell's battles ought to be elucidated for the whole world: maps like the Winceby one, exact portraiture of the face of the ground as it now is, with judicious selection of the contemporary testimonies as they now are; faithful effort, in short, by a human being of the year 1844 to put down what he can know of those things 200 years back, which will be memorable for 1000 years to come. Alas! I went to the Booksellers to give me an estimate of costs; the name of a fit artist, first of all: this they will do;—but there I fear the matter will stick. Suppose you try your hand at Naseby, and another or two!3 Woodcuts not bigger than an octavo page,—the Ordinance Survey and utmost geographical correctness lying at the bottom of them. The Portrait of the Place in [short?]4
A poor Scotchman coming to me near starved, I gave him a guinea to copy for me certain particulars of an Ipswich Election: this if I find means, I have some thoughts of printing as a Magazine Article somewhere.5 You will find enough of it in the enclosed Paper;—if you can throw any light on it, you will. Adieu, dear F.
Yours ever truly /
[TC'S NOTES ENCLOSED]6
Election of Knights of the Shire (what we now call County Members) for Suffolk; at Ipswich, on the 21st, 22d & 23d of October, 1640 (Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday of that month; ‘extreme windy weather').
Sir Simonds d'Ewes (of Stow Langtoft) High Sheriff: he was himself Member for Sudbury in that Parliament;—purged out by Pride in 1648,7 and soon after died. Undersherrif Mr Farran.
The Candidates were Mr Henry North, son of Sir Roger North, on the royalist side; and Sir Nathaniel Barnardiston and Sir Philip Parker, on the Puritan side. The two latter carried it hollow; greatly to the indignation of Sir Roger and Co, who on the Tuesday and still more on the Wednesday did their best to raise a riot, ‘riding about the Cornhill, with drawn rapiers,’ bullying the good Sir Symonds in his own Townhall, calling the sailors (who had mainly brought in the two Puritan Knights) “Water-dogs” &c;—in short conducting themselves in so unwarrantable and almost distracted a way that had not High Sheriff d'Ewes displayed, as his wont was, a nearly superhuman discretion and forbearance, the streets of Ipswich might have got dyed with blood on the occasion. It is to exculpate himself (if challenged in Parliament or elsewhere, which possible event does not seem to have happened) that Sir Symonds seems to have compiled this clear but very wordy Narrative, fortified with affidavits &c, which still lies among his Papers in the British Museum.
Suffolk persons that turn up for an instant on that, are, besides those already mentioned: Mr John Clinch of Creling (is there a Creling still? a Clinch still?);8 Sir Robt Crane; Mr Waldegrave; Hy North Senior (this was the Candidate's Uncle); Mr John Smith: all these seem to have been gentlemen, and on North's side.———— Of inferior condition: Mr Gardiner Webbe and Roger Webbe, foulmouthed men, who openly vituperated the Sheriff in his own court, as guilty of foul play, and called Duncon the Constable “base rascal”; Samuel Duncon, Peter Fisher, Mr Chopping, Dowe Clark, Robert Clark, Mr Bestwall,—person's seemingly of the constable or sherrifs-officer genus. Robert Clark's nose took to b[l]eeding, while he sat over the Poll-book, in that extreme windy day, and thereupon Sam Duncon, Constable, was appointed to write in his room (and a capital hand he has, as his affidavit still shews); upon which mad ground it chiefly was that the mad Sir Roger, foulmouthed Webbe, and Co, attempted to fasten a charge on the immaculate Sir Symonds,—which he, however, bore in a very godlike manner.
The Polling on Monday took place in the Field called “Mr Hanbie's field,”—“a field near Ipswich”: can anybody form a guess where that Field was and is?9 There were strong trees here and there in it; the polling-tables were repeatedly overset by the press of people, and Sir Symonds had them then set up against trees, one of them against ‘a large Elm’: Duncon shifted away with the wrecks of another to what he calls the ‘Conduit-head in said field,’ where I suppose he had a wall to lean upon?
The Market-Cross: ‘came into the Market cross,’ sat ‘in the market-cross’; there the Polling was on the second day: the ‘Townhall’ seems near by, and the ‘Corn-hill’:—what is the nature of these localities in Ipswich at present? &c? &c?———
There is no other notice of an actual Election for the Long Parliament anywhere extant, I believe, in this world.————