August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO ROBERT CHAMBERS; 4 December 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18461204-TC-RC-01; CL 21:105-106.


Chelsea, 4 Decr, 1846—

My dear Sir,

In reference to Oliver Cromwell's place of lodging,—of which it appears you are not yet to get your hands free,—I remember reading, very many years ago, in an insignificant little Book (Stark's Picture of Edinburgh, which is probably known to you) a sentence to this effect: That Oliver lodged in the Cowgate, in a certain House (some nobleman's, I think, and known to Stark), which a Turner had “lately” (i.e. in Stark's time) quitted because it was too poor a house for him.1— This sentence I remember very well, from a distance of 30 years and more: I think it is in some section intended to illustrate the great advance of luxury &c in Edinr; but somewhere in the Book it certainly is. Ever since your last Note I have had a purpose to lay this last item of my knowledge or surmise on that matter before you: if in the course of your other investigations you ever came athwart this House in the Cowgate, it might perhaps be in your power to verify or decisively to contradict the statement of poor Stark. It is by no means an important matter,—no; but truth and certainty on any matter is better than the opposite! I confess my own supposition rather is, that Oliver did not lodge, during his second visit, in Moray House; there was no reason why he should, and perhaps several reasons to the contrary, on that new occasion.2 If light do chance to arise upon you in regard to this small bit of archaeology, of course you will be kind enough to let me know.

The other day I received from a little Town in Prussia a strange little German Book, entitled History of Scottish Popular Poetry, by one Fiedeler (Fiddler); “dedicated to the two Scotchmen R. Chambers & T. Carlyle”!3 Really a strange Book; which has amused me not a little as I went thro' it. From Geoffrey Chaucer down to “Stewart Lewis Schneider in Ecclefechan,”—such a Falstaff's regiment, 4 of persons, facts and imaginations of fact, I never saw swept together before by any mortal! The translations, however, are not bad, sometimes. Which Book of yours is it that he gets the Popular Stories from?5 I think I had not seen that. Yours always truly

T. Carlyle