August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO EDWARD FITZGERALD; 15 June 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470615-TC-EF-01; CL 21:233-235.


Chelsea, 15 June, 1847


Thackeray told me, last night, you had gone to Norfolk,—“near Beccles” I remember, but nothing farther: so we must go by Woodbridge according to the old route.1

You have probably bethought you of Squire, the “rusty old gentn dug out of the 17th century”;2 and are scheming out a visit to him. Alas, it is now more than half in vain! Read these two letters of his; read No 1,—fancy that I got, copied in Squire's indistinct way, and mostly without dates, some Ten or Twelve of the most curious Letters of Oliver I have even3 read (all about the Lincolnshire wars, about seizing of spies and “pistolling” them, buying of horses, helmets, “velvet gowns” for his wife &c &c); that I wrote instantly to Squire, in consequence, offering to pledge my life and fortune for these old Papers of his, if he would but lend them me for three weeks, and that I then received (along with some old fractions of muster-rolls, and without either the “List” or the “autographs” there mentioned having ever shewed face here) Squire's letter No2,—which you can now read, and weep! Did you ever hear of such a distracted old gentn? Did such a vexation ever befal in the search into English History before? He might have sold his Cromwell autographs in the market for probably £150: his Manuscript itself, had it been mine, I would not have seen burnt for £1000. What a pity: on Thursday last one might have copied; now on Tuesday all the Queen's forces cannot recover a line of it!— We must console ourself the best we may.4

I suppose it is now of little use, of comparatively little, that you shd call on Squire: yet I wish you would, if it is not very far out of your road; you might still perhaps contribute to save some fractions that may remain,—beg a copy of them all: the wretched man does not know what any scratch of a pen by that old hand may do for one in the utter darkness! Let him for God's sake destroy nothing more,—tho' his “resolution” is so terribly resolute, the strong-minded old gentn! Besides one would like to know what manner of man he is or can be; this itself would be a kind of mournful satisfaction. For the rest, unless he is absolutely insane, which I do not at all yet find, you will probably have no difficulty in getting to him. I have announced you, with due description and flourish of drums, twice over, and this morning I said you were near him, and would perhaps call.

If you can, now or afterwards, do anything in these Peterborough affairs, well: if not, let them go to the Devil; “pistol” them,—one gets nothing but sorrow and stupidity out of them! Dawson Turner5 has already shot, and hit nothing. Adieu

Yours always