CARLYLE (THOMAS) Two autograph letters signed, to the diarist Caroline Fox, 1847 and 1849
Lot 31
CARLYLE (THOMAS) Two autograph letters signed, to the diarist Caroline Fox, 1847 and 1849
Sold for £1,000 (US$ 1,680) inc. premium
Lot Details
Two autograph letters signed, to the diarist Caroline Fox, largely about the gift of a portrait medal of Cromwell by Thomas Simon: "I am greatly delighted with my Cromwell Medal ... It is an excellent likeness, – much resembled the best Bust I know of Oliver, and the Mark of his dead Face too; – I doubt not it is by Symons, and, in addition to its other worth for me, deserves the best praises from the judges of Art. Many thanks to you, and to your kind friend the Dellwyns ... I have sent the Piece to be carefully framed under glass; with a fit historical label on the back of it"; the second letter enquires after her "Swansea Medallion" ("...Has it any chance to be the Medal of Dunbar Battle, which is said to be somewhere in existence yet?..."), and proffers help for her friend, the Cornish sculptor N.N. Burnard, 8 pages, 8vo, remains of mounting stubs, the first with red wax seal, Chelsea, 14 July 1847 and 28 February 1849


  • CARLYLE APOLOGISES TO CAROLINE FOX FOR BEHAVING LIKE AN 'APOSTLE OF INTOLERANCE'. The subject of Cromwell's portraits apart – with Carlyle's characteristically vivid invocation of "the best Bust I know of Oliver, and the Mark of his dead Face too" – the first of these letters is of prime interest for the deft little portrait that he gives Caroline Fox not of Cromwell, or the great medallist Simon, but of the Sage of Chelsea himself: "You would not find me always such an 'Apostle of Intolerance', as you did on that wet night, with a dull party lying ahead, and the hackney-coachman lost! At least, the opposite side too, if I say less of it, lies present with me in the mute state. But I do confess myself such of all this sugary twaddle, and mawkish slavish godless confusion in good and evil". Caroline had been to stay with the Carlyles that May and in her diary gives a long account of her visit to Cheyne Row, with Jane ill and doped with opium, and Thomas 'dusky and aggrieved at having to live in such a generation', ranting about 'universal brotherhood, tolerance, and twaddle' and – even when driving with his guests to Sloane Square – 'talking with energetic melancholy to the last' (Memories of Old Friends: Being Extracts from the Journals of Caroline Fox, edited by Horace N. Pym, 1882, entry for 20 May 1847).

    The second of these letters Caroline quotes in her diary for 1 March 1849. It concerns her friend the sculptor Neville Northey Burnard, a notably large man, whom she had introduced to Carlyle: 'March 1. – Found a kindly note from Thomas Carlyle. He has seen "my gigantic countryman," Burnard, and conceived that there is a real faculty in him; he gave him advice, and says he is the sort of person whom he will gladly help if he can' (1 March 1849); this entry quoted in the article on Burnard in the ODNB. Carlyle's reference to Simon's medal being the "the Mark" of Cromwell's "dead Face too" alludes to the fact that he was responsible for the Protector's death-mask. His Life and Letters of Oliver Cromwell was published on 16 June 1846. Neither of our letters is printed in The Collected Letters, volumes 23 and 24 (for 1847-49).
  1. Luke Batterham
    Specialist - Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs
    Montpelier Street
    London, SW7 1HH
    United Kingdom
    Work +44 20 7393 3828
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