The Ecton Tithes Book

[Ecton Parish]

Presented to the Mass'tes Historical Society, at the Dedication of the Dowse Library, April 9th 1857 By the Hon. Edward Everett.

Extract of a letter from Thomas Carlyle to Edward Everett, dated Chelsea London 2 Dec. 1853. Pr Proe. III. 175,176

"Mr Lawrence carries for me a little packet to your address; a strange old brown M.S which never thought of travelling out of its native parish - but which now, so curious are the necessitudes and growths of things, finds its real home on your side of the atlantic, and in your hands first of all. The poor M.S. is an old Tithes-Book of the Parish of Ecton in Northamptonshire, from about 1640 to almost 1700, contains, I perceive, various scattered faint indications of the civil-war time which are not quite without interest: but the thing which should raise it above all Tithes-Books yet heard of it is - that it contains actual notices, in that fashion of the ancestors of Benjamin Franklin, Blacksmiths in that Parish! Here they are, their forge hammers yet going; renting so many "yard-lands" of Northamptonshire Church soil, keeping so many sheep &c &c. little conscious that one of the Demigods was about to proceed out of them: I flatter myself these old plaster cast representations of the very form and presence of the primeval (or at least prior eval) Franklins, will be interesting in America;- there is the very stamp (as it were) of their black knuckles, of their hob-nailed shoes, strangely preserved to us in hardened clay, and now indestructible if we take care of it!

In the interior of the parcel are the necessary farther indication of its history : I am very happy now to give up this M.S. to your piety,- such being the best dictate of my own piety upon the subject. To your wise keeping and wise disposal I now surrender it; and it is you that have it on your conscience hereafter, not I."

Pr. Proc.III.176,177

Extract of a letter from Thomas Carlyle to Edward Everett, dated, Chelsea, London 22 Dec 1854.

"All is right with this matter of the old Tithe Book, and I am heartily pleased to find that it so pleases you, and is to have such honours as you indicate. A Poor, half foolish and yet hartly very serious and worthy old object has been rescued from its vague wanderings over Casams and chaos, and at length helped into its right place in the Creation; for which small mercy let us be thankfull; and wish only that in bigger cases (of which in nature there are so many and of such a tragical sort); the same perfect service 'could always be done! alas! alas!

Today I am in considerable haste; but would not lose a post in answering you about the letter you speak of. I quite forget what was in the letter in question; but do not doubt it would be some transcript of my then feelings about the matter on hand; part of the truth, therefore, and I hope not of the untruth, in regard to it; and I will very willingly commit it altogether to your friendly discretion to make whatever use of it you find to be reasonable and feasible. And so we will say, long life to Franklin's Memory! and add our little should to that of the Bostoners in inaugurating their monument for him. "long life to the memory of all brave men", to which prayer, if we could add only, "Speedy death to the memory of all who were not so", it would be a comprehensive petition and of salutary tendencies in the epoch of Barnum and Hudson."