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Cromwell Part One

Cromwell, Part Two

Cromwell, Part Three

 

Cromwell's Rule In England, The Restoration
Author: Carlyle, Thomas;Green, John R.;Pepys, Samuel
By Thomas Carlyle
1660

 

Brief as was the duration of the Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell, it
was one of the most extraordinary periods in English history. It is now
commonly admitted that Cromwell was England's greatest ruler. After his first
appearance in Charles' third parliament (1628), at the age of twenty-nine,
Cromwell returned to the obscurity of his Huntingdon home. Not until he
entered the Long Parliament (1640) did he really begin his marvellous career.

However variously judged by his contemporaries and by later generations,
Cromwell's part in the world's affairs was of unquestioned magnitude. The
very greatness of his career, the power and extent of his influence, and the
combination of various elements in his character have made adequate judgment
of him difficult, and general agreement concerning him wellnigh impossible.
But that he was, at all events, "the most typical Englishman of his time" is
now generally acknowledged.

In the three views here presented, Cromwell's character and career and
the Restoration are set forth from quite different points of view. Carlyle
shows us in Cromwell one of his most admired heroes; Green gives us the modern
historian's dispassionate conclusions: while the contemporary narrative of the
old diarist, Pepys, preserves the personal observations of a participator in
the scenes which he describes. Charles II had spent years in exile on the
Continent. He was finally proclaimed King of England at Westminster, May 8,
1660. Pepys describes his convoy from Holland to Dover, and his reception by
the people who had invited him to return to his country and his throne.

Introduction

We have had many civil-wars in England; wars of Red and White Roses, wars
of Simon de Montfort; wars enough which are not very memorable. But that war
of the Puritans has a significance which belongs to no one of the others.
Trusting to your candor, which will suggest on the other side what I have not
room to say, I will call it a section once more of that great universal war
which alone makes-up the true History of the World, - the war of Belief
against Unbelief!

The struggle of men intent on the real essence of things, against men
intent on the semblances and forms of things. The Puritans, to many, seem
mere savage Iconoclasts, fierce destroyers of Forms; but it were more just to
call them haters of untrue Forms. I hope we know how to respect Laud and his
King as well as them. Poor Laud seems to me to have been weak and
ill-starred, not dishonest; an unfortunate Pedant rather than anything worse.
His "Dreams" and superstitions, at which they laugh so, have an affectionate,
lovable kind of character. He is like a College-Tutor, whose whole world is
forms, College-rules; whose notion is that these are the life and safety of
the world. He is placed suddenly, with that unalterable, luckless notion of
his, at the head not of a College but of a Nation, to regulate the most
complex, deep-reaching interests of men. He thinks they ought to go by the
old decent regulations; nay, that their salvation will lie in extending and
improving these. Like a weak man, he drives with spasmodic vehemence toward
his purpose, cramps himself to it, heeding no voice of prudence, no cry of
pity: He will have his College-rules obeyed by his Collegians; that first; and
till that, nothing. He is an ill-starred Pedant, as I said. He would have it
the world was a College of that kind, and the world was not that. Alas! was
not his doom stern enough? Whatever wrongs he did, were they not all
frightfully avenged on him?

It is meritorious to insist on forms; Religion and all else naturally
clothes itself in forms. Everywhere the formed world is the only habitable
one. The naked formlessness of Puritanism is not the thing I praise in the
Puritans; it is the thing I pity - praising only the spirit which had rendered
that inevitable! All substances clothe themselves in forms: but there are
suitable true forms, and then there are untrue unsuitable. As the briefest
definition, one might say, Forms which grow round a substance, if we rightly
understand that, will correspond to the real nature and purport of it, will be
true, good; forms which are consciously put round a substance, bad. I invite
you to reflect on this. It distinguishes true from false in Ceremonial Form,
earnest solemnity from empty pageant, in all human things.

There must be a veracity, a natural spontaneity in forms. In the
commonest meeting of men, a person making what we call "set speeches," is not
he an offense? In the mere drawingroom, whatsoever courtesies you see to be
grimaces, prompted by no spontaneous reality within, are a thing you wish to
get away from. But suppose now it were some matter of vital concernment, some
transcendent matter (as Divine Worship is), about which your whole soul,
struck dumb with its excess of feeling, knew not how to form itself into
utterance at all and preferred formless silence to any utterance there
possible - what should we say of a man coming forward to represent or utter it
for you in the way of upholsterer-mummery? Such a man - let him depart
swiftly, if he love himself! You have lost your only son; are mute, struck
down, without even tears: an importunate man importunately offers to celebrate
Funeral Games for him in the manner of the Greeks!

Such mummery is not only not to be accepted - it is hateful, unendurable.
It is what the old Prophets called "Idolatry," worshipping of hollow shows;
what all earnest men do and will reject. We can partly understand what these
poor Puritans meant. Laud dedicating that St. Catherine Creed's Church in the
manner we have it described, with his multiplied ceremonial bowings,
gesticulations, exclamations: surely it is rather the rigorous formal Pedant,
intent on his "College-rules," than the earnest Prophet, intent on the essence
of the matter!

Puritanism found such forms insupportable; trampled on such forms; - we
have to excuse it for saying, No form at all rather than such! It stood
preaching in its bare pulpit, with nothing but the Bible in its hand. Nay, a
man preaching from his earnest soul into the earnest souls of men: is not this
virtually the essence of all Churches whatsoever? The nakedest, savagest
reality, I say, is preferable to any semblance, however dignified. Besides, it
will clothe itself with due semblance by and by, if it be real. No fear of
that; actually no fear at all. Given the living man, there will be found
clothes for him; he will find himself clothes. But the suit-of-clothes
pretending that it is both clothes and man - ! - We cannot "fight the French"
by three-hundred-thousand red uniforms; there must be men in the inside of
them! Semblance, I assert, must actually not divorce itself from Reality. If
Semblance do - why, then there must be men found to rebel against Semblance,
for it has become a lie! These two Antagonisms at war here, in the case of
Laud and the Puritans, are as old nearly as the world. They went to fierce
battle over England in that age; and fought-out their confused controversy to
a certain length, with many results for all of us.

In the age which directly followed that of the Puritans, their cause or
themselves were little likely to have justice done them. Charles Second and
his Rochesters were not the kind of men you would set to judge what the worth
or meaning of such men might have been. That there could be any faith or
truth in the life of a man, was what these poor Rochesters, and the age they
ushered-in, had forgotten. Puritanism was hung on gibbets - like the bones of
the leading Puritans. Its work nevertheless went on accomplishing itself. All
true work of a man, hang the author of it on what gibbet you like, must and
will accomplish itself. We have our Habeas-Corpus, our free Representation of
the People; acknowledgment, wide as the world, that all men are, or else must,
shall, and will become, what we call free men; - men with their life grounded
on reality and justice, not on tradition, which has become unjust and a
chimera! This in part, and much besides this, was the work of the Puritans.

And indeed, as these things became gradually manifest, the character of
the Puritans began to clear itself. Their memories were, one after another,
taken down from the gibbet; nay a certain portion of them are now, in these
days, as good as canonized. Eliot, Hampden, Pym, nay Ludlow, Hutchinson, Vane
himself, are admitted to be a kind of Heroes; political Conscript Fathers, to
whom in no small degree we owe what makes us a free England: it would not be
safe for anybody to designate these men as wicked now. Few Puritans of note
but find their apologists somewhere, and have a certain reverence paid them by
earnest men. One Puritan, I think, and almost he alone, our poor Cromwell,
seems to hang yet on the gibbet, and find no hearty apologist anywhere. Him
neither saint nor sinner will acquit of great wickedness. A man of ability,
infinite talent, courage, and so forth; but he betrayed the Cause. Selfish
ambition, dishonesty, duplicity; a fierce, coarse, hypocritical Tartuffe;
turning all that noble Struggle for constitutional Liberty into a sorry farce
played for his own benefit: this and worse is the character they give of
Cromwell. And then there come contrasts with Washington and others; above
all, with these noble Pyms and Hampdens, whose noble work he stole for
himself, and ruined into a futility and deformity.

From of old, I will confess, this theory of Cromwell's falsity has been
incredible to me. Nay I cannot believe the like, of any Great Man whatever.
Multitudes of Great Men figure in History as false selfish men; but if we will
consider it, they are but figures for us, unintelligible shadows; we do not
see into them as men that could have existed at all. A superficial,
unbelieving generation only, with no eye but for the surfaces and semblances
of things, could form such notions of Great Men. Can a great soul be possible
without a conscience in it, the essence of all real souls, great or small?
No, we cannot figure Cromwell as a Falsity and Fatuity; the longer I study him
and his career, I believe this the less. Why should we? There is no evidence
of it. Is it not strange that, after all the mountains of calumny this man
has been subject to, after being represented as the very prince of liars, who
never, or hardly ever, spoke truth, but always some cunning counterfeit of
truth, there should not yet have been one falsehood brought clearly home to
him? A prince of liars, and no lie spoken by him. Not one that I could yet
get sight of. It is like Pococke asking Grotius, Where is your proof of
Mahomet's Pigeon? No proof! - Let us leave all these calumnious chimeras, as
chimeras ought to be left. They are not portraits of the man; they are
distracted phantasms of him, the joint product of hatred and darkness.

Looking at the man's life with our own eyes, it seems to me, a very
different hypothesis suggests itself. What little we know of his earlier
obscure years, distorted as it has come down to us, does it not all betoken an
earnest, affectionate, sincere kind of man? His nervous melancholic
temperament indicates rather a seriousness too deep for him. Of those stories
of "Spectres;" of the white Spectre in broad daylight, predicting that he
should be King of England, we are not bound to believe much - probably no more
than of the other black Spectre, or Devil in person, to whom the Officer saw
him sell himself before Worcester Fight!

But the mournful, over-sensitive, hypochondriac humor of Oliver, in his
young years, is otherwise indisputably known. The Huntingdon Physician told
Sir Philip Warwick himself, He had often been sent for at midnight; Mr.
Cromwell was full of hypochondria, thought himself near dying, and "had
fancies about the Town-cross." These things are significant. Such an
excitable, deep-feeling nature, in that rugged stubborn strength of his, is
not the symptom of falsehood; it is the symptom and promise of quite other
than falsehood!

The young Oliver is sent to study Law; falls, or is said to have fallen,
for a little period, into some of the dissipations of youth; but if so,
speedily repents, abandons all this: not much above twenty, he is married,
settled as an altogether grave and quiet man. "He pays-back what money he had
won at gambling," says the story; - he does not think any gain of that kind
could be really his. It is very interesting, very natural, this "conversion,"
as they well name it; this awakening of a great true soul from the worldly
slough, to see into the awful truth of things; - to see that Time and its
shows all rested on Eternity, and this poor Earth of ours was the threshold
either of Heaven or of Hell! Oliver's life at St. Ives and Ely, as a sober
industrious Farmer, is it not altogether as that of a true and devout man? He
has renounced the world and its ways: its prizes are not the thing that can
enrich him. He tills the earth; he reads his Bible; daily assembles his
servants round him to worship God. He comforts persecuted ministers, is fond
of preachers; nay, can himself preach, - exhorts his neighbors to be wise, to
redeem the time. In all this what "hypocrisy," "ambition," "cant," or other
falsity? The man's hopes, I do believe, were fixed on the other Higher World;
his aim to get well thither by walking well through his humble course in this
world. He courts no notice: what could notice here do for him? "Ever in his
great Taskmaster's eye."

It is striking, too, how he comes-out into public view; he, since no
other is willing to come: in resistance to a public grievance. I mean, in
that matter of the Bedford Fens. No one else will go to law with Authority;
therefore he will. That matter once settled, he returns back into obscurity,
to his Bible and his Plough. "Gain influence?" His influence is the most
legitimate; derived from personal knowledge of him, as a just, religious,
reasonable, and determined man. In this way he has lived till past forty; old
age is now in view of him, and the earnest portal of Death and Eternity; it
was at this point that he suddenly became "ambitious"! I do not interpret his
Parliamentary mission in that way!

His successes in Parliament, his successes through the war, are honest
successes of a brave man; who has more resolution in the heart of him, more
light in the head of him, than other men. His prayers to God; his spoken
thanks to the God of Victory, who had preserved him safe, and carried him
forward so far, through the furious clash of a world all set in conflict,
through desperate-looking envelopments at Dunbar; through the death-hail of so
many battles; mercy after mercy; to the "crowning mercy" of Worcester fight:
all this is good and genuine for a deep-hearted Calvinistic Cromwell. Only to
vain unbelieving Cavaliers, worshipping not God but their own "lovelocks,"
frivolities, and formalities, living quite apart from contemplations of God,
living without God in the world, need it seem hypocritical.

Nor will his participation in the King's death involve him in
condemnation with us. It is a stern business killing of a King! But if you
once go to war with him, it lies there; this and all else lie there. Once at
war, you have made wager of battle with him: it is he to die, or else you.
Reconciliation is problematic; may be possible, or, far more likely, is
impossible.

It is now pretty generally admitted that the Parliament, having
vanquished Charles First, had no way of making any tenable arrangement with
him. The large Presbyterian party, apprehensive now of the Independents, were
most anxious to do so; anxious indeed as for their own existence; but it could
not be. The unhappy Charles, in those final Hampton-Court negotiations, shows
himself as a man fatally incapable of being dealt with. A man who, once for
all, could not and would not understand: - whose thought did not in any
measure represent to him the real fact of the matter; nay worse, whose word
did not at all represent his thought. We may say this of him without cruelty,
with deep pity rather: but it is true and undeniable. Forsaken there of all
but the name of Kingship, he still, finding himself treated with outward
respect as a King, fancied that he might play-off party against party, and
smuggle himself into his old power by deceiving both. Alas, they both
discovered that he was deceiving them. A man whose word will not inform you
at all what he means or will do, is not a man you can bargain with. You must
get out of that man's way, or put him out of yours! The Presbyterians, in
their despair, were still for believing Charles, though found false,
unbelievable again and again. Not so Cromwell: "For all our fighting," says
he, "we are to have a little bit of paper?" No! -

In fact, everywhere we have to note the decisive practical eye of this
man; how he drives toward the practical and practicable; has a genuine insight
into what is fact. Such an intellect, I maintain, does not belong to a false
man: the false man sees false shows, plausibilities, expediences: the true man
is needed to discern even practical truth. Cromwell's advice about the
Parliament's Army, early in the contest, How they were to dismiss their
city-tapsters, flimsy riotous persons, and choose substantial yeomen, whose
heart was in the work, to be soldiers for them: this is advice by a man who
saw. Fact answers, if you see into Fact! Cromwell's Ironsides were the
embodiment of this insight of his; men fearing God; and without any other
fear. No more conclusively genuine set of fighters ever trod the soil of
England, or of any other land.

Neither will we blame greatly that word of Cromwell's to them; which was
so blamed: "If the King should meet me in battle, I would kill the King." Why
not? These words were spoken to men who stood as before a Higher than Kings.
They had set more than their own lives on the cast. The Parliament may call
it, in official language, a fighting "for the King;" but we, for our share,
cannot understand that. To us it is no dilettante work, no sleek officiality;
it is sheer rough death and earnest. They have brought it to the calling
forth of War; horrid internecine fight, man grappling with man in fire-eyed
rage - the infernal element in man called forth, to try it by that! o that
therefore; since that is the thing to be done. - The successes of Cromwell
seem to me a very natural thing! Since he was not shot in battle, they were an
inevitable thing. That such a man, with the eye to see, with the heart to
dare, should advance, from post to post, from victory to victory, till the
Huntingdon farmer became, by whatever name you might call him, the
acknowledged Strongest Man in England, virtually the King of England, requires
no magic to explain it! -

Precisely here, however, lies the rub for Cromwell. His other
proceedings have all found advocates, and stand generally justified; but this
dismissal of the Rump Parliament and assumption of the Protectorship, is what
no one can pardon him. He had fairly grown to be King in England; Chief Man
of the victorious party in England: but it seems he could not do without the
King's Cloak, and sold himself to perdition in order to get it. Let us see a
little how this was.

England, Scotland, Ireland, all lying now subdued at the feet of the
Puritan Parliament, the practical question arose, What was to be done with it?
How will you govern these Nations, which Providence in a wondrous way has
given-up to your disposal? Clearly those hundred surviving members of the
Long Parliament, who sit there as supreme authority, cannot continue forever
to sit. What is to be done? - It was a question which theoretical
constitution-builders may find easy to answer; but to Cromwell, looking there
into the real practical facts of it, there could be none more complicated. He
asked of the Parliament, What it was they would decide upon? It was for the
Parliament to say. Yet the Soldiers too, however contrary to Formula, they
who had purchased this victory with their blood, it seemed to them that they
also should have something to say in it! We will not "For all our fighting
have nothing but a little piece of paper." We understand that the Law of God's
Gospel, to which He through us has given the victory, shall establish itself,
or try to establish itself, in this land!

For three years, Cromwell says, this question had been sounded in the
ears of the Parliament. They could make no answer; nothing but talk, talk.
Perhaps it lies in the nature of parliamentary bodies; perhaps no Parliament
could in such case make any answer but even that of talk, talk! Nevertheless
the question must and shall be answered. You sixty men there, becoming fast
odious, even despicable, to the whole nation, whom the nation already calls
"Rump" Parliament, you cannot continue to sit there; who or what, then, is to
follow? "Free Parliament," right of election, constitutional formulas of one
sort or the other - the thing is a hungry fact coming on us, which we must
answer or be devoured by it! And who are you that prate of constitutional
formulas, rights of Parliament? You have had to kill your king, to make
pride's purges, to expel and banish by the law of the stronger whosoever would
not let your cause prosper: there are but fifty or threescore of you left
there, debating in these days. Tell us what we shall do; not in the way of
formula, but of practicable fact!

How they did finally answer, remains obscure to this day. The diligent
Godwin himself admits that he cannot make it out. The likeliest is, that this
poor Parliament still would not, and indeed could not, dissolve and disperse;
that when it came to the point of actually dispersing, they again, for the
tenth or twentieth time, adjourned it - and Cromwell's patience failed him.
But we will take the favorablest hypothesis ever started for the Parliament;
the favorablest, though I believe it is not the true one, but too favorable.

According to this version: At the uttermost crisis, when Cromwell and his
officers were met on the one hand, and the fifty or sixty Rump Members on the
other, it was suddenly told Cromwell that the Rump in its despair was
answering in a very singular way; that in their splenetic, envious despair, to
keep-out the Army at least, these men were hurrying through the House a kind
of Reform Bill - Parliament to be chosen by the whole of England; equable
electoral division into districts; free suffrage, and the rest of it! A very
questionable, or indeed for them an unquestionable, thing. Reform Bill, free
suffrage of Englishmen? Why, the Royalists, themselves, silenced indeed but
not exterminated, perhaps outnumber us; the great numerical majority of
England was always indifferent to our cause, merely looked at it and submitted
to it. It is in weight and force, not by counting of heads, that we are the
majority! And now with your Formulas and Reform Bills, the whole matter
sorely won by our swords, shall again launch itself to sea; become a mere
hope, and likelihood, small even as a likelihood? And it is not a likelihood;
it is a certainty, which we have won, by God's strength and our own right
hands, and do now hold here. Cromwell walked down to these refractory
Members; interrupted them in that rapid speed of their Reform Bill; - ordered
them to begone, and talk there no more. - Can we not forgive him? Can we not
understand him? John Milton, who looked on it all near at hand, could applaud
him. The Reality had swept the Formulas away before it. I fancy, most men who
were realities in England might see into the necessity of that.

The strong daring man, therefore, has set all manner of Formulas and
logical superficialities against him; has dared appeal to the genuine Fact of
this England, Whether it will support him or not? It is curious to see how he
struggles to govern in some constitutional way; find some Parliament to
support him; but cannot. His first Parliament, the one they call "Barebones'
Parliament," is, so to speak, a Convocation of the Notables. From all
quarters of England the leading Ministers and chief Puritan Officials nominate
the men most distinguished by religious reputation, influence, and attachment
to the true cause: these are assembled to shape-out a plan. They sanctioned
what was past; shaped as they could what was to come. They were scornfully
called Barebones' Parliament, the man's name, it seems, was not Barebones, but
Barbone - a good enough man. Nor was it a jest, their work; it was a most
serious reality - a trial on the part of these Puritan Notables how far the
Law of Christ could become the Law of this England. There were men of sense
among them, men of some quality; men of deep piety I suppose the most of them
were. They failed, it seems, and broke-down, endeavoring to reform the Court
of Chancery! They dissolved themselves, as incompetent; delivered-up their
power again into the hands of the Lord-General Cromwell, to do with it what he
liked and could.

What will he do with it? The Lord-General Cromwell, "Commander-in-chief
of all the Forces raised and to be raised"; he hereby sees himself, at this
unexampled juncture, as it were the one available Authority left in England,
nothing between England and utter Anarchy but him alone. Such is the
undeniable Fact of his position and England's, there and then. What will he
do with it? After deliberation, he decides that he will accept it; will
formally, with public solemnity, say and vow before God and men, "Yes, the
Fact is so, and I will do the best I can with it!" Protectorship, Instrument
of Government; - these are the external forms of the thing; worked out and
sanctioned as they could in the circumstances be, by the Judges, by the
leading Official people, "Council of Officers and persons of interest in the
Nation": and as for the thing itself, undeniably enough, at the pass matters
had now come to, there was no alternative but Anarchy or that. Puritan
England might accept it or not; but Puritan England was, in real truth, saved
from suicide thereby! - I believe the Puritan People did, in an inarticulate,
grumbling, yet on the whole grateful and real way, accept this anomalous act
of Oliver's; at least, he and they together made it good, and always better to
the last. But in their Parliamentary articulate way, they had their
difficulties, and never knew fully what to say to it! -

Oliver's second Parliament, properly his first regular Parliament, chosen
by the rule laid-down in the Instrument of Government, did assemble, and
worked; - but got, before long, into bottomless questions as to the
Protector's right, as to "usurpation," and so forth; and had at the earliest
legal day to be dismissed. Cromwell's concluding Speech to these men is a
remarkable one. So likewise to his third Parliament, in similar rebuke for
their pedantries and obstinacies. Most rude, chaotic, all these Speeches are;
but most earnest-looking. You would say, it was a sincere, helpless man; not
used to speak the great inorganic thought of him, but to act it rather! A
helplessness of utterance, in such bursting fulness of meaning. He talks much
about "births of Providence": All these changes, so many victories and events,
were not forethoughts, and theatrical contrivances of men, of me or of men; it
is blind blasphemers that will persist in calling them so! He insists with a
heavy sulphurous, wrathful emphasis on this. As he well might. As if a
Cromwell in that dark, huge game he had been playing, the world wholly thrown
into chaos round him, had foreseen it all, and played it all off like a
precontrived puppet-show by wood and wire! These things were foreseen by no
man, he says; no man could tell what a day would bring forth: they were
"births of Providence." God's finger guided us on, and we came at last to
clear height of victory, God's Cause triumphant in these Nations; and you as a
Parliament could assemble together, and say in what manner all this could be
organized, reduced into rational feasibility among the affairs of men. You
were to help with your wise counsel in doing that. "You have had such an
opportunity as no Parliament in England ever had."

"Christ's Law, the Right and True, was to be in some measure made the Law
of this land. In place of that, you have got into your idle pedantries,
constitutionalities, bottomless cavillings and questionings about written laws
for my coming here; - and would send the whole matter in Chaos again, because
I have no Notary's parchment, but only God's voice from the battle- whirlwind,
for being President among you! That opportunity is gone; and we know not when
it will return. You have had your constitutional Logic; and Mammon's Law, not
Christ's Law, rules yet in this land. "God be judge between you and me!"
These are his final words to them: Take you your constitution-formulas in your
hand; and I my informal struggles, purposes, realities, and acts; and "God be
judge between you and me!"

We said above what shapeless, involved chaotic things the printed
Speeches of Cromwell are. Wilfully ambiguous, unintelligible, say the most: a
hypocrite shrouding himself in confused Jesuitic jargon! To me they do not
seem so. I will say, rather, they afforded the first glimpses I could ever
get into the reality of this Cromwell, nay into the possibility of him. Try
to believe that he means something, search lovingly what that may be: you will
find a real speech lying imprisoned in these broken, rude tortuous utterances;
a meaning in the great heart of this inarticulate man! You will, for the
first time, begin to see that he was a man; not an enigmatic chimera,
unintelligible to you, incredible to you. The Histories and Biographies
written of this Cromwell, written in shallow, sceptical generations that could
not know or conceive of a deep, believing man, are far more obscure than
Cromwell's Speeches. You look through them only into the infinite vague of
Black and the Inane. "Heats and jealousies," says Lord Clarendon himself:
"heats and jealousies," mere crabbed whims, theories, and crotchets; these
induced slow, sober, quiet Englishmen to lay down their ploughs and work; and
fly into red fury of confused war against the best-conditioned of Kings! Try
if you can find that true. Scepticism writing about Belief may have great
gifts; but it is really ultra vires there. It is Blindness laying-down the
Laws of Optics. -

Cromwell's third Parliament split on the same rock as his second. Ever
the constitutional Formula: How came you there? Show us some Notary
parchment! Blind pedants: - "Why, surely the same power which makes you a
Parliament, that, and something more, made me a Protector!" If my
Protectorship is nothing, what in the name of wonder is your
Parliamenteership, a reflex and creation of that? -

Parliaments having failed, there remained nothing but the way of
Despotism. Military Dictators, each with his district to coerce the Royalist
and other gainsayers, to govern them, if not by act of Parliament, then by the
sword. Formula shall not carry it, while the Realty is here! I will go on
protecting oppressed Protestants abroad, appointing just judges, wise
managers, at home, cherishing true Gospel ministers; doing the best I can to
make England a Christian England, greater than old Rome, the Queen of
Protestant Christianity; I, since you will not help me; I while God leaves me
life! - Why did he not give it up; retire into obscurity again, since the Law
would not acknowledge him? cry several. That is where they mistake. For him
there was no giving of it up! Prime Ministers have governed countries, Pitt,
Bombal, Choiseul; and their word was a law while it held: but this Prime
Minister was one that could not get resigned. Let him once resign, Charles
Stuart and the Cavaliers waited to kill him; to kill the Cause and him. Once
embarked, there is no retreat, no return. This Prime Minister could retire
no-whither except into his tomb.

One is sorry for Cromwell in his old days. His complaint is incessant of
the heavy burden Providence has laid on him. Heavy; which he must bear till
death. Old Colonel Hutchinson, as his wife relates it, Hutchinson, his old
battle-mate, coming to see him on some indispensable business, much against
his will - Cromwell "follows him to the door," in a most fraternal, domestic,
conciliatory style; begs that he would be reconciled to him, his old
brother-in-arms; says how much it grieves him to be misunderstood, deserted by
true fellow-soldiers, dear to him from of old: the rigorous Hutchinson, cased
in his Republican formula, sullenly goes his way. - And the man's head now
white; his strong arm growing weary with its long work! I think always, too,
of his poor Mother, now very old, living in that Palace of his; a right brave
woman; as indeed they lived all an honest God-fearing Household there: if she
heard a shot go-off, she thought it was her son killed. He had come to her at
least once a day, that she might see with her own eyes that he was yet living.
The poor old mother! - What had this man gained; what had he gained? He had a
life of sore strife and toil to his last day. Fame, ambition, place in
History? His dead body was hung in chains; his "place in History" - place in
History, forsooth! - has been a place of ignominy, accusation, blackness, and
disgrace; and here, this day, who knows if it is not rash in me to be among
the first that ever ventured to pronounce him not a knave and liar, but a
genuinely honest man! Peace to him. Did he not, in spite of all, accomplish
much for us? We walk smoothly over his great rough heroic life; step-over his
body sunk in the ditch there. We need not spurn it, as we step on it! - Let
the Hero rest. It was not to men's judgment that he appealed: nor have men
judged him very well.

 

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