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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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