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his silences, and unconscious instincts, when you have spelt and lovingly deciphered these also out of his words,—will in several ways reward the study of an earnest man. An' earnest man, I apprehend, may gather from these words of Oliver's, were there even no other evidence, that the character of Oliver and of the A.flairs he worked in td much the reverse of that mad jumble of ' hypocrisies.' &c. &c, which at present passes current as such.
But certainly, on any hypothesis as to that, such a set of Documents may. hope to be elucidative in various respects. Oliver's Character, and that of Oliver's Performance in this world: here best of all may we expect to read it, whatsoever it was. Even if false, these words, authentically spoken and written by the chief actor in the business, must be of prime moment for understanding of it. These are the words this man found suitablest to represent the Things themselves, around him, and in him, of which we seek a History. The newborn Things and Events, as they bodied themselves forth to Oliver Cromwell from the Whirlwind of the passing Time,—this is the name and definition he saw good to give of them. To get atlhese direct utterances of his, is to get at the very heart of the business; were there once light for us in these, the business had begun again at the heart of it to be luminous !—On the whole, we will start with this small service, the Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell washed into something of legibility again, as the preliminary of all. May i> prosper with a few serious readers. The heart of that Grand Puritan Business once again becoming visible, even in faint twilight to mankind, what masses of brutish darkness will gradually vanish from all fibres of it, from the whole body and environment of it, and trouble no man any more! Masses of foul darkness, Bordid confusions not a few, as I calculate, which now bury this matter very deep, may vanish: the heart of this matter and the heart of serious men once again brought into approximation, to write some ' History ' of it may be a little easier,—for my impatient friend or another.
To dwell on or criticise the particular Biographies of Cromwell, after what was so emphatically said above on the general subject, would profit us but little, v. Criticism of these poor Books cannot express itself except in language that is painful. They far surpass in ' stupidity' all the celebrations any Hero ever had in this world before. They are in fact worthy of oblivion,—of charitable Christian lurial.)
Mark Noble reckons up some half dozen ' Original Biographies of Cromwell ;'* all of which and some more I have examined ;(but cannot advise any other man to examine.') There are several laudatory, worth nothing; which ceased to be read when Charles II. came back, and the tables were turned. The vituperative are many: but the origin of them all, the chief fountain indeed of all the foolish lies that have circulated about Oliver since, is the mournful brown little Book called Flagellum, or the Life and Death of O. Cromwell, the late Usurper, by James Heath; which was got ready so soon as possible on the back of the Annus Mirabilis or Glorious Restoration,-)- and is written in such spirit as we may fancy. When restored potentates and high dignitaries had dug up ' above a hundred buried corpses, and flung them in a heap in St. Margaret's Churchyard,' the corpse of Admiral Blake among them, and Oliver's old Mother's corpse J and were hanging on Tyburn gallows, as some small satisfaction to themselves, the dead clay of Oliver, of Ireton, and Bradshaw; —when high dignitaries and potentates were in such a humor, what could be expected of poor pamphleteers and garreteers? Heath's poor little brown lying Flagellum is described by one of the moderns as a 'Flagitium;' and Heath himself is Called 'Carrion Heath,'—as being ' an unfortunate blasphemous dullard, and scandal to Humanity ;—blasphemous; who when the image of God is shining through a man, reckons it in his sordid soul to be the image of the Devil, and acts accordingly; who in fact has no soul except what saves him the expense of salt; who intrinsically is Carrion and not Humanity:' which seems hard measure to poor James Heath. 'He was the son of the King's Cutler,' says Wood, ' and wrote pamphlets,' the best he was able, poor man. He has become a dreadfully dull individual, in addition to all!—Another wretched old Book of his, called Chronicle
* Noble's Cromwell, i., 294-300. His list is very inaccurate and incomplete, but not worth completing or rectifying, t The First Edition seems to be of 10G3.
of the Civil Wars, bears a high price in the Dilettante Salecatalogues; and has, as that Flagellum too has, here and there a credible trait not met with elsewhere: but in fact, to the ingenuous inquirer, this too is little other than a tenebrific Book ; cannot be read except with sorrow, with torpor and disgust,-:—and in fine, if you be of healthy memory, with oblivion. The latter end of Heath has been worse than the beginning was! From him, and his Flagellums and scandalous Human Platitudes, let no rational soul seek knowledge.
Among modern Biographies, the great original is that of Mark Noble above cited ;* such 'original' as there is: a Book, if we must call it a Book, abounding in facts and pretended-facts more than any other on this subject. Poor Noble has gone into much research of old leases, marriage-contracts, deeds of sale and such like: he is learned in parish-registers and genealogies, has consulted pedigrees 'measuring eight feet by two feet four goes much upon heraldry ;—in fadt, has amassed a large heap of evidences and assertions, worthless and of worth, respecting Cromwell and his connexions; from which the reader, by his own judgment, is to extract what he can. For Noble himself is a man of extreme imbecility; his judgment, for most part, seeming to lie dead asleep; and indeed it is worth little when broadest awake. He falls into manifold mistakes, commits and omits in all ways; plods along contented, in an element of perennial dimness, purblindness; has occasionally a helpless broad innocence of platitude which is almost interesting. A man indeed of extreme imbecility; to whom nevertheless let due gratitude be borne.
His Book, in fact, is not properly a Book, but rather an Aggregate of bewildered jottings j a kind of Cromwellian Biographical Dictionary, wanting the alphabetical, or any other arrangement or index : which latter want, much more remediable than the want of judgment, is itself a great sorrow to the reader. Such as it is, tlu> same Dictionary without judgment and without arrangement,' bac Dictionary gone to pi,' as we may call it, is the storehouse from whicl subsequent Biographies have all furnished themselves. The reader
* Memoirs of the Protectoral House of Cromwell, by the Rev. Mark Noble. 2 vols., London, 1797.
with continual vigilance of suspicion, once knowing what man he has to do with, digs through it, and again through it; covers the margins of it with notes and contradictions, with references, deductions, rectifications, execrations,—in a sorrowful, but not entirely unprofitable manner. Another Book of Noble's, called Lives of the Regicides, written some years afterwards, during the French Jacobin time, is of much more stupid character; nearly meaningless indeed; mere water bewitched; which no man need buy or read: and it is said he has a third Book, on some other subject, stupider still, which latter point, however, may be considered questionable.
For the rest, this poor Noble is of very impartial mind respecting Cromwell; open to receive good of him, and to receive evil, even inconsistent evil : the helpless, incoherent, but placid and favorable notion he has of Cromwell in 1787, contrasts notably with that which Carrion Heath had gathered of him in 1663. For, in spite of the stupor of Histories, it is beautiful, once more, to see how the Memory of Cromwell, in its huge inarticulate significance, not able to speak a wise word for itself to any one, has nevertheless been steadily growing clearer and clearer in the popu lar English mind; how from the day when high dignitaries and pamphleteers of the Carrion species did their ever-memorable feat at Tyburn, onwards to this day, the progress does not stop. In 1698,* one of the earliest works expressly in favor of Cromwell was written by a Critic of Ludlow's Memoirs. The anonymous Critic explains to solid Ludlow that he, in that solid but somewhat wooden head of his, had not perhaps seen entirely into the centre of the Universe, and workshop of the Destinies; that, in fact, Oliver was a questionable uncommon man, and he Ludlow a common handfast, honest, dull and indeed partly wooden man,— in whom it might be wise to form no theory at all of Cromwell. By and by, a certain 'Mr. Banks,' a kind of Lawyer and Playwright, if I mistake not, produced a still more favorable view of Cromwell, but in a work otherwise of no moment; the exact
* So dated in Somers' Tracts (London, 1811), vi., 416,—but liable to correction if needful. Poor Noble (i. 297) gives the same date, and then placidly, in the next line, subjoins a fact inconsistent with it. As his man Der is!
date, and indeed the whole substance of which is hardly worth remembering.* The Letter of' John Maidston to Governor Winthrop,'—Winthrop Governor of Connecticut, a Suffolk man, of much American celebrity,—is dated 1659 ; but did not come into print till 1742, along with Thurloe's other Papers.f Maidston had been an officer in Oliver's Household, a Member of his ParLiaments, and knew him well. An Essex man he; probably an old acquaintance of Winthrop's; visibly a man of honest affections, of piety, decorum, and good sense. Whose loyalty to Oliver is of a genuine and altogether manful nature,—mostly silent, as we can discern. He had already published a credible and still interesting little Pamphlet, Passages concerning his late Highness's last Sickness; to which, if space permit, we shall elsewhere refer. In these two little off-hand bits of writing there is a clear credibility for the reader; and more insight obtainable as to Oliver and his ways than in any of his express Biographies.
That anonymous Life of Cromwell, which Noble very ignorantly ascribes to Bishop Gibson, which is written in a neutral spirit, as an impartial statement of facts, but not without a secret decided leaning to Cromwell, came out in 1724. It is the Life of Cromwell found commonly in Libraries 4 it went through several editions in a pure state; and I have seen a ' fifth edition' with foreign intermixtures, ' printed at Birmingham in 1778,' on grey paper, seemingly as a Book for Hawkers. The Author of it was by no means ' Bishop Gibson,' but one Kimber, a Dissenting Minister of London, known otherwise as a compiler of books. He has diligently gathered from old Newspapers and other such sources ; narrates in a dull, steady, concise, but altogether unintelligent manner; can be read without offence, but hardly with any real instruction. Image of Cromwell's self there is none, express or implied, in this Book; for the man himself had none, and did not feel the want of any: nay in regard to external facts
* Short Critical Review of the Life of Oliver Cromwell : By a Gentleman of the Middle Temple. London, 1739. t Thurloe, i., 763-8.
t The Life of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth. Impartially collected, &c. London, 1724. Distinguished also by a not intolerable Portrait.