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anxiety on this unexpected matter, and raised a noise round itself which, considering the importance of the subject, might be called surprising. In regard to all which, what could an unfortunate Editor of Cromwell Letters do, except perbaps carefully hold his peace? The ancient housekeeper, in some innocent first-floor, in the still night time, throws a potsherd which is in her way into the street of the village: a most small transaction, laudable in its kind; but near by , starts the observant street-dog, who will see farther into it: “Whaf-thaf? Bow-wow!” – and so awakens, in wbat enormous geometrical progression is well known, all the dogs in the village, perhaps all the dogs in the parish, and gradually, even in the county and in the kingdom, to universal vigilant observant “Bowwow, Whaf-thaf?” in the hope of seeing farther into it. Under which distressing circumstances, the ancient housekeeper understands that her one course is patience and silence; that the less she says or does, the sooner it will end! - This Squire Controversy did not quite terminate by nature, I think; but rather was suddenly quenched by that outburst of the European revolutions in the end of the February then passing, which led the public intellect into fruitfuller departments.
This is not a state of matters one would wish to reawaken! Scepticism, learned doubt, in regard to these Squire Papers, I understand is still the prevailing sentiment; and also that silence, and the reflection how small an interest, if any whatever, is involved in the matter, are the only means of removing doubt, and of leading us to the least miraculous explanation, whatever that may be. To myself, I confess, the phenomenon is, what it has always been, entirely inexplicable, a miracle equal to any in Bollandus or Capgravius, unless these Squire Letters are substantially genuine: and if their history on that hypothesis is very dim and strange, - on the other hypothesis they refuse, for me at least, to have any conceivable history at all. Antiquarian philologies, &c. such as appeared in the late universal“ Whaf-thaf?" or grand " Squire Controversy" never to be revived, had naturally no effect in changing one's opinion, and could have none. I have since had a visit, two visits, from the Gentleman himself; have conversed with him twice, at large, upon the Letters, the burnt Journal, and all manner of adjacent topics: and certainly, whatever other notion I might form of him, the notion that he either would or could have himself produced a Forgery of Cromwell Letters, or been the instrument (for any consideration, much more for none) of another producing it, was flatly inconceivable once for all. Nay.to hint at it, I think, would not be altogether safe for Able Editors within wind of this Gentleman! So stands it, as it has always stood, with myself, in regard to this small question.
At the same time, I am well enough aware, the Gentleman's account of proceedings in the business has an amazing look; which only the personal knowledge of him could perhaps render less amazing. Doubt, to strangers, is very permissible; nay to all, these Letters, by the very hypothesis, are involved everywhere in liability to incorrectness; irrecoverably stript of their complete historical authenticity, and not to be admitted, but to be rigorously excluded, except on that footing, in any History of Cromwell; — and, on the whole, are in the state of an absurd entanglement, connected with a most provoking coil of such. Out of which there is only this good door of egress: That they are intrinsically of no importance in the History of Cromwell; that they alter nothing of his Life's character, add nothing, deduct nothing; can be believed or disbelieved, without, to him or to us, any perceptible result whatever; - and ought, in fine, to be dismissed and sent upon their destinies, by all persons who have serious truth to seek for, and no time for idle guesses and riddle-ma-rees of the Scriblerus and Nugatory-Antiquarian sort.
Accordingly I had decided, as to these Squire Papers, which can or could in no case have been incorporated into any documentary Life of Cromwell, not to introduce them at all into this Book, which has far other objects than they or their questions of antiquarian philology can much further! But, on the other hand, it was urged by friends who believe, like myself, in the fundamental authenticity of Squire, that hereby would arise a tacit admission of Squire's spuriousness, injustice done by me to Squire and to the antiquarian philologers; that many readers, disbelievers or not, would have a certain wish to see the Squire Papers; that, in fine, under the head of the semi-romantic or Doubtful Documents of Oliver's History, and at all events as an accidental quite undoubtful Document in the history of Oliver's History, they would have a certain value. To all which arguments, not without some slight weight, the Printer now accidentally adds another. That he has room for these Squire Papers, and even need of them to
preserve his symmetries; that he can maintain an impassable wall between them and the Book, can insert them at the end of Volume First and yet not in the Volume, with ease and with advantage. Here accordingly these astonishing Squire Papers are: concerning which I have only one hope to express, That the public, thinking of them (in silence, if I might advise) exactly what it finds most thinkable, will please to excuse me from further function in the matter; my duty in respect of them being now, to the last fraction of it, done; my knowledge of them being wholly communicated; and my care about them remaining, what it always was, close neighbour to nothing. The Reprint is exact from Fraser's Magazine, except needful correction of misprints, and insertion of two little Notes, which have hung wafered on the margin this long while, and are duly indicated where they occur.
7th May 1849.
THIRTY-FIVE UNPUBLISHED LETTERS OF OLIVER CROMWELL. On the first publication of Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches, new contributions of Cromwell matter, of some value of no value, and even of less than none, were, as the general reader knows, diligently forwarded to me from all quarters; and turned to account, in the Second Edition of that work, as the laws of the case seemed to allow. The process, which seemed then to all practical intents completed, and is in fact very languid and intermittent ever since, has nevertheless not yet entirely ceased; and indeed one knows not when, if ever, it will entirely cease; for at longer and longer intervals new documents and notices still arrive; though, except in the single instance now before us, I may describe these latter as of the last degree of insignificance; hardly even worth "inserting in an Appendix,". which was my bargain in respect of them. Whence it does, at last, seem reasonable to infer that our English Archives are now pretty well exhausted, in this particular; and that nothing more, of importance, concerning Oliver Cromwell's utterances of himself in this world will be gathered henceforth. – Here, however, is a kind of exception, in regard to which, on more accounts than one, it has become necessary for me to adopt an exceptional course; and if not to edit, in the sense of elucidating, the contribution sent me, at least to print it straightway, before accident befal it or me. .
The following Letters, which require to be printed at once, with my explicit testimony to their authenticity, have come, into my hands under singular circumstances and conditions. I am not allowed to say that the Originals are, or were, in the possession of Mr. So-and-so, as is usual in like cases; this, which would satisfy the reader's strict claims in the matter, I have had to engage expressly not to do. “Why not?" all readers will ask, with astonishment, or perhaps with other feelings still more superfluous for our present object. The story is somewhat of an absurd one, what may be called a farce-tragedy; very ludicrous as well as very lamentable; not glorious to relate; nor altogether easy, under the conditions prescribed! But these Thirty-five Letters are Oliver Cromwell's; and demand, of me especially, both that they be piously preserved, and that there be no ambiguity, no avoidable mystery or other foolery, in presenting of them to the world. If the Letters are not to have, in any essential or unessential respect, the character of voluntary enigmas; but to be read, with undisturbed attention, in such poor twilight of intelligibility as belongs to them, some explanation, such as can be given, seems needful.
Let me hasten to say, then, explicitly once more, that these Letters are of indubitable authenticity: further, that the Ori. ginals, all or nearly all in Autograph, which existed in June last, in the possession of a private Gentleman whose name I am on no account to mention, have now irrecoverably perished; — and, in brief, that the history of them, so far as it can be related under these conditions, is as follows:
Some eight or ten months ago, there reached me, as many had already done on the like subject, a letter from an unknown Correspondent in the distance; setting forth, in simple, rugged and trustworthy, though rather peculiar dialect, that he, my Unknown Correspondent, — who seemed to have been a little astonished to find that Oliver Cromwell was actually not a miscreant, hypocrite &c. as heretofore represented, - had in . his hands a stock of strange old Papers relating to Oliver: much consumed by damp, and other injury of time; in parti. cular, much "eaten into by a vermin" (as my Correspondent phrased it), — some moth, or body of moths, who had boarded there in past years. The Papers, he said, describing them rather vaguely, contained some things of Cromwell's own, but