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readers: — Meeting Colonel Cromwell again after some absence, just on the edge of Marston Battle (it is Auditor Squire that writes), 'I thought he looked sad and wearied; ‘for he had had a sad loss; young Oliver got killed to death not long be'fore, I heard: it was near Knaresborough, and 30 more got killed.'*
Interesting Papers beyond doubt, my Unknown Correspondent thought. On one most essential point, however, he professed himself at a painfựl pause: How far, or whether at all, these Papers ought to be communicated to the Public, or even to myself? Part of my Correspondent's old kindred had been Roundheads, part had been Royalists; of both which sorts plentiful representatives yet remained, at present all united in kindly oblivion of those old sorrows and animosities; but capable yet, as my Correspondent feared, of blazing up.. into one knew not what fierce contradictions, should the question be renewed. That was his persuasion, that was his amiable fear, I could perceive, indeed, that my Correspondent, evidently a simple and honourable man, felt obscurelya as if, in his own new conviction about Oliver's character, he possessed a dangerous secret, which ought in nowise to be fightly divulged. Should he once inconsiderately blab it, this heterodox almost criminal secret, like a fire-spark among tinder and dry flax; – how much more if, by publishing those private Papers, confirmatory of the same, he deliberately shot it forth as mere flame! Explosion without limit, in the family and still wider circles, might ensue. On the whole, he would consider of it; was heartily disposed to do for me, and for the interests of truth (with what peril soever) all in his power; – hoped, for the rest, to be in London soon, where, it appeared, the Papers were then lying in some repository of his; would there see me, and do as good will guided by wise caution might direct.
To all which I could only answer with thanks for the small valuable hint concerning young Oliver's death; with a desire to know more about those old Papers; with astonishment at my Correspondent's apprehension as to publishing them, ; which I professed was inconceivable, and likely to fly away as a nightdream if he spoke of it in intelligent circles ; - and finally with an eager wish for new light of any authentic kind on Oliver Cromwell and his acts or sayings, and an engage
. * But see antea, p. 37, n. (Note of 1857.) !".t.i.
ment that whatever of that sort my Correspondent did please to favour me with, should be thankfully turned to use, under such conditions as he might see good to prescribe. And here, after a second or perhaps even a third letter and answer (for several of these missives, judged at first to be without importance, are now lost), which produced no new information to me, nor any change in my Correspondent's resolutions, the matter had to rest. To an intelligent Friend, partly acquainted in my Correspondent's country, I transmitted his letters; with request that he would visit this remarkable possessor of old Manuscripts; ascertain for me, more precisely," what he was, and what they were; and, if possible, persuade him that it would be safe, for himself and for the universe, to let me have some brief perusal of them! This Friend un· fortunately did not visit those my Correspondent's localities at the time intended: so, hearing nothing more of the affair, I had to wait patiently its ulterior developments; the arrival, namely, of my Correspondent in Town, and the opening of his mysterious repositories there. Not without surmises that perhaps, after all, there might be little, or even nothing of available, in them; for me nothing, but new dreary labour, ending in new disappointment and disgust; tragic experience being already long and frequent, of astonishingly curious old Papers on Oliver, vouchsafed me, with an effort and from favour, by ardent patriotic correspondents, - which, after painful examination, proved only to be astonishing old bundles of inanity, dusty desolation and extinct stupidity, worthy of oblivion and combustion: surmises tending naturally to moderate very much my eagerness, and render patience easy.
So had some months passed, and the affair been pretty well forgotten, when, one afternoon in June last, a heavy Packet came by Post; recognisable even on the exterior as my Unknown Correspondent's: and hereby, sooner than anticipation, and little as I could at first discern it, had the catastrophe arrived. For within there lay only, in the meanwhile, copied accurately in my Correspondent's hand, those Fiveand-thirty Letters of Oliver Cromwell which the Public are now to read: this, with here and there some diligent though rather indistinct annotation by my Correspondent, where needful; and, in a Note from himself, some vague hint of his having been in Town that very day, and even on the point of
calling on me, had not haste and the rigour of railways hindered; hints too about the old dangers from Royalist kindred being now happily surmounted, - formed the contents of my heavy Packet.
The reading of these old Cromwell Letters, by far the most curious that had ever come to me from such a source, produced an immediate earnest, almost passionate request to have sight of that old “Journal by Samuel Squire," under any terms, on any guarantee I could offer. Why should my respectable obliging Correspondent still hesitate? These Letters, I assured him, if he but sold the Originals as Autographs, were worth hundreds of pounds; the old Journal of an Ironside, since such it really seemed to be, for he had named it definitely in the singular, not “Journals” and “Papers" as heretofore, - I prized as probably the most curious document in the Archives of England, a piece not to be estimated in tens of thousands. It had become possible, it seemed probable and almost cer-, tain, that by diligent study of those old Papers, by examination of them as with microscopes, in all varieties of lights, the veritable figure of Cromwell's Ironsides might be called into day, to be seen by men once more, face to face, in the lineaments of very life! A journey in chase of this unknown Correspondent and his hidden Papers; any journey, or effort, seemed easy for such a prize.
Alas, alas, by return of post, there arrived a Letter beginning with these words: “What you ask is impossible, if: you offered me the Bank of England for security: the Journal is ashes," – all was ashes! My wonderful Unknown Corre- : spondent had at last, it would appear, having screwed his courage to the sticking place, rushed up to Town by rail; proceeded straight to his hidden repositories here; sat down, with closed lips, with concentered faculty, and copied me exactly the Cromwell Letters, all words of Cromwell's own (these he had generously considered mine by a kind of right); - which once done he, still with olosed lips, with sacrificial eyes, and terrible hand and mood, had gathered all his old Puritan Papers great and small, Ironside “Journal,” Cromwell Autographs, and whatever else there might be, and sternly consumed them with fire. Let Royalist quarrels, in the family or wider circles, arise now if they could; — "much evil,” said he mildly to me, “hereby lies buried." The element, of "resolution," one may well add, “is strong in our family;"
well's works have done and are still doing! We have had our
Revolutions of Eighty-eight," officially called "glorious;” and other Revolutions not yet called glorious; and somewhat has been gained for poor Mankind. Men's ears are not now slit-off by rash Officiality; Officiality will, for long henceforth, be more cautious about men's ears. The tyrannous Starchambers, branding-irons, chimerical Kings and Surplices at All-hallowtide, they are gone, or with immense velocity going. Oliver's works do follow him. The works of a man, bury them under what guano-mountains and obscene owl-droppings you will, do not perish, cannot perish. What of Heroism, what of Eternal Light was in a Man and his Life, is with very great exactness added to the Eternities; remains forever a new divine portion of the Sum of Things; and no owl's voice, this way or that, in the least avails in the matter. But we have to end here.
Oliver is gone; and with him England's Puritanism, laboriously built together by this man, and made a thing far-shiing miraculous to its own Century, and memorable to all the Centuries, soon goes. Puritanism, without its King, is kingless, anarchic; falls into dislocation, self-collision; staggers, plunges into ever deeper anarchy; King, Defender of the Puritan Faith there can now none be found; – and nothing is left but to recall the old disowned Defender with the remnants of his Four Surplices, and Two Centuries of Hypocrisis (or Play-acting not so called), and put-up with all that, the best we may. The Genius of England no longer soars Sunward, world-defiant, like an Eagle through the storms, “mewing her mighty youth,” as John Milton saw her do: the Genius of England, much liker a greedy Ostrich intent on provender and a whole skin mainly, stands with its other extremity Sunward; with its Ostrich-head stuck into the readiest bush, of old Church-tippets, King-cloaks, or what other" sheltering Fal. lacy" there may be, and so awaits the issue. The issue has been slow; but it is now seen to have been inevitable. No Ostrich, intent on gross terrene provender, and sticking its head into Fallacies, but will be awakened one day, - in a terrible.à-posteriori manner, if not otherwise! --Awake before it come to that; gods and men bid us awake! The Voices of our Fathers, with thousandfold stern monition to one and all, bid us awake., , , ,
SQUIRE PAPERS. (FROM FRASER'S MAGAZINE.) The following Article in Fraser's Magazine had not the effect intended for it, - of securing in printer's types a certain poor defaced scantling of Cromwell Letters, which had fallen to my charge under circumstances already sorrowful enough; and then of being, after some slight peaceable satisfaction to such as took interest in it, forgotten by the public; I also being left to forget it, and be free of it. On the contrary, the peaceable satisfaction to persons interested was but temporary; and the public, instead of neglecting and forgetting, took to unquiet guessing, as if there lay some deeper mystery in the thing, perhaps foul play in it: private guessing, which in a week or two broke out into the Newspapers, in the shape of scepticism, of learned doubt too acute to be imposed upon, grounding itself on antiquarian philologies (internal evidence of anachronisms), 'cravat,''stand no nonsense,' and I know not what. The unwonted circumstances of the case, and the unsatisfactory though unavoidable reticences in detailing it, threw a certain enigmatic chiaroscuro over the transaction, which, as it were, challenged the idle mind. Since the public had not neglected and forgotten, the public could do no other than guess. The idle public, obstinately resolute to see into millstones, could of course see nothing but opacity and its wide realms; got into ever deeper doubt, which is bottomless, “a sphere with infinite radius," and very easily arrived at; could get into no certainty, which is a sphere's centre, and difficult to arrive at; continued fencing with spectres, arguing from antiquarian philologies, &c. in the Newspapers; — whereby, echo answering echo, and no transparency in millestones being attainable, the poor public rose rapidly to a height of