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multitude of little books, half history, half essay, from which the larger public, who cannot possibly consume the bulky tomes that flood the market, obtain all the information and knowledge they desire.
It is a special treat to the public when such a career as Cromwell's is studied and pondered over by a man like Mr. Morley, of conspicuous eminence in the worlds of literature and politics. The subject has been discussed and rediscussed, generally by keen partisans on the one side or the other, but there is still ample room for a careful judicial estimate of the character of the great Protector, of the work which he accomplished in his time, and of the work he has left behind him; for assuredly, both as to himself and his work, few great Englishmen have been so much misrepresented and misunderstood.
Oliver Cromwell was by birth a gentleman,' his parents on both sides belonging to the class of landed gentry and to families of some consequence in State and Church. He was, indeed, far better born than many distinguished founders of great families---men who have acquired in the eyes of succeeding generations a kind of aristocratic reflexion from the position their own eminence had won for their posterity. On more than one occasion Cromwell showed that he possessed some of the pride and shared the sentiments natural to his class. How can you expect,' said he, in the early days of the Civil War, to his friend and relative, John Hampden, 'that such“ base and mean fellows" 'as the soldiers of the Parliament could encounter “gentle"“men's sons, younger sons, and persons of quality,” that ' have honour and “courage and resolution in them " * "I ‘was by birth,' he said to an earlier Parliament, a gentle'man, living neither in any considerable height nor yet in
obscurity. At the time of his birth at Huntingdon, his uncle, Sir Oliver Cromwell of Hinchinbrook, the son of Sir Henry Cromwell, the Golden Knight,' was living in no little splendour. It was this Sir Oliver who, when the boy was four years old, entertained King James I., on his journey to London, on a great scale of magnificence-a royal visit which, repeated on several occasions, helped to ruin the splendid but extravagant head of the house. In a fashion all his own, Carlyle, in a recently published volume of “His'torical Sketches,' has imagined the boy Oliver acquiring his notion of kingship from his early sight of the Scottish
* Speech of Cromwell, April 13, 1657, Carlyle.
monarch at his uncle's house.* For several generations the Cromwells had been closely connected with the Court, and by virtne of their wealth and alliances the family stood in the front rank of the untitled gentry of England.+ Educated at the grammar school at Huntingdon, and afterwards a fellow commoner at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, Oliver, at the age of eighteen, on his father's death, took up the management of his patrimony in his native town. Married at one-and-twenty, and living quietly at Huntingdon, there is little to record of his career till he entered Parliament, seven years later, as member for his native town :
This was the third Parliament of Charles I., the great Parliament that fought and carried the Petition of Right, the famous enactment whlch recites and confirms the old instruments against forced loan or tax ; which forbids arrest or imprisonment save by due process of law, forbids the quartering of soldiers or sailors in men's houses against their will, and shuts out the tyrannous decrees called by the name of " martial law." Here the new member, now in his twenty-ninth year, saw at their noble and hardy task the first generation of the champions of the civil rights and parliamentary liberties of England. He saw the zealous and high-minded Sir John Eliot, the sage and intrepid Pym, master of eloquence and tactical resource. He saw the first lawyers of the day—Coke, now nearing eighty, but as keen for the letter of the law, now that it was for the people, as he had been when he took it to be on the side of authority ; Glanville, Selden, the chief of men respected in this land'-all conducting the long train of arguments, legal and constitutional, for old laws and franchises, with an erudition, an acuteness, and a weight as cogent as any performances ever witnessed within the walls of the Commons' House. By his side sat his cousin, John Hampden, whose name speedily became, and has ever since remained, a standing symbol for civil courage and lofty love of country. On the same benches still sat Wentworth, in many respects the boldest and most powerful genius then in England, now for the last time using his gifts of ardent eloquence on behalf of the popular cause.'
In this famous assembly the only record of individual action on the part of Cromwell is of his speaking in sharp condemnation of the Bishop of Winchester, who had been accused of encouraging the public preaching in London of 'flat popery,' and of appointing to rich livings clergymen lying under the censure of the House of Commons. In a few months, and before Cromwell had reached the age of
* Historical Sketches by Thomas Carlyle. Edited by A. Carlyle. Chapman & Hall, 1898.
+ See Frederic Harrison's Cromwell.' | Morley, p. 15.
thirty, Parliament was dissolved, and it was not till eleven years later that another Parliament met, namely, in April 1640, when Cromwell, who had in the meantime distinguished himself in the advocacy of local popular rights, again took his seat, this time as member for the town of Cambridge. After a session of tbree weeks the Short Parliament was dissolved, but the King, compelled by the necessities of war in Scotland, again summoned Parliament to meet in the autumn. On November 3 in the same year the Long Parliament met, and Cromwell, again member for Cambridge, begins to play his part on the stage of English history.
Mr. Morley's appreciations of the characters of Strafford and Laud are further evidence that history is becoming judicial in its treatment even of the most bitterly contentious periods of our national life. According to Buckle, Laud is still loathed as the meanest, most cruel, and most ' Darrow-minded man who ever sat on the episcopal bench, ‘and Macaulay entertained for him more contempt than ' for any character in history.'
'It is pretty safe to be sure,' writes Mr. Morley, that these slashing superlatives are never true. Laud was no more the simpleton and bigot of Macaulay than he was the saint to whom in our day Anglican high-fliers dedicate painted windows, or who describe him, as Newman did, as being cast in a mould of proportions that are much above our own, and of a stature akin to the early days of the Church. Churchmen in all ages are divided into those on the one hand who think most of institutions, and those on the other who think most of the truths on which the institutions rest and of the spirit that gives them life.' Laud is classed as belonging emphatically to the first of these two types, without at all deserving the character of mean and cruel bigot which his opponents have attributed to him.
Cromwell, in his forty-second year, was now entering the House of Commons for the third time, after a life spent entirely in his native town and its neighbourhood, with the exception of the short breaks necessitated by his attendance in the short-lived Parliaments of 1628 and 1640. Little could he have foreseen the future of himself or of the assembly he had just joined. The quiet country gentleman was to develope into the Captain of Horse, the creator of an all-powerful army, the absolute ruler of the three nations; and the House of Commons, having begun by securing itself against royal dismissal, was to last till the member for Cambridge, a dozen years later, himself put an end to its existence by the rough hand of military force. As a sincere and vehement Puritan, Cromwell at the outset was most deeply interested in the proceedings of the House of Commons when religious questions were involved. The measures taken against Strafford he left to the orators and the lawyers. On constitutional questions, and in the desire to protect Parliament and the old liberties of the people from monarchical aggression, members were at that time in very general agreement. Cromwell moved the second reading of the Triennial Bill, requiring the summons of a Parliament at least every three years. Nevertheless it was with regard to ecclesiastical controversy that from the beginning his individual position was most marked, for he was closely associated with Sir Harry Vane, Sir Arthur Haslerig, and the 'root and branch' party who aimed at the total extirpation of the episcopal system in Church and State, and whose extreme views drove on to the side of the King many moderate men like Hyde and Falkland, hitherto allied with the great majority of the House of Commons in resisting the arbitrary aims of the Sovereign. Events moved rapidly, and the main energies of Parliament were very soon turned from the consideration of constitutional reform to preparing for the death struggle which was evidently impending. Here, of course, Cromwell at once came to the fore, as the time for discussion and debate was cut short by the necessity for immediate action. Even a question so important as the status of the bishops was felt by all men to be of less moment for a season than the question whether King or Parliament should command the train-bands and the militia, the armed forces of the nation.
We have already quoted Cromwell's comment to Hampden on the inferior quality of the Parliamentary troops. Gentlemen of high spirit and courage in the field could be fought successfully, as he went on to tell Hampden, in one way only : You must get men of a spirit, and take it not ‘ill what I say-I know you will not-of a spirit that is ' likely to go on as far as gentlemen will go, or else you will • be beaten still.' * But Hampden, though the notion pleased him, thought it impracticable. Nevertheless it was this that Cromwell did. In forging the instrument that was to give the victory to the forces of the Parliament Cromwell began at the beginning. The army was reformed from below. Cromwell's own troop was the first step. It was
* Cromwell's Letters and Speeches.'
composed of men inspired with enthusiasm for their cause, rigidly disciplined. Worthless and half-hearted men were rejected. The system was rapidly extended, and at length the whole army so constituted, under a single commander appointed by the Parliament, took, under the name of the New Model, the place of the local levies with which the war had begun. The army, enormously improved in quality, was reduced in numbers. In Cromwell's opinion, “a few honest 'men' were to be preferred to numbers. Choose,' he said to his friends of the Eastern Association, ‘godly, honest men to be captains of horse, and honest men will follow them. ... I had rather have a plain, russet-coated captain that knows what he is fighting for, and loves what he 'knows, than that which you call gentleman” and is ‘nothing else. I honour a gentleman that is so indeed.' To Cromwell the army thus formed was much more than an army-it was the embodiment and principal representative of English Puritanism. The first duty of a cavalry commander, according to Xenophon, was to offer sacrifice, and so obtain the goodwill of the gods. Cromwell was always deeply provoked by the blind obstinacy of worsted enemies who refused to admit that their own defeats were indisputable evidence that his cause was the cause of God. It was almost blasphemous in his eyes for Scottish Presbyterians to talk of their disasters in the field as 'mere
events. Yet had Cromwell been defeated, as be well might have been, at Dunbar, would the cause of Presbytery and of the malignant Stuart have appeared any holier to him? In very many of Cromwell's speeches and letters are expressions of noble liberality of mind, of superiority to sectarian prejudice, of a spirit of live and let live in matters of opinion, even of religious opinion; of a feeling that within his own breast a man should be free. Yet in practice no man more completely flung these principles to the winds. It was objected to him on one occasion by an officer that one of his men was an Anabaptist. “But shall that,' said Cromwell,
render him incapable to serve the public ? . .. Sir, the State, in choosing men to serve it, takes no notice of their 'opinions; if they be willing faithfully to serve it, that • satisfies. The truth is that Cromwell was a practical man engaged in a terrible struggle, as well as a religious enthusiast. He was ready to welcome a fanaticism which he did not share, if the fanatic's zeal operated on his own side in his mortal strife. But to Cromwell it seemed almost outside the bounds of possibility that the State should be
VOL. CXCIII. NO. CCCXCV.