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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 burial.
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 0. 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, f 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 ; 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 addilion to all !- Another wretched old Book of his, called Chronicle
* Noble's Cromwell, i., 294-300. His list is very inaccurate and incom. plete, but not worth completing or rectifying.
† The First Edition seems to be of 1663.
of the Civil Wars, bears a high price in the Dilettante Sale. catalogues; 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,
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
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 fact, 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; 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, this same Dictionary without judgment and without arrangement, bad Dictionary gone to pi,' as we may call it, is the storehouse from which subsequent Biographies have all furnished themselves. The reader,
* Memoirs of the Protectoral House of Cromwell, by the Rev. Mark Noble. 2 vols., London, 1787.
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 some. what 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 manner 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 credi. bility 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 :f 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.
† Thurloe, i., 763–8.
| The Life of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth. Impartially collected, &c. London, 1724. Distinguished also by a not intolerable Portrait.
also, there are inaccuracies enough,—here too, what is the general rule in these books, you can find as many inaccuracies as you like: dig where you please, water will come ! As a crown to all the modern Biographies of Cromwell, let us note Mr. Forster's late one :* full of interesting original excerpts, and indications of what is notablest in the old books; gathered and set forth with real merit, with energy in abundance and superabundance ; amounting in result, we may say, to a vigorous decisive tearing up of all the old hypotheses on the subject, and an opening of the general mind for new.
Of Cromwell's actual biography, from these and from all Books and sources, there is extremely little to be known. It is from his own words, as I have ventured to believe, from his own Letters and Speeches well read, that the world may first obtain some dim glimpse of the actual Cromwell, and see him darkly face to face. What little is otherwise ascertainable, cleared from the circumambient inanity and insanity, may be stated in brief compass. So much as precedes the earliest still extant Letters, I subjoin here in the form most convenient.
* Statesmen of the Commonwealth, by John Forster (London, 1840), vols
iv. and v.