Thursday, January 26, 2017

Oliver Cromwell

The Oliver Cromwell entry in the 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica is the composite work of three historians, one of whom was Charles Francis Atkinson, who also wrote   The Wilderness and Cold Harbor.

One great source of Crowell’s strength was the military reforms he initiated. At Edgehill he had observed the inferiority of the parliamentary to the royalist horse, composed as it was of soldiers of fortune and the dregs of the populace. “Do you think,” he said, “that the spirits of such base men, mean fellows will ever be able to encounter gentlemen who have honor and courage and resolution in them?”  The royalist were fighting for a great cause, the parliamentary soldiers must also be inspired by some great principle.

Cromwell  thus chose his own troops, both officers and privates, from the “religious men, “ who fought not for pay or adventure, but for their faith. He declared, when answering a complaint that a certain captain in his regiment was a better preacher than fighter, that he who prayed best would fight best, and that he knew nothing could “give courage and confidence as the knowledge of God in Christ will. The superiority of these men – more intelligent than the common soldiers, better disciplined, better trained, better armed, excellent horsemen and fighting for a great cause – not only over the other parliamentary troops but over the royalists, was soon observed in battle. According to Clarendon the later, though frequently victorious in a charge,the royalists could not rally afterwards, “whereas Cromwell’s troops if the prevailed, or though they were beaten and routed, presently rallied again and stood in good order till they received new orders”; and the king’s military successes dwindled in proportion to the gradual preponderance of Cromwell’s troops in the parliamentary army. At first these picked men only existed in Cromwell’s own troop, which, however, by frequent additions became the nucleus of a regiment, and by the time of the New Model Army included about 11,000  men.

Cromwell’s early military education could have consisted at most of a perusal of the Swedish Intelligencer and the practice of riding. It is not, therefore, strange that his first essays in war were characterized more by energy than technical skill. It was some time before he realize the spirit of cavalry tactics, of which he was later so complete a master, a credit he shares with Fredrick the Great. Not even Sheridan’s horsemen in 1864-65 did their work more effectively than did the English squadrons in the Preston campaign.  His pre-eminence in the Civil War was due to his gifts as a general, the power of feeling the pulse of his army. Resolution, vigor and clear sight masked his conduct as commander-in-chief. He aimed at nothing less than the annihilation of the enemy’s forces, which Clausewitz was the first to define, a hundred and fifty years later, as the true objective of military operations. A military critic who maintains that Cromwell’s art of war was two centuries in advance of his time, finds universal acceptance.

Cromwell’s  military prowess gave him an unsurpassed political influence even before he became the supreme general of the Parliamentary Army.

The nature of Cromwell’s statesmanship is to be seen more in his struggles against the retrograde influences and opinions of his time, in the many political reforms anticipated though not originated or established by himself, and in his religious, perhaps fanatical, enthusiasm than in the outward character of his administration, which, in spite of its despotism shows itself in its inner spirit of justice, patriotism and self-sacrifice, so immeasurably superior to that of the Stuarts.

[To which spirit I will return shortly. First  the historiographical]

Cromwell’s personal character has been inevitably the subject of unceasing controversy. According to Clarendon he was “a brave bad man”, with “all the wickedness against which damnation is pronounced and for which hell fire is prepared.” Yet he cannot deny that “he had some virtues which have caused some men in all ages to be celebrated”; and he admits that “he was not a man of blood,” and that he possessed “a wonderful understanding in the natures and humour of men,” and “a great spirit, an admirable circumspection and sagacity and a most magnanimous resolution.” According to contemporary Republicans he was a mere selfish adventurer, sacrificing the national cause ‘to the idol of his own ambition.”   Richard Baxter thought him a good man who fell before great temptation., The writers of the next century generally condemned him as a mixture of knave, fanatic and hypocrite, and in 1839 John Forster endorsed Landor’s verdict that Cromwell lived a hypocrite and died a traitor. These crude ideas of Cromwell’s character were extinguished by Macaulay’s irresistible logic and by the publication of Cromwell’s letters by Carlyle in 1845, which showed Cromwell clearly to be ” not a man of falsehoods, but a man of truth”, and by Gardiner, whom, however, it is somewhat difficult to follow when he represents Cromwell as “a typical Englishman.”

In particular, that conception which regarded “ambition” as the guiding motive in his career has been dispelled by a more intimate and accurate knowledge of his life; this shows him to have been very little the creator of his own career, which was largely the result of circumstances outside his control, the influence of past events and of the actions of others, the pressure of the national will, the natural superiority of his own genius. “A man never mounts so high,” Cromwell said to the French ambassador in 1647, “as when he does not know where he is going.” “These issues and events,” he said in 1556, “have not been forecast, but were providences in things.” His  “hypocrisy” consists principally in the biblical language he employed, which with  Cromwell, as with many of his contemporaries, was the most natural way of expressing his feelings, and in the ascription of every incident to the direct intervention of  God’s providence, which was really Cromwell’s sincere belief and conviction.

Thus, in the  beginning of his speech to the Barebones (Little) Parliament- July 1653:

. . . You very well know, after divers turning of affairs, it pleased God, much in the midst of this war, to winnow the forces of this nation; and put them in the hands of other men of other principles than those that did  engage at first. By what ways and means that was brought about, would ask more time than allotted me to mind you of it. Indeed there are stories that do recite those transactions, and give you narratives of the matters of fact; but those things wherein the life and power of them lay; those strange windings and turnings of Providence; those very great appearances of God, in crossing and thwarting the purposes of men, neither versed in military affairs, nor having much natural propensity to them, even through the owning of a principle of godliness and of religion; which soon as it came to be owned, and the state of affairs put upon the foot of that account, how God blessed them, furthering all undertakings, yet using the most improbable and the most contemptible and despicable  means (for that we shall ever own): you very well know.

At the end of Volume Two of The Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell, Carlyle recites ‘the latest of commentators” on the one given to Parliament  17 Sept 1656

 On the whole, the cursory modern Englishmen cannot be expected to read this speech: - yet it is a pity; the Speech might do him good if he understood it. We shall not again hear a Supreme governor speak in this strain. The dialect of it is very obsolete; much more than the grammar and diction, forever obsolete – not to my regret the dialect of it. But the spirit of it is a thing that should never have grown obsolete . . . Since that spirit did go obsolete and men took to “dallying” with the Highest, to “being bold” with the Highest, and not “bold with men” (only Belial, and not “Christ" in any shape, assisting them, we have had but sorry times in Parliament and out of it [England in the 1840s was a very sorry time!]. There has not been a Supreme  Governor worth the meal on his periwig in comparison. Belial is a desperately bad sleeping partner in any concern whatever. Cant did not ever yet, that I know of, turn ultimately to a good account, for any man or thing. May the Devil swiftly be compelled to call-in large masses of our current stock of Cant, and withdraw it from circulation! Let the people ‘run for gold’, as the Chartists say; demand veracity, performance, instead of measly mouth Speaking; and force him to recall this cant. Thank Heaven, stern Destiny, merciful were it even to death, does now compel them verily to ‘run for gold’’: Cant in all directions is swiftly ebbing into the Bank it was issued by.

The grammar and diction, however, familiar to readers of Shakespeare ( with allusions to a few of the phrases in that playwright’s works), sans verse and delivered extemporaneously- without script or teleprompter- with support of the habit of a dialect repeated often enough in all his speeches and letters.

Most of Cromwell’s speeches- all really- contain lengthy sermons.  in justifying the reign of the Major-Generals* he spoke thusly (this being but one occasion of many):

That men believe in Jesus Christ – that’s the form that gives the being to true religion, faith in Christ and walking in a profession answerable to that faith; – men believe the remission of sins through the blood of Christ, and free justification by the blood of Christ, and live upon the grace of God. Whoever hath this faith, let his form be what he will; he walking peaceably, without the prejudicing of others unto another form – it is a debt due to God and Christ; and He will require it, if he be “that Christian’  may not enjoy this liberty.

But if a man of one form will be trampling upon the heals of another form; if an Independent, for example, will despise him who is under Baptism, and will revile him, and reproach and provoke him, - I will not suffer him in it. If, on the other side, those on the Anabaptist judgment shall be censoring the Godly ministers of the nation that professed under that of Independency; or those that profess Presbytery, shall be reproaching or speaking evil of them, traducing and censoring of them, -as I would not be willing to see the day on which England shall be in the power of the Presbytery to impose upon the consciences of the others that profess faith in Christ, - so I will not endure any to reproach them. But God give us hearts and spirits to keep things equal.

Never-the-less, he would not stand the Papists- often hanging any priest to be found in the armies he defeated or associated with the machinations of Charles Stuart and Spain, the military arm of the great Anti-Christ, the chief existential  threat to the English nation and the Protestant cause in Europe generally; God’s Providential challenge to self-improvement for all good Christian men. He also established a Commission to examine all the ministers in England to weed out those inadequately qualified to teach the new dispensation or suspect of loyalties to the old Prelacy  though it cannot be that his Parliament or Commission was ever entirely compliant to his wishes but fell into the fruitless disputes and hair-splittings which were his constant complaint.

To Cromwell the matter was of pressing educational concern, analogous to what is attempted in modern times with public departments of Education and introduction of such infeasible things as “Common Core’ curriculum into communities of widely diverse  and jealous legacies, capacities and interests.  Here from that same remarkable (Fifth) Speech to Parliament 17 Sept, 1656:

But I forgot one thing I must remember. It is the Church’s work, you know, in some measure: yet give me leave to say, and I appeal to your consciences, whether or no there hath not been an honest care taken for rejecting of scandalous ministers, and for the bringing-in of them that have passed an Approbation? [ our two Commissions of Triers and Expurgators]. I dare say, such an one as never passed in England before! And give me leave to say, it hath been with this difference ‘from the old practice,’ that neither Mr. Doctor nor Parson in the University hath reckoned stamp enough by those that made these Approbations: though, I can say so, they have great esteem of learning, and look at grace as most useful when it fall unto men with it rather than without it, and wish, with all their hearts, the flourishing of all those institutions of Learning, as much as any, yet I must say it hath been counted nothing with them that have passed the best with them or me. I think there hath been a conscience exercised, both by myself and the Ministers, towards them that have been approved; I may say, such as one, as I truly believe was never known in England in regards to this matter. And I do verily believe that God hath, for the ministry a very great seed in the youth now in the Universities; who, instead of studying books, study their own hearts.  I think in my very conscience God will bless and favor that; and hath blessed it, to the gaining of very many souls – it was never so upon the thriving hand since England was as it is to this day. Therefore I say, in these things, in these arrangements made by us, that tend to the profession of the Gospel and Public Ministry, I think you will be so far from hindering, that you will further it. And I shall be willing to join with you.

This is perhaps, Cromwell at his ironic best, being diplomatic, giving what is essentially an admonishment and command (under clear threat of dissolution) that Parliament exercise its powers to get at the root and branch of ‘the old practice’: the ordinations (by ‘apostolic succession’), pastoral ‘livings' and vestry appointments handed out by the personal preferences according to material interest of the great Lords and Grand Gentry  ( he continued) countenancing Profaneness, Disorder and Wickedness in all places, and whatever is kin to that, and most agrees with that which is Popery. In my conscience , it was a shame to be a Christian within these fifteen, sixteen or seventeen years, in this Nation either in Caesar’s house or elsewhere!

There is much else besides miscellany in these letters and speeches. In suspending Parliament, excluding some elected members from the new, appropriating revenues without Parliaments approval, keeping a large standing army, expanding the fleet beyond anybody’s  expectation without explanation, seizing ‘disorderly persons ( many who were originally of his own party, Levellers and Fifth Monarchy men) he made fine arguments “Of Necessity”, which despots do but rarely so well and with such good cause. . To little avail except perhaps to posterity.

He was kind and friendly to George Fox who approved the Protector as a man of genuine ‘light’ but was compelled  to restrain some of his followers. He spoke well of James the First and used his translation of the Bible. He refused the crown, regarding the question of title as a mere ‘feather in the cap. A shining bauble for the crowds to gaze at our kneel to”.  various attempts to assassinate him, which he referred contemptuously to as a ‘little fiddling things’ were anticipated and prevented by an excellent system of police, spies and by a bodyguard of 160 men. It has been reported that he knew what went on in the very closet of Charles Stuart II.

Cromwell’s health was long impaired by the hardships of campaigning. At the age of 58 he was already old, and his firm strong signature had become feeble and trembling. “ It has hitherto,” Cromwell said, “a matter, I think, but philosophical discourse, that a great place, a great authority, is a great burden. I know it is. I can say in the presence of God, in comparison of who we are but like poor creeping ants upon the earth, I would have lived under my woodside to have kept a flock of sheep rather than undertook such a government as this.” “I doubt not to say,” declared his steward Maidston, “it drank up his spirits, of which his natural constitution afforded a vast stock, and brought him to his grave.

On the 2Oth of August  165 George Fox met him riding at the head of his guards in the park at Hampton Court, but declared ‘he looked like a dead man.”  On the 3rd of September he was.

*He divided England into twelve districts with commanding generals to keep the peace, exact taxes, forbid cock-fighting and horse-racing (gambling sports), close Alehouses (his most unpopular measure) and guard against conspiracies, uprisings and  invasion.


  1. Cromwell's letter against theocracy to the Speaker of Parliament after the battle of Dunbar (1650) :

    . . .Now we hear, that not only the deceived people, but some of the ministers are also fallen in this battle. This is the great hand of the Lord, and worthy of consideration of all those who take into their hands the instruments of a foolish shepherd - to wit, meddling in worldly policies, and mixtures of earthy power, to set up that which they call the Kingdom of Christ, which is neither it, nor, if it were it, would such means be found effective to that end - and neglect, or trust not to the Word of God; the sword of the Spirit; which is alone powerful and able for the setting up of that Kingdom; and, when trusted to, will be found effectually able to that end, and will also do it!

  2. Carlyle:

    Here also are some sentences on a favorite topic, lightning and light. A lightning is to light, so is a Cromwell to a Shakespeare. The light is beautifuller. Ah, yes, but until, by lightning and other fierce labor, your foul Chaos has become a World, you can not have any light, or only the smallest chance for any! ! Honor the Amphion whose music makes the stones, rocks and big blocks, dance in figures, and domed cities, with temples and habitations - yet know him too, how, as Volker's in the old Nibelungen, oft times his fiddlebow has to be of sharp steel and to play a tune very rough to rebellious ears! The melodious Speaker is great, but the melodious worker is greater than he. Our time, says a certain author, cannot speak at all, but only cant and sneer, and argumentatively jargon, and recite the multiplication table. Neither as yet can it work, except at mere railroads and cotton-spinning. It will, apparently, return to Chaos soon; and then more lightnings will be needed, lightning enough, to which Cromwell's was but a mild matter- to be followed by light, we may hope!

  3. Carlyle mentions a Mr. James Livingston, the Minister of Ancrum, who left a curios Life of himself- he is still represented by a distinguished family in Americas. I think Carlyle it was John rather than James he was referring to:

  4. Paul's Cross

    Paul's Cross, of which I have seen old prints, as a kind of stone tent, with a leaden roof, at the north-east corner of Paul's Cathedral, where sermons were still, and had been long, preached in the open air; crowded devout congregations gathering there; with forms to sit on, if you came early. Queen Elizabeth used to 'tune her pulpits', she said, when there was any great thing ; as governing persons now strive to tune their morning newspaper, when then an important entity. Paul's Cross, a kind of Times newspaper, but partly edited buy heaven itself, was then a most important entity! In February 1628-29, "Alablaster, to the horror of mankind, was heard preaching 'flat Popery' there - 'prostituting our columns in that scandalous matter! And the Bishop of Winchester had forbidden him to preach against it: what are we to expect!"(Dr. Beard, member for Huntingdon, in Parliament).

    Attorney General; Noy, in these months (1632), was busy tearing up the unfortunate manufacturers of soap; tormenting mankind very much about soap. He tore them up irresistibly (enforcing the King's monopoly), reduced them to total ruin; good soap became unavailable.

  5. In fact, his Majesty, though a belligerent party who had not now one soldier on foot, considered himself a tower of strength; as indeed he was; all men having to us inconceivable reverence for him, till bitter necessity and he altogether drove them away from it. Equivocations, spasmodic obstinacies, and blindness to the real state of facts, must have an end.(1646)Carlyle: ( of 1648) Happily we see the last of the treaties with Charles Stuart - for History becomes weary of them. Treaty which came to nothing, as all others had done. Which indeed could only come to nothing his Majesty not having the smallest design to abide by it; his Majesty eagerly consulting about escape all the while- escape to Ormond who is now in Ireland, escape somewither, anywhither - and considering the Treaty manly as a piece of Dramaturgy, which must be handsomely done in the interim, and leave a good impression on the Public. Such is the Treaty of Forty Days; a mere torpor on the page of History; which the reader shall conceive for himself ad libitum.

    In circuitous ways Cromwell proved the doer of what the poor Scotch nation really wished and willed, could it have known so much at sight of him! The true governor of the Scotch nation; accomplishing their Covenant without Charles Stuart, since with Charles Stuart it was a flat impossibility. But thy knew him not; and with their stiff-necked ways obstructed him as they could. How seldom can a Nation, can even an individual man, understand what at heart his own real will is: such masses of superficial bewilderment, of respectable hearsay, of fantasy and pedantry, and old and new cobbwebbery, overlie our poor will, much hiding it from us, for the most part! So that if we can once get an eye on it, and walk resolutely towards fulfilment of it, the battle is as good as gained!

  6. Uniformity of free-growing healthy forest-trees is good; uniformity of clipt Dutch dragons is not so good! The question, which of the two? is (1647) is by no means settled - though the assembly of divines and majorities of both Houses, would fain to think so. The general English mind, which, loving good order in all things, loves regularity even at a high price, could be content with the Presbyterian scheme which we call the Dutch-dragon one; bit a deeper portion of the English mind inclines decisively to growing in the forest -tree way, and indeed will shoot out into very singular excrescences, Quakerisms and what not, in the coming years. Nay already we have Anabaptists, Brownists, Sectaries and Schismatics springing up very rife: already there is a Paul Best, brought before the House of Commons for Socinianism; nay we hear of another distracted individual who seemed to maintain, in confidential argument, that "God was mere Reason." There is like to be need of garden-shears at this rate!

    Carlyle interpreting Cromwell: (1648)

    Our blood that we have shed in this quarrel, this you account as nothing, since you so please; but these manifest witnessings of God, so terrible and so just - are they not the witnessings of God; are they mere sports of chance? Ye wretched infidel red-tape mortals, what will or can become of you? By and by, if this course hold, it will appear that you are no Parliament; you are a nameless unbelieving rabble, with a mere title to Parliament, who must go about your business elsewhither, with soldiers' pikes in your rearward!(Flunkeyism, Cant and Cloth-worship!)

  7. Carlyle comments:

    The English, one can discern withal, have been perhaps as brave a People as their neighbors; perhaps for valor of action and true hard labor in this earth, since brave peoples were first made in it, there has been nine braver anywhere or any when: but also it must be owned, in stupidity of speech they have no fellow! What can poor English heroisms do in such case, but fall torpid into the domain of nightmares? For of truth, stupidity is strong, most strong: as the poet Schiller sings, "Against stupidity the very gods fight un-victorious:" there is in it a placid inexhaustibility, a calm viscous infinitude, which will baffle even the gods, - which I will say calmly, "Try all your lightnings here; see whether I cannot quench them!"

    "Mit der Dummheit kampfen Gotter selbst vergebens"

  8. (1649) War since, and justice on delinquents, England made a free Commonwealth, and such like, have kept the army busy, but a deep republican leaven, working all along among these men. Take first this glimpse into the civil province; and discern, with amazement, a whole submarine world of Calvinistic Sansculottism, Five-point Charter and the Rights of Man, threatening to emerge almost two centuries before its time!

    So Lockyer is shot, in Paul's courtyard. A very brave young man though but twenty and three, he has served seven years in these wars, ever since the war began. Religious too, of excellent parts and much beloved- but with hot notions as to human freedom and the rate at which the millenniums are attainable. He falls shot amid tears of men and women. Paul's Cathedral, we remark, is now a horseguard; horses stamp in the canon's stalls there, and Paul's Cross is swept altogether away , and its leaden roof melted into bullets, or mixed with tin for culinary pewter. Lockyer's corpse is watched and wept over, mot without prayer, in the eastern regions of the city, till a new week come; and on Monday this is what we see advancing westward by way of a funeral to him:

    About one hundred went before the corpse, five or six in a file; the corpse was then brought, with six trumpets sounding the soldiers knell; then the troopers horse came, clothed all over in mourning, led by a footman. The corpse was adorned with bundles of Rosemary, one half stained with blood; and the sword of the deceased along with them. Some thousands followed in rank and file: all had sea-green-and black ribbon tied on their hats and to their breasts: and the women brought up the rear. At the new churchyard in Westminster, some thousands more of the better sort me them, who thought not fit to march through the city. Many looked upon this funeral; as an affront to the Parliament and Army; others called these people "levellers," but they took no notice of any one's saying.

  9. Carlyle ranks his predecessors in History of the Little Parliament (1651-1653):

    Indeed, onwards from this point where Olivier's own Letters begin to fail us, the whole History of Oliver and of England under him, becomes very dim - swimming most indistinct in the huge tomes of Thurloe and the like, as in shoreless lakes of ditch water and bilgewater; a stagnancy, a torpor, and confused horror to the human soul. No historical genius, not even Rushworth's, now presides over the matter, nothing but bilgewater Correspondences; vague jottings of a dull fat Bulstrode, vague printed babblements of this and the other Carrion Health or Flunkey Pamphleteer of the Blessed-Restoration Period, writing from ignorant rumor and for ignorant rumor, from the winds and to the winds. After long reading in very many books, of very unspeakable quality, earning for yourself only incredibility, inconceivability, and darkness visible, you begin to perceive that in the Speeches of Oliver himself once well read, such as they are, some shadowy outlines, authenic pre-figurements of what the real History of the Time may have been, do first, in the huge mane night, begin to loom for you -credible, conceivable in some measure, there for the first time. My reader's patience is henceforth to be still more severely tried: there is unluckily no help for it, as the matter stands.

  10. The Little Parliament:

    What is an 'incumbrance?' No mortal can tell. They sit debating it, painfully sifting it, for three months; three months by Bookers Almanac and the Zodiac Horologe: March violets have become June roses and still they debate what an incumbrance is - and indeed, I think, could never fix it at all, and perhaps debating it, if so doomed, in some foggy twilight section of Dante's nether world, to all eternity, at this hour! Ae not these a set of men likely to reform English law? Likely these to strip the accumulated owl-droppings and foul guano-mountains from your rock island and lay the reality bare- in some course of Eternities! The wish waxes livelier in Colonel Pride that he could see a certain addition made to the Scots Colors hung in Westminster Hall yonder.

    ['Any right to, or interest in, land which may subsist in third persons, to the diminution of the value of the estate of the tenant, but consistently with the passing of the fee.' So the reader can intimate the difficulty here in regard to hereditary prerogatives, feudal tenures and their inheritances, together with the huge backlog of civil fillings that could not be settled by Common Law that existed in the Chancery Court at that time and for many decades after. In essence, Cromwell was asking Parliament to circumscribe and limit the members' own privilege, by Christian precepts!-J.S.]

  11. Cromwell's Speech to the Little Parliament (1653)

    . . . Truly thee judgment of truth, it will teach you to be as just towards an unbeliever as towards a believer; and it's our duty to do so. I confess I have said sometimes, foolishly it may be, I had rather miscarry to a believer than an unbeliever. This may seem a paradox but let's take heed , of doing that which is evil to either! Oh, if God fill your hearts with such a spirit as Moses had and as Paul had, which is not a spirit for believers only but the whole people! Moses, he could die for them; wished himself blotted out of God's book. (Exodus xxxii 32) Paul could wish himself 'accursed for his countrymen after the flesh' (Romans IX 3)," that He might be merciful. So should we, we should be pitiful, so full of affection were their spirits unto all. And truly this would help us execute the judgment of truth, and mercy also.

    The second thing is, to desire you would be faithful with the Saints, to be touched by them . And I hope, whatever others may think, it may be a matter to us all of rejoicing to have our hearts touched a Christ, being full of that spirit, was 'touched with our infirmities, that he might be merciful. So should we be, we should be pitiful. Truly, this calls us to be very much touched with the infirmities of the Saints; that we may have a respect unto all and be pitiful and tender towards all, though of different judgments. And if I did seem to speak something that reflected in those of the Presbyterian judgment - truly I think if we have not an interest of love for them too, we shall hardly answer this of being faithful to the Saints. . .

    I confess I never looked to see such a day as this, it may be nor you neither, when Jesus Christ should be so owned as He is at this day and in this work. Jesus Christ is owned this day by your call; and you own Him, by your willingness to appear for Him. And you manifest this, as far as creatures can do, to be a day of the power of Christ. I know you remember well that Scripture, in Psalm cx.3 [Cromwell's favorite], He makes His people willing in the day of his power. God has owned his Son; and he has owned you, and made you own Him. . .


    It is well known that they failed: to us, alas, it is too evident they could not but fail. Fearful impediments lay against that effort of theirs: the sluggishness, the slavish half-and-halfness, the greediness, the cowardice, the general opacity and falsity of some ten million men against it; alas, the whole world and what we call the Devil and all his angels against it! Considerable angels, human and other: the most extensive arrangements, investments, to be sold off at a tremendous sacrifice - in general the entire set of baggage-traps and very extensive stock of merchant goods and real and floating property, amassed by tat assiduous Entity above-mentioned, for a thousand years to come!

  12. In Cromwell's Speech to his First Parliament 4 Sept 1654. He reviews the situation hitherto and addresses the question of the 'Levellers':

    What was our condition? Every man's hand was against his brother]- at least his heart was; little regarding anything that should cement, and might have a tendency in it to cause us to grow into one. All the dispensations of God, his terrible ones, He having met us in the way of His judgment in a ten- years Civil War , a very sharp one[ Britain's population was reduced by a third], and His merciful dispensations: they did not, they did not work upon us! No. But we had our humors and interests, and indeed I fear our humors were more with us than even our interests. And certainly, a it fell out, in such cases our passions were more than our judgments- was not everything grown arbitrary? Who of us knew where or how to have right done him without some obstruction or other intervening? Indeed, we were almost grown arbitrary in everything.

    What was the face that was upon our affairs as to the interest of the nation, as to the authority of the nation; to the magistracy, to the ranks and order of men whereby England hath been known for hundreds of years? A nobleman, a gentleman, a yeoman, the distinction of these that is a good interest of the nation, and a great one [called now 'civil society]! The natural magistracy of the nation, was it not almost trampled under foot, under despite and contempt, by men of Levelling principles? I beseech you, for the orders of men and ranks of men, did not that Levelling principle tend to the reducing all to an equality? Did it consciously think to do so, or did it only unconsciously practice it towards property and interest? At all events, what was the purport of it but to make the tenant as liberal in fortune as the landlord? Which, I think, if obtained, would not last log! Then men of that principle, if obtained, after they have served their own turns, would have cried up interest and property then fast enough!. This instance is instead of many. And that this thing did and might well extend far is manifest because it was a pleasing voice to all poor men, and truly not unwelcome to all Bad Men. To my thinking, it is a consideration that, in your endorsements after settlement, you will be so well minded of, that I have spared this but let it now pass . . .

  13. In Cromwell's Speech to Parliament 22 Jan 1655

    Is there not yet upon the spirits of men a strange itch? Nothing will satisfy them unless they can put their finger upon their brethren's consciences, to pinch them there. To do this was no part of the contest we had with the common adversary. For religion was not the thing at first contested for [power of the militia was the point upon which the actual war began, a statement truer in form than essence, says Carlyle, yet we first find Cromwell contesting enclosure, the royal prerogative], but God brought it to that issue at last, and gave it to us by way of great redundancy; and at last it proved that which was most dear to us. And wherein consisted the more in obtaining that liberty from the tyranny of the Bishops to all species of Protestants to worship God according to their own light and consciences, for want of which many of our Brethren forsook their native countries to seek their bread from strangers, and to live in howling wilderness [at one point as a young man Cromwell himself sold his stock and made ready to move], and for which many that remained here were imprisoned and otherwise abused, and made the scorn of the nation. Those that were sound in faith, how proper was it for them to labor for liberty, for a just liberty, that men should not be trampled on for their consciences? Had not they labored, but lately, under the weight of persecutions? And was it fit for them to sit heavy on others? Is it ingenuous to ask liberty and not give it? What greater hypocrisy than for those who we oppressed by the Bishops to become the greatest oppressors themselves, so soon as their yoke was removed? I could wish that they who ask for liberty now also had not too much of that spirit, if the power be in their hands.

    As for profane persons, blasphemers, such as preach sedition, the contentious railers, evil-speakers, who seek by evil words to corrupt good manners, persons of loose conversation - punishment from the civil magistrate ought to met with them. Because, if these pretend conscience, yet walking disorderly and not according to the Gospel, and even to natural light, they are judged of all and their sins being open, make them subjects of the Magistrate's sword, who ought not to bear it in vain. The discipline of the Army was such, that a man would not be suffered to remain there, of whom we could take notice he was guilty of such practices as these..

  14. Carlyle: England The Major-Generals 1655-56;

    The plots and perils to the Commonwealth which my Lord Protector spoke of to the honorable members, were not an imagination, but a very tragic reality. Under the shadow of this Constituting Parliament strange things have been ripening; without some other eyes than the Parliament's, Constitution and Commonwealth in general had been, by this time, in a bad way have had dim meetings, dim communications; will prefer Charles Start himself to the traitor Oliver, who has dared to attempt the actual governing of men. A universal rising of the Royalists combined with the Anabaptists is in a real state of progress. Dim meetings there have been of Royalist gentlemen, on nocturnal moors, in this quarter and that, with cart-loads of arms -terrified at their own jingle, and rapidly dispersing again till the grand hour come. Anabaptists Levellers have had dim meetings, dim communications; will prefer Charles Stuart himself to the traitor Oliver, who has dared to attempt actual governing of men. Charles Stuart has come down to Middleburg, on the Dutch coast, to be in readiness; Hyde is cock-sure. From the dreary old Thurloes, and the rubbish continents, of spy letters, intercepted letters, letter of intelligence; where, scattered at huge intervals, the History of England for these years still lies entombed, it is manifest enough what a winter and spring this was in England. A protector left without supplies, obliged to cut his Parliament adrift, and front te matter alone; England, from end to end of it, ripe for an explosion; for a universal blazing-up of all the heterogeneous combustibilities it had; the sacred Majesty awaiting . . .

    Never-the-less it all came to nothing- there being a Protector in it.

  15. Carlyle interpolating Cromwell's Speech 17 Sept. 1656

    He who has in him, who manifests in the ways of him, an "enmity to God," and goes about patronizing un-veracities, rotten delusions, braze falsities, pestilent injustices, with him, whatever his seeming extent of money-capital and worldly prosperity may be, I would advise no nation nor statesman nor man to be prompt in clapping up an alliance. He will not come to good, I think; not he, for one. Bad security in his firm, have no trade with him. With him your only fit trade, duel to the death, when the times comes for that!

  16. Cromwell

    But if you make laws of good government, that men may know how to obey and do for Government, you may make laws that have frailty and weakness; ay, and yet good laws to be observed. But if nothing ever be done but what is according to the law, the throat of the nation will be cut while we send for some to make a law. [The Tyrant's plea? -yes, and the true governor's, my friend, for extremes meet.]Therefore certainly it is a pitiful beastly notion to think, that though it be for ordinary Government to live by law and rule, yet I think him -if a government in extraordinary circumstances go beyond the law even for self-preservation, it is yet to be clamored-at, and blottered-at. When matters of necessity come inviolably, then without guilt extraordinary remedies may not be applied? Who can be so pitiful a person!

    I confess, if necessity be pretended, there is so much the more sin, by laying the irregularity of men's actions upon God as if it were He who sent the necessity - who doth indeed send a necessity. But to anticipate these for as to an appeal to God, I own it, own this necessity, conscientiously to God, and the principle of nature dictates the thing. But if there be a supposition, I say, of a necessity which is not, every act so done at that time hath in it, the more the sin. This whether in a given case there is a necessity or not, perhaps is rather to be disputed than otherwise. But I must say I do not know one action of this government, no not one, but it hath been in order to the peace and safety of the nation.