During a great part of the eighteenth century most Tories hated him because he overthrew the monarchy, most Whigs because he overthrew Parliament. Since Carlyle wrote, all liberals have seen in him their champion, and all revolutionists have apotheosized the first great representatives of their school; while, on the other side, their opponents have hailed the dictator who put down anarchy. Unless the socialists or the anarchists finally prevail- and perhaps even then - his fame seems as secure as human reputation is likely to be in a changing world. -- W.C Abbott, Writings and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell
The commonest charge against Cromwell is hypocrisy‚ and the commonest basis for that is defective chronology. ~ W.C Abbott in Writings and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell had certainly this afflatus. One that I knew was at the battle of Dunbar, told me that Oliver was carried on with a Divine impulse; he did laugh so excessively as if he had been drunk; his eyes sparkled with spirits. He obtain‚Äôd a great victory; but the action was said to be contrary to human prudence. The same fit of laughter seized Oliver Cromwell just before the battle of Naseby; as a kinsman of mine, and a great favourite of his, Colonel J. P. then present, testified. Cardinal Mazerine said, that he was a lucky fool. ~ John Aubrey in Miscellanies
To give the devil his due, he restored justice, as well distributive as comutative, almost to its ancient dignity and splendour; the judges without covetousness discharging their duties according to law and equity... His own court also was regulated according to a severe discipline; here no drunkard, nor whoremonger, nor any guilty of bribery, was to be found, without severe punishment. Trade began again to prosper; and in a word, gentle peace to flourish all over England. ~ George Bate, Physician to the Cromwellian Court
When he quitted the Parliament, his chief dependence was on the Army, which he endevoured by all means to keep in unity, and if he could not bring it to his sense, he, rather than suffer any division in it, went-over himself and carried his friends with him into that way which the army did choose, and that faster than any other person in it. ~ Sir John Berkley in Memoirs of Sir John Berkley
".... he thought secracy a virtue, and dissimulation no vice, and simmulation, that is in plain English, a lie, or perfiderousness to be tolerable fault in case of necessity. - Richard Baxter, Reliquiae Baxterianae.. on Oliver Cromwell
He was of a sanguine complexion, naturally of such a vivacity, hilarity and alacrity as another man is when he hath drunken a cup too much. - Richard Baxter, Reliquiae Baxterianae.. on Oliver Cromwell
He gart Kings ken they had a lith in their neck. - Alexander Boswell, Lord Auchinleck, in James Boswell, Tour of the Hebrides.
A devotee of law, he was forced to be often lawless; a civilian to the core, he had to maintain himself by the sword; with a passion to construct, his task was chiefly to destroy; the most scrupulous of men, he had to ride roughshod over his own scruples and those of others; the tenderest, he had continually to harden his heart; the most English of our greater figures, he spent his life in opposition to the majority of Englishmen; a realist, he was condemned to build that which could not last. -- John Buchan, Oliver Cromwell. The Dictionary of Biographical Quotations.
Sylla was the first of victors; but our own
The sagest of usurpers, Cromwell; he
Too swept off the senates while he hewed the throne
Down to a block - immortal rebel! See
What crimes it costs to be a moment free
And famous through all ages.
Lord Byron, Child Harold, canto iv.
I confess I have an interest in this Mr Cromwell; and indeed, if truth must be said, in him alone. The rest are historical, dead to me; but he is epic, still living. Hail to thee, thou strong one; hail across the longdrawn funeral-aisle and night of time! --Thomas Carlyle, Historical Sketches
Things will shortly happen which have been unheard of, and above all would open the eyes of those who live under Kings and other Sovereigns, and lead to great changes. Cromwell alone holds the direction of political and military affairs in his hands. He is one who is worth all the others put together, and, in effect, King. ~ John Dury as reorted by Hermann Mylius (27 September 1651)
His grandeur he deriv'd from heaven alone,
For he was great e'er fortune made him so
And wars like mists that rise against the sun
Made him but greater seem, not greater grow.
|No borrow'd bays his temple did adorn,
But to our Crown he did fresh jewels bring;
Nor was his virtue poison'd soon as born,
With the too early thoughts of being King.
John Dryden, Heroick Stanzas consecrated to his Highness Oliver.
Saw the superb funeral of the Protector:...but it was the joyfullest funeral that I ever saw, for there were none that cried, but dogs, which the souldiers hooted away with a barbarous noise; drinking and taking tobacco in the streets as they went. ~ John Evelyn in his Diary (22 November 1658)
This day (to the stupendous and inscrutable Judgements of God) were the Carcasses of that arch-rebell Cromwell and Bradshaw the judge who condemned his Majestie & Ireton, son-in-law to the Usurper, dragged outof their superbe tombs (in Westminster among the Kings), to Tyburn & hanged on the Gallows there from 9 in the morning til 6 at night, and then buried under that fatal and ignominious monument, in a deepe pitt: Thousands of people who (who had seen them in all their pride and pompous insults) being spectators: look back at November 22, 1658, & be astonish‚Äôd - And fear God & honour the King, but meddle not with those who are given to change. ~ John Evelyn in his Diary (30 January 1661)
That slovenly fellow which you see before us, who hath no ornament in his speech; I say that sloven, if we should ever come to have a breech with the King (which God forbid) in such case will be one of the greatest men of England. - John Hampden, Speaking to Lord Digby in the house of commons, overheard by Sir Richard Bulstrode.
We will cut off his (the king's) head with the crown on it.-- Oliver Cromwell, in W C Abbott, The Writings and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell, Camgridge, Mass., 1937-47, vol I, p.576.
Oliver Cromwell in 1654 was I think the first spokesman for an English government to assert that "liberty of conscience is a natural right", fundamental to the consitution of the Protectorate. - Christopher Hill, A Turbulent, Seditious and Factious People. Joihn Bunyan and his Church.OUP 1988
In a word, as he was guilty of many crimes against which Damnation is denounced, and for which hell-fire is prepared, so he had some good qualities which have caused the memory of some men in all Ages to be celebrated; and he will be look‚Äôd upon by posterity as a brave bad man. ~ Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon in A History of the Rebellion
A complex character such as that of Cromwell, is incapable of creation, except in times of great civil and religious excitement, and one cannot judge of the man without at the same time considering the contending elements by which he was surrounded. It is possible to take his character to pieces, and, selecting one or other of his qualities as a corner-stone, to build around it a monument which will show him as a patriot or a plotter, a Christian man or a hypocrite, a demon or a demi-god as the sculptor may choose. F.A Inderwick, The Interregnum, 1648-60. The Dictionary of Biographical Quotations.
"I am," said he, "as much for a government by consent as any man; but where shall we find that consent? Amongst the Prelatical, Presbeyterian, Independent, Anabaptist, or Leveling Parties?"... then he fell into the commendation of his own government, boasting of the protection and quiet which the people enjoyed under it, saying, that he was resolved to keep the nation from being imbrued in blood. I said that I was of the opinion too much blood had already been shed, unless there were a better account of it. "You do well," said he, "to charge us with the guilt of blood; but we think there is a good return for what hath been shed." ~ Edmund Ludlow Interview with Cromwell (August 1656)
His body was wel compact and strong, his stature under 6 foote ( I beleeve about two inches) his head so shaped, as you might see it a storehouse and shop both of vast tresury of natural parts. His temper exceeding fyery as I have known, but the flame of it kept downe, for the most part, or soon allayed with those moral endowments he had. He was naturally compassionate towards objects in distresse, even to an effeminate measure; though God had made him a heart, wherein was left little roume for any feare, but what was due to himselfe, of which there was a large proportion, yet did he exceed in tenderness towards suffrerers. A larger soule, I thinke, hath seldom dwelt in a house of clay than his was. - John Maidston, Letter to John Winthrop, 24 March 1659.( This by Cromwell's steward disproves the saying that no man is a hero to his valet)
Of late I have not given so free and full a power unto (Cromwell) as formerly I did, because I heard that he used his power so as in honour I could not avow him in it....for his expressions were sometimes against the nobility, that he hoped to live to see never a nobleman in England, and he loved such (and such) better than others because they did not love Lords. And he further expressed himself with contempt of the Assemberly of Divines...these he termed persecutors, and that they persecuted honester men than themselves. ~ Earl of Manchester, Letter to the House of Lord‚Äôs (December 1644)
So restless Cromwell could not cease
In the inglorious Arts of Peace,
But through adventrous war,
Urged his active star...
To ruine the great work of time,
And cast the kingdom oldInto another Mold...
Andrew Marvell in An horation Ode upon Cromwell's return from Ireland
Cromwell, -, who through a cloud,
Not of war only, but detractions rude,
Guided by faith and matchless fortitude,
To peace and truth thy glorious way has ploughed
And on the neck of crowned fortune proud
Has reared God's trophies, and his work pursued,
While Darwen stream with blood of Scots imbrued,
And Dunbar field resounds thy praises loud,
And Worcester's laureate wreath. Yet much remains
To conquer still; peace hath her victories
No less renowned than war: new foes arise,
Threatening to bind our souls with secular chains:
Help us to save free conscience from the paw
Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw.
John Milton, Sonnet XV1, To the Lord General Cromwell.
He has arrogated to himself despotic authority and the actual sovereignty of these realms under the mask of humility and the public service....Obdience and submission were never so manifest in England as at present,...their spirits are so crushed..yet...they dare not rebel and only murmur under their breath, though all live in hope of the fulfilment one day of the prophecies foretelling a change of rule ere long. ~ Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, (21 February 1654)
At dinner we talked much of Cromwell, all saying he was a brave fellow and did owe his crown he got to himself, as much as any man that ever got one. ~ Samuel Pepys, Diary, (8 February 1667)
The Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland and of the Dominions thereunto belonging, shall be and reside in one person, and the people assembled in parliament; the style of which person shall be "The Lord Protector of the Commonwealth"... That Oliver Cromwell, Captain General of the forces of England, Scotland and Ireland, shall be, and is hereby declared to be, Lord Protector...for his life. ~ Decree by the Instrument of Government (16 December 1653)
He was a practical mystic, the most formidable and terrible of all combinations, uniting an aspiration derived from the celestial and supernatural with the energy of a mighty man of action; a great captain, but off the field seeming, like a thunderbolt, the agent of greater forces than himself ; no hypocrite, but a defender of the faith; the raiser and maintainer of the Empire of England. - Lord Rosebery, in W.C.Abbott, The Writings and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell.
Cromwell was faced with churches who wanted an established national church still the old Roman model. The Presbyterians, who were the most powerful group, were emphatically for an established group. That to them was salvation. The Separatists disagreed with them, but the other groups wanted to command the establishment. Cromwell wanted not a church establishment, but a Christian establishment. He wanted England committed to a Christian faith, not to a church. That's what he worked for. He had to fight the churches. It was the churches that defeated Calvinism and most of all the Presbyterians. It's the great blot in Presbyterian history that they brought in Charles II, a thoroughly degenerate man, and believed he would keep his word to them that he would go along with their idea of an establishment. Of course, he broke his word to them and 2000 clergymen had to leave the Church of England. Over a course of time, the Presbyterians virtually died out in England. - RJ Rushdoony from the video series: God's Law and Society.
Lieutenant-General Cromwell...a member of the House of Commons, long famous for godliness and zeal to his country, of great note for his service in the House, accepted of a commission at the very beginning of this war, wherein he served his country faithfully, and it was observed God was with him, and he began to be renowned. ~ Joshua Sprigge in Anglia Rediviva (1647)
Whilst he Cromwell) was curious of his own words, (not putting forth too many lest they should betray his thoughts) he made others talk until he had, as it were, sifted them, and known their most intimate designs. - Sir William Waller, Recollections.
As to your own person the title of King would be of no advantage, because you have the full Kingly power in you already... I apprehend indeed, less envy and danger, and pomp, but not less power, and real opportunities of doing good in your being General than would be if you had assumed the title of King. ~ Bulstrode Whitelocke to Cromwell as reported in Whitelocke's Memorialls of English Affairs
He (Cromwell) would sometimes be very cheerful with us, and laying aside his greatness he would be exceeding familiar with us, and by way of diversion would make verses with us, and everyone must try his fancy. He commonly called for tobacco, pipes, and a candle, and would now and then take tobacco himself; then he would fall again to his serious and great business. -- Bulstrode Whitelocke, _Memorialls of English Affairs_, 1682
Labels: biography, England, history, quotations, war