The familiar figure of the Tyrant, too long known to the world,—with the iron, the clay, and the little gold often interfused also in the statue,—has been always easily recognisable by unbiassed eyes in Oliver Cromwell. His tyranny was substantially that of his kind, before his time and since, in its actions, its spirit, its result. Fanaticism and Paradox may come with their apparatus of rhetoric to blur, as they whitewash, the lineaments of their idol. Such eulogists may ’paint an inch thick’: yet despots,—political, military, ecclesiastical,—will never be permanently acknowledged by the common sense of mankind as worthy the great name of Hero.
The tyrannous Ten; The Major-Generals, originally ten, (but the number varied), amongst whom, in 1655, the Commonwealth was divided. They displayed ‘a rapacity and oppression beyond their master’s’ (Hallam): a phrase amply supported by the hardly-impeachable evidence of Ludlow.
The horrible sacrament; See Appendix D.
Why he cannot win hearts; ’In the ascent of this bold usurper to greatness . . . he had encouraged the levellers and persecuted them; he had flattered the Long Parliament and betrayed it; he had made use of the sectaries to crush the Commonwealth; he had spurned the sectaries in his last advance to power. These, with the Royalists and Presbyterians, forming in effect the whole people . . . were the perpetual, irreconcilable enemies of his administration’ (Hallam ch. x).
Stage-tricks; See the curious regal imitations and adaptations of the Protector during his later years, in matters regarding his own and his family’s titles and state, or the marriage of his daughters.
Mortal failure; See Appendix D.
THE POET’S EUTHANASIA
Cloked in gray threadbare poverty, and blind,
Age-weak, and desolate, and beloved of God;
High-heartedness to long repulse resign’d,
Yet bating not one jot of hope, he trod
The sunless skyless streets he could not see;
By those faint feet made sacrosanct to me.
Yet on that laureate brow the sign he wore
Of Phoebus’ wrath; who,—for his favourite child,
When war and faction raised their rancorous roar,
Leagued with fanatic frenzy, blood-defiled,
To the sweet Muses and himself untrue,—
Around the head he loved thick darkness threw.
—He goes:—But with him glides
the Pleiad throng
Of that imperial line, whom Phoebus owns
His ownest: for, since his, no later song
Has soar’d, as wide-wing’d, to the diadem’d thrones
That, in their inmost heaven, the Muses high
Set for the sons of immortality.
Most loved, most lovely, near him as he went,
Vergil: and He, supremest for all time,
In hoary blindness:—But the sweet lament
Of Lesbian love, the Parian song sublime,
Follow’d:—and that stern Florentine apart
Cowl’d himself dark in thought, within his heart