1930-11-01, English, Article, Journal or magazine article edition: OLIVER CROMWELL (1 November 1930)

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OLIVER CROMWELL (1 November 1930)
 
Bookmark: https://trove.nla.gov.au/version/260252881
Physical Description
  • 2185 words
  • article
  • illustration
  • Journals
  • Magazines
Published
  • xna, National Library of Australia, 1930-11-01
Language
  • English

Edition details

Title
  • OLIVER CROMWELL (1 November 1930)
Appears In
  • The Record., v.2, no.11, 1930-11-01 (ISSN: 2207-1148)
Other Contributors
  • By Florence Gay, FLORENCE GAY
Published
  • xna, National Library of Australia, 1930-11-01
Physical Description
  • 2185 words
  • article
  • illustration
  • Journals
  • Magazines
Part Of
  • The Record.
  • Vol. 2 No. 11 (1 November 1930)
Subjects
Summary
  • OLIVER CROMWELL By Florence Gay THE END. Cromwell died when fifty-nine. He might have lived to a, great age, as he possessed a vigorous constitution and nerves of iron, but his health broke down utterly under sleepless nights and the abiding fear of assassination. It has been said that the tyrant spent enormous ous sums of money in payment to his soldiers and in the maintenance of State. There was a twofold reason for the state with which he .surrounded himself; it satisfied his ambition and safeguarded his person. The lackeys and soldiers, with which he appeared in public, constituted a bodyguard. For sometime before fore his death he had the invariable habit of driving 1 at a tremendously rapid pace and of .appearing in unexpected thoroughfares. This was all done to escape the assassin’s bullet. In the same way he changed his bedroom constantly. stantly. It was not known in the palace in Which chamber the usurper would pass the night. He kept his doors locked and barred, much to the inconvenience of messengers, who were delayed in consequence. He provided vided himself with secret means of escape from the palace. Armour was worn under his clothes and pistols carried in his pocket. In consequence of this abiding fear he passed disturbed and feverish nights. It was this condition of things which broke down his health and spirits. And he was seized by a low fever while watching by the death-bed of his favourite daughter, Elizabeth beth Claypole. It was after his interviews with her that his depression of spirits sank into a settled melancholy. She spoke her mind to him on her death-bed, told him his career had been all wrong, and implored him to restore the sovereign authority to its rightful ful owner; and, in her wanderings of mind, alarmed Cromwell by cries of “blood” and “vengeance.” Two others of his daughters Cromwell had given in marriage to noblemen, men, and offended his sectaries by having the marriage rite performed by an Anglican minister, ister, Hewitt. When this minister, Hewitt, was convicted of conspiracy against the tyrant, rant, his daughters interceded with Cromwell on the man’s behalf; but in vain, Cromwell persisted on having his blood. There was no sense of security anywhere for the unhappy usurper, disaffection having set in even in his family circle. His son, Richard, had always cherished Royalist leanings. Then, there was always a huge debt to be faced. When Cromwell died, his finances were so heavily involved that Richard Cromwell, unable to procure money in England, had to undergo the humiliation of asking for a loan from Cardinal Mazirin. The tyrant was in close consultation with his confederates as to the best means of extorting more money from the cavalier families when he was struck down on his death-bed. If his dying daughter’s supplications wrought any change iq Cromwell, it was not lasting, for we hear nothing concerning repentance pentance from his death-bed. He had the ultra-Protestant doctrine which lulls the conscience. science. Once only was there a sign of misgiving. giving. He asked one of his sectaries, “Is it possible to fall from grace?” The sectary answered, “No, it is not possible.” Cromwell answered, “Then I am safe, for I know I was once in grace.” When the tyrant was dead this same sectary tary said to Cromwell’s weeping family, “Cease to weep. He was your protector on earth; he will now be a more powerful protector tector now that he is with Christ on the right hand of God the Father.” This was the customary blasphemy of the Cromwellians, and the news was sent to Ireland in these words, “He has gone to heaven, embalmed with the tears of his people and on the wings of the prayers of his saints.” As to tears shed for him, they existed only in this precious ous document. We are told that no one cried at the funeral except the dogs and they howled ! The people took a savage revenge two years later on the mouldering remains of the tyrant, when they tore his carcase from its gawdy tomb in Westminster Abbey, hung it up by the shroud, and fixing the head on a pole, stuck it on the spot where the regicide cide had condemned his King. It was a savage and foul action, indicative of the loathing the man inspired. Foremost among the panegyrics sung by his admirers are the qualities of Cromwell as a statesman, and they say with great pride that he upheld the honor of England. Yet he behaved towards Spain as a common trickster. Writing to the Spanish King that no harm was intended, he sent out what was, in point of fact, no( more than a filibustering expedition. By these means he obtained a fine haul of Spanish silver, of which he was in great need, being always short of money and generally in arrears in the payment of his soldiers. Not only was his behaviour to Spain dishonourable, but it was disastrous to English commerce; and, in the end, cost far more than what had been gained in plunder —for it plunged the two countries in war, and England lost the Spanish trade in wine, oil, sugar, fruit, cochineal and silver, which had been of incalculable benefit to her. Does such conduct as this show Cromwell as a wise or honourable man? Then we are informed of his successful policy in dealing with European nations, but we aro left in ignorance that this was owing not to his own, but to Cardinal Mazarin’s diplomacy. And now, with regard to his whitewashes’ claim that he was a creative statesman, we find that for five years he floundered helplessly in his attempts to discover cover a working basis for his tyranny. In those five years he went through six stages, and in the end was obliged to revert to the original form. As John Morley says, “In the face of such a spectacle and such results, it is hardly possible to claim for the triumphant soldier a high place in the history of original and creative statesmanship.’’ The death of Cromwell meant also death and ruin to his fellow-regicides and sectaries. They gave their deceased chief a gorgeous state-funeral, over which he presided in effigy. No King of England had been buried with so much magnificence. The great pageant continued tinued for days, as though the tyrant’s minions ions were trying to stave off the evil day which they knew must come upon them. Again we hear of no tears and no laments. How differently did these same people accept some years later, the news of the death of Queen Henrietta—of their own accord they went in mourning for her. Whilst Cromwell well had lived in greater state than any monarch arch in Europe, Henrietta’s poverty was so great that she could not afford a fire by which to warm herself or her child even when it was ill. Tears flowed both in France and England at her sad fate. And to those High Church Anglicans who regard Charles as their Church’s martyr, it must be a satisfaction that on the tomb of Henrietta the words were inscribed, “Widow of Charles the Martyr.’’ The whole of Henrietta’s great fortune had been spent in helping Charles. In many ingenious genious ways she raised money for him. For instance, the thriving tin trade which, by her own business capacity she established between France and the loyal west of England—the tin being derived from her dower-lands in Cornwall. To this day, beautiful little badges ges may be seen both in Royalist and Cromwellian wellian families —many fell into the enemy’s hands in battle Queen’s Pledges they are called, exquisite little gold medallions, which she bestowed on those who rendered her servic. vic. It has already been said that Cromwell retained money which should have been hers, saying she was not the lawful Queen of England. land. He heaped every indignity upon her saying her children were not legitimate, and he intended to apprentice her youngest son the Duke of Gloucester, to a shoe-maker, but fearing lest the people would make the boy King, banishea him. The French people, out of love to Henrietta, and because her poverty grieved them, collected a handsome income, half of which she gave away in charity. Bossuet, suet, in his famous funeral oration at her burial, declared that the example she set in England had beeh the cause of many conversions. sions. To those who loved her in England it must have been a bitter grief to know that Cromwell had divided her dower-lands among his fellow-regicides. And at the time of the so-called trial of the King, when she wrote imploring to be by her husband’s side, her letter was scornfully cast away, unanswered. It is impossible to study English history of this period without giving some consideration to the High Church attitude—self-styled, in these days, “Anglo-Catholic.’’ Henrietta tried in vain to persuade Charles from thrusting this illogical point of view upon the Scotch people. She perceived—what Newman and thousands of other converts have since dis- covered—that there is no “via media” between Catholicism and Protestantism—people must belong to one or the other. And now, to go back to the contrast made in an early article of this series between Cromwell and Queen Henrietta—let us see, in conclusion, what these two individuals stand for in the great issues of European history. The Queen, by virtue of her religion, repre- sents the old Catholic sovereignty of England, under which the nations’ spiritual and material well-being were nourished, chivalry establish- ed, and her natural beauty enhanced, not only by the noblest architecture in the world, but by smiling villages grouped round hallowed fanes, the soil tilled and the poor tended by industrious and kindly monks. As the de- scendant of St. Louis Henrietta was doubly fitted to be representative of a Royal line, to which Edward the Confessor belonged and whose feast the Holy Church celebrates on October 13. Oliver Cromwell was by his own choice the champion of Protestantism, that Protestantism which not only swept away the Church’s guardians of the poor but laid the founda- tions of the present struggles between capi- tal and labour and the evils of State tyranny. He swept away the beauty and nobility of old English life and started the welter and drudgery of modern industrial England. His work was to stir up strife. Agitators, who are the curse of the working-man to-day, owe their existence to the craft of Cromwell; he conceived the idea, and put it into practice, of employing bands of agitators to do his dirty work. His own self-appointed task was the crea- tion of a Protestant league in Europe, and he performed his task well. Banishment and death were meted out to Catholics, Mahomme- dans, he declared, he put before Catholics. I have classed him with Nero as tyrant, buf- foon and megalomaniac, and he must take his place in the awful list of persecutors of the Faith, beside Nero, beside Diocletian, beside Henry VIII and the Bolsheviks of to-day. It ,is an awful indictment, but when all the facts are marshalled against him, can it be denied? He laid the foundation of the secularism which in our own day is such a reproach to England. land. Even his admirers admit that irreligion ligion and scepticism sprang into being under der the rule of the Protector. How could it be otherwise? At birth and at death, under Cromwell’s sway, secularism struck a savage blow at the human spirit; no child was allowed ed to be signed with a cross in baptism, nor were prayers or any form of religious service permitted at burial. A fact not generally recognised is that many of the profligates and depraved writers, who disgraced the court of Charles 11, were of Puritan parentage. Of the hundreds of priests butchered during the Commonwealth, only recently the body of blessed John Southworth was discovered at Douai. This martyr was hanged, drawn and quartered under Cromwell, whose behaviour on this occasion was strangely characteristic; tic; allowing some hope of a reprieve to the martyr’s friends and then implying that he was over-ruled by others and thus obliged to carry out the execution. It has been said of Cromwell that he had a cool, passionless faculty of seeing things as they were actually about him. This accounts for the spirit of despair which seemed to have possessed him at the last. Now this usurping ing tyrant was, after all, in some respects, a genius. One wonders had his mind the prospective qualities that so often belong to genius? Was he in some measure a seer? In the dark, brooding melancholy which settied tied upon him, were there lurid glimmerings of the red peril of the future ? Could he trace his ultra-protestantism developing by easy stages into rationalism, atheism, cornmunism, munism, Bolshevism? FLORENCE GAY Old Lady: "But, why don’t you work, my good man? Tramp: “Well, I would work, mum, if I could find any pleasure in it.’-
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