American history cannot be understood without an understanding of British history. And one of the most maligned of British characters has been Oliver Cromwell. His descendant, Oliver Cromwell, Esq., has this to say:
It has been the singular ill fortune of Oliver Cromwell, and of his family, that his character hath been left exclusively in the hands of his enemies. The short interval between his death and the Restoration, and the unsettled state of the nation in the intermediate time, left no opportunity for a faithful and impartial history of that extraordinary man. From that time to the present, his memory hath been abused and vilified without any allowance for the peculiar circumstances in which he was placed : his name alone is to this day deemed by many a sufficient description of every thing that is ambitious, hypocritical, and tyrannical. He has been held forth as a composition of every bad quality, without one virtue to counterbalance them.
“The particular views of all those who took a part in the troubles of the times in which he acted, were frustrated by his ascendancy, and however differing in other respects, they have united in blackening his memory. Every trifling or ridiculous
story of the supposed irregularities of his youth, and of the imagined tricks and childish follies even of his very infancy, have been eagerly sought for, and, without examination, credited against him. An opinion that his character hath not met with fair treatment, and a hope to place it in the light in which it is conceived it is justly entitled to stand, have given rise to this work ; not begun with any view to its publication, but as the amusement of the Writer’s leisure hours. ”
And so we present letter number one of Oliver Cromwell, The Protector . . .
LETTER 1, ST. IVES
To my very loving Friend Mr. Storie, at the Sign of the Dog in the
Royal Exchange, London: Deliver these.
St. Ives, nth January 1635.
Among the catalogue of those good works which your fellow-citizens and our countrymen have done, this will not be reckoned for the least, that they have provided for the feeding of souls. Building of hospitals provides for men’s bodies; to build material temples is judged a work of piety; but they that procure spiritual food, they that build up spiritual temples, they are the men truly charitable, truly pious. Such a work as this was your erecting the lecture in our country; in the which you placed Dr. Welles, a man for goodness and industry, and ability to do good every way, not short of any I know in England : and I am persuaded that, sithence his coming, the Lord hath by him wrought much good amongst us.
It only remains now that He who first moved you to this, put you forward to the continuance thereof: it was the Lord; and therefore to Him lift we up our hearts that He would perfect it. And surely, Mr. Storie, it were a piteous thing- to see a lecture fall, in the hands of so many able and godly men as I am persuaded the founders of this are; in these times, wherein we see they are suppressed, with too much haste and violence, by the enemies of God his truth. Far be it that so much guilt should stick to your hands, who live in a city so renowned for the clear shining light of the gospel. You know, Mr. Storie, to withdraw the pay is to let fall the lecture: for who goeth to warfare at his own cost? I beseech you therefore in the bowels of Christ Jesus put it forward, and let the good man have his pay. The souls of God his children wiU bless you for it: and so shall I; and ever rest,-
Your loving Friend in the Lord,
[Retturn to the Christian History Society by clicking HERE]