History's HEROES? 1599 - 1658

Oliver Cromwell

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Mr Lely, I desire you would use all your skill to paint your picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughness, pimples, warts, and everything as you see me; otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it.
Cromwell - on having his portrait painted, in Horace Walpole, anecdotes of painting. Unknown

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I desire not to keep my place in this government an hour longer than I may preserve England in its just rights, and may protect the people of God in such a just liberty of their consciences...
Cromwell to the first Protectorate Parliament, 22 January, 1655

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No one rises so high as he who knows not whither he is going.
Cromwell - in philosophical mood. Unknown

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I was by birth a gentleman, living neither in any considerable height, nor yet in obscurity. I have been called to several employments in the nation-to serve in parliaments,-and (because I would not be over tedious) I did endeavour to discharge the duty of an honest man in those services, to God, and his people’s interest, and of the commonwealth; having, when time was, a competent acceptation in the hearts of men, and some evidence thereof.
Speech to the first parliament of the Protectorate, September, 1654
The English monster, the center of mischief, a shame to the British Chronicle, a pattern for tyranny, murder and hypocrisie, whose bloody Caligula, Domitian, having at last attained the height of his ambition, for five years space, he wallowed in the blood of many gallant and heroick persons.
Gerard Winstanley, Loyal Mytyrology. The Dictionary of Biographical Quotations.
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.

...it was the joyfullest funeral that I ever saw, for there were none that cried, but dogs, which the soldiers hooted away with a barbarous noise; drinking and taking tobacco in the streets as they went.
John Evelyn - On the death of Cromwell, Diary entry 22 November, 1658
...but generally he respected, or at least pretended a love to, all ingenious persons in any arts, whom he arranged to be sent or brought to him. But the niggardliness and incompetence of his reward shewed that this man was a personated act of greatness, and that private Cromwell yet governed Prince Oliver.
James Heath on Oliver Cromwell
Truly my lif is but half a lif in your abseinse, deid not the Lord make it up in heimself, which I must ackoleg to the prase of heis grace.
Elizabeth Cromwell, to her husband, December 1650
Maligned on every side, execrated, shunned and abhorred - his virtues denounced as vices - his services forgotten - his character blackened, he preserved the poise and balance of his soul.
Robert G. Ingersoll

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The people would be just as noisy if they were going to see me hanged.
Cromwell - On seeing a cheering crowd 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
...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
His character does not appear more extraordinary and unusual by the mixture of so much absurdity with so much penetration, than by his tempering such violent ambition, and such enraged fanaticism with so much regard to justice and humanity.
David Hune in 'History of England'
My Dearest, I could not satisfy myself to omit this post, although I have not much to write; yet indeed I love to write to my dear, who is very much in my heart. It joys me to hear thy soul prospereth; the Lord increase His favours to thee more and more...The Lord bless all thy good counsel and example to all those about thee, and hear all thy prayers, and accept thee always.
Cromwell, in a letter to his wife, around 1650

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You drew me here to accept the place I now stand in. There is ne’er a man within these walls that can say, sir, you sought it, nay, not a man nor woman treading upon English ground.
Cromwell’s speech to parliament, 4 February, 1658

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That parliaments should not make themselves perpetual is a fundamental.
Cromwell - in a speech to the first Protectorate Parliament, 12 September, 1654

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Truly England and the Church of God hath had a great favour from the lord, in this great victory given us.
Cromwell on the battle of Marston Moor, 1644

To give the devil (Cromwell) his due, he restored justice, as well distributive as commutative, 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.
Physician to the Cromwellian Court, George Bate. Post-Restoration indictment of his master Oliver Cromwell. Unknown

Whilst he 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, The Dictionary of Biographical Quotations.

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

He wore... a plain cloth-suit, which seemed to have been made by a poor tailor; his shirt was plain, and not very clean ... his face was swollen and red, his voice sharp and untunable, and his speech full of passion.
Sir Philip Warwick, a Royalist, 1640
Look on the people you represent, and break not your trust, and expose not the honest party of your kingdom, who have bled for you, and suffer not misery to fall upon them for want of courage and resolution in you, else the honest people may take such courses as nature dictates to them.
Cromwell's speech in the Commons during the debate which preceded the "vote of no addresses", recorded in the diary of John Boys, MP for Kent
If nothing were done but is according to law the throat of this nation might be cut while we send for some to make a law
Cromwell to parliament, 1656

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My design is to make what haste I can to be gone.
Cromwell’s last words; in Cromwell, by John Morely.

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I profess I could never satisfy myself on the justness of this war, but from the authority of the parliament to maintain itself in its rights; and in this cause I hope to prove myself an honest man and single-hearted.
Cromwell to Colonel Valentine Walton. 5 or 6 September, 1644

He lived a hypocrite and died a traitor.
John Foster. In Poisonous Quotations.
Many people in our times... have a great respect for the memory of Oliver Cromwell, as being a man of devout religion and a great champion for the liberties of the nation.
Nathaniel Crouch, A History of Oliver Cromwell. 1692
I tell you we will cut off his head with the crown upon it.
Cromwell to one of the judges at the trial of King Charles I, 1648
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