For my beloved wife, Elizabeth Cromwell. These:
Edinburgh, 3d May, 1651
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 so very much in my heart. It joys me to hear thy soul prospereth: the Lord increase His favors to thee more and more. The great good thy soul can wish is, that the Lord lift upon thee the light of His countenance, which is better than life. The Lord bless all thy good counsel and example to all those about thee, and hear all thy prayers and accept thee always.
I am glad to hear thy son and daughter are with thee. I hope thou wilt have some opportunity of good advice to them. Present my duty to my mother. My love to all the family. Still pray for Thine,
Oliver Cromwell was a Puritan, which word was first applied in bucolic pleasantry by an unbeliever–may God rest his soul!–and was adopted by this body of people who desired to live lives of purity, reflecting the will of the Lord.
Oliver did in his life so typify all the Puritan qualities of sterling honesty (as well as some simplicities springing out of his faults) that the time spent in considering him shall not be lost. “Our Oliver was the last glimpse of the godlike vanishing from England,” wrote Thomas Carlyle. Obscured in lurid twilight as the shadow of death, hated by somnambulant pedants, doleful dilettanti, phantasmagoric errors, bodeful inconceivabilities, trackless, behind pasteboard griffins, wiverns, chimeras, Carlyle had to search through thirty thousand pamphlets and forty thousand letters for the soul of Cromwell.
Oliver Cromwell was born in Huntingdon, England, April Twenty-fifth, Fifteen Hundred Ninety-nine. His parents belonged to the landed gentry, but who yet were poor enough so they ever felt the necessity of work and economy. The mother of Cromwell was a widow when she wedded Richard, the happy father of Oliver. The widow’s husband had accommodatingly died, and he now has a monument, placed they say by Oliver Cromwell himself, in Ely Cathedral, which records him thus: “Here sleepeth until the last Great Day, when the Trump shall sound, William Lynne, Esq., who had the honor and felicity to be the first husband of Elizabeth, Mother through the Grace of God to Oliver Cromwell.” At the bottom of the inscription a would-be wag wrote, “Had he lived long enough he would have been the stepfather of Oliver.”
Oliver was the fifth child of his parents, who it seems were happily wedded, the gray mare being much the better horse. And this once caused Oliver to say (and which the same is here recorded to disprove the statement that he had no wit), “Men who are born to rule other men are themselves ruled by women.” This may be truth or not–I can not say.
Smelted out of the dross-heap of lying biographers, most of whose stories should be given Christian burial, we get the truth that this boy was brought up by pious, hard-working parents.
The splenetic capacity, the calumnious credulity, the pleasures of prevarication and of rolling falsehoods like a sweet morsel under the tongue, have made those thirty thousand Cromwell pamphlets possible. It is stated by one writer, Heath, now pleasantly known as “Carrion Heath,” that Oliver’s father was a brewer, and the son grew up a tapster, but was compelled to resign his office on account of being his own best customer.
Waiving all these precious libels, created to supply a demand, we find that Oliver grew up, swart and strong, a sturdy country lad, who did the things that all country boys do, both good and ill. He wrestled, fought, swam, worked, studied a little. He was packed off to Cambridge, where he entered Sidney Sussex College, April Twenty- second, Sixteen Hundred Sixteen, which is the day that one William Shakespeare died, but which worthy playwright was never even so much as once mentioned by Cromwell in all of his voluminous writings. If Cromwell ever heard of Shakespeare he carefully concealed the fact.