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Oliver Cromwell
by [?]

Before we proceed further it may be proper to say that the father of our Oliver had a sister who married William Hampden of Bucks, and this woman was the mother of John Hampden, who was deemed worthy of mention in “Gray’s Elegy” and also in several prose works, notably the court records of England. The family of Oliver traced to that of Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex; although such is the contempt for pedigree by men who can themselves do things, that Oliver once disclaimed Thomas, as much as to say. “There has been only one Cromwell, and I am the one.” It was about thus (I do not five the exact words, because I was not present and the Pitt system was not then in use, great men at that time not having stenographers at their elbows): Bishop Goodman, (known as Badman) was reading to the Protector a long, slushy Billwalker-of- Fargo address full of semi-popish jargon, when his Lordship’s relationship to Thomas, the Mauler of Monasteries, was mentioned. Here broke in Oliver with, “Eliminate that–eliminate that–he was no relative of mine–good morning!”

Bishop Badman was a queer old piece of theological confusion, who went over to popery, body, boots and breeches, believing that Oliver was a bounder and was soon to be ditched by destiny. Bishop Badman, having made the prophecy of ill-luck, did all he could to bring it about, when death ditched him; and whether he ever knew the rest about Cromwell, we do not know, even yet, as our knowledge of another world comes to us through persons who can not always be safely trusted to tell the truth about this.

At Cambridge, our Oliver did not learn as much from books as from the boys, eke girls, I am sorry to say–all great universities being co-ed in fact, if not in name. His mother sent him things to eat and things to wear, but among items to wear at that time, stockings were for royalty alone. Queen Elizabeth was the first person of either the male or the female persuasion in England to wear knit stockings, and also to use a table-fork–this being for spearing purposes.

Oliver’s mother sent him a baize or bombazine table-cloth. And this tablecloth did he cut up, prompted by the devil, into stockings, for he was justly proud of his calves, the same having been admired by the co-eds of Cambridge. For all of these things, in after-years, Oliver did pray forgiveness and beseech pardon for such pride of the eye and lust of the flesh, manifest in pedal millinery.

A year at Cambridge proved the uselessness of the place, but it was necessary to go there to find this out. The death of his father brought matters to a climax, and Oliver must prepare for very hard times. Then London and a lawyer’s office welcomed him.

On Thursday, October Twenty-ninth, Sixteen Hundred Eighteen, Cromwell saw a curious sight: it was the fall of the curtain in the fifth act of the life of Sir Walter Raleigh, who introduced tobacco into England, and did several other things, for which the monarchy was, as usual, ungrateful. Raleigh had sought to find an Eldorado for England, and alas! he only found that man must work wherever he is, if he would succeed, and that fields of gold and springs of eternal youth exist only in dreams, where they best belong. It was a cold, gray morning, and Sir Walter was kept standing on the scaffold while the headsman ground his ax, the delay being for the amusement and edification of the Christian friends assembled.

“One thing I will never do,” said Oliver Cromwell, law-clerk, swart and lusty, in green stockings and other sartor-resartus trifles; “one thing I will never do–and that is, take human life!” Oliver was both tender-hearted and grim.

Sir Walter’s frame shook in the cold, dank fog, and the sheriff offered to bring a brazier of coals; but the great man proudly drew around him the cloak, now somewhat threadbare, that he had once spread for good Queen Bess to tread upon, and said, “It is the ague I contracted in America–the crowd will think it fear–I will soon be cured of it,” and he laid his proud head, gray in the service of his country, calmly on the block, as if to say, “There now, take that, it is all I have left to give you!”