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Heroes and Hero Worship by Thomas Carlyle

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And yet, alas, as I have observed elsewhere, these Lion-hunters were the
ruin and death of Burns. It was they that rendered it impossible for him
to live! They gathered round him in his Farm; hindered his industry; no
place was remote enough from them. He could not get his Lionism forgotten,
honestly as he was disposed to do so. He falls into discontents, into
miseries, faults; the world getting ever more desolate for him; health,
character, peace of mind, all gone;--solitary enough now. It is tragical
to think of! These men came but to _see_ him; it was out of no sympathy
with him, nor no hatred to him. They came to get a little amusement; they
got their amusement;--and the Hero's life went for it!

Richter says, in the Island of Sumatra there is a kind of "Light-chafers,"
large Fire-flies, which people stick upon spits, and illuminate the ways
with at night. Persons of condition can thus travel with a pleasant
radiance, which they much admire. Great honor to the Fire-flies! But--!

[May 22, 1840.]

We come now to the last form of Heroism; that which we call Kingship. The
Commander over Men; he to whose will our wills are to be subordinated, and
loyally surrender themselves, and find their welfare in doing so, may be
reckoned the most important of Great Men. He is practically the summary
for us of _all_ the various figures of Heroism; Priest, Teacher, whatsoever
of earthly or of spiritual dignity we can fancy to reside in a man,
embodies itself here, to _command_ over us, to furnish us with constant
practical teaching, to tell us for the day and hour what we are to _do_.
He is called _Rex_, Regulator, _Roi_: our own name is still better; King,
_Konning_, which means _Can_-ning, Able-man.

Numerous considerations, pointing towards deep, questionable, and indeed
unfathomable regions, present themselves here: on the most of which we
must resolutely for the present forbear to speak at all. As Burke said
that perhaps fair _Trial by Jury_ was the soul of Government, and that all
legislation, administration, parliamentary debating, and the rest of it,
went on, in "order to bring twelve impartial men into a jury-box;"--so, by
much stronger reason, may I say here, that the finding of your _Ableman_
and getting him invested with the _symbols of ability_, with dignity,
worship (_worth_-ship), royalty, kinghood, or whatever we call it, so that
_he_ may actually have room to guide according to his faculty of doing
it,--is the business, well or ill accomplished, of all social procedure
whatsoever in this world! Hustings-speeches, Parliamentary motions, Reform
Bills, French Revolutions, all mean at heart this; or else nothing. Find
in any country the Ablest Man that exists there; raise _him_ to the supreme
place, and loyally reverence him: you have a perfect government for that
country; no ballot-box, parliamentary eloquence, voting,
constitution-building, or other machinery whatsoever can improve it a whit.
It is in the perfect state; an ideal country. The Ablest Man; he means
also the truest-hearted, justest, the Noblest Man: what he _tells us to
do_ must be precisely the wisest, fittest, that we could anywhere or anyhow
learn;--the thing which it will in all ways behoove US, with right loyal
thankfulness and nothing doubting, to do! Our _doing_ and life were then,
so far as government could regulate it, well regulated; that were the ideal
of constitutions.

Alas, we know very well that Ideals can never be completely embodied in
practice. Ideals must ever lie a very great way off; and we will right
thankfully content ourselves with any not intolerable approximation
thereto! Let no man, as Schiller says, too querulously "measure by a scale
of perfection the meagre product of reality" in this poor world of ours.
We will esteem him no wise man; we will esteem him a sickly, discontented,
foolish man. And yet, on the other hand, it is never to be forgotten that
Ideals do exist; that if they be not approximated to at all, the whole
matter goes to wreck! Infallibly. No bricklayer builds a wall _perfectly_
perpendicular, mathematically this is not possible; a certain degree of
perpendicularity suffices him; and he, like a good bricklayer, who must
have done with his job, leaves it so. And yet if he sway _too much_ from
the perpendicular; above all, if he throw plummet and level quite away from
him, and pile brick on brick heedless, just as it comes to hand--! Such
bricklayer, I think, is in a bad way. He has forgotten himself: but the
Law of Gravitation does not forget to act on him; he and his wall rush down
into confused welter of ruin!--

This is the history of all rebellions, French Revolutions, social
explosions in ancient or modern times. You have put the too _Un_able Man
at the head of affairs! The too ignoble, unvaliant, fatuous man. You have
forgotten that there is any rule, or natural necessity whatever, of putting
the Able Man there. Brick must lie on brick as it may and can. Unable
Simulacrum of Ability, _quack_, in a word, must adjust himself with quack,
in all manner of administration of human things;--which accordingly lie
unadministered, fermenting into unmeasured masses of failure, of indigent
misery: in the outward, and in the inward or spiritual, miserable millions
stretch out the hand for their due supply, and it is not there. The "law
of gravitation" acts; Nature's laws do none of them forget to act. The
miserable millions burst forth into Sansculottism, or some other sort of
madness: bricks and bricklayer lie as a fatal chaos!--

Much sorry stuff, written some hundred years ago or more, about the "Divine
right of Kings," moulders unread now in the Public Libraries of this
country. Far be it from us to disturb the calm process by which it is
disappearing harmlessly from the earth, in those repositories! At the same
time, not to let the immense rubbish go without leaving us, as it ought,
some soul of it behind--I will say that it did mean something; something
true, which it is important for us and all men to keep in mind. To assert
that in whatever man you chose to lay hold of (by this or the other plan of
clutching at him); and claps a round piece of metal on the head of, and
called King,--there straightway came to reside a divine virtue, so that
_he_ became a kind of god, and a Divinity inspired him with faculty and
right to rule over you to all lengths: this,--what can we do with this but
leave it to rot silently in the Public Libraries? But I will say withal,
and that is what these Divine-right men meant, That in Kings, and in all
human Authorities, and relations that men god-created can form among each
other, there is verily either a Divine Right or else a Diabolic Wrong; one
or the other of these two! For it is false altogether, what the last
Sceptical Century taught us, that this world is a steam-engine. There is a
God in this world; and a God's-sanction, or else the violation of such,
does look out from all ruling and obedience, from all moral acts of men.
There is no act more moral between men than that of rule and obedience.
Woe to him that claims obedience when it is not due; woe to him that
refuses it when it is! God's law is in that, I say, however the
Parchment-laws may run: there is a Divine Right or else a Diabolic Wrong
at the heart of every claim that one man makes upon another.

It can do none of us harm to reflect on this: in all the relations of life
it will concern us; in Loyalty and Royalty, the highest of these. I esteem
the modern error, That all goes by self-interest and the checking and
balancing of greedy knaveries, and that in short, there is nothing divine
whatever in the association of men, a still more despicable error, natural
as it is to an unbelieving century, than that of a "divine right" in people
_called_ Kings. I say, Find me the true _Konning_, King, or Able-man, and
he _has_ a divine right over me. That we knew in some tolerable measure
how to find him, and that all men were ready to acknowledge his divine
right when found: this is precisely the healing which a sick world is
everywhere, in these ages, seeking after! The true King, as guide of the
practical, has ever something of the Pontiff in him,--guide of the
spiritual, from which all practice has its rise. This too is a true
saying, That the _King_ is head of the _Church_.--But we will leave the
Polemic stuff of a dead century to lie quiet on its bookshelves.

Certainly it is a fearful business, that of having your Ableman to _seek_,
and not knowing in what manner to proceed about it! That is the world's
sad predicament in these times of ours. They are times of revolution, and
have long been. The bricklayer with his bricks, no longer heedful of
plummet or the law of gravitation, have toppled, tumbled, and it all
welters as we see! But the beginning of it was not the French Revolution;
that is rather the _end_, we can hope. It were truer to say, the
_beginning_ was three centuries farther back: in the Reformation of
Luther. That the thing which still called itself Christian Church had
become a Falsehood, and brazenly went about pretending to pardon men's sins
for metallic coined money, and to do much else which in the everlasting
truth of Nature it did _not_ now do: here lay the vital malady. The
inward being wrong, all outward went ever more and more wrong. Belief died
away; all was Doubt, Disbelief. The builder cast _away_ his plummet; said
to himself, "What is gravitation? Brick lies on brick there!" Alas, does
it not still sound strange to many of us, the assertion that there _is_ a
God's-truth in the business of god-created men; that all is not a kind of
grimace, an "expediency," diplomacy, one knows not what!--

From that first necessary assertion of Luther's, "You, self-styled _Papa_,
you are no Father in God at all; you are--a Chimera, whom I know not how to
name in polite language!"--from that onwards to the shout which rose round
Camille Desmoulins in the Palais-Royal, "_Aux armes_!" when the people had
burst up against _all_ manner of Chimeras,--I find a natural historical
sequence. That shout too, so frightful, half-infernal, was a great matter.
Once more the voice of awakened nations;--starting confusedly, as out of
nightmare, as out of death-sleep, into some dim feeling that Life was real;
that God's-world was not an expediency and diplomacy! Infernal;--yes,
since they would not have it otherwise. Infernal, since not celestial or
terrestrial! Hollowness, insincerity _has_ to cease; sincerity of some
sort has to begin. Cost what it may, reigns of terror, horrors of French
Revolution or what else, we have to return to truth. Here is a Truth, as I
said: a Truth clad in hell-fire, since they would not but have it so!--

A common theory among considerable parties of men in England and elsewhere
used to be, that the French Nation had, in those days, as it were gone
_mad_; that the French Revolution was a general act of insanity, a
temporary conversion of France and large sections of the world into a kind
of Bedlam. The Event had risen and raged; but was a madness and
nonentity,--gone now happily into the region of Dreams and the
Picturesque!--To such comfortable philosophers, the Three Days of July,
183O, must have been a surprising phenomenon. Here is the French Nation
risen again, in musketry and death-struggle, out shooting and being shot,
to make that same mad French Revolution good! The sons and grandsons of
those men, it would seem, persist in the enterprise: they do not disown
it; they will have it made good; will have themselves shot, if it be not
made good. To philosophers who had made up their life-system, on that
"madness" quietus, no phenomenon could be more alarming. Poor Niebuhr,
they say, the Prussian Professor and Historian, fell broken-hearted in
consequence; sickened, if we can believe it, and died of the Three Days!
It was surely not a very heroic death;--little better than Racine's, dying
because Louis Fourteenth looked sternly on him once. The world had stood
some considerable shocks, in its time; might have been expected to survive
the Three Days too, and be found turning on its axis after even them! The
Three Days told all mortals that the old French Revolution, mad as it might
look, was not a transitory ebullition of Bedlam, but a genuine product of
this Earth where we all live; that it was verily a Fact, and that the world
in general would do well everywhere to regard it as such.

Truly, without the French Revolution, one would not know what to make of an
age like this at all. We will hail the French Revolution, as shipwrecked
mariners might the sternest rock, in a world otherwise all of baseless sea
and waves. A true Apocalypse, though a terrible one, to this false
withered artificial time; testifying once more that Nature is
_preter_natural; if not divine, then diabolic; that Semblance is not
Reality; that it has to become Reality, or the world will take fire under
it,--burn _it_ into what it is, namely Nothing! Plausibility has ended;
empty Routine has ended; much has ended. This, as with a Trump of Doom,
has been proclaimed to all men. They are the wisest who will learn it
soonest. Long confused generations before it be learned; peace impossible
till it be! The earnest man, surrounded, as ever, with a world of
inconsistencies, can await patiently, patiently strive to do _his_ work, in
the midst of that. Sentence of Death is written down in Heaven against all
that; sentence of Death is now proclaimed on the Earth against it: this he
with his eyes may see. And surely, I should say, considering the other
side of the matter, what enormous difficulties lie there, and how fast,
fearfully fast, in all countries, the inexorable demand for solution of
them is pressing on,--he may easily find other work to do than laboring in
the Sansculottic province at this time of day!

To me, in these circumstances, that of "Hero-worship" becomes a fact
inexpressibly precious; the most solacing fact one sees in the world at
present. There is an everlasting hope in it for the management of the
world. Had all traditions, arrangements, creeds, societies that men ever
instituted, sunk away, this would remain. The certainty of Heroes being
sent us; our faculty, our necessity, to reverence Heroes when sent: it
shines like a polestar through smoke-clouds, dust-clouds, and all manner of
down-rushing and conflagration.

Hero-worship would have sounded very strange to those workers and fighters
in the French Revolution. Not reverence for Great Men; not any hope or
belief, or even wish, that Great Men could again appear in the world!
Nature, turned into a "Machine," was as if effete now; could not any longer
produce Great Men:--I can tell her, she may give up the trade altogether,
then; we cannot do without Great Men!--But neither have I any quarrel with
that of "Liberty and Equality;" with the faith that, wise great men being
impossible, a level immensity of foolish small men would suffice. It was a
natural faith then and there. "Liberty and Equality; no Authority needed
any longer. Hero-worship, reverence for _such_ Authorities, has proved
false, is itself a falsehood; no more of it! We have had such _forgeries_,
we will now trust nothing. So many base plated coins passing in the
market, the belief has now become common that no gold any longer
exists,--and even that we can do very well without gold!" I find this,
among other things, in that universal cry of Liberty and Equality; and find
it very natural, as matters then stood.

And yet surely it is but the _transition_ from false to true. Considered
as the whole truth, it is false altogether;--the product of entire
sceptical blindness, as yet only _struggling_ to see. Hero-worship exists
forever, and everywhere: not Loyalty alone; it extends from divine
adoration down to the lowest practical regions of life. "Bending before
men," if it is not to be a mere empty grimace, better dispensed with than
practiced, is Hero-worship,--a recognition that there does dwell in that
presence of our brother something divine; that every created man, as
Novalis said, is a "revelation in the Flesh." They were Poets too, that
devised all those graceful courtesies which make life noble! Courtesy is
not a falsehood or grimace; it need not be such. And Loyalty, religious
Worship itself, are still possible; nay still inevitable.

May we not say, moreover, while so many of our late Heroes have worked
rather as revolutionary men, that nevertheless every Great Man, every
genuine man, is by the nature of him a son of Order, not of Disorder? It
is a tragical position for a true man to work in revolutions. He seems an
anarchist; and indeed a painful element of anarchy does encumber him at
every step,--him to whose whole soul anarchy is hostile, hateful. His
mission is Order; every man's is. He is here to make what was disorderly,
chaotic, into a thing ruled, regular. He is the missionary of Order. Is
not all work of man in this world a _making of Order_? The carpenter finds
rough trees; shapes them, constrains them into square fitness, into purpose
and use. We are all born enemies of Disorder: it is tragical for us all
to be concerned in image-breaking and down-pulling; for the Great Man,
_more_ a man than we, it is doubly tragical.

Thus too all human things, maddest French Sansculottisms, do and must work
towards Order. I say, there is not a _man_ in them, raging in the thickest
of the madness, but is impelled withal, at all moments, towards Order. His
very life means that; Disorder is dissolution, death. No chaos but it
seeks a _centre_ to revolve round. While man is man, some Cromwell or
Napoleon is the necessary finish of a Sansculottism.--Curious: in those
days when Hero-worship was the most incredible thing to every one, how it
does come out nevertheless, and assert itself practically, in a way which
all have to credit. Divine _right_, take it on the great scale, is found
to mean divine _might_ withal! While old false Formulas are getting
trampled everywhere into destruction, new genuine Substances unexpectedly
unfold themselves indestructible. In rebellious ages, when Kingship itself
seems dead and abolished, Cromwell, Napoleon step forth again as Kings.
The history of these men is what we have now to look at, as our last phasis
of Heroism. The old ages are brought back to us; the manner in which Kings
were made, and Kingship itself first took rise, is again exhibited in the
history of these Two.

We have had many civil wars in England; wars of Red and White Roses, wars
of Simon de Montfort; wars enough, which are not very memorable. But that
war of the Puritans has a significance which belongs to no one of the
others. Trusting to your candor, which will suggest on the other side what
I have not room to say, I will call it a section once more of that great
universal war which alone makes up the true History of the World,--the war
of Belief against Unbelief! The struggle of men intent on the real essence
of things, against men intent on the semblances and forms of things. The
Puritans, to many, seem mere savage Iconoclasts, fierce destroyers of
Forms; but it were more just to call them haters of _untrue_ Forms. I hope
we know how to respect Laud and his King as well as them. Poor Laud seems
to me to have been weak and ill-starred, not dishonest an unfortunate
Pedant rather than anything worse. His "Dreams" and superstitions, at
which they laugh so, have an affectionate, lovable kind of character. He
is like a College-Tutor, whose whole world is forms, College-rules; whose
notion is that these are the life and safety of the world. He is placed
suddenly, with that unalterable luckless notion of his, at the head not of
a College but of a Nation, to regulate the most complex deep-reaching
interests of men. He thinks they ought to go by the old decent
regulations; nay that their salvation will lie in extending and improving
these. Like a weak man, he drives with spasmodic vehemence towards his
purpose; cramps himself to it, heeding no voice of prudence, no cry of
pity: He will have his College-rules obeyed by his Collegians; that first;
and till that, nothing. He is an ill-starred Pedant, as I said. He would
have it the world was a College of that kind, and the world was _not_ that.
Alas, was not his doom stern enough? Whatever wrongs he did, were they not
all frightfully avenged on him?

It is meritorious to insist on forms; Religion and all else naturally
clothes itself in forms. Everywhere the _formed_ world is the only
habitable one. The naked formlessness of Puritanism is not the thing I
praise in the Puritans; it is the thing I pity,--praising only the spirit
which had rendered that inevitable! All substances clothe themselves in
forms: but there are suitable true forms, and then there are untrue
unsuitable. As the briefest definition, one might say, Forms which _grow_
round a substance, if we rightly understand that, will correspond to the
real nature and purport of it, will be true, good; forms which are
consciously _put_ round a substance, bad. I invite you to reflect on this.
It distinguishes true from false in Ceremonial Form, earnest solemnity from
empty pageant, in all human things.

There must be a veracity, a natural spontaneity in forms. In the commonest
meeting of men, a person making, what we call, "set speeches," is not he an
offence? In the mere drawing-room, whatsoever courtesies you see to be
grimaces, prompted by no spontaneous reality within, are a thing you wish
to get away from. But suppose now it were some matter of vital
concernment, some transcendent matter (as Divine Worship is), about which
your whole soul, struck dumb with its excess of feeling, knew not how to
_form_ itself into utterance at all, and preferred formless silence to any
utterance there possible,--what should we say of a man coming forward to
represent or utter it for you in the way of upholsterer-mummery? Such a
man,--let him depart swiftly, if he love himself! You have lost your only
son; are mute, struck down, without even tears: an importunate man
importunately offers to celebrate Funeral Games for him in the manner of
the Greeks! Such mummery is not only not to be accepted,--it is hateful,
unendurable. It is what the old Prophets called "Idolatry," worshipping of
hollow _shows_; what all earnest men do and will reject. We can partly
understand what those poor Puritans meant. Laud dedicating that St.
Catherine Creed's Church, in the manner we have it described; with his
multiplied ceremonial bowings, gesticulations, exclamations: surely it is
rather the rigorous formal Pedant, intent on his "College-rules," than the
earnest Prophet intent on the essence of the matter!

Puritanism found _such_ forms insupportable; trampled on such forms;--we
have to excuse it for saying, No form at all rather than such! It stood
preaching in its bare pulpit, with nothing but the Bible in its hand. Nay,
a man preaching from his earnest _soul_ into the earnest _souls_ of men:
is not this virtually the essence of all Churches whatsoever? The
nakedest, savagest reality, I say, is preferable to any semblance, however
dignified. Besides, it will clothe itself with _due_ semblance by and by,
if it be real. No fear of that; actually no fear at all. Given the living
_man_, there will be found _clothes_ for him; he will find himself clothes.
But the suit-of-clothes pretending that _it_ is both clothes and man--! We
cannot "fight the French" by three hundred thousand red uniforms; there
must be _men_ in the inside of them! Semblance, I assert, must actually
_not_ divorce itself from Reality. If Semblance do,--why then there must
be men found to rebel against Semblance, for it has become a lie! These
two Antagonisms at war here, in the case of Laud and the Puritans, are as
old nearly as the world. They went to fierce battle over England in that
age; and fought out their confused controversy to a certain length, with
many results for all of us.

In the age which directly followed that of the Puritans, their cause or
themselves were little likely to have justice done them. Charles Second
and his Rochesters were not the kind of men you would set to judge what the
worth or meaning of such men might have been. That there could be any
faith or truth in the life of a man, was what these poor Rochesters, and
the age they ushered in, had forgotten. Puritanism was hung on
gibbets,--like the bones of the leading Puritans. Its work nevertheless
went on accomplishing itself. All true work of a man, hang the author of
it on what gibbet you like, must and will accomplish itself. We have our
_Habeas-Corpus_, our free Representation of the People; acknowledgment,
wide as the world, that all men are, or else must, shall, and will become,
what we call _free_ men;--men with their life grounded on reality and
justice, not on tradition, which has become unjust and a chimera! This in
part, and much besides this, was the work of the Puritans.

And indeed, as these things became gradually manifest, the character of the
Puritans began to clear itself. Their memories were, one after another,
taken _down_ from the gibbet; nay a certain portion of them are now, in
these days, as good as canonized. Eliot, Hampden, Pym, nay Ludlow,
Hutchinson, Vane himself, are admitted to be a kind of Heroes; political
Conscript Fathers, to whom in no small degree we owe what makes us a free
England: it would not be safe for anybody to designate these men as wicked
now. Few Puritans of note but find their apologists somewhere, and have a
certain reverence paid them by earnest men. One Puritan, I think, and
almost he alone, our poor Cromwell, seems to hang yet on the gibbet, and
find no hearty apologist anywhere. Him neither saint nor sinner will
acquit of great wickedness. A man of ability, infinite talent, courage,
and so forth: but he betrayed the Cause. Selfish ambition, dishonesty,
duplicity; a fierce, coarse, hypocritical _Tartuffe_; turning all that
noble Struggle for constitutional Liberty into a sorry farce played for his
own benefit: this and worse is the character they give of Cromwell. And
then there come contrasts with Washington and others; above all, with these
noble Pyms and Hampdens, whose noble work he stole for himself, and ruined
into a futility and deformity.

This view of Cromwell seems to me the not unnatural product of a century
like the Eighteenth. As we said of the Valet, so of the Sceptic: He does
not know a Hero when he sees him! The Valet expected purple mantles, gilt
sceptres, bodyguards and flourishes of trumpets: the Sceptic of the
Eighteenth century looks for regulated respectable Formulas, "Principles,"
or what else he may call them; a style of speech and conduct which has got
to seem "respectable," which can plead for itself in a handsome articulate
manner, and gain the suffrages of an enlightened sceptical Eighteenth
century! It is, at bottom, the same thing that both the Valet and he
expect: the garnitures of some _acknowledged_ royalty, which _then_ they
will acknowledge! The King coming to them in the rugged _un_formulistic
state shall be no King.

For my own share, far be it from me to say or insinuate a word of
disparagement against such characters as Hampden, Elliot, Pym; whom I
believe to have been right worthy and useful men. I have read diligently
what books and documents about them I could come at;--with the honestest
wish to admire, to love and worship them like Heroes; but I am sorry to
say, if the real truth must be told, with very indifferent success! At
bottom, I found that it would not do. They are very noble men, these; step
along in their stately way, with their measured euphemisms, philosophies,
parliamentary eloquences, Ship-moneys, _Monarchies of Man_; a most
constitutional, unblamable, dignified set of men. But the heart remains
cold before them; the fancy alone endeavors to get up some worship of them.
What man's heart does, in reality, break forth into any fire of brotherly
love for these men? They are become dreadfully dull men! One breaks down
often enough in the constitutional eloquence of the admirable Pym, with his
"seventhly and lastly." You find that it may be the admirablest thing in
the world, but that it is heavy,--heavy as lead, barren as brick-clay;
that, in a word, for you there is little or nothing now surviving there!
One leaves all these Nobilities standing in their niches of honor: the
rugged outcast Cromwell, he is the man of them all in whom one still finds
human stuff. The great savage _Baresark_: he could write no euphemistic
_Monarchy of Man_; did not speak, did not work with glib regularity; had no
straight story to tell for himself anywhere. But he stood bare, not cased
in euphemistic coat-of-mail; he grappled like a giant, face to face, heart
to heart, with the naked truth of things! That, after all, is the sort of
man for one. I plead guilty to valuing such a man beyond all other sorts
of men. Smooth-shaven Respectabilities not a few one finds, that are not
good for much. Small thanks to a man for keeping his hands clean, who
would not touch the work but with gloves on!

Neither, on the whole, does this constitutional tolerance of the Eighteenth
century for the other happier Puritans seem to be a very great matter. One
might say, it is but a piece of Formulism and Scepticism, like the rest.
They tell us, It was a sorrowful thing to consider that the foundation of
our English Liberties should have been laid by "Superstition." These
Puritans came forward with Calvinistic incredible Creeds, Anti-Laudisms,
Westminster Confessions; demanding, chiefly of all, that they should have
liberty to _worship_ in their own way. Liberty to _tax_ themselves: that
was the thing they should have demanded! It was Superstition, Fanaticism,
disgraceful ignorance of Constitutional Philosophy to insist on the other
thing!--Liberty to _tax_ oneself? Not to pay out money from your pocket
except on reason shown? No century, I think, but a rather barren one would
have fixed on that as the first right of man! I should say, on the
contrary, A just man will generally have better cause than _money_ in what
shape soever, before deciding to revolt against his Government. Ours is a
most confused world; in which a good man will be thankful to see any kind
of Government maintain itself in a not insupportable manner: and here in
England, to this hour, if he is not ready to pay a great many taxes which
he can see very small reason in, it will not go well with him, I think! He
must try some other climate than this. Tax-gatherer? Money? He will say:
"Take my money, since you _can_, and it is so desirable to you; take
it,--and take yourself away with it; and leave me alone to my work here. I
am still here; can still work, after all the money you have taken from me!"
But if they come to him, and say, "Acknowledge a Lie; pretend to say you
are worshipping God, when you are not doing it: believe not the thing that
you find true, but the thing that I find, or pretend to find true!" He
will answer: "No; by God's help, no! You may take my purse; but I cannot
have my moral Self annihilated. The purse is any Highwayman's who might
meet me with a loaded pistol: but the Self is mine and God my Maker's; it
is not yours; and I will resist you to the death, and revolt against you,
and, on the whole, front all manner of extremities, accusations and
confusions, in defence of that!"--

Really, it seems to me the one reason which could justify revolting, this
of the Puritans. It has been the soul of all just revolts among men. Not
_Hunger_ alone produced even the French Revolution; no, but the feeling of
the insupportable all-pervading _Falsehood_ which had now embodied itself
in Hunger, in universal material Scarcity and Nonentity, and thereby become
_indisputably_ false in the eyes of all! We will leave the Eighteenth
century with its "liberty to tax itself." We will not astonish ourselves
that the meaning of such men as the Puritans remained dim to it. To men
who believe in no reality at all, how shall a _real_ human soul, the
intensest of all realities, as it were the Voice of this world's Maker
still speaking to us,--be intelligible? What it cannot reduce into
constitutional doctrines relative to "taxing," or other the like material
interest, gross, palpable to the sense, such a century will needs reject as
an amorphous heap of rubbish. Hampdens, Pyms and Ship-money will be the
theme of much constitutional eloquence, striving to be fervid;--which will
glitter, if not as fire does, then as ice does: and the irreducible
Cromwell will remain a chaotic mass of "madness," "hypocrisy," and much

From of old, I will confess, this theory of Cromwell's falsity has been
incredible to me. Nay I cannot believe the like, of any Great Man
whatever. Multitudes of Great Men figure in History as false selfish men;
but if we will consider it, they are but _figures_ for us, unintelligible
shadows; we do not see into them as men that could have existed at all. A
superficial unbelieving generation only, with no eye but for the surfaces
and semblances of things, could form such notions of Great Men. Can a
great soul be possible without a _conscience_ in it, the essence of all
_real_ souls, great or small?--No, we cannot figure Cromwell as a Falsity
and Fatuity; the longer I study him and his career, I believe this the
less. Why should we? There is no evidence of it. Is it not strange that,
after all the mountains of calumny this man has been subject to, after
being represented as the very prince of liars, who never, or hardly ever,
spoke truth, but always some cunning counterfeit of truth, there should not
yet have been one falsehood brought clearly home to him? A prince of
liars, and no lie spoken by him. Not one that I could yet get sight of.
It is like Pococke asking Grotius, Where is your _proof_ of Mahomet's
Pigeon? No proof!--Let us leave all these calumnious chimeras, as chimeras
ought to be left. They are not portraits of the man; they are distracted
phantasms of him, the joint product of hatred and darkness.

Looking at the man's life with our own eyes, it seems to me, a very
different hypothesis suggests itself. What little we know of his earlier
obscure years, distorted as it has come down to us, does it not all betoken
an earnest, affectionate, sincere kind of man? His nervous melancholic
temperament indicates rather a seriousness _too_ deep for him. Of those
stories of "Spectres;" of the white Spectre in broad daylight, predicting
that he should be King of England, we are not bound to believe
much;--probably no more than of the other black Spectre, or Devil in
person, to whom the Officer _saw_ him sell himself before Worcester Fight!
But the mournful, oversensitive, hypochondriac humor of Oliver, in his
young years, is otherwise indisputably known. The Huntingdon Physician
told Sir Philip Warwick himself, He had often been sent for at midnight;
Mr. Cromwell was full of hypochondria, thought himself near dying, and "had
fancies about the Town-cross." These things are significant. Such an
excitable deep-feeling nature, in that rugged stubborn strength of his, is
not the symptom of falsehood; it is the symptom and promise of quite other
than falsehood!

The young Oliver is sent to study Law; falls, or is said to have fallen,
for a little period, into some of the dissipations of youth; but if so,
speedily repents, abandons all this: not much above twenty, he is married,
settled as an altogether grave and quiet man. "He pays back what money he
had won at gambling," says the story;--he does not think any gain of that
kind could be really _his_. It is very interesting, very natural, this
"conversion," as they well name it; this awakening of a great true soul
from the worldly slough, to see into the awful _truth_ of things;--to see
that Time and its shows all rested on Eternity, and this poor Earth of ours
was the threshold either of Heaven or of Hell! Oliver's life at St. Ives
and Ely, as a sober industrious Farmer, is it not altogether as that of a
true and devout man? He has renounced the world and its ways; _its_ prizes
are not the thing that can enrich him. He tills the earth; he reads his
Bible; daily assembles his servants round him to worship God. He comforts
persecuted ministers, is fond of preachers; nay can himself
preach,--exhorts his neighbors to be wise, to redeem the time. In all this
what "hypocrisy," "ambition," "cant," or other falsity? The man's hopes, I
do believe, were fixed on the other Higher World; his aim to get well
_thither_, by walking well through his humble course in _this_ world. He
courts no notice: what could notice here do for him? "Ever in his great
Taskmaster's eye."

It is striking, too, how he comes out once into public view; he, since no
other is willing to come: in resistance to a public grievance. I mean, in
that matter of the Bedford Fens. No one else will go to law with
Authority; therefore he will. That matter once settled, he returns back
into obscurity, to his Bible and his Plough. "Gain influence"? His
influence is the most legitimate; derived from personal knowledge of him,
as a just, religious, reasonable and determined man. In this way he has
lived till past forty; old age is now in view of him, and the earnest
portal of Death and Eternity; it was at this point that he suddenly became
"ambitious"! I do not interpret his Parliamentary mission in that way!

His successes in Parliament, his successes through the war, are honest
successes of a brave man; who has more resolution in the heart of him, more
light in the head of him than other men. His prayers to God; his spoken
thanks to the God of Victory, who had preserved him safe, and carried him
forward so far, through the furious clash of a world all set in conflict,
through desperate-looking envelopments at Dunbar; through the death-hail of
so many battles; mercy after mercy; to the "crowning mercy" of Worcester
Fight: all this is good and genuine for a deep-hearted Calvinistic
Cromwell. Only to vain unbelieving Cavaliers, worshipping not God but
their own "love-locks," frivolities and formalities, living quite apart
from contemplations of God, living _without_ God in the world, need it seem

Nor will his participation in the King's death involve him in condemnation
with us. It is a stern business killing of a King! But if you once go to
war with him, it lies _there_; this and all else lies there. Once at war,
you have made wager of battle with him: it is he to die, or else you.
Reconciliation is problematic; may be possible, or, far more likely, is
impossible. It is now pretty generally admitted that the Parliament,
having vanquished Charles First, had no way of making any tenable
arrangement with him. The large Presbyterian party, apprehensive now of
the Independents, were most anxious to do so; anxious indeed as for their
own existence; but it could not be. The unhappy Charles, in those final
Hampton-Court negotiations, shows himself as a man fatally incapable of
being dealt with. A man who, once for all, could not and would not
_understand_:--whose thought did not in any measure represent to him the
real fact of the matter; nay worse, whose _word_ did not at all represent
his thought. We may say this of him without cruelty, with deep pity
rather: but it is true and undeniable. Forsaken there of all but the
_name_ of Kingship, he still, finding himself treated with outward respect
as a King, fancied that he might play off party against party, and smuggle
himself into his old power by deceiving both. Alas, they both _discovered_
that he was deceiving them. A man whose _word_ will not inform you at all
what he means or will do, is not a man you can bargain with. You must get
out of that man's way, or put him out of yours! The Presbyterians, in
their despair, were still for believing Charles, though found false,
unbelievable again and again. Not so Cromwell: "For all our fighting,"
says he, "we are to have a little bit of paper?" No!--

In fact, everywhere we have to note the decisive practical _eye_ of this
man; how he drives towards the practical and practicable; has a genuine
insight into what _is_ fact. Such an intellect, I maintain, does not
belong to a false man: the false man sees false shows, plausibilities,
expediences: the true man is needed to discern even practical truth.
Cromwell's advice about the Parliament's Army, early in the contest, How
they were to dismiss their city-tapsters, flimsy riotous persons, and
choose substantial yeomen, whose heart was in the work, to be soldiers for
them: this is advice by a man who _saw_. Fact answers, if you see into
Fact! Cromwell's _Ironsides_ were the embodiment of this insight of his;
men fearing God; and without any other fear. No more conclusively genuine
set of fighters ever trod the soil of England, or of any other land.

Neither will we blame greatly that word of Cromwell's to them; which was so
blamed: "If the King should meet me in battle, I would kill the King."
Why not? These words were spoken to men who stood as before a Higher than
Kings. They had set more than their own lives on the cast. The Parliament
may call it, in official language, a fighting "_for_ the King;" but we, for
our share, cannot understand that. To us it is no dilettante work, no
sleek officiality; it is sheer rough death and earnest. They have brought
it to the calling-forth of War; horrid internecine fight, man grappling
with man in fire-eyed rage,--the _infernal_ element in man called forth, to
try it by that! _Do_ that therefore; since that is the thing to be
done.--The successes of Cromwell seem to me a very natural thing! Since he
was not shot in battle, they were an inevitable thing. That such a man,
with the eye to see, with the heart to dare, should advance, from post to
post, from victory to victory, till the Huntingdon Farmer became, by
whatever name you might call him, the acknowledged Strongest Man in
England, virtually the King of England, requires no magic to explain it!--

Truly it is a sad thing for a people, as for a man, to fall into
Scepticism, into dilettantism, insincerity; not to know Sincerity when they
see it. For this world, and for all worlds, what curse is so fatal? The
heart lying dead, the eye cannot see. What intellect remains is merely the
_vulpine_ intellect. That a true _King_ be sent them is of small use; they
do not know him when sent. They say scornfully, Is this your King? The
Hero wastes his heroic faculty in bootless contradiction from the unworthy;
and can accomplish little. For himself he does accomplish a heroic life,
which is much, which is all; but for the world he accomplishes
comparatively nothing. The wild rude Sincerity, direct from Nature, is not
glib in answering from the witness-box: in your small-debt _pie-powder_
court, he is scouted as a counterfeit. The vulpine intellect "detects"
him. For being a man worth any thousand men, the response your Knox, your
Cromwell gets, is an argument for two centuries whether he was a man at
all. God's greatest gift to this Earth is sneeringly flung away. The
miraculous talisman is a paltry plated coin, not fit to pass in the shops
as a common guinea.

Lamentable this! I say, this must be remedied. Till this be remedied in
some measure, there is nothing remedied. "Detect quacks"? Yes do, for
Heaven's sake; but know withal the men that are to be trusted! Till we
know that, what is all our knowledge; how shall we even so much as
"detect"? For the vulpine sharpness, which considers itself to be
knowledge, and "detects" in that fashion, is far mistaken. Dupes indeed
are many: but, of all _dupes_, there is none so fatally situated as he who
lives in undue terror of being duped. The world does exist; the world has
truth in it, or it would not exist! First recognize what is true, we shall
_then_ discern what is false; and properly never till then.

"Know the men that are to be trusted:" alas, this is yet, in these days,
very far from us. The sincere alone can recognize sincerity. Not a Hero
only is needed, but a world fit for him; a world not of _Valets_;--the Hero
comes almost in vain to it otherwise! Yes, it is far from us: but it must
come; thank God, it is visibly coming. Till it do come, what have we?
Ballot-boxes, suffrages, French Revolutions:--if we are as Valets, and do
not know the Hero when we see him, what good are all these? A heroic
Cromwell comes; and for a hundred and fifty years he cannot have a vote
from us. Why, the insincere, unbelieving world is the _natural property_
of the Quack, and of the Father of quacks and quackeries! Misery,
confusion, unveracity are alone possible there. By ballot-boxes we alter
the _figure_ of our Quack; but the substance of him continues. The
Valet-World _has_ to be governed by the Sham-Hero, by the King merely
_dressed_ in King-gear. It is his; he is its! In brief, one of two
things: We shall either learn to know a Hero, a true Governor and Captain,
somewhat better, when we see him; or else go on to be forever governed by
the Unheroic;--had we ballot-boxes clattering at every street-corner, there
were no remedy in these.

Poor Cromwell,--great Cromwell! The inarticulate Prophet; Prophet who
could not _speak_. Rude, confused, struggling to utter himself, with his
savage depth, with his wild sincerity; and he looked so strange, among the
elegant Euphemisms, dainty little Falklands, didactic Chillingworths,
diplomatic Clarendons! Consider him. An outer hull of chaotic confusion,
visions of the Devil, nervous dreams, almost semi-madness; and yet such a
clear determinate man's-energy working in the heart of that. A kind of
chaotic man. The ray as of pure starlight and fire, working in such an
element of boundless hypochondria, unformed black of darkness! And yet
withal this hypochondria, what was it but the very greatness of the man?
The depth and tenderness of his wild affections: the quantity of
_sympathy_ he had with things,--the quantity of insight he would yet get
into the heart of things, the mastery he would yet get over things: this
was his hypochondria. The man's misery, as man's misery always does, came
of his greatness. Samuel Johnson too is that kind of man.
Sorrow-stricken, half-distracted; the wide element of mournful _black_
enveloping him,--wide as the world. It is the character of a prophetic
man; a man with his whole soul _seeing_, and struggling to see.

On this ground, too, I explain to myself Cromwell's reputed confusion of
speech. To himself the internal meaning was sun-clear; but the material
with which he was to clothe it in utterance was not there. He had _lived_
silent; a great unnamed sea of Thought round him all his days; and in his
way of life little call to attempt _naming_ or uttering that. With his
sharp power of vision, resolute power of action, I doubt not he could have
learned to write Books withal, and speak fluently enough;--he did harder
things than writing of Books. This kind of man is precisely he who is fit
for doing manfully all things you will set him on doing. Intellect is not
speaking and logicizing; it is seeing and ascertaining. Virtue, Virtues,
manhood, _hero_hood, is not fair-spoken immaculate regularity; it is first
of all, what the Germans well name it, _Tugend_ (_Taugend_, _dow_-ing or
_Dough_-tinesS), Courage and the Faculty to _do_. This basis of the matter
Cromwell had in him.

One understands moreover how, though he could not speak in Parliament, he
might _preach_, rhapsodic preaching; above all, how he might be great in
extempore prayer. These are the free outpouring utterances of what is in
the heart: method is not required in them; warmth, depth, sincerity are
all that is required. Cromwell's habit of prayer is a notable feature of
him. All his great enterprises were commenced with prayer. In dark
inextricable-looking difficulties, his Officers and he used to assemble,
and pray alternately, for hours, for days, till some definite resolution
rose among them, some "door of hope," as they would name it, disclosed
itself. Consider that. In tears, in fervent prayers, and cries to the
great God, to have pity on them, to make His light shine before them.
They, armed Soldiers of Christ, as they felt themselves to be; a little
band of Christian Brothers, who had drawn the sword against a great black
devouring world not Christian, but Mammonish, Devilish,--they cried to God
in their straits, in their extreme need, not to forsake the Cause that was
His. The light which now rose upon them,--how could a human soul, by any
means at all, get better light? Was not the purpose so formed like to be
precisely the best, wisest, the one to be followed without hesitation any
more? To them it was as the shining of Heaven's own Splendor in the
waste-howling darkness; the Pillar of Fire by night, that was to guide them
on their desolate perilous way. _Was_ it not such? Can a man's soul, to
this hour, get guidance by any other method than intrinsically by that
same,--devout prostration of the earnest struggling soul before the
Highest, the Giver of all Light; be such _prayer_ a spoken, articulate, or
be it a voiceless, inarticulate one? There is no other method.
"Hypocrisy"? One begins to be weary of all that. They who call it so,
have no right to speak on such matters. They never formed a purpose, what
one can call a purpose. They went about balancing expediencies,
plausibilities; gathering votes, advices; they never were alone with the
_truth_ of a thing at all.--Cromwell's prayers were likely to be
"eloquent," and much more than that. His was the heart of a man who
_could_ pray.

But indeed his actual Speeches, I apprehend, were not nearly so ineloquent,
incondite, as they look. We find he was, what all speakers aim to be, an
impressive speaker, even in Parliament; one who, from the first, had
weight. With that rude passionate voice of his, he was always understood
to _mean_ something, and men wished to know what. He disregarded
eloquence, nay despised and disliked it; spoke always without premeditation
of the words he was to use. The Reporters, too, in those days seem to have
been singularly candid; and to have given the Printer precisely what they
found on their own note-paper. And withal, what a strange proof is it of
Cromwell's being the premeditative ever-calculating hypocrite, acting a
play before the world, That to the last he took no more charge of his
Speeches! How came he not to study his words a little, before flinging
them out to the public? If the words were true words, they could be left
to shift for themselves.

But with regard to Cromwell's "lying," we will make one remark. This, I
suppose, or something like this, to have been the nature of it. All
parties found themselves deceived in him; each party understood him to be
meaning _this_, heard him even say so, and behold he turns out to have been
meaning _that_! He was, cry they, the chief of liars. But now,
intrinsically, is not all this the inevitable fortune, not of a false man
in such times, but simply of a superior man? Such a man must have
_reticences_ in him. If he walk wearing his heart upon his sleeve for daws
to peck at, his journey will not extend far! There is no use for any man's
taking up his abode in a house built of glass. A man always is to be
himself the judge how much of his mind he will show to other men; even to
those he would have work along with him. There are impertinent inquiries
made: your rule is, to leave the inquirer uninformed on that matter; not,
if you can help it, misinformed, but precisely as dark as he was! This,
could one hit the right phrase of response, is what the wise and faithful
man would aim to answer in such a case.

Cromwell, no doubt of it, spoke often in the dialect of small subaltern
parties; uttered to them a _part_ of his mind. Each little party thought
him all its own. Hence their rage, one and all, to find him not of their
party, but of his own party. Was it his blame? At all seasons of his
history he must have felt, among such people, how, if he explained to them
the deeper insight he had, they must either have shuddered aghast at it, or
believing it, their own little compact hypothesis must have gone wholly to
wreck. They could not have worked in his province any more; nay perhaps
they could not now have worked in their own province. It is the inevitable
position of a great man among small men. Small men, most active, useful,
are to be seen everywhere, whose whole activity depends on some conviction
which to you is palpably a limited one; imperfect, what we call an _error_.
But would it be a kindness always, is it a duty always or often, to disturb
them in that? Many a man, doing loud work in the world, stands only on
some thin traditionality, conventionality; to him indubitable, to you
incredible: break that beneath him, he sinks to endless depths! "I might
have my hand full of truth," said Fontenelle, "and open only my little

And if this be the fact even in matters of doctrine, how much more in all
departments of practice! He that cannot withal _keep his mind to himself_
cannot practice any considerable thing whatever. And we call it
"dissimulation," all this? What would you think of calling the general of
an army a dissembler because he did not tell every corporal and private
soldier, who pleased to put the question, what his thoughts were about
everything?--Cromwell, I should rather say, managed all this in a manner we
must admire for its perfection. An endless vortex of such questioning
"corporals" rolled confusedly round him through his whole course; whom he
did answer. It must have been as a great true-seeing man that he managed
this too. Not one proved falsehood, as I said; not one! Of what man that
ever wound himself through such a coil of things will you say so much?--

But in fact there are two errors, widely prevalent, which pervert to the
very basis our judgments formed about such men as Cromwell; about their
"ambition," "falsity," and such like. The first is what I might call
substituting the _goal_ of their career for the course and starting-point
of it. The vulgar Historian of a Cromwell fancies that he had determined
on being Protector of England, at the time when he was ploughing the marsh
lands of Cambridgeshire. His career lay all mapped out: a program of the
whole drama; which he then step by step dramatically unfolded, with all
manner of cunning, deceptive dramaturgy, as he went on,--the hollow,
scheming [Gr.] _Upokrites_, or Play-actor, that he was! This is a radical
perversion; all but universal in such cases. And think for an instant how
different the fact is! How much does one of us foresee of his own life?
Short way ahead of us it is all dim; an unwound skein of possibilities, of
apprehensions, attemptabilities, vague-looming hopes. This Cromwell had
_not_ his life lying all in that fashion of Program, which he needed then,
with that unfathomable cunning of his, only to enact dramatically, scene
after scene! Not so. We see it so; but to him it was in no measure so.
What absurdities would fall away of themselves, were this one undeniable
fact kept honestly in view by History! Historians indeed will tell you
that they do keep it in view;--but look whether such is practically the
fact! Vulgar History, as in this Cromwell's case, omits it altogether;
even the best kinds of History only remember it now and then. To remember
it duly with rigorous perfection, as in the fact it _stood_, requires
indeed a rare faculty; rare, nay impossible. A very Shakspeare for
faculty; or more than Shakspeare; who could _enact_ a brother man's
biography, see with the brother man's eyes at all points of his course what
things _he_ saw; in short, _know_ his course and him, as few "Historians"
are like to do. Half or more of all the thick-plied perversions which
distort our image of Cromwell, will disappear, if we honestly so much as
try to represent them so; in sequence, as they _were_; not in the lump, as
they are thrown down before us.

But a second error, which I think the generality commit, refers to this
same "ambition" itself. We exaggerate the ambition of Great Men; we
mistake what the nature of it is. Great Men are not ambitious in that
sense; he is a small poor man that is ambitious so. Examine the man who
lives in misery because he does not shine above other men; who goes about
producing himself, pruriently anxious about his gifts and claims;
struggling to force everybody, as it were begging everybody for God's sake,
to acknowledge him a great man, and set him over the heads of men! Such a
creature is among the wretchedest sights seen under this sun. A _great_
man? A poor morbid prurient empty man; fitter for the ward of a hospital,
than for a throne among men. I advise you to keep out of his way. He
cannot walk on quiet paths; unless you will look at him, wonder at him,
write paragraphs about him, he cannot live. It is the _emptiness_ of the
man, not his greatness. Because there is nothing in himself, he hungers
and thirsts that you would find something in him. In good truth, I believe
no great man, not so much as a genuine man who had health and real
substance in him of whatever magnitude, was ever much tormented in this

Your Cromwell, what good could it do him to be "noticed" by noisy crowds of
people? God his Maker already noticed him. He, Cromwell, was already
there; no notice would make _him_ other than he already was. Till his hair
was grown gray; and Life from the down-hill slope was all seen to be
limited, not infinite but finite, and all a measurable matter _how_ it
went,--he had been content to plough the ground, and read his Bible. He in
his old days could not support it any longer, without selling himself to
Falsehood, that he might ride in gilt carriages to Whitehall, and have
clerks with bundles of papers haunting him, "Decide this, decide that,"
which in utmost sorrow of heart no man can perfectly decide! What could
gilt carriages do for this man? From of old, was there not in his life a
weight of meaning, a terror and a splendor as of Heaven itself? His
existence there as man set him beyond the need of gilding. Death, Judgment
and Eternity: these already lay as the background of whatsoever he thought
or did. All his life lay begirt as in a sea of nameless Thoughts, which no
speech of a mortal could name. God's Word, as the Puritan prophets of that
time had read it: this was great, and all else was little to him. To call
such a man "ambitious," to figure him as the prurient wind-bag described
above, seems to me the poorest solecism. Such a man will say: "Keep your
gilt carriages and huzzaing mobs, keep your red-tape clerks, your
influentialities, your important businesses. Leave me alone, leave me
alone; there is _too much of life_ in me already!" Old Samuel Johnson, the
greatest soul in England in his day, was not ambitious. "Corsica Boswell"
flaunted at public shows with printed ribbons round his hat; but the great
old Samuel stayed at home. The world-wide soul wrapt up in its thoughts,
in its sorrows;--what could paradings, and ribbons in the hat, do for it?

Ah yes, I will say again: The great _silent_ men! Looking round on the
noisy inanity of the world, words with little meaning, actions with little
worth, one loves to reflect on the great Empire of _Silence_. The noble
silent men, scattered here and there, each in his department; silently
thinking, silently working; whom no Morning Newspaper makes mention of!
They are the salt of the Earth. A country that has none or few of these is
in a bad way. Like a forest which had no _roots_; which had all turned
into leaves and boughs;--which must soon wither and be no forest. Woe for
us if we had nothing but what we can _show_, or speak. Silence, the great
Empire of Silence: higher than the stars; deeper than the Kingdoms of
Death! It alone is great; all else is small.--I hope we English will long
maintain our _grand talent pour le silence_. Let others that cannot do
without standing on barrel-heads, to spout, and be seen of all the
market-place, cultivate speech exclusively,--become a most green forest
without roots! Solomon says, There is a time to speak; but also a time to
keep silence. Of some great silent Samuel, not urged to writing, as old
Samuel Johnson says he was, by _want of money_, and nothing other, one
might ask, "Why do not you too get up and speak; promulgate your system,
found your sect?" "Truly," he will answer, "I am _continent_ of my thought
hitherto; happily I have yet had the ability to keep it in me, no
compulsion strong enough to speak it. My 'system' is not for promulgation
first of all; it is for serving myself to live by. That is the great
purpose of it to me. And then the 'honor'? Alas, yes;--but as Cato said
of the statue: So many statues in that Forum of yours, may it not be
better if they ask, Where is Cato's statue?"--

But now, by way of counterpoise to this of Silence, let me say that there
are two kinds of ambition; one wholly blamable, the other laudable and
inevitable. Nature has provided that the great silent Samuel shall not be
silent too long. The selfish wish to shine over others, let it be
accounted altogether poor and miserable. "Seekest thou great things, seek
them not:" this is most true. And yet, I say, there is an irrepressible
tendency in every man to develop himself according to the magnitude which
Nature has made him of; to speak out, to act out, what nature has laid in
him. This is proper, fit, inevitable; nay it is a duty, and even the
summary of duties for a man. The meaning of life here on earth might be
defined as consisting in this: To unfold your _self_, to work what thing
you have the faculty for. It is a necessity for the human being, the first
law of our existence. Coleridge beautifully remarks that the infant learns
to _speak_ by this necessity it feels.--We will say therefore: To decide
about ambition, whether it is bad or not, you have two things to take into
view. Not the coveting of the place alone, but the fitness of the man for
the place withal: that is the question. Perhaps the place was _his_;
perhaps he had a natural right, and even obligation, to seek the place!
Mirabeau's ambition to be Prime Minister, how shall we blame it, if he were
"the only man in France that could have done any good there"? Hopefuler
perhaps had he not so clearly _felt_ how much good he could do! But a poor
Necker, who could do no good, and had even felt that he could do none, yet
sitting broken-hearted because they had flung him out, and he was now quit
of it, well might Gibbon mourn over him.--Nature, I say, has provided amply
that the silent great man shall strive to speak withal; _too_ amply,

Fancy, for example, you had revealed to the brave old Samuel Johnson, in
his shrouded-up existence, that it was possible for him to do priceless
divine work for his country and the whole world. That the perfect Heavenly
Law might be made Law on this Earth; that the prayer he prayed daily, "Thy
kingdom come," was at length to be fulfilled! If you had convinced his
judgment of this; that it was possible, practicable; that he the mournful
silent Samuel was called to take a part in it! Would not the whole soul of
the man have flamed up into a divine clearness, into noble utterance and
determination to act; casting all sorrows and misgivings under his feet,
counting all affliction and contradiction small,--the whole dark element of
his existence blazing into articulate radiance of light and lightning? It
were a true ambition this! And think now how it actually was with
Cromwell. From of old, the sufferings of God's Church, true zealous
Preachers of the truth flung into dungeons, whips, set on pillories, their
ears crops off, God's Gospel-cause trodden under foot of the unworthy: all
this had lain heavy on his soul. Long years he had looked upon it, in
silence, in prayer; seeing no remedy on Earth; trusting well that a remedy
in Heaven's goodness would come,--that such a course was false, unjust, and
could not last forever. And now behold the dawn of it; after twelve years
silent waiting, all England stirs itself; there is to be once more a
Parliament, the Right will get a voice for itself: inexpressible
well-grounded hope has come again into the Earth. Was not such a
Parliament worth being a member of? Cromwell threw down his ploughs, and
hastened thither.

He spoke there,--rugged bursts of earnestness, of a self-seen truth, where
we get a glimpse of them. He worked there; he fought and strove, like a
strong true giant of a man, through cannon-tumult and all else,--on and on,
till the Cause _triumphed_, its once so formidable enemies all swept from
before it, and the dawn of hope had become clear light of victory and
certainty. That _he_ stood there as the strongest soul of England, the
undisputed Hero of all England,--what of this? It was possible that the
Law of Christ's Gospel could now establish itself in the world! The
Theocracy which John Knox in his pulpit might dream of as a "devout
imagination," this practical man, experienced in the whole chaos of most
rough practice, dared to consider as capable of being _realized_. Those
that were highest in Christ's Church, the devoutest wisest men, were to
rule the land: in some considerable degree, it might be so and should be
so. Was it not _true_, God's truth? And if _true_, was it not then the
very thing to do? The strongest practical intellect in England dared to
answer, Yes! This I call a noble true purpose; is it not, in its own
dialect, the noblest that could enter into the heart of Statesman or man?
For a Knox to take it up was something; but for a Cromwell, with his great
sound sense and experience of what our world _was_,--History, I think,
shows it only this once in such a degree. I account it the culminating
point of Protestantism; the most heroic phasis that "Faith in the Bible"
was appointed to exhibit here below. Fancy it: that it were made manifest
to one of us, how we could make the Right supremely victorious over Wrong,
and all that we had longed and prayed for, as the highest good to England
and all lands, an attainable fact!

Well, I must say, the _vulpine_ intellect, with its knowingness, its
alertness and expertness in "detecting hypocrites," seems to me a rather
sorry business. We have had but one such Statesman in England; one man,
that I can get sight of, who ever had in the heart of him any such purpose
at all. One man, in the course of fifteen hundred years; and this was his
welcome. He had adherents by the hundred or the ten; opponents by the
million. Had England rallied all round him,--why, then, England might have
been a _Christian_ land! As it is, vulpine knowingness sits yet at its
hopeless problem, "Given a world of Knaves, to educe an Honesty from their
united action;"--how cumbrous a problem, you may see in Chancery
Law-Courts, and some other places! Till at length, by Heaven's just anger,
but also by Heaven's great grace, the matter begins to stagnate; and this
problem is becoming to all men a _palpably_ hopeless one.--

But with regard to Cromwell and his purposes: Hume, and a multitude
following him, come upon me here with an admission that Cromwell _was_
sincere at first; a sincere "Fanatic" at first, but gradually became a
"Hypocrite" as things opened round him. This of the Fanatic-Hypocrite is
Hume's theory of it; extensively applied since,--to Mahomet and many
others. Think of it seriously, you will find something in it; not much,
not all, very far from all. Sincere hero hearts do not sink in this
miserable manner. The Sun flings forth impurities, gets balefully
incrusted with spots; but it does not quench itself, and become no Sun at
all, but a mass of Darkness! I will venture to say that such never befell
a great deep Cromwell; I think, never. Nature's own lionhearted Son;
Antaeus-like, his strength is got by _touching the Earth_, his Mother; lift
him up from the Earth, lift him up into Hypocrisy, Inanity, his strength is
gone. We will not assert that Cromwell was an immaculate man; that he fell
into no faults, no insincerities among the rest. He was no dilettante
professor of "perfections," "immaculate conducts." He was a rugged Orson,
rending his rough way through actual true _work_,--_doubtless_ with many a
_fall_ therein. Insincerities, faults, very many faults daily and hourly:
it was too well known to him; known to God and him! The Sun was dimmed
many a time; but the Sun had not himself grown a Dimness. Cromwell's last
words, as he lay waiting for death, are those of a Christian heroic man.
Broken prayers to God, that He would judge him and this Cause, He since man
could not, in justice yet in pity. They are most touching words. He
breathed out his wild great soul, its toils and sins all ended now, into
the presence of his Maker, in this manner.

I, for one, will not call the man a Hypocrite! Hypocrite, mummer, the life
of him a mere theatricality; empty barren quack, hungry for the shouts of
mobs? The man had made obscurity do very well for him till his head was
gray; and now he _was_, there as he stood recognized unblamed, the virtual
King of England. Cannot a man do without King's Coaches and Cloaks? Is it
such a blessedness to have clerks forever pestering you with bundles of
papers in red tape? A simple Diocletian prefers planting of cabbages; a
George Washington, no very immeasurable man, does the like. One would say,
it is what any genuine man could do; and would do. The instant his real
work were out in the matter of Kingship,--away with it!

Let us remark, meanwhile, how indispensable everywhere a _King_ is, in all
movements of men. It is strikingly shown, in this very War, what becomes
of men when they cannot find a Chief Man, and their enemies can. The
Scotch Nation was all but unanimous in Puritanism; zealous and of one mind
about it, as in this English end of the Island was always far from being
the case. But there was no great Cromwell among them; poor tremulous,
hesitating, diplomatic Argyles and such like: none of them had a heart
true enough for the truth, or durst commit himself to the truth. They had
no leader; and the scattered Cavalier party in that country had one:
Montrose, the noblest of all the Cavaliers; an accomplished,
gallant-hearted, splendid man; what one may call the Hero-Cavalier. Well,
look at it; on the one hand subjects without a King; on the other a King
without subjects! The subjects without King can do nothing; the
subjectless King can do something. This Montrose, with a handful of Irish
or Highland savages, few of them so much as guns in their hands, dashes at
the drilled Puritan armies like a wild whirlwind; sweeps them, time after
time, some five times over, from the field before him. He was at one
period, for a short while, master of all Scotland. One man; but he was a
man; a million zealous men, but without the one; they against him were
powerless! Perhaps of all the persons in that Puritan struggle, from first
to last, the single indispensable one was verily Cromwell. To see and
dare, and decide; to be a fixed pillar in the welter of uncertainty;--a
King among them, whether they called him so or not.

Precisely here, however, lies the rub for Cromwell. His other proceedings
have all found advocates, and stand generally justified; but this dismissal
of the Rump Parliament and assumption of the Protectorship, is what no one
can pardon him. He had fairly grown to be King in England; Chief Man of
the victorious party in England: but it seems he could not do without the
King's Cloak, and sold himself to perdition in order to get it. Let us see
a little how this was.

England, Scotland, Ireland, all lying now subdued at the feet of the
Puritan Parliament, the practical question arose, What was to be done with
it? How will you govern these Nations, which Providence in a wondrous way
has given up to your disposal? Clearly those hundred surviving members of
the Long Parliament, who sit there as supreme authority, cannot continue
forever to sit. What _is_ to be done?--It was a question which theoretical
constitution-builders may find easy to answer; but to Cromwell, looking
there into the real practical facts of it, there could be none more
complicated. He asked of the Parliament, What it was they would decide
upon? It was for the Parliament to say. Yet the Soldiers too, however
contrary to Formula, they who had purchased this victory with their blood,
it seemed to them that they also should have something to say in it! We
will not "for all our fighting have nothing but a little piece of paper."
We understand that the Law of God's Gospel, to which He through us has
given the victory, shall establish itself, or try to establish itself, in
this land!

For three years, Cromwell says, this question had been sounded in the ears
of the Parliament. They could make no answer; nothing but talk, talk.
Perhaps it lies in the nature of parliamentary bodies; perhaps no
Parliament could in such case make any answer but even that of talk, talk!
Nevertheless the question must and shall be answered. You sixty men there,
becoming fast odious, even despicable, to the whole nation, whom the nation
already calls Rump Parliament, you cannot continue to sit there: who or
what then is to follow? "Free Parliament," right of Election,
Constitutional Formulas of one sort or the other,--the thing is a hungry
Fact coming on us, which we must answer or be devoured by it! And who are
you that prate of Constitutional Formulas, rights of Parliament? You have
had to kill your King, to make Pride's Purges, to expel and banish by the
law of the stronger whosoever would not let your Cause prosper: there are
but fifty or threescore of you left there, debating in these days. Tell us
what we shall do; not in the way of Formula, but of practicable Fact!

How they did finally answer, remains obscure to this day. The diligent
Godwin himself admits that he cannot make it out. The likeliest is, that
this poor Parliament still would not, and indeed could not dissolve and
disperse; that when it came to the point of actually dispersing, they
again, for the tenth or twentieth time, adjourned it,--and Cromwell's
patience failed him. But we will take the favorablest hypothesis ever
started for the Parliament; the favorablest, though I believe it is not the
true one, but too favorable.

According to this version: At the uttermost crisis, when Cromwell and his
Officers were met on the one hand, and the fifty or sixty Rump Members on
the other, it was suddenly told Cromwell that the Rump in its despair _was_
answering in a very singular way; that in their splenetic envious despair,
to keep out the Army at least, these men were hurrying through the House a
kind of Reform Bill,--Parliament to be chosen by the whole of England;
equable electoral division into districts; free suffrage, and the rest of
it! A very questionable, or indeed for _them_ an unquestionable thing.
Reform Bill, free suffrage of Englishmen? Why, the Royalists themselves,
silenced indeed but not exterminated, perhaps _outnumber_ us; the great
numerical majority of England was always indifferent to our Cause, merely
looked at it and submitted to it. It is in weight and force, not by
counting of heads, that we are the majority! And now with your Formulas
and Reform Bills, the whole matter, sorely won by our swords, shall again
launch itself to sea; become a mere hope, and likelihood, _small_ even as a
likelihood? And it is not a likelihood; it is a certainty, which we have
won, by God's strength and our own right hands, and do now hold _here_.
Cromwell walked down to these refractory Members; interrupted them in that
rapid speed of their Reform Bill;--ordered them to begone, and talk there
no more.--Can we not forgive him? Can we not understand him? John Milton,
who looked on it all near at hand, could applaud him. The Reality had
swept the Formulas away before it. I fancy, most men who were realities in
England might see into the necessity of that.

The strong daring man, therefore, has set all manner of Formulas and
logical superficialities against him; has dared appeal to the genuine Fact
of this England, Whether it will support him or not? It is curious to see
how he struggles to govern in some constitutional way; find some Parliament
to support him; but cannot. His first Parliament, the one they call
Barebones's Parliament, is, so to speak, a _Convocation of the Notables_.
From all quarters of England the leading Ministers and chief Puritan
Officials nominate the men most distinguished by religious reputation,
influence and attachment to the true Cause: these are assembled to shape
out a plan. They sanctioned what was past; shaped as they could what was
to come. They were scornfully called _Barebones's Parliament_: the man's
name, it seems, was not _Barebones_, but Barbone,--a good enough man. Nor
was it a jest, their work; it was a most serious reality,--a trial on the
part of these Puritan Notables how far the Law of Christ could become the
Law of this England. There were men of sense among them, men of some
quality; men of deep piety I suppose the most of them were. They failed,
it seems, and broke down, endeavoring to reform the Court of Chancery!
They dissolved themselves, as incompetent; delivered up their power again
into the hands of the Lord General Cromwell, to do with it what he liked
and could.

What _will_ he do with it? The Lord General Cromwell, "Commander-in-chief
of all the Forces raised and to be raised;" he hereby sees himself, at this
unexampled juncture, as it were the one available Authority left in
England, nothing between England and utter Anarchy but him alone. Such is
the undeniable Fact of his position and England's, there and then. What
will he do with it? After deliberation, he decides that he will _accept_
it; will formally, with public solemnity, say and vow before God and men,
"Yes, the Fact is so, and I will do the best I can with it!"
Protectorship, Instrument of Government,--these are the external forms of
the thing; worked out and sanctioned as they could in the circumstances be,
by the Judges, by the leading Official people, "Council of Officers and
Persons of interest in the Nation:" and as for the thing itself,
undeniably enough, at the pass matters had now come to, there _was_ no
alternative but Anarchy or that. Puritan England might accept it or not;
but Puritan England was, in real truth, saved from suicide thereby!--I
believe the Puritan People did, in an inarticulate, grumbling, yet on the
whole grateful and real way, accept this anomalous act of Oliver's; at
least, he and they together made it good, and always better to the last.
But in their Parliamentary _articulate_ way, they had their difficulties,
and never knew fully what to say to it!--

Oliver's second Parliament, properly his _first_ regular Parliament, chosen
by the rule laid down in the Instrument of Government, did assemble, and
worked;--but got, before long, into bottomless questions as to the
Protector's _right_, as to "usurpation," and so forth; and had at the
earliest legal day to be dismissed. Cromwell's concluding Speech to these
men is a remarkable one. So likewise to his third Parliament, in similar
rebuke for their pedantries and obstinacies. Most rude, chaotic, all these
Speeches are; but most earnest-looking. You would say, it was a sincere
helpless man; not used to _speak_ the great inorganic thought of him, but
to act it rather! A helplessness of utterance, in such bursting fulness of
meaning. He talks much about "births of Providence:" All these changes,
so many victories and events, were not forethoughts, and theatrical
contrivances of men, of _me_ or of men; it is blind blasphemers that will
persist in calling them so! He insists with a heavy sulphurous wrathful
emphasis on this. As he well might. As if a Cromwell in that dark huge
game he had been playing, the world wholly thrown into chaos round him, had
_foreseen_ it all, and played it all off like a precontrived puppet-show by
wood and wire! These things were foreseen by no man, he says; no man could
tell what a day would bring forth: they were "births of Providence," God's
finger guided us on, and we came at last to clear height of victory, God's
Cause triumphant in these Nations; and you as a Parliament could assemble
together, and say in what manner all this could be _organized_, reduced
into rational feasibility among the affairs of men. You were to help with
your wise counsel in doing that. "You have had such an opportunity as no
Parliament in England ever had." Christ's Law, the Right and True, was to
be in some measure made the Law of this land. In place of that, you have
got into your idle pedantries, constitutionalities, bottomless cavillings
and questionings about written laws for my coming here;--and would send the
whole matter into Chaos again, because I have no Notary's parchment, but
only God's voice from the battle-whirlwind, for being President among you!
That opportunity is gone; and we know not when it will return. You have
had your constitutional Logic; and Mammon's Law, not Christ's Law, rules
yet in this land. "God be judge between you and me!" These are his final
words to them: Take you your constitution-formulas in your hand; and I my
informal struggles, purposes, realities and acts; and "God be judge between
you and me!"--

We said above what shapeless, involved chaotic things the printed Speeches
of Cromwell are. _Wilfully_ ambiguous, unintelligible, say the most: a
hypocrite shrouding himself in confused Jesuitic jargon! To me they do not
seem so. I will say rather, they afforded the first glimpses I could ever
get into the reality of this Cromwell, nay into the possibility of him.
Try to believe that he means something, search lovingly what that may be:
you will find a real _speech_ lying imprisoned in these broken rude
tortuous utterances; a meaning in the great heart of this inarticulate man!
You will, for thc first time, begin to see that he was a man; not an
enigmatic chimera, unintelligible to you, incredible to you. The Histories
and Biographies written of this Cromwell, written in shallow sceptical
generations that could not know or conceive of a deep believing man, are
far more _obscure_ than Cromwell's Speeches. You look through them only
into the infinite vague of Black and the Inane. "Heats and jealousies,"
says Lord Clarendon himself: "heats and jealousies," mere crabbed whims,
theories and crotchets; these induced slow sober quiet Englishmen to lay
down their ploughs and work; and fly into red fury of confused war against
the best-conditioned of Kings! _Try_ if you can find that true.
Scepticism writing about Belief may have great gifts; but it is really
_ultra vires_ there. It is Blindness laying down the Laws of Optics.--

Cromwell's third Parliament split on the same rock as his second. Ever the
constitutional Formula: How came you there? Show us some Notary
parchment! Blind pedants:--"Why, surely the same power which makes you a
Parliament, that, and something more, made me a Protector!" If my
Protectorship is nothing, what in the name of wonder is your
Parliamenteership, a reflex and creation of that?--

Parliaments having failed, there remained nothing but the way of Despotism.
Military Dictators, each with his district, to _coerce_ the Royalist and
other gainsayers, to govern them, if not by act of Parliament, then by the
sword. Formula shall _not_ carry it, while the Reality is here! I will go
on, protecting oppressed Protestants abroad, appointing just judges, wise
managers, at home, cherishing true Gospel ministers; doing the best I can
to make England a Christian England, greater than old Rome, the Queen of
Protestant Christianity; I, since you will not help me; I while God leaves
me life!--Why did he not give it up; retire into obscurity again, since the
Law would not acknowledge him? cry several. That is where they mistake.
For him there was no giving of it up! Prime ministers have governed
countries, Pitt, Pombal, Choiseul; and their word was a law while it held:
but this Prime Minister was one that _could not get resigned_. Let him
once resign, Charles Stuart and the Cavaliers waited to kill him; to kill
the Cause _and_ him. Once embarked, there is no retreat, no return. This
Prime Minister could _retire_ no-whither except into his tomb.

One is sorry for Cromwell in his old days. His complaint is incessant of
the heavy burden Providence has laid on him. Heavy; which he must bear
till death. Old Colonel Hutchinson, as his wife relates it, Hutchinson,
his old battle-mate, coming to see him on some indispensable business, much
against his will,--Cromwell "follows him to the door," in a most fraternal,
domestic, conciliatory style; begs that he would be reconciled to him, his
old brother in arms; says how much it grieves him to be misunderstood,
deserted by true fellow-soldiers, dear to him from of old: the rigorous
Hutchinson, cased in his Republican formula, sullenly goes his way.--And
the man's head now white; his strong arm growing weary with its long work!
I think always too of his poor Mother, now very old, living in that Palace
of his; a right brave woman; as indeed they lived all an honest God-fearing
Household there: if she heard a shot go off, she thought it was her son
killed. He had to come to her at least once a day, that she might see with
her own eyes that he was yet living. The poor old Mother!--What had this
man gained; what had he gained? He had a life of sore strife and toil, to
his last day. Fame, ambition, place in History? His dead body was hung in
chains, his "place in History,"--place in History forsooth!--has been a
place of ignominy, accusation, blackness and disgrace; and here, this day,
who knows if it is not rash in me to be among the first that ever ventured
to pronounce him not a knave and liar, but a genuinely honest man! Peace
to him. Did he not, in spite of all, accomplish much for us? _We_ walk
smoothly over his great rough heroic life; step over his body sunk in the
ditch there. We need not _spurn_ it, as we step on it!--Let the Hero rest.
It was not to _men's_ judgment that he appealed; nor have men judged him
very well.

Precisely a century and a year after this of Puritanism had got itself
hushed up into decent composure, and its results made smooth, in 1688,
there broke out a far deeper explosion, much more difficult to hush up,
known to all mortals, and like to be long known, by the name of French
Revolution. It is properly the third and final act of Protestantism; the
explosive confused return of mankind to Reality and Fact, now that they
were perishing of Semblance and Sham. We call our English Puritanism the
second act: "Well then, the Bible is true; let us go by the Bible!" "In
Church," said Luther; "In Church and State," said Cromwell, "let us go by
what actually _is_ God's Truth." Men have to return to reality; they
cannot live on semblance. The French Revolution, or third act, we may well
call the final one; for lower than that savage _Sansculottism_ men cannot
go. They stand there on the nakedest haggard Fact, undeniable in all
seasons and circumstances; and may and must begin again confidently to
build up from that. The French explosion, like the English one, got its
King,--who had no Notary parchment to show for himself. We have still to
glance for a moment at Napoleon, our second modern King.

Napoleon does by no means seem to me so great a man as Cromwell. His
enormous victories which reached over all Europe, while Cromwell abode
mainly in our little England, are but as the high _stilts_ on which the man
is seen standing; the stature of the man is not altered thereby. I find in
him no such _sincerity_ as in Cromwell; only a far inferior sort. No
silent walking, through long years, with the Awful Unnamable of this
Universe; "walking with God," as he called it; and faith and strength in
that alone: _latent_ thought and valor, content to lie latent, then burst
out as in blaze of Heaven's lightning! Napoleon lived in an age when God
was no longer believed; the meaning of all Silence, Latency, was thought to
be Nonentity: he had to begin not out of the Puritan Bible, but out of
poor Sceptical _Encyclopedies_. This was the length the man carried it.
Meritorious to get so far. His compact, prompt, every way articulate
character is in itself perhaps small, compared with our great chaotic
inarticulate Cromwell's. Instead of "dumb Prophet struggling to speak," we
have a portentous mixture of the Quack withal! Hume's notion of the
Fanatic-Hypocrite, with such truth as it has, will apply much better to
Napoleon than it did to Cromwell, to Mahomet or the like,--where indeed
taken strictly it has hardly any truth at all. An element of blamable
ambition shows itself, from the first, in this man; gets the victory over
him at last, and involves him and his work in ruin.

"False as a bulletin" became a proverb in Napoleon's time. He makes what
excuse he could for it: that it was necessary to mislead the enemy, to
keep up his own men's courage, and so forth. On the whole, there are no
excuses. A man in no case has liberty to tell lies. It had been, in the
long-run, _better_ for Napoleon too if he had not told any. In fact, if a
man have any purpose reaching beyond the hour and day, meant to be found
extant _next_ day, what good can it ever be to promulgate lies? The lies
are found out; ruinous penalty is exacted for them. No man will believe
the liar next time even when he speaks truth, when it is of the last
importance that he be believed. The old cry of wolf!--A Lie is no-thing;
you cannot of nothing make something; you make _nothing_ at last, and lose
your labor into the bargain.

Yet Napoleon _had_ a sincerity: we are to distinguish between what is
superficial and what is fundamental in insincerity. Across these outer
manoeuverings and quackeries of his, which were many and most blamable, let
us discern withal that the man had a certain instinctive ineradicable
feeling for reality; and did base himself upon fact, so long as he had any
basis. He has an instinct of Nature better than his culture was. His
_savans_, Bourrienne tells us, in that voyage to Egypt were one evening
busily occupied arguing that there could be no God. They had proved it, to
their satisfaction, by all manner of logic. Napoleon looking up into the
stars, answers, "Very ingenious, Messieurs: but _who made_ all that?" The
Atheistic logic runs off from him like water; the great Fact stares him in
the face: "Who made all that?" So too in Practice: he, as every man that
can be great, or have victory in this world, sees, through all
entanglements, the practical heart of the matter; drives straight towards
that. When the steward of his Tuileries Palace was exhibiting the new
upholstery, with praises, and demonstration how glorious it was, and how
cheap withal, Napoleon, making little answer, asked for a pair of scissors,
clips one of the gold tassels from a window-curtain, put it in his pocket,
and walked on. Some days afterwards, he produced it at the right moment,
to the horror of his upholstery functionary; it was not gold but tinsel!
In St. Helena, it is notable how he still, to his last days, insists on the
practical, the real. "Why talk and complain; above all, why quarrel with
one another? There is no _result_ in it; it comes to nothing that one can
_do_. Say nothing, if one can do nothing!" He speaks often so, to his
poor discontented followers; he is like a piece of silent strength in the
middle of their morbid querulousness there.

And accordingly was there not what we can call a _faith_ in him, genuine so
far as it went? That this new enormous Democracy asserting itself here in
the French Revolution is an unsuppressible Fact, which the whole world,
with its old forces and institutions, cannot put down; this was a true
insight of his, and took his conscience and enthusiasm along with it,--a
_faith_. And did he not interpret the dim purport of it well? "_La
carriere ouverte aux talens_, The implements to him who can handle them:"
this actually is the truth, and even the whole truth; it includes whatever
the French Revolution or any Revolution, could mean. Napoleon, in his
first period, was a true Democrat. And yet by the nature of him, fostered
too by his military trade, he knew that Democracy, if it were a true thing
at all, could not be an anarchy: the man had a heart-hatred for anarchy.
On that Twentieth of June (1792), Bourrienne and he sat in a coffee-house,
as the mob rolled by: Napoleon expresses the deepest contempt for persons
in authority that they do not restrain this rabble. On the Tenth of August
he wonders why there is no man to command these poor Swiss; they would
conquer if there were. Such a faith in Democracy, yet hatred of anarchy,
it is that carries Napoleon through all his great work. Through his
brilliant Italian Campaigns, onwards to the Peace of Leoben, one would say,
his inspiration is: "Triumph to the French Revolution; assertion of it
against these Austrian Simulacra that pretend to call it a Simulacrum!"
Withal, however, he feels, and has a right to feel, how necessary a strong
Authority is; how the Revolution cannot prosper or last without such. To
bridle in that great devouring, self-devouring French Revolution; to _tame_
it, so that its intrinsic purpose can be made good, that it may become
_organic_, and be able to live among other organisms and _formed_ things,
not as a wasting destruction alone: is not this still what he partly aimed
at, as the true purport of his life; nay what he actually managed to do?
Through Wagrams, Austerlitzes; triumph after triumph,--he triumphed so far.
There was an eye to see in this man, a soul to dare and do. He rose
naturally to be the King. All men saw that he _was_ such. The common
soldiers used to say on the march: "These babbling _Avocats_, up at Paris;
all talk and no work! What wonder it runs all wrong? We shall have to go
and put our _Petit Caporal_ there!" They went, and put him there; they and
France at large. Chief-consulship, Emperorship, victory over Europe;--till
the poor Lieutenant of _La Fere_, not unnaturally, might seem to himself
the greatest of all men that had been in the world for some ages.

But at this point, I think, the fatal charlatan-element got the upper hand.
He apostatized from his old faith in Facts, took to believing in
Semblances; strove to connect himself with Austrian Dynasties, Popedoms,
with the old false Feudalities which he once saw clearly to be
false;--considered that _he_ would found "his Dynasty" and so forth; that
the enormous French Revolution meant only that! The man was "given up to
strong delusion, that he should believe a lie;" a fearful but most sure
thing. He did not know true from false now when he looked at them,--the
fearfulest penalty a man pays for yielding to untruth of heart. _Self_ and
false ambition had now become his god: self-deception once yielded to,
_all_ other deceptions follow naturally more and more. What a paltry
patchwork of theatrical paper-mantles, tinsel and mummery, had this man
wrapt his own great reality in, thinking to make it more real thereby! His
hollow _Pope's-Concordat_, pretending to be a re-establishment of
Catholicism, felt by himself to be the method of extirpating it, "_la
vaccine de la religion_:" his ceremonial Coronations, consecrations by the
old Italian Chimera in Notre-Dame,--"wanting nothing to complete the pomp
of it," as Augereau said, "nothing but the half-million of men who had died
to put an end to all that"! Cromwell's Inauguration was by the Sword and
Bible; what we must call a genuinely _true_ one. Sword and Bible were
borne before him, without any chimera: were not these the _real_ emblems
of Puritanism; its true decoration and insignia? It had used them both in
a very real manner, and pretended to stand by them now! But this poor
Napoleon mistook: he believed too much in the _Dupability_ of men; saw no
fact deeper in man than Hunger and this! He was mistaken. Like a man that
should build upon cloud; his house and he fall down in confused wreck, and
depart out of the world.

Alas, in all of us this charlatan-element exists; and _might_ be developed,
were the temptation strong enough. "Lead us not into temptation"! But it
is fatal, I say, that it _be_ developed. The thing into which it enters as
a cognizable ingredient is doomed to be altogether transitory; and, however
huge it may _look_, is in itself small. Napoleon's working, accordingly,
what was it with all the noise it made? A flash as of gunpowder
wide-spread; a blazing-up as of dry heath. For an hour the whole Universe
seems wrapt in smoke and flame; but only for an hour. It goes out: the
Universe with its old mountains and streams, its stars above and kind soil
beneath, is still there.

The Duke of Weimar told his friends always, To be of courage; this
Napoleonism was _unjust_, a falsehood, and could not last. It is true
doctrine. The heavier this Napoleon trampled on the world, holding it
tyrannously down, the fiercer would the world's recoil against him be, one
day. Injustice pays itself with frightful compound-interest. I am not
sure but he had better have lost his best park of artillery, or had his
best regiment drowned in the sea, than shot that poor German Bookseller,
Palm! It was a palpable tyrannous murderous injustice, which no man, let
him paint an inch thick, could make out to be other. It burnt deep into
the hearts of men, it and the like of it; suppressed fire flashed in the
eyes of men, as they thought of it,--waiting their day! Which day _came_:
Germany rose round him.--What Napoleon _did_ will in the long-run amount to
what he did justly; what Nature with her laws will sanction. To what of
reality was in him; to that and nothing more. The rest was all smoke and
waste. _La carriere ouverte aux talens_: that great true Message, which
has yet to articulate and fulfil itself everywhere, he left in a most
inarticulate state. He was a great _ebauche_, a rude-draught never
completed; as indeed what great man is other? Left in _too_ rude a state,

His notions of the world, as he expresses them there at St. Helena, are
almost tragical to consider. He seems to feel the most unaffected surprise
that it has all gone so; that he is flung out on the rock here, and the
World is still moving on its axis. France is great, and all-great: and at
bottom, he is France. England itself, he says, is by Nature only an
appendage of France; "another Isle of Oleron to France." So it was by
_Nature_, by Napoleon-Nature; and yet look how in fact--HERE AM I! He
cannot understand it: inconceivable that the reality has not corresponded
to his program of it; that France was not all-great, that he was not
France. "Strong delusion," that he should believe the thing to be which
_is_ not! The compact, clear-seeing, decisive Italian nature of him,
strong, genuine, which he once had, has enveloped itself, half-dissolved
itself, in a turbid atmosphere of French fanfaronade. The world was not
disposed to be trodden down underfoot; to be bound into masses, and built
together, as _he_ liked, for a pedestal to France and him: the world had
quite other purposes in view! Napoleon's astonishment is extreme. But
alas, what help now? He had gone that way of his; and Nature also had gone
her way. Having once parted with Reality, he tumbles helpless in Vacuity;
no rescue for him. He had to sink there, mournfully as man seldom did; and
break his great heart, and die,--this poor Napoleon: a great implement too
soon wasted, till it was useless: our last Great Man!

Our last, in a double sense. For here finally these wide roamings of ours
through so many times and places, in search and study of Heroes, are to
terminate. I am sorry for it: there was pleasure for me in this business,
if also much pain. It is a great subject, and a most grave and wide one,
this which, not to be too grave about it, I have named _Hero-worship_. It
enters deeply, as I think, into the secret of Mankind's ways and vitalest
interests in this world, and is well worth explaining at present. With six
months, instead of six days, we might have done better. I promised to
break ground on it; I know not whether I have even managed to do that. I
have had to tear it up in the rudest manner in order to get into it at all.
Often enough, with these abrupt utterances thrown out isolated,
unexplained, has your tolerance been put to the trial. Tolerance, patient
candor, all-hoping favor and kindness, which I will not speak of at
present. The accomplished and distinguished, the beautiful, the wise,
something of what is best in England, have listened patiently to my rude
words. With many feelings, I heartily thank you all; and say, Good be with
you all!

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