Page:CromwellHugo.djvu/58

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


being, as if each key of the key-board were connected with a fibre of the heart. He has surrendered to the desire to depict all those fanaticisms, all those superstitions--maladies to which religion is subject at certain epochs; to the longing to "make playthings of all these men," as Hamlet says. to set in array about and below Cromwell, himself the centre and pivot of that court, of that people, of that little world, which attracts all to his cause and inspires all with his vigour, that twofold conspiracy devised by two factions which detest each other, but join hands to overthrow the man who blocks their path, but which unite simply without blending; and that Puritan faction, of divers minds, fanatical, gloomy, unselfish, choosing for leader the most insignificant of men for such a great part, the egotistical and cowardly Lambert; and the faction of the Cavaliers, featherheaded, merry, unscrupulous, reckless, devoted, led by the man who, aside from his devotion to the cause, was least fitted to represent it, the stern and upright Ormond; and those ambassadors, so humble and fawning before the soldier of fortune; and the court itself, an extraordinary mixture of upstarts and great nobles vying with one another in baseness; and the four jesters whom the contemptuous neglect of history permitted me to invent; and Cromwell's family, each member of which is as a thorn in his flesh; and Thurloe, the Protector's Achates; and the Jewish rabbi, Israel Ben-Manasseh, spy, usurer, and astrologer, vile on two sides, sublime on the third; and Rochester, the unique Rochester, absurd and clever, refined and crapulous, always cursing, always in love, and always tipsy, as he himself boasted to Bishop Burnet--wretched poet and gallant gentleman, vicious and ingenuous, staking his head and indifferent whether he wins the game provided it amuses him--in a word, capable of everything, of ruse and recklessness, calculation and folly, villainy and generosity; and the morose Carr, of whom history describes but one trait, albeit a most characteristic and suggestive one; and those other fanatics, of all ranks and varieties: Harrison, the thieving fanatic; Barebones the shopkeeping fanatic; Syndercomb, the bravo; Garland the tearful and pious assassin; gallant Colonel Overton, intelligent but a little declamatory; the austere and unbending Ludlow, who left his ashes and his epitaph at Lausanne; and lastly, "Milton and a few other men