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STRUCK with the light thrown on the character and history of Cromwell by the various documents which have issued from the press during the last few years, I felt a desire to publish in a Continental Review the result of my examination. But so great was the interest I found in my subject, that I have written a Book rather than an Article, and am now compelled to renounce my first intentions, and to lay this Historical Essay before the Public in the form of a distinct work.
Before I had attentively read Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches, edited by Mr. Thomas CARLYLE, I thought it would be beneficial to translate his volumes into French; but my opinions in that respect are changed. They appear to us generally on the Continent to possess so much originality of thought and manner as to defy all possibility of rendering them into any of our languages. I would not be understood as censuring an undertaking, which, in my judgment, is one of the most remarkable that has been produced in Great Britain for a long period; indeed I have rarely met with any publication combiuing greater depth of research with remarks as acute as they are just. I have profited greatly by the scattered documents which Mr. Carlyle has so happily brought together.
I am not insensible to the imperfections of the volume I now present to the English public. I therefore beg my readers to call to mind that my original design was merely to write an article for a Review.
The object of this work, ...... the rectification of the common opinion with regard to Cromwell's religious character, has obliged the Author to introduce many quotations from his Letters and Speeches. Mere assertion or argument without proof would have been useless. It is not we who ought, in this day, to justify the great Protector; he should justify himself; and fortunately authentic and authoritative testimony is not wanting for this purpose. This circumstance will explain the difference between the volume now submitted to the reader and the Author's other historical compositions. But he may also observe that the special nature of this work seemed occasionally to require him to introduce reflections, somewhat more extended perhaps than properly belong to history.
Should any of my friends be surprised at the choice of my subject, I would remind them that the epoch to which it relates is, perhaps, one of the most important in modern times, so far as concerns the new developments of nations; that Southey has said, “ there is no portion of history in which it so much behooves an Englishman to be thoroughly versed, as in that of Cromwell's age;" and above all, that “ life would be nothing worth, if it were not employed to tell and to maintain the truth," more especially a truth overlooked or forgotten.
Ubi plura nitent......non ego paucis
I will make one observation more; although the Protector is the subject of this sketch, its main interest does not consist in him, but in Protestantism. Protestantism in Cromwell's mind was far above his own person. No book can treat worthily of the great Oliver, if the Protestant interest does not hold the foremost place in it. We speak in his spirit when we respect the ancient motto :
Deo soli gloria, omnia humana idola pereant !
Protestantism is the great interest of Europe, of the world, -and, especially at this moment, the great interest of England. While revising this essay, I met with a learned and distinguished work by an anonymous author on German Protestantism. I was delighted to find that my ideas in many cases agreed with his, and I have, in several instances, profited by them. All the Protestant forces must now be aroused; and to that end, it is the duty of every evangelical writer to point them out. This task I have here feebly attempted, and I shall perhaps resume it at some future period, by publishing a few recollections of the journey I made in 1845 through Germany, England, and Scotland.
The Theological Faculty of the University of Berlin having recently conferred upon me the degree of Doctor in Divinity,
,-a title which I had received some years ago from the College of Princeton, New Jersey, United States, I think it my duty to conform with the German custom, and dedicate to that learned body the first Work published by me subsequently to that high honor. This will explain to my British readers the motives for the Dedication prefixed to this Volume.
J. H. MERLE D'AUBIGNÉ. GENEVA, May 1847.
The Author having observed that in England he is frequently called Dr. D'Au bigné, takes the liberty of reminding his readers that his name is Merle d'Aubigné; the latter appellation being assumed by his grandfather to prevent a name from becoming extinct which deserved well of Protestantism. As it proceeds from a mat. rimonial alliance, it is not sufficient of itself to designate the Author.