An Horatian Ode upon Cromwel's Return from Ireland
The forward Youth that would appear
Must now forsake his Muses dear,
..Nor in the Shadows sing
..His Numbers languishing.
'Tis time to leave the Books in dust,
And oyl th'unused Armours rust:
..Removing from the Wall
..The Corslet of the Hall.
So restless Cromwel could not cease
In the inglorious Arts of Peace,
..But through adventurous War
..Urgèd his active Star.
And, like the three-fork'd Lightning, first
Breaking the Clouds where it was nurst,
..Did thorough his own Side
..His fiery way divide.
For 'tis all one to Courage high
The Emulous or Enemy;
..And with such to inclose
..Is more than to oppose.
Then burning through the Air he went,
And Pallaces and Temples rent:
..And Caesars head at last
..Did through his Laurels blast.
'Tis Madness to resist or blame
The force of angry Heavens flame:
..And, if we would speak true,
Who, from his private Gardens, where
He liv'd reserved and austere,
..As if his highest plot
..To plant the Bergamot,
Could by industrious Valour climbe
To ruine the great Work of Time,
..And cast the Kingdome old
..Into another Mold.
Charles I in the robes of the Order of the Garter: Sir Anthony van Dyck, 1636 (image by Lord Horatio Nelson, 2008)
Though Justice against Fate complain,
And plead the antient Rights in vain:
..But those do hold or break
The New Model Army Souldier's Catechisme, rules, regulations and drill procedures, First English Civil War: photo by Gene.arboit, 2006
Nature that hateth emptiness,
Allows of penetration less:
..And therefore must make room.
..Where greater Spirits come.
Site of the Battle of Naseby (14 June 1645), Naseby, Northamptonshire: photo by Stavros1, 2007
What Field of all the Civil Wars,
Where his were not the deepest Scars?
..And Hampton shows what part
..He had of wiser Art.
Charles I of England and Henrietta of France: Sir Anthony van Dyck, 1636 (Galleria Palatina/Palazzo Pitti, Florence)
Where, twining subtile fears with hope,
He wove a Net of such a scope,
..That Charles himself might chase
..To Caresbrooks narrow case.
Trial before Parliament of King Charles I, 1649: artist unknown, from J. Nelson: Nelson's Record of the Trial of Charles I, 1683 (image by Btphelps, 2008)
That thence the Royal Actor born
The Tragick Scaffold might adorn
..While round the armed Bands
..Did clap their bloody hands.
Charles I at his Trial before Parliament, 1649: Edward Bower, 1649 (image by Thomas Gun, 2009)
He nothing common did or mean
Upon that memorable Scene:
..But with his keener Eye
..The Axes edge did try:
Beheading of Charles I, 1649: author unknown (German), from D. Williamson: The Kings and Queens of England, 1998 (image by Giacomo, 2009)
Nor call'd the Gods with vulgar spight
To vindicate his helpless Right,
..But bow'd his comely Head,
..Down as upon a Bed.
King Charles the Martyr (Christomimetes): anonymous, late 17th century (National Portrait Gallery; image by Thomas Gun, 2009)
This was that memorable Hour
Which first assur'd the forced Pow'r.
..So when they did design
..The Capitols first Line,
A bleeding Head where they begun,
Did fright the Architects to run;
..And yet in that the State
..Foresaw it's happy Fate.
And now the Irish are asham'd
To see themselves in one Year tam'd:
..So much one Man can do,
..That does both act and know.
They can affirm his Praises best,
And have, though overcome, confest
..How good he is, how just,
..And fit for highest Trust:
Nor yet grown stiffer with Command,
But still in the Republick's hand:
..How fit he is to sway
..That can so well obey.
He to the Commons Feet presents
A Kingdome, for his first years rents:
..And, what he may, forbears
..His Fame to make it theirs:
And has his Sword and Spoyls ungirt,
To lay them at the Publick's skirt.
..So when the Falcon high
..Falls heavy from the Sky,
She, having kill'd no more does search,
But on the next green Bow to pearch;
..Where, when he first does lure,
..The Falckner has her sure.
British half-crown coin, 1658, bearing head of Oliver Cromwell in classical style; inscription: OLIVAR[IVS]·D[EI]·G[RATIA]·R[
What may not then our Isle presume
While Victory his Crest does plume!
..What may not others fear
..If thus he crown each Year!
A Caesar he ere long to Gaul,
To Italy an Hannibal,
..And to all States not free
..Shall Clymacterick be.
Cromwell at Dunbar, 3 September 1650: Andrew Carrick Gow, c. 1866
The Pict no shelter now shall find
Within his party-colour'd Mind;
..But from this Valour sad
..Shrink underneath the Plad:
Happy if in the tufted brake
The English Hunter him mistake;
..Nor lay his Hounds in near
..The Caledonian Deer.
But thou the Wars and Fortunes Son
March indefatigably on;
..And for the last effect
..Still keep thy Sword erect:
Besides the Force it has to fright
The Spirits of the shady Night,
..The same Arts that did gain
..A Pow'r must it maintain.
Oliver Cromwell's death mask, Warwick Castle: photo by Chris Nyborg, 2006