Monday, March 11, 2013


  His working rule was that of Marchamont Needham ;  government was “an art or artifice found out by man’s wisdom and occasioned by necessity,” and not a deduction from “principles and natural right and freedom.”  He had as deep a contempt for the compact and riveted logic of the republican and the leveller as for the fantasies of the Fifth Monarchy men.  His mind was wholly unspeculative, and he never felt the compulsion which others have felt to weave his views into an harmonious system of thought.

  It was impossible for him, being the man he was, to leave any permanent construction behind him, any more than he could leave a code of principles.  He was the creature of emergencies,  and he died while still feeling his way.  England, let it be remembered, blundered and sidled into modern parliamentaryism.

Text:  John Buchan, Oliver Cromwell, 1934.


  1. "Wolf Hall" and "Bring Up the Bodies" offer a vivid illustration of an earlier Cromwell who exhibited the same qualities. "A creature of emergencies." But of course he worked for a king, which makes quite a difference.

    1. Have read about these novels and their author, but have not read them. I think I'd like to once I clear away some things. Only recently I discovered a really excellent book store (all second-hand) called The Title Page in Bryn Mawr that's owned by a Swarthmore alumna named Beverly Potter (class of 1955). You can lose yourself in there for hours. They have a very large inventory, which was tragically reduced last summer when a water main on their street broke and flooded the store up to the lowest rank of shelves. Anyway, I found a book called The Clearing House, which is an excellent anthology of John Buchan writings that samples all his work, including the volumes of history and biography he wrote, including his book on Oliver Cromwell. The Buchan anthology was assembled and edited by his widow, Lady Tweedsmuir and it's been keeping me company during this virtual news blackout period for us. Curtis