Reference > Quotations > S. Austin Allibone, comp. > Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay
S. Austin Allibone, comp.  Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay.  1880.
  Oliver Cromwell united in a very high degree the characters of the politician and general, and occasionally assumed those of the buffoon and the preacher…. He is an amazing instance of what ambition, heated by enthusiasm, restrained by judgment, disguised by hypocrisy, and aided by natural vigour of mind, can do. He was never oppressed with the weight, or perplexed with the intricacy, of affairs; but his deep penetration, indefatigable activity, and invincible resolution seemed to render him master of all events. He persuaded without eloquence; and exacted obedience more from the terror of his name than the vigour of his administration.
James Granger.    
  The ambition of Oliver was of no vulgar kind. He never seems to have coveted despotic power. He at first fought sincerely and manfully for the Parliament, and never deserted it till it had deserted its duty. If he dissolved it by force, it was not till he found that the few members who remained after so many deaths, secessions, and expulsions were desirous to appropriate to themselves a power which they held only in trust, and to inflict upon England the curse of a Venetian oligarchy. But even when thus placed by violence at the head of affairs, he did not assume unlimited power. He gave the country a constitution far more perfect than any which had at that time been known in the world. He reformed the representative system in a manner which has extorted praise even from Lord Clarendon. For himself he demanded indeed the first place in the commonwealth; but with powers scarcely so great as those of a Dutch stadtholder or an American president. He gave the Parliament a voice in the appointment of ministers, and left to it the whole legislative authority, not even reserving to himself a veto on its enactments; and he did not require that the chief magistracy should be hereditary in his family. Thus far, we think, if the circumstances of the time and the opportunities which he had of aggrandizing himself be fairly considered, he will not lose by comparison with Washington or Bolivar.
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay: Milton, Aug. 1825.    

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