At St. Ives in Huntingdonshire, where Oliver Cromwell farmed and resided for some years, the people have determined to attempt some kind of memorial to that memorable character. Other persons in other quarters seem to be, more or less languidly, talking up the question; in Country Papers I have read emphatic heading-articles, recommending and urging that there should be a "People's Statue" of this great Oliver, — Statue furnished by universal contribution from the English People; and set up, if possible, in London, in Huntingdon, or failing both these places, in St. Ives, or Naseby Field. Indeed a considerable notion seems to exist in the English mind, that some brass or stone acknowledgment is due to Cromwell, and ought to be paid him. So that the vexed question, "Shall Cromwell have a Statue?" appears to be resuscitating itself; and the weary Public must prepare to agitate it again.
Poor English public, they really are exceedingly bewildered with Statues at present. They would fain do honour to somebody, if they did but know whom or how. Unfortunately they know neither whom nor how; they are, at present, the farthest in the world from knowing! They have raised a set of the ugliest Statues, and to the most extraordinary persons, ever seen under the sun before. Being myself questioned, in reference to the New Houses of Parliament some years ago, "Shall Cromwell have a Statue?" I had to answer, with sorrowful dubiety: "Cromwell? Side by side with a sacred Charles the Second, sacred George the Fourth, and the other sacred Charleses, Jameses, Georges, and Defenders of the Faith, — I am afraid he wouldn't like it! Let us decide provisionally, No." And now again as to St. Ives and the People's Statue, is it not to be asked in like manner: "Who are the 'People?' Are they a People worthy to build Statues to Cromwell; or worthy only of doing it to Hudson?" — This latter is a consideration that will head us into far deeper and more momentous than scuptural inquiries; and I will request the reader's excellent company into these for a little.
The truth is, dear Reader, nowhere, to an impartial observant person, does the deep-sunk condition of the English mind, in these sad epochs; and how, in all spiritual or moral provinces, it has long quitted company with fact, and ceased to have veracity of heart, and clearness or sincerity of purpose, in regard to such matters, — more signally manifest itself, than in this affair of Public Statues. Whom doth the king delight to honour? that is the question of questions concerning the king's own honour. Show me the man you honour; I know by that symptom, better than by any other, what kind of man you yourself are. For you show me there what your ideal of manhood is; what kind of man you long inexpressibly to be, and would thank the gods, with your whole soul, for being if you could.
Last modified 3 February 2008