Some four or five miles away are the imposing ruins of a great abbey of the Franciscans. It had once been of so great importance in the land that when the archabbey wrecker decreed that it should be demolished, he sent his most trustworthy housebreaker to carry out his orders. Now everybody of education in Mallingham can tell you all that is known about the venerable ruin, and it is the pride of the town that it should be so closely connected with the history of the Abbey; but I have never yet met with any layman in the neighbourhood who was not under the impression that the crime of its destruction should be added to the pretty long account of that Cromwell who was called Oliver, and I should not like to be the person who would suggest that there was another Cromwell—one who did not decapitate his king, but whom his king decapitated.

For that matter, however, it must be acknowledged that the people of Mallingham do not stand alone in mixing up those iconoclasts. I have found that in many parts of England as well as Ireland every deficiency in the features of a church figure or a church ornament is attributed to the later Cromwell. In Ireland I have had pointed out to me by clergymen of both churches the headless saints and the broken carvings caused by the fury of “Cromwell,” though I knew perfectly well that the work of sacrilege could not have been done by him, for two reasons, the first being that in his devastating progress through Ireland he had never approached the places in question, and the second being that the sacred buildings in which the damage was done had not been built until long after Cromwell had sailed for England, after being soundly-beaten at Clonmel.

Of course in Ireland there was only one “curse of Cromwell”; but in England I soon found that there were two, and so the progress of confusion began, until at the present time, when you are visiting any old church and see in a niche an adult saint with a broken nose, or a carved rood screen deficient about the rood, the verger—sometimes the rector himself—is quite fluent in explaining that the heavy hand of Cromwell must be held accountable for the spoliation. If you ask which of the two, the answer will most certainly be, “Why, Cromwell to be sure—Cromwell—Oliver Cromwell.”

An outsider should not interfere. The shade of Oliver would not shudder, even if such an expression of emotion were permitted the shadiest of shades, at the accusation being directed against him instead of the older Cromwell. He would probably say, if speech were allowed to him, “I have the greatest possible satisfaction in allowing my name to be associated with any act of iconoclasm of the nature of those acts so conscientiously perpetrated by my distinguished countryman.”

He would feel that, could he have had any hand in smashing in the roofs of monasteries and despoiling rich abbeys, it would be accounted to him for righteousness. After such splendid acts of spoliation, knocking the nose off a poorly carved saint could not but seem a paltry thing, quite unworthy of any man with a reputation for a heavy hand to maintain.

But Mallingham, for all its literary and historical ignorance, has its heart in the right place; and it is staunch to Church and State—staunch to the core. Every Fifth of November it has its procession emblematic of these principles, and it must be confessed that the symbolism of the movement is not exclusive. To express adequately the loyalty of Mallingham, it is found necessary to set forth in marching order Turks, male and female, Negroes, Zulus, Toreadors, Pierrots, Harlequins, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Pirates, Mary Queen of Scots, Firemen, Dragoons, William Shakespeare, a Sailor, and many other characters, all of whom, it must be taken for granted, typify the triumph of Loyalty. Should any question a-rise—for captious inquirers may always be reckoned on in these days of high educational achievement—as to the identity of the leading typical figure in this pageant and the reason of the obloquy that is heaped upon him, culminating in the stake, with foul-mouthed explosives, the answer is that he is one Guy Fox, and that he is paying the penalty of having failed to blow up the Houses of Parliament. After that explanation no one can doubt that, whoever he was, he richly deserves his fate—or should it be spelt fête?

Occasionally co-opted with him is an unpopular person of distinction in the neighbourhood—a clergyman who lies under the stigma of preaching toleration, a police superintendent with a constitutional distaste for bonfires and low-flash explosives in the public streets, or perhaps a District Visitor suspected of “leanings.” But usually by midnight the worst is over, and good nature without intoxicants prevails throughout the motley crowd; the Archbishop of Canterbury lights his cigarette—one of the packet with the pictures—from that of the Pirate King; Mary Queen of Scots hurries to the house where she discharges the duties of parlour-maid, complaining to a sympathetic Shakespeare that she has to be up at six in the morning to let in the sweep, and so home to bed.

The only literary fact which is impressed upon all the townspeople is that by some way never made quite clear, the singeing effigy, whose obsequies have been so imposing, was responsible for a Book of Martyrs. The general idea is that he was responsible for the martyrs themselves, and that Foxes Book of Martyrs is a sort of catalogue with descriptive text of his victims.

So, as has been stated, the two Cromwells have but a single identity in the minds of Mallingham.

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