History Today, (1951) Volume: 1 Issue: 1
“Great Strafford! worthy of thy name though all. Of thee could be forgotten but thy fall.”
With these words Sir John Denham, not the most inspired of poets, apostrophized the great minister of King Charles I, remembering how, day after day in Westminster Hall under the eyes of several thousand spectators, he had fought the long duel for his life with his Parliamentary accusers.
“So did he move our passion, some were known To wish, for the defence, the crime their own. Now private pity strove with public hate, Reason with rage and eloquence with fate …”
The solitary figure of Strafford, foredoomed to death by Parliamentary policy and popular hatred seemed at the time and long after a fit subject for tragedy. He inspired much contemporary and some later verse; he was the subject of crude popular prints in his own time and of much-reproduced Victorian historical paintings; he became the hero of at least two poetic dramas, one in French by Lally Tollendal one in English by Browning, and he has up to the present day provoked even quite placid historians into bursts of fine writing.