Nearly all the anecdotes related of him by Helbig, in the biography contributed by him to the journal Minerva (1797-1800), and freely utilized by later biographers, are absolutely worthless.
The royalist anecdotes relating to his youth, including charges of ill-conduct, do not deserve credit, the entries in the register of St John's, Huntingdon, noting Oliver's submission on two occasions to church censure being forgeries; but it is not improbable that his youth was wild and possibly dissolute.'
The anecdotes believed and circulated by the royalists that Cromwell died in all the agonies of remorse and fear are entirely false.
There is such a many-sided richness, such a tenderness, such a poetry, such an originality, such a distinction revealed by the innumerable anecdotes in the memoirs of his disciples, that his personality is brought home to us as one of the most lovable and one of the strongest of men.
Besides the works, properly so called, there is a considerable amount of traditional matter - anecdotes, sayings, sermons - preserved in the biographies and in the Fioretti; 1 a great deal of this matter is no doubt substantially authentic, but it is not possible to subject it to any critical sifting.