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hypocrisy would have been fatal to his decision. The double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.
This man was not unstable in any of his ways; his course is as straight as that of a great force of nature. There is something not only more than animal, but more than natural in his courage. If fanatics so often beat men of the world in council, it is partly because they throw the die of earthly destiny with a steady hand, as those whose great treasure is not here.
Walking amid such perils, not of sword and bullet only, but of envious factions and intriguing enemies on every side, it was impossible that Cromwell should not contract a wariness, and perhaps more than a wariness, of step. It was impossible that his character should not in some measure reflect the darkness of his time.
In establishing his government, he had to feel his way to sound men's dispositions, to conciliate different interests; and these are processes not favorable to simplicity of mind, still less favorable to the appearance of it, yet compatible with general honesty of purpose. As to what is called his hypocritical use of Scriptural language, Scriptural language was his native tongue. In it he spoke to his wife and children, as well as to his armies and his Parliaments; it burst from his lips when he saw victory at Dunbar; it hovered on them in death, when policy, and almost consciousness, was gone.
He said that he would gladly have gone back to private life. It is incredible that he should have formed the design, perhaps not incredible that he should have felt the desire. Nature, no doubt, with high powers gives the wish to use them; and it must be bitter for one who knows that he can do great things to pass away before great things have been done.
But when great things
have been done for a great end on an illustrious scene, the victor of Naseby, Dunbar, and Worcester, the savior of a nation's cause, may be ready to welcome the evening hour of memory and repose, especially if, like Cromwell, he has a heart full of affection, and a happy home.
No leafy wreath we twine
away, As will the grateful lay
We weave him now.
But Time shall touch the page
Has dared to live,
New life to give.
Now, with the peaceful dead
Where dust returns to dust.
Among the kindred just.
CXV. - MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE.
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.
THE return of the robin is commonly announced by
the newspapers, like that of eminent or notorious people to a watering-place, as the first authentic notification of spring. And such his appearance in the orchard and garden undoubtedly is. But, in spite of his name of migratory thrush, he stays with us all winter, and I
have seen him when the thermometer marked fifteen degrees below zero of Fahrenheit, armed impregnably within, like Emerson's titmouse, and as cheerful as he. The robin has a bad reputation among people who do not value themselves less for being fond of cherries. There is, I admit, a spice of vulgarity in him, and his song is rather of the Bloomfield sort, too largely ballasted with prose.
His ethics are of the Poor Richard school, and the main chance which calls forth all his energy is altogether of the appetite. He never has those fine intervals of lunacy into which his cousins, the catbird and the mavis, are apt to fall. But for a' that and twice as muckle 's a' that, I would not exchange him for all the cherries that ever came out of Asia Minor. With whatever faults, he has not wholly forfeited that superiority which belongs to the children of nature.
He has a finer taste in fruit than could be distilled from many successive committees of the Horticultural Society, and he eats with a relishing gulp not inferior to Dr. Johnson's. He feels and freely exercises his right of eminent domain. His is the earliest mess of green peas; his, all the mulberries I had fancied mine. But if he get also the lion's share of the raspberries, he is a great planter, and sows those wild ones in the woods, that solace the pedestrians and give a momentary calm even to the jaded victims of the White Hills. He keeps a strict eye over one's fruit, and knows to a shade of purple when your grapes have cooked long enough in the
During the severe drought a few years ago, the robins wholly vanished from my garden. I neither saw nor heard one for three weeks. Meanwhile, a small foreign
grape-vine, rather shy of bearing, seemed to find the dusty air congenial, and, dreaming perhaps of its sweet Argos across the sea, decked itself with a score or so of fair bunches. I watched them from day to day till they should have secreted sugar enough from the sunbeams, and at last made up my mind that I would celebrate my vintage the next morning. But the robins, too, had somehow kept note of them. They must have sent out spies, as did the Jews into the promised land, before I was stirring. When I went with my basket, at least a dozen of these winged vintagers bustled out from among the leaves, and, alighting on the nearest trees, interchanged some shrill remarks about me of a derogatory nature.
They had fairly sacked the vine. Not Wellington's veterans made cleaner work of a Spanish town; not Federals or Confederates were ever more impartial in the confiscation of neutral chickens. I was keeping my grapes a secret to surprise the fair Fidele with, but the robins made them a profounder secret to her than I had meant. The tattered remnant of a single bunch was all my harvest-home. How paltry it looked at the bottom of my basket, -as if a humming-bird had laid her egg in an eagle's nest! I could not help laughing; and the robins seemed to join heartily in the merriment. There was a native grape-vine close by, blue with its less refined abundance, but my cunning thieves preferred the foreign flavor. Could I tax them with want of taste ?
The robins are not good solo singers, but their chorus, as, like primitive fire-worshipers they hail the return of light and warmth to the world, is unrivaled.
There are a hundred singing like one. They are noisy enough then, and sing, as poets should, with no afterthought. But