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into their due subterranean abodes, to beat hemp and repenta true never-ending attempt going on to handcuff, to silence and suppress them? Or did they walk openly abroad, the envy of a general valet-population, and bear sway; professing, withoul universal anathema, almost with general assent, that they were the Orthodox Party; that they, even they, were such men as you had right to look for ?—
Reader, the Ages differ greatly, even infinitely, from one another. Considerable tracts of Ages there have been, by far the majority indeed, wherein the men, unfortunate mortals, were a set of mimetic creatures rather than men; without heart-insight as to this Universe, and its Heights and its Abysses; without conviction or belief of their own regarding it, at all;—who walked merely by hearsays, traditionary cants, black and white surplices, and inane confusions;—whose whole Existence accordingly was a grimace; nothing original in it, nothing genuine or sincere but this only,—their greediness of appetite and their faculty of digestion. Such unhappy ages, too numerous here below, the Genius of Mankind indignantly seizes, as disgraceful to the Family, -and with Rhadamanthine ruthlessness—annihilates; tumbles large masses of them swiftly into Eternal Night. These are the Unheroic ages; which cannot serve, on the general field of Existence, except as dust, as inorganic manure. The memory of such Ages fades away for ever out of the minds of all men. Why should any memory of them continue? The fashion of them has passed away; and as for genuine substance, they never had any. To no heart of a man any more can these Ages become lovely. What melodious loving heart will search into their records, will sing of them, or celebrate them? Even torpid Dryasdust is forced to give over at last, all creatures declining to hear him on that subject; whereupon ensues composure and silence, and Oblivion has her own.
Good reader, if you be wise, search not for the secret of Heroic Ages, which have done great things in this Earth, among their falsities, their greedy quackeries and unheroisms! It never lies and never will lie there. Knaves and quacks,—alas, we know they abounded: but the Age was Heroic even because it had -declared war to the death with these, and would have neither truce nor treaty with these; and went forth, flame-crowned, as with bared sword, and called the Most High to witness that it would not endure these!—But now for the Letters of Cromwell themselves
St. Ives, a small Town of perhaps fifteen hundred souls, stand* on the left or Northeastern bank of the River Ouse, in flat grassy country, and is still noted as a Cattle-market in those parts. Its chief historical fame is likely to rest on the following one remaining Letter of Cromwell's, written there on the 11th of January, 1635-6.
The little Town, of somewhat dingy aspect, and very quiescent except on market-days, runs from Northwest to Southeast, parallel to the shore of the Ouse, a short furlong in length: it probably, in Cromwell's time, consisted mainly of a row of houses fronting the River; the now opposite row, which has its back tc the River, and still is shorter than the other, still defective at the upper end, was probably built since. In that case, the locality we hear of as the 'Green' of St. Ives would then be space which is now covered mainly with cattle-pens for market-business, and forms the middle of the street. A .narrow steep old Bridge, probably the same which Cromwell travelled, leads you over, westward, towards Godmanchester, where you again cross the Ouse, and get into Huntingdon. Eastward out of St. Ives, your route is towards Earith, Ely and the heart of the Fens.
At the upper or Northwestern extremity of the place stands the Church; Cromwell's old fields being at the opposite extremity. The Church from its Churchyard looks down into the very River, which is fenced from it by a brick wall. The Ouse flows here, you cannot without study tell in which direction, fringed with gross reedy herbage and bushes; and is of the blackness of Acheron, streaked with foul metallic glitterings and plays of color. For a short space downwards here, the banks of it are fully visible; the western row of houses being somewhat the shorter, as already hinted: instead of houses here, you have a rough wooden balustrade, and the black Acheron of an Ouse River used as a washing-place or watering-place for cattle. Ths old