R.G. Lee – Pickings
In a certain district in Columbia, South America, every chicken killed must be presented to government authorities for inspection. This is not a health measure such as governs the sanitary slaughter of food animals in this country but is a requirement to prevent the chicken owner from coming into possession of any stray emeralds that might happen to be found in the chicken’s gizzard. In that section is located the only emerald producing territory in the southern continent, and fowls often pick up the precious stone in preference to ordinary gravel.
I wonder if a gizzard inspection of human beings to see if folks have any “sand in the craw” would not be a good thing. And if no sand were found, would it not be a great achievement to put some “sand” therein? It was Robert Burton who said: “A cur, going through a village, if he clap his tail between his legs and fun away, every cur will insult over him, but if he bristle up himself and stand to it, give but a counter snarl, there’s not a dog dare meddle with him.” Much is in a man’s courage and discreet carriage of himself. There are too many hearts that have never learned “to laugh at the shaking of a spear” – too many hearts that have a courage “faint as a glimmering taper’s wasted light” – too many hearts whose determination is “faint, like distant clarion feebly blown” – too many hearts whose persistence is “fainter than a young lamb’s bleat.” Too many there are whose faces show no more purpose than “a pale moon in vapor, faintly bright.” Too many there are from whose eyes the light of purpose has faded – faded “like an old opera tune played upon a harpsichord, or like the sun-flooded silks of an eighteenth-century boudoir” – faded, as Shelley says, “like a cloud which has out wept its rain.”
Maybe it is entirely appropriate here to record a verse from Holy Writ, lest our eyes, when they should function clearly, become eyes “like a loose button on an ulster”; “And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart” (Deut. 20:8).