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Gog And Magog
by [?]

Gog and Magog, let it be dearly understood, are the two tall poplar-trees that keep ceaseless vigil by my gate. I state this fact baldly and unequivocally at the very outset in order to set at rest, once and for ever, all controversies and disputations on that fascinating point. Historians will reach down the ponderous and dusty tomes that litter up their formidable shelves, and will tell me that Gog and Magog were two famous British giants whose life-sized statues, fourteen feet high, have stood for more than two hundred years in the Guildhall in London. But that is all that the historians know about it! Theologians, and especially theologians of a certain school, will remind me that Gog and Magog are biblical characters. Are they not mentioned in the prophecy of Ezekiel and in the Book of Revelation? And then, looking gravely over their spectacles, these learned-looking gentlemen will ask me if I am seriously of opinion that the inspired writers were referring to my pair of lofty poplars. I hasten to assure these nervous and unimaginative gentlemen that I propose to commit myself to no such heresy. Like Mrs. Gamp, I would not presume. For ages past these cryptic titles have provided my excellent friends with ground for interminable speculation, and for the most ingenious exploits of interpretation. How could I have the heart to exclusively allocate to these stately sentinels that guard my gate the titles that have afforded the interpreters such endless pleasure? I would as soon attempt to snatch from a boy his only peg-top, or from a girl her only doll, as embark upon so barbarous an atrocity. How could they ever again declare, with the faintest scrap of confidence, that Gog and Magog represented any particular pair of princes or potentates if I deliberately anticipate them by walking off with both labels and coolly attaching them to my two poplar-trees? The thing is absurd upon the face of it. And so I repeat that for the purposes of this article, and for the purposes of this article only, Gog and Magog are the two tall poplar-trees that keep ceaseless vigil by my gate.

Trees are very lovable things. We all like Beaconsfield the better because he was so passionately devoted to the trees at Hughenden. He was so fond of them that he directed in his will that none of them should ever be cut down. So I am not ashamed of my tenderness for Gog and Magog. There they stand, down at the gate; the one on the one side, and the other on the other. Huge giants they are, with a giant’s strength and a giant’s stature, but with more than a giant’s grace. From whichever direction I come, they always seem to salute me with a welcome as soon as I come round the bend in the road. It is always pleasant when home has something about it that can be seen at a distance. The last half-mile on the homeward road is the half-mile in which the climax of weariness is reached. It is like the last straw that breaks the camel’s back. But if there is a light at the window, or some clear landmark that distinguishes the spot, the very sight of the familiar object lures the traveller on, and in actual sight of home he forgets his fatigue.

It is a very pleasant thing to have two glorious poplars at your gate. They always seem to be craning, straining, towering upward to catch the first glimpse of you; and they make home seem nearer as soon as you come within sight of them. Gog and Magog are such companionable things. They always have something to say to you. It is true that they talk of little but the weather; but then, that is what most people talk about. I like to see them in August, when a certain olive sheen mantles their branches and tells you that the swallows will soon be here. I like to see them in October, when they are a towering column of verdure, every leaf as bright as though it has just been varnished. I even like to see them in April, when they strew the paths with a rustling litter of bronze and gold. They tell me that winter is coming, with its long evenings, its roaring fires, and its insistence on the superlative attractions of home. There never dawns a day on which Gog and Magog are not well worth looking at and well worth listening to.