Not Shrubs but Cedars


A lot depends on the way we face up to experience. We can’t dodge it. We are all conscripts in the hands of destiny, and when destiny gives its marching orders we have to follow where it leads.

Men who long for peace are called to war, or they are barred by circumstances from following some work or profession on which their hearts are set. But because man is what Emerson calls “a golden impossibility” we still retain that liberty of spirit which gives us the last word.

A man may take experience like a sleep-walker, hardly conscious of the world outside himself, or he may skim it superficially and gain enough from it for his immediate ends, or he may take hold of it, use his eyes, his intelligence, his reason on it, so that out of it he wrests something that will remain with him like a finely tempered tool giving precision, certainty and drive to his actions. And with such a tool he begins to shape at last the destiny which began by shaping him – one of the things that it is good for us to remember when life is taking many into strange paths.

To quote a 17th century follower of Galen: “they who cultivate the good seeds which nature have set in them, prove not shrubs but Cedars in their generation. And to be in the form of the best of the Bad or the worst of the Good will be no satisfaction to them.”

— Charles Hayward, The Woodworker, 1955

The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years” is now in our warehouse and is shipping this week. Parcels should begin arriving next week (we hope).

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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9 Responses to Not Shrubs but Cedars

  1. What is the story on the Puck cartoon? The Knights of Labor protested “freelance” workers such as the depicted woodworker?

    Great words by Hayward btw, but the cartoon is striking. I am quite familiar with their old Puck building here in NYC in SoHo, a very beautiful piece of architecture, and always enjoy seeing a cartoon from their era.

    • matthewbosnick says:

      Cardinal Gibbons, the archbishop of Baltimore, convinced Pope Leo XIII to allow Catholics to join the Knights of Labor. Some bishops considered the Knights a secret society (kind of like the Freemasons), therfore barring Catholics from joining. Catholics, mostly immigrants, were a huge part of the urban workforce at the time and so were important to the unions.

      The cartoon alludes to Gibbons endorsing or blessing the violent tactics often practiced by unions at the time, but from the little I’ve read about him (on wikipedia…) he ‘deplored class conciousness and violence.’ There was a lot of suspicion towards the American Catholic Church during that era; no doubt there was controversy about an American archbishop encouraging workers to organize.

  2. Huh–I’m sitting in the Puck building in SoHo right now. I wouldn’t have noticed the source of the cartoon if not for Jacob.

  3. Sergeant82d says:

    I was going to ask what the metaphor of the picture was, too…. Thanks Jacob.

  4. Eric R says:

    Throw me in with Jacob…

  5. Daniel Clay says:

    This is fantastic. I can’t wait to read the book. I’m curious about the last sentence. Is it possible the first “or” should be an “of”?

  6. I need to hide this post from my therapist….

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