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truth that the kingdom of God does not dwell in great sublimities, and, so to speak, upon the mountain tops, but that it is within each one of us. But this very simplicity he saw was the cause of the unpopularity of the greatest ideals. Men prefer their own Abana and Pharpar to the little river rushing in desolate places. A doctrine does not recommend itself to the busy thinkers of the world unless it be huge and arduous; and thus he made up his mind to be lonely in the world, to face and support the isolation of greatness. “At first, indeed," he said, “the truth appeared so very clear, as well as glorious to me, that I fancied I should have carried all before me; but a little experience served to cure me of this vanity. I quickly perceived that I was not likely to be overpopular.”
And yet, by facing and adopting this difficulty, "he gained the very thing on which he had turned his back. He made a success of life.
He was not for ever dying to the world; he lived in it. Though diseased and shattered moralists may talk of the vanity of human aims and the worthlessness of this world, life surely has its meaning. We are not thrust into a pit from which our only duty is to escape. Something of the greatness and glory of the higher region dwells in the grace and beauty of the nether world. Shadows they may be of far-off transcendent realities, but
the very shadows of divine things are from their origin divine. To gain a true standard ; to trace the permanent elements; to fight the darkness at every inch : this is to live life to the uttermost -not to slink out of it, not to despise it, not to make light of it. These are the resources of the cynic, the disappointed man, the involuntary saint; but to live in the world and not be of itthis is the secret of the light that emanates from but is not confined to heaven.
EW poets are of sufficiently tough and im
penetrable fibre to be able with impunity to mix with public affairs. Even though the spring of their inspiration be like the fountain in the garden of grace,
“ drawn from the brain of the purple mountain that stands in the distance yonder," that stream is apt to become sullied at the very source by the envious contact of the world. Poets conscious of their vocation have generally striven sedulously, by sequestering their lives somewhat austerely from the current of affairs, to cultivate the tranquillity and freshness on which the purity of their utterance depends. If it be hard to hear sermons and remain a Christian, it is harder to mix much with men and remain an idealist. And if this be true of commerce in its various forms, law, medicine, and even education, it seems to be still more fatally true of politics. Of course the temptation of politics to a philosophical mind is very great. To be at the centre of the machine,
to be able perhaps to translate a high thought into a practical measure ; to be able to make some closer reconciliation between law and morality, as the vertical sun draws the shadow nearer to the feet, -all this to a generous mind has an attraction almost supreme.
And yet the strain is so great that few survive it. Sophocles was
than once elected general, and is reported to have kept his colleagues in good humour by the charm of his conversation through a short but disagreeable campaign. Dante was an ardent and uncompromising revolutionary. Goethe and Lamartine were statesmen. Among our own poets, the lives of Spenser and Addison might perhaps be quoted as fairly successful compromises ; but of poets of the first rank Milton is the only one who deliberately abandoned poetry for half a lifetime, that he might take an active part in public life.
It is perhaps to Milton's example, and probably to his advice, that we owe the loss of a great English poet. It seems to have been, if not at Milton's instigation, at any rate by his direct aid, that Andrew Marvell was introduced to public life. The acquaintance began at Rome ; but Marvell was introduced into Milton's intimate society, as his assistant secretary, at a most impressionable age. He had
written poetry, dealing like L'Allegro and Il Penseroso mainly with country subjects, and was inclined no doubt to hang on the words of the older poet as on an oracle of light and truth. We can imagine him piecing out his aspirations and day-dreams, while the poet of sterner stuff, yet of all men least insensible to the delights of congenial society, points out to him the more excellent way, bidding him to abjure Amaryllis for a time. He has style, despatches will give it precision ; knowledge of men and life will confirm and mature his mind; the true poet must win a stubborn virility if he is to gain the world. The younger and more delicate mind complies; and we lose a great poet, Milton gains an assistant secretary, and the age a somewhat
At a time like this, when with a sense of sadness we can point to more than one indifferent politician who might have been a capable writer, and so very many indifferent writers who could have been spared to swell the ranks of politicians, we may well take the lesson of Andrew Marvell to heart.
The passion for the country which breathes through his earlier poems, the free air which ruffles the page, the summer languors, the formal garden seen through the casements of the cool house, the close scrutiny of woodland sounds, such as the harsh laughter of the wood