THE ELEMENT OF CALM
All are aware that we have no abiding city here, but that, says the hymn-writer, is a truth which should not cost the saint a tear, and our politicians appear to lament it as little as the saints. Their eyes are dry; it does not distress their mind, it seems hardly to occur to them, unless, perhaps, they are defeated candidates. One might suppose from their manner that eternal truths depended on their efforts, and that the city they seek to build would abide for ever. Could all this toil and expenditure be lavished on a transitory show, all this eloquence upon the baseless fabric of a vision, all this hatred and malice upon things that wax old as doth a garment and like a vesture are rolled up? One would think from his preoccupied zeal that every politician was laying the foundation stone of an everlasting Jerusalem, did not reason and experience alike forbid the possibility.
May it not rather be that the politicians, like the saints, keep the tears of mortality out of their eyes by contemplating this passing dream under the aspect of eternal realities? In months when the heavens at night are filled with constellations of peculiar beauty, may we not suppose that the politician, emerging from the Town Hall amid the cheers and execrations of the voice that represents the voice of God, lifts up his eyes unto the heavens, where prone Orion still grasps his sword, and Auriga drives his chariot of fire, and the pole star hangs immovable, by which Ulysses set his helm? And as he gazes, he recognises with joy in his heart that the stars themselves, with all their recurrent comets and flaming meteors and immovable constellations, hardly cast a stain upon the white radiance of eternity, under which he has been striving and crying and perpetrating comparatively trifling deviations from exactness.