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age of twenty-five, leaving his kingdom merely to learn how to govern it; a despot determining to educate himself, putting aside power and pleasure for a while that he might gain knowledge—and doing all this against the wills and despite the dangerous opposition of his subjects—I call this wise, I call this great. It is an act of self-denial and of far-seeing preference of the future to the present which is the chief characteristic, if not the chief constituent, of greatness.

10. And throughout his whole life a curious and profitable spectacle is this man, full of apparent contradictions and yet really throughout consistent. A thorough reformer of the state, an imperfect reformer of himself, and such with penitence; a promoter of education, yet a man of no learning ; half savage and yet the civiliser of his people; impatient, and yet indefatigable ;? capricious, yet selfdenying ; boundless in magnificent projects, yet most sparing in all personal expenses ; an inland prince, yet giving all his best energies to the creation of a navy: both planning and executing his own projects, even calling into existence the means as well as the objects of his wishes : equally capable of commanding an army or a navy; and as well able to make a ship as to be a sailor, to do soldier's work as general's : knowing how to forge iron as well as to rule men ; in all handicraft and statecraft cqually experienced : so singularly

Despite, in spite of.
Indefatigable, never becoming tired.




original a man is Peter. In fact, he did what no one had ever done before him : he changed the manners, laws, and very residence, of an innumerable people. Though a despot, he was more patriotic than any citizen king: though an absolute monarch, he was a more thorough reformer than the most revolutionary' of all republicans.

He was the type-on a gigantic scale--of a practical man, a Man of Action.

11. Great was Peter's characteristic peculiarity -his earnestness of purpose, his intense working energy, his lifelong laboriousness.

Perhaps no man that has ever lived has done so much work as he, and so various; and what he did he did so as to make it last till now : which lasting of anything, as I have often told you, is a great presumption of

2 its goodness.

12. Peter was not a vain man; he did great things noiselessly, all things earnestly; no parade, no attraction of the eyes of others on himself. Of all things he hated to be stared at, to be pointed out with the finger. When he was in Holland he would never stir out of his lodgings if there was a crowd about them, and went always undistinguished among the workmen to his work in the dockyard : and when in England, there were strange stories told of his shyness; he living always obscurely, and with those only of his companions who could teach him something

Revolutionary, given to violent changes.
Presumption, &c., reason for believing it was good.

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13. Nor was he a mean man ; everything he did was on a large and liberal scale. No ruler seems ever to have united economy with what was becoming in his own establishment better than did Peter. He wasted nothing, but distributed innumerable things gratuitously.'

14. His main faults were those of temper; the great fault, but perhaps not the greatest, of passionateness. There was scarcely perhaps a more hasty-tempered man in his dominions than himself. But sullenness and deliberate revengefulness, those were not his, but rather a certain noble, royal generosity. And after all his excesses he was penitent exceedingly. True undoubtedly it is, that on the first aspect of the man there is much want of self-command, and such exceeding coarseness of

manner, that one rather shrinks from him : such roughness, such wilfulness, such uncouth vehemence. But we shall never perhaps quite understand a great man at first sight: we must be patient with him.

15. And when we have become so with Peter, we see at least that there is considerable virtue in him: that his deliberate acts interpret to us more truly than his occasional impulses; and that, above all, most considerable allowances must be made for him which must not be made for ourselves : his physical construction was so strange, and his education so wretched, and his temptations so strong.

Gratuitously, for nothing.
Physical construction, the shape of his body.

From his birth he was subject to fearful fits; to the seductions of his boyhood any other would have been as nearly a victim as Peter was a victor : and unlimited command over others is no help to a man for acquiring a command over himself. The fact is, Peter was a barbarian all throughout; and therefore perhaps not to be judged wholly by a Christian standard, any more than we judge of the ancients so, or indeed some of the Hebrew great men.

Myers's Lectures on Great Men. By permission of the author's widow.


1. BEHOLD her, single in the field,

Yon solitary Highland lass !
Reaping and singing by herself;

Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
Oh, listen! for the vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

2. No nightingale did ever chant

More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,

Among Arabian sands :

Such thrilling voice was never heard
In spring-time from the cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

3. Will no one tell me what she sings ?

Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,

And battles long ago :
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day ?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again !

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4. Whate'er the theme, the maiden sang

As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,

And o'er the sickle bending :
I listened-motionless and still ;
And as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.


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