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ing, as the blacksmith was singing snatches from the song of the new poet, Dante passed by, listened a moment, and then, in a sudden passion, strode into the shop and began throwing the implements which the smith had about him into the street.

"What are you doing? Are you mad?" cried the blacksmith, so overcome with astonishment that he made no effort to protect his property.

"And what are you doing?" replied the poet, fast emptying the shop of its tools.

"I am working at my proper business, and you are spoiling my work."

"If you do not wish me to spoil your things, do not spoil mine.”

"What thing of yours am I spoiling?"

"You are singing something of mine, but not as I wrote it. I have no other trade but this, and you spoil it for me."


The poet departed as abruptly as he came. had satisfied the sense of injustice done him by swift punishment; and it does not surprise us to be told by Sacchetti that the blacksmith, having collected his scattered tools and returned to his work, henceforth sang other songs. This simple incident discloses that sensitiveness to injustice which made the banishment of Dante one long torture of soul. They utterly mistake the nature of greatness who imagine that the bitterest sorrow of such experiences as those of Firdousi and Dante lies in loss of those things which most men value; the sharpest thorn

in such crowns is the sense of ingratitude and injustice, the consciousness of the possession of great gifts rejected and cast aside. There is nothing more tragic in all the range of life than the fate of those who, like Jeremiah, Cassandra, and Tiresias, are condemned to see the truth, to speak it, and to be rebuked and rejected by the men about them. Could anything be more agonizing than to see clearly an approaching danger, to point it out, and be thrust aside with laughter or curses, and then to watch, helpless and solitary, the awful and implacable approach of doom? In some degree this lot is shared by every poet, and to the end of time every poet will find such a sorrow a part of his birthright.

"After all," said Rosalind, suddenly breaking the silence of thought that has evidently traveled along the same path as my own—“after all, I'm not sure that they are to be pitied."

"Pity is the last word I should think of in connection with them; it is only a confusion of ideas which makes us even feel like pitying them. The real business of life, as Carlyle tried so hard to make us believe, is to find the truth and to live by it. If, in the doing of this, what men call happiness falls to our lot, well and good; but it must be as an incident, not as an end. There come to great, solitary, and sorely smitten souls moments of clear sight, of assurance of victory, of unspeakable fellowship with truth and life and God, which outweigh years of sorrow and bitterness. Firdousi

knew that he had left Persia a priceless possession, and the Purgatorio of Dante was not too much to pay for the Paradiso."

"And yet," said Rosalind slowly, looking into the fire, and thinking, perhaps, of the children asleep with happy dreams, and all the sweet peace of the home-"and yet how much they lose!"



THE study fire burns for the most part in a quiet, meditative way that falls in with the thought and the talk that are inspired by it. Occasionally, however, it crackles and snaps in an argumentative mood that makes one wonder what sort of communication it is trying to have with the world around it. Is it the indignant protest of some dismembered tree ruthlessly cut down in the morning of life, that energetically but ineffectually sputters itself forth in the glowing heat? Perhaps if Gilbert White, or Thoreau, or Burroughs happened to fill my easy-chair at such a moment, this question might be answered; I, in my ignorance, can only ask it. Of one thing I am certain, however: that when the fire falls into this humor it is quite likely to take Rosalind and myself with it; on such occasions the quiet talk or the long, uninterrupted reading gives place to a discussion which is likely to be prolonged until the back-log falls in two and the ashes lie white and powdering around the expiring embers. Even then the pretty bellows which came several Christmases ago from one whose charm makes it impossible to use the word common even to describe her friendship for

Rosalind and myself, are vigorously used to give both fire and talk a few minutes' grace.

It is generally concerning some fact or event which disturbs Rosalind's idealization of life that these discussions rise and flourish. This charming woman persists, for instance, in declining to take any account of traits and characteristics in eminent men of letters which impair the symmetry of the ideal literary life; with delightful feminine insistence, she will have her literary man a picturesque ideal, or else will not have him at all. For myself, on the other hand, I am rather attracted than repelled by the failings of great men; in their human limitations, their prejudices, their various deflections from the line of perfect living, I find the ties that link them to myself and to a humanity whose perfection is not only a vague dream of the future, but actually and for the deepest reasons impossible. The faults of men of genius have been emphasized, misrepresented, and exaggerated in a way that makes most writing about such men of no value to those who care for truth. The men are few in every age who can honestly and intelligently enter into and possess the life of a former time; the men who can comprehend a human life that belongs to the past are fewer still. The writers who have been most active, radical, and influential are those whose secret is most likely to escape the search of biographers and critics. Most of what has been written about such men, for instance, as Petrarch, Goethe, Voltaire,

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