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A Hero and Some Other Folks by William A. Quayle

Which bias The Holy Grail attacks


"Like fire, he meets the foe, And strikes him dead for thine and thee."

He is no play soldier, and foemen mark his sword as a thing to fear. A mutilated herdsman, rushing into Caerlaen, and shaking bloody story from his hideous wounds, which, Arthur hearing, though a tourneyment would blow its bugles on the plain erelong, forgets the coming joust, remembering only a wrong to be avenged, and evil-doers to be punished or destroyed, so they may no longer be a noxious presence in the land, and goes, and at tourney's close comes back, through the dark night, wet with rain; but he has cleansed the hostile land of villains on that day. In human nature is a bias to escape the world, to get out of the turmoil, to seek cloisters of quiet, which bias "The Holy Grail" attacks. Arthur was no friend to the pursuit of the grail; not that he loves not, with a passion white as sun's flame, the good and pure, but that he has sagacity to see such quest will scatter the round table and its fellowship, and would dispeople his forces, whose presence makes for peace and sovereignty in all his realm and compels the sovereignty of law. Him, their king, these errant knights heeded not, so enticing and noble seemed the warfare they espoused, and thought their sovereign cold and calculating, while, in fact, he knew them for visionaries. He was right. Without them he was bankrupt in strength to compel social betterment. The visionary, in so far as he is

simply visionary, is foe to progress; for progress comes by battle and by association in affairs, and he who would be helper to the better life of man must mix with the currents of his time. Snowdrifts in the mountains and on the northern slopes that hold snows in their shadows for the summer's use; and dark mountain meadows, where fogs and rains soak every particle of sod, and waters percolate through the spongy root and soil to form bubbling streams; and the pines, whose shadows make a cool retreat where streams may not be drained dry by the sun; the silver threads of tributary brooks; the sponge of mountain mosses, which squeezes its cup of water into a larger laver,--all these seem remote from the broad river on whose flood merchants' fleets are slumbering, nor seem participants with these floodgates to the sea; yet are they adjuncts, though so far removed, and pay their tribute to the flood.

Their service was as pronounced and valuable as if they had been huge as Orontes. There is an absence which is presence, and there is a presence which is absence; and what is asked of all men, near or far, is that they be helpers to the general good. They must not, by intent or mistake, escape their share of the public burden.

A poet seems apart, and is not, but is to be esteemed a portion of this world's most turbulent life. To intend to have a share in this world's business is important. To shun the taking up your load when need is, is to be coward when your honor bids you be courageous. This means, be a citizen, neglect no office in that worthy relation; be not wandering knights, pursuing fire-flies, supposing them to be stars; but be as Arthur, who found the Holy Grail, and drained its sacramental wine in truest fashion, in "staying by the stuff;" in being statesman, soldier, defender of the weak, reformer, liver of a clean life in public place, builder of a State, negotiator of schemes which make for the diminution


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