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The Empire Within : Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley says that the pinnacle of political achievement is the government not of others, but of ourselves.
The Empire Within

From ‘The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley’.

Percy Shelley’s sonnet ‘Political Greatness’ was published after his death by his widow, Mary. Shelley rejected any theory of social order based on coercion, whether by explicit legislation or by the tyranny of unbreakable custom. Humanity will never be served by mastering others; it is mastering yourself that is the true humanism.

‘Political Greatness’

NOR happiness, nor majesty, nor fame,
Nor peace, nor strength, nor skill in arms or arts,
Shepherd those herds whom tyranny makes tame;
Verse echoes not one beating of their hearts,
History is but the shadow of their shame,
Art veils her glass, or from the pageant starts
As to oblivion their blind millions fleet,
Staining that Heaven with obscene imagery
Of their own likeness. What are numbers knit
By force or custom? Man who man would be,
Must rule the empire of himself; in it
Must be supreme, establishing his throne
On vanquished will, quelling the anarchy
Of hopes and fears, being himself alone.*

* Edmund Burke would have agreed: see There is no Liberty without Self-Control.

From ‘The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley’.

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Picture: By Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), via Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain View original
Pulled one way and another... ‘David Garrick between Tragedy and Comedy’ by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) shows the great actor in a tug-of-war between two very demanding and jealous mistresses, and is a homage to the tale of Heracles at the Crossroads. Judging by the apologetic expression on Garrick’s face, in Sir Joshua’s opinion Comedy was winning.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley

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