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COMPARATIVE STUPIDITY OF POLITICIANS.

whom, during her period of lionizing in London, she was brought into contact, as compared with the men of letters, and still more with the men of science, whose acquaintance she made. She observed in the politicians a much lower type of mind and character, expressing itself even in a certain vulgarity of manners, the lowest point being reached in all these particulars by the Whig aristocracy of the day.

In the long prevalence of an aristocratic monopoly, diminished now, but not altogether done away with, and subsisting still in its effects even more powerfully than in itself, one of the special causes of the comparative stupidity of politicians in England may be discerned. But the evil is inherent in the very conditions of what are called practical politics. The real development of mind is to be sought in what Mr. Arnold calls its disinterested play in science and art. Discipline in the methods of research after truth, familiarity with the highest conceptions of the universe, delight in the most perfect forms of expression, whether they take the shape of literature or of the plastic and imitative arts, these are the feeders and purifiers of the mind. The artist, including the author as well as the sculptor, the painter, and the actor, and the man of science, live, so far as they are true to their work, in the society of Nature and of its great interpreters. They are constantly in the presence of their betters. The statesman lives habitually in the society of county and borough members; or, if we restrict our view to the intimate associations of the cabinet, of men little, if at all, above these intellectually. In other words, the finest mind is habitually in the presence of its inferiors, whose ideas and impulses are to it what his daily beer was to Mr. Justice Maule, the instrumentality with which he brought himself down to the level of his work. He must think their thoughts and speak their language. To be over their heads, to be, as a dexterous politician said of a great philosopher, too clever for the House of Commons, to have nobler and farther-reaching conceptions than they, is to commit the sin for which there is no parliamentary forgiveness. It is sometimes said that the House of Commons is wiser than any single member; a saying which, according as it is interpreted, is either an absurdity or a truism. It may mean, what is indisputable, that the whole is greater than the part, or, what is impossible, that the average is higher than the elements which raise it. The House of Commons can only be wiser than some particular member by following the guidance of some other member who, on that particular occasion, is wiser than he; that is to say, it is wiser than one of its less wise members. The saying, however, is intended to affirm the position that intellectual superiority is not the truest guide in politics, or, in other words, that politicians, in so far as they are successful, are comparatively stupid, a position which we are far from disputing. On the contrary, we affirm it as a truth of observation and experience, and are at the present moment doing our best to ac-