Paradise Regained

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“When on his shoulders each man’s burden lies;
For therein stands the office of a king,
His honour, virtue, merit, and chief praise,
That for the public all this weight he bears.

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Yet he who reigns within himself, and rules
Passions, desires, and fears, is more a king—
Which every wise and virtuous man attains;

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And who attains not, ill aspires to rule
Cities of men, or headstrong multitudes,
Subject himself to anarchy within,
Or lawless passions in him, which he serves.

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But to guide nations in the way of truth
By saving doctrine, and from error lead
To know, and, knowing, worship God aright,
Is yet more kingly.

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This attracts the soul,
Governs the inner man, the nobler part;
That other o’er the body only reigns,
And oft by force-which to a generous mind
So reigning can be no sincere delight.

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Besides, to give a kingdom hath been thought
Greater and nobler done, and to lay down
Far more magnanimous, than to assume.

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Riches are needless, then, both for themselves,
And for thy reason why they should be sought—
To gain a sceptre, oftest better miss’t.”

Paradise Regained, Book Two, John Milton.

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