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The Pocket R.L.S. by by Robert Louis Stevenson

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hours when the words come and the phrases balance
themselves--EVEN TO BEGIN. And having begun, what a dread
looking forward is that until the book shall he
accomplished! For so long a time the slant is to continue
unchanged, the vein to keep running, for so long a time you
must keep at command the same quality of style: for so long
a time your puppets are to be always vital, always
consistent, always vigorous!

*

What is this fortunate circumstance, my friend? inquired
Anastasie, not heeding his protest, which was of daily
recurrence.

'That we have no children, my beautiful,' replied the
Doctor. 'I think of it more and more as the years go on,
and with more and more gratitude towards the Power that
dispenses such afflictions. Your health, my darling, my
studious quiet, our little kitchen delicacies, how they
would all have suffered, how they would all have been
sacrificed! And for what? Children are the last word of
human imperfection. Health flees before their face. They
cry, my dear; they put vexatious questions; they demand to
be fed, to be washed, to be educated, to have their noses
blowed; and then, when the time comes, they break our
hearts, as I break this piece of sugar. A pair of
professed egoists, like you and me, should avoid offspring,
like an infidelity.'

'Indeed!' said she; and she laughed. 'Now, that is like
you--to take credit for the thing you could not help.'

*

I have been made to learn that the doom and burthen of our
life is bound for ever on man s shoulders, and when the
attempt is made to cast it off, it but returns upon us with
more unfamiliar and more awful pressure.

*

Forth from the casement, on the plain
Where honour has the world to gain,
Pour forth and bravely do your part,
O knights of the unshielded heart!
'Forth and for ever forward! --out
From prudent turret and redoubt,
And in the mellay charge amain,
To fall, but yet to rise again!
Captive? Ah, still, to honour bright,
A captive soldier of the right!
Or free and fighting, good with ill?
Unconquering but unconquered still!

O to be up and doing, O
Unfearing and unshamed to go
In all the uproar and the press
About my human business!
My undissuaded heart I hear
Whisper courage in my ear.
With voiceless calls, the ancient earth
Summons me to a daily birth.

*

Yet it is to this very responsibility that the rich are
born. They can shuffle off the duty on no other; they are
their own paymasters on parole; and must pay themselves
fair wages and no more. For I suppose that in the course
of ages, and through reform and civil war and invasion,
mankind was pursuing some other and more general design
than to set one or two Englishmen of the nineteenth century
beyond the reach of needs and duties. Society was scarce
put together, and defended with so much eloquence and
blood, for the convenience of two or three millionaires and
a few hundred other persons of wealth and position. It is
plain that if mankind thus acted and suffered during all
these generations, they hoped some benefit, some ease, some
wellbeing, for themselves and their descendants; that if
they supported law and order, it was to secure fair-play
for all; that if they denied themselves in the present,
they must have had some designs on the future. Now a great
hereditary fortune is a miracle of man's wisdom and
mankind's forbearance; it has not only been amassed and
handed down, it has been suffered to be amassed and handed
down; and surely in such consideration as this, its
possessor should find only a new spur to activity and
honour, that with all this power of service he should not
prove unserviceable, and that this mass of treasure should
return in benefits upon the race. If he bad twenty, or
thirty, or a hundred thousand at his banker's, or if all
Yorkshire or all California were his to manage or to sell,
he would still be morally penniless, and have the world to
begin like Whittington, until he had found some way of
serving mankind. His wage is physically in his own hand;
but, in honour, that wage must still be earned. He is only
steward on parole of what is called his fortune. He must
honourably perform his stewardship. He must estimate his
own services and allow himself a salary in proportion, for
that will be one among his functions. And while he will
then be free to spend that salary, great or little, on his
own private pleasures, the rest of his fortune he but holds
and disposes under trust for mankind; it is not his,
because he has not earned it; it cannot be his, because his
services have already been paid; but year by year it is his
to distribute, whether to help individuals whose birthright
and outfit has been swallowed up in his, or to further
public works and institutions.

*

'Tis a fine thing to smart for one's duty; even in the
pangs of it there is contentment.

*

We all suffer ourselves to be too much concerned about a
little poverty; but such considerations should not move us
in the choice of that which is to be the business and
justification of so great a portion of our lives and like
the missionary, the patriot, or the philosopher, we should
all choose that poor and brave career in which we can do
the most and best for mankind.

*

The salary in any business under heaven is not the only,
nor indeed the first, question. That you should continue
to exist is a matter for your own consideration; but that
your business should be first honest, and second useful,
are points in which honour and morality are concerned.

*

There is only one wish realisable on the earth; only one
thing that can be perfectly attained: Death. And from a
variety of circumstances we have no one to tell us whether
it be worth attaining.

A strange picture we make on our way to our chimaeras,
ceaselessly marching, grudging ourselves the time for rest;
indefatigable, adventurous pioneers. It is true that we
shall never reach the goal; it is even more than probable
that there is no such place; and if we lived for centuries
and were endowed with the powers of a god, we should find
ourselves not much nearer what we wanted at the end. O
toiling hands of mortals! O unwearied feet, travelling ye
know not whither! Soon, soon, it seems to you,' you must
come forth on some conspicuous hilltop, and but a little
way further, against the setting sun, descry the spires of
El Dorado. Little do ye know your own blessedness; for to
travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the
true success is to labour.

*

A man who must separate himself from his neighbours' habits
in order to be happy, is in much the same case with one who
requires to take opium for the same purpose. What we want
to see is one who can breast into the world, do a man's
work, and still preserve his first and pure enjoyment
of existence.

There is apt to be something unmanly, something almost
dastardly, in a life that does not move with dash and
freedom, and that fears the bracing contact of the world.

*

You cannot run away from a weakness; you must some time
fight it out or perish; and if that be so, why not now, and
where you stand?

*

Life as a matter of fact, partakes largely of the nature of
tragedy. The gospel according to Whitman, even if it be
not so logical, has this advantage over the gospel
according to Pangloss, that it does not utterly disregard
the existence of temporal evil. Whitman accepts the fact
of disease and wretchedness like an honest man; and instead
of trying to qualify it in the interest of his optimism,
sets himself to spur people up to be helpful.

*

Indeed, I believe this is the lesson; if it is for fame
that men do brave actions, they are only silly fellows
after all.

*

To avoid an occasion for our virtues is a worse degree of
failure than to push forward pluckily and make a fall. It
is lawful to pray God that we be not led into temptation;
but not lawful to skulk from those that come to us.

*

To be honest, to be kind--to earn a little and to spend a
little less, to make upon the whole a family happier for
his presence, to renounce when that shall be necessary and
not to be embittered, to keep a few friends, but these
without capitulation--above all, on the same grim
conditions, to keep friends with himself--here is a task
for all that a man has of fortitude and delicacy.

*

As we dwell, we living things, in our isle of terror and
under the imminent hand of death, God forbid it should
be man the erected, the reasoner, the wise in his own
eyes'--God forbid it should be man that wearies in welldoing,
that despairs of unrewarded effort, or utters the language
of complaint. Let it be enough for faith, that the whole
creation groans in mortal frailty, strives with
unconquerable constancy: surely not all in vain.

*

I find I never weary of great churches. It is my favourite
kind of mountain scenery. Mankind was never so happily
inspired as when it made a cathedral: a thing as single and
specious as a statue to the first glance, and yet, on
examination, as lively and interesting as a forest in
detail. The height of spires cannot be taken by
trigonometry; they measure absurdly short, but how tall
they are to the admiring eye! And where we have so many
elegant proportions, growing one out of the other, and all
together into one, it seems as if proportion transcended
itself and became something different and more imposing. I
could never fathom how a man dares to lift up his voice to
preach in a cathedral. What is he to say that will not be
an anti-climax? For though I have heard a considerable
variety of sermons, I never yet heard one that was so
expressive as a cathedral. 'Tis the best preacher itself,
and preaches day and night; not only telling you of man's
art and aspirations in the past, but convicting your own
soul of ardent sympathies; or rather, like all good
preachers, it sets you preaching to yourself--and every man
is his own doctor of divinity in the last resort.

*

As the business man comes to love the toil, which he only
looked upon at first as a ladder towards other desires and
less unnatural gratifications, so the dumb man has felt the
charm of his trade and fallen captivated before the eyes of
sin. It is a mistake when preachers tell us that vice is
hideous and loathsome; for even vice has her Horsel and her
devotees, who love her' for her own sake.

Between these two, I now felt I had to choose. My two
natures had memory in common, but all other faculties were
most unequally shared between them. Jekyll (who was
composite) now with the most sensitive apprehensions, now
with a greedy gusto, projected and shared in the pleasures
and adventures of Hyde; but Hyde was indifferent to Jekyll,
or but remembered him as the mountain bandit remembers the
cavern in which he conceals himself from pursuit. Jekyll
had more than a father's interest; Hyde had more than a
son's indifference. To cast in my lot with Jekyll was to
die to those appetites which I had long secretly indulged,
and had of late begun to pamper. To cast it in with Hyde
was to die to a thousand interests and aspirations, and to
become, at a blow and for ever, despised and friendless.
The bargain might appear unequal; but there was still
another consideration in the scale ; for while Jekyll would
suffer smartingly in the fires of abstinence, Hyde would be
not even conscious of all that he had lost. Strange as my
circumstances were, the terms of this debate are as old and
commonplace as man; much the same inducements and alarms
cast the die for any tempted and trembling sinner; and it
fell out with me, as it falls with so vast a majority of my
fellows, that I chose the better part, and was found
wanting in the strength to keep to it.

*

Many a man would have even blazoned such irregularities as
I was guilty of; but from the high views that I had set
before me, I regarded and hid them with an almost morbid
sense of shame. It was thus rather the exacting nature of
my aspirations than any particular degradation in my faults
that made me what I was, and, with even a deeper trench
than in the majority of men, severed in me those provinces
of good and ill which divide and compound man's dual
nature. In this case I was driven to reflect deeply and
inveterately on that hard law of life, which lies at the
root of religion and is one of the most plentiful springs
of distress. Though so profound a double dealer, I was in
no sense a hypocrite; both sides of me were in dead
earnest; I was no more myself when I laid aside restraint
and plunged in shame, than when I laboured, in the eye of
day, at the furtherance of knowledge or the relief of
sorrow and suffering. And it chanced that the direction of
my scientific studies, which led wholly towards the mystic
and the transcendental, reacted and shed a strong light on
this consciousness of the perennial war among my members.
With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the
moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to
that truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed
to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one,
but truly two.

*

It may be argued again that dissatisfaction with our life's
endeavour springs in some degree from dulness. We require
higher tasks because we do not recognise the height of
those we have. Trying to be kind and honest seems an
affair too simple and too inconsequential for gentlemen of
our heroic mould; we had rather set ourselves something
bold, arduous, and conclusive; we had rather found a schism
or suppress a heresy, cut off a hand or mortify an
appetite. But the task before us, which is to co-endure
with our existence, is rather one of microscopic fineness,
and the heroism required is that of patience. There is no
cutting of the Gordian knots of life; each must be
smilingly unravelled.

*

It is perhaps a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for
collecting shells than to be born a millionaire. Although
neither is to be despised, it is always better policy to
learn an interest than to make a thousand pounds; for the
money will soon be spent, or perhaps you may feel no joy in
spending it; but the interest remains imperishable and ever
new. To become a botanist, a geologist, a social
philosopher, an antiquary, or an artist, is to enlarge
one's possessions in the universe by an incalculably higher
degree, and by a far surer sort of property, than to
purchase a farm of many acres.

*

He who has learned to love an art or science has wisely
laid up riches against the day of riches; if prosperity
come, he will not enter poor into his inheritance; he will
not slumber and forget himself in the lap of money, or
spend his hours in counting idle treasures, but be up and
briskly doing; he will have the true alchemic touch, which
is not that of Midas, but which transmutes dead money into
living delight and satisfaction. ETRE ET PAS AVOIR--to be,
not to possess--that is the problem of life. To be
wealthy, a rich nature is the first requisite and money but
the second. To be of a quick and healthy blood, to share
in all honourable curiosities, to be rich in admiration and
free from envy, to rejoice greatly in the good of others,
to love with such generosity of heart that your love is
still a dear possession in absence or unkindness--these are
the gifts of fortune which money cannot buy, and without
which money can buy nothing.

*

An aim in life is the only fortune worth the finding;
and it is not to be found in foreign lands, but in the
heart itself.

*

'Mr. Archer was telling me in some strange land they used
to run races each with a lighted candle, and the art was to
keep the candle burning. Well, now, I thought that was
like life; a man's good conscience is the flame he gets to
carry, and if he comes to the winning-post with that still
burning, why, take it how you will, the man is a hero--even
if he was low-born like you and me.'

*

Hope, they say, deserts us at no period of our existence.
From first .to last, and in the face of smarting
disillusions, we continue to expect good fortune, better
health, and better conduct; and that so confidently, that
we judge it needless to deserve them.

*

'Do I, indeed, lack courage?' inquired Mr. Archer of
himself. 'Courage, the footstool of the virtues, upon
which they stand? Courage, that a poor private carrying a
musket has to spare of; that does not fail a weasel or a
rat; that is a brutish faculty? I to fail there, I wonder?
But what is courage? The constancy to endure oneself or to
see others suffer? The itch of ill-advised activity: mere
shuttle-wittedness, or to be still and patient? To inquire
of the significance of words is to rob ourselves of what we
seem to know, and yet, of all things, certainly to stand
still is the least heroic.'

*

To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of
becoming, is the only end of life.

*

But let the man learn to love a woman as far as he is
capable of love; and for this random affection of the body
there is substituted a steady determination, a consent of
all his powers and faculties, which supersedes, adopts, and
commands the others. The desire survives, strengthened,
perhaps, but taught obedience, and changed in scope and
character. Life is no longer a tale of betrayals and
regrets; for the man now lives as a whole; his
consciousness now moves on uninterrupted like a river;
through all the extremes and ups and downs of passion, he
remains approvingly conscious of himself.

Now to me, this seems a type of that righteousness which
the soul demands. It demands that we shall not live
alternately with our opposing tendencies in continual
see-saw of passion and disgust, but seek some path on which
the tendencies shall no longer oppose, but serve each other
to a common end. It demands that we shall not pursue broken
ends, but great and comprehensive purposes, in which soul
and body may unite, like notes in a harmonious chord. That
were indeed a way of peace and pleasure, that were indeed a
heaven upon earth. It does not demand, however, or, to
speak in measure, it does not demand of me, that I should
starve my appetites for no purpose under heaven but as a
purpose in itself; or, if in a weak despair, pluck out the
eye that I have not learned to guide and enjoy with wisdom.
The soul demands unity of purpose, not the dismemberment of
man; it seeks to roll up all his strength and sweetness,
all his passion and wisdom, into one, and make of him a
perfect man exulting in perfection. To conclude
ascetically is to give up, and not to solve, the problem.

*

The best teachers are the aged. To the old our mouths are
always partly closed; we must swallow our obvious retorts
and listen. They sit above our heads, on life's raised
dais, and appeal at once to our respect and pity. A
flavour of the old school, a touch of something different
in their manner--which is freer and rounder, if they come
of what is called a good family, and often more timid and
precise if they are of the middle class--serves, in these
days, to accentuate the difference of age and, add a
distinction to grey hairs. But their superiority is
founded more deeply than by outward marks or gestures.
They are before us in the march of man; they have more or
less solved the irking problem; they have battled through
the equinox of life; in good and evil they have held their
course; and now, without open shame, they near the crown
and harbour. It may be we have been struck with one of
fortune's darts; we can scarce be civil, so cruelly is our
spirit tossed. Yet long before we were so much as thought
upon, the like calamity befel the old man or woman that
now, with pleasant humour, rallies us upon our inattention,
sitting composed in the holy evening of man's life, in the
clear shining after rain. We grow ashamed of our
distresses, new and hot and coarse, like villainous
roadside brandy; we see life in aerial perspective, under
the heavens of faith; and out of the worst, in the mere
presence of contented elders, look forward and take
patience. Fear shrinks before them 'like a thing
reproved,' not the flitting and ineffectual fear of death,
but the instant, dwelling terror of the responsibilities
and revenges of life. Their speech, indeed, is timid; they
report lions in the path; they counsel a meticulous
footing; but their serene, marred faces are more eloquent
and tell another story. 'Where they have gone, we will go
also, not very greatly fearing; what they have endured
unbroken, we also, God helping us, will make a shift
to bear.

*

If you teach a man to keep his eyes upon what others think
of him, unthinkingly to lead the life and hold the
principles of the majority of his contemporaries, you must
discredit in his eyes the authoritative voice of his own
soul. He may be a docile citizen; he will never be a man.
It is ours, on the other hand, to disregard this babble and
chattering of other men better and worse than we are, and
to walk straight before us by what light we have. They may
be right; but so, before heaven, are we. They may know;
but we know also, and by that knowledge we must stand or
fall. There is such a thing as loyalty to a man's own
better self; and from those who have not that, God help me,
how am I to look for loyalty to others? The most dull, the
most imbecile, at a certain moment turn round, at a certain
point will hear no further argument, but stand unflinching
by their own dumb, irrational sense of right. It is not
only by steel or fire, but through contempt and blame, that
the martyr fulfils the calling of his dear soul. Be glad
if you are not tried by such extremities. But although all
the world ranged themselves in one line to tell 'This is
wrong,' be you your own faithful vassal and the ambassador
of God--throw down the glove and answer, 'This is right.'
Do you think you are only declaring yourself? Perhaps in
some dim way, like a child who delivers a message not fully
understood, you are opening wider the straits of prejudice
and preparing mankind for some truer and more spiritual
grasp of truth; perhaps, as you stand forth for your own
judgment, you are covering a thousand weak ones with your
body; perhaps, by this declaration alone, you have avoided
the guilt of false witness against humanity and the little
ones unborn. It is good, I believe, to be respectable, but
much nobler to respect oneself and utter the voice of God.

I think it worth noting how this optimist was acquainted
with pain. It will seem strange only to the superficial.
The disease of pessimism springs never from real troubles,
which it braces men to bear, which it delights men to bear
well. Nor does it readily spring at all, in minds that
have conceived of life as a field of ordered duties, not as
a chase in which to hunt for gratifications.

*

But the race of man, like that iudomitable nature whence it
sprang, has medicating virtues of its own; the years and
seasons bring various harvests; the sun returns after the
rain; and mankind outlives secular animosities, as a single
man awakens from the passions of a day. We judge our
ancestors from a more divine position; and the dust
being a little laid with several centuries, we can see
both sides adorned with human virtues and fighting with
a show of right.

*

It is a commonplace that we cannot answer for ourselves
before we have been tried. But it is not so common a
reflection, and surely more consoling, that we usually find
ourselves a great deal braver and better than we thought.
I believe this is every one's experience; but an
apprehension that they may belie themselves in the future
prevents mankind from trumpeting this cheerful sentiment
abroad. I wish sincerely, for it would have saved me much
trouble, there had been some one to put me in a good heart
about life when I was younger; to tell sue how dangers are
most portentous on a distant sight; and how the good in a
man's spirit will not suffer itself to be overlaid, and
rarely or never deserts him in the hour of need. But we
are all for tootling on the sentimental flute in
literature; and not a man among us will go to the head of
the march to sound the heady drums.

*

It is a poor heart, and a poorer age, that cannot accept
the conditions of life with some heroic readiness.

*

I told him I was not much afraid of such accidents; and at
any rate judged it unwise to dwell upon alarms or consider
small perils in the arrangement of life. Life itself I
submitted, was a far too risky business as a whole to make
each additional particular of danger worth regard.

*

There is nothing but tit for tat in this world, though
sometimes it be a little difficult to trace; for the scores
are older than we ourselves, and there has never yet been a
settling day since things were. You get entertainment
pretty much in proportion as you give. As long as we were
a sort of odd wanderers, to be stared at and followed like
a quack doctor or a caravan, we had no want of amusement in
return; but as soon as we sunk into commonplace ourselves,
all whom we met were similarly disenchanted. And here is
one reason of a dozen why the world is dull to dull
persons.

*

All literature, from Job and Omar Khayam to Thomas Carlyle
or Walt Whitman, is but an attempt to look upon the human
state with such largeness of view as shall enable us to
rise from the consideration of living to the Definition of
Life. And our sages give us about the best satisfaction in
their power when they say that it is a vapour, or a show,
or made out of the same stuff with dreams. Philosophy, in
its more rigid sense, has been at the same work for ages;
and after a myriad bald heads have wagged over the problem,
and piles of words have been heaped one upon another into
dry and cloudy volumes without end, philosophy has the
honour of laying before us, with modest pride, her
contribution towards the subject: that life is a Permanent
Possibility of Sensation. Truly a fine result! A man may
very well love beef, or hunting, or a woman; but surely,
surely, not a Permanent Possibility of Sensation! He may
be afraid of a precipice, or a dentist, or a large enemy
with a club, or even an undertaker's man; but not certainly
of abstract death. We may trick with the word life in its
dozen senses until we are weary of tricking; we may argue
in terms of all the philosophies on earth, but one fact
remains true throughout--that we do not love life in the
sense that we are greatly preoccupied about its
conservation; that we do not, properly speaking, love life
at all, but living.

*

Whether we regard life as a lane leading to a dead wall--a
mere bag's end, as the French say--or whether we think of
it as a vestibule or gymnasium, where we wait our turn and
prepare our faculties for some more noble destiny; whether
we thunder in a pulpit, or pule in little atheistic poetry-
books, about its vanity and brevity; whether we look justly
for years of health and vigour, or are about to mount into
a bath-chair, as a step towards the hearse; in each and all
of these views and situations there is but one conclusion
possible: that a man should stop his ears against
paralysing terror, and run the race that is set before him
with a single mind.

As courage and intelligence are the two qualities best
worth a good man's cultivation, so it is the first part of
intelligence to recognise our precarious estate in life,
and the first part of courage to be not at all abashed
before the fact. A frank and somewhat headlong carriage,
not looking too anxiously before, not dallying in maudlin
regret over the past, stamps the man who is well armoured
for this world.

*

It is not over the virtues of a curate-and-tea-party novel
that people are abashed into high resolutions. It may be
because their hearts are crass, but to stir them properly
they must have men entering into glory with sonic pomp
and circumstance. And that is why these stories of our
sea-captains, printed, so to speak, in capitals, and full of
bracing moral influence, are more valuable to England than
any material benefit in all the books of political economy
between Westminster and Birmingham. Greenville chewing
wine-glasses at table makes no very pleasant figure, any
more than a thousand other artists when they are viewed in
the body, or met in private life; but his work of art, his
finished tragedy, is an elegant performance; and I contend
it ought not only to enliven men of the sword as they go
into battle, but send back merchant-clerks with more heart
and spirit to their book-keeping by double entry.

*

It is said that a poet has died young in the breast of the
most stolid. 'It may be contended, rather, that this
(somewhat minor) bard in almost every case survives, and is
the spice of life to his possessor. Justice is not done to
the versatility and the unplumbed childishness of man's
imagination. His life from without may seem but a rude
mound of mud; there will be some golden chamber at the
heart of it, in which he dwells delighted; and for as dark
as his pathway seems to the observer, he will have some
kind of a bull's-eye at his belt.

*

For, to repeat, the ground of a man's joy is often hard to
hit. It may hinge at times upon a mere accessory, like the
lantern; it may reside, like Dancer's in the mysterious
inwards of psychology. It may consist with perpetual
failure, and find exercise in the continued chase. It has
so little bond with externals (such as the observer
scribbles in his notebook) that it may even touch them not;
and the man's true life, for which he consents to live, lie
altogether in the field of fancy. The clergyman in his
spare hours may be winning battles, the farmer sailing
ships, the banker reaping triumph in the arts: all leading
another life, plying another trade from that they chose;
like the poet's house-builder, who, after all, is
cased in stone,
'By his fireside, as impotent fancy prompts,
Rebuilds it to his liking.'

In such a case the poetry runs underground. The observer
(poor soul, with his documents!) is all abroad. For to
look at the man is but to court deception. We shall see
the trunk from which he draws his nourishment; but he
himself is above and abroad in the green dome of foliage,
hummed through by winds and nested in by nightingales. And
the true realism were that of the poets, to climb up after
him like a squirrel, and catch some glimpse of the heaven
for which he lives. And the true realism, always and
everywhere, is that of the poets: to find out where joy
resides, and give it voice beyond singing.

*

He who shall pass judgment on the records of our life is
the same that formed us in frailty.

*

We are all so busy, and have so many far-off projects to
realise, and castles in the fire to turn into solid
habitable mansions on a gravel soil, that we can find no
time for pleasure trips into the Land of Thought and among
the Hills of Vanity. Changed times, indeed, when we must
sit all night, beside the fire, with folded hands; and a
changed world for most of us, when we find we can pass the
hours without discontent, and be happy thinking. We are in
such haste to be doing, to be writing, to be gathering
gear, to make our voice audible a moment in the derisive
silence of eternity, that we forget that one thing, of
which these are but the parts--namely, to live. We fall in
love, we drink hard, we run to and fro upon the earth like
frightened sheep. And now you are to ask yourself if, when
all is done, you would not have been better to sit by the
fire at home, and be happy thinking. To sit still and
contemplate--to remember the faces of women without desire,
to be pleased by the great deeds of men without envy, to be
everything and everywhere in sympathy, and yet content to
remain where and what you are--is not this to know both
wisdom and virtue, and to dwell with happiness?

*

Of those who fail, I do not speak--despair should be
sacred; but to those who even modestly succeed, the changes
of their life bring interest: a job found, a shilling
saved, a dainty earned, all these are wells of pleasure
springing afresh for the successful poor; and it is not
from these, but from the villa-dweller, that we hear
complaints of the unworthiness of life.

*

I shall be reminded what a tragedy of misconception and
misconduct man at large presents: of organised injustice,
cowardly violence and treacherous crime; and of the damning
imperfections of the best. They cannot be too darkly
drawn. Man is indeed marked for failure in his efforts to
do right. But where the best consistently miscarry, how
tenfold more remarkable that all should continue to strive;
and surely we should find it both touching and inspiriting,
that in a field from which success is banished, our race
should not cease to labour.

*

Poor soul, here for so little, cast among so many
hardships, filled with desires so incommensurate and so
inconsistent, savagely surrounded, savagely descended,
irremediably condemned to prey upon his fellow lives: who
should have blamed him had he been of a piece with his
destiny and a being merely barbarous? And we look and
behold him instead filled with imperfect virtues:
infinitely childish, often admirably valiant, often
touchingly kind; sitting down amidst his momentary life, to
debate of right and wrong and the attributes of the deity;
rising up to do battle for an egg or die for an idea;
singling out his friends and his mate with cordial
affection; bringing forth in pain, rearing, with
long-suffering solicitude, his young. To touch the heart
of his mystery, we find in him one thought, strange to the
point of lunacy: the thought of duty, the thought of
something owing to himself, to his neighbour, to his God:
an ideal of decency, to which he would rise if it were
possible; a limit of shame, below which, if it be possible,
he will not stoop.

*

There are two just reasons for the choice any way of life:
the first is inbred taste in the chooser; the second some
high utility in the industry selected.

*

There is an idea abroad among moral people that they
should make their neighbours good. One person I have to
make good: myself. But my duty to my neighbour is much
more nearly expressed by saying that I have to make him
happy--if I may.

*

In his own life, then, a man is not to expect happiness,
only to profit by it gladly when it shall arise; he is on
duty here; he knows not how or why, and does not need to
know; he knows not for what hire, and must not ask.
Somehow or other, though he does not know what goodness
is, he must try to be good; somehow or other, though he
cannot tell what will do it, he must try to give happiness
to others.

*

Of this one thing I am sure: that every one thawed and
became more humanised and conversible as soon as these
innocent people appeared upon the scene. I would not
readily trust the travelling merchant with any extravagant
sum of money, but I am sure his heart was in the
right place.

In this mixed world, if you can find one or two sensible
places in a man; above all, if you should find a whole
family living together on such pleasant terms, you may
surely he satisfied, and take the rest for granted; or,
what is a great deal better, boldly make up your mind that
you can do perfectly well without the rest, and that ten
thousand bad traits cannot make a single good one any the
less good.

*

His was, indeed, a good influence in life while he was
still among us; he had a fresh laugh; it did you good to
see him; and, however sad he may have been at heart, he
always bore a bold and cheerful countenance and took
fortune's worst as it were the showers of spring.

*

Pleasures are more beneficial than duties because, like the
quality of mercy, they are not strained, and they are twice
blest. There must always be two in a kiss, and there may
be a score in a jest; but wherever there is an element of
sacrifice, the favour is conferred with pain, and, among
generous people, received with confusion.

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being
happy. By being happy, we sow anonymous benefits upon the
world, which remain unknown even to ourselves, or when they
are disclosed, surprise nobody so much as the benefactor.

*

A happy man or woman is a better thing to find than a
five-pound note. He or she is a radiating focus of goodwill;
and their entrance into a room is as though another candle
had been lighted. We need not care whether they could
prove the forty-seventh proposition; they do a better thing
than that, they practically demonstrate the great Theorem
of the Liveableness of Life.

*

Mme. Bazin came out after a while; she was tired with her
day's work, I suppose; and she nestled up to her husband
and laid her head upon his breast. He had his arm about
her and kept gently patting her on the shoulder. I think
Bazin was right, and he was really married. Of how few
people can the same be said!

Little did the Bazins know how much they served us. We
were charged for candles, for food and drink, and for the
beds we slept in. But there was nothing in the bill for
the husband's pleasant talk; nor for the pretty spectacle
of their married life. And there was yet another item
uncharged. For these people's, politeness really set us up
again in our own esteem. We had a thirst for
consideration; the sense of insult was still hot in our
spirits; and civil usage seemed to restore us to our
position in the world.

How little we pay our way in life! Although we have our
purses continually in our hand, the better part of service
goes still unrewarded. But I like to fancy that a grateful
spirit gives as good as it gets. Perhaps the Bazins knew
how much I liked them? perhaps they, also, were healed of
some slights by the thanks that I gave them in my manner?

*

No art, it may be said, was ever perfect, and not many
noble, that has not been mirthfully conceived. And no man,
it may be added, was ever anything but a wet blanket and a
cross to his companions who boasted not a copious spirit of
enjoyment.

*

There is yet another class who do not depend on corporal
advantages, but support the winter in virtue of a brave and
merry heart. One shivering evening, cold enough for frost,
but with too high a wind, and a little past sundown, when
the Lamps were beginning to enlarge their circles in the
growing dusk, a brace of barefooted lassies were seen
coming eastward in the teeth of the wind. If the one was
as much as nine, the other was certainly not more than
seven. They were miserably clad; and the pavement was so
cold, you would have thought no one could lay a naked foot
on it unflinching. Yet they came along waltzing, if you
please, while the elder sang a tune to give them music.
The person who saw this, and whose heart was full of
bitterness at the moment, pocketed a reproof which has been
of use to him ever since, and which he now hands on, with
his good wishes, to the reader.

*

Happiness, at least, is not solitary; it joys to
communicate; it loves others, for it depends on them for
its existence; it sanctions and encourages to all delights
that are not unkind in themselves; if it lived to a
thousand, it would not make excision of a single humorous
passage; and while the self-improver dwindles toward the
prig, and, if he be not of an excellent constitution, may
even grow deformed into an Obermann, the very name and
appearance of a happy man breathe of good-nature, and help
the rest of us to live.

*

It is never a thankful office to offer advice; and advice
is the more unpalatable, not only from the difficulty of
the service recommended, but often from its very
obviousness. We are fired with anger against those who
make themselves the spokesmen of plain obligations; for
they seem to insult us as they advise.

*

We are not all patient Grizzels, by good fortune, but
the most of us human beings with feelings and tempers
of our own.

*

Men, whether lay or clerical, suffer better the flame of
the stake than a daily inconvenience or a pointed sneer,
and will not readily be martyred without some external
circumstance and a concourse looking on.

*

An imperturbable demeanour comes from perfect patience.
Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go on in
fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a
clock during a thunderstorm.

*

The ways of men seem always very trivial to us when we find
ourselves alone on a church top, with the blue sky and a
few tall pinnacles, and see far below us the steep roofs
and foreshortened buttresses, and the silent activity of
the city streets.

*

Nevertheless, there is a certain frame of mind to which a
cemetery is, if not an antidote, at least an alleviation.
If you are in a fit of the blues, go nowhere else.

*

Honour can survive a wound; it can live and thrive without
member. The man rebounds from his disgrace; he begins
fresh foundations on the ruins of the old; and when his
sword is broken, he will do valiantly with his dagger.

*

It is easy to be virtuous when one's own convenience is not
affected; and it is no shame to any man to follow the
advice of an outsider who owns that, while he sees which is
the better part, he might not have the courage to profit
himself by this opinion.

*

As soon as prudence has begun to grow up in the brain, like
a dismal fungus, it finds its expression in a paralysis of
generous acts.

*

The man who cannot forgive any mortal thing is a green
hand in life.

*

It is a useful accomplishment to be able to say NO, but
surely it is the essence of amiability to prefer to say YES
where it is possible. There is something wanting in the
man who does not hate himself whenever he is constrained to
say no. And there was a great deal wanting in this born
dissenter. He was almost shockingly devoid of weaknesses;
he had not enough of them to be truly polar with humanity;
whether you call him demi-god or demi-man, he was at least
not altogether one of us, for he was not touched with a
feeling of our infirmities. The world's heroes have room
for all positive qualities, even those which are
disreputable, in the capacious theatre of their
dispositions. Such can live many lives; while a Thoreau
can live but one, and that only with perpetual foresight.

*

We can all be angry with our neighbour; what we want is to
be shown, not his defects, of which we are too conscious,
but his merits, to which we are too blind.

*

And methought that beauty and terror are only one, not two;
And the world has room for love, and death, and thunder,
and dew;
And all the sinews of hell slumber in summer air;
And the face of God is a rock, but the face of the rock
is fair.
Beneficent streams of tears flow at the finger of pain;
And out of the cloud that smites, beneficent rivers
of rain.

*

'The longest and most abstruse flight of a philosopher
becomes clear and shallow, in the flash of a moment, when
we suddenly perceive the aspect and drift of his intention.
The longest argument is but a finger pointed; once we get
our own finger rightly parallel, and we. see what the man
meant, whether it be a new Star or an old street-lamp. And
briefly, if a saying is hard to understand, it is because
we are thinking of something else.

*

I have seen wicked men and fools, a great many of both;
and I believe they both get paid in the end, but the
fools first.

*

Whether people's gratitude for the good gifts that come to
them be wisely conceived or dutifully expressed is a
secondary matter, after all, so long as they feel
gratitude. The true ignorance is when a man does not know
that he has received a good gift, or begins to imagine that
he has got it for himself. The self-made man is the
funniest windbag after all! There is a marked difference
between decreeing light in chaos, and lighting the gas in a
metropolitan back parlour with a box of patent matches;
and, do what we will, there is always something made to our
hand, if it were only our fingers.

*

Benjamin Franklin went through life an altered man, because
he once paid too dearly for a penny whistle. My concern
springs usually from a deeper source, to wit, from having
bought a whistle when I did not want one.

*

I believe in a better state of things, that there will be
no more nurses, and that every mother will nurse her own
offspring; for what can be more hardening and demoralising
than to call forth the tenderest feelings of a woman's
heart and cherish them yourself as long as you need them,
as long as your children require a nurse to love them, and
then to blight and thwart and destroy them, whenever your
own use for them is at an end.

*

We had needs invent heaven if it had not been revealed
to us; there are some things that fall so bitterly ill on
this side time!

*

To write with authority about another man, we must have
fellow-feeling and some common ground of experience with
our subject. We may praise or blame according as we find
him related to us by the best or worst in ourselves; but it
is only in virtue of some relationship that we can be his
judges, even to condemn. Feelings which we share and
understand enter for us into the tissue of the man's
character; those to which we are strangers in our own
experience we are inclined to regard as blots, exceptions,
inconsistencies, and excursions of the diabolic; we
conceive them with repugnance, explain them with
difficulty, and raise our hands to heaven in wonder when we
find them in conjunction with talents that we respect or
virtues that we admire.

*

To the best of my belief, Mr. Shandy is the first who
fairly pointed out the incalculable influence of
nomenclature upon the whole life--who seems first to have
recognised the one child, happy in an heroic appellation,
soaring upwards on the wings of fortune, and the other,
like the dead sailor in his shotted hammock, haled down by
sheer weight of name into the abysses of social failure.

*

It would be well if nations and races could communicate
their qualities; but in practice when they look upon each
other, they have an eye to nothing but defects.

*

Many a man's destiny has been settled by nothing apparently
more grave than a pretty face on the opposite side of the
street and a couple of bad companions round the corner.

*

So kindly is the world arranged, such great profit may
arise from a small degree of human reliance on oneself, and
such, in particular, is the happy star of this trade of
writing, that it should combine pleasure and profit to both
parties, and be at once agreeable, like fiddling, and
useful, like good preaching.

*

In all garrison towns, guard-calls, and reveilles, and such
like, make a fine, romantic interlude in civic business.
Bugles, and drums, and fifes are of themselves most
excellent things in nature, and when they carry the mind to
marching armies and the picturesque vicissitudes of war
they stir up something proud in the heart.

*

To pass from hearing literature to reading it is to take a
great and dangerous step. With not a few, I think a large
proportion of their pleasure then comes to an end; 'the
malady of not marking' overtakes them; they read
thenceforward by the eye alone and hear never again the
chime of fair words or the march of the stately period.
NON RAGIONIAM of these. But to all the step is dangerous;
it involves coming of age; it is even a kind of second
weaning. In the past all was at the choice of others; they
chose, they digested, they read aloud for us and sang to
their own tune the books of childhood. In the future we
are to approach the silent, inexpressive type alone, like
pioneers; and the choice of what we are to read is in our
own hands thenceforward.

*

It remains to .be seen whether you can prove yourselves as
generous as you have been wise and patient.

*

'If folk dinna ken what ye're doing, Davie, they're
terrible taken up with it; but if they think they ken, they
care nae mair for it than what I do for pease porridge.'

*

And perhaps if you could read in my soul, or I could
read in yours, our own composure might seem little
less surprising.

*

For charity begins blindfold; and only through a series of
misapprehensions rises at length into a settled principle
of love and patience, and a firm belief in all our
fellow-men.

*

There is no doubt that the poorer classes in our country
are much more charitably disposed than their superiors in
wealth. And I fancy it must arise a great deal from the
comparative indistinction of the easy and the not so easy
in these ranks. A workman or a pedlar cannot shutter
himself off from his less comfortable neighbours. If he
treats himself to a luxury, he must do it in the face of a
dozen who cannot. And what should more directly lead to
charitable thoughts? Thus the poor man, camping out in
life, sees it as it is, and knows that every mouthful he
puts in his belly has been wrenched out of the fingers of
the hungry.

But at a certain stage of prosperity, as in a balloon
ascent, the fortunate person passes through a zone of
clouds, and sublunary matters are thenceforward hidden from
his view. He sees nothing but the heavenly bodies, all in
admirable order, and positively as good as new. He finds
himself surrounded in the most touching manner by the
attentions of Providence, and compares himself
involuntarily with the lilies and the skylarks. He does
not precisely sing, of course; but then he looks so
unassuming in his open laudau! If all the world dined
at one table, this philosophy would meet with some
rude knocks.

*

Forgive me, if I seem to teach, who am as ignorant as the
trees of the mountain; but those who learn much do but skim
the face of knowledge; they seize the laws, they conceive
the dignity of the design--the horror of the living fact
fades from the memory. It is we who sit at home with evil
who remember, I think, and are warned and pity.

*

Look back now, for a moment, on your own brief experience
of life; and although you lived it feelingly in your own
person, and had every step of conduct burned in by pains
and joys upon your memory, tell me what definite lesson
does experience hand on from youth to manhood, or from both
to age? The settled tenor which first strikes the eye is
but the shadow of a delusion. This is gone; that never
truly was; and you yourself are altered beyond recognition.
Times and men and circumstances change about your changing
character, with a speed of which no earthly hurricane
affords an image. What was the best yesterday, is it still
the best in this changed theatre of a to-morrow? Will your
own Past truly guide you in your own violent and unexpected
Future? And if this be questionable, with what humble,
with what hopeless eyes, should we not watch other men
driving beside us on their unknown careers, seeing with
unlike eyes, impelled by different gales, doing and
suffering in another sphere of things?

*

The problem of education is twofold: first to know, and
then to utter. Every one who lives any semblance of an
inner life thinks more nobly and profoundly than he speaks;
and the best teachers can impart only broken images of the
truth which they perceive. Speech which goes from one to
another between two natures, and, what is worse, between
two experiences, is doubly relative. The speaker buries
his meaning; it is for the hearer to dig it up again; and
all speech, written or spoken, is in a dead language until
it finds a willing and prepared hearer.

*

Culture is not measured by the greatness of the field which
is covered by our knowledge, but by the nicety with which
we can perceive relations in that field, whether great
or small.

*

We are accustomed nowadays to a great deal of puling over
the circumstances in which we are placed. The great
refinement of many poetical gentlemen has rendered them
practically unfit for the jostling and ugliness of life,
and they record their unfitness at considerable length.
The bold and awful poetry of Job's complaint produces too
many flimsy imitators; for there is always something
consolatory in grandeur, but the symphony transposed for
the piano becomes hysterically sad. This literature of
woe, as Whitman calls it, this MALADIE DE RENE, as we like
to call it in Europe, is in many ways a most humiliating
and sickly phenomenon. Young gentlemen with three or four
hundred a year of private means look down from a pinnacle
of doleful experience on all the grown and hearty men who
have dared to say a good word for life since the beginning
of the world. There is no prophet but the melancholy
Jacques, and the blue devils dance on all our literary
wires.

It would be a poor service to spread culture, if this be
its result, among the comparatively innocent and cheerful
ranks of men. When our little poets have to be sent to
look at the ploughman and learn wisdom, we must be careful
how we tamper with our ploughmen. Where a man in not the
best of circumstances preserves composure of mind, and
relishes ale and tobacco, and his wife and children, in the
intervals of dull and unremunerative labour; where a man in
this predicament can afford a lesson by the way to what are
called his intellectual superiors, there is plainly
something to be lost, as well as something to be gained, by
teaching him to think differently. It is better to leave
him as he is than to teach him whining. It is better that
he should go without the cheerful lights of culture, if
cheerless doubt and paralysing sentimentalism are to be the
consequence. Let us, by all means, fight against that
hide-bound stolidity of sensation and sluggishness of mind
which blurs and decolorises for poor natures the wonderful
pageant of consciousness; let us teach people, as much as
we can, to enjoy, and they will learn for themselves to
sympathise; but let us see to it, above all, that we give
these lessons in a brave, vivacious note, and build the man
up in courage while we demolish its substitute,
indifference.

*

All opinions, properly so called, are stages on the road to
truth. It does not follow that a man will travel any
further; but if he has really considered the world and
drawn a conclusion, he has travelled so far. This does not
apply to formulae got by rote, which are stages on the road
to nowhere but second childhood and the grave. To have a
catchword in your mouth is not the same thing as to hold an
opinion; still less is it the same thing as to have made
one for yourself.

*

It is surely beyond a doubt that people should be a good
deal idle in youth. For though here and there a Lord
Macaulay may escape from school honours with all his wits
about him, most boys pay so dear for their medals that they
never afterwards have a shot in their locker, and begin the
world bankrupt. And the same holds true during all the
time a lad is educating himself, or suffering others to
educate him.... Books are good enough in their own way, but
they are a mighty bloodless substitute for life. It seems
a pity to sit, like the Lady of Shalott, peering into a
mirror, with your back turned on all the bustle and glamour
of reality. And if a man reads very hard, as the old
anecdote reminds us, he will have little time for thought.

*

It is supposed that all knowledge is at the bottom of a
well, or the far end of a telescope. As a matter of fact,
an intelligent person, looking out of his eyes and
hearkening in his ears, with a smile on his face all the
time, will get more true education than many another in a
life of heroic vigils. There is certainly some chill and
arid knowledge to be found upon the summits of formal and
laborious science; but it is all round about you, and for
the trouble of looking, that you will acquire the warm and
palpitating facts of life. While others are filling their
memory with a lumber of words, one-half of which they will
forget before the week is out, your truant may learn some
really useful art: to play the fiddle, or to speak with
ease and opportunity to all varieties of men. Many who
have 'plied their book diligently,' and know all about some
one branch or another of accepted lore, come out of the
study with an ancient and owl-like demeanour, and prove
dry, stockish, and dyspeptic in all the better and brighter
parts of life. Many make a large fortune who remain
underbred and pathetically stupid to the last. And
meantime there goes the idler, who began life along with
them--by your leave, a different picture. He has had time
to take care of his health and his spirits; he has been a
great deal in the open air, which is the most salutary of
all things for both body and mind; and if he has never read
the great Book in very recondite places, he has dipped into
it and skimmed it over to excellent purpose. Might not the
student afford some Hebrew roots, and the business man some
of his half-crowns, for a share of the idler's knowledge of
life at large, and Art of Living?

*

Nay, and the idler has another and more important quality
than these. I mean his wisdom. He who has much looked on
at the childish satisfaction of other people in their
hobbies, will regard his own with only a very ironical
indulgence. He will not be heard among the dogmatists.
He will have a great and cool allowance for all sorts of
people and opinions. If he finds no out-of-the-way truths,
he will identify himself with no very burning falsehood.
His way takes him along a by-road, not much frequented, but
very even and pleasant, which is called Commonplace Lane,
and leads to the Belvedere of Commonsense. Thence he shall
command an agreeable, if no very noble prospect; and while
others behold the East and West, the Devil and the sunrise,
he will be contentedly aware of a sort of morning hour upon
all sublunary things, with an army of shadows running
speedily and in many different directions into the great
daylight of Eternity.

*

I begin to perceive that it is necessary to know some one
thing to the bottom-- were it only literature. And yet,
sir, the man of the world is a great feature of this age;
he is possessed of an extraordinary mass and variety of
knowledge; he is everywhere at home; he has seen life in
all its phases ; and it is impossible but that this great
habit of existence should bear fruit.

*

I am sorry indeed that I have no Greek, but I should be
sorrier still if I were dead; nor do I know the name of
that branch of knowledge which is worth acquiring at the
price of a brain fever. There are many sordid tragedies in
the life of the student, above all if he be poor, or
drunken, or both; but nothing more moves a wise man s pity
than the case of the lad who is in too much hurry to be
learned.

*

'My friend,' said I, 'it is not easy to say who know the
Lord; and it is none of our business. Protestants and
Catholics, and even those who worship stones, may know Him
and be known by Him; for He has made all.'

*

Cheylard scrapes together halfpence or the darkened souls
in Edinburgh; while Balquhidder and Dunrossness bemoans the
ignorance of Rome. Thus, to the high entertainment of the
angels, do we pelt each other with evangelists, like
schoolboys bickering in the snow.

*

For courage respects courage; but where a faith has been
trodden out, we may look for a mean and narrow population.

*

Its not only a great flight of confidence for a man to
change his creed and go out of his family for heaven's
sake; but the odds are--nay, and the hope is--that, with
all this great transition in the eyes of man, he has not
changed himself a hairbreadth to the eyes of God. Honour
to those who do so, for the wrench is sore. But it argues
something narrow, whether of strength or weakness, whether
of the prophet or the fool, in those who can take a
sufficient interest in such infinitesimal and human
operations, or who can quit a friendship for a doubtful
operation of the mind. And I think I should not leave my
old creed for another, changing only words for words; but
by some brave reading, embrace it in spirit and truth, and
find wrong as wrong for me as for the best of other
communions.

*

It is not a basketful of law-papers, nor the hoofs and
pistol-butts of a regiment of horse, that can change one
tittle of a ploughman's thoughts. Outdoor rustic people
have not many ideas, but such as they have are hardy
plants, and thrive flourishingly in persecution. One who
has grown a long while in the sweat of laborious noons, and
under the stars at night, a frequenter of hills and
forests, an old honest countryman, has, in the end, a sense
of communion with the powers of the universe, and amicable
relations towards his God. Like my mountain Plymouth
Brother, he knows the Lord. His religion does not repose
upon a choice of logic; it is the poetry of the man's
existence, the philosophy of the history of his life. God,
like a great power, like a great shining sun, has appeared
to this simple fellow in the course of years, and become
the ground and essence of his least reflections; and you
may change creeds and dogmas by authority, or proclaim, a
new religion with the sound of trumpets, if you will; but
here is a man who has his own thoughts, and will stubbornly
adhere to them in good and evil. He is a Catholic, a
Protestant, or a Plymouth Brother, in the same indefeasible
sense that a man is not a woman, or a woman is not a man.
For he could not vary from his faith, unless he could
eradicate all memory of the past, and, in a strict and not
conventional meaning, change his mind.

*

For still the Lord is Lord of might;
In deeds, in deeds, he takes delight;
The plough, the spear, the laden barks,
The field, the founded city, marks;
He marks the smiler of the streets,
The singer upon garden seats;
He sees the climber in the rocks:
To him, the shepherd folds his flocks.
For those he loves that underprop
With daily virtues Heaven's top,
And bear the falling sky with ease,
Unfrowning caryatides.
Those he approves that ply the trade,
That rock the child, that wed the maid,
That with weak virtues, weaker hands,
Sow gladness on the peopled lands,
And still with laughter, song and shout,
Spin the great wheel of earth about.

*

The shadow of a great oak lies abroad upon the ground at
noon, perfect, clear, and stable like the earth. But let a
man set himself to mark out the boundary with cords and
pegs, and were he never so nimble and never so exact, what
with the multiplicity of the leaves and the progression of
the shadow as it flees before the travelling sun, long ere
he has made the circuit the whole figure will have changed.
Life may be compared, not to a single tree, but to a great
and complicated forest; circumstance is more swiftly
changing than a shadow, language much more inexact than the
tools of a surveyor; from day to day the trees fall and are
renewed; the very essences are fleeting as we look; and the
whole world of leaves is swinging tempest-tossed among the
winds of time. Look now for your shadows. O man of
formulae, is this a place for you? Have you fitted the
spirit to a single case? Alas, in the cycle of the ages
when shall such another be proposed for the judgment of
man? Now when the sun shines and the winds blow, the wood
is filled with an innumerable multitude of shadows,
tumultuously tossed and changing; and at every gust the
whole carpet leaps and becomes new. Can you or your heart
say more?

*

Indeed, I can see no dishonesty in not avowing a
difference; and especially in these high matters, where we
have all a sufficient assurance that, whoever may be in the
wrong, we ourselves are not completely right.... I know
right well that we are all embarked upon a troublesome
world, the children of one Father, striving in many
essential points to do and to become the same.

*

The word 'facts' is, in some ways, crucial. I have spoken
with Jesuits and Plymouth Brethren, mathematicians and
poets, dogmatic republicans and dear old gentlemen in
bird's-eye neckcloths; and each understood the word 'facts'
in an occult sense of his own. Try as I might, I could get
no nearer the principle of their division. What was
essential to them, seemed to me trivial or untrue. We
could come to no compromise as to what was, or what was
not, important in the life of man. Turn as we pleased, we
all stood back to back in a big ring, and saw another
quarter of the heavens, with different mountain-tops along
the sky-line and different constellations overhead. We had
each of us some whimsy in the brain, which we believed more
than anything else, and which discoloured all experience to
its own shade. How would you have people agree, when one
is deaf and the other blind?

*

The average man lives, and must live, so wholly in
convention, that gunpowder charges of the truth are more
apt to discompose than to invigorate his creed. Either
he cries out upon blasphemy and indecency, and crouches
the closer round that little idol of part-truth and
part-conveniences which is the contemporary deity, or
he is convinced by what is new, forgets what is old,
and becomes truly blasphemous and indecent himself. New
truth is only wanted to expand, not to destroy, our civil
and often elegant conventions. He who cannot judge had
better stick to fiction and the daily papers. There he
will get little harm, and, in the first at least, some good.

*

The human race is a thing more ancient than the ten
commandments; and the bones and the revolutions of the
Kosmos in whose joints we are but moss and fungus, more
ancient still.

*

The canting moralist tells us of right and wrong; and we
look abroad, even on the face of our small earth, and find
them change with every climate, and no country where some
action is not honoured for a virtue and none where it is
not branded for a vice; and we look into our experience,
and find no vital congruity in the wisest rules, but at the
best a municipal fitness. It is not strange if we are
tempted to despair of good. We ask too much. Our
religions and moralities have been trimmed to flatter us,
till they are all emasculate and sentimentalised, and only
please and weaken. Truth is of a rougher strain. In the
harsh face of life, faith can read a bracing gospel.

*

Gentleness and cheerfulness, these come before all
morality; they are the perfect duties.... If your morals
make you dreary, depend upon it they are wrong. I do not
say 'give them up,' for they may be all you have; but
conceal them like a vice, lest they should spoil the lives
of better and simpler people.

*

There is no quite good book without a good morality; but
the world is wide, and so are morals. Out of two people
who have dipped into Sir Richard Burton's Thousand and One
Nights, one shall have been offended by the animal details;
another to whom these were harmless, perhaps even pleasing,
shall yet have been shocked in his turn by the rascality
and cruelty of all the characters. Of two readers, again,
one shall have been pained by the morality of a religious
memoir, one by that of the VICOMTE DE BRAGELONNE. And the
point is that neither need be wrong. We shall always shock
each other both in life and art; we cannot get the sun into
our pictures, nor the abstract right (if there be such a
thing) into our books; enough if, in the one, there glimmer
some hint of the great light that blinds us from heaven;
enough if, in the other, there shine, even upon foul
details, a spirit of magnanimity.

*

For to do anything because others do it, and not because
the thing is good, or kind, or honest in its own right, is
to resign all moral control and captaincy upon yourself,
and go post-haste to the devil with the greater number.
The respectable are not led so much by any desire of
applause as by a positive need for countenance. The weaker
and the tamer the man, the more will he require this
support; and any positive quality relieves him, by just so
much, of this dependence.

*

Happiness and goodness, according to canting moralists,
stand in the relation of effect and cause. There was never
anything less proved or less probable: our happiness is
never in our own hands; we inherit our constitutions; we
stand buffet among friends and enemies; we may be so built
as to feel a sneer or an aspersion with unusual keenness,
and so circumstanced as to be unusually exposed to them; we
may have nerves very sensitive to pain, and be afflicted
with a disease more painful. Virtue will not help us, and
it is not meant to help us. It is not even its own reward,
except for the self-centred and--I had almost said--the
unamiable.

*

Noble disappointment, noble self-denial, are not to be
admired, not even to be pardoned, if they bring bitterness.
It is one thing to enter the kingdom of heaven maim;
another to maim yourself and stay without.

*

To make our idea of morality centre on forbidden acts is to
defile the imagination and to introduce into our judgments
of our fellow-men a secret element of gusto. If a thing is
wrong for us, we should not dwell upon the thought of it;
or we shall soon dwell upon it with inverted pleasure.

*

There is a certain class, professors of that low morality
so greatly more distressing than the better sort of vice,
to whom you must never represent an act that was virtuous
in itself, as attended by any other consequences than a
large family and fortune.

*

All have some fault. The fault of each grinds down
the hearts of those about him, and--let us not blink the
truth--hurries both him and them into the grave. And when
we find a man persevering indeed, in his fault, as all of
us do, and openly overtaken, as not all of us are, by its
consequences, to gloss the matte over, with too polite
biographers, is to do the work of the wrecker disfiguring
beacons on a perilous seaboard; but to call him bad, with a
self-righteous chuckle, is to be talking in one's sleep
with Heedless and Too-bold in the arbour.

*

The most influential books, and the truest in their
influence, are works of fiction. They do not pin the
reader to a dogma, which he must afterwards discover to be
inexact; they do not teach a lesson, which he must
afterwards unlearn. They repeat, they rearrange, they
clarify the lessons of life; they disengage us from
ourselves, they constrain us to the acquaintance of others;
and they show us the web of experience, not as we can see
it for ourselves, but with a singular change--that
monstrous, consuming ego of ours being, for the nonce,
struck out. To be so, they must be reasonably true to the
human comedy; and any work that is so serves the turn of
instruction.

*

Nature is a good guide through life, and the love of simple
pleasures next, if not superior, to virtue.

*

The soul asks honour and not fame; to be upright, not to be
successful; to be good, not prosperous; to be essentially,
not outwardly, respectable.

*

Practice is a more intricate and desperate business than
the toughest theorising; life is an affair of cavalry,
where rapid judgment and prompt action are alone possible
and right.

*

Each man should learn what is within him, that he may
strive to mend; he must be taught what is without him, that
he may be kind to others. It can never be wrong to tell
him the truth; for, in his disputable state, weaving as he
goes his theory of life, steering himself, cheering or
reproving others, all facts are of the first importance to
his conduct; and even if a fact shall discourage or corrupt
him, it is still best that he should know it; for it is in
this world as it is, and not in a world made easy by
educational suppression, that he must win his way to shame
or glory.

*

A generous prayer is never presented in vain; the petition
may be refused, but the petitioner is always, I believe,
rewarded by some gracious visitation.

*

EVENSONG

The embers of the day are red
Beyond the murky hill.
The kitchen smokes: the bed
In the darkling house is spread:
The great sky darkens overhead,
And the great woods are shrill.
So far have I been led,
Lord, by Thy will:
So far I have followed, Lord, and wondered still.

The breeze from the enbalmed land
Blows sudden toward the shore,
And claps my cottage door.
I hear the signal, Lord--I understand.
The night at Thy command
Comes. I will eat and sleep and will not question more.

*

It is not at all a strong thing to put one's reliance upon
logic.; and our own logic particularly, for it is generally
wrong. We never know where we are to end if once we begin
following words or doctors. There is an upright stock in a
man's own heart that is trustier than any syllogism; and
the eyes, and the sympathies, and appetites know a thing or
two that have never yet been stated in controversy.
Reasons are as plentiful as blackberries; and, like
fisticuffs, they serve impartially with all sides.
Doctrines do not stand or fall by their proofs, and are
only logical in so far as they are cleverly put. An able
controversialist no more than an able general demonstrates
the justice of his cause.

*

To any man there may come at times a consciousness that
there blows, through all the articulations of his body, the
wind of a spirit not wholly his; that his mind rebels; that
another girds him and carries him whither he would not.

*

The child, the seed, the grain of corn,
The acorn on the hill,
Each for some separate end is born
In season fit, and still
Each must in strength arise to work the almighty will.

So from the hearth the children flee,
By that almighty hand
Austerely led; so one by sea
Goes forth, and one by land;
Nor aught of all man's sons escapes from that command.

So from the sally each obeys
The unseen almighty nod;
So till the ending all their ways
Blindfolded loth have trod:
Nor knew their task at all, but were the tools of God.

*

A few restrictions, indeed, remain to influence the
followers of individual branches of study. The DIVINITY,
for example, must be an avowed believer; and as this, in
the present day, is unhappily considered by many as a
confession of weakness, he is fain to choose one of two
ways of gilding the distasteful orthodox bolus. Some
swallow it in a thin jelly of metaphysics; for it is even a
credit to believe in God on the evidence of some crack-jaw
philosopher, although it is a decided slur to believe in
Him on His own authority. Others again (and this we think
the worst method), finding German grammar a somewhat dry
morsel, run their own little heresy as a proof of
independence; and deny one of the cardinal doctrines that
they may hold the others without being laughed at.

*

In particular, I heard of clergymen who were employing
their time in explaining to a delighted audience the
physics of the Second Coming. It is not very likely any of
us will be asked to help. If we were, it is likely we
should receive instructions for the occasion, and that on
more reliable authority. And so I can only figure to
myself a congregation truly curious in such flights of
theological fancy, as one of veteran and accomplished
saints, who have fought the good fight to an end and
outlived all worldly passion, and are to be regarded rather
as a part of the Church Triumphant than the poor, imperfect
company on earth.

*

The whole creation groaneth and travaileth together. It is
the common and the god-like law of life. The browsers, the
biters, the barkers, the hairy coats of field and forest,
the squirrel in the oak, the thousand-footed creeper in the
dust, as they share with us the gift of life, share with us
the love of an ideal; strive like us--like us are tempted
to grow weary of the struggle--to do well; like us receive
at times unmerited refreshment, visitings of support,
returns of courage; and are condemned like us to be
crucified between that double law of the members and the
will. Are they like us, I wonder, in the timid hope of
some reward, some sugar with the drug? Do they, too, stand
aghast at unrewarded virtues, at the sufferings of those
whom, in our partiality, we take to be just, and the
prosperity of such as in our blindness we call wicked?

*

But to be a true disciple is to think of the same things as
our prophet, and to think of different things in the same
order. To be of the same mind with another is to see all
things in the same perspective; it is not to agree in a few
indifferent matters near at hand and not much debated; it
is to follow him in his farthest flights, to see the force
of his hyperboles, to stand so exactly in the centre of his
vision that whatever he may express, your eyes will light
at once on the original, that whatever he may see to
declare, your mind will at once accept....

Now, every now and then, and indeed surprisingly often,
Christ finds a word that transcends all commonplace
morality; every now and then He quits the beaten track to
pioneer the unexpressed, and throws out a pregnant and
magnanimous hyperbole; for it is only by some bold poetry
of thought that men can be strung up above the level of
everyday conceptions to take a broader look upon experience
or accept some higher principle of conduct. To a man who
is of the same mind that was in Christ, who stand at some
centre not too far from His, and looks at the world and
conduct from some not dissimilar or, at least, not opposing
attitude--or, shortly, to a man who is of Christ's
philosophy--every such saying should come home with a
thrill of joy and corroboration; he should feel each one
below his feet as another sure foundation in the flux of
time and chance; each should be another proof that in the
torrent of the years and generations, where doctrines and
great armaments and empires are swept away and swallowed,
he stands immovable, holding by the eternal stars.

*

Those who play by rule will never be more than tolerable
players; and you and I would like to play our game in life
to the noblest and the most divine advantage....For no
definite precept can be more than an illustration, though
its truth were resplendent like the sun, and it was
announced from heaven by the voice of God. And life is so
intricate and changing, that perhaps not twenty times, or
perhaps not twice in the ages, shall we find that nice
consent of circumstances to which alone it can apply....

It is to keep a man awake, to keep him alive to his own
soul and its fixed design of righteousness, that the better
part of moral and religious education is directed; not only
that of words and doctors, but the sharp ferule of calamity
under which we are all God's scholars till we die. If, as
teachers, we are to say anything to the purpose, we must
say what will remind the pupil of his soul; we must speak
that soul's dialect; we must talk of life and conduct as
his soul would have him think of them. If, from some
conformity between us and the pupil, or perhaps among all
men, we do in truth speak in such a dialect and express
such views, beyond question we shall touch in him a spring;
beyond question he will recognise the dialect as one that
he himself has spoken in his better hours; beyond question
he will cry, 'I had forgotten, but now I remember; I too
have eyes, and I had forgot to use them! I too have a soul
of my own, arrogantly upright, and to that I will listen
and conform.' In short, say to him anything that he has
once thought, or been upon the point of thinking, or show
him any view of life that he has once clearly seen, or been
on the point of clearly seeing; and you have done your part
and may leave him to complete the education for himself.

*

God, if there be any God, speaks daily in a new language,
by the tongues of men; the thoughts and habits of each
fresh generation and each new-coined spirit throw another
light upon the universe, and contain another commentary on
the printed Bibles; every scruple, every true dissent,
every glimpse of something new, is a letter of God's
alphabet; and though there is a grave responsibility for
all who speak, is there none for those who unrighteously
keep silent and conform? Is not that also to conceal and
cloak God's counsel?

*

Mankind is not only the whole in general, but every one in
particular. Every man or woman is one of mankind's dear
possessions; to his or her just brain, and kind heart, and
active hands, mankind intrusts some of its hopes for the
future; he or she is a possible wellspring of good acts and
source of blessings to the race.

*

Morals are a personal affair; in the war of righteousness
every man fights for his own hand; all the six hundred
precepts of the Mishna cannot shake my private judgment; my
magistracy of myself is an indefeasible charge, and my
decisions absolute for the time and case. The moralist is
not a judge of appeal, but an advocate who pleads at my
tribunal. He has to show not the law, but that the law
applies. Can he convince me? then he gains the cause. And
thus you find Christ giving various counsels to varying
people, and often jealously careful to avoid definite
precept. Is He asked, for example, to divide a heritage?
He refuses; and the best advice that He will offer is but a
paraphrase of the tenth commandment which figures so
strangely among the rest. Take heed, and beware of
covetousness. If you complain that this is vague, I have
failed to carry you along with me in my argument. For no
definite precept can be more than an illustration, though
its truth were resplendent like the sun, and it was
announced from heaven by the voice of God. And life is so
intricate and changing, that perhaps not twenty times, or
perhaps not twice in the ages, shall we find that nice
consent of circumstances to which alone it can apply.

*

But if it is righteousness thus to fuse together our
divisive impulses and march with one mind through life,
there is plainly one thing more unrighteous than all
others, and one declension which is irretrievable and draws
on the rest. And this is to lose consciousness of oneself.
In the best of times, it is but by flashes, when our whole
nature is clear, strong, and conscious, and events conspire
to leave us free, that we enjoy communion with our soul.
At the worst we are so fallen and passive that we may say
shortly we have none. An arctic torpor seizes upon men.
Although built of nerves, and set adrift in a stimulating
world, they develop a tendency to go bodily to sleep;
consciousness becomes engrossed among the reflex and
mechanical parts of life; and soon loses both the will and
power to look higher considerations in the face. This is
ruin; this is the last failure in life; this is temporal
damnation, damnation on the spot and without the form of
judgment: 'What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole
world and LOSE HIMSELF?'

*

To ask to see some fruit of our endeavour is but a
transcendental way of serving for reward; and what we take
to be contempt of self is only greed of hire.

*

We are are all such as He was--the inheritors of sin; we
must all bear and expiate a past which was not ours; there
is in all of us--ay, even in me--a sparkle of the divine.
Like Him, we must endure for a little while, until morning
returns, bringing peace.

*

A human truth, which is always very much a lie, hides as
much of life as it displays. It is men who hold another
truth, or, as it seems to us, perhaps, a dangerous lie, who
can extend our restricted field of knowledge, and rouse our
drowsy consciences.

*

Truth of intercourse is something more difficult than to
refrain from open lies. It is possible to avoid falsehood
and yet not tell the truth. It is not enough to answer
formal questions. To. reach the truth by yea and nay
communications implies a questioner with a share of
inspiration, such as is often found in mutual love. YEA
and NAY mean nothing; the meaning must have been related in
the question. Many Words are often necessary to convey a
very simple statement; for in this sort of exercise we
never hit the gold; the most that we can hope is by many
arrows, more or less far off on different sides, to
indicate, in the course of time, for what target we are

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