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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

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can extend our restricted field of knowledge and rouse
our drowsy consciences, something that seems quite new,
or that seems insolently false or very dangerous, is the test
of a reader. If he tries to see what it means, what truth
excuses it, he has the gift, and let him read, If he is merely
hurt, or offended, or exclaims upon his author's folly, he
had better take to the daily papers; he will never be a

And here, with the aptest illustrative force, after I
have laid down my part-truth, I must step in with its
opposite, For, after all, we are vessels of a very limited
content, Not all men can read all books; it is only in a
chosen few that any man will find his appointed food ;
and the fittest lessons are the most palatable, and make
themselves welcome to the mind, A writer learns this
early, and it is Ms chief support; he goes on unafraid,
laying down the law; and he is sure at heart that most of
what he says is demonstrably false, and much of a mingled
strain, and some hurtful, and very little good for service;
but he is sure besides that, when his words fall into the
hands of any genuine reader, they will be weighed and
winnowed, and only that which suits will be assimilated;
and when they fall into the hands of one who cannot
intelligently read, they come there quite silent and inarticu-
late, falling upon deaf ears, and his secret is kept as if he
had not ratten.