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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

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* Lord, what fools these mortals be !5

THERE is only one event in life which really astonishes
a man and startles him out of his prepared opinions,
Everything else befalls him very much as he expected,
Event succeeds to event, with an agreeable variety indeed,
but with little that is either startling or intense; they
form together no more than a sort of background or running
accompaniment to the man's own reflections; and he
falls naturally into a cool, curious, and smiling habit of
mind, and builds himself up in a conception of life which
expects to-morrow to be after the pattern of to-day and
yesterday. He may be accustomed to the vagaries of his
friends and acquaintances under the influence of love.
He may sometimes look forward to it for himself with an
incomprehensible expectation. But it is a subject in
which neither intuition nor the behaviour of others will
help the philosopher to the truth. There is probably
nothing rightly thought or rightly written on this matter
of love that is not a piece of the person's experience. I
remember an anecdote of a well-known French theorist,
who was debating a point eagerly in his cenade. It was
objected against him that he had never experienced love.
Whereupon he arose, left the society, and made it a point
not to return to it until he considered that he had supplied
the defect. * Now/ he remarked, on entering, ' now I am
in a position to continue the discussion.' Perhaps he had
not penetrated very deeply into the subject after all; but
the story indicates right thinking, and may serve as an
apologue to readers of this essay.