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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

14                  ON FALLING IN LOVE

more that forms a part of this or the other person's
spiritual bill of fare, are within the reach of almost any
one who can dare a little and be patient. But it is by no
means in the way of every one to fall in love. You know
the difficulty Shakespeare was put into when Queen
Elizabeth asked him to show Falstafi: in love. I do not
believe that Henry Fielding was ever in love. Scott, if
it were not for a passage or two in Rob Roy, would give
me very much the same effect. These are great names
and (what is more to the purpose) strong, healthy, high-
strung, and generous natures, of whom the reverse might
have been expected. As for the innumerable army of
anaemic and tailorish persons who occupy the face of this
planet with so much propriety, it is palpably absurd to
imagine them in any such situation as a love-affair. A
wet rag goes safely by the fire ; and if a man is blind, he
cannot expect to be much impressed by romantic scenery.
Apart from all this many lovable people miss each other
in the world, or meet under some unfavourable star.
There is the nice and critical moment of declaration to be
got over. From timidity or lack of opportunity a good
half of possible love cases never get so far, and at least
another quarter do there cease and determine. A very
adroit person, to be sure, manages to prepare the way
and out with his declaration in the nick of time. And then
there is a fine solid sort of man, who goes on from snub
to snub ; and, if he has to declare forty times, will continue
imperturbably declaring amid the astonished consideration
of men and angels, until he has a favourable answer. I
dare say, if one were a woman, one would like to marry a
man who was capable of doing this, but not quite one who
had done so. It is just a little bit abject, and somehow
just a little bit gross ; and marriages, in which one of the
parties has been thus battered into consent, scarcely form
agreeable subjects for meditation. Love should run out
to meet love with open arms, Indeed the ideal story is
that of two people who go into love step by step, with a
fluttered consciousness, like a pair of children venturing
together into a dark room. From the first moment when
they see each other, with a pang of curiosity, through stage