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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

ON  FALLING IN  LOVE                   15

after stage of growing pleasure and embarrassment, they
can read the expression of their own trouble in each other's
eyes. There is here no declaration properly so called ;
the feeling is so plainly shared that, as soon as the man
knows what it is in his OWA heart, he is sure of in
the woman's.

This simple accident/of tailing in^tqve is as beneficial
as it is astonishing. It arrests the petiSfying. influence of
years, disproves cold-blooded and cynical conclusions, and
awakens dormant sensibilities. Hitherto the man had
found it a good policy to disbelieve the existence of any
enjoyment which was out of his reach ; and thus he turned
his back upon the strong sunny parts of nature, and
accustomed himself to look exclusively on what was
common and dull. He accepted a prose ideal, let himself
go blind of many sympathies by disuse ; and if he were
young and witty, or beautiful, wilfully forwent these
advantages. He joined himself to the following of what,
in the old mythology of love, was prettily called nonchaloir ;
and in an odd mixture of feelings, a fling of self-respect, a
preference for selfish liberty, and a great dash of that fear
with which honest people regard serious interests, kept
himself back from the straightforward course of life among
certain selected activities. And now, all of a sudden, he
is unhorsed, like St. Paul, from his infidel affectation.
His heart, which had been ticking accurate seconds for
the last year, gives a bound and begins to beat high and
irregularly in his breast. It seems as if he had never
heard or felt or seen until that moment; and, by the report
of his memory, he must have lived his past hfe between
sleep and waking, or with the pre-occupied attention of
a brown study. He is practically incommoded by the
generosity of his feelings, smiles much when he is alone,
and develops a habit of looking rather blankly upon the
moon and stars. But it is not at all within the province
of a prose essayist to give a picture of this hyperbolical
frame of mind; and the thing has been done already,
and that to admiration. In Adelaide, in Tennyson's
Maud, and in some of Heine's songs you get the absolute
> expression of this midsummer spirit. Romeo and Juliet