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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

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Ireams. Philosophy, in its more rigid sense, has been at
the same work for ages; and after a myriad bald heads
aave 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
us1, with modest pride, her contribution towards the
subject that life is a                   Possibility of Sensation,,

Truly a fine result! A man may very weE love beef, or
[ranting, or a woman : but surely, surely, not a
Possibility of Sensation ! He may be afraid of a precipice,
ar 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, bui> one feet, 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.
Into the views of the least careful there wjH enter some
degree of providence ; no man's eyes are fixed entirely on
the passing hour ; but although we have some anticipation
of good health, good weather, wine, active employment,
love, and self-approval, the sum of these anticipations
does not amount to anything like a general view of life's
possibilities and issues ; nor are those who cherish them
most vividly, at all the most scrupulous of their personal
safety. To be deeply interested in the accidents of our
existence, to enjoy keenly the mixed texture of human
experience, rather leads a man to disregard precautions,
and risk his neck against a straw. For surely the love of
living is stronger in an Alpine climber roping over a peril,
or a hunter riding merrily at a stiff fence, than in a/creature
who lives upon a diet and walks a.measured diltance in
the interest of his constitution.

There is a great deal of very vile nonsense t^iiecimpon
both sides of the matter : tearing divines redwing life to
the dimensions of a mere funeral procession, so short as to
be hardly decent; and melancholy unbelievers yearning
for the tomb as if it were a world too far away. Both
sides must feel a little ashamed of their performances now