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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

the two qualities best worth a good man's cultivation, so
it is the first part of intelligence to recognize our precarious
estate in life, and the first part of courage to be not at all
abashed before the fact. A frank and somewhat headlong
carriage, not looking too anxiously before, not dallying
in maudlin regret over the past, stamps the man who is
well armoured for this world.

And not only well armoured for himself, but a good
friend and a good citizen to boot. We do not go to cowards
for tender dealing; there is nothing so cruel as panic ;
the man who has least fear for his own carcase, has most
time to consider others. That eminent chemist who
took his walks abroad in tin shoes, and subsisted wholly
upon tepid milk, had all his work cut out for him in
considerable dealings with his own digestion. So soon as
prudence has begun to grow up in the brain, like a dismal
fungus, it finds its first expression in a paralysis of generous
acts. The victim begins to shrink spiritually ; he develops
a fancy for parlours with a regulated temperature, and
takes morality on the principle of tin shoes and tepid
milk. The care of one important body or soul becomes so
engrossing, that all the noises of the outer world begin to
come thin and faint into the parlour with the regulated
temperature ; and the tin shoes go equably forward over
blood and rain. To be overwise is to ossify, and the
scruple-monger ends by standing stockstill. Now the man
who has his heart on his sleeve, and a good whirling
weathercock of a brain, who reckons his life as a thing to
be dashingly used and cheerfully hazarded, makes a very
different acquaintance of the world, keeps all his pulses
going true and fast, and gathers impetus as he runs, if he
be running towards anything better than wildfire, he may
shoot up and become a constellation in the end. Lord
look after his health, Lord have a care for his soul, says
he ; and he has at the key of the position, and swashes
through incongruity and peril towards his aim. Death
is on all sides of him with pointed batteries as he is on all
sides of all of us, unfortunate surprises gird him round,
mim-mouthed friends and relations hold up their hands in
quite a little elegiacal synod about his path and what