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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

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4z                           PAN'S  PIPES

by the woodside on a summer noon trolling on his pipe
until he charmed the hearts of upland ploughmen. And
the Greeks, in so figuring, uttered the last word of human
experience. To certain smoke-dried spirits matter and
motion and elastic aethers, and the hypothesis of this or
that other spectacled professor, tell a speaking story ; but
for youth and all ductile and congenial minds, Pan is not
dead, but of all the classic hierarchy alone survives in
triumph; goat-footed, with a gleeful and an angry look,
the type of the shaggy world : and in every wood, if you
go with a spirit properly prepared, you shall hear the note
of his pipe.

For it is a shaggy world, and yet studded with gardens ;
where the salt and tumbling sea receives clear rivers
running from among reeds and lilies ; fruitful and austere ;
a rustic world ; sunshiny, lewd, and cruel. What is it the
birds sing among the trees in pairing-time ? What means
the sound of the rain falling far and wide upon the leafy
forest 1 To what tune does the fisherman whistle, as he
hauls in his net at morning, and the bright fish are heaped
inside the boat ? These are all airs upon Pan's pipe ;
he it was who gave them breath in the exultation of his
heart, and gleefully modulated their outflow with his lips
and fingers. The coarse mirth of herdsmen, shaking the
dells with laughter and striking out high echoes from the
rock; the tune of moving feet in the lamplit city, or on
the smooth ballroom floor; the hooves of many horses,
beating the wide pastures in alarm ; the song of hurrying
rivers ; the colour of clear skies ; and smiles and the live
touch iof hands ; and the voice of things, and their signifi-
cant look, and the renovating influence they breathe forth
—these are his joyful measures, to which the whole earth
treads in choral harmony. To this music the young lambs
bound as to a tabor, and the London shop-girl skips rudely
in the dance. For it puts a spirit of gladness in all hearts ;
and to look on the happy side of nature is common, in their
hours, to all created things. Some are vocal under a good
influence, are pleasing whenever they are pleased, and
hand on their happiness to others, as a child who, looking
upon lovely things, looks lovely. Some leap to the strains