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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

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ally expressed, and knew themselves as tooth-chattering
ones, who flee from Nature because they fear the hand of
Nature's God! Shrilly sound Pan's pipes; and behold
the banker instantly concealed in the bank parlour ! For
to distrust one's impulses is to be recreant to Pan.

There are moments when the mind refuses to be satisfied
with evolution, and demands a ruddier presentation of the
sum of man's experience. Sometimes the mood is brought
about by laughter at the humorous side of life, as when,
abstracting ourselves from earth, we imagine people
plodding on foot, or seated in ships and speedy trains,
with the planet all the while whirling in the opposite
direction, so that, for all their hurry, they travel back-
foremost through the universe of space. Sometimes it
comes by the spirit of delight, and sometimes by the
spirit of terror. At least, there will always be hours when
we refuse to be put off by the feint of explanation, nick-
named science; and demand instead some palpitating
image of our estate, that shall represent the troubled
and uncertain element in which we dwell, and satisfy
reason by the means of art. Science' writes of the world
as if with the cold finger of a starfish ; it is all true ; but
what is it when compared to the reality of which it dis-
courses ? where hearts beat high in April, and death
strikes, and hills totter in the earthquake, and there is a
glamour over all the objects of sight, and a thrill in all
noises for the ear, and Romance herself has made her
dwelling among men ? So we come back to the old myth,
and hear the goat-footed piper making the music which
is itself the charm and terror of things; and when a glen
invites our visiting footsteps, fancy that Pan leads us
thither with a gracious tremolo ; or when our hearts quail
at the thunder of the cataract, tell ourselves that he has
stamped his hoof in the nigh thicket.