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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

limseK is above and abroad in the green dome of foliage,
aumxned through by winds and nested in by nightingales.
&nd the true realism were that of the poets, to climb up
after him like a squirrel, and catch some glimpse of the
lieaven for which he lives. And the true realism, always
and everywhere, is that of the poets : to find out where
joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing.

For to miss the joy is to miss all. In the joy of the
actors lies the sense of any action. That is the explana-
tion, that the excuse. To one who has not the secret of
the lanterns, the scene upon the links is meaningless.
And hence the haunting and truly spectral unreality of
realistic books. Hence, when we read the English realists,
the incredulous wonder with which we observe the hero's
constancy under the submerging tide of dullness, and how
he bears up with his jibbing sweetheart, and endures the
chatter of idiot girls, and stands by his whole unfeatured
wilderness of an existence, instead of seeking relief in
drink or foreign travel. Hence in the French, in that
meat-market of middle-aged sensuality, the disgusted
surprise with which we see the hero drift sidelong, and
practically quite untempted, into every description of
misconduct and dishonour. In each, we miss the personal
poetry, the enchanted atmosphere, that rainbow work of
fancy that clothes what is naked and seems to ennoble
what is base; in each, life falls dead like dough, instead
of soaring away like a balloon into the colours of the
sunset; each is true, each inconceivable; for no man
lives in the external truth, among salts and acids, but
in the warm, phantasmagoric chamber of Ms brain, with
the painted windows and the storied walls.

Of this falsity we have had a recent example from a
man who knows far better—Tolstoi's Powers of Darkness.
Here is a piece full of force and truth, yet quite untrue.
For before Mikita was led into so dire a situation he was
tempted, and temptations are beautiful at least in part;
and a work which dwells on the ugliness of crime and
gives no hint of any loveliness in the temptation, sins
against the modesty of life, and even when a Tolstoi
writes it, sinks to melodrama. The peasants are not