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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

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who would ask more ; he has a hopeful spirit who should
look in such an enterprise to be successful. There is
indeed one element in human destiny that not blindness
itself can controvert: whatever else we are intended to
do, we are not intended to succeed ; failure is the fate
allotted. It is so in every art and study ; it is so above
all in the continent art of living well, Here is a pleasant
thought for the year's end or for the end of life : Only
self-deception will be satisfied, and there need be no despair
for the despairer.

But Christmas is not only the mile-mark of another
year, moving us to thoughts of self-examination : it is a
season, from all its associations, whether domestic or
religious, suggesting thoughts of joy. A man dissatisfied
with his endeavours is a man tempted to sadness. And
in the midst of the winter, when his life runs lowest and
he is reminded of the empty chairs of his beloved, it is
well he should be condemned to this fashion of the smiling
face. Noble disappointment, noble self-denial are not to
be pardoned, if they bring bitterness. It is one thing to
enter the kingdom of heaven maim; another to maim
yourself and stay without. And the kingdom of heaven
is of the child-like, of those who are easy to please, who
love and who give pleasure. Mighty men of their hands,
the smiters and the builders and the judges, have lived
long and done sternly and yet preserved this lovely char-
acter ; and among our carpet interests and twopenny
concerns, the shame were indelible if we, should lose it.
Gentleness and cheerfulness, these come before all morality;
they are the perfect duties. And it is the trouble with
moral men that they have neither one nor other. It
was the moral man, the Pharisee, whom Christ could not
away with. If your morals make you dreary, depend upon
it they are wrong. I do not say c give them up,' for they
may be all you have; but conceal them like a vice, lest
they should spoil the lives of better and simpler people.

A strange temptation attends upon a man : to keep his
eye on pleasures even when he will not share in them;