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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

A   (JHKiSTMAS   SJUKiMU^                    101

bour, let us be more bold. One person's happiness is as
sacred as another's ; when we cannot defend both, let
us defend one with a stout heart. It is only in so far as
we are doing this, that we have any right to interfere :
the defence of B is our only ground of action against A.
A has as good a right to go to the devil, as we to go to
glory ; and neither knows what he does.

The truth is, that all these interventions and denuncia-
tions and militant moiigerings of moral half-truths, though
they are often enjoyable, do yet belong to an inferior
grade of duties. Ill-temper and envy and revenge find here
an arsenal of pious disguises ; this is the playground of
inverted lusts. With a little more patience and a little
less temper, a gentler and wiser method might be found
in almost every case : and the knot that we cut by some
fine heady quarrel-scene in private life, or, in public
affairs, by some denunciatory act against what we are
pleased to call our neighbour's vices, might yet have
been unwoven by the hand of sympathy.

IV

To look back upon the past year, and see how little
we have striven and to what small purpose ; and how
often we have been cowardly and hung back, or temera-
rious and rushed unwisely in; and how every day and
all day long we have transgressed the law of kindness ;—
it may seem a paradox but in the bitterness of these
discoveries a certain consolation resides. Life is not
designed to minister to a man's vanity. He goes upon
his long business most of the time with a hanging head,
and all the time like a blind child. Full of rewards and
pleasures as it is—so that to see the day break or the
moon rise, or to meet a friend, or to hear the dinner-call
when he is hungry, fills him with surprising joys—this
world is yet for him. no abiding city. Friendships fall
through, health fails, weariness assails him; year after
year, he must thumb the hardly varying record of his
own weakness and folly. It is a friendly process of
detachment. When the time comes that he should go,