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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

XV
AN APOLOGY FOR IDLERS

* BOSWELL : We grow weary when idle.

1 JOHNSON : That is, sir, because others being busy, we want
company ; but if we were idle, there would be no growing weary;
we should all entertain one another.55

JUST now, when every one Is bound, under pain of a
decree in absence convicting them of Jase-respectability,
to enter on some lucrative profession, and labour therein
with something not far short of enthusiasm, a cry from
the opposite party who are content when they have enough,
and like to look on and enjoy in the meanwhile, savours
a little of bravado and gasconade. And yet this should
not be. Idleness so called, which does not consist in
doing nothing, but in doing a great deal not recognized
in the dogmatic formularies of the ruling class, has as
good a right to state its position as industry itself. It is
admitted that the presence of people who refuse to enter
in the great handicap race for sixpenny pieces, is at once
an insult and a disenchantment for those who do. A fine
fellow (as we see so many) takes his determination, votes
for sixpences, and in the emphatic Americanism, 'goes
for' them. And vrhile such an one is ploughing distress-
fully up the road, it is not hard to understand his resent-
ment, when he perceives cool persons in the meadows by
the wayside, lying with a handkerchief over their ears
and a glass at their elbow. Alexander is touched in a
very delicate place by the disregard of Diogenes, Where
was the glory of having taken Rome for these tumultuous
barbarians, who poured into the Senate house, and found
the Fathers sitting silent and unmoved by thek success ?
It is a sore thing to have laboured along and scaled the
arduous hilltops, and when all is done find humanity

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