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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

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If you look back on your own education, I am sure it
will not be the full, vivid, instructive hours of truantry
that you regret; you would rather cancel some lack-lustre
periods between sleep and waking in the class. For my
own part, I have attended a good many lectures in my
time. I still remember that the spinning of a top is a
case of Kinetic Stability. I still remember that Eniphy-
teusis is not a disease, nor Stillicide a crime. But though
I would not willingly part with such scraps of science, 1
do not set the same store by them as by certain other odds
and ends that I came by in the open street while I was
playing truant. This is not the moment to dilate on that
mighty place of education, which was the favourite school
of Dickens and of Balzac, and turns out yearly many
inglorious masters in the Science of the Aspects of Life.
Suffice it to say this : if a lad does not learn in the streets,
it is because he has no faculty of learning. Nor is the
truant always in the streets, for if he prefers, he may go
out by the gardened suburbs into the country. He may
pitch on some tuft of lilacs over a burn, and smoke
innumerable pipes to the tune of the water on the stones.
A bird will sing in the thicket. And there he may fail
into a vein of kindly thought, and see things in a new
perspective. Why, if this be not education, what is ?
We may conceive Mr. Worldly Wiseman accosting such
an one, and the conversation that should thereupon
ensue :

c How now, young fellow, what dost thou here 1 '

4 Truly, sir, I take mine ease.5

* Is not this the hour of the class ? and should'st thou
not be plying thy Book with diligence, to the end thou
mayest obtain knowledge ? '

' Nay, but thus also I follow after Learning, by your

' Learning, quotha ! After what fashion, I pray thee ?
Is it mathematics ? '

' No, to be sure.'

' Is it metaphysics ? *

' Nor that.'

1 Is it some language ?y