(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
See other formats

Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"


may see, out of the Belvedere windows, much green and
peaceful landscape ; many firelit parlours ; good people
laughing, drinking, and making love as they did before
the Flood or the French Revolution ; and the old shepherd
telling his tale under the hawthorn.

Extreme busyness, whether at school or college, kirk
or market, is a symptom of deficient vitality;   and a
faculty for idleness  implies  a  catholic   appetite  and a
strong  sense  of  personal  identity.    There  is  a  sort of
dead-alive,   hackneyed  people  about,   who   are  scarcely
conscious of living except in the exercise of some con-
ventional occupation.    Bring these fellows into the country
or set them aboard ship, and you will see how they pine
for their desk or their study.    They have no curiosity;
they cannot give themselves over to random provocations ;
they do not take pleasure in the exercise of their faculties
for its own sake ;   and unless Necessity lays about them
with a stick, they will even stand still.    It is no good
speaking to such folk :   they cannot be idle, their nature
is not generous enough; and they pass those hours in a
sort of coma, which are not dedicated to furious moiling
in the gold-mill.     When they do not require to go to
office, when they are not hungry and have no mind to
drink, the whole breathing world is a blank to them.
If they have to wait an hour or so for a train, they fall
into a stupid trance with their eyes open.    To see them,,
you would suppose there was nothing to look at and no
one to speak with ; you would imagine they were paralysed
or alienated ;  and yet very possibly they are hard workers
in their own way, and have good eyesight for a flaw in
a deed or a turn of the market.    They have been to school
and college, but all the time they had their eye on the
medal;   they have gone about in the world and mixed
with clever people, but all the time they were thinking
of their own affairs.    As if a man's soul were not too
small to begin with, they have dwarfed and narrowed
theirs by a life of all work and no play;  until here they
are at forty, with a listless attention, a mind vacant of
all material of amusement, and not one thought to rub
against another, while they wait for the train.    Before