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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

A~N  APOLOGY  FOR  IDLERS              109

he was breeched, he might have clambered on the boxes ;
when he was twenty, he would have stared at the girls ;
but now the pipe is smoked out, the snuff-box empty,
and my gentleman sits bolt upright upon a bench, with
lamentable eyes. This does not appeal to me as being
Success in Life.

But it is not only the person himself who suffers from
Ms busy habits, but his wife and children, his friends and
relations, and down to the very people he sits with in a
rail way-carriage or an omnibus. Perpetual devotion to
what a man calls his business, is only to be sustained by
perpetual neglect of many other things. And it is not
by any means certain that a man's business is the most
important thing he has to do. To an impartial estimate
it will seem clear that many of the wisest, most virtuous
and most beneficent parts that are to be played upon the
Theatre of Life are filled by gratuitous performers, and
pass, among the world at large, as phases of idleness.
For in that Theatre, not only the walking gentlemen,
singing chambermaids, and diligent fiddlers in the orchestra,
but those who look on and clap their hands from the
benches, do really play a part and fulfil important offices
towards the general result. You are no doubt very
dependent on the care of your lawyer and stockbroker,
of the guards and signalmen who convey you rapidly
from place to place, and the policemen who walk the
streets for your protection; but is there not a thought
of gratitude in your heart for certain other benefactors
who set you smiling when they fall in your way, or season
your dinner with good company ? Colonel Newcorne
helped to lose his friend's money ; Fred Bayham had an
ugly trick of borrowing shirts ; and yet they were better
people to fall among than Mr. Barnes. And though
Falstaff was neither sober nor very honest, I think I
could name one or two long-faced Barabbases whom the
world could better have done without. Hazlitt mentions
that he was more sensible of obligation to Nortkcote, who
had never done him anything he could call a service, than
to his whole circle of ostentatious friends ; for he thought
a good companion emphatically the greatest benefactor