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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

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price of a pound of tobacco to a man of limited means,
This is a sobering reflection for the proudest of our earthly
vanities. Even a tobacconist may, upon consideration,
find no great cause for personal vainglory in the phrase;
for although tobacco is an admirable sedative, the qualities
necessary for retailing it are neither rare nor precious in
themselves, Alas and alas! you may take it how you
will, but the services of no single individual are indis-
pensable, Atlas was just a gentleman with a protracted
nightmare! And yet you see merchants who go and
labour themselves into a great fortune and thence into
the bankruptcy court; scribblers who keep scribbling at
little articles until their temper is a cross to all who coine
about them, as though Pharaoh should set the Israelites
to make a pin instead of a pyramid; and fine young men
who work themselves into a decline, and are driven off in
a hearse with white plumes upon it. Would you not
suppose these persons had been whispered, by the Master
of the Ceremonies, the promise of some momentous
destiny ? and that this lukewarm bullet on which they play
their farces was the bull's-eye and centre-point of all the
universe ? And yet it is not so. The ends for which
they gave away their priceless youth, for all they know,
may be chimerical or hurtful; the glory and riches they
expect may never come, or may find them indifferent;
and they and the world they inhabit are so inconsiderable
that the mind freezes at the thought