You could read Kant by yourself, if you wanted; but you must share a joke with some one else. You can forgive people who do not follow you through a philosophical disquisition; but to find your wife laughing when you had tears in your eyes, or staring when you were in a fit of laughter, would go some way towards a dissolution of the marriage.

*

Now this is where there should be community between man and wife. They should be agreed on their catchword in FACTS OF RELIGION, OR FACTS OF SCIENCE, OR SOCIETY, MY DEAR; for without such an agreement all intercourse is a painful strain upon the mind.... For there are differences which no habit nor affection can reconcile, and the Bohemian must not intermarry with the Pharisee. Imagine Consuelo as Mrs. Samuel Budgett, the wife of the successful merchant! The best of men and the best of women may sometimes live together all their lives, and, for want of some consent on fundamental questions, hold each other lost spirits to the end.

*

Marriage is of so much use to women, opens out to her so much more of life, and puts her in the way of so much more freedom and usefulness, that, whether she marry ill or well, she can hardly miss some benefit. It is true, however, that some of the merriest and most genuine of women are old maids; and that those old maids, and wives who are unhappily married, have often most of the true motherly touch.

*

The fact is, we are much more afraid of life than our ancestors, and cannot find it in our hearts either to marry or not to marry. Marriage is terrifying, but so is a cold and forlorn old age. People who share a cell in the Bastile, or are thrown together on an uninhabited isle, if they do not immediately fall to fisticuffs, will find some possible ground of compromise. They will learn each other's ways and humours, so as to know where they must go warily, and where they may lean their whole weight. The discretion of the first years becomes the settled habit of the last; and so, with wisdom and patience, two lives may grow indissolubly into one.

*

'Well, an ye like maids so little, y'are true natural man; for God made them twain by intention, and brought true love into the world, to be man's hope and woman's comfort.'

*

There are no persons so far away as those who are both married and estranged, so that they seem out of earshot, or to have no common tongue.

*

My idea of man's chief end was to enrich the world with things of beauty, and have a fairly good time myself while doing so.

*

But the gymnast is not my favourite; he has little or no tincture of the artist in his composition; his soul is small and pedestrian, for the most part, since his profession makes no call upon it, and does not accustom him to high ideas. But if a man is only so much of an actor that he can stumble through a farce, he is made free of a new order of thoughts. He has something else to think about beside the money-box. He has a pride of his own, and, what is of far more importance, he has an aim before him that he can never quite attain. He has gone upon a pilgrimage that will last him his life long, because there is no end to it short of perfection. He will better himself a little day by day; or, even if he has given up the attempt, he will always remember that once upon a time he had conceived this high ideal, that once upon a time he fell in love with a star. 'Tis better to have loved and lost.' Although the moon should have nothing to say to Endymion, although he should settle down with Audrey and feed pigs, do you not think he would move with a better grace and cherish higher thoughts to the end? The louts he meets at church never had a fancy above Audrey's snood; but there is a reminiscence in Endymion's heart that, like a spice, keeps it fresh and haughty.

People do things, and suffer martyrdom, because they have an inclination that way. The best artist is not the man who fixes his eye on posterity, but the one who loves the practice of his art.

The Pocket R. L. S. Page 54

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson
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