These best teachers climb beyond teaching to the plane of art; it is themselves, and what is best in themselves, that they communicate.

*

In this world of imperfections we gladly welcome even partial intimacies. And if we find but one to whom we can speak out our heart freely, with whom we can walk in love and simplicity without dissimulation, we have no ground of quarrel with the world or God.

*

But we are all travellers in what John Bunyan calls the wilderness of this world-all, too, travellers with a donkey; and the best that we find in our travels is an honest friend. He is a fortunate voyager who finds many. We travel, indeed, to find them. They are the end and the reward of life. They keep us worthy of. ourselves; and when we are alone, we are only nearer to the absent.

*

We are all INCOMPRIS, only more or less concerned for the mischance; all trying wrongly to do right; all fawning at each other's feet like dumb, neglected lap-dogs. Sometimes we catch an eye-this is our opportunity in the ages-and we wag our tail with a poor smile. 'IS THAT ALL?' All? If you only knew! But how can they know? They do not love us; the more fools we to squander life on the indifferent. But the morality of the thing, you will be glad to hear, is excellent; for it is only by trying to understand others that we can get our own hearts understood; and in matters of human feeling the clement judge is the most successful pleader.

*

There is no friendship so noble, but it is the product of the time; and a world of little finical observances, and little frail proprieties and fashions of the hour, go to make or to mar, to stint or to perfect, the union of spirits the most loving and the most intolerant of such interference. The trick of the country and the age steps in even between the mother and her child, counts out their caresses upon niggardly fingers, and says, in the voice of authority, that this one thing shall be a matter of confidence between them, and this other thing shall not.

*

There is not anything more bitter than to lose a fancied friend.

*

The habitual liar may be a very honest fellow, and live truly with his wife and friends; while another man who never told a formal falsehood in his life may yet be himself one lie-heart and face, from top to bottom. This is the kind of lie which poisons intimacy. And, vice versa, veracity to sentiment, truth in a relation, truth to your own heart and your friends, never to feign or falsify emotion -that is the truth which makes love possible and mankind happy.

*

But surely it is no very extravagant opinion that it is better to give than to receive, to serve than to use our companions; and, above all, where there is no question of service upon either side, that it is good to enjoy their company like a natural man.

*

A man who has a few friends, or one who has a dozen (if there be any one so wealthy on this earth), cannot forget on how precarious a base his happiness reposes; and how by a stroke or two of fate--a death, a few light words, a piece of stamped paper, or a woman's bright eyes--he may be left in a month destitute of all.

*

In these near intimacies, we are ninety-nine times disappointed in our beggarly selves for once that we are disappointed in our friend; that it is we who seem most frequently undeserving of the love that unites us; and that it is by our friend's conduct that we are continually rebuked and yet strengthened for a fresh endeavour.

*

'There are some pains,' said he, 'too acute for consolation, or I would bring them to my kind consoler.'

*

But there are duties which come before gratitude and offences which justly divide friends, far more acquaintances.

*

Life, though largely, is not entirely carried on by literature. We are subject to physical passions and contortions; the voice breaks and changes, and speaks by unconscious and winning inflections; we have legible countenances, like an open book; things that cannot be said look eloquently through the eyes; and the soul, not locked into the body as a dungeon, dwells ever on the threshold with appealing signals.

The Pocket R. L. S. Page 57

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson
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