It is seldom that Stevenson uses an expression that is not instantly transparently clear. Exactly what does he mean by this phrase?]

[Note 20: "_As from an enemy_." Alluding to the passage Stevenson has quoted above, from Wordsworth's _Prelude_.]

[Note 21: _Our noisy years did indeed seem moments_. A favorite reflection of Stevenson's, occurring in nearly all his serious essays.]

[Note 22: _Shelley speaks of the sea as "hungering for calm."_ This passage occurs in the poem _Prometheus Unbound_, Act III, end of Scene 2.

"Behold the Nereids under the green sea-- Their wavering limbs borne on the wind like stream, Their white arms lifted o'er their streaming hair, With garlands pied and starry sea-flower crowns,-- Hastening to grace their mighty Sister's joy. It is the unpastured sea hungering for calm."]

[Note 23: _Whin-pods._ "Whin" is from the Welsh _cwyn_, meaning "weed." Whin is gorse or furze, and the sound Stevenson alludes to is frequently heard in Scotland.]

[Note 24: "_Mon coeur est un luth suspendu_." These beautiful words are from the poet Beranger (1780-1857). It is probable that Stevenson found them first not in the original, but in reading the tales of Poe, for the "two lines of French verse" that "haunted" Stevenson are quoted by Poe at the beginning of one of his most famous pieces, _The Fall of the House of Usher_, where, however, the third, and not the first person is used:--

"_Son_ coeur est un luth suspendu; Sitot qu'on le touche il resonne."]

[Note 25: "_Out of the strong came forth sweetness_." Alluding to the riddle propounded by Samson. See the book of _Judges_, Chapter XIV.]



BOSWELL: "We grow weary when idle."

JOHNSON: "That is, sir, because others being busy, we want company; but if we were idle, there would be no growing weary; we should all entertain one another."[1]

Just now, when every one is bound, under pain of a decree in absence convicting them of _lese_-respectability,[2] to enter on some lucrative profession, and labour therein with something not far short of enthusiasm, a cry from the opposite party who are content when they have enough, and like to look on and enjoy in the meanwhile, savours a little of bravado and gasconade.[3] And yet this should not be. Idleness so called, which does not consist in doing nothing, but in doing a great deal not recognised in the dogmatic formularies of the ruling class, has as good a right to state its position as industry itself. It is admitted that the presence of people who refuse to enter in the great handicap race for sixpenny pieces, is at once an insult and a disenchantment for those who do. A fine fellow (as we see so many) takes his determination, votes for the sixpences, and in the emphatic Americanism, "goes for" them.[4] And while such an one is ploughing distressfully up the road, it is not hard to understand his resentment, when he perceives cool persons in the meadows by the wayside, lying with a handkerchief over their ears and a glass at their elbow. Alexander is touched in a very delicate place by the disregard of Diogenes.[5] Where was the glory of having taken Rome[6] for these tumultuous barbarians, who poured into the Senate house, and found the Fathers sitting silent and unmoved by their success? It is a sore thing to have laboured along and scaled the arduous hilltops, and when all is done, find humanity indifferent to your achievement. Hence physicists condemn the unphysical; financiers have only a superficial toleration for those who know little of stocks; literary persons despise the unlettered; and people of all pursuits combine to disparage those who have none.

But though this is one difficulty of the subject, it is not the greatest. You could not be put in prison for speaking against industry, but you can be sent to Coventry[7] for speaking like a fool. The greatest difficulty with most subjects is to do them well; therefore, please to remember this is an apology. It is certain that much may be judiciously argued in favour of diligence; only there is something to be said against it, and that is what, on the present occasion, I have to say.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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