Across the Plains, with Other Memories and Essays

By Robert Louis

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...Transcribed from the 1915 Chatto & Windus edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org. Second...

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...curious as you are, you will never have heard
the name of Vailima, most likely not...

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...summer, to climates within reach of us who
are task-bound for ten months in the year...

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... ...

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...small valise, a knapsack, which I
carried on my shoulders, and in the bag of my...

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...purgatory as a child accepts the
conditions of the world. For my part, I shivered...

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...remark
her distress; and I am ashamed to say that I ran among the rest. ...

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...change.
Explain it how you may, and for my part I cannot explain it at all,...

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...striking among shapely hills and his
light dispersed and coloured by a thousand accidents of form...

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...of my first introduction to a
coloured gentleman. He did me the honour to wait...

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...sport there with a dummy gun, my person
being still unbreeched. My preference was founded...

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...a great aversion for the present writer, which she was at no
pains to conceal. ...

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...of comfortable burghers, I thought it would
be a graceful act for the corporation to refund...

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...for
delay, and, stretching myself as far as that was possible upon the bench,
I was received...

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...turned without further ado, and went off staggering along the
track towards Cromwell followed by a...

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...similitude of ironical submission. I knew nothing, I
said, of the ways of American hotels;...

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...in any part into their constitution,
and for the usual inefficacy of the lamps, which often...

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...train; he guessed he was honest,
and would prefer to chum with him upon the whole....

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...would expect from a retired slaver, turned
with a start and bade the performer stop that...

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...their
first awaking; and when the firm had finished there was no want of
borrowers. Each...

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...time the train would stop for dinner;
as he made no answer I repeated the question,...

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...a good man may become the
benefactor of his kind. Perhaps he is discontented with...

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...horizon to horizon, like a cue across a billiard-board; on
either hand, the green plain ran...

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...for a life spent in this huge sameness? He is cut off
from books, from...

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...showed nothing homelike but the burning fire. This
extreme newness, above all in so naked...

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...few fleeing antelopes; here and there, but
at incredible intervals, a creek running in a cañon....

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...each stage of the construction, roaring,
impromptu cities, full of gold and lust and death, sprang...

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...dead_. _We started from_ — _in July_,
_with plenly of provisions...

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...stayed there till dark_. _The
Indians hunted all over after us_,...

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...twelve or fourteen
days_. _The time came at last when we...

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...Central Pacific were nearly twice as high, and so
proportionally airier; they were freshly varnished, which...

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...in others,
little but silence. In this society, more than any other that ever I...

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...and better wages. The talk in the train, like the
talk I heard on the...

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...wages, indeed, are only one
consideration out of many; for we are a race of gipsies,...

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...thieves; I am sure they have no monopoly of that. They
are called cruel; the...

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...common thought or fancy all that way, or
whether our eyes, which yet were formed upon...

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...brave tolerate the thought of
the American, is not disgraceful to the nature of man; rather,...

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...the public. It is brief
and simple—radiantly simple. There is one place where five...

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...in my fellow-travellers, who
thought they had now come to a country where situations went a-begging.
But...

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...a sea of mountain forests, dropping
thousands of feet toward the far sea-level as we went,...

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...faces
across the bay, while the Pacific Ocean, though hidden by low hills and
forest, bombards her...

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...altered—and it was from here that you had
the first view of the old township lying...

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...one man.
He was a Mexican, very dark of hue, but smiling and fat, and he...

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...brave, old-country rivals. To the east, and
still nearer, you will come upon a space...

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... For after this first squib-like
conflagration of the dry moss and twigs, there remains behind...

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...I wished to be certain whether it was the moss,
that quaint funereal ornament of Californian...

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...their
cisterns with the brackish water of the sands. It takes but a little
while till...

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...was no activity but in and around the saloons, where people sat
almost all day long...

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...womanish alto which is so common among Mexican
men, and which strikes on the unaccustomed ear...

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...am reminded of an
anecdote. Some years ago, at a great sale of wine, all...

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...in the one case every one believed, and in the other some
suspected, that there had...

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...sorts of follies,
like certain sorts of grain, were natural to the soil rather than to...

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...my friend the lawyer drive out of Monterey to adjust a
competition of titles with the...

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...Indians troop together, their bright
dresses contrasting with their dark and melancholy faces; and there,
among a...

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... [1880.]




III
FONTAINEBLEAU
VILLAGE...

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...exquisite
proportions; flowers of every precious colour, growing thick like grass.
All these, by the grace of...

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... Where his own purse and credit are not threatened, he will do
the honours of...

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...fully equipped, to do the business of real art—to
give life to abstractions and significance and...

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...in the handling,
apart from any value in the thought, seem to be acquired by the...

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...plain,
northward and westward, like an unrefulgent sea; nor that all day long
the shadows keep changing;...

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...to beg withal. The choice of his position would seem to
indicate so much; for...

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...was thus an epoch in the history of art: in a lesser way, it was...

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...and long before that Gaston Lafenestre was taken from our
midst by an untimely death. ...

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...the
rubric: _estrats_. Upon the more long-suffering the larger tax was
levied; and your bill lengthened...

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...and all entered at
once into the spirit of the association. This singular society is...

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...epics, glorious torsos of dramas,
and words that were alive with import. So in youth,...

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...canoes beside the
jetty, tell of a society that has an eye to pleasure. There...

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...colonisation.
Montigny has been somewhat strangely neglected, I never knew it inhabited
but once, when Will H....

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...and dear remembrances.
And as one generation passes on and renovates the field of tillage for
the...

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...studies, although both are necessary;
and if he can get into his heart the gaiety and...

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...the works of Charles of Orleans, and employed some of the
hours of travel in the...

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...and the
rubbish that he wrote, I would exchange estates to-day with the poor
exile, and count...

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...stopped to drink a glass of syrup in a very
poor, bare drinking shop. The...

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...he must appear before the Commissary.

The Commissary sat at a table in his bedroom, stripped...

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...eye on these artistic trifles. He turned the assortment
over with a contumelious finger; it...

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...flared up, refused to accept more
insults or to answer further questions, defied the Commissary to...

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...that here was a famous occasion
for a roundel, and that like the committed linnets of...

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...the Arethusa, and
had ample opportunity to share in that gentleman’s disfavour with the
police. Many...

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...our traveller there
was something Turkish. I pass over this lightly; it is highly possible
there...

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...Arethusa
was not sorry to be gone from her society. Something of her image, cool
as...

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...recaptors into the farther part
of the house, the Cigarette found himself alone with his coffee...

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...Sunday, there came suddenly upon the face of all I saw—the long
empty road, the lines...

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...(in the ballad) drinking the
blood-red wine; somnolent Inverkeithing, once the quarantine of Leith;
Aberdour, hard by...

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...the sea,
stands the gem of the province and the light of mediæval Scotland, St.
Andrews, where...

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...brows upon the keeper
on the question of storm-panes; and felt a keen pang of self-reproach,
when...

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...own; not because of
the pleadings of the victim and his daughter; not even because of...

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...to-day he would scarce delay me for a
paragraph. An incident, at once romantic and...

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...roof, with elaborate patterns and pictures, and snatches
of verse in the vein of _exegi monumentum_;...

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...the door, the poor caitiff, taking the lantern from
the child, looked upon her with so...

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...or on the Fair Isle itself in the catechist’s house; and to
this day, they tell...

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..._string-course_, interested me only (if they
interested me at all) as properties for some possible romance...

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...still incomplete. Well, the moths are—all
gone, and _Voces Fidelium_ along with them; only the...

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...from a
child’s hand was once the signal for something like a war; and even when
I...

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...was crushed almost double under the weight of the helmet. As that
intolerable burthern was...

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...of that other
world, and beheld the face of its inhabitant wet with streaming tears.
Ah! the...

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...and
now swiftly—and yet with dream-like gentleness—impelled against my guide.
So does a child’s balloon divagate upon...

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...and with a
memory full of ships, and seas, and perilous headlands, and the shining
pharos, he...

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...foreign speech; and I saw, pursuing the coach with its
load of Hebridean fishers—as they had...

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...me, were the ingredients of the town.
These, you are to conceive posted on a spit...

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...was a
point of honour that a boy should eat all that he had taken. ...

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...little old jail in the chief street; but whether or no she died
there, with a...

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...September, when school-time was drawing near and the
nights were already black, we would begin to...

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...and nature, these were so fiery and so innocent, they
were so richly silly, so romantically...

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...the inevitable end, that finest trait of
mankind; scorn of men’s opinions, another element of virtue;...

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...hours in which the bird has sung to us,
that fills us with such wonder when...

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...different from our fellowmen, or it would make us incapable
of writing novels; and the average...

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...discussing (as it is
highly proper they should) the possibilities of existence. To the eye...

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...instead of seeking relief in
drink or foreign travel. Hence in the French, in that...

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...silvam_.




VIII
A CHAPTER ON DREAMS


THE past is all of one texture—whether feigned or suffered—whether acted
out in...

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...among the treasures of memory that all
men review for their amusement, these count in no...

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...look of the world beginning to take hold on his attention, scenery
came to play a...

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...the wet,
haggard dawn, trudging to another day of monstrosities and operations.
Time went quicker in the...

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...went; it
was a good dream as dreams go; but there was nothing in the sequel...

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...family of visions is quite lost to him:
the common, mangled version of yesterday’s affairs, the
raw-head-and-bloody-bones...

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...some
intolerable insult, struck down the father dead. No suspicion was
aroused; the dead man was...

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...was not to-morrow, nor the
next day, nor the next; and their life settled back on...

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...it here so briefly told. But his
wonder has still kept growing; and I think...

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...while I
am fast asleep, and in all human likelihood, do the rest for me as...

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...had even written one,
_The Travelling Companion_, which was returned by an editor on the plea
that...

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...the first. Sometimes a parabolic
sense is still more undeniably present in a dream; sometimes...

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...you to say it to an end. By what transition he slid to his
favourite...

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...me
saying so, a spirited young gentleman like yourself, sir, should be very
careful. I was...

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...hear him—with a ponderous gusto—

“Unhousel’d, disappointed, unanel’d.”

What a pleasant chance, if...

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...in view of his experience, must have found a special directness of
address. But if...

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...charactered:—that of the artist, the lover and
artificer of words; that of the maker, the seeër,...

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...ghastly parodies of suffering, hateful parodies of gratitude.
This trade can scarce be called an imposition;...

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...next door that he would go for help, or
only with such exceptions as are said...

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...rich that he takes his pleasure: and when his
turn comes to be charitable, he looks...

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...I shall probably conclude also, by assuring you that all
depends on the vocation.

To know what...

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...of this temper, when it stands alone, I find it difficult
to speak; but I should...

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...see that your chosen art has a little more
than held its own among the thronging...

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...affords besides
an admirable training. For the artist works entirely upon honour. The
public knows...

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...forgotten, it is he
who is to pay us, and that (surely on the face of...

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...useful.

But the devil in these trades of pleasing is to fail to please. In
ordinary...

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...incapable
of working when he is old. It is thus a way of life which...

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...money, and if (as is implied) he is to expect no honours from
the State, he...

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...and sentimentalised,
and only please and weaken. Truth is of a rougher strain. In...

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...of its natal
mud, and scurrying abroad with the myriad feet of insects or towering
into the...

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...To touch the heart of his mystery, we find, in
him one thought, strange to the...

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...ceremonial calumet and uttering his
grave opinions like a Roman senator; in ships at sea, a...

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...with the original dust. He stands no longer
like a thing apart. Close at...

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...death, God forbid it should be man the erected, the
reasoner, the wise in his own...

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...to have played the part of a man or woman with some
reasonable fulness, to have...

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...effected. In order that he may be kind and honest, it may
be needful he...

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...joy. A man
dissatisfied with his endeavours is a man tempted to sadness. And...

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...each of
us some similar element resides. The sight of a pleasure in which we
cannot...

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...make his neighbour
happy? How far must he respect that smiling face, so easy to...

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...we have been cowardly and hung back,
or temerarious and rushed unwisely in; and how every...

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...sings on. The sun,
Closing his benediction,
Sinks,...