Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Essay: "On Marriage." Robert Louis Stevenson.

Review: Don’t run away from marriage. Recognize it for what it is. Two imperfect people who can succeed in managing themselves in an imperfect world. Don’t look for the perfect marriage. It doesn’t exist. In a round-about manner, Stevenson arrives at this point.

“…so man the individual is not altogether quit of youth, when he is already old and honored….”

“…the perennial spring of our faculties….”

“There is no hocus-pocus in morality; and even the ‘sanctimonious ceremony’ of marriage leaves the man unchanged.”

“And yet there is probably no other act in a man’s life so hot-headed and foolhardy as this one of marriage.”

“What! You have had one life to manage, and have failed so strangely, and now can see nothing wiser than to conjoin with it the management of someone else?”

“Times are changed with him who marries; there are no more by-path meadows where you may innocently linger, but the road lies long and straight and dusty to the grave. Idleness, which is often becoming and even wise in the bachelor, begins to wear a different aspect when you have a wife to support.”

“But there is a vast difference between teaching flight, and showing points of peril that a man may march the more warily.”

“Hope lives on ignorance, open-eyed Faith is built upon a knowledge of our life, of the tyranny of circumstances and the frailty of human resolution. Hope looks for unqualified success; but Faith counts certainly on failure, and takes honorable defeat to be a form of victory.”

“In the first, he expects an angel for a wife; in the last, he knows that she is like himself—erring, thoughtless, and untrue….”

“…that hope and love address themselves to a perfection never realized…..”

“And ever, between the failures, there will come glimpses of kind virtues to encourage and console.”

The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present. Ed. Phillip Lopate. New York: Anchor Books. A Division of Random House, Inc. 1995.

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