Saturday, December 05, 2015

  In this piece on marriage, Robert Louis Stevenson discusses the realities of people, their weaknesses as well as their strengths. He contrasts two types of persons, one he calls Hope, the idealist that looks forward to a marriage of bliss, and the other Faith, who sees the big picture and understands that battles must be fought, and even if some battles are lost, they are, none the less, a natural part of family life.

"Hope looks for unqualified success; but Faith counts certainly on failure, and taken honorable defeat to be a form of victory..... In the first, Hope, he expects an angel for a wife; in the last, Faith, he knows that she is like himself --- erring, thoughtless, and untrue; but like himself also, filled with a struggling irradiancy of better things, and adorned with qualities, as ineffective as they are.
Now, you may safely go to school with hope; but, before you marry, you should have learned the mingled lesson of the world: that dolls are stuffed with sawdust, and yet are excellent playthings; that hope and love address themselves to a perfection, though never realized, and yet, firmly held, will become the salt and staff of life; that you yourself are compacted with infirmities, perfect, you might say, in imperfections, and yet you have a something in you lovable and worth preserving; and that, while the mass of mankind lies under the scurvy condemnation, you will scarce find one but, by some generous reading, who will become to you a lesson, a model, and a noble spouse through life.

So with this in mind, you will constantly support your own unworthiness, and easily forgive the failings of your friend. Nay, you will be wisely glad that you retain the sense of blemishes; for the faults of married people continually spur up each of them, hour by hour, to do better and to meet and love upon a higher ground. And ever, between the failures, there will come glimpses of kind virtues to encourage and console." R.L. Stevenson.

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