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A Pessimist In Theory and Practice   By: (1838-1908)

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First Page:









Copyright, 1888,




I. Wisdom in the Woods. 7

II. Worse Yet. 17

III. Complications. 24

IV. A Wilful Princess. 28

V. Consultation. 37

VI. Preparation. 44

VII. Initiation. 47

VIII. Introduction. 52

IX. At Newport. 55

X. On the Cliffs. 58

XI. Explanations. 63

XII. Awakening. 71

XIII. Domestic Criticisms. 75

XIV. Over two Cigars. 79

XV. The Catastrophe. 83

XVI. Feminine Councils. 87

XVII. Consolation. 91

XVIII. Against Earnestness. 99

XIX. Conspiracy. 102

XX. Apology for Lying. 108

XXI. Jane to the Rescue. 118

XXII. An Ordeal. 125

XXIII. Plan of Campaign. 132

XXIV. To Wayback again. 139

XXV. A Wild Brook. 145

XXVI. An Intractable Patient. 149

XXVII. Scenery Improved. 156

XXVIII. Diplomacy. 159

XXIX. Submission. 168

XXX. Wasted Advice. 175

XXXI. Results Reported. 178

XXXII. Confession. 185

XXXIII. A Family Conclave. 192

XXXIV. To Persons About to Marry. 197




I had seen and heard little of Hartman since our college days. There he was counted a youth of eminent promise: after that I knew that he had traveled, written something or other, and practised law or professed it, and not too eagerly: then he had disappeared. Last May I stumbled on him in a secluded region where I had gone to fish and rest, after a year of too close attention to business. We came face to face in the woods, stared at each other, and then our hands met in the old grip. He took me home with him, to a comfortable enough bachelor establishment, and we made a night or more than an evening of it. He did not seem curious, but I was.

"What have you been doing with yourself!" I began; "withdrawing from the world?"

"To some extent," he said. "You can't do that entirely, you know. The world is in you as well as around you, unluckily. It is too much with us, as the poet observed. Do you remember the time you had in class over that sonnet?"

"Pass that," I said. "I've given up poetry." ("I should have thought that impossible," he put in, in his nasty nagging fashion; but I took no notice.) "Where have you been all the time?"

"Here, mostly. It's not much of a place, but that is its merit."

He was getting too deep now, as he often did of old; so I said, "But it's so far away."

"That's its other merit. You always had a direct and ingenuous mind, Bob. Here you've hit both bull's eyes in two shots."

"None of your chaff," said I. "Who do you practice your wits on, up here?"

"My dogs. And there are some hens in the neighborhood, and a few small farmers. Or if my bosom cries too loudly to be eased of its perilous stuff, I can chaff myself, which is more profitable."

"You were always too clever for me. What else do you do?"

"As the Baroness used to say in The Danicheffs , in our days of vanity, 'Do you think that is much of a compliment?' I read, and fish, and climb, and ride several hobbies, and meditate on Man, on Nature, and on Human Fate."

"What's the good of that?" I was growing impatient of all this nonsense.

"Well, not much, perhaps," said he. "For you, very little indeed. But intrinsically it is about as profitable as more popular avocations."

"Now look here, Hartman," I said. "You're a better man any day than I or you were. But here you are, hidden in the backwoods with owls (one of them was making a horrid noise outside), and nothing to show... Continue reading book >>

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