Page:Will to Believe and Other Essays (1897).djvu/55

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Is Life Worth Living?

I.

With many men the question of life’s worth is answered by a temperamental optimism which makes them incapable of believing that anything seriously evil can exist. Our dear old Walt Whitman’s works are the standing text-book of this kind of optimism. The mere joy of living is so immense in Walt Whitman’s veins that it abolishes the possibility of any other kind of feeling:—

"To breathe the air, how delicious!
To speak, to walk, to seize something by the hand! . . .
To be this incredible God I am! . . .
O amazement of things, even the least particle!
O spirituality of things!
I too carol the Sun, usher’d or at noon, or as now, setting;
I too throb to the brain and beauty of the earth and of all the
         growths of the earth. . . .

I sing to the last the equalities, modern or old,
I sing the endless finales of things,
I say Nature continues—glory continues.
I praise with electric voice,
For I do not see one imperfection in the universe,
And I do not see one cause or result lamentable at last."


So Rousseau, writing of the nine years he spent at Annecy, with nothing but his happiness to tell:—

“How tell what was neither said nor done nor even thought, but tasted only and felt, with no object of my felicity but the emotion of felicity itself! I rose with the sun, and I was happy; I went to walk, and I was happy; I saw ‘Maman,’ and I was happy; I left her, and I was happy. I rambled through the woods and over the vine-slopes, I wandered in the valleys, I read, I lounged, I

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