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Backward And Forward
by [?]

Thus for the most part, things look most beautiful when we anticipate them, or as we look back upon them in memory over the fireside. For distance lends enchantment, not only to most views, but also to memories and love. As, metaphorically, we stand on the Mount of Olives gazing down at the city of Jerusalem, thinking of all that tiny corner of the earth has meant to men and women, we forget–as we look back–the beastly little mosquito which bit us on the nose, the interruption or our companion who wondered what the stones might tell us if they could only speak. So (also metaphorically), as we set our faces towards the Holy City, filled with the anticipation of those sublime thoughts and emotions which would surge through our souls when we eventually arrived there, we were happy in our ignorance of the fact that, when we did arrive, we felt unutterably dirty and our head ached, and the corn on our little toe felt more like a cancer than a corn! Meanwhile, the emotion of the soul, which we expected to find upon the Mount of Olives, has sometimes come to us quite unexpectedly while standing in the middle of Clapham Common in the moonlight; and that glorious spirit of adventure, which to us means “travel,” we have felt riding on a motor-bike through the New Forest at nightfall when the forest seemed full of pixies and the fading sunset was red and grey and golden like the transformation scene of a pantomime. But alas! the next day we found the forest unromantic, and Clapham Common looked indescribably common in the morning sunlight. Our mood had vanished, and although we tried to reproduce the same uplifting emotion the following evening, we couldn’t–we had a headache and the gnats were about. So, although I often yearn to live two lives–one full of travel and adventure, and the other peacefully over the fireside mid the peace and beauty of the country–I am quite sure that, were my wish granted, I should find both lives just the same mixture of unexpected happiness and unanticipated disappointment which I find this one to be, yet still go smiling on. Very rarely the Time and the Place and the Mood. But when they do happen to come together–well, life is so wonderful and so beautiful that to throw in the “Loved one” too would seem like gilding the rose–a heaven worth sacrificing every stolen happiness in life for.