Take my own case, m'dears! Do you know what used to be my greatest trouble in the past, that is, before I embarked on those adventures which you like to read about these days? I had wealth, good companions, a lovely home, the most charming woman in the world for a wife; nevertheless, I felt the lack of a certain savour, the spice of danger and of the unexpected in my life.
It was then that I made a discovery. I found that Romance does not come unsought, but like a capricious woman she begins by eluding her seekers and gives them no more than a few provocative glances in order to whet their appetite for more of her company. If, then, they turn from her with a shrug and a sigh and resume with but a faint murmur their daily round and common task, she will pass them scornfully by, perhaps never coming their way again. But if she encounters courage, eagerness, ambition, the desire to put fate to the touch and win or lose everything on the stake, then she will smile, beckon more insistently, and even whisper of rewards.
Now let me humbly admit that having made that discovery, I decided that the spice of life which I lacked might perchance be found in the misery, the squalor, the hatred and heroism of that great social upheaval we call the French Revolution. I went to seek romance for myself, and found her so enchanting a mistress that I vow Lady Blakeney herself had often cause to complain of my new devotion!
Why should not you do the same? As I have already said in these pages, romance is as omnipresent to-day as she was in the world of my own time. But now, as then, she needs a manly wooing. Go out to seek her! Keep your soul for ever on the qui vive for adventure and novelty! Live like a knight of old, ever ready to rescue beauty in distress or to turn your weapons against the Giants Despair, Oppression, Discourtesy, and all the other thousand ogres that exist in the midst of your vaunted civilization.
Do not be content with the tabloid romance provided for you in your cinemas and theatres. You can make a better love story than the best the films can show you if only you wait till you meet your true mate and then woo her like a man. There is no stage adventure which can equal the thrill of a close competition either in work or in sport, or that of a bold and fearless move towards a longed-for goal.
Why, m'dears, in most things save in real life, whether in books, plays, films, or what you will, you can pretty well forecast in the beginning what the end of the story will be -- that right will triumph over wrong, or else wrong over right; that vice will be punished in some form or other through the agency of virtue, or that virtue will find its reward in the sublimity of sacrifice. But in real life it is impossible to forecast events. If we knew beforehand with any certainty what the end of an adventure would be, where would be the zest of embarking on it? All of you who are the workers of the world and who desire to succeed have got to wage war against all manner of forces that are arraigned against you, and you have got to begin the fight, knowing well that in all probability it will be wrong -- not right -- that will triumph in the end unless you muster all your energy, your courage and your determination, to help you to win through. You are no mere puppets of an author's imagination, fenced round against the attacks of trouble, care, sorrow, disappointment or fatigue. You've got to hold your own against dozens of such insidious enemies and often have to suffer smaller, though vastly more provoking pin-pricks such as no hero of romance has ever been called upon to endure. I mean the irritating fads of your neighbours, family tempers, bad colds, chilblains, rheumatism, or tumbles off ladders.
But luckily you are made of sterner stuff than are the fictitious creatures whose antics are invented for your entertainment. You can, if you will, make the whole of your life one glorious adventure, one ideal romance, by fighting bravely against bodily ills, by struggling patiently against adverse fate. You, too, may become a hero of romance more wonderful than the knights of old who slew fiery dragons and conquered giants by the mere act of doing an unselfish action of helping some lame dog over a stile, or merely by winning the love and faith of one who is dear to you.
To much of life's romance we deliberately shut our eyes, even though it be spread in lavish abundance all around us. Take, for instance, the romance of your breakfast cup of coffee, or of the tea which you sip quite indifferently in your parlour or your office. Now I can remember the time when coffee and tea were luxuries that were purchased with the blood of our fellow-men. I remember when coffee was cultivated by wretched convicts who had been condemned to banishment for life, and when tea was brought over to England in fast-sailing clippers whose captain and crew would risk their lives and jeopardize their chances of a fortune in order to gain a few hours' time in the terrible journeys they undertook across the ocean. And if you care to look a little deeper than the mere surface of things you will soon see that a thousand objects of use in everyday life have in their production been the embodiment, the very essence of romance.
As it is with inanimate things, so it is with
people. Your fellow-men, m'dears, are prosaic or romantic, just
as you choose to make them. Beneath the most arid surface gold
may be hidden; round the most unpromising corner romance may lie
in wait for you. But you must look beneath that surface; you must
venture fearlessly round the turn ahead. In knightly days adventures
did not come to the man who stayed at home and mourned in solitude
the demise of chivalry and the passing of courage; but they did
come to him who rode forth into the highways of life, stout of
heart and ready of hand; and believe me, m'dears, adventures to-day
are not found either by your grumbler, or your slacker, by the
cynic or the supine; they are found by those who have the courage
to seek for romance and to recognize it when they see it. In this
matter, as in many others, it is faith that moveth mountains,
and if you believe in romance it will surely come your way in