“After thirty,” he would say, “the happiest life is only history repeating itself. I am no cynic,—far from it; but the worst of life is the monotony of the bill of fare. To do a thing once, even twice, is delightful—perhaps even a third time is successfully possible; but to do it four times, is middle age. If you think of it, what is there to do after thirty that one ought not to have achieved to perfection before? You know the literary dictum, that the poet who hasn’t written a masterpiece before he is thirty will never write any after. Of course, there are exceptions; I am speaking of the rule. In business, for example, what future is there for the man who has not already a dashing past at thirty? Of course, the bulk, the massive trunk and the impressive foliage of his business, must come afterwards; but the tree must have been firmly rooted and stoutly branched before then, and able to go on growing on its own account. The work, in fact, must have been done.
“Take perhaps the only thing really worth doing in life,” and Gerard perceptibly saddened. “That is, marrying a woman you love, or I should say the woman, for you only really love one woman—I’m old-fashioned enough to think that,—well, I say, marrying the woman you love, and bringing into the world that miracle of miracles,—a child that shall be something of you and all her: that certainly is something to have done before thirty, and not to be repeated, perhaps, more than once before or after. She will want a boy like you, and you will have a girl like her. That you may easily accomplish before thirty. Afterwards, however, if you go on repeating each other, what do you do but blur the individuality of the original masterpieces—though,” pursued Gerard, laughing, always ready to forget his original argument in the seductiveness of an unexpected development of it, “though, after all, I admit, there might be a temptation sometimes to improve upon the originals. ‘Agnes, my dear,’ we might say, ’I’m not quite satisfied yet with the shade of Eva’s hair. It’s nearly yours, but not quite. It’s an improvement on Anna’s, whose eyes now are exactly yours. Eva’s, unfortunately, are not so faithful. I’m afraid we’ll have to try again.’
“No, but seriously,” he once more began, “for a really vital and successful life there is no adequate employment of the faculties after thirty, except, of course, in the repetition of former successes. No; I even withdraw that,—not the repetition, only the conservation, the feeding, of former successes. The success is in the creation. When a world is once created, any fool can keep it spinning.