When I look at life I try to be as agnostic and unmetaphysical as possible. So I have to admit that, most probably, we do not have a fate. But I think that's something that draws us to novels - that the characters always have a fate. Even if it's a terrible fate, at least they have one.
We certainly do not forget you as soon as you forget us. It is, perhaps, our fate rather than our merit. We cannot help ourselves. We live at home, quiet, confined, and our feelings prey upon us. You are forced on exertion. You have always a profession, pursuits, business of some sort or other, to take you back into the world immediately, and continual occupation and change soon weaken impressions.
Books have their destinies like men. And their fates, as made by generations of readers, are very different from the destinies foreseen for them by their authors. Gulliver's Travels, with a minimum of expurgation, has become a children's book; a new illustrated edition is produced every Christmas. That's what comes of saying profound things about humanity in terms of a fairy story.
I. At Tea THE kettle descants in a cosy drone, And the young wife looks in her husband's face, And then in her guest's, and shows in her own Her sense that she fills an envied place; And the visiting lady is all abloom, And says there was never so sweet a room. And the happy young housewife does not know That the woman beside her was his first choice, Till the fates ordained it could not be so. . . . Betraying nothing in look or voice The guest sits smiling and sips her tea, And he throws her a stray glance yearningly.
. . . if you were designing an organism to look after life in our lonely cosmos, to monitor where it is going and keep a record of where it has been, you wouldn't choose human beings for the job. But here's an extrememly salient point: we have been chosen, by fate or Providence or whatever you wish to call it. As far as we can tell, we are the best there is. We may be all there is. It's an unnerving thought that we may be the living universe's supreme achievement and its worst nightmare simultaneously.