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gested by them to his vivid, well-nigh montory, many a comely fold of wood rampant imagination painted life for him
on the mountain side, beckons and alin the most brilliant and fascinating col- lures his imagination day after day, and ors.
is yet as inaccessible to his feet as the It is hardly possible that the varied clefts and gorges of the clouds. and romantic scenery of the old town of He will pray for Medea : when she comes Edinburgh, its semi-cosmopolitan char- let her either rejuvenate or slay." acter, the frequent yet strange appear- But this feeling of despondency did ance of the tall, lank, stern Highlander
not last long. His health improved and wrapped in his gaudy plaid, could have
so did his spirits, lending a more cheerfailed to impress the imaginative lad and
ful tone to his first two books, “An Inearly to develop his innate love for the
land Voyage" and "Travels with a Donunusual and pictorial. “Picturesque key in Cevennes,” such vivacious and · Edinburgh" is Stevenson's tribute to his joyous accounts of his wanderings that
native city. It was there that he was it seems incredible for them to have come educated at private schools, and later at
from the pen of a confirmed invalid. the University.
During these travels, and for the next Many of the essays in "Memories and Portraits" tell of his child life in the
four years, when he was often obliged
to leave home for some more congenial quaint old town,-such little things as “A Penny Plain and Twopence Col climate, Stevenson wrote voluminously, ored.” Others are full of reminiscences though little of his work was published.
But the few things he did publish atof his university days, of his truant hab
tracted considerable attention. His acits and vagabond life, of the long lonely
count of his travels struck d new note, walks with two books in his pocket, one
and the delightful, little idyl, "Will o' to read from, the other to write in. I
the Mill,” puzzled and interested everywill not quote the "sedulous ape"; the
body. phrase is fast becoming hackneyed; suf
From the time when Stevenson first fice it to say that at the very outset Stevenson determined to devote himself to
left Scotland in 1873 until he landed at literary work and set about preparing ally to move from one place to another
Samoa in 1888, he was forced continuhimself for it. He was to have studied for his father's
in search of health. In 1879 he came to
the United States under rather peculiar calling, but, as that was distasteful to him in many ways, he finally compro
and interesting circumstances. His fammised on the law and qualified for the ily and friends all wished him to go again Scots bar. His ill-health, however, pre
to the Continent, but Stevenson had devented him from following this profes- termined to cross the Atlantic and nothsion, and drove him to the south of ing could move him. He was not overFrance.
powered even when a considerable part
of his income was cut off, but embarked Say not of me that weakly I declined The labors of my sires, and fled the sea,
second class for New York. As the secThe towers we founded and the lamps we lit, ond cabin was in reality merely the more To play at home witn paper like a child. But rather say: In the afternoon of time comfortable part of the steerage, StevenA strenuous family dusted from its hands The sand of granite, and beholding far
son was thrown into the company of the Along the sounding coast its pyramids
ordinary emigrants. He recounts some And tall memorials catch the dying sun, Smiled with content, and to this childish ta'sk of his experiences and impressions in a Around the fire addressed the evening hours. volume called "The Amateur Emigrant,'
It was at this time that Stevenson one of the most interesting and human wrote "Ordered South,” one of the few of his essays. One hardly gives Steventhings that even indirectly tell of his in- son credit for much true sympathy, I valid life. In it there is a touch almost think, until one has read “The Amateur of impatient sadness, rare, indeed almost Emigrant” and its continuation "Across unparalleled in Stevenson. "Many a the Plains.” It is amazing to find what white town that sits far out on the pro- knowledge of character he gained from sources where less observing men would endure the climate. Again he went to have found nothing. He seemed to have the United States, and, after spending the knack of drawing out the best that some time in the Adirondacks, made a was in everyone, and so to crystallize the second visit to California. In the sumthoughts that the attraction is irresist- mer of 1888, while making a yachting able.
cruise among the Pacific Islands, he beNot only was the ocean voyage that came interested in the island of Samoa. of the ordinary emigrant, but it was in The climate seemed to agree with him, an emigrant train that Stevenson crossed and there he made his home for the rest the country from New York to San of his life. With his love for names, Francisco—the journey that furnished Stevenson christened his new home the material for “Across the Plains.” In "Vailima,” the Samoan word for “five California Stevenson married Mrs. Os-, streams." bourne, in spite of the anti-matrimonial Thus from "A Child's Garden of views he set forth in "Virginibus Pue- Verses" through the "Vailima Letters" risque.” For some time after their mar- runs the tale of Stevenson's life. And riage they remained in and about Monte- by this I do not mean a mere conglomerrey, the beautiful region described in ation of dates and facts such as one finds “The Silverado Squatters."
in encyclopedias and works on English From this time on we have little direct Literature, but something far more vital autobiographical material, except in Ste- and interesting-a notion of what disvenson's letters. His literary produc- tinguishes this man from all others, his tions were mostly novels, affording of aims, his ideas, his manner, thoughts, course small opportunity for the confi- and experiences, in short, all that goes to dences so freely given by him in his es- make up and to influence what is termed says. No doubt there is much that is his personality. reminiscent in his stories, such as the It is the charm of this personality that Parisian episodes in “The Wrecker," has invaded everything Stevenson has but, without Stevenson's letters to guide written and made it indisputably “Steus, it would be difficult to patch up the venson's.” And perhaps the most striktale of his life. These letters, however, ing things about it are its frank optimare remarkably full, so that the story ism and its curiosity. goes on without a break.
“To be good and to make others hapStevenson remained but a short time py" was Stevenson's motto, and, if he in the new land. There was something has even in a small measure accomstrange and not altogether pleasant plished his purpose, surely we should not about it for him. Even the sunrise, complain. It seems little less than a mirbeautiful as it was, had not the soft yet acle that a man whose life was a continbrilliant coloring of the English dawn. ual struggle for existence should have The love for the old country was still kept his youthful, happy spirit to the end. strong in him, and before long he had re- Yet, paradoxical as it may seem, it was turned to England, only, however, to be this very ill-health, I think, that made driven again to France. He made one Stevenson look on the bright side of last attempt to brave the British climate things. He watched the drama of the in 1885, and established himself at
world from afar, eager yet unable to take Bournemouth, where he called his house
his place among the actors, but, by this "Skerryvore.
very separation, seeing all that was best For love of lovely words, and for the sake and brightest in the pageant, and spared Of those, my kinsmen and my countrymen, Who early and late in the windy ocean toiled the dingy gloom behind the scenes. To plant a star for seamen where was then
To be sure, as time went on and some The surfy haunt of seals and cormorants, I on the lintel of this cot inscribe
of the glamour wore away, the dark side The name of a strong tower.
of life thrust itself upon his notice. But, It soon became evident, however, that though he was conscious of all the darkStevenson's frail constitution could never ness, he never ceased to be
he apostle of light, for "it is a shaggy world and means of obtaining happiness, he has yet studded with gardens.
certainly furnished plenty of material for “And as we dwell, living things, in these in his own works. Who has not our isle of terror and under the immi- wondered what it was that Lilly Bones nent hand of death, God forbid it should had done, what were the crimes of the be the man erected, the reasoner, the mysterious Captain Flint, what became wise in his own eyes—God forbid it of Long John, the one-legged cook, and should be the man that wearies in well- the weak yet interesting Herrick? What doing, that despairs of unrewarded ef- strange feats would Secundra Dass and fort, or utters the language of complaint. Attwater perform in years to come? If Let it be enough for faith that the whole Treasure Island and the pearl-fisheries creation groans in mortal frailty, strives are ever found, what new tales will they with unconquerable constancy-surely tell? It is what Stevenson does not say not all in vain."
rather than what he tells us that makes In the drawing of his evil characters
his novels so interesting. Stevenson exemplified his tendency to
If, then, “to make others happy” was ward an optimistic view of life. Even Stevenson's aim in life, and "desire and his worst characters have their better curiosity” are the means to happiness, side. It is for this reason that the people surely no one can say that he did not at in his novels, wicked as they may be,
least live up to his ideal. That ideal may rarely arouse hatred. He judges a man
not be the highest; but it surely is not not so much by his acts as by his mo- the lowest, and, to use his own words, it tives, usually so much better; and un- is something to "live for an ideal, howconsciously his readers do likewise. ever misconceived." There is something in the dashing cour- When we bear this in mind, it is unage and ambition of the handsome Mas- fair, I think, to say that Stevenson gave ter of Ballantrae that partly atones for all his attention to style and cared nothhis evil deeds. One feels that if the ing for his subject matter. Perhaps he spinning of the coin had but ordered has laid himself open to the criticism bethings differently, and had not sent him cause of the striking peculiarities of his to Prince Charlie's aid, the Master might style. For it is a peculiarity to be able not have been the villain after all.
to use words with as great accuracy and For his own part, Stevenson does not fitness, both in meaning and sound, as at all find it a task to be happy. “To be did Robert Louis Stevenson. But betruly happy," he says, “is a question of yond this, there is little that can be said how we begin, and not of how we end; for his style, unless it be that the senof what we want, and not of what we tences are rhythmical, so rhythmical, inhave. An aspiration is a joy forever, a deed, that everything else is frequently possession as solid as a landed estate, a sacrificed to rhythm. It was the sound future which we can never exhaust, and of a word, phrase, or sentence that Stewhich gives us year by year a revenue of venson cared for; and it was sound that pleasurable activity. To have many of guided him in choice and arrangement. these is to be spiritually rich.
His plots are often carelessly, badly Desire and curiosity are the two eyes made, but the single scene that is small through which he sees the world in the enough to catch the eye receives the same most enchanted colors; it is they that careful attention as the words. Seemmake women beautiful or fossils inter- ingly fearful that some of its force may esting; and the man may squander his be lost if the reader is not prepared beestate and come to beggary, but if he forehand, Stevenson frequently prefaces keeps these two amulets, he is still rich
a vivid scene with remarks of this sort: in the possibilities of pleasure."
"A few days after, there befell an acIt seems as if Stevenson started out cident which had nearly hanged us all." with this idea in mind when he wrote his "We were come to the most critical stories. If "desire and curiosity" are the portion of our course, where we might
equally expect to fall into the hands of and character, still distinct in "The French or English, when a terrible ca- Wrecker" but closely united in "The lamity befell us.”
Ebb-Tide." There is no backward step, “The mention of these rambles brings and it is hard to feel that literature has me to a strange scene, of which I was not lost much by Stevenson's early witness”—a frankness that would be a death. blemish in most styles.
The end came suddenly, carrying him The separate scenes, I have said, are off from the midst of his work. He was vivid; such things as the duel between buried on the top of a mountain, on the the Durie brothers in “The Master of island of Samoa, far away from his naBallantrae" and the defense of the tive land, whither he had hoped in time round-house in "Kidnapped." And on to return. the face of things, Stevenson has en
Blows the wind today, and the sun and the deavored in every way to make them so; rain are flying
Blows the wind on the moors today and now, one can almost see him pull the wires.
Where about the graves of the martyrs the But his skill in drawing character, is, I
whaups are crying,
My heart remembers how! think, far greater. The thing is done so
Gray recumbent tombs of the dead in desert cleverly that one cannot lay his hand on
places, anything and say: "This was written to Standing stones the vacant, wine-red show his bravery and conceit.” Our at- Hills of sheep, and the houses of the silent
vanished races tention is all occupied with the story, and
And winds austere and pure! we forget the actors. Yet the mere men
Be it granted to me to behold you again in tion of the Master of Ballantrae, or Att
Hills of home! and to hear again the callwater, Secundra Dass, John Silver, Her
Hear about the graves of the martyrs the rick, or Captain Davis, brings up a host peewees crying,
And hear no more at all! of memories, ofttentimes indistinct, to be sure, but nevertheless creating an at- But if we are to follow Stevenson's mosphere from which that name can teaching, we must look on the bright never be separated. And Stevenson's side of things, and it is well to remember powers in this line were stronger in
that his death was such a one as he himwriting his last published work, “The self praises in "Aes Triplex": Ebb-Tide,” than at any previous time. "Does not life go down with a better In this book all the actors, Herrick, grace foaming in full body over a preciHurst, Davis, and Attwater are alike dis- pice, than miserably struggling to an tinct and perfect characters in their way. end in sandy deltas ? When the Greeks
Indeed, it is safe to say that Stevenson made their fine saying that those whom at the time of his death had in no way
the Gods love die young, I cannot help done the best work of which he was believing they had this sort of death also capable. Up to the very end there was in their eye. Death has not been sufa steady improvement in his work. The fered to take so much as an illusion from last of the imitation, that began in uni
his heart. In the hotfit of life, a-tip-toe versity days, dies away in "Treasure on the highest point of being, he passes Island," and from that time on he is dis- at a bound on to the other side. The tinctly Stevenson, and nothing else; his noise of the mallet and chisel is scarcely imagination gradually brought
brought quenched, and the trumpets are hardly down from heaven to earth, and from done blowing, when, trailing with him distant and romantic times and places to clouds of glory, this happy-starred, fullthe present day; he had by degrees blooded spirit shoots into the spiritual learned to blend the novels of incident world.”
1. HANDS OF A WOMAN.
following the economic trend of the day, A sentimentalist has said that the most began a centralization policy. It was beautiful thoughts have never been ex- not strange then that at the age of six pressed in words. This is almost a plati- and twenty this tall young man should tude to a large group of aspiring poets
fall deeply in love with a woman.
Of with tendencies towards hirsuteness, but course, in this respect he was doing nothit is a very sad reality to another unfor- ing startling or original ; he had only foltunate class of persons. Surely mutes
lowed the fashion of sundry other genwho are unable to indulge in the verbal tlemen. This particular young lady inidiosyncrasies of a modern language feel
stantly became his ideal; but history says the handicap of silence, for no thought he never described her in spoken words. of theirs is ever tinged with poetic inflec
Still Rumor, our own most worshipped tion. Love, according to youth and oth- feminine authority, gave her brown hair, er minor authorities, is a joy forever, or languid eyes, a pink complexion and a in other words, a thing of beauty. In its pale name. But Lillian White, fortuearly stage half of the joy in those coo- nately or unfortunately, as the reader ing, sentimental skirmish words, and may judge, was also a mute. later the other half of the beauty is in Never before or since has Rumor been the actual wooing. Hence, think of a so distressed; for while she eagerly folmute's dilemma when love trembles on lowed their footsteps, she was unable to his lips and the words won't fall off. Of echo forth any quarrels during the days course, the hypersensitive crisic will say before Frederick hesitated to gesticulate. that the mute is not so unfortunate after Indeed those days were quiet and peaceall, as he has his hands. And it must be ful, spent together on the sands of the confessed here, that with a little experi- ocean city. But though poets tell us ence or exercise, he may gesticulate a of the unspoken love that sparkles in the passionate plea with all the savoir-faire eye, yet every girl expects a verbal proof the most careless summer man. But posal. Lillian was like other girls in this all such unnatural things have peculiar respect, and while she never hoped to results and even this wooing a la main hear his love, yet she did expect to see has its disadvantages. And there are it on his fingers' ends. At last that eventrecords of this.
ful evening came. They had been out If silence is golden then Frederick walking on the board-walk, when a conPaulson was wealthy; you see, he was
venient if somewhat sudden shower sent a mute. Frederick was young and hand- them home. Lillian found that her parsome; he was also a slave to the de- ents had retired early, so she and Fredmands of a poetic temperament. Of erick were sure of no interruption in the course he expected to be emancipated cottage parlor. They entered and sat some time and so sought to earn his down on separate chairs, for the faint freedom by writing, in his younger days, light of a single kerosene lamp disclosed sonnets and other less difficult verse to the absence of the proverbial sofa. imaginary goddesses. However, it was Like other proposals there was silence only natural that later, he wished these for a few minutes, then her hands began parcels of feminity to be cousins, often to be nervous, and she naively figured removed, or memorial columns by which the conventional questionhe should trace the development of his “The weather is very bad tonight, taste. But after having been tickled fre- isn't it?" quently by feminine caprice and in all "Yes," was his reply laconic-after a probability by his own vanity, his lieart, poetic pause. Then by the way of em