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deed, eternally surprising to the other. Between the aginative youth, the sense of the "story" of Latin and the Teuton races there are similar diver- things would feed upon the impressions of gences, not to be bridged by the most liberal sympa. Edinburgh — though I suspect it would be thy. It is better to face the fact and know, when you marry, that you take into your life a creature of difficult really to do so. The streets are so equal if unlike frailties; whose weak human heart full of history and poetry, of picture and song, beats no more tunefully than yours.
of associations springing from strong passions If there is a grimness in that, it is as near as and strange characters, that for my own part Mr. Stevenson ever comes to being grim, and I find myself thinking of an urchin going we have only to turn the page to find the cor- and coming there as I used to think – wonrective — something delicately genial, at least, deringly, enviously — of the small boys who if not very much less sad :
figured as supernumeraries, pages, or imps in
showy scenes at the theater; the place seems “The blind bow-boy” who smiles upon us from the the background, the complicated “set” of a end of terraces in old Dutch gardens laughingly hails his bird-bolts among a fleeting generation. But for as drama, and the children the mysterious little fast as ever he shoots, the game dissolves and disap- beings who are made free of the magic world. pears into eternity from under his falling arrows; this How must it not have beckoned on the imagione is gone ere he is struck; the other has but time to nation to pass and repass, on the way to school, make one gesture and give one passionate cry; and they are all the things of a moment.
under the Castle rock, conscious acutely, yet That is an admission that though it is soon lighted up with the tartans and bagpipes of
familiarly, of the gray citadel on the summit, over, the great sentimental surrender is inevi- Highland regiments! Mr. Stevenson's mind, table. And there is geniality too, still over the from an early age, was furnished with the conpage (in regard to quite another matter), geni- crete Highlander, who must have had much ality, at least, for the profession of letters, in of the effect that we nowadays call decorative. the declaration that there is
I encountered somewhere a fanciful paper one thing you can never make Philistine natures un- of our author's* in which there is a reflection derstand; one thing which yet lies on the surface, re- of half-holiday afternoons and, unless my own mains as unseizable to their wits as a high flight of met: fancy plays me a trick, of lights red, in the aphysics — namely, that the business of life is mainly carried on by the difficult art of literature, and accord. winter dusk, in the high-placed windows of ing to a man's proficiency in that art shall be the free. the Old Town — a delightful rhapsody on the doin and sullness of his intercourse with other men.
penny sheets of figures for the puppet-shows Yet it is difficult not to believe that the ideal of infancy, in life-like position, and awaiting in which our author's spirit might most grate the impatient yet careful scissors. “ If landfully have rested would have been the charac. scapes were sold,” he says in “ Travels with a ter of the paterfamilias, when the eye falls on Donkey," "like the sheets of characters of my such a charming piece of observation as these boyhood, one penny plain and twopence collines about children, in the admirable paper ored, I should go the length of twopence on “Child's Play":
every day of my life.” it
Indeed, the color of Scotland has entered should be tempted to fancy they despised us outright, into him altogether, and though, oddly enough, or only considered us in the light of creatures brutally he has written but little about his native counstrong and brutally silly, among whom they conde. try, his happiest work shows, I think, that she scended to dwell in obedience, like a philosopher at a has the best of his ability. “ Kidnapped” barbarous court.
(whose inadequate title I may deplore in passing) breathes in every line the feeling of moor
and loch, and is the finest of his longer stories; We know very little about a talent till we and “ Thrawn Janet,” a masterpiece in thirknow where it grew up, and it would halt teen pages (lately republished in the volterribly at the start any account of the author ume of “ The Merry Men”), is, among the of “ Kidnapped” which should omit to insist shorter ones, the strongest in execution. The promptly that he is a Scot of the Scots. Two latter consists of a gruesome anecdote of the facts, to my perception, go a great way to ex- supernatural, related in the Scotch dialect; plain his composition, the first of which is that and the genuineness which this medium - at his boyhood was passed in the shadow of Ed- the sight of which, in general, the face of the inburgh Castle, and the second, that he came reader grows long – wears in Mr. Stevenson's of a family that had set up great lights on the hands is a proof of how living the question of coast. His grandfather, his uncle, were famous form always is to him, and what a variety of constructors of light-houses, and the name of answers he has for it. It never would have the race is associated above all with the beau- occurred to us that the style of “ Travels with tiful and beneficent tower of Skerryvore. We a Donkey,"or“ Virginibus Puerisque," and the may exaggerate the way in which, in an im- * Since reprinted in “ Memories and Portraits."
idiom of the parish of Balweary could be a scene, and is not moved up to the measure of the oc. conception of the same mind. If it is a good casion; and that some one is himself. . ,. He seems
to himself to touch things with muffled hands and to fortune for a genius to have had such a coun
see through a veil. . . . Many a white town that sits try as Scotland for its primary stuff, this is far out on the promontory, many a comely fold of doubly the case when there has been a certain wood on the mountain-side, beckons and allures his process of detachment, of extreme seculariza- imagination day after day, and is yet as inaccessible
to his feet as the clefts and gorges of the clouds. The tion. Mr. Stevenson has been emancipated — ser
sense of distance grows upon him wonderfully; and he is, as we may say, a Scotchman of the after some feverish efforts and the fretful uneasiness world. None other, I think, could have drawn of the first few days he falls contentedly in with the with such a mixture of sympathetic and iron- restrictions of his weakness, . . . He feels, if he is
to be thus tenderly weaned from the passion of life, ical observation the character of the canny thus gradually inducted into the slumber of death, that young Lowlander David Balfour, a good boy when at last the end comes it will come quietly and but an exasperating. “Treasure Island," "The fitly. . . : He will pray for Medea : when she comes, New Arabian Nights," ,"“ Prince Otto," “ Doc
let her rejuvenate or slay. tor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” are not very di- The second of the short essays I have menrectly founded on observation; but that quality tioned has a taste of mortality only because comes in with extreme fineness as soon as the the purpose of it is to insist that the only sane subject is Scotch.
behavior is to leave death and the accidents I have been wondering whether there is that lead to it out of our calculations. Life something more than this that our author's “is a honeymoon with us all through, and pages would tell us about him, or whether that none of the longest. Small blame to us if we particular something is in the mind of an ad- give our whole hearts to this glowing bride mirer, because he happens to have had other of ours"; the person who does so “makes a lights upon it. It has been possible for so acute very different acquaintance with the world, a critic as Mr. William Archer to read pure keeps all his pulses going true and fast, and high spirits and the gospel of the young man gathers impetus as he runs, until, if he be runrejoicing in his strength and his matutinal ning towards anything better than wildfire, he cold bath between the lines of Mr. Steven- may shoot up and become a constellation in son's prose. And it is a fact that the note of a the end." Nothing can be more deplorable morbid sensibility is so absent from his pages, than to "forego all the issues of living in a they contain so little reference to infirmity and parlor with a regulated temperature." Mr. suffering, that we feel a trick has really been Stevenson adds that as for those whom the played upon us on discovering by accident gods love dying young, a man dies too young the actual state of the case with the writer at whatever age he parts with life. The testiwho has indulged in the most enthusiastic al- mony of “Æs Triplex" to the author's own lusion to the joy of existence. We must per- disabilities is, after all, very indirect; it conmit ourselves another mention of his personal sists mainly in the general protest not so much situation, for it adds immensely to the interest against the fact of extinction as against the of volumes through which there draws so strong theory of it. The reader only asks himself a current of life to know that they are not why the hero of “ Travels with a Donkey," only the work of an invalid, but have largely the historian of Alan Breck, should think of been written in bed, in dreary“ health resorts," these things. His appreciation of the active in the intervals of sharp attacks. There is al- side of life has such a note of its own that we most nothing in them to lead us to guess this; are surprised to find that it proceeds in a conthe direct evidence, indeed, is almost all con- siderable measure from an intimate acquainttained in the limited compass of “ The Silver- ance with the passive. It seems too anomaado Squatters.” In such a case, however, it is lous that the writer who has most cherished the indirect that is the most eloquent, and I the idea of a certain free exposure should also know not where to look for that, unless in the be the one who has been reduced most to paper called “ Ordered South” and its com- looking for it within, and that the figures of panion "Æs Triplex," in " Virginibus Puer- adventurers who, at least in our literature of isque." It is impossible to read “Ordered to-day, are the most vivid, should be the most South” attentively without feeling that it is vicarious. The truth is, of course, that, as the personal; the reflections it contains are from “Travels with a Donkey” and “ An Inland experience, not from fancy. The places and Voyage" abundantly show, the author has a climates to which the invalid is carried to fund of reminiscences. He did not spend his recover or to die are mainly beautiful, but younger years “in a parlor with a regulated in his heart of hearts he has to confess that they aware of how much it has been his later fate
temperature.” A reader who happens to be are not beautiful for him. ... He is like an enthu. siast leading about with him a stolid, indifferent tourist. to do so may be excused for finding an added There is some one by who is out of sympathy with the source of interest - something, indeed, deeply
and constantly touching — in this association men upon them, looking down and smiling so curious of peculiarly restrictive conditions with the at the water, and living folks leaning their elbows
on the wall and looking over too. And then it goes on vision of high spirits and romantic accidents and on, and down through marshes and sands, until of a kind of honorably picturesque career. at last it falls into the sea, where the ships are that bring Mr. Stevenson is, however, distinctly, in spite parrots and tobacco from the Indies.” of his occasional practice of the gruesome, It is impossible not to open one's eyes at a frank optimist, an observer who not only such a paragraph as that, especially if one has loves life, but does not shrink from the re- taken a common texture for granted. Will of sponsibility of recommending it. There is a the Mill spends his life in the valley through systematic brightness in him which testifies to which the river runs, and through which, this and which is, after all, but one of the in
after year, post-chaises and wagons, and numerable ingenuities of patience. What is pedestrians, and once an army," horse and remarkable in his case is that his productions foot, cannon and timbrel, drum and standard,” should constitute an exquisite expression, a take their way, in spite of the dreams he has sort of whimsical gospel, of enjoyment. The once had of seeing the mysterious world, only difference between “ An Inland Voyage," and it is not till death comes that he goes or “ Travels with a Donkey” and “The New on his travels. He ends by keeping an inn, Arabian Nights,” or “ Treasure Island,” or where he converses with many more initi“Kidnapped,” is, that in the later books the ated spirits, and though he is an amiable man, enjoyment is reflective,- though it stimulates he dies a bachelor, having broken off, with spontaneity with singular art, - whereas in the more plainness than he would have used had first two it is natural and, as it were, historical. he been less untraveled,- ofcourse he remains
These little histories -- the first volumes, if I sadly provincial,- his engagement to the parmistake not, that introduced Mr. Stevenson to son's daughter. The story is in the happiest lovers of good writing - abound in charming key, and suggests all kinds of things, but what illustrations of his disposition to look at the does it in particular represent? The advantage world as a not exactly refined, but glorified, of waiting, perhaps the valuable truth, that, pacified Bohemia. They narrate the quest of one by one, we tide over our impatiences. personal adventure - on one occasion in a There are sagacious people who hold that if canoe on the Sambre and the Oise, and on
one does n't answer a letter it ends by answer. another at a donkey's tail over the hills and ing itself. So the sub-title of Mr. Stevenson's valleys of the Cévennes. I well remember that tale might be “ The Beauty of Procrastinawhen I read them, in their novelty, upward tion.” If you don't indulge your curiosities of ten years ago, I seemed to see the author, your slackness itself makes at last a kind of unknown as yet to fame, jump before my eyes rich element, and it comes to very much the into a style. His steps in literature presumably same thing in the end. When it came to the had not been many; yet he had mastered his point, poor Will had not even the curiosity to form—it had in these cases, perhaps, more marry; and the author leaves us in stimulating substance than his matter — and a singular doubt as to whether he judges him too selfish air of literary experience. It partly, though or only too philosophic. not completely, explains the phenomenon,
I find myself speaking of Mr. Stevenson's that he had already been able to write the last volume (at the moment I write) before I exquisite little story of “Will of the Mill,” have spoken, in any detail, of its predecessors, published previously to “ An Inland Voyage,” which I must let pass as a sign that I lack and now republished in the volume of “The
space for a full enumeration. I may mention Merry Men”; for in “Will of the Mill” there two more of his productions as completing the is something exceedingly rare, poetical, and list of those that have a personal reference. unexpected, with that most fascinating quality “ The Silverado Squatters” describes a pica work of imagination can have, a dash of nicking episode, undertaken on grounds of alternative mystery as to its meaning, an health, on a mountain-top in California; but air — the air of life itself — of half inviting, this free sketch, which contains a hundred half defying, you to interpret. This brief but humorous touches, and in the figure of Irvine finished composition stood in the same rela. Lovelands one of Mr. Stevenson's most veration to the usual " magazine story" that a cious portraits, is perhaps less vivid, as it is glass of Johannisberg occupies to a draught certainly less painful, than those other pages of table d'hôte vin ordinaire.
in which, some years ago, he commemorated One evening, he asked the miller where the river the twelvemonth he spent in America — the went. . : : “It goes out into the lowlands, and waters history of a journey from New York to San the great corn country, and runs through a sight of Francisco in an emigrant-train, performed as fine cities (so they say) where kings live all alone in great palaces, with a sentry walking up and down be the sequel to a voyage across the Atlantic in
He has never fore the door. And it goes under bridges with stone the same severe conditions.
made his points better than in that half-hu- given the reins to his high appreciation of morous, half-tragical recital, nor given a more Mr. George Meredith. It is perhaps the most striking instance of his talent for reproducing literary of his works, but it is not the most the feeling of queer situations and contacts. natural. It is one of those coquetries, as we It is much to be regretted that this little may call them for want of a better word, which masterpiece has not been brought to light a may be observed in Mr. Stevenson's activity second time, as that he has not given the a kind of artful inconsequence. It is easy to world- as I believe he came very near do- believe that if his strength permitted him to ing - his observations in the steerage of an be a more abundant writer he would still more Atlantic liner. If, as I say, our author has a frequently play this eminently literary trick — taste for the impressions of Bohemia, he has that of dodging off in a new direction - upon been
very consistent and has not shrunk from those who might have fancied they knew all going far afield in search of them. And as I about him. I made the reflection, in speaking have already been indiscreet, I may add that of "Will of the Mill,” that there is a kind of
Ι if it has been his fate to be converted in fact anticipatory malice in the subject of that fine from the sardonic view of matrimony, this oc- story; as if the writer had intended to say to curred under an influence which should have his reader, “You will never guess, from the the particular sympathy of American readers. unction with which I describe the life of a man He went to California for his wife; and Mrs. who never stirred five miles from home, that I Stevenson, as appears moreover by the title- am destined to make my greatest hits in treatpage of the work, has had a hand-evidently ing of the rovers of the deep.” Even here, a light and practiced one - in "The Dyna- however, the author's characteristic irony miter," the second series, characterized by a would have come in ; for — the rare chances rich extravagance, of “The New Arabian of life being what he most keeps his eye Nights." “ The Silverado Squatters” is the on — the uncommon belongs as much to the history of a honeymoon - prosperous, it would way the inquiring Will sticks to his doorseem, putting Irvine Lovelands aside, save for sill as to the incident, say, of John Silver the death of dog Chuchu “ in his teens, after and his men, when they are dragging Jim Hawa life so shadowed and troubled, continually kins to his doom, hearing, in the still woods shaken with alarms, and the tear of elegant of Treasure Island, the strange hoot of the sentiment permanently in his eye."
Maroon. Mr. Stevenson has a theory of composition The novelist who leaves the extraordinary in regard to the novel, on which he is to be out of his account is liable to awkward concongratulated, as any positive and genuine frontations, as we are compelled to reflect in conviction of this kind is vivifying so long as this age of newspapers and of universal pubit is not narrow. The breath of the novelist's licity. The next report of the next divorce being is his liberty; and the incomparable vir- case - to give an instance — shall offer us a tue of the form he uses is that it lends itself to picture of astounding combinations of circumviews innumerable and diverse, to every vari- stance and behavior, and the annals of any ety of illustration. There is certainly no other energetic race are rich in curious anecdote and mold of so large a capacity. The doctrine startling example. That interesting compilaof M. Zola himself, so meager if literally taken, tion, “ Vicissitudes of Families," is but a superis fruitful, inasmuch as in practice he roman- ficial record of strange accidents; the familytically departs from it. Mr. Stevenson does taken, of course, in the long piece— is, as a gennot need io depart, his individual taste being eral thing, a catalogue of odd specimens and as much to pursue the romantic as his princi- strong situations, and we must remember that ple is to defend it. Fortunately, in England the most singular, products are those which to day, it is not much attacked. The triumphs are not exhibited. Mr. Stevenson leaves so that are to be won in the portrayal of the wide a margin for the wonderful — it impinges strange, the improbable, the heroic, especially with easy assurance upon the text -- that he as these things shine from afar in the credu- escapes the danger of being brought up by lous eye of youth, are his strongest, most con- cases he has not allowed for. When he allons stant incentive. On one happy occasion, in for Mr. Hyde he allows for every thing; and relating the history of “ Doctor Jekyll," he one feels, moreover, that even if he did not wave has seen them as they present themselves to so gallantly the flag of the imaginary and a maturer vision. “ Doctor Jekyll” is not a contend that the improbable is what has most “boys' book," nor yet is “ Prince Oito"; the character, he would still insist that we ought latter, however, is not, like the former, an er- to make believe. He would say we ought to periment in mystification – it is, I think, more make believe that the extraordinary is the best than anything else, an experiment in style, con- part of ive, even if it were not, and to do so ceived one summer's day, when the author had because the finest feelings — suspense, daring,
decision, passion, curiosity, gallantry, elo- But Mr. Stevenson's most brilliant stroke of quence, friendship - are involved in it, and that kind is the opening episode of " Treasure it is of infinite importance that the tradition Island”— the arrival of the brown old seaman, of these precious things should not perish. He with the saber-cut, at the “ Admiral Benbow," would prefer, in a word, any day in the week, and the advent, not long after, of the blind Alexandre Dumas to Honoré de Balzac; and sailor, with a green shade over his eyes, who it is, indeed, my impression that he prefers the comes tapping down the road, in quest of author of “ The Three Musketeers to any him, with his stick. “ Treasure Island” is a novelist except Mr. George Meredith. I should“ boy's book," in the sense that it embodies go so far as to suspect that his ideal of the de- a boy's vision of the extraordinary; but it is lightful work of fiction would be the advent- unique in this, and calculated to fascinate the ures of Monte Cristo related by the author weary mind of experience, that what we of “ Richard Feverel.” There is some mag- see in it is not only the ideal fable, but, as nanimity in his esteem for Alexandre Dumas, part and parcel of that, as it were, the young inasmuch as in “ Kidnapped ” he has put into reader himself and his state of mind: a fable worthy of that inventor a fineness of seem to read it over his shoulder, with an arm grain with which Dumas never had anything around his neck. It is all as perfect as a wellto do. He makes us say, Let the tradition live, played boy's game, and nothing can exceed by all means, since it was delightful; but at the spirit and skill, the humor and the openthe same time he is the cause of our perceiving air feeling, with which the whole thing is kept afresh that a tradition is kept alive only by at the critical pitch. It is not only a record something being added to it. In this particular of queer chances, but a study of young feelcase-in“ Doctor Jekyll”and“ Kidnapped”- ings; there is a moral side in it, and the Mr. Stevenson has added psychology. figures are not puppets with vague faces. If
“ The New Arabian Nights" offers us, as Jim Hawkins illustrates successful daring, he the title indicates, the wonderful in the frank- does so with a delightful, rosy good-boyishest, most delectable form. Partly extravagant, ness, and a conscious, modest liability to error. and partly very specious, they are the result His luck is tremendous, but it does n't make of a very happy idea, that of placing a series him proud; and his manner is refreshingly of adventures which are pure adventures in provincial and human. So is that, even more, the setting of contemporary English life, and of the admirable John Silver, one of the most relating them in the placidly ingenious tone picturesque, and, indeed, in every way, most of Scheherezade. This device is carried to genially presented, villains in the whole literperfection in “ The Dynamiter," where the ature of romance. He has a singularly distinct manner takes on more of a kind of high-flown and expressive countenance, which, of course, serenity in proportion as the incidents are turns out to be a grimacing mask. Never was more “steep.” In this line “The Suicide a mask more knowingly, vividly painted. Club” is Mr. Stevenson's greatest success; “Treasure Island” will surely become — it and the first two pages of it, not to mention must already have become, and will remainothers, live in the memory. For reasons which in its way a classic; thanks to this indescribI am conscious of not being able to rep- able mixture of the prodigious and the resent as sufficient, I find something inef- human, of surprising coincidences and familfaceably impressive — something really haunt- iar feelings. The language in which Mr. ing — in the incident of Prince Florizel and Stevenson has chosen to tell his story is an Colonel Geraldine, who, one evening in March, admirable vehicle for these feelings; with its are “ driven by a sharp fall of sleet into an humorous braveries and quaintnesses,its echoes Oyster Bar in the immediate neighborhood of old ballads and yarns, it touches all kinds of Leicester Square," and there have occasion of sympathetic chords. to observe the entrance of a young man Is “ Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" a work of followed by a couple of commissionaires, high philosophic intention, or simply the most each of whom carries a large dish of cream- ingenious and irresponsible of fictions? It has tarts under a cover -- a young man who the stamp of a really imaginative production, “pressed these confections on every one's ac- that we may take it in different ways, but I ceptance with exaggerated courtesy." There suppose it would be called the most serious is no effort at a picture here, but the imagi- of the author's tales. It deals with the relanation makes one of the lighted interior, the tion of the baser parts of man to his nobler -London sleet outside, the company that we of the capacity for evil that exists in the most guess, given the locality, and the strange po- generous natures, and it expresses these things liteness of the young man, leading on to cir- in a fable which is a wonderfully happy incumstances stranger still. This is what may vention. The subject is endlessly interesting, be called putting one in the mood for a story. and rich in all sorts of provocation, and Mr.
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