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values the pedestrian virtues. Mackel- | Voyage,” as the episode of Bazin the lar, in the “Master of Ballantrae,” innkeeper and his wife at La Fère upon belongs body and soul to the prose the Oise. But love is the perennial of life ; yet his creator has few more surprise, the constant irregularity, and lovable or intelligible personages to therefore such a passage makes no exshow Mr. Utterson, in “Dr. ception to Mr. Stevenson's refusal of Jekyll,” is another such, slightly but all actions in which custom is a leading distinctly drawn ; and David Balfour factor. This refusal at once widens is the impersonation of civic courage. and restricts his range. In the quest But it is not to be denied that the lean- for situations whicre
shall be ings in these books is all in favor of the thrown upon their inward resources,
gipsily inclined ;” there is little value deserted by the guidance of usage, he set upon the stay-at-homes, unless they is forced to tread continually upon the are visited with roving desires. Now, confines of the impossible, and scour under the present conditions of life the world for scenes in unknown corcertainly, and probably under all, nine- ners of the Pacific and mysterious purtenths of us are stay-at-homes, and the lieus of great towns, where imagination stay-at-homes do the business of the is eternally expectant. It limits, too, world.
his repertory of characters. Briefly Charles Reade (whom alone among speaking, they are adventurers, one and the di minores of the great dead I all: political adventurers in “Prince should put on an equality with Mr. Otto; seekers of sensation in the Stevensou) had in this respect a wider “Suicide Club; » ingot hunters and grasp on nature.
He lacks the younger pirates in “ Treasure Island ; ” Jacowriter's distinction of style ; but in his bites and fugitives from justice in stories of common life there are things Kidnapped ;” pursuers of transcenthat come up before the mind as viv- dental medicines in “Dr. Jekyll;" idly as anything in “ Treasure Island.” traders in the South Sea tales ; specOld Maxley, the miser, in “Hard ulators in the “Wrecker" (Mr. SteCash,” is more truly picturesque, to venson only recognizes commerce when my thinking, than the mad old wrecker it is a gamble); even Mr. David Balin the “Merry Men,” despite all his four is an adventurer, too, engaging, accessories of scenery and weather. like Socrates in the “Republic,” in a Maxley was a drudge, dead, dull, bar- wild-goose chase after justice. David's
but for the one imaginative pas later adventures lead him into lovesion — the one opening for romance making ; but, speaking generally, these
his avarice. Mr. Stevenson will people are plunged in too turbulent have nothing to do with drudges, crea- pursuits for ladies to step upon the tures of routine. Whatever is not scene. If there is wooing, it is apt to instinct or impulse says nothing to him. be done in summary fashion, like the Mackellar, for all his method, is con- young mau's inside the Sieur de Maletinually a departer from use and wont; troit's door. Only a few of the earlier he goes the length of attempting hom- stories deal principally with courtship; icide (not, perhaps, without justifica- and in them people are violently, boistion); and Mr. Stevenson delights to terously in love ; for a painting of paint each upheaval of the man's own strong but not ignoble passion, whipped spirit that bursts the petrified surface. to fury by exciting circumstances, it Not that, in a sense, he despises com- would be hard to better the “ Pavilion mon things. He has a poet's eye for on the Links." These are not the all the primitive facts of life, for all the “ anæmic and tailorish persons,' familiar mysteries ; a man bas only to common run of civilized humanity, in be in love with his wife and show it, connection with whom (see “ Virginand responsive chords sound on the ibus Puerisque”) it is ridiculous to instant ;: there is nothing so pretty, talk of love as a masterful divinity. nothing so sympathetic, in the Inland In the later books, singularly enough,
love plays a larger part. Henry Duric's and “Travels with a Donkey in the silent devotion to his wife is finely Ceveunes”? Not I; though if any. drawn in the “ Master of Ballantræ ; " thing could turn the scale of such im'in “Catriona " we have, for the first partial delight, it would be the donkey. time from Mr. Stevenson, what is ordi- Sterne's “ Sentimental Journey is narily described as a love-story. It is their only parallel (doubtless, too, their not, heaven kuows, that he ever posed original); but Sterne has his faults of as a woman-hater or contemned the taste, from which Mr. Stevenson is of interest of sex ; few men have written all men the freest. " The Silverado more eloquently and suggestively of Squatters,” less interesting than either love; but his choice of subjects for- of those I named, is even a greater bade its appearance. Even in these technical triumph; being a book of latter stories, where love is the motive, description, almost unrelieved by incithe pivot of the action, and where dent, which yet is thoroughly readable. women are drawn with detail, he falls “ Across the Plains,” though published back upon the simplest and most prim- recently, recounts an experience apparitive types.
Uma, in the “ Beach of ently earlier than the squatting. In Falesà,” is a delightful and most the forthcoming edition these essays womanly savage ; Catriona, the lady of are to be re-arranged, and it will be inthe hillside, is a sort of Scotch Uma. teresting to see how their author
groups True, in “Prince Otto,” Mr. Stevenson this pair. The second book is probimitates the author of “Harry Rich-ably a diary, rehandled in later years ; wond,” and sketches brilliant ladies ; at all events, it contains at least one but they are of a type whose very passage, a defence of the Chinese,
is superficiality ; feminine which it would be impossible to overrather than womanly. Miss Grant, praise, and which appears maturer in who is charming, and Alison Durie, are thought and style than anything in the really his only full-length portraits of earlier book. But, look as you please civilized women; and Uma is worth and where you please, it is hard to the pair of them. Always one is met trace any immaturity in Mr. Stevenby the feeling that the world of these son's style ; at the most, one is conbooks is peopled by a floating popula- scious in his earlier work of a looser tion, among whom women are few and texture in the words and a gentler not prominent. Life's peaceful em- utterance. Certainly, the matter has ployments, woman's native sphere, Mr. grown sterner in this admirable series Stevenson passes over. Except the of essays, which alone would give their distracted house of Durrisdeer, I do not author permanent rank in literature. recall that he has drawn one home ; Here, for instance, is a characteristic and I think the sense of limitation in passage from “Virginibus Puerisque,' his achievement which forces itself on which appeared before
" Treasure his admirers is due to this gipsy strain Island :" which estranges him perceptibly from The blind bow-boy who smiles upon us so large a province in human nature. from the end of terraces in old Dutch gar
Detraction itself can hardly say more dens, laughingly hails his bird-bolts among against bim; and how many people are ;
a fleeting generation. But for as fast as under a personal obligation to Mr. Ste-ever he shoots, the game dissolves and disvenson for having taken the trouble to appears into eternity from under his falling be born ? It must be a hard reader to arrows ; this one is gone ere he is struck; please who cannot find his account the other has but time to make one gesture somewhere in so versatile an author.
and give one passionate cry, and they are
all the things of a moment. When the To begin with, he has written the best books of travel in the language, if when the thirty years
' panorama has been
generation is gone, when the play is over, one looks to literary interest, and not withdrawn in tatters from the stage of the to geographical curiosity. Who shall world, we may ask what has become of decide between “ An Inland Voyage these great, weighty, and undying loves,
and the sweethearts who despised mortal | experience. Yet after all, how well conditions in a fine credulity; and they marriage turns out, and how real love can only show us a few songs in a bygone is to the lover. That is the keynote. taste, a few actions worth remembering, Why look at a thing from the standand a few children who have retained some
point of the sun when you have got to happy stamp from the disposition of their
live on earth ? Seventy years is a parents,
moment in time; one day may seem Set beside this harmonious and soft- eternity to the creature.
Dolls are toned moralizing a passage from the stuffed with sawdust - it does not do essay called “Pulvis et Umbra,” in to forget that — but they make excel« Across the Plains :"
“ Fools all in our
youth,” is the refrain of “ Virginibus We look for some reward of our endeavors and are disappointed ; not success,
Puerisque,” but the conclusion of the
matter is, “for God's sake give me the not happiness, not even peace of conscience, crowns our ineffectual efforts to young man who has brains enough to
" Pulvis et do well. Our frailties are invincible, our make a fool of himself.” virtues barren ; the battle goes sore against Umbra Sumus” (the second essay I us to the going down of the sun. The quoted from) sits in judgment, not canting moralist tells us of right and upon life's illusions but upon life itself. wrong ; and we look abroad, even on the In a tremendous rhetorical statement it face of our small earth, and find them displays the appalling disproportion change with every climate, and no country between ephemeral humanity and the where some action is not honored for a Cosmos ; and the more frightful convirtue and none where it is not branded for Irast between human ideals, insepa vice ; and we look in our experience and
arable from humanity, and lustful, find no vital congruity in the wisest rules, but at the best a municipal fitness. It is murderous, predatory man, man with not strange if we are tempted to despair of all his aspirations eternally foredoomed good. We ask too much. Our religions to failure, yet at his lowest cherishing and moralities have been trimmed to flatter a spark of magnanimity, some selfus till they are all emasculate and senti- erected code of honor. Failure, that is mentalized, and only please and weaken. the note of it all ; failure and aspiraTruth is of a rougher strain. In the harsh lion, the ebb and How of human esistface of life, faith can read a bracing gospel.
Of a future life these essays The human race is a thing more ancient bave nothing to say, save to recognize than the Ten Commandments; and the
fact in man's higher life his crav. bones and revolutions of the Kosmos, in
ing for protracted existence.
What whose joints we are but moss and fungus, more ancient still.
they preach — and they do literally
preach — relates to this life, and the The process has taken place, which spirit in which a man should go about is described with singular charm in the his business. That is the important essay “ Crabbed Age and Youth ;” time thing; we can do so infinitely little,
; has done its inevitable work of modify- that it matters incomparably more what ing beliefs and aspirations, yet, though we than what we accomplish. the tone changes, the philosophy re-“Gentleness, cheerfulness, these come mains fundamentally the same. Mr. before all morality ; they are the perStevenson preaches optimisin a cour- fect virtues." ageous but not a sanguine optimism. Certain phrases in the earlier book,
Virginibus Puerisque” the ro- which gave offence to austere moralmance of life chiefly is called in ques- ists, really pointed to the same orthotion — love, marriage, ambition, honor. dox conclusion. “ To be a good artist Analyze them a little, says he, and in life, and to deserve well of your what silly businesses they seem ; how neighbor,” is a high enouglı ideal, if overloaded with sounding epithets. you mean by an artist wbat Mr. StevenMarriage, for instance — the “raw boy son does ; that is, a man who goes and green girl” linking their joint in-'about his work pleasantly, because he
likes it, and does it for the work's sake, The cruellest lies are often told in silence. not to get rich ; and who always sets A man may have sat in a room for hours his standard a little way above what his and not opened his teeth, and yet come out utnost efforts can attain to. That is of that room a disloyal friend or a vile ca
lumniator. the connecting point between his didactic philosophy of art and his theory of Obviously the word "teeth” gives morals. You have no business, he this sentence an affected look ; and I says, to cry out because you are not a take designedly a case where the artisaint; aim at being a little better than fice is flagrant. But the reason for you are. So you will progress, always writing “teeth” is plain enough; if failing, but nevertheless advancing ; you put instead “ opened his mouth” aim at the inaccessible and you will you have an awkward recurreuce of collapse. Just as it is bad morals for a the diphthong from “hours," and the man to neglect his wife and family be- ear nisses the sharp dental “t.” Of cause he thinks to bring about a great course, everybody in writing recogreform, so it is bad art for the artist to nizes conditions of this kind, but Mr. attempt a great work before he has Stevenson has made them almost as accomplished what is easier. Mr. Ste-peremptory as the laws of metre. No venson preaches in art the gospel of doubt by this time he can move with technical thoroughness, a lesson famil- perfect ease in his self-imposed fetters ; iar enough in France, but necessary in but the fabric of his writings is comEngland. Like all masters of technical pact of exigencies of sound no less skill he has the desire to impart what is than of sepse. It is, however, only in communicable in his own cunning- the essays that he indulges biniself in to found a school. And he has done such passages as this, which describes it ; one bas only to look round and see a diver's motions in the buoyant wathat. He has done for English fiction ters. what Tennyson did for English verse ; So must have ineffectually swung, so rehe has raised the standard of contem- sented their inefficiency, those light crowds porary workmanship ; but, unlike Ten- which followed the Star of Hades and nyson, he has done it by precept no uttered exiguous voices in the regions beless than by example. Admirable yond Cocytus. critic as he is, he is most instructive The truth is that writing of this sort when he writes concerning his own comes far nearer verse than prose, work and methods. Those who wish with its intricate combination of meto profit by his teaching need not com- dial and initial consonants, its studied plain for lack of guidance. Shortly harmonies of sound. Prose in its perafter publication of“ Treasure Island,” fection is the perfection of a sentence there appeared an essay on “Style,” of which might imaginably occur in talk the most minutely technical character, or oratory ; it ought never to lose some which I hope to see reprinted in relation to spoken speech. Even Carthe new edition. Most writers confine lyle's style was modelled (or so he their care to the mere avoidance of a said) upon the way in which bis father hiatus ; alliteration, simple or inter- talked. But any human being would laced, is also a familiar trick of the stone a man who talked like the trade. But Mr. Stevenson contends passage I have just quoted. It is that not only the initial consonant, but rhythmic prose, or prose poetry, a hyalso the medial and the terminal should brid to which bardly any one but Mr. be taken carefully into account; that Stevenson can reconcile readers. Yet labials should be interspersed with den- in the volume (Across the tals, dentals modified by pasals, and Plains) there are pages upon pages so on. An example will explain the of prose which is really prose, and matter roughly. In “ Virginibus Puer- which has every merit except artlessoccurs the following passage ness.
own person Mr. Ste(upon “Truth of Intercourse "):- venson can never be unstudied ; his
mannerism has even grown upon him ;|Plains ;” it is a comparison of Eurowhen he is really simple, he is so dra- pean and American sunrises : matically, a more cunning trick than
It may be from habit, but to me the the olber. Curiously enough, in the
coming of day is less fresh and inspiriting interesting paper about the genesis of in the latter ; it has a duskier glory, and " Treasure Island,” which he wrote for more nearly resembles sunset ; it seems to the laler Mr. Stevenson
to fit some subsequentiall evening epoch of imply that the manner of “ Treasure the world, as though America were in fact Island” is easier to support than the and not merely in fancy farther from the manner of the 66
Merry Men,” one of orient of Aurora and the springs of day. his most elaborate efforts. Perhaps he Here one is grateful for the strange only means that it would seem so; but word “subsequential ;” it fills with surely few people think it easier to be such dignity its central place in this effectively simple tbau effectively elab
commanding sentence that orate. At all events, one thing is no- would care to challenge the innovation. ticeable. In the collaborations the But when it comes to ballads, this writers narrate in person ; the story of Latin element plays wild havoc with the “Wrecker,” it is true, is told by the fitness of things : Mr. Loudon Dodd, one of the heroes. But is not Mr. Dodd a very near rela-Clustered the scarcely nubile, the lads and
maids in a ring, tion to the distinguished writer who resides in Sainoa ? (Mr. Stevenson is a clement instance. 66 Arduous has said in the Idler that John Silver mountains,' green continuous forwas drawn from a personage he es-ests,” are Latinisms hardly more adteemed; he cannot, therefore, justly missible (above all, in a ballad) than resent our identifying him with this “
your fishing has sped to a wish,” amiable Epicureau.) But in the books which is an ugly imitation from the where Mr. Osbourne has no band, the French. This is criticism of mere denarrative is always dramatic, and the tails, but in truth, if I judge it rightly, personage selected to varrate is always Mr. Stevenson's poetry will never add one who has no business to “parley anything to his reputation. In his voleuphuism.” Hawkius, of “ Treasure ume of “ Ballads,” the third cauto of Island” fame, is a plain Englishman ; the “Song of Rahero" is a fine tale, David Balfour is a plain Scot, a casuist finely told in verse ; and the “ Slaying it is true, but homely in his talk (my of Tamatea” is good reading ; there is objection of unhomeliness can hardly nothing else for which I am grateful. be urged against · Kidnapped” and “ Underwoods" is in its English verses « Catriona”). Mackellar is another the most imitative work of any estabmoralist, but no seeker after the pictur- lished writer known to me. Sometimes esque in diction; and in the “Beach you hear a snatch of Herrick, then the of Falesà ” a complicated story is told tone is Wordsworth’s ; Tennyson is with extraordinary force by the hero, a everywhere here, as also he is in the half-educated trader. There is only “ Ballads ; " and Marvell is suggested one page where the familiar turn of now and then. Unless the half-familthe Stevensonian sentence peeps out; iar dialect conceals defects, the Scotch I will deny no one the pleasure of dis- verses are better ; but the prose prefcovering it for himself in so agreeable ace of thanks to doctors is worth in a hunting-ground.
manner and in matter all the poems toWhat I may call Mr. Stevenson's gether. About a “ Child's Garden of personal style (as opposed to the dra- Verse” it is less easy to speak with matic uarration) has a curiously marked confidence; to many people it appeals feature in its Latinity; evidently a con- strongly; others, perhaps, it strikes sequence of straining the vocabulary to chiefly as a tour de force ; but in any comply with his requirement of sound. Here is an instance from “ Across the
1 Italics throughont are mine.