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case its truth and originality can hardly ciplined to it. But it is probably very be denied.
rare for a writer to do what is really There is another branch of Mr. Ste- the most important part of the compovenson's writings — to be done with silion in his sleeping existence; very this ungrateful task of fault-finding rare, and not healthy, one may supwhich I cannot care for as literature ; pose. Sometimes the finished result but he is not solely responsible. He speaks forcibly of its origin.
“ Olalla' has written several plays with Mr. is little more than a vivid dream - but Henley, of which two, I think, were how vivid ! and in the earlier books acted. With everything in their favor, certain characters have something they have not succeeded on the stage ; whimsical and inconsequent in their and they make, by comparison, very actions (the boy, for instance, in poor reading. One striking scene with “ Treasure Island”), which relates the blind pirate Pew is so good an occa- them to the land of visions. On the sion for Mr. Stevenson to be at his other hand, scenes and persons have best in prose narrative, that I grudge it that physical vividness and totality of to this setting.
impression which is produced only by And it is, of course, in prose narra- a remembered dream. In real life the tive that he is at his very best. For, attention is distracted by a mass of deafter all, this business of criticising, tail, and in recalling an occurrence which is commenting on other folks' some irrelevant circumstance is sure to ideas, and essay writing, which is ser- reappear. But when a thing has been monizing (the easiest form of composi- seen by the mind's eye alone, the mind tion), are a very different matter from reproduces it with more artistic selecsitting down, as the children say, to tion; in short, mind clearly make something “out of your own recalls the impressions of mind than of head.” Creative work takes rank im- sense. Few scenes that I have assisted measurably in front of what is often at — few, if any — come up before my (oddly enough) called " pure litera-consciousness with the same vividness ture ;" it is as a story-teller, not as au as the murder done upon the island, essayist, that Mr. Stevenson will go when Silver knocked the sailor down down to posterity. The “ New Arabian with his crutch and stabbed him. No Nights" began the list of his published doubt if I could draw the scene I tales, and however people may differ should draw it differently from Mr. about his other books, every one likes Stevenson himself; but that is neither this; it is brimful of youth from the here nor there. Mind does not picture first page to the last. The fantastic in line, but through the medium of element which has throughout charac- several senses at once. I seem to hear terized his work (Attwater is the latest the man's gasp as the crutch took him example) ran riot in these stories. One between the shoulders. The pictures night theorize to account for this ele- would disagree in detail precisely ment, had not Mr. Stevenson himself the detail upon which mind does not (as usual) told us all about it; that is insist - but Mr. Stevenson has conto say, he dreams certain situations, veyed the essence of the scene, and it which may or may not fully explain is to we as if I had dreamed it myself. themselves ; and the waking part of The book which is most dreanalike in the work is merely to fill up gaps and the bad sense, where everything seems put the whole into language. This is vague, irrational, and unaccountable, is not altogether a new thing. Scott used“ Prince Otto,” for a long time my to go to bed with the kuot of his story favorite, and not yet wholly dethroned ; unsolved, confident that things would but which, by reason of these defects, unravel when he was dressing next did not succeed. The one which bas morning. Doublless his brownies, like most of a dream's vivid pictorial quality Mr. Stevenson's, became educated, and is undoubtedly " The Strange Case of did their work better as they were dis. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." What
piece of prose fiction is less likely to be the other books meet comparison on forgotten? To begin with, the central equal terms, and well they can afford idea, strange as it is, at once comes to do so. I set aside for the present home to everybody. The double per- those where the issue is obscured by sonality, which the very habit of a Mr. Lloyd Osbourne's share in the dream-land existence must have forced work; that leaves two volumes of
Mr. Stevenson, corresponds short tales, “ The Merry Men” and with facts of which we are all obscurely the “Island Night's Entertainment,” conscious. It heightens immensely the several of them equal to Mérimée's interest of a book thus to carry an best work; what allegory on the very face of it, provided say ? “ Markheim," I thiuk, has rethat the allegory does not interfere mained the distinctest in my memory; with the illusion, but speaks the moral “ Thrawn Janet,” which has been so with the poignancy of life itself. Fur- highly praised, I always read with adther, this is the only case where Mr. miration, but it does not haunt me. Stevenson, working by himself, has Then there are four long stories, used a mystery ; and most skilfully it is “ Kidnapped” and its sequel, “ Catriused in the opening chapters to stinju- ona," “ The Master of Ballantrae,' late curiosity. The book falls into and one decided failure, the “ Black three parts. First, the mystery, which Arrow.” About “Kidnapped” there is set out with wonder that rises from is a consensus of enthusiasm. Mr. the mere question of an onlooker about Barrie, in a clever but unfair paper, this uncanny person Hyde, to the in his “Edinburgh Eleven,” calls it a agonized inquiry of Jekyll's friend, boy's book. So it is a boy's book who kdows all but the answer to the that all men delight in ; though why it riddle, when he batters at Jekyll's should be called a boy's book more locked door, and is answered by the than the Odyssey I cannot see. The voice of Hyde. Then follows the ex- “Black Arrow," again, is a failure, planation; and remark the skill with relatively speaking, that is to say, it is which a medical man is made the wit- not so good as Dr. Conan Doyle's ness of the change. He recounts the White Company." But surely to phenomena with a practised accuracy say, as Mr. Barrie does, that it ought which would have been unnatural, say, never to have been published, is a sinin Utterson. In the third part, when gular pretension. Is a painter, for inthe mystery has been solved, nothing stance, only to sell his masterpieces ? but consummate art could have saved The book is a failure, not because it the interest from collapsing. But is ill-planned or carelessly wrought Jekyll's own written statement gives it is better planned, I think, than the crowning emotion when it recites “ Catriona” - but because it lacks the drama that passed in the study inspiration, because the characters are behind the locked door; the appalling uninteresting. It is a novel of adconflict between the two personages in venture,” to adopt the author's own the same outwardly changing breast. classification ; and so, as he urges of Other writers have approached the another book, it needs only a limited same idea. Gautier, for instance, has a presentment of qualities. That is very curious story of a gentleman who gets true, but one has to be made believe translated into another man's body to in people sufficiently to feel with or court the other's wife ; but Mr. Steven-against them. Here they are never son has everything to gain by the com- real, and when a touch of genuine naparison. Remember the passage where ture comes in, the old ruined captain Jekyll wakes for the first time to find inconsolable for his ship and his man that he has in sleep become Hyde, and Tom, it makes pasteboard of the surthe look of Hyde's hairy hand on the roundings. The “novel of character," sheet.
“which appeals to our intellectual ap“ Dr. Jekyll ” is almost sui generis ; 'preciation of man's foibles and mingled
and inconstant motives,” Mr. Steven- cellences. As far as she is concerned, son bas hardly attempted on his own the book is romance, and she only account, but his phrase applies well needs to be invested with the approto parts of the “ Wrecker." “Kid- priate qualities. So long as she is helpnapped” is pure romance, and the less, yet bold, childishly innocent, yet " Master of Ballantrae " a noble exam- passionately loving, she is sufficiently ple of the dramatic novel. Compare depicted. David Balfour is the narraAlan Breck's fight in the round-louse tor; we see events with his eyes, and of the brig Covenant with the duel of we must be content to see Catriona the brothers. Iu the first your whole with them too. The weak point is that attention is claimed for the action it- the relations between David and the self; you want to
“bonny lord advocate are eminently dramatic; fighter” at work. Well, here he is for and they practically fill up the first half you. Incidentally you learn what Da- of the book. Catriona is seldom on vid's feelings are when he kills a man the stage ; for these scenes Miss Grant for the first time; but the fight is is better fitted, a capital dramatic figure. the thing. In the duel, actions are She is an immense advance upon merely the outward expression of pas- Alicia, who plays a very similar part sions ; it is Henry Durie's words and in the “ Black Arrow.” But she ships looks that concern you, not the sword off David and Catriona to the Low play. The physical impression given Countries drama ceases and the rois not less vivid — the candles gutter-mance begins. Now to pass from ing under the trees, a cramped space drama to romance is to pass from the of light in the vast blackness ; but more complex to the simple, from the the interest is in men's minds, not in more developed to the less developed their swords. These two books it were form of art. It is a mistake too, in a superfluous to praise further; but dramatic novel, to make a principal
Catriona,” which stands ou the de- character the narrator, because we batable ground between romance and must get a merely partial view of the drama, has not so secure a footing. other personages. Mr. Stevenson has For once the author's cunning in con- to get over the difficulty the best way struction has failed him. All the earlier he can by making David intolerably chapters of the book are braced up judicial — the lad is eternally finding with expectation of the great trial ; but excuses for the lord advocate. Macthe climax of the book is not the climax kellar, who relates the story of the they lead up to. David's love affair “ Master of Ballantrae,” is a proper culminates charmingly after various person to do so, because he has comrevolutions; but the master interest of plete knowledge of the action, yet plays the opening, his enterprise to save a subaltern part in its conduct. Thus James Stewart from the Campbells, is out of the combination of two types huddled away into inglorious confusion. in “ Catriona,” there results a certain I suspect Mr. Stevenson of a moral; incongruity. Yet I have not read a he may have meant that David's novel since that I liked so well. matter-of-fact heroism was not the less It remains to consider the three volheroic because he too was found no umes of which Mr. Lloyd Osbourne is wore than 66
a faithful failure.” None part author; and these books present the less, it is true that the book the highly interesting problem : To spaps in suvder midway, much as the determine Mr. Osbourne's share in the “Wrecker” does ; and the latter half work. For my own part, I give it up. forms a very decided anti-climax. It There is hardly a page in all three is different from the first half in kind ; which Mr. Stevenson might not connot only that, but it is the weaker suc- ceivably have written; there are many ceeding the stronger. Ladies complain pages, many episodes, which that Catriona is a doll, not a woman; would say Mr. Stevenson must have but this is to ask for incompatible ex- I written, were it not for the fear of an
appeal to those who know. Certain his personality disengages itself, he is passages, like the French scenes in the a past-master in slang (I pity the for" Wrecker,” may, on external evi- eigner who attempts these books), with dence, be ascribed to him ; and a a pronounced taste for shady charachighly competent critic has pointed out ters. The Wrong Box" is, of course, in the Speaker that these passages not to be taken seriously ; it is in the constitute the book's defect. Yet is it key of farce, very good farce too. not strange that Mr. Quiller Couch Complications follow one another with should not be able otherwise to distin- kaleidoscopic variety and swiftness, and guish the bands ? For “Q” is not if there were a Mrs. John Wood in it, werely an admirable writer of fiction ; it would be equal to the “ Magistrate.” he is the man among the younger But a pretty set of people we are ingroup of novelists who has followed vited to know ; even Michael Finsbury, most implicitly Mr. Stevenson's advice the hero, is a smart lawyer, the terto imitate good models, and of all his ror of blackmailers, and a tower of imitations the cleverest is “Gabriel strength in breach of promise, but Foot, Highwayman," which might bardly to be mistaken for a gentleman. pass upchallenged beside “ Markheim” The “ Wrecker" is a work of a very itself. But though the fusion of parts different class. Not to be grateful for is so complete within the covers as to Pinkerton would be barbarous ; and I defy an expert to separate them, there doubt if he is chiefly Mr. Stevenson's. is no danger of our confusing one of So long as he is a felt presence, I have these books with the genuine Steven-no quarrel with the book. But it is
They do “something smack, a jumble, of delightful elements no something grow to." Nobody likes doubt, “a monster olio of attractions,” Lafitte to be laced with brandy, though like the Dromedary picnics ; but still it were warranted entire,” like Pink- a jumble. Student life in Paris is erton's “Three Star,” and that is why always interesting, but memory has got Mr. Osbourne has been a good deal the better of Mr. Stevenson, and we execrated. No book of Mr. Stevenson have more of it than is necessary to ever left a bad taste in my mouth; no develop Pinkerton and Dodd ; and in a book of the collaboration has ever chapter about San Francisco the novel failed to do so. The'“Wrong Box” is drops entirely, while Mr. Stevenson's funny enough, but it is gruesome jest- reminiscences of the City of the Golden ing that turns on a putrefying corpse. Gate furnish out a sublimated padding. The butchery on board the Flying For a man with so much of interest to Scud I have once re-read, and mean in tell and such a style to tell it in, the future to skip ; as for the “Ebbtide,” temptation must have been overwhelmno one ever pretended it was agreeable ing; but it was a temptation to stray reading. The very first sentence gives from his better ideals, against which the vote :
the dramatic method of his own novels
guarded him. Moreover, a study of Throughout the island world of the speculators bas its appropriate and suPacific, scattered men of many European perb adventure in the story of the races and from almost every grade of so wreck ; but when we stray off to follow ciety carry activity and disseminate dis
Mr. Norris Carthew, we lose touch
with Pinkerton, and Pinkerton is the Compare with this story the “Beach of soul of the book. Falesà," a sufficiently uncompromising The “Ebbtide” is stronger work piece of realism ; yet you go away from than its predecessors ; had it borne any the reading of it braced and happy. name but Mr. Stevenson's, it would There, at all events, human nature is bave been hailed as a work of genius. at flood.
As a piece of writing it shows in their The presence of Mr. Osbourne seems, extreme the merits and defects of this in short, fatal to romance. As far as 'wonderful manner. Here are two in
stances from the “ Wrecker" and the
- so strange was the sight, so dire the “ Ebblide” respectively :
fears it wakened. I looked right and left; The clouds hung low and black on the the ground was so hard, it told no story. i
stood and listened till my ears ached, but surrounding amphitheatre of mountains; the night was hollow about me like an rain had fallen earlier in the day, real
empty church ; not even a ripple stirred tropic rain, a waterspout for violence.
upon the shore ; it seemed you might have A French man-of-war was going out, heard a pin drop in the county. homeward bound; she lay in the middle distance of the port, an ant-heap for activ
Yet, as Mr. Quiller Couch has said ity.
in the criticism before referred to, AltSurely this is a mannerism. But here water is probably Mr. Stevensou's. is another sentence from the “Ebb- Atlwater is a fatalist, so, you rememtide :
ber, was Prince Florizel ; the ending
is a fresh chapter from some It was now the fourth month completed, Arabian Nights. But after that savage and still there was no change or sign of realism, what frame of mind are we in change. The moon, racing through a
to meet Prince Florizel or any of his world of flying clouds of every size, shape,
cousins ? No doubt the authors and density, some black as ink stains, some delicate as lawn, threw the marvel of her wanted a contrast; the cockney with southern brightness over the same lovely his vitriol in this fairyland of nature. and detested scene.
But the opposition is too glaring, and Is vot the effect of those epithets mag, him. The mind looks round for some
as for Mr. Altwater, my gorge rises at ical in beauty and suggestion ? And is not the fourth month" a trifle relief, some decent human nature to affected for April ? Yet need I quote
rest on; and the best it gets is the the page which describes the Faral- drunken captain with his little Adar. lone's entry into the lagoon ? Which- He, at least, if he had died with the ever hand wove that intricate web of prayer for his children on words was indeed a master in the craft. would have died like a man ; but he is Eveu if we take it that just there Mr. spared to become a hysterical convert, Stevenson held the pen, Mr. Osbourne, holding his virtue on the absence of
other conclusion though he may not equal such a passage yet indubitably possesses á man
would certainly have made Attwater ner not to be distinguished from that intolerable, and the scene brutal beof the elder writer. But can he do yond all bounds ; but I should have this ? Mackellar is the narrator :
preferred prompt fate for Captain
Davis. I groped my way down-stairs, and out at
However, this is to be the last of the the door. From quite a far way off a sheen was visible, making points of bright: shall, many of us, look forward with
collaborations, we are told ; and we ness in the shrubbery ; in so black a night it might have been remarked for miles; no less expectation than curiosity to a and I blamed myself bitterly for my incau- single-handed venture of Mr. Osbourne. tion. How much more sharply when I But we cannot have him turning our reached the place ! One of the candle-choicest vintage wine into a questionsticks was overthrown, and that taper able blend. The truth is, we have quenched. The other burned steadily by come to look to Mr. Stevenson to reitself, and made a broad space of light deem the tendencies of contemporary upon the frosted ground. All within that fiction ; our debt to him cannot be circle seemed, by the force of contrast and
measured by his influence on technical the overcharging blackness, brighter than skill. The highest praise due to him is dy bay. And there was the blood-stain in the midst ; and a little way farther off Mr. owed to the spirit of his work. EveryHenry's sword, the pommel of which was
where in it are present what he has of silver ; but of the body, not a trace. My bimself called “the radical qualities of heart thumped upon my ribs, the hair honor, humor, and pathos." He does stirred on my scalp, as I stood there staring I not talk of a moral purpose, as is the