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own, he was "far through,” -“I have been principally engaged in the business of dying, and you see I have made a failure of it.” The pluck and gallantry of the answer are representative.
Stevenson, a Scot of distinguished family, was a Bohemian, a world wanderer; one of the main denotements of his individuality is the way in which, through it all, despite the enforced cosmopolitanism of his life, he remained a son of Scotland in blood and bone. He was a native of Scotia not so much in insular prejudices as in his cast of mind and play of emotion. An essay like The Foreigner at Home, the Scotch fictions led by that incomparable fragment Weir of Hermiston, are documents in the case. They stand for what was ingrain. Under the alien brilliancy of his dress and far below the facile adaptation to the customs of various climes, deep called unto deep in his nature, and steadily, faithfully he found his orientation in Edinburgh, city of his kinsmen and love. He was, after all, a clannish man to the last. Read The Tropics Vanish to realize it. Once set him
« In the highlands, in the country places,”
and “the spate of style” came, with the vision and the creative gust. With a nature less strong, this abiding quality would not have been. Examples among living writers lack not where cultured cosmopolitanism has pretty much effaced race lines. It is only the sturdy men, the true independents of literature, who can resist the influence. Turgenef and Sienkiewicz are such individualities; Stevenson is of their company. The lovableness of the man has somewhat obscured our sense of his strength in this regard.
His death was commensurate with his life ; in accord with his wish, it had a rare and exquisite fitness : a sudden brave finish, the pen still wet from an unfinished masterpiece. The stale tedium of the sick-room against which in more than one essay he eloquently harangues spared him. He fell in mid-manhood in a creative Aush of accomplishment, secure in the admiration of the world of readers, cherished in loving and loyal memory by those privileged to come into contact with him in the body. The affection of the Samoan natives, to whom in those few final years he became law-giver, counsellor,
friend, and Teller of Tales, is a black-letter index of his magnetism, his great gift of heart. From boyhood there was about him an atmosphere of refinement, an air of romantic grace: to be noted in his very clothes, in the eye-sparkle, the mobile play of the mouth, and the odd, whimsical, capricious elegance of his speech. His talk with his familiars, I am credibly informed, had the same quality as that of his choicest essays. It has been often remarked, truly enough, that in an almost unique degree we note in Stevenson the survival of youthfulness. Deep in his soul the imperishable boy abided to the end. Child Play, The Lantern Bearers, A Child's Garden, and most of the volume Virginibus Puerisque are in evidence.
But to regard this quality as striking the keynote of his personality is wofully to err, to substitute the part for the whole. The assumption overlooks the complexity of the man, the many-sidedness of his nature — best suggested in his friend Henley's sonnet characterization :
Thin-legged, thin-chested, slight unspeakably,
Lean, large-boned, curved of beak, and touched with
race, Bold-lipped, rich-tinted, mutable as the sea, The brown eyes radiant with vivacity – There shines a brilliant and romantic grace, A spirit intense and rare, with trace on trace Of passion and impudence and energy. Valiant in velvet, light in ragged luck, Most vain, most generous, sternly critical, Buffoon and poet, lover and sensualist : A deal of Ariel, just a streak of Puck, Much Antony, of Hamlet most of all, And something of the Shorter-Catechist. It is this very manifoldness of Stevenson which has thrown critics off the scent. Most writers of saliency take a position with the Left or Right in literature. Stevenson possessed sympathies which drew him both ways. He was in some particulars a daring radical : in others an aristocrat, sitting with the extreme conservatives. He is a literary force not at all easy to catalogue or keep under a rubric. This becomes apparent only when the full content of his work has been surveyed.
III The public knows him most familiarly through his fiction, nor should his contributions in this sort be minimized, espe
cially since here one gets his romanticism in process of demonstration. The wholesome reactionary influence of Stevenson's novels must be emphasized : in them his romantic theory is implicit, as it is explicit in some of his essays. From the morbid analysis, the petty detail
, and the pornographic filth of that miscalled thing realism, his view ballo called us back to the happy hunting-grounds of the older story of incident, adventure, heroic personages. He looked upon life (for the purposes of fiction) not only as a stage for high-hearted action, but as a sort of Continuous Performance full of change, bustle, and indefinite opportunities of amusement. While the novelist Stevenson is not all of Stevenson nor Stevenson at his deepest, the result is always welcome, not seldom superb. With the increeping of the more subjective the characteristic and too little known Prince Otto — comes a feeling on the part of the public that this is not in the typical vein; hence the tale is not so garishly popular. The public has insisted indeed on regarding Stevenson as, par excellence, a romanticist only in the sense of one who