« PreviousContinue »
HEN the telegram came, early one Monday morning, what was our first thought, as soon as the immediate numbness of sorrow passed and the selfish instinct began to reassert itself (as it always does) and whisper "What have I lost? What is the difference to me?" Was it not something like this-" Put away books and paper and pen. Stevenson is dead. Stevenson is dead, and now there is nobody left to write for." Our children and grandchildren shall rejoice in his books; but we of this generation possessed in the living man something that they will not know. So long as he lived, though it were far from Britainthough we had never spoken to him and he, perhaps, had barely heard our names— we always wrote our best for Stevenson. To him each writer amongst us -small or more than small-had been proud to have carried his best. That best might be poor enough. So long as it was not slipshod. Stevenson could forgive. While he lived, he moved men to put their utmost even into writings that quite certainly would never meet his eye. Surely another age will wonder over this curiosity of letters-that for five years the needle of literary endeavor in Great Britain has quivered towards a little island in the South Pacific, as to its magnetic pole.
Yet he founded no school, though most of us from time to time have poorly tried to copy him. He remained altogether inimitable, yet never seemed conscious of his
greatness. It was native in him to rejoice in the successes of other men at least as much as in his own triumphs. One almost felt that, so long as good books were written, it was no great concern to him whether he or others wrote them. Born with an artist's craving for beauty of expression, he achieved that beauty with infinite pains. Confident in romance and in the beneficence of joy, he cherished the flame of joyous romance with more than Vestal fervor, and kept it ardent in a body which Nature, unkind from the beginning, seemed to delight in visiting with more unkindnessa" soul's dark cottage, battered and decayed" almost from birth. And his books leave the im
pression that he did this chiefly from a sense of duty: that helabored and kept the lamp alight chiefly because, for the time, other and stronger men did not so se
Had there been another Scott, another Dumas
if I may change the image-to take up the torch of romance and run with it, I doubt if Stevenson would have offered himself. I almost think in that case he would have consigned with Nature and sat at ease, content to read of new Ivanhoes and new D'Artagnans: for-let it be said again—no man had less of the ignoble itch for merely personal success. Think, too, of what the struggle meant for him: how it drove him unquiet about the world, if somewhere he might meet with a climate to repair the constant drain upon his feeble vitality; and how at last it flung him, as by a "sudden freshet," upon Samoa-to die " far from
The royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before; They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.
He bowed his head, and bent his knee
"No pity, Lord, could change the heart
The rod must heal the sin: but Lord,
"'T is not by guilt the onward sweep
We hold the earth from heaven away.
"These clumsy feet, still in the mire, Go crushing blossoms without end;
(Concluded on next page)
Argos, dear land of home." And then consider the brave spirit that carried him-the last of a great race-along this far and difficult path; for it is the man we must consider now, not, for the moment, his writings. Fielding's voyage to Lisbon was long and tedious enough; but almost the whole of Stevenson's life has been a voyage to Lisbon, a voyage in the very penumbra of death. Yet Stevenson spoke always as gallantly as his great predecessor. Their "cheerful stoicism," which allies hisbooks with the best British breeding, will keep them classical as long as our nation shall value breeding ses
It shines to our dim eyes now, as we turn over the familiar pages of Virginibus Puerisque, and from page after page-in sentences and fragments of sentences -"It is not altogether ill with the invalid after all." "Who would find heart enough to begin to live, if he dallied with the consideration of death?" "What sorry and pitiful quibbling all this is!"..." It is better to live and be done with it, than to die daily in the sick-room. By all means begin your folio; even if the doctor does not give you a year, even if he hesitates over a month, make one brave push and see what can be accomplished in a week. . . . For surely, at whatever age it overtake the man, this is to die young.' I remember now (as one remembers little things at such times) that, when first I heard of his going to Samoa, there came into my head (Heaven knows why) a trivial, almost ludicrous passage from his
favorite, Sir Thomas Browne: a passage beginning "He was fruitlessly put in hope of advantage by change of Air, and imbibing the pure Aerial Nitre of those Parts; and therefore, being so far spent, he quickly found Sardinia in Tivoli, and the most healthful air of little effect, where Death had set her Broad Arrow.' A statelier sentence of the same author occurs to me now: "To live indeed, is to be again ourselves, which being not only a hope, but an evidence in noble believers, it is all one to lie in St. Innocent's Churchyard, as in the sands of Egypt. Ready to be anything in the ecstasy of being ever, and as content with six foot as the moles of Adrianus." This one lies, we are told, on a mountain-top, overlooking the Pacific. At first it seemed so much easier to distrust a News Agency than to accept Stevenson's loss." O captain, my captain!" One needs not be an excellent writer to feel that writing will be thankless work, now that Stevenson is gone. But the papers by this time leave no room for doubt. "A grave was dug on the summit of Mount Vaea, thirteen hundred feet above the sea. The coffin was carried up the hill by Samoans with great difficulty, a track having to be cut through the thick bush which covers the side of the hill, from the base to the peak." For the good of man, his father and grandfather planted the high sealights upon the Inchcape and the Tyree Coast. He, the last of their line, nursed another light and tended it. Their lamps still shine upon the Bell Rock and the
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.
"The ill-timed truth we might have keptWho knows how sharp it pierced and stung? The word we had not sense to say— Who knows how grandly it had rung!
"Our faults no tenderness should ask, The chastening stripes must cleanse them all; But for our blunders-oh, in shame Before the eyes of heaven we fall.
"Earth bears no balsam for mistakes; Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool That did his will; but Thou, O Lord, Be merciful to me, a fool!"
The room was hushed; in silence rose
The King, and sought his gardens cool, And walked apart, and murmured low,
"Be merciful to me, a fool!"
"The Fool's Prayer," by Edward Rowland Sill
Skerryvore; and-though in alien seas, upon a rock of exile-this other light shall continue, unquenchable by age, beneficent, serene.
66 The Death of Robert Louis Stevenson," by Sir A. T. Quiller-Couch.
USIC is to me an ethereal rain, an ever-soft distillation, fragrant and liquid and wholesome to the soul, as dew to flowers; an incomprehensible delight, a joy, a voice of mystery, that seems to stand on the boundary between the sphere of the senses and the soul, and plead with pure, unrefined human nature to ascend into regions of seraphic uncontained life.
O wondrous power! Art thou not the nearest breath of God's own beauty, born to us amid the infinite, whispering gallery of His reconciliation! Type of all love and reconciliation, solvent of hard, contrary elements-blender of soul with soul, and all with the Infinite Harmony.-John S. Dwight.
AUGHTER, while it lasts, slackens and unbraces the mind, weakens the faculties, and causes a kind of remissness and dissolution in all the powers of the soul; and thus far it may be looked upon as a weakness in the composition of human nature. But if we consider the frequent reliefs we receive from it, and how often it breaks the gloom which is apt to depress the mind and damp our spirits, with transient, unexpected gleams of joy, one would take care not to grow too wise for so great a pleasure of life.-Addison.
OW blessings light on him that first
a man all over, thoughts and all, like a cloak; it is meat for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, heat for the cold, and cold for the hot. It is the current coin that purchases all the pleasures of the world cheap; and it is the balance that sets the king and the shepherd, the fool and the wise man, even. There is only one thing, which somebody once put into my head, that I dislike in sleep: it is, that it resembles death; there is very little difference between a man in his first sleep and a man in his last sleep. -Cervantes.
There are whole worlds of fact waiting to be discovered by inference. -Woodrow Wilson.
HE true rule, in determining to embrace or reject anything, is not whether it have any evil in it, but whether it have more of evil than of good. There are few things wholly evil or wholly good. Almost everything, especially of government policy, is an inseparable compound of the two, so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded —A. Lincoln.
O pursue trifles is the lot of humanity; and whether we bustle in a pantomime, or strut at a coronation, or shout at a bonfire, or harangue in a senatehouse whatever object we follow, it will at last conduct us to futility and disappointment. The wise bustle and laugh as they walk in the pageant, but fools bustle and are important; and this probably is all the difference between them.-Oliver Goldsmith.
our there be truth between us two forevermore. It is sublime to feel and say of another, I need never meet, or speak, or write to him; we need not reinforce ourselves, or send tokens of remembrance; I rely on him as on myself; if he did not thus or thus, I know it was right.-Emerson.
HE highest compact we can make PAINFULLY reflect that in almost every political controversy of the last fifty years the leisured classes, the educated classes, the wealthy classes, the titled classes, have been in the wrong. The common people-the toilers, the men of uncommon sense these have been responsible for nearly all of the social reform measures which the world accepts today.-W. E. Gladstone.
Laws are not made for the good.
CAN conceive of a national destiny surpassing the glories of the present and the pasta destiny which meets the responsibilities of today and measures up to the possibilities of the future
Behold a republic, resting securely upon the foundation stones quarried by revolutionary patriots from the mountain of eternal truth—a republic applying in practice and proclaiming to the world the self-evident proposition that all men are created equal; that they are endowed with inalienable rights; that governments are instituted among men to secure these rights; that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Behold a republic in which civil and religious liberty stimulate all to earnest endeavor, and in which the law restrains every hand uplifted for a neighbor's injurya republic in which every citizen is a sovereign, but in which no one cares to wear a crown.
Behold a republic standing erect, while empires all around are bowed beneath the weight of their own armaments—a republic whose flag is loved, while other flags are only feared.
to those who sit in darkness. ¶ Behold a republic gradually but surely becoming the supreme moral factor in the world's progress and the accepted arbiter of the world's disputes-a republic whose history, like the path of the just, is "as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."-" The Ideal Republic," by William Jennings Bryan.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
Continuous as the stars that shine
The waves beside them danced; but they
I gazed-and gazed—but little thought
Behold a republic increasing in population, in wealth, in strength and influence, solving the problems of civilization and hastening the coming of universal brotherhood-a republic which shakes thrones and dissolves aristocracies by its silent example, and gives light and protection
For oft, when on my couch I lie
YOU will succeed best when you put the restless, anxious side of affairs out of mind, and allow the restful side to live in your thoughts. -Margaret Stowe.
E is an eloquent man who can treat humble subjects with delicacy, lofty things impressively and moderate things temperately.-Cicero.
DO not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a prettier shell, or a smoother pebble than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. -Newton.
S a writer, I have only one desireto fill you with fire, to pour into you the distilled essence of the sun itself. I want every thought, every word, every act of mine to make you feel that you are receiving into your body, into your mind, into your soul, the sacred spirit that changes clay into men and men into gods.-Thomas Dreier.
OURSCORE and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth." Address at Gettysburg," by Abraham Lincoln.
ENIUS is its own reward: for a
sarily benefit himself. "He who is born with a talent, for a talent, finds in it his happiest existence," says Goethe. If we look up to a great man of the past, we do not say, "How happy he is to be still admired by all of us;" but "How happy he must have been in the direct enjoyment of a mind whose traces continue to delight mankind for centuries." Not fame itself is of value, but that wherewith it is acquired; and in the
begetting of immortal children lies the real enjoyment.-Schopenhauer.
it's near dinner-time, the foreF man takes out his watch when the jury have retired and says: "Dear me, gentlemen, ten minutes to five, I declare! I dine at five, gentlemen." "So do I,” says everybody else except two men who ought to have dined at three, and seem more than half-disposed to stand out in consequence. The foreman smiles and puts up his watch: "Well, gentlemen, what do we say? Plaintiff, defendant, gentlemen? I rather think, so far as I concerned, gentlemen-I say I rather think-but don't let that influence you-I rather think the plaintiff's the man."-Charles Dickens.
MMORTALITY is a word that Hope through all the ages has been whispering to Love The miracle of thought we can not understand. The mystery of life and death we can not comprehend. This chaos called world has never been explained. The golden bridge of life from gloom emerges, and on shadow rests. Beyond this we do not know. Fate is speechless, destiny is dumb, and the secret of the future has never yet been told. We love; we wait; we hope. The more we love, the more we fear. Upon the tenderest heart the deepest shadows fall. All paths, whether filled with thorns or flowers, end here. Here success and failure are the same. The rag of wretchedness and the purple robe of power all differences and distinction lose in this democracy of death. Character survives; goodness lives; love is immortal.-Robert G. Ingersoll.
HERE is an idea abroad among
moral people that they should make their neighbors good. One person I have to make good: myself. But my duty to my neighbor is much more nearly expressed by saying that I have to make him happy if I may.-R. L. Stevenson.
Some people are so painfully good that they would rather be right than be pleasant.-L. C. Ball.