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Robert Louis Stevenson

Born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson
13 November 1850(1850-11-13)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died 3 December 1894 (aged 44)
Vailima, Samoa
Occupation Novelist, poet, travel writer
Nationality Scottish
Period Victorian era
Notable work(s) Treasure Island, A Child's Garden of Verses, Kidnapped, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Spouse(s) Fanny Vandegrift Osbourne
Children stepson: Lloyd Osbourne
Relative(s) father: Thomas Stevenson
mother: Margaret Isabella Balfour

Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer. Stevenson has been greatly admired by many authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, Marcel Schwob, Vladimir Nabokov,[1] J. M. Barrie,[2] and G. K. Chesterton, who said of him that he "seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen, like a man playing spillikins".[3]

Contents

Life

Childhood

Stevenson was born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson[4] at 8 Howard Place, Edinburgh, Scotland, on 13 November 1850, to Thomas Stevenson (1818–1887), a leading lighthouse engineer, and his wife Margaret, born Margaret Isabella Balfour (1829–1897).[5] Lighthouse design was the family profession: Thomas's own father was the famous Robert Stevenson, and his maternal grandfather, Thomas Smith, and brothers Alan and David were also among those in the business.[6] On Margaret's side, the family were gentry, tracing their name back to an Alexander Balfour, who held the lands of Inchrye in Fife in the fifteenth century. Her father, Lewis Balfour (1777–1860), was a minister of the Church of Scotland at nearby Colinton,[7] and Stevenson spent the greater part of his boyhood holidays in his house. "Now I often wonder", says Stevenson, "what I inherited from this old minister. I must suppose, indeed, that he was fond of preaching sermons, and so am I, though I never heard it maintained that either of us loved to hear them."[8]

Robert Louis Stevenson at the age of seven

Both Balfour and his daughter had a "weak chest" and often needed to stay in warmer climates for their health. Stevenson inherited a tendency to coughs and fevers, exacerbated when the family moved to a damp and chilly house at 1 Inverleith Terrace in 1853. The family moved again to the sunnier 17 Heriot Row when Stevenson was six, but the tendency to extreme sickness in winter remained with him until he was eleven. Illness would be a recurrent feature of his adult life, and left him extraordinarily thin.[9] Contemporary views were that he had tuberculosis, but more recent views are that it was bronchiectasis[10] or even sarcoidosis.[11]

Stevenson's parents were both devout and serious Presbyterians, but the household was not incredibly strict. His nurse, Alison Cunningham (known as Cummy),[12] was more fervently religious. Her Calvinism and folk beliefs were an early source of nightmares for the child; and he showed a precocious concern for religion.[13] But she also cared for him tenderly in illness, reading to him from Bunyan and the Bible as he lay sick in bed, and telling tales of the Covenanters. Stevenson recalled this time of sickness in the poem "The Land of Counterpane" in A Child's Garden of Verses (1885)[14] and dedicated the book to his nurse.[15]

An only child, strange-looking and eccentric, Stevenson found it hard to fit in when he was sent to a nearby school at six, a pattern repeated at eleven, when he went on to the Edinburgh Academy; but he mixed well in lively games with his cousins in summer holidays at the Colinton manse.[16] In any case, his frequent illnesses often kept him away from his first school, and he was taught for long stretches by private tutors. He was a late reader, first learning at seven or eight; but even before this he dictated stories to his mother and nurse.[17] Throughout his childhood he was compulsively writing stories. His father was proud of this interest: he had himself written stories in his spare time until his own father found them and told him to "give up such nonsense and mind your business".[6] He paid for the printing of Robert's first publication at sixteen, an account of the covenanters' rebellion, published on its two hundredth anniversary, The Pentland Rising: a Page of History, 1666 (1866).[18]

University

It was expected that Stevenson's writing would remain a sideline; and in November 1867 he entered the University of Edinburgh to study engineering. He showed from the start no enthusiasm for his studies and devoted much energy to avoiding lectures. This time was more important for the friendships he made: with other students in the Speculative Society (an exclusive debating club), particularly with Charles Baxter, who would become Stevenson's financial agent; and with one professor, Fleeming Jenkin, whose house staged amateur drama in which Stevenson took part, and whose biography he would later write.[19] Perhaps most important at this point in his life was a cousin, Robert Alan Mowbray Stevenson (known as "Bob"), a lively and light-hearted young man, who instead of the family profession had chosen to study art.[20] Each year during vacations, Stevenson travelled to inspect the family's engineering works – to Anstruther and Wick in 1868, with his father on his official tour of Orkney and Shetland islands lighthouses in 1869, for three weeks to the island of Earraid in 1870. He enjoyed the travels, but more for the material they gave for his writing than for any engineering interest: the voyage with his father pleased him because a similar journey of Walter Scott with Robert Stevenson had provided the inspiration for The Pirate.[21] In April 1871, he announced to his father his decision to pursue a life of letters. Though the elder Stevenson was naturally disappointed, the surprise cannot have been great, and Stevenson's mother reported that he was "wonderfully resigned" to his son's choice. To provide some security, it was agreed that Stevenson should read Law (again at Edinburgh University) and be called to the Scottish bar.[22] Years later, in his poetry collection Underwoods (1887), he looked back on how he turned away from the family profession:[23]

Say not of me that weakly I declined
The labours of my sires, and fled the sea,
The towers we founded and the lamps we lit,
But rather say: In the afternoon of time
A strenuous family dusted from its hands
The sand of granite, and beholding far
Along the sounding coast its pyramids
And tall memorials catch the dying sun,
Smiled well content, and to this childish task
Around the fire addressed its evening hours.

In other respects too, Stevenson was moving away from his upbringing. His dress became more Bohemian: he already wore his hair long, but he now took to wearing a velveteen jacket and rarely attended parties in conventional evening dress.[24] Within the limits of a strict allowance, he visited cheap pubs and brothels.[25] More importantly, he had come to reject Christianity. In January 1873, his father came across the constitution of the LJR (Liberty, Justice, Reverence) club of which Stevenson with his cousin Bob was a member, which began "Disregard everything our parents have taught us". Questioning his son about his beliefs, he discovered the truth, leading to a long period of dissension with both parents:[26]

What a damned curse I am to my parents! as my father said "You have rendered my whole life a failure". As my mother said "This is the heaviest affliction that has ever befallen me". O Lord, what a pleasant thing it is to have damned the happiness of (probably) the only two people who care a damn about you in the world.

Early writing and travels

The author, c. 1876

In late 1873, on a visit to a cousin in England, Stevenson made two new friendships that were to be of great importance to him, Sidney Colvin and Fanny (Frances Jane) Sitwell. Sitwell was a woman of thirty four, with a young son, separated from her husband. She attracted the devotion of many who met her, including Colvin, who eventually married her in 1901. Stevenson was another of those drawn to her, and over several years they kept up a heated correspondence, in which Stevenson wavered between the role of a suitor and a son (he came to address her as "Madonna").[27] Colvin became Stevenson's literary adviser, and after his death was the first editor of his letters. Soon after their first meeting he had placed Stevenson's first paid contribution, an essay, "Roads", in The Portfolio.[28] Stevenson was soon active in London literary life, becoming acquainted with many of the writers of the time, including Andrew Lang, Edmund Gosse,[29] and Leslie Stephen, the editor of the Cornhill Magazine, who took an interest in Stevenson's work. Stephen in turn would introduce him to a more important friend: visiting Edinburgh in 1875, he took Stevenson with him to visit a patient at the Edinburgh Infirmary, William Henley. Henley, an energetic and talkative man with a wooden leg, became a close friend and occasional literary collaborator for many years, until in 1888 a quarrel broke up the friendship. He is often seen as providing a partial model for the character of Long John Silver in Treasure Island.[30]

In November 1873, Stevenson had a physical collapse and was sent for his health to Menton on the French Riviera. He returned in better health in April 1874, and settled down to his studies, but he would often return to France in the coming years.[31] He made long and frequent trips to the neighbourhood of the Forest of Fontainebleau, staying at Barbizon, Grez-sur-Loing and Nemours, becoming a member of the artists' colonies there, as well as to Paris to visit galleries and the theatres.[32] He did qualify for the Scottish bar in July 1875; and his father added a brass plate with "R. L. Stevenson, Advocate" to the Heriot Row house. But although his law studies would influence his books, he never practised law.[33] All his energies were now in travel and writing. One of his journeys, a canoe voyage in Belgium and France with Sir Walter Simpson, a friend from the Speculative Society and frequent travel companion, was the basis of his first real book, An Inland Voyage (1878).[34]

Marriage

Fanny Vandergrift Osbourne, c. 1876

The canoe voyage with Simpson brought Stevenson to Grez in September 1876; and here he first met Fanny Vandegrift Osbourne (1840-1914). Born in Indianapolis, she had married at the age of seventeen and soon moved with her husband, Samuel Osbourne, to California. She had three children by the marriage, Isobel, the eldest, Lloyd and Hervey (who died in 1875); but anger over infidelities by her husband led to a number of separations and in 1875 she had taken her children to France, where she and Isobel studied art.[35] Although Stevenson returned to Britain shortly after this first meeting, Fanny apparently remained in his thoughts, and he wrote an essay "On falling in love" for the Cornhill Magazine.[36] They met again early in 1877 and became lovers. Stevenson spent much of the following years with her and her children in France.[37] Then, in August 1878, Fanny returned to her home in San Francisco, California. Stevenson at first remained in Europe, making the walking trip that would form the basis for Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879); but in August 1879, he set off to join her, against the advice of his friends and without notifying his parents. He took second class passage on the steamship Devonia, in part to save money, but also to learn how others travelled and to increase the adventure of the journey.[38] From New York City he travelled overland by train to California. He later wrote about the experience in The Amateur Emigrant. Although it was good experience for his literature, it broke his health, and he was near death when he arrived in Monterey. He was nursed back to health by some ranchers there.

By December 1879 he had recovered his health enough to continue to San Francisco, where for several months he struggled "all alone on forty-five cents a day, and sometimes less, with quantities of hard work and many heavy thoughts,"[39] in an effort to support himself through his writing, but by the end of the winter his health was broken again, and he found himself at death's door. Vandegrift — now divorced and recovered from her own illness — came to Stevenson's bedside and nursed him to recovery. "After a while," he wrote, "my spirit got up again in a divine frenzy, and has since kicked and spurred my vile body forward with great emphasis and success."[40] When his father heard of his condition he cabled him money to help him through this period.

In May 1880, Stevenson married Fanny although, as he said, he was "a mere complication of cough and bones, much fitter for an emblem of mortality than a bridegroom."[41] With his new wife and her son, Lloyd, he travelled north of San Francisco to Napa Valley, and spent a summer honeymoon at an abandoned mining camp on Mount Saint Helena. He wrote about this experience in The Silverado Squatters. He met Charles Warren Stoddard, co-editor of the Overland Monthly and author of South Sea Idylls, who urged Stevenson to travel to the south Pacific, an idea which would return to him many years later. In August 1880 he sailed with his family from New York back to Britain, and found his parents and his friend Sidney Colvin on the wharf at Liverpool, happy to see him return home. Gradually his new wife was able to patch up differences between father and son and make herself a part of the new family through her charm and wit.

Attempted settlement in Europe and the U.S.

Stevenson's "Cure Cottage" in Saranac Lake

For the next seven years, between 1880 and 1887, Stevenson searched in vain for a place of residence suitable to his state of health. He spent his summers at various places in Scotland and England, including Westbourne, Dorset, a residential area in Bournemouth. There he lived in a dwelling he renamed Skerryvore after a lighthouse, the tallest in Scotland, built by his uncle Alan Stevenson many years earlier. For his winters, he escaped to sunny France, and lived at Davos-Platz [42] and the Chalet de Solitude at Hyeres, where, for a time, he enjoyed almost complete happiness. "I have so many things to make life sweet for me," he wrote, "it seems a pity I cannot have that other one thing — health. But though you will be angry to hear it, I believe, for myself at least, what is is best. I believed it all through my worst days, and I am not ashamed to profess it now."[43] In spite of his ill health he produced the bulk of his best known work during these years: Treasure Island, his first widely popular book; Kidnapped; Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story which established his wider reputation; and two volumes of verse, A Child's Garden of Verses and Underwoods. At Skerryvore he gave a copy of Kidnapped to his dear friend and frequent visitor, Henry James.[44]

On the death of his father in 1887, Stevenson felt free to follow the advice of his physician to try a complete change of climate. He started with his mother and family for Colorado; but after landing in New York they decided to spend the winter at Saranac Lake, in the Adirondacks. During the intensely cold winter Stevenson wrote a number of his best essays, including Pulvis et Umbra, he began The Master of Ballantrae, and lightheartedly planned, for the following summer, a cruise to the southern Pacific Ocean. "The proudest moments of my life," he wrote, "have been passed in the stern-sheets of a boat with that romantic garment over my shoulders."[45]

Journey to the Pacific

The author with King Kalākaua. Honolulu, Hawaii, 1889

In June 1888, Stevenson chartered the yacht Casco and set sail with his family from San Francisco. The vessel "plowed her path of snow across the empty deep, far from all track of commerce, far from any hand of help."[46] The salt sea air and thrill of adventure for a time restored his health; and for nearly three years he wandered the eastern and central Pacific, visiting important island groups, stopping for extended stays at the Hawaiian Islands where he became a good friend of King Kalākaua, with whom Stevenson spent much time. Furthermore, Stevenson befriended the king's niece, Princess Victoria Kaiulani, who was of Scottish heritage. He also spent time at the Gilbert Islands, Tahiti, New Zealand and the Samoan Islands. During this period he completed The Master of Ballantrae, composed two ballads based on the legends of the islanders, and wrote The Bottle Imp. He also witnessed the Samoan crisis. The experience of these years is preserved in his various letters and in The South Seas. A second voyage on the Equator followed in 1889 with Lloyd Osbourne accompanying them.

It was also from this period that one particular open letter stands as testimony to his activism and indignation at the pettiness of such 'powers that be' as a Presbyterian minister in Honolulu named Rev. Dr. Hyde. During his time in the Hawaiian Islands, Stevenson had visited Molokai and the leper colony there, shortly after the demise of Father Damien. When Dr. Hyde wrote a letter to a fellow clergyman speaking ill of Father Damien, Stevenson wrote a scathing open letter of rebuke to Dr. Hyde. Soon afterwards in April 1890 Stevenson left Sydney on the Janet Nicoll and went on his third and final voyage among the South Seas islands.[47]

Last years

The author with his wife and their household in Vailima, Samoa, c. 1890
Stevenson's birthday fete at Vailima
Stevenson's tomb on Mt. Vaea c.1909

In 1890 he purchased four hundred acres (about 1.6 square kilometres) of land in Upolu, one of the Samoan islands. Here, after two aborted attempts to visit Scotland, he established himself, after much work, upon his estate in the village of Vailima. Stevenson himself adopted the native name Tusitala (Samoan for "Teller of Tales", i.e. a storyteller). His influence spread to the Samoans, who consulted him for advice, and he soon became involved in local politics. He was convinced the European officials appointed to rule the Samoans were incompetent, and after many futile attempts to resolve the matter, he published A Footnote to History. This was such a stinging protest against existing conditions that it resulted in the recall of two officials, and Stevenson feared for a time it would result in his own deportation. When things had finally blown over he wrote to Colvin, who came from a family of distinguished colonial administrators, "I used to think meanly of the plumber; but how he shines beside the politician!"[48]

He was friends with some of the politicians and their families. At one point he formally donated, by deed of gift, his birthday to the daughter of the American Land Commissioner Henry Clay Ide, since she was born on Christmas Day and had no birthday celebration separate from the family's Christmas celebrations. This led to a strong bond between the Stevenson and Ide families.[49][50]

In addition to building his house and clearing his land and helping the Samoans in many ways, he found time to work at his writing. He felt that "there was never any man had so many irons in the fire."[51] He wrote The Beach of Falesa, Catriona (titled David Balfour in the USA),[52] The Ebb-Tide, and the Vailima Letters, during this period.

For a time during 1894 Stevenson felt depressed; he wondered if he had exhausted his creative vein and completely worked himself out. He wrote that he had "overworked bitterly".[53] He felt more clearly that, with each fresh attempt, the best he could write was "ditch-water".[54] He even feared that he might again become a helpless invalid. He rebelled against this idea: "I wish to die in my boots; no more Land of Counterpane for me. To be drowned, to be shot, to be thrown from a horse — ay, to be hanged, rather than pass again through that slow dissolution."[55] He then suddenly had a return of his old energy and he began work on Weir of Hermiston. "It's so good that it frightens me," he is reported to have exclaimed[citation needed]. He felt that this was the best work he had done. He was convinced, "sick and well, I have had splendid life of it, grudge nothing, regret very little ... take it all over, damnation and all, would hardly change with any man of my time."[56]

Without knowing it, he was to have his wish fulfilled. During the morning of 3 December 1894, he had worked hard as usual on Weir of Hermiston. During the evening, while conversing with his wife and straining to open a bottle of wine, he suddenly exclaimed, "What's that!" He then asked his wife, "Does my face look strange?" and collapsed beside her.[57] He died within a few hours, probably of a cerebral haemorrhage, at the age of 44. The Samoans insisted on surrounding his body with a watch-guard during the night and on bearing their Tusitala upon their shoulders to nearby Mount Vaea, where they buried him on a spot overlooking the sea.[58] Stevenson had always wanted his 'Requiem' inscribed on his tomb.

Burial on Mount Vaea in Samoa, 1894.
Under the wide and starry sky,

Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

However, the piece is widely misquoted, including the inscription on his tomb, which closes:

Home is the sailor, home from the sea,

And the hunter home from the hill.

Stevenson was loved by the Samoans and the engraving on his tombstone was translated to a Samoan song of grief[59] which is well known and still sung in Samoa.

Monuments and commemoration

A bronze relief memorial to Stevenson, designed by American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens in 1904, is mounted in the Moray Aisle of St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh.[60] Another memorial in Edinburgh stands in West Princes Street Gardens below Edinburgh Castle; it is a simple upright stone inscribed with "RLS - A Man of Letters 1850 -1894" by sculptor Iain Hamilton Finlay in 1987.[61]

A garden was designed by the Bournemouth Corporation in 1957 as a memorial to Stevenson, on the site of his Westbourne house "Skerryvore" which he lived in from 1885 to 1887. A statue of the Skerryvore lighthouse is present on the site.

In 1994, to mark the 100th Anniversary of Stevenson's death, the Royal Bank of Scotland issued a series of commemorative £1 notes which featured a quill pen and Stevenson's signature on the obverse, and Stevenson's face on the reverse side. Alongside Stevenson's portrait are scenes from some of his books and his house in Western Samoa where he died in 1894.[62] Two million notes were issued, each with a serial number beginning "RLS". The first note to be printed was sent to Samoa in time for their centenary celebrations on 3 December 1994.[63]

Modern reception

Stevenson was a celebrity in his own time, but with the rise of modern literature after World War I, he was seen for much of the 20th century as a writer of the second class, relegated to children's literature and horror genres.[64] Condemned by literary figures such as Virginia Woolf (daughter of his early mentor Leslie Stephen) and her husband Leonard, he was gradually excluded from the canon of literature taught in schools.[64] His exclusion reached a height when in the 1973 2,000-page Oxford Anthology of English Literature Stevenson was entirely unmentioned; and the Norton Anthology of English Literature excluded him from 1968 to 2000 (1st–7th editions), including him only in the 8th edition (2006).[64] The late 20th century saw the start of a re-evaluation of Stevenson as an artist of great range and insight, a literary theorist, an essayist and social critic, a witness to the colonial history of the Pacific Islands, and a humanist.[64] Even as early as 1965 the pendulum had begun to swing: he was praised by Roger Lancelyn Green, one of the Oxford Inklings, as a writer of a consistently high level of "literary skill or sheer imaginative power" and a co-originator with H. Rider Haggard of the Age of the Story Tellers.[65] He is now being re-evaluated as a peer of authors such as Joseph Conrad (whom Stevenson influenced with his South Seas fiction) and Henry James, with new scholarly studies and organizations devoted to Stevenson.[64] No matter what the scholarly reception, Stevenson remains very popular around the world. According to the Index Translationum, Stevenson is ranked the 25th most translated author in the world, ahead of fellow nineteenth-century writers Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allan Poe.[66]

Gallery

Bibliography

For a detailed list see bibliography.

Novels

Short story collections

Short stories

List of short stories sorted chronologically. Note: does not include collaborations with Fanny found in More New Arabian Nights: The Dynamiter.

Title Date Collection Notes
"A Lodging for the Night" 1877 New Arabian Nights Stevenson's first published fiction when he was 27 years old.
"The Sire De Malétroits Door" 1877 New Arabian Nights
"An Old Song" 1877 Uncollected
"Edifying Letters of the Rutherford Family" 1877 Uncollected
"Later-day Arabian Nights" 1878 New Arabian Nights Seven interconnected stories in two cycles: The Suicide Club (3 stories) and The Rajah's Diamond (4 stories).
"Providence and the Guitar" 1878 New Arabian Nights
"The Pavilion on the Links" 1880 New Arabian Nights Told in 9 mini-chapters. Conan Doyle in 1890 called it the first English short story.
"The Story of a Lie" 1882 Uncollected
"The Merry Men" 1882 The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables
"The Body Snatcher" 1884 Uncollected First published in the Christmas 1884 edition of the Pall Mall Gazette.
"Markheim" 1885 The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1886 Uncollected Often called a short story or a novella.
"Will O' the Mill" 1887 The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables
"Thrawn Janet" 1887 The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables
"Olalla" 1887 The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables
"The Treasure of Franchard" 1887 The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables
"The Misadventures of John Nicholson: A Christmas Story" 1887 Uncollected
"The Bottle Imp" 1891 Island Nights' Entertainments
"The Beach of Falesá" 1892 Island Nights' Entertainments First published in the Illustrated London News in 1892
"The Isle of Voices" 1893 Island Nights' Entertainments

Other works

  • "Béranger, Pierre Jean de", article for the ninth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1875–89)
  • Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes (1879)
  • Virginibus Puerisque, and Other Papers (1881)
  • Familiar Studies of Men and Books (1882)
  • Memories and Portraits (1887), a collection of essays.
  • Aes Triplex (1887)
  • Father Damien: an Open Letter to the Rev. Dr. Hyde of Honolulu (1890)
  • Vailima Letters (1895)
  • The New Lighthouse on the Dhu Heartach Rock, Argyllshire (1995). Based on an 1872 manuscript edited by R. G. Swearingen. California. Silverado Museum.
  • Sophia Scarlet (2008). Based on 1892 manuscript edited by Robert Hoskins. AUT Media (AUT University).

Poetry

  • A Child's Garden of Verses (1885), written for children but also popular with their parents. Includes such favourites as "My Shadow" and "The Lamplighter". Often thought to represent a positive reflection of the author's sickly childhood.
  • Underwoods (1887), a collection of poetry written in both English and Scots.
  • Ticonderoga: A Legend of the West Highlands (1887). Based on a famous Scottish ghost story.
  • Ballads (1891)
  • Songs of Travel and Other Verses (1896)

Travel writing

  • An Inland Voyage (1878), travels with a friend in a "Rob Roy" canoe from Antwerp (Belgium) to Pontoise, just north of Paris.
  • Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879), two weeks' solo ramble (with Modestine as his beast of burden) in the mountains of Cévennes (south-central France), one of the first books to present hiking and camping as recreational activities. It tells of commissioning one of the first sleeping bags.
  • The Silverado Squatters (1883). An unconventional honeymoon trip to an abandoned mining camp in Napa Valley with his new wife Fanny and her son Lloyd. He presciently identifies the California wine industry as one to be reckoned with.
  • Across the Plains (written in 1879–80, published in 1892). Second leg of his journey, by train from New York to California (then picks up with The Silverado Squatters). Also includes other travel essays.
  • The Amateur Emigrant (written 1879–80, published 1895). An account of the first leg of his journey to California, by ship from Europe to New York. Andrew Noble (From the Clyde to California: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Emigrant Journey, 1985) considers it to be his finest work.
  • The Old and New Pacific Capitals (1882). An account of his stay in Monterey, California in August to December 1879. Never published separately. See, for example, James D. Hart, ed., From Scotland to Silverado, 1966.
  • Essays of Travel (London: Chatto & Windus, 1905)

Island literature

Although not well known, his island fiction and non-fiction is among the most valuable and collected of the 19th century body of work that addresses the Pacific area.

Non-fiction works on the Pacific

  • In the South Seas. A collection of Stevenson's articles and essays on his travels in the Pacific.
  • A Footnote to History, Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa (1892).

Musical compositions

Stevenson was an amateur composer who wrote songs typical of California in the 1880s, salon-type music, entertaining rather than serious. A flageolet player, Stevenson had studied harmony and simple counterpoint and knew such basic instrumental techniques as transposition. Some song titles include "Fanfare", "Tune for Flageolet", "Habanera", and "Quadrille". Robert Hughes in 1968 arranged a number of Stevenson's songs for chamber orchestra, which went on a tour of the Pacific Northwest in that year.

See also

References

  1. ^ Dillard, R. H. W. (1998). Introduction to Treasure Island. New York: Signet Classics. xiii. ISBN 0-451-52704-6. http://books.google.com/books?visbn=0451527046&id=3f2ne_bk-xoC&pg=PR13&lpg=PR13&dq=%22Vladimir+Nabokov%22+%22robert+louis+stevenson%22&sig=Guky95m-5uoutxhVamKTOAReEe4. 
  2. ^ Chaney, Lisa (2006). Hide-and-seek with Angels: The Life of J. M. Barrie. London: Arrow Books. ISBN 0-099-45323-1. 
  3. ^ Chesterton, Gilbert Keith (1913). The Victorian Age in Literature. London: Henry Holt and Co.. pp. 246. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Victorian_Age_in_Literature/Chapter_IV. 
  4. ^ At about 18, Stevenson changed the spelling of 'Lewis' to 'Louis', and in 1873 he dropped 'Balfour': Mehew (2004). The spelling 'Lewis' is said to have been rejected because his father violently disliked another person of the same name, and the new spelling was not accompanied by a change of pronunciation: Balfour (1901) I, 29 n. 1.
  5. ^ Furnas (1952), 23–4; Mehew (2004).
  6. ^ a b Paxton (2004).
  7. ^ Balfour (1901), 10–12; Furnas (1952), 24; Mehew (2004).
  8. ^ Memories and Portraits (1887), Chapter VII. The Manse.
  9. ^ Furnas (1952), 25–8; Mehew (2004).
  10. ^ Holmes, Lowell (2002). Treasured Islands: Cruising the South Seas with Robert Louis Stevenson. Sheridan House, Inc. ISBN 1-574-09130-1. 
  11. ^ Sharma OP (2005). "Murray Kornfeld, American College Of Chest Physician, and sarcoidosis: a historical footnote: 2004 Murray Kornfeld Memorial Founders Lecture". Chest 128 (3): 1830–5. doi:10.1378/chest.128.3.1830. PMID 16162793. 
  12. ^ "Stevenson's Nurse Dead: Alison Cunningham ("Cummy") lived to be over 91 years old", The New York Times: 3, Sunday, August 10, 1913, http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9C0DE5DC113BE633A25753C1A96E9C946296D6CF 
  13. ^ Furnas (1952), 28–32; Mehew (2004).
  14. ^ Available at Bartleby and elsewhere.
  15. ^ Furnas (1952), 29; Mehew (2004).
  16. ^ Furnas (1952), 34–6; Mehew (2004). Alison Cunningham's recollection of Stevenson balances the picture of an over sensitive child, "like other bairns, whiles very naughty": Furnas (1952), 30.
  17. ^ Mehew (2004).
  18. ^ Balfour (1901) I, 67; Furnas (1952), 43–5.
  19. ^ Furnas (1952), 51-54, 60-62; Mehew (2004).
  20. ^ Balfour (1901) I, 86-8; 90-4; Furnas (1952), 64-9.
  21. ^ Balfour (1901) I, 70-2; Furnas (1952), 48-9; Mehew (2004).
  22. ^ Balfour (1901) I, 85-6.
  23. ^ Underwoods (1887), Poem XXXVIII.
  24. ^ Furnas (1952), 69-70; Mehew (2004).
  25. ^ Furnas (1952), 53-7; Mehew (2004).
  26. ^ Furnas (1952), 69 with n. 15 (on the club); 72-6.
  27. ^ Furnas (1952), 81-2; 85-9; Mehew (2004).
  28. ^ Furnas (1952), 84-5.
  29. ^ Furnas (1952), 95; 101
  30. ^ Balfour (1901) I, 123-4; Furnas (1952) 105-6; Mehew (2004).
  31. ^ Furnas (1952), 89-95.
  32. ^ Balfour (1901) I, 128-37.
  33. ^ Furnas (1952), 100-1.
  34. ^ Balfour (1901) I, 127.
  35. ^ Furnas (1952), 122-9; Mehew (2004).
  36. ^ Balfour (1901) I, 145-6; Mehew (2004).
  37. ^ Furnas (1952), 130-6; Mehew (2004).
  38. ^ Balfour (1901) I, 164-5; Furnas (1952), 142-6; Mehew (2004).
  39. ^ Letter to Sidney Colvin, January 1880, The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 1, Chapter IV.
  40. ^ "To Edmund Gosse, Monterey, Monterey Co., California, 8 October 1879," The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 1, Chapter IV.
  41. ^ "To P. G. Hamerton, Kinnaird Cottage, Pitlochry [July 1881]," The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 1, Chapter V.
  42. ^ The physician who treated Stevenson there was Dr. Carl Rüedi.
  43. ^ "To Sidney Colvin, Pitlochry, August 1881," The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 1, Chapter V.
  44. ^ References to Skerryvore come from Leon Edel's Henry James: A Life, c. 1985, p. 309 - 310.
  45. ^ "To W.E. Henley, Pitlochry, if you please, [August] 1881," The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 1, Chapter V.
  46. ^ Quoted from Stevenson's diary in Overton, Jacqueline M. The Life of Robert Louis Stevenson for Boys and Girls. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933.
  47. ^ The Cruise of the Janet Nichol Among the South Sea Islands, Mrs Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1914.
  48. ^ Letter to Sidney Colvin, April 17, 1893, Vailima Letters, Chapter XXVIII.
  49. ^ Taylor Erwin Gauthier (October 1923). "For Stevenson Lovers". The Rotarian (Rotary International) 23 (4): 38. ISSN 0035-838X. 
  50. ^ Ann C. Colley (2004). Robert Louis Stevenson and the colonial imagination. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 141. ISBN 0754635066. 
  51. ^ Letter to Sidney Colvin, January 3, 1892, Vailima Letters, Chapter XIV.
  52. ^ "Robert Louis Stevenson - Bibliography: Detailed list of works". http://dinamico2.unibg.it/rls/bib_detailed.htm. Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  53. ^ Letter to Sidney Colvin, December 1893, Vailima Letters, Chapter XXXV.
  54. ^ "To W.E. Henley, [Trinity College, Cambridge, Autumn 1878]," The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 1, Chapter III.
  55. ^ Letter to Sidney Colvin, May, 1892, Vailima Letters, Chapter XVIII.
  56. ^ "To H. B. Baildon, Vailima, Upolu [undated, but written in 1891].," The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 2, Chapter XI.
  57. ^ Balfour, Graham (1906). The Life of Robert Louis Stevenson. London: Methuen. 264. http://ia350627.us.archive.org/0/items/lifeofrobertloui00balfiala/lifeofrobertloui00balfiala_djvu.txt
  58. ^ "Stevenson's tomb". National Library of Scotland. http://www.nls.uk/rlstevenson/pics/picture-i3.html. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  59. ^ Jolly, Roslyn (2009). Robert Louis Stevenson in the Pacific: Travel, Empire, and the Author's Profession. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 160. ISBN 0754661954. http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=72BxumU5mlsC&pg=PA160&lpg=PA160&dq=Samoan+song+for+Tusitala&source=bl&ots=3BEdJC-3Nv&sig=QW69ckE-4QC6pVVQQJFujh-eRNY&hl=en&ei=YN4IS__BLY3gswPEs5jACQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CA8Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=Samoan%20song%20for%20Tusitala&f=false. 
  60. ^ "Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial". St Giles' Cathedral. http://www.stgilescathedral.org.uk/history/architecture/rlsmemorial.html. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  61. ^ "Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Grove". City of Edinburgh Council. http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/internet/leisure/local_history_and_heritage/monuments/memorials/cec_robert_louis_stevenson_memorial_grove. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  62. ^ "Royal Bank Commemorative Notes". Rampant Scotland. http://www.rampantscotland.com/SCM/royalcomm.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  63. ^ "Our Banknotes: Commemorative Banknote". The Royal Bank of Scotland. http://www.rbs.com/about03.asp?id=ABOUT_US/OUR_HERITAGE/OUR_HISTORY/OUR_BANKNOTES/COMMEMORATIVE_BANKNOTES. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  64. ^ a b c d e Stephen Arata (2006). "Robert Louis Stevenson". David Scott Kastan (ed.). The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. Vol. 5: 99-102
  65. ^ introduction to 1965 Everyman's Library edition of the one-volume The Prisoner of Zenda and Rupert of Hentzau
  66. ^ See the Index Translationum.

Secondary literature

  • Graham Balfour, The Life of Robert Louis Stevenson, London: Methuen, 1901.
  • John Jay Chapman "Robert Louis Stevenson", Emerson, and Other Essays. New York: AMS Press, 1969, ISBN 0404006191 (reprinted from the edition of 1899)
  • David Daiches, "Robert Louis Stevenson and his World", London: Thames and Hudson, 1973, ISBN 0500130450
  • J. C. Furnas, Voyage to Windward: The Life of Robert Louis Stevenson, London: Faber and Faber, 1952
  • Claire Harman, Robert Louis Stevenson: A Biography, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-00-711321-8 [reviewed by Matthew Sturgis in the Times Literary Supplement, 11 March 2005, page 8]
  • James Pope-Hennessy, Robert Louis Stevenson - A Biography, London: Cape, 1974, ISBN 0224010077
  • Ernest Mehew, "Robert Louis Stevenson", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: OUP, 2004. Retrieved on 29 September 2008
  • Roland Paxton, "Stevenson, Thomas (1818-1887)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: OUP, 2004. Retrieved on 11 October 2008

External links

Sources

Biographies and commentaries

Misc


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.

Robert Louis (Balfour) Stevenson (1850-11-131894-12-03) was a Scottish novelist, poet, and travel writer, and a leading representative of Neo-romanticism in English literature.

Contents

Sourced

Every man is his own doctor of divinity, in the last resort.
  • This is still the strangest thing in all man's travelling, that he should carry about with him incongruous memories.
  • There is no foreign land; it is the traveller [sic] only that is foreign, and now and again, by a flash of recollection, lights up the contrasts of the ear.
  • Mankind was never so happily inspired as when it made a cathedral.
  • Every man is his own doctor of divinity, in the last resort.
    • An Inland Voyage (1878)
  • In anything fit to be called by the name of reading, the process itself should be absorbing and voluptuous; we should gloat over a book, be rapt clean out of ourselves, and rise from the perusal, our mind filled with the busiest, kaleidoscopic dance of images, incapable of sleep or of continuous thought. The words, if the book be eloquent, should run thenceforward in our ears like the noise of breakers, and the story, if it be a story, repeat itself in a thousand coloured pictures to the eye.
In every part and corner of our life, to lose oneself is to be a gainer; to forget oneself is to be happy.
  • I am in the habit of looking not so much to the nature of a gift as to the spirit in which it is offered.
  • In every part and corner of our life, to lose oneself is to be a gainer; to forget oneself is to be happy.
    • Old Mortality (1884)
  • Am I no a bonny fighter?
Our business in this world is not to succeed, but to continue to fail, in good spirits.
  • I have thus played the sedulous ape to Hazlitt, to Lamb, to Wordsworth, to Sir Thomas Browne, to Defoe, to Hawthorne, to Montaigne, to Baudelaire and to Obermann.
  • Not every man is so great a coward as he thinks he is — nor yet so good a Christian.
  • Nothing like a little judicious levity.
  • Do you know what the Governor of South Carolina said to the Governor of North Carolina? It's a long time between drinks, observed that powerful thinker.
    • The Wrong Box, ch. 8
  • So long as we love we serve; so long as we are loved by others, I would almost say that we are indispensable; and no man is useless while he has a friend.
  • Give us grace and strength to forbear and to persevere. Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind, spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies.
    • Prayer, inscribed on the bronze memorial to Stevenson in St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Our business in this world is not to succeed, but to continue to fail, in good spirits.
    • Complete Works, vol. 26, Reflections and Remarks on Human Life, section 4

Aes Triplex (1878)

Every heart that has beat strong and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind.
The Oxford Book of Essays ed. by John Gross (New York: Oxford, 1998) [Title is Latin for "triple brass," used by Horace]
  • Already and old man, he [Samuel Johnson] ventured on his Highland tour; and his heart, bound with triple brass, did not recoil before twenty-seven individual cups of tea.
    • 314
  • We do not go to cowards for tender dealing; there is nothing so cruel as panic; the man who has least fear for his own carcase, has most time to consider others.
    • 314
  • To be overwise is to ossify; and the scruple-monger ends by standing stockstill.
    • 314
  • It is better to lose health like a spendthrift than to waste is like a miser. It is better to live and be done with it, then to die daily in the sick-room.
    • 315
  • By all means begin your folio; even if the doctor does not give you a year, even if he hesitates about a month, make one brave push and see what can be accomplished in a week.
    • 316
  • All who have meant good work with their whole hearts, have done good work, although they may die before they have the time to sign it. Every heart that has beat strong and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind. And even if death catch people, like an open pitfall, and in mid-career, laying out vast projects, and planning monstrous foundations, flushed with hope, and their mouths full of boastful language, they should be at once tripped up and silenced: is there not something brave and spirited in such a termination? and does not life go down with a better grace, foaming in full body over a precipice, than miserably straggling to an end in sandy deltas?
    • 316

Virginibus Puerisque and Other Papers (1881)

Full text online
Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone, but principally by catchwords; and the little rift between the sexes is astonishingly widened by simply teaching one set of catchwords to the girls and another to the boys.
  • It seems as if marriage were the royal road through life, and realised, on the instant, what we have all dreamed on summer Sundays when the bells ring, or at night when we cannot sleep for the desire of living. They think it will sober and change them. Like those who join a brotherhood, they fancy it needs but an act to be out of the coil and clamour for ever. But this is a wile of the devil's. To the end, spring winds will sow disquietude, passing faces leave a regret behind them, and the whole world keep calling and calling in their ears. For marriage is like life in this — that it is a field of battle, and not a bed of roses.
    • Virginibus Puerisque, Ch. 1
Idleness, which is often becoming and even wise in the bachelor, begins to wear a different aspect when you have a wife to support.
  • Hope is the boy, a blind, headlong, pleasant fellow, good to chase swallows with the salt; Faith is the grave, experienced, yet smiling man. Hope lives on ignorance; open-eyed Faith is built upon a knowledge of our life, of the tyranny of circumstance and the frailty of human resolution. Hope looks for unqualified success; but Faith counts certainly on failure, and takes honourable defeat to be a form of victory. Hope is a kind old pagan; but Faith grew up in Christian days, and early learnt humility. In the one temper, a man is indignant that he cannot spring up in a clap to heights of elegance and virtue; in the other, out of a sense of his infirmities, he is filled with confidence because a year has come and gone, and he has still preserved some rags of honour. In the first, he expects an angel for a wife; in the last, he knows that she is like himself - erring, thoughtless, and untrue; but like himself also, filled with a struggling radiancy of better things, and adorned with ineffective qualities. You may safely go to school with hope; but ere you marry, should have learned the mingled lesson of the world: that dolls are stuffed with sawdust, and yet are excellent play-things; that hope and love address themselves to a perfection never realised, and yet, firmly held, become the salt and staff of life; that you yourself are compacted of infirmities, perfect, you might say, in imperfection, and yet you have a something in you lovable and worth preserving; and that, while the mass of mankind lies under this scurvy condemnation, you will scarce find one but, by some generous reading, will become to you a lesson, a model, and a noble spouse through life.
    • Virginibus Puerisque, Ch. 2
  • Times are changed with him who marries; there are no more by-path meadows, where you may innocently linger, but the road lies long and straight and dusty to the grave. Idleness, which is often becoming and even wise in the bachelor, begins to wear a different aspect when you have a wife to support.
    • Virginibus Puerisque, Ch. 2
  • Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone, but principally by catchwords; and the little rift between the sexes is astonishingly widened by simply teaching one set of catchwords to the girls and another to the boys.
    • Virginibus Puerisque, Ch. 2
Falling in love is the one illogical adventure, the one thing of which we are tempted to think as supernatural, in our trite and reasonable world.
  • Falling in love is the one illogical adventure, the one thing of which we are tempted to think as supernatural, in our trite and reasonable world. The effect is out of all proportion with the cause. Two persons, neither of them, it may be, very amiable or very beautiful, meet, speak a little, and look a little into each other's eyes. That has been done a dozen or so of times in the experience of either with no great result. But on this occasion all is different. They fall at once into that state in which another person becomes to us the very gist and centrepoint of God's creation, and demolishes our laborious theories with a smile; in which our ideas are so bound up with the one master-thought that even the trivial cares of our own person become so many acts of devotion, and the love of life itself is translated into a wish to remain in the same world with so precious and desirable a fellow-creature.
    • Virginibus Puerisque, Ch. 3
Old and young, we are all on our last cruise.
  • The cruelest lies are often told in silence. A man may have sat in a room for hours and not opened his teeth, and yet come out of that room a disloyal friend or a vile calumniator. And how many loves have perished because, from pride, or spite, or diffidence, or that unmanly shame which withholds a man from daring to betray emotion, a lover, at the critical point of the relation, has but hung his head and held his tongue?
    • Truth of Intercourse
  • There is a strong feeling in favour of cowardly and prudential proverbs. The sentiments of a man while he is full of ardour and hope are to be received, it is supposed, with some qualification. But when the same person has ignominiously failed and begins to eat up his words, he should be listened to like an oracle. Most of our pocket wisdom is conceived for the use of mediocre people, to discourage them from ambitious attempts, and generally console them in their mediocrity. And since mediocre people constitute the bulk of humanity, this is no doubt very properly so. But it does not follow that the one sort of proposition is any less true than the other, or that Icarus is not to be more praised, and perhaps more envied, than Mr. Samuel Budgett the Successful Merchant. The one is dead, to be sure, while the other is still in his counting-house counting out his money; and doubtless this is a consideration. But we have, on the other hand, some bold and magnanimous sayings common to high races and natures, which set forth the advantage of the losing side, and proclaim it better to be a dead lion than a living dog. It is difficult to fancy how the mediocrities reconcile such sayings with their proverbs. According to the latter, every lad who goes to sea is an egregious ass; never to forget your umbrella through a long life would seem a higher and wiser flight of achievement than to go smiling to the stake; and so long as you are a bit of a coward and inflexible in money matters, you fulfil the whole duty of man.
    • Crabbed Age and Youth
  • The time would fail me if I were to recite all the big names in history whose exploits are perfectly irrational and even shocking to the business mind. The incongruity is speaking; and I imagine it must engender among the mediocrities a very peculiar attitude, towards the nobler and showier sides of national life.
    • Crabbed Age and Youth
The true wisdom is to be always seasonable, and to change with a good grace in changing circumstances.
  • I shall doubtless outlive some troublesome desires; but I am in no hurry about that; nor, when the time comes, shall I plume myself on the immunity just in the same way, I do not greatly pride myself on having outlived my belief in the fairy tales of Socialism. Old people have faults of their own; they tend to become cowardly, niggardly, and suspicious. Whether from the growth of experience or the decline of animal heat, I see that age leads to these and certain other faults; and it follows, of course, that while in one sense I hope I am journeying towards the truth, in another I am indubitably posting towards these forms and sources of error.
    • Crabbed Age and Youth
  • To hold the same views at forty as we held at twenty is to have been stupefied for a score of years, and take rank, not as a prophet, but as an unteachable brat, well birched and none the wiser. It is as if a ship captain should sail to India from the Port of London; and having brought a chart of the Thames on deck at his first setting out, should obstinately use no other for the whole voyage.
    • Crabbed Age and Youth
  • Old and young, we are all on our last cruise.
    • Crabbed Age and Youth
  • The true wisdom is to be always seasonable, and to change with a good grace in changing circumstances. To love playthings well as a child, to lead an adventurous and honourable youth, and to settle when the time arrives, into a green and smiling age, is to be a good artist in life and deserve well of yourself and your neighbour.
    • Crabbed Age and Youth
For God’s sake give me the young man who has brains enough to make a fool of himself!
  • All error, not merely verbal, is a strong way of stating that the current truth is incomplete. The follies of youth have a basis in sound reason, just as much as the embarrassing questions put by babes and sucklings. Their most antisocial acts indicate the defects of our society. When the torrent sweeps the man against a boulder, you must expect him to scream, and you need not be surprised if the scream is sometimes a theory. Shelley, chafing at the Church of England, discovered the cure of all evils in universal atheism. Generous lads irritated at the injustices of society, see nothing for it but the abolishment of everything and Kingdom Come of anarchy. Shelley was a young fool; so are these cocksparrow revolutionaries. But it is better to be a fool than to be dead. It is better to emit a scream in the shape of a theory than to be entirely insensible to the jars and incongruities of life and take everything as it comes in a forlorn stupidity. Some people swallow the universe like a pill; they travel on through the world, like smiling images pushed from behind. For God’s sake give me the young man who has brains enough to make a fool of himself! As for the others, the irony of facts shall take it out of their hands, and make fools of them in downright earnest, ere the farce be over. There shall be such a mopping and a mowing at the last day, and such blushing and confusion of countenance for all those who have been wise in their own esteem, and have not learnt the rough lessons that youth hands on to age. If we are indeed here to perfect and complete our own natures, and grow larger, stronger, and more sympathetic against some nobler career in the future, we had all best bestir ourselves to the utmost while we have the time. To equip a dull, respectable person with wings would be but to make a parody of an angel.
    • Crabbed Age and Youth
Books are good enough in their own way, but they are a mighty bloodless substitute for life.
  • Age may have one side, but assuredly Youth has the other. There is nothing more certain than that both are right, except perhaps that both are wrong. Let them agree to differ; for who knows but what agreeing to differ may not be a form of agreement rather than a form of difference?
    • Crabbed Age and Youth
  • It is as natural and as right for a young man to be imprudent and exaggerated, to live in swoops and circles, and beat about his cage like any other wild thing newly captured, as it is for old men to turn gray, or mothers to love their offspring, or heroes to die for something worthier than their lives.
    • Crabbed Age and Youth
  • I suppose it is written that any one who sets up for a bit of a philosopher, must contradict himself to his very face. For here have I fairly talked myself into thinking that we have the whole thing before us at last; that there is no answer to the mystery, except that there are as many as you please; that there is no centre to the maze because, like the famous sphere, its centre is everywhere; and that agreeing to differ with every ceremony of politeness, is the only “one undisturbed song of pure concent” to which we are ever likely to lend our musical voices.
    • Crabbed Age and Youth
  • It is a sore thing to have laboured along and scaled the arduous hilltops, and when all is done, find humanity indifferent to your achievement. Hence physicists condemn the unphysical; financiers have only a superficial toleration for those who know little of stocks; literary persons despise the unlettered; and people of all pursuits combine to disparage those who have none.
    But though this is one difficulty of the subject, it is not the greatest. You could not be put in prison for speaking against industry, but you can be sent to Coventry for speaking like a fool. The greatest difficulty with most subjects is to do them well; therefore, please to remember this is an apology. It is certain that much may be judiciously argued in favour of diligence; only there is something to be said against it, and that is what, on the present occasion, I have to say.
    • An Apology for Idlers
  • Books are good enough in their own way, but they are a mighty bloodless substitute for life.
    • An Apology for Idlers
There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.
  • Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business, is only to be sustained by perpetual neglect of many other things.
    • An Apology for Idlers
  • There is certainly some chill and arid knowledge to be found upon the summits of formal and laborious science; but it is all round about you, and for the trouble of looking, that you will acquire the warm and palpitating facts of life.
    • An Apology for Idlers
  • There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.
    • An Apology for Idlers
  • A happy man or woman is a better thing to find than a five-pound note. He or she is a radiating focus of goodwill; and their entrance into a room is as though another candle had been lighted. We need not care whether they could prove the forty-seventh proposition; they do a better thing than that, they practically demonstrate the great Theorem of the Liveableness of Life.
    • An Apology for Idlers
  • A faculty for idleness implies a catholic appetite and a strong sense of personal identity.
    • An Apology for Idlers
  • To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.
    • El Dorado

Treasure Island (1883)

That's a summons, mate.
  • Fifteen men on the dead man's chest —
    Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

    Drink and the devil had done for the rest —
    Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
    • Ch. 1, The Old Sea-dog at the Admiral Benbow
  • Doctors is all swabs...and that doctor there, why, what do he know about seafaring men? I been in places hot as pitch, and mates dropping round with Yellow Jack, and the blessed land a-heaving like the sea with earthquakes — what do the doctor know of lands like that? — and I lived on rum, I tell you.
    • Ch. 3, The Black Spot
  • "What is the Black Spot, Captain?" "That's a summons, mate."
    • Ch. 3
  • Pieces of eight, pieces of eight, pieces of eight!
    • Ch. 10, The Voyage
  • Many's a long night I've dreamed of cheese — toasted mostly.
    • Ch. 15, The Man of the Island
  • Them that die will be the lucky ones!
    • Ch. 20, Silver's Embassy

A Child's Garden of Verses (1885)

  • In winter I get up at night
    And dress by yellow candle-light.
    In summer quite the other way,
    I have to go to bed by day.
    • Bed in Summer, st. 1
  • A child should always say what's true
    And speak when he is spoken to,
    And behave mannerly at table;
    At least as far as he is able.
    • Whole Duty of Children
  • Whenever the moon and stars are set,
    Whenever the wind is high,
    All night long in the dark and wet,
    A man goes riding by.
    Late in the night when the fires are out,
    Why does he gallop and gallop about?
    • Windy Nights, st. 1
  • I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
    And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
    He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
    And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.
    • My Shadow, st. 1
  • The friendly cow all red and white,
    I love with all my heart:
    She gives me cream with all her might,
    To eat with apple-tart.
    • The Cow, st. 1
  • The world is so full of a number of things,
    I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.
    • Happy Thought
  • Children, you are very little,
    And your bones are very brittle.
    • Good and Bad Children, st. 1

Underwoods (1887)

Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
  • Of all my verse, like not a single line;
    But like my title, for it is not mine.
    That title from a better man I stole:
    Ah, how much better, had I stol'n the whole!
    • Title page poem
  • Let first the onion flourish there,
    Rose among roots, the maiden-fair,
    Wine-scented and poetic soul
    Of the capacious salad bowl.
    • Bk. I, To a Gardener
  • Dear Andrew, with the brindled hair
    Who glory to have thrown in air,
    High over arm, the trembling reed,
    By Ale and Kail, by Till and Tweed.
    • Bk. I, To Andrew Lang
  • Under the wide and starry sky,
    Dig the grave and let me lie.
    Glad did I live and gladly die,
    And I laid me down with a will.


    This be the verse you grave for me:
    Here he lies where he longed to be;
    Home is the sailor, home from sea,
    And the hunter home from the hill.
    • Bk. I, Requiem (the final sentence was used on Stevenson's Gravestone)
  • My body which my dungeon is,
    And yet my parks and palaces: —
    Which is so great that there I go
    All the day long to and fro.
    • Pt. I, My Body Which My Dungeon Is
  • There's just ae thing I cannae bear,
    An' that's my conscience.
    • Bk. II, In Scots, My Conscience

Songs of Travel and Other Verses (1896)

The untented Kosmos my abode,
I pass, a wilful stranger:
My mistress still the open road
And the bright eyes of danger.
Bright is the ring of words
When the right man rings them.
  • Wealth I ask not, hope nor love,
    Nor a friend to know me;
    All I ask, the heaven above
    And the road below me.
    • No. I, The Vagabond, st. 4
  • The untented Kosmos my abode,
    I pass, a wilful stranger:
    My mistress still the open road
    And the bright eyes of danger.
    • No. II, Youth and Love - I, st. 3
  • I will make you brooches and toys for your delight
    Of bird-song at morning and star-shine at night.
    • No. XI, Romance, st. 1
  • Bright is the ring of words
    When the right man rings them.
    • No. XIV
  • In the highlands, in the country places,
    Where the old plain men have rosy faces,
    And the young fair maidens
    Quiet eyes.
    • No. XV
  • God, if this were enough,
    That I see things bare to the buff.
    • No. XXV, If This Were Faith
  • Trusty, dusky, vivid, true,
    With eyes of gold and bramble-dew,
    Steel-true and blade-straight,
    The great artificer
    Made my mate.
    • No. XXVI, My Wife
  • Be it granted me to behold you again in dying,
    Hills of home!
    • No. XLV, S.R. Crockett

Across the Plains (1892)

The true realism, always and everywhere, is that of the poets: to find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all.
If your morals make you dreary, depend upon it they are wrong. I do not say "give them up," for they may be all you have; but conceal them like a vice, lest they should spoil the lives of better and simpler people.
  • The observer (poor soul, with his documents!) is all abroad. For to look at the man is but to court deception. We shall see the trunk from which he draws his nourishment; but he himself is above and abroad in the green dome of foliage, hummed through by winds and nested in by nightingales. And the true realism were that of the poets, to climb up after him like a squirrel, and catch some glimpse of the heaven for which he lives. And, the true realism, always and everywhere, is that of the poets: to find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all. In the joy of the actors lies the sense of any action.
    • Ch. VII, The Lantern-Bearers
  • We should wipe two words from our vocabulary: gratitude and charity. In real life, help is given out of friendship, or it is not valued; it is received from the hand of friendship, or it is resented.
    • Ch. IX, Beggars
  • To be honest, to be kind — to earn a little and to spend a little less, to make upon the whole a family happier for his presence, to renounce when that shall be necessary and not be embittered, to keep a few friends, but these without capitulation — above all, on the same grim condition, to keep friends with himself — here is a task for all that a man has of fortitude and delicacy. He has an ambitious soul who would ask more; he has a hopeful spirit who should look in such an enterprise to be successful. There is indeed one element in human destiny that not blindness itself can controvert: whatever else we are intended to do, we are not intended to succeed; failure is the fate allotted.
    • Ch. XII, A Christmas Sermon
  • Gentleness and cheerfulness, these come before all morality; they are the perfect duties.
    • Ch. XII, A Christmas Sermon
  • If your morals make you dreary, depend upon it they are wrong. I do not say "give them up," for they may be all you have; but conceal them like a vice, lest they should spoil the lives of better and simpler people.
    • Ch. XII, A Christmas Sermon
  • Here lies one who meant well, tried a little, failed much: — surely that may be his epitaph of which he need not be ashamed.
    • Ch. XII, A Christmas Sermon

External links

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Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Robert Louis Stevenson
disambiguation
This is a disambiguation page, which lists works which share the same title. If an article link referred you here, please consider editing it to point directly to the intended page.


Robert Louis Stevenson may refer to:

  • Robert Louis Stevenson, a biography by Edmund Gosse
  • Robert Louis Stevenson, a biography by Gilbert Keith Chesterton

See also

The Author:Robert Louis Stevenson, subject of the above biographies.








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