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Robert Louis Stevenson: A Memorial
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The following appeared some time ago in one of the London evening papers, and I make
bold, because of its truth and vigour, to insert it here:
THE LAND OF STEVENSON,
ON AN AFTERNOON'S WALK
WILL there be a "Land of Stevenson," as there is already a "Land of Burns," or a "Land
of Scott," known to the tourist, bescribbled by the guide-book maker? This the future
must tell. Yet will it be easy to mark out the bounds of "Robert Louis Stevenson's
Country"; and, taking his native and well-loved city for a starting-point, a stout walker
may visit all its principal sites in an afternoon. The house where he was born is within a
bowshot of the Water of Leith; some five miles to the south are Caerketton and
Allermuir, and other crests of the Pentlands, and below them Swanston Farm, where year
after year, in his father's time, he spent the summer days basking on the hill slopes; two
or three miles to the westward of Swanston is Colinton, where his mother's father, Dr
Balfour, was minister; and here again you are back to the Water of Leith, which you can
follow down to the New Town. In this triangular space Stevenson's memories and
affections were firmly rooted; the fibres could not be withdrawn from the soil, and "the
voice of the blood" and the longing for this little piece of earth make themselves
plaintively heard in his last notes. By Lothian Road, after which Stevenson quaintly
thought of naming the new edition of his works, and past Boroughmuirhead and the
"Bore Stane," where James FitzJames set up his standard before Flodden, wends your
southward way to the hills. The builder of suburban villas has pushed his handiwork far
into the fields since Stevenson was wont to tramp between the city and the Pentlands; and
you may look in vain for the flat stone whereon, as the marvelling child was told, there
once rose a "crow-haunted gibbet." Three-quarters of an hour of easy walking, after you
have cleared the last of the houses will bring you to Swanston; and half an hour more will
take the stiff climber, a little breathless, to
THE TOP OF CAERKETTON CRAGS.
You may follow the high road - indeed there is a choice of two, drawn at different levels -
athwart the western skirts of the Braid Hills, now tenanted, crown and sides of them, by
golf; then to the crossroads of Fairmilehead, whence the road dips down, to rise again and
circumvent the most easterly wing of the Pentlands. You would like to pursue this route,
were it only to look down on Bow Bridge and recall how the last-century gauger used to
put together his flute and play "Over the hills and far away" as a signal to his friend in the
distillery below, now converted into a dairy farm, to stow away his barrels. Better it is,
however, to climb the stile just past the poor-house gate, and follow the footpath along
the smoothly scooped banks of the Braid Burn to "Cockmylane" and to Comiston. The
wind has been busy all the morning spreading the snow over a glittering world. The drifts
are piled shoulder-high in the lane as it approaches Comiston, and each old tree grouped