Robert Louis Stevenson: A Memorial HTML version

His Genius And Methods
TO have created a school of idolaters, who will out and out swear by everything, and as
though by necessity, at the same time, a school of studious detractors, who will
suspiciously question everything, or throw out suggestions of disparagement, is at all
events, a proof of greatness, the countersign of undoubted genius, and an assurance of
lasting fame. R. L. Stevenson has certainly secured this. Time will tell what of virtue
there is with either party. For me, who knew Stevenson, and loved him, as finding in the
sweet-tempered, brave, and in some things, most generous man, what gave at once tone
and elevation to the artist, I would fain indicate here my impressions of him and his
genius - impressions that remain almost wholly uninfluenced by the vast mass of matter
about him that the press now turns out. Books, not to speak of articles, pour forth about
him - about his style, his art, his humour and his characters - aye, and even about his
Miss Simpson follows Mr Bellyse Baildon with the EDINBURGH DAYS, Miss Moyes
Black comes on with her picture in the FAMOUS SCOTS, and Professor Raleigh
succeeds her; Mr Graham Balfour follows with his LIFE; Mr Kelman's volume about his
Religion comes next, and that is reinforced by more familiar letters and TABLE TALK,
by Lloyd Osbourne and Mrs Strong, his step-children; Mr J. Hammerton then comes on
handily with STEVENSONIANA - fruit lovingly gathered from many and far fields, and
garnered with not a little tact and taste, and catholicity; Miss Laura Stubbs then presents
and Mr Sidney Colvin is now busily at work on his LIFE OF STEVENSON, which must
do not a little to enlighten and to settle many questions.
Curiosity and interest grow as time passes; and the places connected with Stevenson,
hitherto obscure many of them, are now touched with light if not with romance, and are
known, by name at all events, to every reader of books. Yes; every place he lived in, or
touched at, is worthy of full description if only on account of its associations with him. If
there is not a land of Stevenson, as there is a land of Scott, or of Burns, it is due to the
fact that he was far-travelled, and in his works painted many scenes: but there are at
home - Edinburgh, and Halkerside and Allermuir, Caerketton, Swanston, and Colinton,
and Maw Moss and Rullion Green and Tummel, "the WALE of Scotland," as he named it
to me, and the Castletown of Braemar - Braemar in his view coming a good second to
Tummel, for starting-points to any curious worshipper who would go the round in
Scotland and miss nothing. Mr Geddie's work on THE HOME COUNTRY OF
STEVENSON may be found very helpful here.
1. It is impossible to separate Stevenson from his work, because of the imperious
personal element in it; and so I shall not now strive to gain the appearance of cleverness
by affecting any distinction here. The first thing I would say is, that he was when I knew
him - what pretty much to the end he remained - a youth. His outlook on life was
boyishly genial and free, despite all his sufferings from ill-health - it was the pride of
action, the joy of endurance, the revelry of high spirits, and the sense of victory that most