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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"



ALL through my boyhood and youth, I was known and
pointed out for the pattern of an idler; and yet I was
always busy on my own private end, which was to learn
to write. I kept always two books in my pocket, one to
read, one to write in. As I walked, my mind was busy
fitting what I saw with appropriate words; when I sat by
the roadside, I would either read, or a pencil and a penny
version-book would be in my hand, to note down the
features of the scene or commemorate some halting stanzas.
Thus I lived with words. And what I thus wrote was for
no ulterior use, it was written consciously for practice.
It was not so much that I wished to be an author (though
I wished that too) as that I had vowed that I would learn
to write. That was a proficiency that tempted me ; and
I practised to acquire it, as men learn to whittle, in a wager
with myself. Description was the principal field of my
exercise ; for to any one with senses there is always some-
thing worth describing, and town and country are but one
continuous subject. But I worked in other ways also;
often accompanied my walks with dramatic dialogues, in
which I played many parts; and often exercised myself
in writing down conversations from memory,

This was all excellent, no doubt; so were the diaries
I sometimes tried to keep, but always and very speedily