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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

VII

PASTORAL

To leave home In early life is to be stunned and
quickened with novelties; but when years have coine, it
only casts a more endearing light upon the past. As in
those composite photographs of Mr. Gallon's, the image
of each new sitter brings out but the more clearly the
central features of the race; when once youth has flown,
each new impression only deepens the sense of nationality
and the desire of native places. So may some cadet of
Eoyal Ecossais or the Albany Regiment, as he mounted
guard about French citadels, so may some officer marching
his company of the Scots-Dutch among the polders, have
felt the soft rains of the Hebrides upon his brow, or started
in the ranks at the remembered aroma of peat-smoke.
And the rivers of home are dear in particular to all men.
This is as old as Naaman, who was jealous for Abana and
Pharpar ; it is confined to no race nor country, for I know
one of Scottish blood but a child of Suffolk, whose fancy
still lingers about the lilied lowland waters of that shire.
But the streams of Scotland are incomparable in them-
selves—or I am only the more Scottish to suppose so—and
their sound and colour dwell for ever in the memory.
How often and willingly do I not look again in fancy on
Tumrnel, or Manor, or the talking Airdle, or Dee swirling
in its Lynn; on the bright burn of Kinnaird, or the golden
burn that pours and sulks in the den behind Kingussie!
I think shame to leave out one of these enchantresses, but
the list would grow too long if I remembered all; only I
may not forget Allan Water, nor birch-wetting Rogie, nor
yet Almond; nor, for all its pollutions, that Water of Leith
of the many and well-named mills—Bell's Mills, and Canon

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