Skip to main content

Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

See other formats

eighteenth century, and ran races under the green avenue
at Pilrig ; some part of me trudged up Leith Walk, which
was still a country place, and sat on the High School
benches, and was thrashed, per haps, by Dr. Adam. The
house where I spent my youth was not yet thought upon ;
but we made holiday parties among the cornfields on its
site, and ate strawberries and cream near by at a gardener's.
All this I had forgotten ; only my grandfather remembered
and once reminded me. I have forgotten, too, how we
grew up, and took orders, and went to our first Ayr-
shire parish, and fell in love with and married a daughter
of Burns's Dr. Smith—c Smith opens out his cauld
harangues.' I have forgotten, but I was there all the
same, and heard stories of Burns at first-hand.

And there is a thing stranger than all that; „ for this
homunculus or part-man of mine that walked about the
eighteenth century with Dr. Balfour in his youth, was in
the way of meeting other homunculos or part-men, In the
persons of my other ancestors. These were of a lower
order, and doubtless we looked down upon them duly.
But as I went to college with Dr. Balfour, I may have
seen the lamp and oil man taking down the shutters from
his shop beside the Tron;—we may have had a rabbit-
hutch or a bookshelf made for us by a certain carpenter in
I know not what wynd of the old, smoky city; or, upon
some holiday excursion, we may have looked into the
windows of a cottage in a flower-garden and seen a certain
weaver plying his shuttle. And these were all kinsmen
of mine upon the other side; and from, the eyes of the
lamp and oil man one-half of my unborn father and one-
quarter of myself looked out upon us as we went by to
college. Nothing of all this would cross the mind of the
young student, as he posted up the Bridges with trim,
stockinged legs, in that city of cocked hats and good
Scotch still unadulterated. It would not cross his mind
that he should have a daughter; and the lamp and oil
man, just then beginning, by a not unnatural metastasis,
to bloom into a lighthouse-engineer, should have a grand-
son ; and that these two, in the fullness of time, should
wed ; and some portion of that student himself should