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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

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MEMOIRS 01 AN ISLET                  63

any of man's doings. Here was no living presence,
re for the limpets on the rocks, for some old, gray,
n-beaten ram that I might rouse out of a ferny den
twixt two boulders, or for the haunting and the piping
the gulls. It was older than man ; it was found so by
Doming Celts, and seafaring Norsemen, and Columba's
iests. The earthy savour of the bog plants, the rude
sorder of the boulders, the inimitable seaside brightness
the air, the brine and the iodine, the lap of the billows
long the weedy reefs, the sudden springing up of a great
n of dashing surf along the sea-front of the isle, all that
saw and felt my predecessors must have seen and felt
th scarce a difference. I steeped myself in open air
id in past ages.

" Delightful would it be to me to be in Uchd Ailiun

On the pinnacle of a rock,
That I might often see

The face of the ocean ;
That I might hear the song of the wonderful birds,

Source of happiness ;
That I might hear the thunder of the crowding waves

Upon the rocks :
At times at work without compulsion—

This would be delightful;
At times plucking dulse from the rocks ;

At times at fishing,5'

o, about the next island of lona, sang Columba himself
^elve hundred years before. And so might I have sung
f Earraid.

And all the while I was aware that this life of sea-
athing and sun-burning was for me but a holiday. In
hat year cannon were roaring for days together on French
•attlefields ; and I would sit in my isle (I call it mine,
fter the use of lovers) and think upon the war, and the
Dudness of these far-away battles, and the pain of the
aen's wounds, and the weariness of their marching. And
would think too of that other war which is as old as
aankind, and is indeed the life of man : the unsparing
par, the grinding slavery of competition; the toil of
seventy years, dear-bought bread, precarious honour, the
>erils and pitfalls, and the poor rewards. It was a long