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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"


the reach of fate ;   gout, rheumatism, stone, and gravel
might have combined their forces against that frail taber-
nacle, but when I came round on Sunday evening, he would
lay aside Jeremy Taylor's Life of Christ and greet me with
the same open brow3 the same kind formality of manner.
His opinions and sympathies dated the man almost to a
decade.    He had begun life, under his mother's influence,
as an admirer of Junius, but on maturer knowledge had
transferred his admiration to Burke.    He cautioned me,
with entire gravity, to be punctilious in writing English;
never to forget that I was a Scotchman, that English was
a foreign tongue, and that if I attempted the colloquial,
I should certainly be shamed :   the remark was apposite,
I suppose, in the days of David Hume.   Scott was too new
for him ;  he had known the author—known him, too, for
a Tory;   and to the genuine classic a contemporary is
always something of a trouble.    He had the old, serious
love of the play ; had even, as he was proud to tell, played
a certain part in the history of Shakespearian revivals,
for he had successfully pressed on Murray, of the old
Edinburgh Theatre, the idea of producing Shakespeare's
fairy pieces with great  scenic  display.    A fhoderate in
religion, he was much struck in the last years of Ms life
by   a  conversation   with   two  young  lads,   revivalists.
* H'm,' he would say—c new to me.    I have had—h'm—
no such experience.'    It struck him, not with pain, rather
with a solemn philosophic interest, that he, a Christian
as he hoped, and a Christian of so old a standing, should
hear these young fellows talking of his own subject, his
own weapons that he had fought the battle of life with,—
1 and—h'm—not understand/    In this wise and graceful
attitude he did justice to himself and  others,  reposed
unshaken in his old beliefs, and recognized their limits
without anger or alarm.    His last recorded remark, on
the last night of his life, was after he had been arguing
against Calvinism with his minister and was interrupted
by an intolerable pang.    * After all/ he said, * of all the
'isms, I know none so bad as rheumatism/    My own last
sight of him was some time before, when we dined together
at an inn;   he had been on circuit, for he stuck to his