Skip to main content

Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

See other formats

What a pleasant chance, if we could go there in a party!
and what a surprise for Mr. Burbage, when the ghost
received the honours of the evening !

As for my old soldier, like Mr. Burbage and Mr. Shake-
speare, he is long since dead ; and now lies buried, I
suppose, and nameless and quite forgotten, in some poor
city graveyard.óBut not for me, you brave heart, have
you been buried ! For me, you are still afoot, tasting
the sun and air, and striding southward. By the groves
of Comiston and beside the Hermitage of Braid, by the
Hunters' Tryst, and where the curlews and plovers cry
around Fairmilehead, I see and hear you, stalwartly
carrying your deadly sickness, cheerfully discoursing of
uncomprehended poets.


The thought of the old soldier recalls that of another
tramp, his counterpart. This was a little, lean, and fiery
man, with the eyes of a dog and the face of a gipsy ; whom
I found one morning encamped with Ms wife and children
and his grinder's wheel, beside the burn of Kinnaird. To
this beloved dell I went, at that time, daily ; and daily the
knife-grinder and I (for as long as his tent continued
pleasantly to interrupt my little wilderness) sat on two
stones, and smoked, and plucked grass, and talked to the
tune of the brown water. His children were mere whelps,
they fought and bit among the fern like vermin. His
wife was a mere squaw ; I saw her gather brush and tend
the kettle, but she never ventured to address her lord while
I was present. The tpyt >v-as a mere gipsy hovel like a
sty for pigs. But tt^^cmcJer himself had the fine self-
sufficiency and grave" polite*, ^ss of the hunter and the
savage ; he did me the honocrs of this dell, which had
been mine but the day before, took me far into the secrets
of his life, and used me (I am proud to remember) as a

Like my old soldier, be was far gone in the national
complaint. Unlike him, he had a vulgar taste in letters ;
scarce flying higher than the story papers; probably