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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

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finding no difference, certainly seeking none, between
TannaMU and Burns ; Ms noblest thoughts, whether of
poetry or music, adequately embodied in that somewhat
obvious ditty,

'Will ye gang, lassie, gang
To the braes o' Balquidder:'

—which is indeed apt to echo in the ears of Scottish
children, and to Mm, in view of Ms experience, must have
found a special directness of address. But if he had no
fine sense of poetry in letters, he felt with a deep joy the
poetry of life. You should have heard- Mm speak of
what he loved; of the tent pitched beside the talking
water ; of the stars overhead at night; of the blest return
of morning, the peep of day over the moors, the awaking
birds among the birches ; how he abhorred the long winter
shut in cities ; and with what delight, at the return of
the spring, he once more pitched Ms camp in the living
out-of-doors. But we were a pair of tramps ; and to you,
who are doubtless sedentary and a consistent first-class
passenger in life, he would scarce have laid Mmself so
open;—to you, he might have been content to tell Ms
story of a ghost—that of a buccaneer with Ms pistols as
he lived—whom he had once encountered in a seaside
cave near Buckie ; and that would have been enough, for
that would have shown you the mettle of the man. Here
was a piece of experience solidly and livingly built up
in words, here was a story created, teres atque rotundus.

And to think of the old soldier, that lover of the literary
bards ! He had visited stranger spots than any seaside
cave ; encountered men more terrible than any spirit;
done and dared and suffered in £]uat incredible, unsung
epic of the Mutiny War; pkyed his part with the field
force of DelM, beleaguering^and beleaguered; shared in
that enduring, savage argor and contempt of death and
decency that, for long months together, bedevil'd and
inspired the army; wus hurled to and fro in the battle-
smoke of the assault ;• was there, perhaps, where Nicholson
fell; was there when the attacking column, with hell upon
every side, found the soldier's enemy—strong drink, and