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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

XII
RANDOM MEMORIES

THE EDUCATION OF AN ENGINEEE

is a place sacred to the Muse ; she inspired
(really to a considerable extent) Tennant's vernacular poem
Anst'er Fair ;  and I have there waited upon her myself
with much devotion.   This was when I came as a young
man to glean engineering experience from the building
of the breakwater,   What I gleaned, I am sure I do not
know ;  but indeed I had already my own private deter-
mination to be an author ; I loved the art of words and
the appearances of life ;  and travellers, and headers, and
rubble, and polished ashlar, and pierres perdues, and even
the thrilling question of the string-course, interested me
only (if they interested me at all) as properties for some
possible romance or as words to add to my vocabulary.
To grow a little catholic is the compensation of years ;
youth is one-eyed ; and in those days, though I haunted
the breakwater by day, and even loved the place for the
sake of the sunshine, the thrilling seaside air, the wash of
waves on the sea-face, the green glimmer of the divers'
helmets far below, and the musical chinking of the masons,
my one genuine preoccupation lay elsewhere, and my only
industry was in the hours when I was not on duty,   I
lodged with a certain Bailie Brown, a carpenter by trade ;
and there, as soon as dinner was dispatched, in a chamber
scented with dry rose leaves, drew in my chair to the table
and proceeded to pour forth literature, at such a speed,
and with such intimations of early death and immortality,
as I now look back upon with wonder.   Then it was that
I wrote Voces Fidelium, a series of dramatic monologues

74