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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

in verse ; then that I indited the bulk of a covenanting
novel—like so many others never finished. Late I sat
into the night, toiling (as I thought) under the very dart
of death, toiling to leave a memory behind me. I feel
moved to thrust aside the curtain of the years, to hail that
poor feverish idiot, to bid Mm go to bed and clap Voces
Fidelium on the fire before he goes ; so clear does he appear
before me, sitting there between Ms candles in the rose-
scented room and the late night; so ridiculous a picture
(to my elderly wisdom) does the fool present! But he
was driven to his bed at last without miraculous inter-
vention ; and the manner of his driving sets the last
touch upon tMs eminently youthful business. The weather
was then so warm that I must keep the windows open ;
the night without was populous with moths. As the late
darkness deepened, my literary tapers beaconed forth
more brightly ; tMcker and tMcker came the dusty night-
fliers, to gyrate for one brilliant instant round the flame
and fall in agonies upon my paper. Flesh and blood
could not endure the spectacle ; to capture immortality
was doubtless a noble enterprise, but not to capture it at
such a cost of suffering ; and out would go the candles,
and oS would I go to bed in the darkness, raging to think
that the blow might fall on the morrow, and there was
Voces Fidelium still incomplete. Well, the moths are all
gone, and Voces Fidelium along with them ; only the fool
is still on hand and practises new follies.

Only one tMng in connexion with the harbour tempted
rne, and that was the diving, an experience I burned to
taste of. But this was not to be, at least in Anstruther ;
and the subject involves a change of scene to the sub-arctic
town of Wick. You can never have dwelt in a country
more unsightly than that part of Caithness, the land faintly
swelling, faintly falling, not a tree, not a hedgerow, the
fields divided by single slate-stones set upon their edge, the
wind always singing in your ears and (down the long road
that led nowhere) thrumming in the telegraph wires.
Only as you approached the coast was the^Ttenythsog to
stir the heart. The plateau broke down to ,t^ft($Uxcih Sea
in formidable cliffs, the tall out-stacks r0s<grlike pillars