Skip to main content

Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"



IT was far indeed from being my first book, for I am
not a novelist alone. But I am well aware that my pay-
master, the Great Public, regards what else I have written
with indifference, if not aversion; if it call upon me at
all, it calls on me in the familial and indelible character ;
and when I am asked to talk of my first book, no question
in the world but what is meant is my first novel.

Sooner or later, somehow, anyhow, I was bound to write
a novel, It seems vain to ask why men are born with
various manias : from my earliest childhood, it was mine
to make a plaything of imaginary series of events; and as
soon as I was able to write, I became a good friend to the
paper-makers. Reams upon reams must have gone to the
making of' Rathillet,'' The Pentland Rising/2' The King's
Pardon ' (otherwise l Park Whitehead '), ' Edward Daven,5
' A Country Dance/ and e A Vendetta in the West? *
and it is consolatory to remember that these reams are
now all ashes, and have been received again into the soil.
I have named but a few of my ill-fated efforts, only such
indeed as came to a fair bulk ere they were desisted from;
and even so they cover a long vista of years. ' Rathillet'
was attempted before fifteen, k The Vendetta 5 at twenty-
nine, and the succession of defeats lasted unbroken till
I was thirty-one. By that time, I had written little

1  First published in The Idler, August 1894.

2  Ne pas confondre.   Not the slim green pamphlet with the
imprint of Andrew Elliot, for which (as I see with amazement from
the book-lists) the gentlemen of England are willing to pay fancy
prices;  but its predecessor, a bulky historical romance without a
spark of merit, and now deleted from the world*