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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

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staring into the infinitesimal forest and seeing it grow
populous with fairy armies. Somewhat in this way, as I
paused upon my map of k Treasure Island/ the future
characters of the book began to appear there visibly among
imaginary woods; and their brown faces and bright
weapons peeped out upon me from unexpected quarters
as they passed to and fro, fighting and hunting treasure,
on these few square inches of a flat projection. The nest
thing I knew I had some papers before me and was writing
out a list of chapters. How often have I done so, and
the thing gone no further ! But there seemed elements
of success about this enterprise. It was to be a story for
boys ; no need of psychology or fine writing ; and I had
a boy at hand to be a touQhstone. Women were excluded.
I was unable to handle a brig (which the Hispaniola should
have been), but I thought I could make shift to sail her as
a schooner without public sharne. And then I had an
idea for John Silver from which I promised myself funds
of entertainment; to take an admired friend of mine
(whom the reader very likely knows and admires as much
as I do), to deprive him of all his finer qualities and higher
graces of temperament, to leave him with nothing but his
strength, Ms courage, Ms quickness, and Ms magnificent
geniality, and to try to express these in terms of the culture
of a raw tarpaulin. Such psychical surgery is, I t-hink, a
common way of ' making character ' ; perhaps it is,
indeed, the only way. We can put in the quaint figure
that spoke a hundred words with us yesterday by the
wayside ; but do we know him ? Our friend, with Ms
infinite variety and flexibility, we know—but can we
put Mm in ? Upon the first, we must engraft secondary
and imaginary qualities, possibly all wrong; from the
second, knife in hand, we must cut away and deduct the
needless arborescence of his nature, but the trunk and the
few branches that remain we may at least be fairly sure of.
On a chill September morning, by the cheek of a brisk
fire, and the rain drumming on the window, I began The
Sea Cook, for that was the original title. I have begun
(and finished) a number of other books, but I cannot
remember to have sat down to one of them with more