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as real problems faced him there developed unsuspected tenacity and noble purpose; high spirits he had even in pain and suffering.
There is little in the animated and humorous letters which have made Stevenson a living personality to a world of readers to show that he was constantly fighting for life. "I was made for a contest," he wrote Mr. Meredith, "and the Powers have so willed that my battlefield should be this dingy, inglorious one of the bed and the physic-bottle." But rarely was there heard from him a word of complaint or a tone of melancholy. His brilliant romances are alive with character and rich in humor and fancy, his subtle essays are keyed on optimism, his child-poems are open-doored and openhearted, his very journeys to the ends of the world that he might find a place where he could live and work made him the friend, counselor, and teacher of the weak and oppressed.
Nothing is more difficult to define than charm. What is the quality about Stevenson as man and as author which has endeared him to the world far more than some of greater intellectual force? Mr. lialfour thus defines it:
To deal with Stevenson's intellectual qualities alone is to approach his less fascinating side, and to miss far more than half the influence of his charm. I have referred to his chivalry, only to find that in reality I was thinking of every one of the whole group of attributes which are associated with that name. Loyalty, honesty, generosity, courage, courtesy, tenderness, and self-devotion; to impute no unworthy motives and to bear no grudge; to bear misfortune with cheerfulness and without a murmur; to strike hard for the right and take no mean advantage; to be gentle to women and kind to all that are weak; to be very rigorous with oneself and very lenient to others—these, and any other virtues ever implied in "chivalry," were the traits that distinguished Stevenson. They do not make life easy, as he frequently found. One day, his stepson tells me, they were sitting on the deck of a schooner in the Pacific, and Stevensou was reading a copy of "Don Quixote." Suddenly he looked up, and, with an air of realization, said sadly, as if to himself," That's me."
Turning from Stevenson's charm to his literary art, it is brought out in this book better than ever before that even from early boyhood he had a real passion for striving after style. In a sense he may be said to have acquired style before he
had anything of his own to say. When
his imagination reached its powers, the tool was at his hand. Those who think exquisite writing comes by inspiration should note that Stevenson, referring to style rather than to matter, said: "I imagine nobody had ever such pains to learn a trade as I had; but I slogged at it day in and day out; and I frankly believe (thanks to my dire industry) I have done more with smaller gifts than almost any man of letters in the world." Often his best work was rewritten ten times. Here, in a somewhat abbreviated form, is the often-told story of his self-imposed apprenticeship:
All through my boyhood and youth I was known and pointed out for the pattern of an idler; and yet I was always busy on my own private end, which was to learn to write. I kept always two books in my pocket—one to read, one to write in. As I walked my mind was busy fitting what I saw with appropriate words; when I sat by the roadside, I would either read, or a pencil and a penny versionbook would be in my hand, to note down the features of the scene or commemorate some halting stanzas. Thus I lived with words. And what I thus wrote was for no ulterior use; it was written consciously for practice. It was not so much that I wished to be an author (though I wished that, too) as that I had vowed that I would learn to write. . . .
Whenever I read a book or a passage that particularly pleased me, in which a thing was said or an effect rendered with propriety, in which there was either some conspicuous force or some happy distinction in the style, I must sit down at once and set myself to ape that quality. I was unsuccessful, and I knew it; and tried again, and was again unsuccessful, and always unsuccessful; but at least in these vain bouts 1 got some practice in rhythm, in harmony, in construction, and the co-ordination of parts. I have thus played the sedulous ape to Hazlitt, to Lamb, to Wordsworth, to Sir Thomas Browne, to Defoe, to Hawthorne, to Montaigne, to Baudelaire, and to "Obermann."
A last quotation from a book which constantly tempts to quotation may be one of several prayers written by Robert Louis Stevenson—one not, we think, generally known. It has much of the man's nature in it:
The day returns and brings us the pettyround of irritating concerns and duties. Help us to play the man, help us to perform them with laughter and kind faces; let cheerfulness abound with industry. Give us to go blithely on our business all this day, bring us to our resting beds weary and content and undishonored, and grant us in the end the gift of sleep. Amen.
Tolstoi and the Russian Censors
The two pictures presented herewith will bring direct to the reader's eye the method of censorship employed by the Russian Government. Hardly anything could appear less harmful or revolutionary on its face than this pictorial postal card containing a reproduction of Repine's famous portrait of Tolstoi, yet because the Russian authorities were incensed by Tolstoi's brave reply to the edict of excommunication, they absolutely refuse to allow the Red Cross Society to put on sale these postal cards, which the Society had printed with the Government's consent as a way of raising money for the humane work of the Society.
On the next page will be seen a reproduction of a page of our worthy and certainly far from Anarchistic contemporary, "The Literary Digest," as it appears after it has gone through the Russian censor's hand. The article thus treated was entitled "The Beginnings of Christianity as Viewed by a
Layman," and the reader's eyes are sharper than ours if he can detect in the original article the special danger concealed beneath this apparently harmless title. As is pointed out by a correspondent who sends us this example of Russian despotism, there have been left one or two phrases which to an ordinary observer might seem more radical than the mild historical statements of the author of the article which have been so hardly dealt with. What happens to The Outlook in Russia we do not know; a friend suggests that the censor would not spare even the name of such a pernicious paper, because an outlook is just what the Government does not want the people to get.