Varied Types eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 139 pages of information about Varied Types.
a dream within a dream, and to accuse it of improbability is like accusing the sky of being blue.  But Mr. Baildon, whether from hasty reading or natural difference of taste, cannot in the least comprehend that rich and romantic irony of Stevenson’s London stories.  He actually says of that portentous monument of humour, Prince Florizel of Bohemia, that, “though evidently admired by his creator, he is to me on the whole rather an irritating presence.”  From this we are almost driven to believe (though desperately and against our will) that Mr. Baildon thinks that Prince Florizel is to be taken seriously, as if he were a man in real life.  For ourselves.  Prince Florizel is almost our favourite character in fiction; but we willingly add the proviso that if we met him in real life we should kill him.

The fact is, that the whole mass of Stevenson’s spiritual and intellectual virtues have been partly frustrated by one additional virtue—­that of artistic dexterity.  If he had chalked up his great message on a wall, like Walt Whitman, in large and straggling letters, it would have startled men like a blasphemy.  But he wrote his light-headed paradoxes in so flowing a copy-book hand that everyone supposed they must be copy-book sentiments.  He suffered from his versatility, not, as is loosely said, by not doing every department well enough, but by doing every department too well.  As child, cockney, pirate, or Puritan, his disguises were so good that most people could not see the same man under all.  It is an unjust fact that if a man can play the fiddle, give legal opinions, and black boots just tolerably, he is called an Admirable Crichton, but if he does all three thoroughly well, he is apt to be regarded, in the several departments, as a common fiddler, a common lawyer, and a common boot-black.  This is what has happened in the case of Stevenson.  If “Dr. Jekyll,” “The Master of Ballantrae,” “The Child’s Garden of Verses,” and “Across the Plains” had been each of them one shade less perfectly done than they were, everyone would have seen that they were all parts of the same message; but by succeeding in the proverbial miracle of being in five places at once, he has naturally convinced others that he was five different people.  But the real message of Stevenson was as simple as that of Mohamet, as moral as that of Dante, as confident as that of Whitman, and as practical as that of James Watt.  The conception which unites the whole varied work of Stevenson was that romance, or the vision of the possibilities of things, was far more important than mere occurrences:  that one was the soul of our life, the other the body, and that the soul was the precious thing.  The germ of all his stories lies in the idea that every landscape or scrap of scenery has a soul:  and that soul is a story.  Standing before a stunted orchard with a broken stone wall, we may know as a mere fact that no one has been through it but an elderly female cook.  But everything exists in the human

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Varied Types from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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