Adventures Among Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 217 pages of information about Adventures Among Books.
to hear as to read.  I do not recollect much of that delight in discussion, in controversy, which he shows in his essay on conversation, where he describes, I believe, Mr. Henley as “Burley,” and Mr. Symonds as “Opalstein.”  He had great pleasure in the talk of the late Professor Fleeming Jenkin, which was both various and copious.  But in these noctes coenaeque deum I was never a partaker.  In many topics, such as angling, golf, cricket, whereon I am willingly diffuse, Mr. Stevenson took no interest.  He was very fond of boating and sailing in every kind; he hazarded his health by long expeditions among the fairy isles of ocean, but he “was not a British sportsman,” though for his measure of strength a good pedestrian, a friend of the open air, and of all who live and toil therein.

As to his literary likings, they appear in his own confessions.  He revelled in Dickens, but, about Thackeray—­well, I would rather have talked to somebody else!  To my amazement, he was of those (I think) who find Thackeray “cynical.”  “He takes you into a garden, and then pelts you with”—­horrid things!  Mr. Stevenson, on the other hand, had a free admiration of Mr. George Meredith.  He did not so easily forgive the longueus and lazinesses of Scott, as a Scot should do.  He read French much; Greek only in translations.

Literature was, of course, his first love, but he was actually an advocate at the Scottish Bar, and, as such, had his name on a brazen door-plate.  Once he was a competitor for a Chair of Modern History in Edinburgh University; he knew the romantic side of Scottish history very well.  In his novel, “Catriona,” the character of James Mohr Macgregor is wonderfully divined.  Once I read some unpublished letters of Catriona’s unworthy father, written when he was selling himself as a spy (and lying as he spied) to the Hanoverian usurper.  Mr. Stevenson might have written these letters for James Mohr; they might be extracts from “Catriona.”

In turning over old Jacobite pamphlets, I found a forgotten romance of Prince Charles’s hidden years, and longed that Mr. Stevenson should retell it.  There was a treasure, an authentic treasure; there were real spies, a real assassin; a real, or reported, rescue of a lovely girl from a fire at Strasbourg, by the Prince.  The tale was to begin sur le pont d’Avignon:  a young Scotch exile watching the Rhone, thinking how much of it he could cover with a salmon fly, thinking of the Tay or Beauly.  To him enter another shady tramping exile, Blairthwaite, a murderer.  And so it was to run on, as the author’s fancy might lead him, with Alan Breck and the Master for characters.  At last, in unpublished MSS.  I found an actual Master of Ballantrae, a Highland chief—­noble, majestically handsome—­and a paid spy of England!  All these papers I sent out to Samoa, too late.  The novel was to have been dedicated to me, and that chance of immortality is gone, with so much else.

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Adventures Among Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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