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Title: Stevenson at Manasquan
Author: Eaton, Charlotte
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Stevenson at Manasquan" ***

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  The Little Bookfellow Series

  Stevenson at Manasquan



Other Titles in this series:

 ESTRAYS. Poems by Thomas Kennedy, George Seymour, Vincent Starrett,
 and Basil Thompson.

 WILLIAM DE MORGAN, A POST-VICTORIAN REALIST, by Flora Warren Seymour.

 LYRICS, by Laura Blackburn.


[Illustration: PEN AND INK SKETCH OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON, BY WYATT
EATON

_Kind permission of Mr. S. S. McClure_]



  Stevenson at Manasquan

  By
  Charlotte Eaton

  With a Note on the Fate of the Yacht
  "Casco" by Francis Dickie and Six Portraits
  from Stevenson by George Steele Seymour

  [Illustration]

  CHICAGO
  THE BOOKFELLOWS
  1921



_Three hundred copies of this book by Charlotte Eaton, Bookfellow No.
550, Francis Dickie, Bookfellow No. 716, and George Steele Seymour,
Bookfellow No. 1, have been printed. Mrs. Eaton's memoir is an
elaboration of one previously published by Thomas Y. Crowell Co. of New
York under the title "A Last Memory of Robert Louis Stevenson"; Mr.
Dickie's notes have appeared in the New York World, and Mr. Seymour's
"Portraits" have appeared in "Contemporary Verse" and "The Star" of San
Francisco._

  _Copyright, 1921, by
  Flora Warren Seymour_

  THE TORCH PRESS
  CEDAR RAPIDS
  IOWA



STEVENSON AT MANASQUAN


When I came face to face with Robert Louis Stevenson it was the
realization of one of my most cherished dreams.

This was at Manasquan, a village on the New Jersey coast, where he had
come to make a farewell visit to his old friend Will Low, the artist.
Mr. Low had taken a cottage there that summer while working on his
series of Lamia drawings for Lippincott's, and Stevenson, hearing that
we were on the other side of the river, sent word that he would come to
see us on the morrow.

"Stevenson is coming," was announced at the breakfast-table as calmly
as though it were a daily occurrence.

_Stevenson coming to Manasquan!_

I was in my 'teens, was an enthusiastic student of poetry and
mythology, and Stevenson was my hero of romance. Was it any wonder the
intelligence excited me?

My husband, the late Wyatt Eaton, and Stevenson, were friends in their
student days abroad, and it was in honor of those early days that I was
to clasp the hand of my favorite author.

It was in the mazes of a contradance at Barbizon, in the picturesque
setting of a barn lighted by candles, that their first meeting took
place, where Mr. Eaton, though still a student in the schools of
Paris, had taken a studio to be near Jean François Millet, and hither
Stevenson had come, with his cousin, known as "Talking Bob," to take
part in the harvest festivities among the peasants.

These were the halcyon days at Barbizon, when Millet tramped the
fields and the favorite haunts of Rousseau and Corot could be followed
up through the Forest of Fontainebleau, before Barbizon had become
a resort for holiday makers, or the term "Barbizon School" had been
thought of.

Now, of all places in the world, the quaint little Sanborn Cottage on
the river-bank, where we were stopping, seemed to me the spot best
suited for a first meeting with Stevenson. The Sanborns were very
little on the estate and the place had a neglected look. Indeed, more
than that, one might easily have taken it for a haunted or abandoned
place--with its garden choked with weeds, and its window-shutters
flaunting old spider-webs to the breeze.

It was, of course, the fanciful, adventure-loving Stevenson that I
looked forward to seeing, and I was not disappointed; and while others
spoke of the flight of time with its inevitable changes, I felt sure
that, to me, he would be just Stevenson who wrote the things over which
I had burned the midnight oil.

He came promptly at the hour fixed, appearing on the threshold as frail
and distinguished-looking as a portrait by Velasquez. He had walked
across the mile-long bridge connecting Brielle and Manasquan, ahead of
the others, for the bracer he always needed before joining even a small
company.

Shall I ever forget the sensation of delight that thrilled me, as he
entered the room--tall, emaciated, yet radiant, his straight, glossy
hair so long that it lay upon the collar of his coat, throwing into
bold relief his long neck and keenly sensitive face?

His hands were of the psychic order, and were of marble whiteness, save
the thumb and first finger of the right hand, that were stained from
constant cigarette rolling--for he was an inveterate smoker--and he
had the longest fingers I have ever seen on a human being; they were,
in fact, part of his general appearance of lankiness, that would have
been uncanny, but for the geniality and sense of _bien être_ that he
gave off. His voice, low in tone, had an endearing quality in it, that
was almost like a caress. He never made use of vernacularism and was
without the slightest Scotch accent; on the contrary, he spoke his
English like a world citizen, speaking a universal tongue, and always
looked directly at the person spoken to.

I have since heard one who knew him (and they are becoming scarce now)
call him the man of good manners, or "the mannerly Stevenson," and this
is the term needed to complete my first impression, for more than the
traveller, the scholar or the author, it was the _mannerly Stevenson_
that appeared in our midst that day. He moved about the room to a
ripple of repartée that was contagious, putting every one on his
mettle--in fact, his presence was a challenge to a _jeu d'esprit_ on
every hand. How self-possessed he was, how spiritual! his face glowing
with memories of other days.

He had just come from Saranac, Saranac-in-the-Adirondacks, that had
failed to yield him the elixir of life he was seeking, where he had
spent a winter of such solitude as even his courageous wife was unable
to endure.

His good spirits were doubtless on the rebound after good work
accomplished, for there, in "his hat-box on the hill," as he called his
quarters at Baker's, were written his "Christmas Sermons," "The Lantern
Bearer," and the opening chapters of "The Master of Ballantrae." In
this "very decent house" he would talk old Mr. Baker to sleep on stormy
nights, and the good old farmer, never suspecting that Stevenson was
"anybody in particular," snored his responses to those flights in fact
and fancy for which there are those who would have given hundreds of
dollars to have been in the old farmer's place. But it was the very
carelessness of Mr. Baker that helped along the talking spell. This
is often the case with authors; they will pour out their precious
knowledge into the ears of some inconsequential person, a tramp as
likely as not, picked up by the way; the non-critical attitude of the
illiterate seems to help the thinker in forming a sequence of ideas;
this explains, too, why the artist values the lay criticism--it hits
directly at any false note in a picture, thus saving the painter much
unnecessary delay.

Sometimes Dr. Trudeau, also an exile of the mountains, would drop
in professionally on these stormy evenings and would stay until
about midnight, having entirely forgotten the nature of his visit.
Stevenson had this faculty of making friends of those who served him.
To the restaurant keeper of Monterey, Jules Simoneau, who trusted him
when he was penniless and unknown, he presented a set of his books,
leather-bound, each volume autographed, and this worthy man has since
refused a thousand dollars for the set. "Well," he explained, "I do not
need the money, and I value the gift for itself." I think this friend
of Stevenson's must feel like Father Tabb in the library of his friend
when he said:

  "To see, when he is dead,
  The many books he read,
  And then again, to note
  The many books he wrote;
  How some got in, and some got out.
  'Tis very strange to think about."

But to return to our story.

Stevenson's Isle-of-the-blest was calling to him, and hope lay that
way, where life was elementary and where a man with but one lung to his
account might live indefinitely. Not that he feared to die. Oh, no! It
takes more courage sometimes to live, but it was hard to give up at
forty, when one just begins to enter into the knowledge of one's own
powers. A blind lady once said to me, in speaking of a mutual friend,
"When Mr. B. comes, I feel as if there was a _sprite_ in the room," and
this is the way I felt about Stevenson, for during those moments of
serious discussion when most people are tense, he moved actively about,
and his philosophies were humanized by his warm, brown eyes and merry
exclamations.

Another reason for the sprite feeling, was that he was consciously
living in the past that day, and each face was like reseeing a
milestone long passed, on some half-forgotten journey.

It was this sense of detachment that, more than anything else, gave
us the feeling that he was already beyond our mortal ken, that he was
living at once in the visible and in the invisible, one to whom the
passing of time had little significance. I think this is true, more or
less, of all those who are marked for a brief earthly career.

By this time the other members of the family had arrived. His mother,
Lloyd Osbourne, and Mrs. Strong, his step-children; "Fanny," his
wife, was in California, looking after some property interests she
had there, and provisioning the yacht chartered for the voyage to the
South Seas. In all his enterprises she was his major-domo, and her
devotion no doubt helped to prolong his life. Their mutual agreement on
all financial matters reminded me of a remark made by mine host at a
country inn, who, in speaking of his wife, said, "She is my very best
investment," and so was Mrs. Stevenson to her husband, _Lewis_, for so
the family called him, and never Robert Louis. I am inclined to think
that yoking of contrasts is an important part in Nature's economy of
things. Ella Wheeler Wilcox said to me that she owed her success to
Robert--her husband--because in all her undertakings he went before
and smoothed the way; but Mr. Wilcox's version of the case is another
story. "I keep an eye on Ella," said he, "to prevent her from giving
away too much money."

Stevenson was now seated before the grate, the flickering light from
the wood fire illuminating his pale face to transparency. Now and then
he relapsed into silence, gazing into the fire with the rapt look of
one who sees visions.

"Are you seeing a Salamander," I asked, "or do the sparks flying upward
make you think of the golden alchemy of Lescaris?"[A]

"A Salamander," he replied, smiling. "Yes, a carnivorous fire-dweller
that eats up man and his dreams forever."

"Gracious! But you are going to worse things than Salamanders, the
Paua,[B] they will get you, if you don't watch out."

And then, suddenly becoming conscious of my temerity in interrupting
the thread of his reflections, to cover my embarrassment, I ran
upstairs for my birthday-book.

An autograph!

Of course. And he wrote it, reading out the quotation that filled in
part of the space. It was one of Emerson's Kantisms, something about
not going abroad, unless you can as readily stay at home (I forget the
exact words). It was decidedly malapropos and called out much merriment.

  "Oh, stay at home, dear heart, and rest;
  Home-keeping hearts are happiest."

Somebody quoted, to which another replied:

  "Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits."

The autograph has long since disappeared, but how often have I
thought with regret of the amused expression in Stevenson's eyes at
the Salamander fancy! What tales of witchery might have been spun
from those themes worthy of the magic of his pen, the fire-dwelling
man-eater, or the discovery of the Greek shepherd!

Stevenson was amused over our enthusiasm, and the eagerness of some of
the younger members of the company to lionize him.

"And what do you consider your brightest failure?" inquired our host.

"'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,'" he replied, without a moment's hesitation,
adding, "that is the worst thing I ever wrote."

"Yet you owe it to your dream-expedition," some one reminded him.

"The dream-expedition?" he repeated. "Yes, that was perhaps a
compensation for the bad things."

Benjamin Franklin has said that success ruins many a man. The success
of "Trilby" killed Du Maurier, and many authors have had their heads
turned for far less than the Jekyll and Hyde furore that swept the
country at that time. But the Mannerly Stevenson carried his honors
lightly. Smiling over the popularity of the "worst thing he ever
wrote," he revealed that quality in his own nature that was finer than
anything he had given to print, the soul whose indomitable courage
could bear the brunt of adverse circumstance, and even contumely, and
hold its own integrity, becoming a law unto itself.

Here was the man who had passed himself off as one of a group of
steerage passengers on that memorable trip across the Atlantic on his
way to Monterey in quest of the woman he loved, the man whose life was
more vital in its _love-motif_ than any of his own romances, the man
who, in spite of ill-health and uncertainty of means, yet paid the
price for his heart's desire.

"See here," said a lusty fellow, lurching up to him one day on deck.
"You are not one of us, you are a gentleman in hard luck."

"But," added Stevenson triumphantly, in telling the
story, "it was not until the end of the voyage that they found me out."

This points the saying that it was the great washed that Stevenson
fought shy of, and not the greater unwashed, with whom he was always on
the friendliest terms.

He talked delightfully, too, on events connected with his journey
across the plains, which he made in an emigrant train, associating with
Chinamen, who cooked their meals on board, and slept on planks let down
from the side of the cars.

"The air was thick," said he, "and an Oriental thickness, at that."

But this period of his life was a painful subject for his mother, who
was present, and some of his best stories were omitted on her account.

He told us, however, about being nearly lynched for throwing away a
lighted match on the prairie. "And all the fuss," said he, "before
I was made aware of the nature of my crime." Both his mother and
Sydney Colvin had done their best to make him accept enough money, as
a loan, to make this trip comfortable. But he had refused. He was,
he explained, "doing that which neither his family nor friends could
approve," and he would therefore accept no financial aid.

"Just before starting," said he, "being in need of money, I called at
the _Century_ office, where I had left some manuscript with the request
for an early decision, but was politely shown the door."

Consternation seized us at this announcement, for all present knew the
editor for a man of sympathy and heart. But Stevenson himself came to
our relief with, "But Mr. Gilder was abroad that year."

After the lapse of more than a quarter of a century, it might not come
amiss to recount another little incident at the same office.

I mentioned one day to Mr. Gilder that some notes by Mr. Eaton written
during his last illness had been rejected. "You don't mean to tell me
that anything by Wyatt was rejected at this office," said he, and going
into an inner room, returned in a few minutes with a goodly check.
"There," said he, as he put it in my hand, "Send in the notes at your
convenience."

Stevenson laughed good-naturedly over the dilemmas the editors of
western papers threw him into, by their tardiness in paying space rates
for the stories and essays that now rank among his finest productions.
Indeed one wonders whether he would have survived the hardships of
those Monterey days, had not the good Jules Simoneau found him "worth
saving," a circumstance for which he is accorded the palm by posterity
rather than for the flavor of his tamales.

In many ways it is given to the humble to minister to the needs of the
great. A distinguished author once said to me: "I could never have
arrived without the help of my poor friends."

As Stevenson went from reminiscence to reminiscence, we felt that from
this period of his vivid obscurity might have been drawn material
for some of his most stirring romances, and we were rewarded as good
listeners by the discovery of that which he thought his best work,
namely, the little story called "Will o' the Mill."

"Ah!" exclaimed Mr. Sanborn, his eyes beaming, "if you live to be as
old as Methuselah, with all the world's lore at your finger-ends, you
could never improve on that simple little story."

We teased Stevenson a good deal on the hugeness of his royalties
on "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," which, besides having had what the
publishers call a "run," was bringing in a second goodly harvest from
its dramatization, by which his voyage to the South Seas had become a
reality.

Remembering his remark that his idea of Purgatory was a perpetual high
wind, I asked him: "Why have you chosen an island for your future
habitat; or, if an island, why not Nevis in the West Indies, where one
is in the perpetual doldrums, so to speak?" "There will be no more
wind on Samoa than just enough to turn the page of the book one is
reading," he replied; and windless Nevis was British, you see, and his
first necessity was to get away where nobody reads. Like Jubal, son of
Lamech, who felt himself hemmed in by hearing his songs repeated in a
land where everybody sang, so he was shadowed by the Jekyll
and Hyde mania in a land where everybody read.

The very essence of his isolation is felt in a playful little fling at
a Mr. Nerli, an artist, who went out there to paint his portrait, as
well as the boredom everyone experiences in sitting to a painter:

  "Did ever mortal man hear tell, of sae singular a ferlie,
  Of the coming to Apia here, of the painter, Mr. Nerli?
  He came; and O for a human found, of a' _he_ was the pearlie,
  The pearl of a' the painter folk, was surely Mr. Nerli.
  He took a thraw to paint mysel'; he painted late and early;
  O now! the mony a yawn I've yawned in the beard of Mr. Nerli.
  Whiles I would sleep, an' whiles would wake, an' whiles was mair than
    surly,
  I wondered sair, as I sat there, forninst the eyes of Nerli.
  O will he paint me the way I want, as bonnie as a girlie?
  Or will he paint me an ugly type, and be damned to Mr. Nerli!
  But still and on, and whiche'er it is, he is a Canty Kerlie,
  The Lord proteck the back and neck of honest Mr. Nerli."

Which shows that he was not altogether free from bothers even after
reaching his "port o' dreams" in running away from Purgatorial winds,
only to be held up by a paint-brush! Also, as most of us when excited
fall back upon our early idiom, so Stevenson, in jest or lyric mood,
drifted into the dialect of his fathers.

We found, much to our surprise, that Stevenson knew every nook and
cranny of the Sanborn estate, and told us of his trespassings--in their
absence--in search of fresh eggs for his breakfast, having observed
that the hens had formed nomadic habits, laying in the wood-pile and in
odd corners all over the grounds. This was during a former visit when
he stayed at Wainwright's, a landmark that has since been wiped out by
fire.

"One day, as I walked by," said he--meaning the Sanborn place--"I heard
a hen cackling in that triumphant way that left no doubt as to her
having performed her duty to the species. I vaulted the fence for that
particular egg and found it, still warm, with others, on its bed of
soft chips. After that, I had an object in my long, solitary walks. New
laid eggs for all occasions! And why not," he asked merrily, "seeing
there was no other proprietor than Chanticleer Peter, who had been the
victim of neglect so long that he would crow me a welcome, and in time
became so tame that he would spring on my knee and eat crumbs from my
fingers?"

The Sanborns were in Europe that year and, all things considered, is it
any wonder that he took the place for being abandoned?

"Nothing but my instinct for the preservation of property kept me from
smashing all the windows for exercise," said he.

"I am glad _thee_ was good to Peter, said Mrs. Sanborn. Her extinct
brood was a pain still rankling in her bosom. She found Peter frozen
stiff on the bough on which he was roosting, after his hens had
disappeared by methods too elemental to explain.

They had left no servants in charge, and neighbors there were none to
restrain the attacks of marauders, and they were prize leghorns, too.
She almost wailed.

What a shame!

Well might all bachelors who are threatened with a wintry solitude take
warning by unhappy Peter.

But he is not without the honor due to martyrdom--is Peter, for Mrs.
Sanborn had him stuffed, and presented him to "Fanny," who took him to
California, where he survived the great San Francisco earthquake.

"He must have been our mascot," said Lloyd Osbourne to me long after,
"for the fire that followed the earthquake came just as far as the gate
and no farther."

Since the cup that cheers is not customary in Quaker homes our hostess
proposed an egg-nog by way of afternoon collation and all entered with
zest into the mixing of the decoction. One brought the eggs, another
the sugar-bowl, while our host went to the cellar for that brand of
John Barleycorn that transmutes every beverage to a toast.

Now, while Stevenson came to regard new-laid eggs as the natural manna
of the desert, he had his doubts as to the feasibility of egg-nog,
seeing that milk is a necessary constituent. He did not know, you see,
that a little White Alderney cow was chewing the end of salt-meadow
grasses in the woods nearby, and, even as he doubted, Mrs. Sanborn and
her Ganymedes had brought in a jug of the white fluid, topped with a
froth like sea-foam.

"It's nectar for the gods on Olympus," said I--meaning the milk.

"True Ambrosia of the meadows," agreed Mrs. Sanborn.

"Well, this is Elysium, and _we_ are the gods to-day."

Elysium-on-Manasquan.

"To be more exact," said Stevenson, "it should be Argos; it was there
they celebrated the cow, as we are now celebrating----"

"Tidy," said Mrs. Sanborn.

"Io," corrected Stevenson, waving his fork, for he, too, was helping to
beat the eggs:

"Argos-on-Manasquan."

He lingered over the name Manasquan as though he enjoyed saying it.

"The first thing that impressed me in travelling in America," said he,
"was your Indian names for towns and rivers. Temiscami, Coghnawaga,
Ticonderoga, the very sound of them thrills one with romantic fancies.
Why do you not revive more of these charming Indian names?"

"We are too young yet to appreciate our legendary wealth," said Mr.
Sanborn, with an emphasis on the "legendary."

"_Qui s'excuse, s'accuse_," reminded Mrs. Low, who was a French woman.

"Quite right," assented Mr. Sanborn, "it is not precedent we lack, but
valuations."

"To return to Argos," said Mrs. Sanborn--the peace-maker--"I always
feel in the presence of a divine mystery when I milk Tidy. No one could
be guilty of a frivolous thing before the calm eye of that little cow."

Mrs. Sanborn possessed the reverent spirit of the pre-Raphaelites which
burned modestly in its Quaker shrine or flared up like lightning as
occasion required; and she delighted in the deification of her little
cow. And why not? Had not Tidy's worshipped ancestors nourished kings
of antiquity, and given idols to their temples, and stood she not
to-day as perfect a symbol of maternity?

I do not now remember whether it was referring to Samoa as Stevenson's
"port o' dreams" that brought up the discussion of dreams. To some
one who asked him if he believed that dreams came true, he replied,
"Certainly, they are just as real as anything else."

"Well, it's what one believes that counts, isn't it, and one can form
any theory in a world where dreams are as real as other things, and is
it the same with ideals?" somebody ventured.

"Ideals," said Stevenson, "are apt to stay by you when material things
have taken the proverbial wings, and are assets quite as enduring as
stone fences."

"And was it a want of faith in the durability of stone fences, or
ignorance of their dream-assets, that accounts for the way that Cato
and Demosthenes solved their problems?" was the next question, but as
this high strain was interrupted by more frivolity, my thoughts again
reverted to the solidity of Stevenson's dreams, that now furnished his
inquiring soul with new fields for exploitation, as well as a dominant
interest to fill up the measure of his earthly span.

He regretted leaving the haunts of man, he told us, particularly the
separation from his friends, which was satisfactory, coming, as it
did, from the man who coined the truism that the way to have a friend
is to be one.

But this was his fighting chance, "and a fellow has to die fighting,
you know." What was civilization anyway to one who needed only sunshine
and negligée? Thus in no other than a tone of pleasantry did he refer
to his condition, and never have I seen a face or heard a voice so
exempt from bitterness. He told me, in fact, that he was unable to
breathe in a room with more than four people in it at a time. This
sounds like an exaggeration, or one of the vagaries of the sick, yet
things that seem trifles to the well, can be tragic to the nervous
sufferer. Mrs. Low has told me that at a dinner of only five or six
covers Stevenson would frequently get up and throw open a window to
breathe in enough ozone to enable him to get through the evening.

He was embarking to the lure of soft airs and long, subliminal
solitudes, accepting gracefully the one hope held out, when the crowded
habitations of cities had become a torture. We felt the pity of the
enforced exile of so companionable a spirit, but we did not voice it,
feeling constrained to live up to the standard of cheerfulness he had
so valiantly set for us.

Mr. Eaton, who boasted that, in him, a good sea captain had been
spoiled to make a bad painter, encouraged Stevenson to talk freely of
his plans, and he dwelt at some length on the beauty and seaworthiness
of the yacht _Casco_, that had been chartered for the voyage. This sea
theme led, of course, to the inevitable fish stories, and after some
mythological whale had been swallowed by some non-Biblical Jonah, I
remarked, in the lull that followed, "Maybe the waters of the South
Seas will yield you up a heroine."

A laugh went around at this, for some present thought I had said a
"herring." But Stevenson had no doubt as to my meaning. "I am always
helpless," said he, "when I try to describe a woman; but then," he
added, brightly, "how should I hope to understand a woman, when God,
who made her, cannot?" As straws show how the wind blows, so this
little joke throws light on Stevenson 's state of mind toward womankind
in general. During this heroine discussion, he remarked that he was
always "unconscionably bored" by the conversation of young girls. He
had no desire, it seems, to mould the young idea to his taste, as
Horace, when he said:

  "Place me where the world is not habitable,
  Where the Day-God's Chariot too near approaches,
  Yet will I love Lalagé, see her sweet smile,
  Hear her sweet prattle."

Even as a school-boy he was unable to mingle with lads of his own age.
This, doubtless, is another of the precocities of the early-doomed, who
feel that every moment of life they have must be lived to the full. A
well-known artist, Who was suffering with tuberculosis, once said to
me, in describing his working hours at the studio, "I must make every
touch tell, and every moment count." So to Stevenson the rounded out
sympathies of maturity were more attractive than the sweet prattle of
girlhood, because, like the painter, with his paint, he, with his life,
had to _make every moment count_. This, of course, explains his having
chosen a woman so much older than himself as a life-companion; a woman
in whom he could find a response on his own mental plane.

In the following little poem, which is perhaps his best known tribute
to his wife, he embodies in cameo clearness my own early impression of
the intrinsic qualities of her character:

  "Trusty, dusky, vivid true,
  With eyes of gold and bramble-dew,
    Steel-true and blade-straight,
  The great artificer
    Made my mate.

  Honor, anger, valor, fire;
  A love that life could never tire;
    Death quench or evil stir,
  The mighty master
    Gave to her.

  Teacher, tender, comrade, wife,
  A fellow-farer true through life,
    Heart-whole and soul-free,
  The august father
    Gave to me."

It was at the Lows' Apartment in New York that I first met Mrs.
Stevenson. I called one afternoon to see Mrs. Low, who was convalescing
from an illness. She sent word that she would be able to see me in
half an hour, and I was shown into the living-room, where, meditating
by the fire, sat Mrs. Stevenson. She seemed exceedingly picturesque to
me, in a rich black satin gown, her hair tied back by a black ribbon in
girlish fashion and falling in three ringlets down her back.

She told me stories of her first arrival in New York that were as
amusing as some of Stevenson's prairie experiences. She engaged a
messenger-boy to pioneer her through the great stone jungle, not from
fear of pickpockets or the like, but to save her from a helplessly
lost feeling she always had when alone on the streets of a strange
city. On arriving, she went directly to the old St. Stephen's Hotel on
University Place and Eleventh Street, registering thus:

"Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson (wife of the author of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde)."

To those of the friends who smiled over it, she explained that, being
ill at the time, she had a horror of dying unknown in a hotel room and
being sent to the morgue.

I replied to this by telling her how my mother, being alone at a large
London hotel for a night, insisted on having one of the chambermaids
sleep with her, no doubt from the same sense of hopeless wandering in a
similar Dædalian Labyrinth.

Years after, some autograph collector hunted up that old St. Stephen's
register and cut the name from the page, which reminded me of a little
story I once told Mrs. Low.

As a boy Mr. Eaton one day mounted the pulpit of the church in the
little village of Phillipsburg, P. Q., Canada, where he was born, and
made a drawing on one of the fly-leaves of the Bible. When it was later
told in the village that he had exhibited at the Paris Salon, someone
cut the leaf from the Book of Books.

When one starts story telling to a good listener, little incidents
dart through the brain that for long have lain dormant, and to pass
the time, I told Mrs. Stevenson that on the day Mr. Eaton finished his
portrait of President Garfield for the Union League Club, he asked the
newly landed Celtic maid if she would wash his brushes for him (an
office that he generally performed for himself), to which she exclaimed
joyfully, "To think that I have lived to see the day that I washed the
brushes that painted the President of the United States!"

What the artist regarded as an added chore to her already full labors,
was to her willing hands a pride and an honor. It may be a truism that
a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but there certainly
seems to be a good deal in a view-point. In looking back, I know that I
grasped, that day, something of what the later years proved her to the
world, for I read her then, as a highly gifted woman who had submerged
her own personality in the greater gifts and personal claims of her
invalid husband and in a recent reading of her Samoan notes there
was imparted to me, by means too subtle to explain, those glimpses
that insight bestows, that are called reading between the lines--a
realization of the hardship of much of her life in the South Seas. I
felt distinctly the under-current of troubled restlessness beneath the
apparent good time of an unusual environment.

[Illustration: WYATT EATON AS A STUDENT

_Photo by Kurtz, N. Y._]

To the woman who loves becoming toilets and the vivacity and movement
of life in literary and social centres, and who, moreover, possesses
the useful hands and right instincts both in artistic and domestic
relationships, the long sojourns in desolate places, the doing with
makeshifts and the like that these entail, are a real deprivation,
and a persistent irritation that calls for the counteraction of an
exceptional degree of poise and self-mastery.

Nothing, in short, emphasizes this sense of her isolation, to my mind,
so strongly as Stevenson himself in describing her quarters on board
the schooner _Equator_, as a "beetle-haunted most unwomanly bower,"
and this simultaneously with the reminder that it will be long before
her eyes behold again the familiar scenes of rural beauty dear to her
memory.

The pen sketch of Stevenson forming the frontispiece was drawn by
Mr. Eaton in a few minutes from memory. I regret to say that it is
reproduced from a reproduction, the original (owned by Mr. S. S.
McClure) could not be found, when wanted, Mr. McClure being in France
at the time, but we were glad to obtain one of these copies, now
becoming rare.

I have never seen a portrait of Stevenson that equalled his appearance
that day. The bas-relief by Saint Gaudens approximates it somewhat
in ethereal thinness, but the _verve_, the glow, the vital spark, are
lacking even in that.

It has always been a satisfaction to me that our meeting was on an
occasion when his illness was least apparent. My memory of his face has
nothing of that pain-worn expression so often seen in photographs.

The afternoon of the day we received his message, I caught a glimpse
of him at a distance from my window. He was coming up from the Inlet,
where, no doubt, he had gone to take a plunge. There was a briskness
about his movements that seemed like the unconscious enjoyment of sound
health, and in appearance he certainly was as romantic a figure as any
of his own characters. Whenever I read "In the Highlands," I see him as
he appeared at that moment, treading through a maze of bright sabatia
and sweet clover, the mental picture, as it were, becoming a part of
that beautiful and touching poem:

  In the highlands, in the country places,
  Where the old plain men have rosy faces,
  And the young fair maidens quiet eyes;
  Where essential silence cheers and blesses,
  And for ever in the hill-recesses
  Her more lovely music broods and dies.

  O to mount again where erst I haunted;
  Where the old red hills are bird-enchanted,
  And the low green meadows bright with sward;
  And when even dies, the million-tinted,
  And the night has come, and planets glinted,
  Lo! the valley hollow, lamp-bestarred.

  O to dream, O to awake and wander
  There, and with delight to take and render,
  Through the trance of silence, quiet breath;
  Lo! for there, among the flowers and grasses,
  Only the mightier movement sounds and passes;
  Only winds and rivers, life and death.

I felt the poetry of the day more poignantly as the hour for parting
approached, and when the sun began to wane, I went out on the lawn
to see the place under the spell of the lengthened shadows and the
mellow sun-rays that turn the tree-trunks to burnished gold. This has
always been my favorite hour, this charmed hour before sunset, when
we can almost feel the earth's movement under our feet--an hour that
transcends in poetry anything that can be imagined by the finite mind.

I walked up and down under the cedars bordering the river, to quiet
my emotion. It was there, too, under the cedars, that a remark of Mr.
Eaton's, in describing to me his first meeting with Stevenson, flashed
across my memory: "He combined the face of a boy with the distinguished
bearing of a man of the world."

And I thought, as I saw him then, merrily recalling the scenes and
escapades of student life, "How well the distinguished man of the world
had succeeded in keeping the heart of a boy!"

A passage in Mr. Low's book, "A Chronicle of Friendships," that recalls
that day most vividly, is this: "Stevenson never once excused himself
from our company on the plea of having work to do." For so it was with
us; he seemed to have no cares or preoccupations, but to be content to
be there, enjoying the conversation and the pleasantness of the passing
hour.

I had a cosy quarter of an hour with his mother after my walk, and off
by ourselves, in a corner, away from interruption, she spoke of her
son's childhood. In her eyes, he was still the "bonnie wee laddie" who
scouted about in his make-believe worlds among the chairs and tables
in the drawing-room while she entertained her friends, and we repeated
bits from "A Child's Garden of Verses."

I think that if there is any clue to the character of a great man we
must look to his mother. Mrs. Stevenson embodied the idea of her son's
peculiar charm; there was the same triumphal youthfulness, and her
cheeks were round and rosy like a ripe apple.

I think of the mother now, after so many years, as the crowning
influence of the day, quiet and reticent, but always felt, and honored
by all as became the mother of our welcome guest.

In her letters, written in the Marquesas to her sister in Scotland,
she carries out this impression of habitual freshness of spirit, and
her humor is subtle and optimistic: "Nothing gives me more pleasure
or a better appetite than an obstacle overcome." She shows herself
the life of "The Silver Ship," as the people of Fakarava dubbed the
_Casco_, and never a word of criticism or complaint is penned at any
inconvenience or annoyance endured by the way. Indeed, one marvels at
her tranquillity in the midst of so many complications--just as one
wondered at the simplicity of Queen Victoria in her diary. One of the
chief delights in the perusal of these letters is the questions they
project into the mind of the reader. Is it a style, a native virtue, a
mannerism, a fad, or what?

For example, she never suspects that the French man-o'-war in one of
the bays may account for some of the good behavior of the natives, or
that their bounty in cocoanuts and bread-fruit may be tendered with an
eye to the novelties to be had in exchange, but accepts all in good
faith, as part of their native generosity.

And what a joy it is to see her taking holy communion with these
people, so lately reclaimed from cannabalism, and taking the ceremony
"_au grand serieux_"! Thus, a missionary within, a
warship without, the amenities of religion and society are enjoyed to
the full.

One lays down these letters and laughs, many a time, where no laughter
was intended. Certainly, she was a good mixer as well as the born
mother of a genius.

Stevenson's death is an anomaly no less pathetic than his life, for
in eluding extinction by consumption, he probably achieved a still
earlier end by apoplexy. I had the account from Mrs. Low, who received
it directly from "Fanny" by letter. Mrs. Stevenson was mixing a salad
of native ingredients of which Stevenson was very fond, when he joined
her in the kitchen, complaining that he was not very well, and sitting
down, laid his head on her shoulder, where in about twenty minutes he
expired.

I said at the beginning that I was not disappointed in the personality
of Stevenson, but it would be nearer the mark to say that my
anticipations fell far short of the reality.

It is often the case in meeting literary celebrities that one has the
feeling that they are first authors, and after that men. Rodin, the
French sculptor, focuses this idea by saying that "many are artists
at the expense of some qualities of manhood." With Stevenson one was
clearly in the presence of a man, and after that the scholar and the
gentleman.

Was it not this fine distinction that, in spite of woolen shirt and a
third-class transportation, awoke the suspicions of his companions of
the steerage, that prompted the already quoted remark, "You are not one
of us?"

And on that memorable journey across the plains, seeking the woman of
his choice, resolved, though penniless and unknown, to make her his
wife in spite of every obstacle, the truth that the frailty of the body
is no criterion for the strength of the spirit is well brought out. It
was, in fact, this quality of initiative that constituted his chief
charm--the quality that, above all others, made us so spontaneous in
his presence and so proud of his achievement.

We knew that we were seeing him at his best, surrounded by his old
friends, and with the light of the memory of his youthful ambitions on
his face. We knew, too, that the parting would be a life-long one, and
that we would never look upon his like again. This regret each knew to
be uppermost in the mind of the others, but when the good-byes began,
we made no sign that it was to be more than the absence of a day.

Nevertheless, the tensity of the last moments of parting was keenly
felt. Stevenson had planned to spend his last night at Wainwright's,
and Lloyd Osbourne was to row him across the river. Mr. Eaton and
I went down to the river-bank to see them off and to wave our last
_adieux_.

The rumble of carriage-wheels in the distance, and the reverberations
of footsteps and voices on the old wooden bridge grew fainter and
died away, before the little boat was pushed off; and then, these two
friends, Robert Louis Stevenson and Wyatt Eaton, both at the zenith of
their life and powers, and both hovering so closely on the brink of
eternity, sent their last messages to each other, across the distance,
until the little boat had glided away, on the ebb-tide, a mere speck in
the gray transparency of the twilight.



FATE OF THE _CASCO_


There are ships that, like certain people, seem created for an
unusual and distinguishing destiny, and are unable long to survive
the destruction of those peculiar conditions that have given them
their dominating qualities, animation and color. Mr. Francis Dickie of
Vancouver, B. C., has described with a vivid pen the
later adventures and slow foundering of the _Casco_.

This gentleman has kindly given me permission to reprint it here. Our
sympathy goes out to the beautiful yacht in her lonely buffetings and
chill decay, but though stricken and vanished, we know that she will
live long in romance and in song as "The Silver Ship."


FATE OF THE _CASCO_

by

FRANCIS DICKIE

Forty miles from Nome, Alaska, breaking under the Arctic winter on the
shores of bleak King Island, lies the skeleton of a wrecked top-mast
schooner.

Early in June, 1919, a small crew of adventurous spirits had turned
her nose out through the Behring Sea, headed for the Lena River and
Anadyn--and gold. She was small and old, this yacht, but what are
thirty-three years when a craft has the proper tradition for daring,
hazardous adventure?

September storms swept upon the _Casco_, pounding her teak sides with
unfamiliar Northern blasts. Fog, cold, night--and she lay shuddering on
the rocks, snow-beaten, ice-broken, abandoned by her crew.

So ships pass and become smooth driftwood on scattered beaches. But
sometimes the magic of long adventure will gather around an abandoned
hull, and form a rich memory to tempt the eternal wanderlust of man.
What is an old ship but a floating castle built upon the memories of
the men who have helmed her? Sometimes she plies the same dull course
throughout her existence. Sometimes she changes trade with surprising
chances. So it was with the _Casco_--now a glittering pleasure yacht,
whim of an old millionaire, now stripped of gaudy trappings and bent
to the grim will of seal hunter and opium trader.

In the opening of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel, "The Wrecker," with
red ensign waving, sailing into the port of Tai-o-hae in the Marquesas,
the _Casco_ takes her place in fiction. But she is far more romantic as
she has sailed in fact.

"Winged by her own impetus and the dying breeze, the _Casco_ skimmed
under cliffs, opened out a cove, showed us a beach and some green
trees, and flitted by again, bowing to the swell ... from close aboard
arose the bleating of young lambs; a bird sang on the hillside; the
scent of the land and of a hundred fruits or flowers flowed forth to
meet us; and presently"--

Presently they sailed among the Isles of Varien, sunny and welcoming in
the South Seas.

Stevenson wrote this in the cabin of the _Casco_, in the summer of
'88. His always delicate health had broken completely under the San
Francisco climate. Friends had urged a cruise to the South Seas, he had
gladly acquiesced, and looked around for a ship. There was a subtle
romantic call for the author of "Treasure Island" in a voyage on a ship
of his own choosing and direction under the soft skies of the tropics.

The _Casco_ had been built by an eccentric California millionaire, Dr.
Merritt, for cruising along the coast, and no money had been spared in
her fittings. She was a seventy-ton fore-and-aft schooner, ninety-five
feet long, with graceful lines, high masts, white sails and decks,
shiny brasswork, and a gaudy silk-hung saloon. She was not perhaps
too staunch a cruiser. "Her cockpit was none too safe, her one pump
was inadequate in size and almost worthless; the sail plan forward was
meant for racing and not for cruising; and even if the masts were still
in good condition, they were quite unfitted for hurricane weather."

Nevertheless, negotiations were opened with Dr. Merritt. That
gentleman had read of Stevenson. He had conceived him as an erratic,
irresponsible soul who wrote poetry and let everything else go to
the devil. He'd be blamed, he said, if he'd let any scatter-brained
writer use his precious yacht. Finally, a meeting between the two was
effected; and, speedily charmed by Stevenson's manner, he decided to
let him have the _Casco_. Therefore, with Capt. Otis as skipper, four
deck hands, "three Swedes and the inevitable Finn," and a Chinese cook,
the Stevensons sailed June 28, 1888, for the Marquesas.

Stevenson's health rapidly improved in the first weeks of the voyage.
He was charmed by the Southern islands and began making notes and
gathering data from the natives for later books. He wrote parts of "The
Master of Ballantrae" and of "The Wrong Box," and spent much of his
time studying the intricate personality of his skipper, whose portrait
afterward appeared in the pages of "The Wrecker."

After months of idle cruising, it was discovered that the _Casco's_
masts were dangerously rotten. Repairs were immediately necessary.
Meantime Stevenson became less and less well. When the ship was
again in commission and took them to Hawaii, he realized the
impossibility of his returning to America, and, sending
the _Casco_ back to San Francisco, started upon the exile that was to
terminate in his death.

Thereafter, the _Casco_ changed hands frequently, exploring the
mysteries of seal-hunting, opium-smuggling, coast-trading and
gold-adventure, among other things. In the early nineties, she was
known, because of her swiftness, quickness and ease of handling at
the wheel, to be the best of a hundred and twenty ships engaged in
the extinction of the pelagic seal. But when, in 1898, the sealers
found themselves impoverished by their own ruthlessness, the _Casco_,
her decks disfigured with blood and her hold rotten from the drip of
countless salty pelts, was discarded and left to rot on the mud flats
of Victoria. Too much of the spirit of adventure, however, lurked in
the tall masts of the _Casco_ to let her waste away to such an ugly
ending. When the smuggling of Chinese and opium was at its height, up
and down the coast there were whisperings of the daring work of the
smuggler _Casco_. The revenue officers knew positively that she was
laden with illicit Oriental cargo, and with Chinese immigrants; but she
escaped them again and again, her old speed and lightness returning.
Once, however, the wind failed her, and the revenue launch hauled
alongside. Search for contraband was instituted; but not a Chinaman
appeared, not a trace of opium. Fooled!--and they climbed down
sheepishly into their launch. Later it developed that while the revenue
men were still far astern, the crew had weighted the sixty Chinamen and
dumped them overboard along with the opium!

[Illustration: THE CASCO, JUST BEFORE IT WAS WRECKED ON KING ISLAND

_Kind permission of_ MR. L. W. PEDROSE]

From the swift romance of opium running the _Casco_ turned drudge. She
carried junk between Victoria and Vancouver; she was
a training ship for the Boy Sea Scouts of Vancouver; she was a coasting
trader in 1917 when the shipping boom gave value to even her little
hulk; and in between times she lay on mud flats.

In the spring of 1919 came the stories of gold in Northern Siberia.
With high hopes of fortunes to be made, the Northern Mining and Trading
Company sprang into existence, and the _Casco_ was chartered to dare
the far Northern seas and icy gaps.

So she died at sea, as all good ships should, with the storm at her
back and the mists over her, with snow as a shroud, and brooding
icebergs to mourn. She lies cold and stately, with her memories of
tropical splendor, high adventure, and light romance--this little ship
whose cabin knew Stevenson.



PORTRAITS FROM STEVENSON

by

GEORGE STEELE SEYMOUR


TREASURE ISLAND

  Jim Hawkins, Jim Hawkins, the treasure ship's a-sailing,
    The lure of life is calling us beyond the shining sea,
  The distant land of mystery her beauty is unveiling,
    And shall we then be lagging when there's work for you and me?

  The pirate ship is on the main, Jim Hawkins, Jim Hawkins,
    She flies the Jolly Roger and there's battle in her prow,
  Then shall we play the craven-heart and lurk ashore, Jim Hawkins,
    When fortune with a lavish turn is waiting for us now?

  Jim Hawkins, Jim Hawkins, the pirate crew has landed,
    With guns and knives between their teeth they're stealing on the prey,
  Then let's afoot and follow them and catch them bloody-handed--
    When life and joy are calling us, shall we bide long away?
      Jim Hawkins, Jim Hawkins!


ALAN BRECK

  Is't you, Alan? You of the ready sword
    And nimble feet, and keen, courageous eye,
    Quick to affront, and yet more quick to spy
  Aught that might touch your own dear absent lord!
  Hero and clown! How it sets every chord
    Athrill to see your feathered hat draw nigh,
    And all your brave, fantastic finery!
  Romance no stranger picture doth afford.

  For I have met you in the House of Fear,
    Have watched you cross the torrent of Glencoe
      And climbed with you the rugged mountain-side.
  We are old comrades, and I hold most dear
    This loyal friend and yet more loyal foe
      Who bore a kingly name with kingly pride.


ELLIS DUCKWORTH

  Was there a rustle of the leafy bed?
    Heard you no footstep in the matted grass?
    Down the deep glade where fearsome shadows pass
  What is it lurks so still? What secret dread
  Troubles the tangled branches overhead?
    An ye be foe to this good man, alas!
    No art shall save you though ye walk in brass.
  Swift to your heart shall the Black Death be sped.

  The woods are still--for that was years ago--
    And now no baleful presence haunts the glade,
      No train-band rules the highway as of yore.
  Romance is dead. Adventure, too, lies low.
    Long in the grave is Duckworth's kingdom laid,
      And the black arrow speeds its way no more.


SAINT IVES

  Viscomte, your health. Confusion to the foe.
    The noble lord your uncle--bless his name!
    And may your wicked captors die in shame.
  I kiss your hand; I kiss your forehead--so!
  The castle cliff is steep, but down below
    Both fortune and the lady Flora wait.
    Oh, you will meet them, I anticipate,
  Your hand upon your heart, and bowing low.

  The stage-coach lumbers heavily tonight.
    Its wheels sound loudly on the stony flag.
    What's that! A chest of florins in the drag
  Gone! And the rascally postboy taken flight!
    Ah, well, God send him a dark night, and we ...
    Your health, Saint Ives, in sparkling Burgundy.


PRINCE FLORIZEL

  Try these perfectos, gentlemen. The flavour
    I recommend. A smoke-royal. With white wines
  You'll find them fragrantest. That spicy savour
    Comes only in stock from the Isle of Pines.
  Here are cigarettes, Turkish and Egyptian,
    Such as no other merchant has to sell,
  And Trichinopoly of the same description
    I smoked when I was called Prince Florizel.

  That was before I stooped to trade plebeian,
    Left my exalted home and wandered far,
  Emptied my plate at danger's feast Protean,
    Beside the well of wisdom broke my jar.
  Till Louis looked from out the empyrean
    And in the dust of Mayfair found a star.


THE EBB TIDE

  Green palm-tops bending low by silent seas
    Like heads in prayer--
  Life's turmoil nor its multiplicities
    Are there.

  But only calms and potencies hold sway
    That will not be denied,
  Come with the surge of dawn and drift away
    With the ebb tide.



FOOTNOTES:

[A] Lescaris was a Greek shepherd who discovered the secret of
transmuting the baser metals to fine gold.

[B] Paua--Native name for the Tridacna Gigus, a huge clam. When it
closes on any one, his only escape is by losing the limb.



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES:

Text in italics is surrounded by underscores: _italics_.

Inconsistencies in spelling, punctuation, and hyphenation have been
  standardized.





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