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determination which we like to believe is our exclusive glory, and which certainly is the rarest expression of physical courage. What wonder, then, that London went crazy for a while, and covered its face with flags of triumph!
So in the excitement of Mafeking we forget the Academy and all its sins. Yet we must recall it again, not because we would resume its indictment, but because this year's exhibition suggests to us an irreparable loss. To the lasting unhappiness of all his friends, R. A. M. Stevenson, who was wont to use the Academy as the unworthy whetstone of his intelligence, is dead; and no man of his generation calls more loudly for what poor tribute sorrow can pay. For Mr Stevenson has not built an enduring monument. He lived his life for himself, and he never gave to ambition the hours which he thought were destined to his own pleasure and the pleasure of his friends. He painted and he wrote, but neither in his pictures nor in his books did he reveal the genius that was his. His eager brain was so busy with theories, that he could never abandon himself completely to the excitement of colour and form. As for writing, he deemed it always an ungrateful trade, which he had learned late, and pursued of necessity. Yet, had he realised it, words were always his true medium, thought was his true material. There was, untrained within him, a splendid gift of expression, and none
that knew him needs to be told how nimble a talent of invention he possessed. But he, to whom names and professions always meant much, decreed that he was not a "writer," and with infinite prodigality he spent his genius in talk and in the inspiration of others.
So it is that we remember him not by his writings, though they were admirable, but by his far rarer presence. The smiling eye, the alert mind, the quick, insistent, sympathetic voice, will be an enduring memory while life lasts us. He was a true fantastic, for whom all things, even himself, were appearances rather than realities, and pearances which changed and shifted as he willed. He was in fact always dressing-up, as children say, and more than this, he was always dressing-up others. There was no one of his friends that had not for him a special character, which may or may not have resembled life, but which certainly influenced Stevenson's appreciation. One friend, for instance, personified for him the life of a rather squalid Bohemia. A, he would say, devotes his days to the comfort of the miserable and unfortunate. Another friend, with equal fantasy, he convicted of a too fine sensibility, asserting that in his pleasures he was something of a snob. And for himself, his character changed with his hat or his coat. There are certain occupations, he would insist, which demand a particular costume, and his fancy was perplexed to discover how bril
liantly a man of intellect should brush his tall hat, if Piccadilly or Bond Street were his goal. Now, an over-sleekness of the nap might suggest a banker or a stockbroker, and so monstrous a confusion was nothing less than libel. On the other hand, a man of intellect must be above the reproach of squalor, and the proper mean demanded both care and ingenuity. That Stevenson always discovered the mean is certain, and on the road to discovery he exercised his lightest wit, his most delicate fancy. So he spent his life in masquerade, a master of intellectual quick-change; and so happily did he infect his intimates, that they, too, lost themselves in the world of his imagination.
His poses, of course, were many and various; but never for a moment was he a poseur. Whatever character he assumed was absolutely sincere, and he dressed the part without a touch of mummery. One of his fondest superstitions was that he belonged to a low race of men-that he was, as a friend dubbed him, "an Iberian, a shy-trafficker." Thus he would point to the shape of his head as a final proof of his origin; thus he would assert that the tribe, of which he came, was only fit to play the harp and to multiply, and he would involve in his own smiling condemnation half the company. It is not strange, therefore, that he found the common pursuits of middle-class life wholly distasteful, that he feared all those who belonged to the more pros
perous professions. gination persuaded him that policemen, bankers, and editors were the sworn foes of the human (or humane) race. We believe that he never entered a bank without a feeling of discomfort, and we know that an editor was in his eyes a monster with the evil evil eye. And though the phases of character through which he passed were presently forgotten, there was not one which did not leave its trace upon him. Once upon a time he was an undergraduate at Cambridge, and if you would have understood him, you were forced to remember that he kept one corner of his heart undergraduate still. In certain moods he remained the athletic, mischievous, sporting Cambridge man, who would tell you with a justified glee that he took his degree in the Botany Special, that he spent most of his time in Jackson's gymnasium, and that he was in his day a famous waterman. And every syllable was true. Athleticism was in his blood; he could not bear to think that he was losing his strength; his pride was still in the polejumping, of which he once was champion; the undergraduate who had explored the Cam and the Ouse and all their tributaries declared that he was as accomplished as ever in the paddling of a canoe; and it is not unlikely that feats of swimming hastened his end.
To the undergraduate succeeded the student of art, and it was with enthusiasm that he went to France, where, in
phrase, he would courage and invention. Now he would dazzle you with the fireworks of paradox, now he would speak with the daring of Rabelais and a mercurial gaiety which was all his own. Or he would sketch odes in the manner of Wordsworth, or he would build up a romance about a phrase, an aspect, or a casual visitor.
"wield the pencil of Vandyke." And the art-student that was in him survived with the undergraduate. Many fanciful years he wandered in the forest of Fontainebleau, in some of whose villages he is still a superstition, easily eclipsing the memory of his more famous cousin. And this was, no doubt, the happiest, most fruitful period of his career. A return to France was for him a return to youth, to that far-off day when he helped to launch the celebrated houseboat The Eleven Thousand Virgins of Cologne - at the Quai des Grands Augustins. Maybe the studios gave him more theory than practice; but his brain was essentially analytic, and doubtless he brought back from France theories on the practice of life, as well as upon all the arts. He was, in fact, a profound philosopher: he laughed at at most things, and understood them all. His hard intelligence pierced every obscurity, and no man ever looked at life in a juster relation. Metaphysics had taken the place which theology sometimes fills in the Scot's brain, and he always intended to return to their study, which, said he, was the proper pursuit of a leisured gentleman. But, above all, he was an artist in talk; it was to talk that he gave the best of his life, and those who knew him have suffered a supreme loss. Never did he spare himself or his fancy. He spoke of all things with incomparable
VOL. CLXVII.—NO. MXVI.
Robert Louis Stevenson, in his essay on "Talk and Talkers," has dubbed him "Springheeled Jack," and the name does not seem perfectly appropriate. Quick, vivacious, alert he always was; but though he might change his method of attack or defence, he never changed his ground. Behind his swift thought and delightful levity there was a solid wall of principle-principle in art, principle in taste, principle in life. Iberian as he called himself, he was the sternest classic of his time. A reactionary, who had passed through the school of anarchy, he could not endure any violation of moral or artistic law. Milton and Wordsworth were still in his eyes exemplars to be cherished. Possibly he would have put the choruses in "Samson" by the side of Virgil, and it is not surprising that he worshipped Handel in music, and delighted in the solemn, grandiose motives of Poussin. Whatever view he held he would urge with a fiery eloquence. For despite his fear of banks and other solemnities, he was always gifted with intellectual courage. If opinions were discussed, the strange
timidity with which life some- of fancy and eloquence-dead, times worried him instantly and no more, no less than disappeared, and he would a memory. Truly they write have his way against the their name in water whose world. To say that he was wisdom is prodigally poured magnanimous and upright is to forth in talk. Yet Stevenson pay a compliment that esteemed life more highly than gentleman needs to hear. Yet fame, and no man of our time we should do him less than has had a larger share of the justice if we did not record one good things which the world. effect of his influence. Those may give us laughter, joyouswho knew him valued his ness, art, affection. Above all, approval above all things. as he lived his own life, so he Would Stevenson have done will go on living in the impulse that? they would ask in the and energy which he imparted face of any enterprise. Would to others. And we rejoice to Stevenson have thought that? remember him as a man with they demanded before a new no sharp edges, whose noblest opinion. And we doubt whether traits, whose austerest prina higher tribute than this can ciple, still had a margin to be paid to any man. embroider with the flowers of fancy.
And he is dead, this miracle
THE FAITHFUL CITY.
MONTH after month of fighting-till Hope in the dust lay low,
Month after month of watching, till the bravest heart grew cold,
As the chance of help waxed fainter, and the sullen Foe more
One and another missing from the daily sharing of bread,
And the roll of the Living short'ned by the length'ning roll of the Dead:
Wrapped in an isolation that was harder by far to bear
Than the roar of ceaseless Cannon, or the reek of the sickly air
Desperate and yet undaunted-as the sixth month's Siege went by
Echoing their Colonel's message: "Hungry-cheerful-dry"!
Lonely? never less lonely, oh Garrison staunch and true, There is not a heart in England that has not watched with you!
Eager, restless, impatient, as the weeks and months went past, We look'd for the conquering Column that brought you relief at last,
Till that night when we stood together waiting with straining breath
For the hurrying, fateful tidings which seem'd to us life or death;
And the long suspense was over, and we lifted wet eyes to see High over the Loyal City the Banner of Victory!