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it was left for a far different man, of the next generation, to distil the very essence of romance, and to give us the real tang of the sea. Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh in 1850, that “romantic town” which, as the home of his youth, became in later years the Mecca of his imagination and memory. With Stevenson the love of romance was

an inborn passion. The love of the sea, its dangers, its wild islands and rocky coasts, ran in the blood. His father and grandfather had been lighthouse builders, romantic figures, whose joy in their career was as “strong as the love of woman." Stevenson himself said that he loved a ship "as a man loves Burgundy or daybreak.” But he who, beyond all, craved a career of action, and who set life above literature, was destined to express himself not through deeds but through letters, and to try the temper of his spirit in a lifelong battle with disease.

A sickly boyhood made a regular education impossible, but what Stevenson missed in schooling he more than made up by his own ingenuity, and by travel with his parents. Even thus early, in playing at pirate and in planning and writing stories, he showed that love of literature and adventure which remained with him through life. In 1867 Stevenson entered the University of Edinburgh, but there, too, his education was fragmentary. He attended lectures irregularly, merely dropping in when he happened that way in the course of more profitable pursuits. Much of his time he spent mbling about the country, "scraping romantic acquaintance," as he would say, with beggars, innkeepers, and other characters of the road. But at the same time he was doing much reading; he was noting his impressions, and training himself in the art of writ

ing. His first published article was a familiar essay On Roads (1873). From 1874 to the end of his life Stevenson spent most of his time beyond the British Isles, in search of health. He lived in France, Switzerland, America, and among the islands of the South Seas. In 1891 he settled in Samoa, where, in the silence of his forest home above the sea, he died in 1894.

In Stevenson's works we find that high spirit of enthusiasm, that fine ardor of boyhood, that sense of the romance of the present, which, with the deeper seriousness born of his long struggle with death, was his richest gift to his time. In 1883 Stevenson published Treasure Island, his first long story of adventure. Treasure Island is a boy's book — with a difference. We recognize the familiar materials of the sensational story-teller, for there are pirates, a lonely and mysterious island, a search for hidden treasure, much bad language, and a prodigious expenditure of blood. But these rather shabby stage properties have become a new thing under Stevenson's hand. He has lifted his theme into a higher region by his own genuinely romantic enjoyment of the story, and his gift of a literary style.

We cannot follow Stevenson's development here through his later romances up to his unfinished book Weir of Wermiston, but one characteristic of his work cannot be entirely passed over — its pictorial power.

His stories abound in scenes which are indelibly stamped on the imagination. In the Master of Ballantrae, perhaps his most perfect book, we see the duel between the two brothers, in the cold of that “windless” night when the sky was a black roof overhead and the candles burned steady. Apparently

One person

it was often the scene, the appropriate setting for a story, that set his imagination to work. In A Gossip on Romance, Stevenson says: “Some places speak distinctly. Certain dank gardens cry aloud for murder; certain old houses demand to be haunted; certain coasts are set apart for shipwreck."

But a youthful joy in romance, and an æsthetic devotion to the refinements of style, were far from satisfying Stevenson's whole nature. He had a tougher fiber in him; he had the force to think and the strength to endure; and he consistently used literature in the service of life. His philosophy is contained in his own words: “There is an idea abroad among moral people that they should make their neighbours good. I have to make good: myself. But my duty to my neighbour is much more nearly expressed by saying that I have to make him happy -- if I may."

George Meredith (1828–1909). – Of a very different type was the work of George Meredith, one of the earliest and one of the latest of the Victorians. His interest centered not so much in action as in thought and passion, and his novels are notable for their play of wit and their nervous energy rather than for any clear or interesting narrative.

Born in 1828, and producing his first novel of importance, The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, in 1859, Meredith belongs in point of time to the generation of Thackeray and George Eliot; but because of the cast of his mind and his tardy recognition by the public, he is placed with the later Victorians. Meredith came of Welsh and Irish parentage. His early education was obtained in Germany. After returning to England and attempting the study of the law, he entered upon the career of letters. Beside writing poems, he became

correspondent for the Morning Post, reader and critic for one of the leading publishing houses, and, for a brief period, editor of the Fortnightly Review. With the appearance of his novels, the reputation which he had gained among a coterie of the first literary men of London gradually increased, until, though never popular, his books came to be regarded as classics by the connoisseurs of literature in general.

Meredith is one of the most difficult of novelists to read. As with Browning, with whom he is often compared, the intricacies of his style and the rush of his thought exact from the reader patient and exhausting study. The reason for this is that Meredith is interested primarily in what men think, and only secondarily in what they do. He is professedly the philosopher, who has chosen to communicate the results of his study of human life through the form of fiction. But in the midst of much philosophy there are also certain memorable characters and scenes. The love-scene between Richard and Lucy in The Ordeal of Richard Feverel is justly famous. But Meredith's world is the world of exclusive culture and breeding, the aristocracy of blood, intellect, and clever

Moreover, the tense, overcharged atmosphere of his books is unrelieved by the quiet of ordinary life, and his characters are usually taken at the height of nervous excitement. They are strung to the high tension of Meredith's own mental life, and seem to think and speak his thoughts rather than their own.

Thomas Hardy. — The somber and impressive novels of Thomas Hardy (born 1840) are the work of a man of genius who is a poet at heart. The essentially poetic character of his mind is shown, not in any outward adornment of style, but in the tone and construction

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of his greatest books, and in his whole view of human life and nature.

Born in an obscure hamlet, in the heart of a wooded region north of Dorchester, Hardy has passed the greater part of his life among the country scenes and the rustic life he has chosen to describe. He is “a peasant and a woodlander," a student and a thinker. At seventeen he began the study of architecture in Dorsetshire, and at twenty he came up to London to practise his profession. In 1874 he won his first great popular success by Far from the Madding Crowd. He gave up the practice of his profession, retired to Dorsetshire, and devoted himself to literary work.

Hardy is one of the most subtle and sympathetic of the modern interpreters of Nature. His descriptions have the minuteness and accuracy born of long knowledge and close observation, and they show, what is even more than this, the power of entering into the mood of a scene, of making us feel the tone, or atmosphere, of a landscape, of identifying himself, as it would seem, with the very life of the natural objects he describes. These moors and farms and sheepfolds of Wessex that he has revealed to us in storm and calm, in daylight, in darkness, or at dawn, he peoples with men and women of a strong, primitive type, the true children of the soil. He has written true: pastorals full of humor, and yet touched with an idyllic freshness and beauty; not suppressing homely or vulgar realities, but impressing us with a sense of the pathos and wonder in occupations that are as old, almost, as the life of

In such books as Far from the Madding Crowd, Under the Greenwood Tree, and Tess of the D'Urbervilles we are brought near to that immemorial and almost inarticulate peasant class, that lives close to

men.

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