D. He was brought up among the soldiers, who gave him the name Caligula, because he wore the soldier's leather shoe, or half-boot, (Latin _caliga_). Caligula was deified, but that did not prevent him from becoming a madman, which seems to be the best way to account for his wanton cruelty and extraordinary caprices.]

[Note 10: _Baiae_ was a small town on the Campanian Coast, ten miles from Naples. It was a favorite summer resort of the Roman aristocracy.]

[Note 11: The _Praetorian Guard_ was the body-guard of the Roman emperors. The incident Stevenson speaks of may be found in Tacitus.]

[Note 12: _Job_ ... _Walt Whitman_. The book of _Job_ is usually regarded as the most poetical work in the Bible, even exceeding _Psalms_ and _Isaiah_ in its splendid imaginative language and extraordinary figures of speech. For a literary study of it, the student is recommended to Professor Moulton's edition. Omar Khayyam was a Persian poet of mediaeval times, who became known to English readers through the beautiful paraphrase of some of his stanzas by Edward Fitzgerald, in 1859. If any one will take the trouble to compare a literal prose rendering of Omar (as in N.H. Dole's variorum edition) with the version by Fitzgerald, he will speedily see that the power and beauty of the poem is due far more to the skill of "Old Fitz" than to the original. Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) was perhaps the foremost writer of English prose in the nineteenth century. Although a consummate literary artist, he was even more influential as a moral tonic. His philosophy and that of Omar represent as wide a contrast as could easily be found. Walt Whitman, the strange American poet (1819-1892), whose famous _Leaves_ _of Grass_ (1855) excited an uproar in America, and gave the author a much more serious reputation in Europe. Stevenson's interest in him was genuine, but not partisan, and his essay, _The Gospel According to Walt Whitman (The New Quarterly Magazine_, Oct. 1878), is perhaps the most judicious appreciation in the English language of this singular poet. Job, Omar Khayyam, Carlyle and Whitman, taken together, certainly give a curious collection of what the Germans call _Weltanschauungen_.]

[Note 13: _A vapour, or a show, or made out of the same stuff with dreams_. For constant comparisons of life with a vapour or a show, see Quarles's _Emblems_ (1635), though these conventional figures may be found thousands of times in general literature. The latter part of the sentence refers to the _Tempest_, Act IV, Scene I.

"We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep."]

[Note 14: _Permanent Possibility of Sensation_. "Matter then, may be defined, a Permanent Possibility of Sensation."--John Stuart Mill, _Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy_, Vol. I. Chap. XI.]

[Note 15: _Like the Commander's Statue_. In the familiar story of Don Juan, where the audacious rake accepts the Commander's invitation to supper. For treatments of this theme, see Moliere's play _Don Juan_, or Mozart's opera _Don Giovanni_; see also Bernard Shaw's paradoxical play, _Man and Superman_.... _We have something else in hand, thank God, and let him knock_. It is possible that Stevenson's words here are an unconscious reminiscence of Colley Cibber's letter to the novelist Richardson. This unabashed old profligate celebrated the Christmas Day of his eightieth year by writing to the apostle of domestic virtue in the following strain: "Though Death has been cooling his heels at my door these three weeks, I have not had time to see him. The daily conversation of my friends has kept me so agreeably alive, that I have not passed my time better a great while. If you have a mind to make one of us, I will order Death to come another day."]

[Note 16: _All the world over, and every hour_. He might truthfully have said, "every second."]

[Note 17: _A mere bag's end, as the French say. A cul de sac._]

[Note 18: _Our respected lexicographer ... Highland tour ... triple brass ...

Essays of Robert Louis Stevenson Page 27

Robert Louis Stevenson

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book