I remember that I was haunted by two lines of French verse; in some dumb way they seemed to fit my surroundings and give expression to the contentment that was in me, and I kept repeating to myself--

"Mon coeur est un luth suspendu,[24] Sitot qu'on le touche, il resonne."

I can give no reason why these lines came to me at this time; and for that very cause I repeat them here. For all I know, they may serve to complete the impression in the mind of the reader, as they were certainly a part of it for me.

And this happened to me in the place of all others where I liked least to stay. When I think of it I grow ashamed of my own ingratitude. "Out of the strong came forth sweetness."[25] There, in the bleak and gusty North, I received, perhaps, my strongest impression of peace. I saw the sea to be great and calm; and the earth, in that little corner, was all alive and friendly to me. So, wherever a man is, he will find something to please and pacify him: in the town he will meet pleasant faces of men and women, and see beautiful flowers at a window, or hear a cage-bird singing at the corner of the gloomiest street; and for the country, there is no country without some amenity--let him only look for it in the right spirit, and he will surely find.


This article first appeared in the _Portfolio_, for November 1874, and was not reprinted until two years after Stevenson's death, in 1896, when it was included in the _Miscellanies_ (Edinburgh Edition, _Miscellanies_, Vol. IV, pp. 131-142). The editor of the _Portfolio_ was the well-known art critic, Philip Gilbert Hamerton (1834-1894), author of the _Intellectual Life_ (1873). Just one year before, Stevenson had had printed in the _Portfolio_ his first contribution to any periodical, _Roads_. Although _The Enjoyment of Unpleasant Places_ attracted scarcely any attention on its first appearance, and has since become practically forgotten, there is perhaps no better essay among his earlier works with which to begin a study of his personality, temperament, and style. In its cheerful optimism this article is particularly characteristic of its author. It should be remembered that when this essay was first printed, Stevenson was only twenty-four years old.

[Note 1: _It is a difficult matter_, etc. The appreciation of nature is a quite modern taste, for although people have always loved the scenery which reminds them of home, it was not at all fashionable in England to love nature for its own sake before 1740. Thomas Gray was the first person in Europe who seems to have exhibited a real love of mountains (see his _Letters_). A study of the development of the appreciation of nature before and after Wordsworth (England's greatest nature poet) is exceedingly interesting. See Myra Reynolds, _The Treatment of Nature in English Poetry between Pope and Wordsworth_ (1896).]

[Note 2: _This discipline in scenery._ Note what is said on this subject in Browning's extraordinary poem, _Fra Lippo Lippi_, vs. 300-302.

"For, don't you mark? We're made so that we love First when we see them painted, things we have passed Perhaps a hundred times nor cared to see."]

[Note 3: _Brantome quaintly tells us, "fait des discours en soi pour se soutenir en chemin."_ Freely translated, "the traveller talks to himself to keep up his courage on the road." Pierre de Bourdeille, Abbe de Brantome, (cir. 1534-1614), travelled all over Europe. His works were not published till long after his death, in 1665. Several complete editions of his writings in numerous volumes have appeared in the nineteenth century, one edited by the famous writer, Prosper Merimee.]

[Note 4: _We are provocative of beauty._ Compare again, _Fra Lippo Lippi_, vs. 215 et seq.

"Or say there's beauty with no soul at all-- (I never saw it--put the case the same--) If you get simple beauty and nought else, You get about the best thing God invents: That's somewhat: and you'll find the soul you have missed, Within yourself, when you return him thanks."]

[Note 5: _Callot, or Sadeler, or Paul Brill._ Jacques Callot was an eminent French artist of the XVII century, born at Nancy in 1592, died 1635.

Robert Louis Stevenson
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