His influence seems to be steadily declining and he is certainly not so much read as formerly.... For John Webster and Congreve, see Notes 37 and 26 of Chapter IV above.]

[Note 5: _City of Peebles in the style of the Book of Snobs._ Thackeray's _Book of Snobs_ was published in 1848. Peebles is the county town of Peebles County in the South of Scotland.]

[Note 6: _My later plays_, etc. Stevenson's four plays were not successful. They were all written in collaboration with W.E. Henley. _Deacon Brodie_ was printed in 1880: _Admiral Guinea_ and _Beau Austin_ in 1884: _Macaire_ in 1885. In 1892, the first three were published in one volume, under the title _Three Plays_: In 1896 all four appeared in a volume called _Four Plays_. At the time the essay _A College Magazine_ was published, only one of these plays had been acted, _Deacon Brodie_, to which Stevenson refers in our text. This "came on the stage itself and was played by bodily actors" at Pullan's _Theatre of Varieties_, Bradford, England, 28 December 1882, and in March 1883 at Her Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen, "when it was styled a 'New Scotch National Drama.'"--Prideaux, _Bibliography_, p. 10. It was later produced at Prince's Theatre, London, 2 July 1884, and in Montreal, 26 September 1887. _Beau Austin_ was played at the Haymarket Theatre, London, 3 Nov. 1890. _Admiral Guinea_ was played at the _Avenue Theatre_, on the afternoon of 29 Nov. 1897, and, like the others, was not successful. _The Athenaeum_ for 4 Dec. 1897 contains an interesting criticism of this drama.... _Semiramis_ was the original plan of a "tragedy," which Stevenson afterwards rewrote as a novel, _Prince Otto_, and published in 1885.]

[Note 7: _It was so Keats learned_. This must be swallowed with a grain of salt. The best criticism of the poetry of Keats is contained in his own _Letters_, which have been edited by Colvin and by Forman.]

[Note 8: _Montaigne ... Cicero_. Montaigne, as a child, spoke Latin before he could French: see his _Essays_. Montaigne is always original, frank, sincere: Cicero (in his orations) is always a _Poseur_.]

[Note 9: _Burns ... Shakespeare_. Some reflection on, and investigation of these statements by Stevenson, will be highly beneficial to the student.]

[Note 10: The literary scales. It is very interesting to note that Thomas Carlyle had completely mastered the technique of ordinary prose composition, before he deliberately began to write in his own picturesque style, which has been called "Carlylese"; note the enormous difference in style between his _Life of Schiller_ (1825) and his _Sartor Resartus_ (1833-4). Carlyle would be a shining illustration of the point Stevenson is trying to make.]

No notes have been added to the second and third parts of this essay, as these portions are unimportant, and may be omitted by the student; they are really introductory to something quite different, and are printed in our edition only to make this essay complete.



The Editor[2] has somewhat insidiously laid a trap for his correspondents, the question put appearing at first so innocent, truly cutting so deep. It is not, indeed, until after some reconnaissance and review that the writer awakes to find himself engaged upon something in the nature of autobiography, or, perhaps worse, upon a chapter in the life of that little, beautiful brother whom we once all had, and whom we have all lost and mourned, the man we ought to have been, the man we hoped to be. But when word has been passed (even to an editor), it should, if possible, be kept; and if sometimes I am wise and say too little, and sometimes weak and say too much, the blame must lie at the door of the person who entrapped me.

The most influential books,[3] and the truest in their influence, are works of fiction. They do not pin the reader to a dogma, which he must afterwards discover to be inexact; they do not teach him a lesson, which he must afterwards unlearn. They repeat, they rearrange, they clarify the lessons of life; they disengage us from ourselves, they constrain us to the acquaintance of others; and they show us the web of experience, not as we can see it for ourselves, but with a singular change--that monstrous, consuming _ego_ of ours being, for the nonce, struck out.

Robert Louis Stevenson
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