For while he holds all the poor little orthodoxies of the day - no poorer and no smaller than those of yesterday or to-morrow, poor and small, indeed, only so far as they are exclusive - the living quality of much that he has done is of a contrary, I had almost said of a heretical, complexion. A man, as I read him, of an originally strong romantic bent - a certain glow of romance still resides in many of his books, and lends them their distinction. As by accident he runs out and revels in the exceptional; and it is then, as often as not, that his reader rejoices - justly, as I contend. For in all this excessive eagerness to be centrally human, is there not one central human thing that Mr. Howells is too often tempted to neglect: I mean himself? A poet, a finished artist, a man in love with the appearances of life, a cunning reader of the mind, he has other passions and aspirations than those he loves to draw. And why should he suppress himself and do such reverence to the Lemuel Barkers? The obvious is not of necessity the normal; fashion rules and deforms; the majority fall tamely into the contemporary shape, and thus attain, in the eyes of the true observer, only a higher power of insignificance; and the danger is lest, in seeking to draw the normal, a man should draw the null, and write the novel of society instead of the romance of man.


(1) 1881.

(2) Written for the "Book" of the Edinburgh University Union Fancy Fair.

(3) Professor Tait's laboratory assistant.

(4) In Dr. Murray's admirable new dictionary, I have remarked a flaw SUB VOCE Beacon. In its express, technical sense, a beacon may be defined as "a founded, artificial sea-mark, not lighted."

(5) The late Fleeming Jenkin.

(6) This sequel was called forth by an excellent article in THE SPECTATOR.

(7) Waiter, Watty, Woggy, Woggs, Wogg, and lastly Bogue; under which last name he fell in battle some twelve months ago. Glory was his aim and he attained it; for his icon, by the hand of Caldecott, now lies among the treasures of the nation.

(8) Since traced by many obliging correspondents to the gallery of Charles Kingsley.

(9) Since the above was written I have tried to launch the boat with my own hands in KIDNAPPED. Some day, perhaps, I may try a rattle at the shutters.

(10) 1882.

(11) This paper, which does not otherwise fit the present volume, is reprinted here as the proper continuation of the last.

(12) 1884

(13) Now no longer so, thank Heaven!

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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