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 What shall be said of the product of this eager and varied effort? Shall we lament the incompleteness and immaturity of a life fourteen years longer than Keats's and ten years longer than Shelley's? Shall we bemoan the constant battle with disease, which yet left to Stevenson the energy for an exquisitely wrought style? Shall we bewail the hard necessity of winning his daily bread in a land devastated by civil war and depressed by corrupt government, and the consequent removal to a more congenial and invigorating clime far from friends and family? Or shall we endeavour merely to disengage the essential characteristics and achievements of this troublous activity, so that his contribution to our American heritage may stand out clear? He did, of course, engage in too much hackwork for his own good or his reputation. Yet so exuberant was his activity that he dispatched all of these tasks with zest. His ‘sort of spiritualized guide-book’ to Florida contains many descriptions over which he must have lingered and which bear witness to a quick eye and a rich humour. He puts into the whole book, too, much of himself, his love of music, his over-refining intellect, his relish of local tradition. His boys' books, the Froissart and King Arthur and the rest, reveal even more of the man. He had from early youth cherished a recurring interest in the deeds and heroes of chivalry. They answered to an innate knightliness of spirit which was fostered by his Southern up-bringing. He would pick up the volume as it came fresh from the printers, familiar though it was by reason of the preparation and the proof-reading, and con page after page with pure delight. In his introductions he never learned to address his young readers, but through the mature style gleams his absorption in this fresh new world of romance. The same personal reaction appears in his critical writings. The zeal with which he pursued these researches during the last years of his life astonishes one who remembers the meagre initiation he had received at college into the methods of scholar. ship. The attainments, too, of those few years are considerable. He read with an assiduity that helped to shorten his days and with a whole-souled enthusiasm and moral earnestness that lent to his utterances much of the fluency and high seriousness of Ruskin. But even greater than Ruskin's is his tendency to wander. He did not keep the goal in view.
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