Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/247

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ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

The 'love of youth,' says Mr. Henry James in an admirable essay, 'is the beginning and end of Stevenson's message.' Mr. James was writing before Stevenson's last publications, and was thinking specially, perhaps, of Treasure Island. Now to me, I confess, for I fear that it is a confession, Treasure Island is the one story which I can admire without the least qualification or reserve. The aim may not be the highest, but it is attained with the most thorough success. It may be described as a 'message' in the sense that it appeals to the boyish element. Stevenson has described the fit of inspiration in which he wrote it. He had a schoolboy for audience; his father became a schoolboy to collaborate; and when published it made schoolboys of Gladstone and of the editor of the 'cynical' Saturday Review. We believe in it as we believe in Robinson Crusoe. My only trouble is that I have always thought that, had I been in command of the Hispaniola, I should have adopted a different line of defence against the conspirators. My plan would have spoilt the story, but I regret the error as I regret certain real blunders which were supposed to have changed the course of history. I have always wondered that, after such a proof of his powers of