The fable, as a form of literary art, had at all times a great attraction for Mr. Stevenson; and in an early review of Lord Lytton's Fables in Song he attempted to define some of its proper aims and methods. To this class of work, according to his conception of the matter, belonged essentially several of his own semi-supernatural stories, such as "Will of the Mill," "Markheim," and even "Jekyll and Hyde;" in the composition of which there was combined with the dream element, in at least an equal measure, the element of moral allegory or apologue. He was accustomed also to try his hand occasionally on the composition of fables more strictly so called, and cast in the conventional brief and familiar form. By the winter of 1887-88 he had enough of these by him, together with a few others running to greater length, and conceived in a more mystic and legendary vein, to enable him, as he thought, to see his way towards making a book of them. Such a book he promised to Messrs. Longman on the occasion of a visit paid him in New York by a member of the firm in the spring of 1888. Then came his voyage to the Pacific and residence at Samoa. Among the multitude of new interests and images which filled his mind during the last six years of his life, he seems to have given little thought to the proposed book of fables. One or two, however, as will be seen, were added to the collection during this period. That collection, as it stood at the time of his death, was certainly not what its author had meant it to be. Whether it would have seen the light had he lived is doubtful; but after his death it seemed to his representatives of sufficient interest to be handed to Messrs. Longman, in part fulfilment of his old pledge to them, for publication in their Magazine, and there it first appeared.