A Chronicle of Friendships

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    Biografie, Saggistica

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This is a chronicle of small, unimportant happenings. The subsequent importance of one of the young men who figures therein should be, I presume, its best excuse for being; but a truthful portrayal of even his character, as it rises clear in my memory, demands that no more than his then importance should be assigned him. For the keynote of the intercourse of the little band of youths of differing nationalities whom chance threw together in France in the early seventies was a common respect for individual characteristics. Hence this, though largely occupied with two young Scots, cousins, the narrator and others figure therein; and it does not pretend to give to Robert Louis Stevenson the dominant position which he won in later life. To me, even at that time, he was marked with signs of genius, and in the give and take of unconventional intercourse, I think that we would perhaps have given him first place had it ever occurred to make such distinctions; perhaps, I add, for equal suffrage at least would have been ac corded to his cousin Robert Alan Mowbray Stevenson, who in all the qualities of dominating Wit, potential in our assembly, where project and purpose outweighed action and accomplish ment, outshone us all. In the preface of Virginibus Puerisque Stevenson abandons an earlier project of writing a series of papers on Life at Twenty-five, believing that at thirty odd the time for such a work was past. Rushing where R. L. S. Has feared to tread, I might quote Cellini's opening paragraphs in his autobiography, in defence of a project to enregister the events which occupied these years of our youth. For the man past fifty can look back with a certain clearness of vision which is denied him in the years when youth is slipping from his grasp.

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