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Memories and Portraits

The following is from Memories and Portraits by Robert Louis Stevenson:


THIS volume of papers, unconnected as they are, it will be better to read through from the beginning, rather than dip into at random. A certain thread of meaning binds them. Memories of childhood and youth, portraits of those who have gone before us in the battle - taken together, they build up a face that "I have loved long since and lost awhile," the face of what was once myself. This has come by accident; I had no design at first to be autobiographical; I was but led away by the charm of beloved memories and by regret for the irrevocable dead; and when my own young face (which is a face of the dead also) began to appear in the well as by a kind of magic, I was the first to be surprised at the occurrence.

My grandfather the pious child, my father the idle eager sentimental youth, I have thus unconsciously exposed. Of their descendant, the person of to-day, I wish to keep the secret: not because I love him better, but because, with him, I am still in a business partnership, and cannot divide interests.

Of the papers which make up the volume, some have appeared already in The Cornhill, Longman's, Scribner, The English Illustrated, The Magazine of Art, The Contemporary Review; three are here in print for the first time; and two others have enjoyed only what may he regarded as a private circulation.

R. L S.

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