Download Across the Plains: With other Memories and Essays by Robert Louis Stevenson PDF

By Robert Louis Stevenson

The distinguished Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson prepared for his pal the paintings historian Sidney Colvin to pick and organise the essays during this quantity, a lot of which had initially seemed in 1888, even though a few date again to the early Eighteen Eighties. It used to be released in 1892, years prior to Stevenson's premature loss of life. Colvin got the various items from their unique publishers, together with magazines comparable to Fraser's, Longman's, The journal of artwork and Scribner's. what's rather noteworthy approximately this assortment is that even supposing Stevenson had settled within the South Seas good sooner than it seemed, all of the goods integrated have been written sooner than his trip there. Colvin mentions that the concluding items specifically have been written in the course of a interval of substantial gloom and ailment for Stevenson, who himself claimed to 'recover peace of physique and brain' after relocating to the Pacific in 1890.

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And yet when day came, it was to shine upon the same broken and unsightly quarter of the world. Mile upon mile, and not a tree, a bird, or a river. Only down the long, sterile canons, the train shot hooting and awoke the resting echo. That train was the one piece of life in all the deadly land; it was the one actor, the one spectacle fit to be observed in this paralysis of man and nature. And when I think how the railroad has been pushed through this unwatered wilderness and haunt of savage tribes, and now will bear an emigrant for some £\2 from the Atlantic to the Golden Gates; how at each stage of the construction, Across the Plains 49 roaring, impromptu cities, full of gold and lust and death, sprang up and then died away again, and are now but wayside stations in the desert; how in these uncouth places pigtailed Chinese pirates worked side by side with border ruffians and broken men from Europe, talking together in a mixed dialect, mostly oaths, gambling, drinking, quarrelling and murdering like wolves ; how the plumed hereditary lord of all America heard, in this last fastness, the scream of the ' bad medicine waggon' charioting his foes ; and then when I go on to remember that all this epical turmoil was conducted by gentlemen in frock coats, and with a view to nothing more extraordinary than a fortune and a subsequent visit to Paris, it seems to me, I own, as if this railway were the one typical achievement of the age in which we live, as if it brought together into one plot all the ends of the world and all the degrees of social rank, and offered to some great writer the busiest, the most extended, and the most varied subject for an enduring literary work.

For the rest of the journey I was petted like a sick child ; he lent me newspapers, thus depriving himself of his legitimate profit on their sale, and came repeatedly to sit by me and cheer me up. 4O Across the Plains THE PLAINS OF NEBRASKA. It had thundered on the Friday night, but the sun rose on Saturday without a cloud. We were at sea—there is no other adequate expression—on the plains of Nebraska. I made my observatory on the top of a fruit-waggon, and sat by the hour upon that perch to spy about me, and to spy in vain for something new.

Although it was chill, I was obliged to open my window, for the degradation of the air soon became intolerable to one who was awake and using the full supply of life. Outside, in a glimmering night, I saw the black, amorphous hills shoot by unweariedly into our wake. They that long for morning have never longed for it more earnestly than I. And yet when day came, it was to shine upon the same broken and unsightly quarter of the world. Mile upon mile, and not a tree, a bird, or a river. Only down the long, sterile canons, the train shot hooting and awoke the resting echo.

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