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Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson


From Underwoods
There are men and classes of men that stand above the 
common herd: the soldier, the sailor and the shepherd not 
unfrequently; the artist rarely; rarely still, the clergyman; 
the physician almost as a rule.  He is the flower (such as it 
is) of our civilisation; and when that stage of man is done 
with, and only remembered to be marvelled at in history, he 
will be thought to have shared as little as any in the defects 
of the period, and most notably exhibited the virtues of the 
race.  Generosity he has, such as is possible to those who 
practise an art, never to those who drive a trade; discretion, 
tested by a hundred secrets; tact, tried in a thousand 
embarrassments; and what are more important, Heraclean 
cheerfulness and courage.  So it is that he brings air and 
cheer into the sickroom, and often enough, though not so often 
as he wishes, brings healing.

Gratitude is but a lame sentiment; thanks, when they are 
expressed, are often more embarrassing than welcome; and yet I 
must set forth mine to a few out of many doctors who have 
brought me comfort and help: to Dr. Willey of San Francisco, 
whose kindness to a stranger it must be as grateful to him, as 
it is touching to me, to remember; to Dr. Karl Ruedi of Davos, 
the good genius of the English in his frosty mountains; to Dr. 
Herbert of Paris, whom I knew only for a week, and to Dr. 
Caissot of Montpellier, whom I knew only for ten days, and who 
have yet written their names deeply in my memory; to Dr. 
Brandt of Royat; to Dr. Wakefield of Nice; to Dr. Chepmell, 
whose visits make it a pleasure to be ill; to Dr. Horace 
Dobell, so wise in counsel; to Sir Andrew Clark, so unwearied 
in kindness and to that wise youth, my uncle, Dr. Balfour.

I forget as many as I remember; and I ask both to pardon 
me, these for silence, those for inadequate speech.  But one 
name I have kept on purpose to the last, because it is a 
household word with me, and because if I had not received 
favours from so many hands and in so many quarters of the 
world, it should have stood upon this page alone: that of my 
friend Thomas Bodley Scott of Bournemouth.  Will he accept 
this, although shared among so many, for a dedication to 
himself? and when next my ill-fortune (which has thus its 
pleasant side) brings him hurrying to me when he would fain 
sit down to meat or lie down to rest, will he care to remember 
that he takes this trouble for one who is not fool enough to 
be ungrateful?


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