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Non-Fiction > Uncollected essays > Volumes 33-38, 1876-1878 - Cornhill magazine > Volume 36

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publish three or thirty articles a year, that he should finish or not finish
his great allegorical picture, are questions of little interest to the world.
The ranks of life are full ; and although a thousand fall, there are always
some to go into the breach. When they told Joan of Arc she should
be at home minding women's work, she answered there were plenty
to spin and wash. And so, even with your own rare gifts ! When
nature is " so careless of the single life," why should we coddle ourselves
into the fancy that our own is of exceptional importance 1 Suppose
Shakespeare had been knocked on the head some dark night in Sir
Thomas Lucy's pi-esei v^es, the world would have wagged on better or
worse, the pitcher gone to the well, the scythe to the corn, and the
student to his book ; and no one been any the wiser of the loss. There
are not many works extant, if you look the alternative all over, which
are worth the price of a pound of tobacco to a man of limited means.
This is a sobering reflection for the proudest of our earthly vanities.
Even a tobacconist may, upon consideration, find no great cause for
personal vainglory in the phrase ; for although tobacco is an admirable
sedative, the qualities necessary for retailing it are neither rare nor
precious in themselves. Alas and alas ! you may take it how you will,
but the services of no single individual are indispensable. Atlas was
jvist a gentleman with a protracted nightmare! And yet you see mer-
chants who go and labour themselves into a great fortiine and thence
into the bankruptcy court; scribblers who keep scribbling at little
articles until their temper is a cross to all who come about them, as
though Pharaoh should set the Israelites to make a pin instead of a
pyramid ; and fine young men who work themselves into a decline, and
are driven off" in a hearse with white plumes upon it. Would you
not suppose these persons had been whispered, by the Master of the
Ceremonies, the promise of some momentous destiny? and that this
lukewarm bullet on which they play their farces was the bull's-eye and
centrepoint of all the universe ? And yet it is not so. The ends for which
â– they give away their priceless youth, for all they know, may be chimer-
ical or hurtful ; the glory and riches they exjject may never come, or
may find them indifferent; and they and the world they inhabit are so
inconsiderable that the mind freezes at the thought.
R. L. S.

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Early editions of Robert Louis Stevenson > Non-Fiction > Uncollected essays > Cornhill magazine > Volume 36 > (14) Page 86
(14) Page 86
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Volume 36
DescriptionVolume XXXVI, No. 212, July to December 1877: 'Apology for idlers', pages 80-85, 'Francois Villon, pages 215-234.
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Dates / events: 1877 [Date/event in text]
Subject / content: Volumes (documents by form)
Person / organisation: Stevenson, Robert Louis, 1850-1894 [Contributor]
Volumes 33-38, 1876-1878 - Cornhill magazine
DescriptionA fiction-carrying magazine and literary journal. London : Smith, Elder and Co., v. 1-47, Jan. 1860-June 1883; new series v. 1-26, July 1883-June 1896; new [3d] series, v. 1-74, July 1896-June 1933; v. 148-160, 1933-Dec. 1939; v. 161-181; Jan. 1944-July 1975.
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Form / genre: Written and printed matter > Periodicals
Dates / events: 1860-1975 [Date published]
Places: Europe > United Kingdom > England > Greater London > London (inhabited place) [Place published]
Subject / content: Fiction
Journals (periodicals)
Short stories
Person / organisation: Smith, Elder, and Co. [Publisher]
Uncollected essays
DescriptionEssays and reviews from contemporary magazines and journals (some of which are republished in the collections). 'Will o' the Mill', from Volume 37 of the 'Cornhill Magazine', is a short story or fable.
Early editions of Robert Louis Stevenson
DescriptionFull text versions of early editions of works by Robert Louis Stevenson. Includes 'Kidnapped', 'The Master of Ballantrae' and other well-known novels, as well as 'Prince Otto', 'Dynamiter' and 'St Ives'. Also early British and American book editions, serialisations of novels in newspapers and literary magazines, and essays by Stevenson.
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Person / organisation: Stevenson, Robert Louis, 1850-1894 [Author]
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