« PreviousContinue »
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
^^.^OBERT LOUIS STEVENSON, the writer of My Bed Is a Boat, was a Scotchman, and was born in Edinburgh, in 1830. He was an only son, and most of the poems which he wrote for children show that while his childhood was happy, it was perhaps a little lonesome; that is, most of his poems are about one child.
Stevenson's father was a noted engineer, who planned and built lighthouses, and he intended that his son should be an engineer and build lighthouses, too; but young Robert Louis decided that he was not fitted for that work, and studied to be a lawyer. He knew all the time that he liked to write better than to do anything else, but it never occurred to him that he could actually give up his life to that and make his living by it. However, about 1877 or 1878, he took two trips—one a canoeing trip in Belgium and France, the other a walking trip through France, his only companion being a particularly stubborn donkey; and he wrote about these little journeys so delightfully in An Inland Voyage and Travels with a Donkey that all his friends insisted it was a shame for him to do anything but write.
In 1879 he had a very curious, if not a very pleasant, experience: he crossed to the United States in an emigrant ship, living with the poorest kind of people, and then journeyed across the United States
to California in an emigrant train. He wrote very interesting books about these journeys, too.
In California Stevenson was married, and we are glad to know that in all the journeys which he took from that time he had a companion who made him happy. For Stevenson was an invalid and was obliged to travel from one place to another, seeking some spot where he could feel fairly well and strong. He saw many curious places, and finally he settled on one of the Samoan Islands, in the South Seas. It was hard for him to work, but he kept himself busy until the very last—until he died, in 1894. His grave is on the peak of a mountain named Vaea, above his home, which he had named Vailima.
Stevenson wrote many kinds of things. Some of his stories, Treasure Island, Kidnapped and others, are exciting tales of adventure, which any boy might like to read, while his essays, with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and other stories, are more distinctively for grown people. However, among all his writings there is little more delightful than the poems for children, which show how clearly he remembered his own boyhood.
AT THE SEA-SIDE
By Robert Louis Stevenson
When I was down beside the sea
My holes were empty like a cup.