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Robert Louis Stevenson: A Record, an Estimate, and a Memorial By Alexander H. Japp Characters: 4086

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

Mr Hammerton, in his Stevensoniana (pp. 323-4), has given the humorous inscriptions on the volumes of his works which Stevenson presented to Dr Trudeau, who attended him when he was in Saranac in 1887-88-very characteristic in every way, and showing fully Stevenson's fine appreciation of any attention or service. On the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde volume he wrote:

"Trudeau was all the winter at my side:

I never saw the nose of Mr Hyde."

And on Kidnapped is this:

"Here is the one sound page of all my writing,

The one I'm proud of and that I delight in."

Stevenson was exquisite in this class of efforts, and were they all collected they would form indeed, a fine supplement and illustration of the leading lesson of his essays-the true art of pleasing others, and of truly pleasing one's self at the same time. To my thinking the finest of all in this line is the legal (?) deed by which he conveyed his birthday to little Miss Annie Ide, the daughter of Mr H. C. Ide, a well-known American, who was for several years a resident of Upolo, in Samoa, first as Land Commissioner, and later as Chief Justice under the joint appointment of England, Germany, and the United States. While living at Apia, Mr Ide and his family were very intimate with the family of R. L. Stevenson. Little Annie was a special pet and protégé of Stevenson and his wife. After the return of the Ides to their American home, Stevenson "deeded" to Annie his birthday in the following unique document:

I, Robert Louis Stevenson, advocate of the Scots Bar, author of The Master of Ballantrae and Moral Emblems, civil engineer, sole owner and patentee of the palace and plantation known as Vailima, in the island of Upolo, Samoa, a British subject, being in sound mind, and pretty well, I thank you, in mind and body;

In consideration that Miss Annie H. Ide, daughter of H. C. Ide, in the town of Saint Johnsbury, in the County of Caledonia, in the State of Vermont, United States of America, was born, out of all reason, upon Christmas Day, and is, t

herefore, out of all justice, denied the consolation and profit of a proper birthday;

And considering that I, the said Robert Louis Stevenson, have attained the age when we never mention it, and that I have now no further use for a birthday of any description;

And in consideration that I have met H. C. Ide, the father of the said Annie H. Ide, and found him as white a land commissioner as I require, I have transferred, and do hereby transfer, to the said Annie H. Ide, all and whole of my rights and privileges in the 13th day of November, formerly my birthday, now, hereby and henceforth, the birthday of the said Annie H. Ide, to have, hold, exercise, and enjoy the same in the customary manner, by the sporting of fine raiment, eating of rich meats, and receipt of gifts, compliments, and copies of verse, according to the manner of our ancestors;

And I direct the said Annie H. Ide to add to the said name of Annie H. Ide the name of Louisa-at least in private-and I charge her to use my said birthday with moderation and humanity, et tamquam bona filia familias, the said birthday not being so young as it once was and having carried me in a very satisfactory manner since I can remember;

And in case the said Annie H. Ide shall neglect or contravene either of the above conditions, I hereby revoke the donation and transfer my rights in the said birthday to the President of the United States of America for the time being.

In witness whereof I have hereto set my hand and seal this 19th day of June, in the year of grace eighteen hundred and ninety-one.

Robert Louis Stevenson. [Seal.]

Witness, Lloyd Osbourne.

Witness, Harold Watts.

He died in Samoa in December 1894-not from phthisis or anything directly connected with it, but from the bursting of a blood-vessel and suffusion of blood on the brain. He had up to the moment almost of his sudden and unexpected death been busy on Weir of Hermiston and St Ives, which he left unfinished-the latter having been brought to a conclusion by Mr Quiller-Couch.

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