Friday, January 5, 2007
RLS and the Enchanted Isle
I begin with this delicious tribute to the woman-worshipping lifestyle from Robert Louis Stevenson, than whom no one crafted more elegant English:
"...Harry was transferred to the feminine department, where his life was little short of heavenly. He was always dressed with uncommon nicety, wore delicate flowers in his button-hole, and could entertain a visitor with tact and pleasantry. He took a pride in servility to a beautiful woman; received Lady Vandeleur's commands as so many marks of favour; and was pleased to exhibit himself before other men in his character of male lady's-maid and man milliner. Nor could he think enough of his existence from a moral point of view. Wickedness seemed to him an essentially male attribute, and to pass one's days with a delicate woman, and principally occupied about trimmings, was to inhabit an enchanted isle among the storms of life.”
(From New Arabian Nights, "Story of the Bandbox")
It is safe to say that the author shared some of Harry’s female-celebrating tendencies. Anyone who doubts need only consult any RLS biography and turn to the chapters dealing with his courtship of, and by, Fannie Osborne.