The Presence of a Great Creature | Guide to Daily Reading 12/3/22

George B. McClellan born on this date in 1826.

Battle of Hohenlinden

Robert Lewis Stevenson died on this date in 1894.

Daily Readings:

Providence and the Guitar

Robert Louis Stevenson

CHAPTER I

Monsieur Leon Berthelini had a great care of his appearance, and
sedulously suited his deportment to the costume of the hour. He
affected something Spanish in his air, and something of the bandit,
with a flavour of Rembrandt at home. In person he was decidedly
small and inclined to be stout; his face was the picture of good
humour; his dark eyes, which were very expressive, told of a kind
heart, a brisk, merry nature, and the most indefatigable spirits.
If he had worn the clothes of the period you would have set him
down for a hitherto undiscovered hybrid between the barber, the
innkeeper, and the affable dispensing chemist. But in the
outrageous bravery of velvet jacket and flapped hat, with trousers
that were more accurately described as fleshings, a white
handkerchief cavalierly knotted at his neck, a shock of Olympian
curls upon his brow, and his feet shod through all weathers in the
slenderest of Moliere shoes – you had but to look at him and you
knew you were in the presence of a Great Creature. When he wore an
overcoat he scorned to pass the sleeves; a single button held it
round his shoulders; it was tossed backwards after the manner of a
cloak, and carried with the gait and presence of an Almaviva. I am
of opinion that M. Berthelini was nearing forty. But he had a
boy’s heart, gloried in his finery, and walked through life like a
child in a perpetual dramatic performance. If he were not Almaviva
after all, it was not for lack of making believe. And he enjoyed
the artist’s compensation. If he were not really Almaviva, he was
sometimes just as happy as though he were.

I have seen him, at moments when he has fancied himself alone with
his Maker, adopt so gay and chivalrous a bearing, and represent his
own part with so much warmth and conscience, that the illusion
became catching, and I believed implicitly in the Great Creature’s
pose.

But, alas! life cannot be entirely conducted on these principles;
man cannot live by Almavivery alone; and the Great Creature, having
failed upon several theatres, was obliged to step down every
evening from his heights, and sing from half-a-dozen to a dozen
comic songs, twang a guitar, keep a country audience in good
humour, and preside finally over the mysteries of a tombola.

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