“I was busy copying David Balfour, with my left hand—a most laborious task—Fanny was down at the native house superintending the floor, Lloyd down in Apia, and Bella in her own house cleaning, when I heard the latter calling on my name. I ran out on the verandah; and there on the lawn beheld my crazy boy with an axe in his hand and dressed out in green ferns, dancing. I ran downstairs and found all my house boys on the back verandah, watching him through the dining-room. I asked what it meant?—’Dance belong his place,’ they said.—’I think this is no time to dance,’ said I. ‘Has he done his work?’—’No,’ they told me, ‘away bush all morning.’ But there they all stayed in the back verandah. I went on alone through the dining-room and bade him stop. He did so, shouldered the axe, and began to walk away; but I called him back, walked up to him, and took the axe out of his unresisting hands. The boy is in all things so good, that I can scarce say I was afraid; only I felt it had to be stopped ere he could work himself up by dancing to some craziness. Our house boys protested they were not afraid; all I know is they were all watching him round the back door, and did not follow me till I had the axe. As for the out-boys, who were working with Fanny in the native house, they thought it a bad business, and made no secret of their fears.”
But indeed all the book is manly, with the manliness of Scott’s Journal or of Fielding’s Voyage to Lisbon. “To the English-speaking world,” concludes Mr. Colvin, “he has left behind a treasure which it would be vain as yet to attempt to estimate; to the profession of letters one of the most ennobling and inspiriting of examples; and to his friends an image of memory more vivid and more dear than are the presences of almost any of the living.” Very few men of our time have been followed out of this world with the same regret. None have repined less at their own fate—
“This be the verse you
grave for me:—
’Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.’”
Sept. 23, 1892. La Debacle.
To what different issues two men will work the same notion! Imagine this world to be a flat board accurately parcelled out into squares, and you have the basis at once of Alice through the Looking-Glass and of Les Rougon-Macquart. But for the mere fluke that the Englishman happened to be whimsical and the Frenchman entirely without humor (and the chances were perhaps against this), we might have had the Rougon-Macquart family through the looking-glass, and a natural and social history of Alice in parterres of existence labelled Drink, War, Money, etc. As it is, in drawing up any comparison of these two writers we should remember that Mr. Carroll sees the world in sections because he chooses, M. Zola because he cannot help it.