These reminiscences and reflections have now been produced as far as 1872, or thereabouts, and it is not my intention to pursue them further, nor to speak of any living contemporaries who have not won their way to the classical. In writing of friends and teachers at Oxford, I have not ventured to express gratitude to those who still live, still teach, still are the wisest and kindest friends of the hurrying generations. It is a silence not of thanklessness, but of respect and devotion. About others—contemporaries, or juniors by many years—who have instructed, consoled, strengthened, and amused us, we must also be silent.
We spoke of a rest in a Fairy hill
of the north, but he
Far from the firths of the east and the racing tides of the west
Sleeps in the sight and the sound of the infinite southern sea,
Weary and well content, in his grave on the Vaea crest.
Tusitala, the lover of children,
the teller of tales,
Giver of counsel and dreams, a wonder, a world’s delight,
Looks o’er the labour of men in the plain and the hill, and the sails
Pass and repass on the sea that he loved, in the day and the night.
Winds of the west and the east in
the rainy season blow,
Heavy with perfume, and all his fragrant woods are wet,
Winds of the east and the west as they wander to and fro,
Bear him the love of the lands he loved, and the long regret.
Once we were kindest, he said, when
leagues of the limitless sea,
Flowed between us, but now that no range of the refluent tides
Sunders us each from each, yet nearer we seem to be,
When only the unbridged stream of the River of Death divides.
Before attempting to give any “reminiscences” of Mr. Stevenson, it is right to observe that reminiscences of him can best be found in his own works. In his essay on “Child’s Play,” and in his “Child’s Garden of Verse,” he gave to the world his vivid recollections of his imaginative infancy. In other essays he spoke of his boyhood, his health, his dreams, his methods of work and study. “The Silverado Squatters” reveals part of his experience in America. The Parisian scenes in “The Wrecker” are inspired by his sojourn in French Bohemia; his journeys are recorded in “Travels with a Donkey” and “An Inland Voyage”; while his South Sea sketches, which appeared in periodicals, deal with his Oceanic adventures. He was the most autobiographical of authors, with an egoism nearly as complete, and to us as delightful, as the egoism of Montaigne. Thus, the proper sources of information about the author of “Kidnapped” are in his delightful books.
“John’s own John,” as Dr. Holmes says, may be very unlike his neighbour’s John; but in the case of Mr. Stevenson, his Louis was very similar to my Louis; I mean that, as he presents his personality to the world in his writings, even so did that personality appear to me in our intercourse. The man I knew was always a boy.