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The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson

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Would 'daring' be better than 'courage'? JE ME LE DEMANDE. No, it
would be ambiguous, as though I had used it licentiously for
'daringly,' and that would cloak the sense.

In short, your suggestions have broken the heart of the scald. He
doesn't agree with them all; and those he does agree with, the
spirit indeed is willing, but the d-d flesh cannot, cannot, cannot,
see its way to profit by. I think I'll lay it by for nine years,
like Horace. I think the well of Castaly's run out. No more the
Muses round my pillow haunt. I am fallen once more to the mere
proser. God bless you.

R. L S.



MY DEAR GOSSE, - I have greatly enjoyed your articles which seems
to me handsome in tone, and written like a fine old English
gentleman. But is there not a hitch in the sentence at foot of
page 153? I get lost in it.

Chapters VIII. and IX. of Meredith's story are very good, I think.
But who wrote the review of my book? whoever he was, he cannot
write; he is humane, but a duffer; I could weep when I think of
him; for surely to be virtuous and incompetent is a hard lot. I
should prefer to be a bold pirate, the gay sailor-boy of
immorality, and a publisher at once. My mind is extinct; my
appetite is expiring; I have fallen altogether into a hollow-eyed,
yawning way of life, like the parties in Burne Jones's pictures. .
. . Talking of Burns. (Is this not sad, Weg? I use the term of
reproach not because I am angry with you this time, but because I
am angry with myself and desire to give pain.) Talking, I say, of
Robert Burns, the inspired poet is a very gay subject for study. I
made a kind of chronological table of his various loves and lusts,
and have been comparatively speechless ever since. I am sorry to
say it, but there was something in him of the vulgar, bagmanlike,
professional seducer. - Oblige me by taking down and reading, for
the hundredth time I hope, his 'Twa Dogs' and his 'Address to the
Unco Guid.' I am only a Scotchman, after all, you see; and when I
have beaten Burns, I am driven at once, by my parental feelings, to
console him with a sugar-plum. But hang me if I know anything I
like so well as the 'Twa Dogs.' Even a common Englishman may have
a glimpse, as it were from Pisgah, of its extraordinary merits.

'ENGLISH, THE: - a dull people, incapable of comprehending the
Scottish tongue. Their history is so intimately connected with
that of Scotland, that we must refer our readers to that heading.
Their literature is principally the work of venal Scots.' -
Stevenson's HANDY CYCLOPAEDIA. Glescow: Blaikie & Bannock.

Remember me in suitable fashion to Mrs. Gosse, the offspring, and
the cat. - And believe me ever yours,




MY DEAR COLVIN, - I am just in the middle of your Rembrandt. The
taste for Bummkopf and his works is agreeably dissembled so far as
I have gone; and the reins have never for an instant been thrown
upon the neck of that wooden Pegasus; he only perks up a learned
snout from a footnote in the cellarage of a paragraph; just, in
short, where he ought to be, to inspire confidence in a wicked and
adulterous generation. But, mind you, Bummkopf is not human; he is
Dagon the fish god, and down he will come, sprawling on his belly
or his behind, with his hands broken from his helpless carcase, and
his head rolling off into a corner. Up will rise on the other
side, sane, pleasurable, human knowledge: a thing of beauty and a
joy, etc.

I'm three parts through Burns; long, dry, unsympathetic, but sound
and, I think, in its dry way, interesting. Next I shall finish the
story, and then perhaps Thoreau. Meredith has been staying with
Morley, who is about, it is believed, to write to me on a literary
scheme. Is it Keats, hope you? My heart leaps at the thought. -
Yours ever,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR GOSSE, - Yours was delicious; you are a young person of
wit; one of the last of them; wit being quite out of date, and
humour confined to the Scotch Church and the SPECTATOR in
unconscious survival. You will probably be glad to hear that I am
up again in the world; I have breathed again, and had a frolic on
the strength of it. The frolic was yesterday, Sawbath; the scene,
the Royal Hotel, Bathgate; I went there with a humorous friend to
lunch. The maid soon showed herself a lass of character. She was
looking out of window. On being asked what she was after, 'I'm
lookin' for my lad,' says she. 'Is that him?' 'Weel, I've been
lookin' for him a' my life, and I've never seen him yet,' was the
response. I wrote her some verses in the vernacular; she read
them. 'They're no bad for a beginner,' said she. The landlord's
daughter, Miss Stewart, was present in oil colour; so I wrote her a
declaration in verse, and sent it by the handmaid. She (Miss S.)
was present on the stair to witness our departure, in a warm,
suffused condition. Damn it, Gosse, you needn't suppose that
you're the only poet in the world.

Your statement about your initials, it will be seen, I pass over in
contempt and silence. When once I have made up my mind, let me
tell you, sir, there lives no pock-pudding who can change it. Your
anger I defy. Your unmanly reference to a well-known statesman I
puff from me, sir, like so much vapour. Weg is your name; Weg. W
E G.

My enthusiasm has kind of dropped from me. I envy you your wife,
your home, your child - I was going to say your cat. There would
be cats in my home too if I could but get it. I may seem to you
'the impersonation of life,' but my life is the impersonation of
waiting, and that's a poor creature. God help us all, and the deil
be kind to the hindmost! Upon my word, we are a brave, cheery
crew, we human beings, and my admiration increases daily -
primarily for myself, but by a roundabout process for the whole
crowd; for I dare say they have all their poor little secrets and
anxieties. And here am I, for instance, writing to you as if you
were in the seventh heaven, and yet I know you are in a sad anxiety
yourself. I hope earnestly it will soon be over, and a fine pink
Gosse sprawling in a tub, and a mother in the best of health and
spirits, glad and tired, and with another interest in life. Man,
you are out of the trouble when this is through. A first child is
a rival, but a second is only a rival to the first; and the husband
stands his ground and may keep married all his life - a
consummation heartily to be desired. Good-bye, Gosse. Write me a
witty letter with good news of the mistress.

R. L. S.

1879-JULY 1880



MY DEAR COLVIN, - I have finished my story. The handwriting is not
good because of the ship's misconduct: thirty-one pages in ten
days at sea is not bad.

I shall write a general procuration about this story on another bit
of paper. I am not very well; bad food, bad air, and hard work
have brought me down. But the spirits keep good. The voyage has
been most interesting, and will make, if not a series of PALL MALL
articles, at least the first part of a new book. The last weight
on me has been trying to keep notes for this purpose. Indeed, I
have worked like a horse, and am now as tired as a donkey. If I
should have to push on far by rail, I shall bring nothing but my
fine bones to port.

Good-bye to you all. I suppose it is now late afternoon with you
and all across the seas. What shall I find over there? I dare not
wonder. - Ever yours,

R. L. S.

P.S. - I go on my way to-night, if I can; if not, tomorrow:
emigrant train ten to fourteen days' journey; warranted extreme
discomfort. The only American institution which has yet won my
respect is the rain. One sees it is a new country, they are so
free with their water. I have been steadily drenched for twenty-
four hours; water-proof wet through; immortal spirit fitfully
blinking up in spite. Bought a copy of my own work, and the man
said 'by Stevenson.' - 'Indeed,' says I. - 'Yes, sir,' says he. -
Scene closes.



DEAR COLVIN, - I am in the cars between Pittsburgh and Chicago,
just now bowling through Ohio. I am taking charge of a kid, whose
mother is asleep, with one eye, while I write you this with the
other. I reached N.Y. Sunday night; and by five o'clock Monday was
under way for the West. It is now about ten on Wednesday morning,
so I have already been about forty hours in the cars. It is
impossible to lie down in them, which must end by being very

I had no idea how easy it was to commit suicide. There seems
nothing left of me; I died a while ago; I do not know who it is
that is travelling.

Of where or how, I nothing know;
And why, I do not care;
Enough if, even so,
My travelling eyes, my travelling mind can go
By flood and field and hill, by wood and meadow fair,
Beside the Susquehannah and along the Delaware.
I think, I hope, I dream no more
The dreams of otherwhere,
The cherished thoughts of yore;
I have been changed from what I was before;
And drunk too deep perchance the lotus of the air
Beside the Susquehannah and along the Delaware.
Unweary God me yet shall bring
To lands of brighter air,
Where I, now half a king,
Shall with enfranchised spirit loudlier sing,
And wear a bolder front than that which now I wear
Beside the Susquehannah and along the Delaware.

Exit Muse, hurried by child's games. . . .

Have at you again, being now well through Indiana. In America you
eat better than anywhere else: fact. The food is heavenly.

No man is any use until he has dared everything; I feel just now as
if I had, and so might become a man. 'If ye have faith like a
grain of mustard seed.' That is so true! just now I have faith as
big as a cigar-case; I will not say die, and do not fear man nor

R. L. S.

Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY


MY DEAR HENLEY, - I am sitting on the top of the cars with a mill
party from Missouri going west for his health. Desolate flat
prairie upon all hands. Here and there a herd of cattle, a yellow
butterfly or two; a patch of wild sunflowers; a wooden house or
two; then a wooden church alone in miles of waste; then a windmill
to pump water. When we stop, which we do often, for emigrants and
freight travel together, the kine first, the men after, the whole
plain is heard singing with cicadae. This is a pause, as you may
see from the writing. What happened to the old pedestrian
emigrants, what was the tedium suffered by the Indians and trappers
of our youth, the imagination trembles to conceive. This is now
Saturday, 23rd, and I have been steadily travelling since I parted
from you at St. Pancras. It is a strange vicissitude from the
Savile Club to this; I sleep with a man from Pennsylvania who has
been in the States Navy, and mess with him and the Missouri bird
already alluded to. We have a tin wash-bowl among four. I wear
nothing but a shirt and a pair of trousers, and never button my
shirt. When I land for a meal, I pass my coat and feel dressed.
This life is to last till Friday, Saturday, or Sunday next. It is
a strange affair to be an emigrant, as I hope you shall see in a
future work. I wonder if this will be legible; my present station
on the waggon roof, though airy compared to the cars, is both dirty
and insecure. I can see the track straight before and straight
behind me to either horizon. Peace of mind I enjoy with extreme
serenity; I am doing right; I know no one will think so; and don't
care. My body, however, is all to whistles; I don't eat; but, man,
I can sleep. The car in front of mine is chock full of Chinese.

MONDAY. - What it is to be ill in an emigrant train let those
declare who know. I slept none till late in the morning, overcome
with laudanum, of which I had luckily a little bottle. All to-day
I have eaten nothing, and only drunk two cups of tea, for each of
which, on the pretext that the one was breakfast, and the other
dinner, I was charged fifty cents. Our journey is through ghostly
deserts, sage brush and alkali, and rocks, without form or colour,
a sad corner of the world. I confess I am not jolly, but mighty
calm, in my distresses. My illness is a subject of great mirth to
some of my fellow-travellers, and I smile rather sickly at their

We are going along Bitter Creek just now, a place infamous in the
history of emigration, a place I shall remember myself among the
blackest. I hope I may get this posted at Ogden, Utah.

R. L S.



HERE is another curious start in my life. I am living at an Angora
goat-ranche, in the Coast Line Mountains, eighteen miles from
Monterey. I was camping out, but got so sick that the two
rancheros took me in and tended me. One is an old bear-hunter,
seventy-two years old, and a captain from the Mexican war; the
other a pilgrim, and one who was out with the bear flag and under
Fremont when California was taken by the States. They are both
true frontiersmen, and most kind and pleasant. Captain Smith, the
bear-hunter, is my physician, and I obey him like an oracle.

The business of my life stands pretty nigh still. I work at my
notes of the voyage. It will not be very like a book of mine; but
perhaps none the less successful for that. I will not deny that I
feel lonely to-day; but I do not fear to go on, for I am doing
right. I have not yet had a word from England, partly, I suppose,
because I have not yet written for my letters to New York; do not
blame me for this neglect; if you knew all I have been through, you
would wonder I had done so much as I have. I teach the ranche
children reading in the morning, for the mother is from home sick.
- Ever your affectionate friend,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - Although you have absolutely disregarded my
plaintive appeals for correspondence, and written only once as
against God knows how many notes and notikins of mine - here goes
again. I am now all alone in Monterey, a real inhabitant, with a
box of my own at the P.O. I have splendid rooms at the doctor's,
where I get coffee in the morning (the doctor is French), and I
mess with another jolly old Frenchman, the stranded fifty-eight-
year-old wreck of a good-hearted, dissipated, and once wealthy
Nantais tradesman. My health goes on better; as for work, the
draft of my book was laid aside at p. 68 or so; and I have now, by
way of change, more than seventy pages of a novel, a one-volume
novel, alas! to be called either A CHAPTER IN EXPERIENCE OF ARIZONA
BRECKONRIDGE or A VENDETTA IN THE WEST, or a combination of the
two. The scene from Chapter IV. to the end lies in Monterey and
the adjacent country; of course, with my usual luck, the plot of
the story is somewhat scandalous, containing an illegitimate father
for piece of resistance. . . . Ever yours,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - I received your letter with delight; it was the
first word that reached me from the old country. I am in good
health now; I have been pretty seedy, for I was exhausted by the
journey and anxiety below even my point of keeping up; I am still a
little weak, but that is all; I begin to ingrease, it seems
already. My book is about half drafted: the AMATEUR EMIGRANT,
that is. Can you find a better name? I believe it will be more
popular than any of my others; the canvas is so much more popular
and larger too. Fancy, it is my fourth. That voluminous writer.
I was vexed to hear about the last chapter of 'The Lie,' and
pleased to hear about the rest; it would have been odd if it had no
birthmark, born where and how it was. It should by rights have
been called the DEVONIA, for that is the habit with all children
born in a steerage.

I write to you, hoping for more. Give me news of all who concern
me, near or far, or big or little. Here, sir, in California you
have a willing hearer.

Monterey is a place where there is no summer or winter, and pines
and sand and distant hills and a bay all filled with real water
from the Pacific. You will perceive that no expense has been
spared. I now live with a little French doctor; I take one of my
meals in a little French restaurant; for the other two, I sponge.
The population of Monterey is about that of a dissenting chapel on
a wet Sunday in a strong church neighbourhood. They are mostly
Mexican and Indian-mixed. - Ever yours,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR WEG, - I know I am a rogue and the son of a dog. Yet let
me tell you, when I came here I had a week's misery and a
fortnight's illness, and since then I have been more or less busy
in being content. This is a kind of excuse for my laziness. I
hope you will not excuse yourself. My plans are still very
uncertain, and it is not likely that anything will happen before
Christmas. In the meanwhile, I believe I shall live on here
'between the sandhills and the sea,' as I think Mr. Swinburne hath
it. I was pretty nearly slain; my spirit lay down and kicked for
three days; I was up at an Angora goat-ranche in the Santa Lucia
Mountains, nursed by an old frontiers-man, a mighty hunter of
bears, and I scarcely slept, or ate, or thought for four days. Two
nights I lay out under a tree in a sort of stupor, doing nothing
but fetch water for myself and horse, light a fire and make coffee,
and all night awake hearing the goat-bells ringing and the tree-
frogs singing when each new noise was enough to set me mad. Then
the bear-hunter came round, pronounced me 'real sick,' and ordered
me up to the ranche.

It was an odd, miserable piece of my life; and according to all
rule, it should have been my death; but after a while my spirit got
up again in a divine frenzy, and has since kicked and spurred my
vile body forward with great emphasis and success.

My new book, THE AMATEUR EMIGRANT, is about half drafted. I don't
know if it will be good, but I think it ought to sell in spite of
the deil and the publishers; for it tells an odd enough experience,
and one, I think, never yet told before. Look for my 'Burns' in
the CORNHILL, and for my 'Story of a Lie' in Paul's withered babe,
the NEW QUARTERLY. You may have seen the latter ere this reaches
you: tell me if it has any interest, like a good boy, and remember
that it was written at sea in great anxiety of mind. What is your
news? Send me your works, like an angel, AU FUR ET A MESURE of
their apparition, for I am naturally short of literature, and I do
not wish to rust.

I fear this can hardly be called a letter. To say truth, I feel
already a difficulty of approach; I do not know if I am the same
man I was in Europe, perhaps I can hardly claim acquaintance with
you. My head went round and looks another way now; for when I
found myself over here in a new land, and all the past uprooted in
the one tug, and I neither feeling glad nor sorry, I got my last
lesson about mankind; I mean my latest lesson, for of course I do
not know what surprises there are yet in store for me. But that I
could have so felt astonished me beyond description. There is a
wonderful callousness in human nature which enables us to live. I
had no feeling one way or another, from New York to California,
until, at Dutch Flat, a mining camp in the Sierra, I heard a cock
crowing with a home voice; and then I fell to hope and regret both
in the same moment.

Is there a boy or a girl? and how is your wife? I thought of you
more than once, to put it mildly.

I live here comfortably enough; but I shall soon be left all alone,
perhaps till Christmas. Then you may hope for correspondence - and
may not I? - Your friend,

R L S.

Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY


carpentry story in nine chapters, and I should hesitate to say how
many tableaux. Where is it to go? God knows. It is the dibbs
that are wanted. It is not bad, though I say it; carpentry, of
course, but not bad at that; and who else can carpenter in England,
now that Wilkie Collins is played out? It might be broken for
magazine purposes at the end of Chapter IV. I send it to you, as I
dare say Payn may help, if all else fails. Dibbs and speed are my

Do acknowledge the PAVILION by return. I shall be so nervous till
I hear, as of course I have no copy except of one or two places
where the vein would not run. God prosper it, poor PAVILION! May
it bring me money for myself and my sick one, who may read it, I do
not know how soon.

Love to your wife, Anthony and all. I shall write to Colvin to-day
or to-morrow. - Yours ever,

R. L. S.

Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY


MY DEAR HENLEY, - Many thanks for your good letter, which is the
best way to forgive you for your previous silence. I hope Colvin
or somebody has sent me the CORNHILL and the NEW QUARTERLY, though
I am trying to get them in San Francisco. I think you might have
sent me (1) some of your articles in the P. M. G.; (2) a paper with
the announcement of second edition; and (3) the announcement of the
essays in ATHENAEUM. This to prick you in the future. Again,
choose, in your head, the best volume of Labiche there is, and post
it to Jules Simoneau, Monterey, Monterey Co., California: do this
at once, as he is my restaurant man, a most pleasant old boy with
whom I discuss the universe and play chess daily. He has been out
of France for thirty-five years, and never heard of Labiche. I
have eighty-three pages written of a story called a VENDETTA IN THE
WEST, and about sixty pages of the first draft of the AMATEUR
EMIGRANT. They should each cover from 130 to 150 pages when done.
That is all my literary news. Do keep me posted, won't you? Your
letter and Bob's made the fifth and sixth I have had from Europe in
three months.

At times I get terribly frightened about my work, which seems to
advance too slowly. I hope soon to have a greater burthen to
support, and must make money a great deal quicker than I used. I
may get nothing for the VENDETTA; I may only get some forty quid
for the EMIGRANT; I cannot hope to have them both done much before
the end of November.

O, and look here, why did you not send me the SPECTATOR which
slanged me? Rogues and rascals, is that all you are worth?

Yesterday I set fire to the forest, for which, had I been caught, I
should have been hung out of hand to the nearest tree, Judge Lynch
being an active person hereaway. You should have seen my retreat
(which was entirely for strategical purposes). I ran like hell.
It was a fine sight. At night I went out again to see it; it was a
good fire, though I say it that should not. I had a near escape
for my life with a revolver: I fired six charges, and the six
bullets all remained in the barrel, which was choked from end to
end, from muzzle to breach, with solid lead; it took a man three
hours to drill them out. Another shot, and I'd have gone to
kingdom come.

This is a lovely place, which I am growing to love. The Pacific
licks all other oceans out of hand; there is no place but the
Pacific Coast to hear eternal roaring surf. When I get to the top
of the woods behind Monterey, I can hear the seas breaking all
round over ten or twelve miles of coast from near Carmel on my
left, out to Point Pinas in front, and away to the right along the
sands of Monterey to Castroville and the mouth of the Salinas. I
was wishing yesterday that the world could get - no, what I mean
was that you should be kept in suspense like Mahomet's coffin until
the world had made half a revolution, then dropped here at the
station as though you had stepped from the cars; you would then
comfortably enter Walter's waggon (the sun has just gone down, the
moon beginning to throw shadows, you hear the surf rolling, and
smell the sea and the pines). That shall deposit you at Sanchez's
saloon, where we take a drink; you are introduced to Bronson, the
local editor ('I have no brain music,' he says; 'I'm a mechanic,
you see,' but he's a nice fellow); to Adolpho Sanchez, who is
delightful. Meantime I go to the P. O. for my mail; thence we walk
up Alvarado Street together, you now floundering in the sand, now
merrily stumping on the wooden side-walks; I call at Hadsell's for
my paper; at length behold us installed in Simoneau's little white-
washed back-room, round a dirty tablecloth, with Francois the
baker, perhaps an Italian fisherman, perhaps Augustin Dutra, and
Simoneau himself. Simoneau, Francois, and I are the three sure
cards; the others mere waifs. Then home to my great airy rooms
with five windows opening on a balcony; I sleep on the floor in my
camp blankets; you instal yourself abed; in the morning coffee with
the little doctor and his little wife; we hire a waggon and make a
day of it; and by night, I should let you up again into the air, to
be returned to Mrs. Henley in the forenoon following. By God, you
would enjoy yourself. So should I. I have tales enough to keep
you going till five in the morning, and then they would not be at
an end. I forget if you asked me any questions, and I sent your
letter up to the city to one who will like to read it. I expect
other letters now steadily. If I have to wait another two months,
I shall begin to be happy. Will you remember me most
affectionately to your wife? Shake hands with Anthony from me; and
God bless your mother.

God bless Stephen! Does he not know that I am a man, and cannot
live by bread alone, but must have guineas into the bargain.
Burns, I believe, in my own mind, is one of my high-water marks;
Meiklejohn flames me a letter about it, which is so complimentary
that I must keep it or get it published in the MONTEREY
CALIFORNIAN. Some of these days I shall send an exemplaire of that
paper; it is huge. - Ever your affectionate friend,




MY DEAR MR. HAMERTON, - Your letter to my father was forwarded to
me by mistake, and by mistake I opened it. The letter to myself
has not yet reached me. This must explain my own and my father's
silence. I shall write by this or next post to the only friends I
have who, I think, would have an influence, as they are both
professors. I regret exceedingly that I am not in Edinburgh, as I
could perhaps have done more, and I need not tell you that what I
might do for you in the matter of the election is neither from
friendship nor gratitude, but because you are the only man (I beg
your pardon) worth a damn. I shall write to a third friend, now I
think of it, whose father will have great influence.

I find here (of all places in the world) your ESSAYS ON ART, which
I have read with signal interest. I believe I shall dig an essay
of my own out of one of them, for it set me thinking; if mine could
only produce yet another in reply, we could have the marrow out
between us.

I hope, my dear sir, you will not think badly of me for my long
silence. My head has scarce been on my shoulders. I had scarce
recovered from a long fit of useless ill-health than I was whirled
over here double-quick time and by cheapest conveyance.

I have been since pretty ill, but pick up, though still somewhat of
a mossy ruin. If you would view my countenance aright, come - view
it by the pale moonlight. But that is on the mend. I believe I
have now a distant claim to tan.

A letter will be more than welcome in this distant clime where I
have a box at the post-office - generally, I regret to say, empty.
Could your recommendation introduce me to an American publisher?
My next book I should really try to get hold of here, as its
interest is international, and the more I am in this country the
more I understand the weight of your influence. It is pleasant to
be thus most at home abroad, above all, when the prophet is still
not without honour in his own land. . . .



MY DEAR GOSSE, - Your letter was to me such a bright spot that I
answer it right away to the prejudice of other correspondents or -
dants (don't know how to spell it) who have prior claims. . . . It
is the history of our kindnesses that alone makes this world
tolerable. If it were not for that, for the effect of kind words,
kind looks, kind letters, multiplying, spreading, making one happy
through another and bringing forth benefits, some thirty, some
fifty, some a thousandfold, I should be tempted to think our life a
practical jest in the worst possible spirit. So your four pages
have confirmed my philosophy as well as consoled my heart in these
ill hours.

Yes, you are right; Monterey is a pleasant place; but I see I can
write no more to-night. I am tired and sad, and being already in
bed, have no more to do but turn out the light. - Your affectionate

R. L S.

I try it again by daylight. Once more in bed however; for to-day
it is MUCHO FRIO, as we Spaniards say; and I had no other means of
keeping warm for my work. I have done a good spell, 9 and a half
foolscap pages; at least 8 of CORNHILL; ah, if I thought that I
could get eight guineas for it. My trouble is that I am all too
ambitious just now. A book whereof 70 out of 120 are scrolled. A
novel whereof 85 out of, say, 140 are pretty well nigh done. A
short story of 50 pp., which shall be finished to-morrow, or I'll
know the reason why. This may bring in a lot of money: but I
dread to think that it is all on three chances. If the three were
to fail, I am in a bog. The novel is called A VENDETTA IN THE
WEST. I see I am in a grasping, dismal humour, and should, as we
Americans put it, quit writing. In truth, I am so haunted by
anxieties that one or other is sure to come up in all that I write.

I will send you herewith a Monterey paper where the works of R. L.
S. appear, nor only that, but all my life on studying the
advertisements will become clear. I lodge with Dr. Heintz; take my
meals with Simoneau; have been only two days ago shaved by the
tonsorial artist Michaels; drink daily at the Bohemia saloon; get
my daily paper from Hadsel's; was stood a drink to-day by Albano
Rodriguez; in short, there is scarce a person advertised in that
paper but I know him, and I may add scarce a person in Monterey but
is there advertised. The paper is the marrow of the place. Its
bones - pooh, I am tired of writing so sillily.

R. L. S.



TO-DAY, my dear Colvin, I send you the first part of the AMATEUR
EMIGRANT, 71 pp., by far the longest and the best of the whole. It
is not a monument of eloquence; indeed, I have sought to be prosaic
in view of the nature of the subject; but I almost think it is

Whatever is done about any book publication, two things remember:
I must keep a royalty; and, second, I must have all my books
advertised, in the French manner, on the leaf opposite the title.
I know from my own experience how much good this does an author
with book BUYERS.

The entire A. E. will be a little longer than the two others, but
not very much. Here and there, I fancy, you will laugh as you read
it; but it seems to me rather a CLEVER book than anything else:
the book of a man, that is, who has paid a great deal of attention
to contemporary life, and not through the newspapers.

I have never seen my Burns! the darling of my heart! I await your
promised letter. Papers, magazines, articles by friends; reviews
of myself, all would be very welcome, I am reporter for the
MONTEREY CALIFORNIAN, at a salary of two dollars a week! COMMENT
TROUVEZ-VOUS CA? I am also in a conspiracy with the American
editor, a French restaurant-man, and an Italian fisherman against
the Padre. The enclosed poster is my last literary appearance. It
was put up to the number of 200 exemplaires at the witching hour;
and they were almost all destroyed by eight in the morning. But I
think the nickname will stick. Dos Reales; deux reaux; two bits;
twenty-five cents; about a shilling; but in practice it is worth
from ninepence to threepence: thus two glasses of beer would cost
two bits. The Italian fisherman, an old Garibaldian, is a splendid

R. L. S.



MY DEAR WEG, - I received your book last night as I lay abed with a
pleurisy, the result, I fear, of overwork, gradual decline of
appetite, etc. You know what a wooden-hearted curmudgeon I am
about contemporary verse. I like none of it, except some of my
own. (I look back on that sentence with pleasure; it comes from an
honest heart.) Hence you will be kind enough to take this from me
in a kindly spirit; the piece 'To my daughter' is delicious. And
yet even here I am going to pick holes. I am a BEASTLY curmudgeon.
It is the last verse. 'Newly budded' is off the venue; and haven't
you gone ahead to make a poetry daybreak instead of sticking to
your muttons, and comparing with the mysterious light of stars the
plain, friendly, perspicuous, human day? But this is to be a
beast. The little poem is eminently pleasant, human, and original.

I have read nearly the whole volume, and shall read it nearly all
over again; you have no rivals!

Bancroft's HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, even in a centenary
edition, is essentially heavy fare; a little goes a long way; I
respect Bancroft, but I do not love him; he has moments when he
feels himself inspired to open up his improvisations upon universal
history and the designs of God; but I flatter myself I am more
nearly acquainted with the latter than Mr. Bancroft. A man, in the
words of my Plymouth Brother, 'who knows the Lord,' must needs,
from time to time, write less emphatically. It is a fetter dance
to the music of minute guns - not at sea, but in a region not a
thousand miles from the Sahara. Still, I am half-way through
volume three, and shall count myself unworthy of the name of an
Englishman if I do not see the back of volume six. The countryman
of Livingstone, Burton, Speke, Drake, Cook, etc.!

I have been sweated not only out of my pleuritic fever, but out of
all my eating cares, and the better part of my brains (strange
coincidence!), by aconite. I have that peculiar and delicious
sense of being born again in an expurgated edition which belongs to
convalescence. It will not be for long; I hear the breakers roar;
I shall be steering head first for another rapid before many days;
NITOR AQUIS, said a certain Eton boy, translating for his sins a
part of the INLAND VOYAGE into Latin elegiacs; and from the hour I
saw it, or rather a friend of mine, the admirable Jenkin, saw and
recognised its absurd appropriateness, I took it for my device in
life. I am going for thirty now; and unless I can snatch a little
rest before long, I have, I may tell you in confidence, no hope of
seeing thirty-one. My health began to break last winter, and has
given me but fitful times since then. This pleurisy, though but a
slight affair in itself was a huge disappointment to me, and marked
an epoch. To start a pleurisy about nothing, while leading a dull,
regular life in a mild climate, was not my habit in past days; and
it is six years, all but a few months, since I was obliged to spend
twenty-four hours in bed. I may be wrong, but if the niting is to
continue, I believe I must go. It is a pity in one sense, for I
believe the class of work I MIGHT yet give out is better and more
real and solid than people fancy. But death is no bad friend; a
few aches and gasps, and we are done; like the truant child, I am
beginning to grow weary and timid in this big jostling city, and
could run to my nurse, even although she should have to whip me
before putting me to bed.

Will you kiss your little daughter from me, and tell her that her
father has written a delightful poem about her? Remember me,
please, to Mrs. Gosse, to Middlemore, to whom some of these days I
will write, to -, to -, yes, to -, and to -. I know you will gnash
your teeth at some of these; wicked, grim, catlike old poet. If I
were God, I would sort you - as we say in Scotland. - Your sincere

R. L. S.

'Too young to be our child': blooming good.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - I am now writing to you in a cafe waiting for
some music to begin. For four days I have spoken to no one but to
my landlady or landlord or to restaurant waiters. This is not a
gay way to pass Christmas, is it? and I must own the guts are a
little knocked out of me. If I could work, I could worry through
better. But I have no style at command for the moment, with the
second part of the EMIGRANT, the last of the novel, the essay on
Thoreau, and God knows all, waiting for me. But I trust something
can be done with the first part, or, by God, I'll starve here . . .

O Colvin, you don't know how much good I have done myself. I
feared to think this out by myself. I have made a base use of you,
and it comes out so much better than I had dreamed. But I have to
stick to work now; and here's December gone pretty near useless.
But, Lord love you, October and November saw a great harvest. It
might have affected the price of paper on the Pacific coast. As
for ink, they haven't any, not what I call ink; only stuff to write
cookery-books with, or the works of Hayley, or the pallid
perambulations of the - I can find nobody to beat Hayley. I like
good, knock-me-down black-strap to write with; that makes a mark
and done with it. - By the way, I have tried to read the SPECTATOR,
which they all say I imitate, and - it's very wrong of me, I know -
but I can't. It's all very fine, you know, and all that, but it's
vapid. They have just played the overture to NORMA, and I know
it's a good one, for I bitterly wanted the opera to go on; I had
just got thoroughly interested - and then no curtain to rise.

I have written myself into a kind of spirits, bless your dear
heart, by your leave. But this is wild work for me, nearly nine
and me not back! What will Mrs. Carson think of me! Quite a
night-hawk, I do declare. You are the worst correspondent in the
world - no, not that, Henley is that - well, I don't know, I leave
the pair of you to Him that made you - surely with small attention.
But here's my service, and I'll away home to my den O! much the
better for this crack, Professor Colvin.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - This is a circular letter to tell my estate
fully. You have no right to it, being the worst of correspondents;
but I wish to efface the impression of my last, so to you it goes.

Any time between eight and half-past nine in the morning, a slender
gentleman in an ulster, with a volume buttoned into the breast of
it, may be observed leaving No. 608 Bush and descending Powell with
an active step. The gentleman is R. L. S.; the volume relates to
Benjamin Franklin, on whom he meditates one of his charming essays.
He descends Powell, crosses Market, and descends in Sixth on a
branch of the original Pine Street Coffee House, no less; I believe
he would be capable of going to the original itself, if he could
only find it. In the branch he seats himself at a table covered
with waxcloth, and a pampered menial, of High-Dutch extraction and,
indeed, as yet only partially extracted, lays before him a cup of
coffee, a roll and a pat of butter, all, to quote the deity, very
good. A while ago, and R. L. S. used to find the supply of butter
insufficient; but he has now learned the art to exactitude, and
butter and roll expire at the same moment. For this refection he
pays ten cents., or five pence sterling (0 pounds, 0s. 5d.).

Half an hour later, the inhabitants of Bush Street observe the same
slender gentleman armed, like George Washington, with his little
hatchet, splitting, kindling and breaking coal for his fire. He
does this quasi-publicly upon the window-sill; but this is not to
be attributed to any love of notoriety, though he is indeed vain of
his prowess with the hatchet (which he persists in calling an axe),
and daily surprised at the perpetuation of his fingers. The reason
is this: that the sill is a strong, supporting beam, and that
blows of the same emphasis in other parts of his room might knock
the entire shanty into hell. Thenceforth, for from three to four
hours, he is engaged darkly with an inkbottle. Yet he is not
blacking his boots, for the only pair that he possesses are
innocent of lustre and wear the natural hue of the material turned
up with caked and venerable slush. The youngest child of his
landlady remarks several times a day, as this strange occupant
enters or quits the house, 'Dere's de author.' Can it be that this
bright-haired innocent has found the true clue to the mystery? The
being in question is, at least, poor enough to belong to that
honourable craft.

His next appearance is at the restaurant of one Donadieu, in Bush
Street, between Dupont and Kearney, where a copious meal, half a
bottle of wine, coffee and brandy may be procured for the sum of
four bits, ALIAS fifty cents., 0 pounds, 2s. 2d. sterling. The
wine is put down in a whole bottleful, and it is strange and
painful to observe the greed with which the gentleman in question
seeks to secure the last drop of his allotted half, and the
scrupulousness with which he seeks to avoid taking the first drop
of the other. This is partly explained by the fact that if he were
to go over the mark - bang would go a tenpence. He is again armed
with a book, but his best friends will learn with pain that he
seems at this hour to have deserted the more serious studies of the
morning. When last observed, he was studying with apparent zest
the exploits of one Rocambole by the late Viscomte Ponson du
Terrail. This work, originally of prodigious dimensions, he had
cut into liths or thicknesses apparently for convenience of

Then the being walks, where is not certain. But by about half-past
four, a light beams from the windows of 608 Bush, and he may be
observed sometimes engaged in correspondence, sometimes once again
plunged in the mysterious rites of the forenoon. About six he
returns to the Branch Original, where he once more imbrues himself
to the worth of fivepence in coffee and roll. The evening is
devoted to writing and reading, and by eleven or half-past darkness
closes over this weird and truculent existence.

As for coin, you see I don't spend much, only you and Henley both
seem to think my work rather bosh nowadays, and I do want to make
as much as I was making, that is 200 pounds; if I can do that, I
can swim: last year, with my ill health I touched only 109 pounds,
that would not do, I could not fight it through on that; but on 200
pounds, as I say, I am good for the world, and can even in this
quiet way save a little, and that I must do. The worst is my
health; it is suspected I had an ague chill yesterday; I shall know
by to-morrow, and you know if I am to be laid down with ague the
game is pretty well lost. But I don't know; I managed to write a
good deal down in Monterey, when I was pretty sickly most of the
time, and, by God, I'll try, ague and all. I have to ask you
frankly, when you write, to give me any good news you can, and chat
a little, but JUST IN THE MEANTIME, give me no bad. If I could get
THOREAU, EMIGRANT and VENDETTA all finished and out of my hand, I
should feel like a man who had made half a year's income in a half
year; but until the two last are FINISHED, you see, they don't
fairly count.

I am afraid I bore you sadly with this perpetual talk about my
affairs; I will try and stow it; but you see, it touches me nearly.
I'm the miser in earnest now: last night, when I felt so ill, the
supposed ague chill, it seemed strange not to be able to afford a
drink. I would have walked half a mile, tired as I felt, for a
brandy and soda. - Ever yours,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR CHARLES, - I have to drop from a 50 cent. to a 25 cent.
dinner; to-day begins my fall. That brings down my outlay in food
and drink to 45 cents., or 1s. 10 and a half d. per day. How are
the mighty fallen! Luckily, this is such a cheap place for food; I
used to pay as much as that for my first breakfast in the Savile in
the grand old palmy days of yore. I regret nothing, and do not
even dislike these straits, though the flesh will rebel on
occasion. It is to-day bitter cold, after weeks of lovely warm
weather, and I am all in a chitter. I am about to issue for my
little shilling and halfpenny meal, taken in the middle of the day,
the poor man's hour; and I shall eat and drink to your prosperity.
- Ever yours,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - I received this morning your long letter from
Paris. Well, God's will be done; if it's dull, it's dull; it was a
fair fight, and it's lost, and there's an end. But, fortunately,
dulness is not a fault the public hates; perhaps they may like this
vein of dulness. If they don't, damn them, we'll try them with
another. I sat down on the back of your letter, and wrote twelve
Cornhill pages this day as ever was of that same despised EMIGRANT;
so you see my moral courage has not gone down with my intellect.
Only, frankly, Colvin, do you think it a good plan to be so
eminently descriptive, and even eloquent in dispraise? You rolled
such a lot of polysyllables over me that a better man than I might
have been disheartened. - However, I was not, as you see, and am
not. The EMIGRANT shall be finished and leave in the course of
next week. And then, I'll stick to stories. I am not frightened.
I know my mind is changing; I have been telling you so for long;
and I suppose I am fumbling for the new vein. Well, I'll find it.

The VENDETTA you will not much like, I dare say: and that must be
finished next; but I'll knock you with THE FOREST STATE: A

I'm vexed about my letters; I know it is painful to get these
unsatisfactory things; but at least I have written often enough.
And not one soul ever gives me any NEWS, about people or things;
everybody writes me sermons; it's good for me, but hardly the food
necessary for a man who lives all alone on forty-five cents. a day,
and sometimes less, with quantities of hard work and many heavy
thoughts. If one of you could write me a letter with a jest in it,
a letter like what is written to real people in this world - I am
still flesh and blood - I should enjoy it. Simpson did, the other
day, and it did me as much good as a bottle of wine. A lonely man
gets to feel like a pariah after awhile - or no, not that, but like
a saint and martyr, or a kind of macerated clergyman with pebbles
in his boots, a pillared Simeon, I'm damned if I know what, but,
man alive, I want gossip.

My health is better, my spirits steadier, I am not the least cast
down. If THE EMIGRANT was a failure, the PAVILION, by your leave,
was not: it was a story quite adequately and rightly done, I
contend; and when I find Stephen, for whom certainly I did not mean
it, taking it in, I am better pleased with it than before. I know
I shall do better work than ever I have done before; but, mind you,
it will not be like it. My sympathies and interests are changed.
There shall be no more books of travel for me. I care for nothing
but the moral and the dramatic, not a jot for the picturesque or
the beautiful other than about people. It bored me hellishly to
write the EMIGRANT; well, it's going to bore others to read it;
that's only fair.

I should also write to others; but indeed I am jack-tired, and must
go to bed to a French novel to compose myself for slumber. - Ever
your affectionate friend,

R. L. S.

Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY


MY DEAR HENLEY, - Before my work or anything I sit down to answer
your long and kind letter.

I am well, cheerful, busy, hopeful; I cannot be knocked down; I do
not mind about the EMIGRANT. I never thought it a masterpiece. It
was written to sell, and I believe it will sell; and if it does
not, the next will. You need not be uneasy about my work; I am
only beginning to see my true method.

(1) As to STUDIES. There are two more already gone to Stephen.
YOSHIDA TORAJIRO, which I think temperate and adequate; and
THOREAU, which will want a really Balzacian effort over the proofs.
perhaps also WILLIAM PENN, but this last may be perhaps delayed for
another volume - I think not, though. The STUDIES will be an
intelligent volume, and in their latter numbers more like what I
mean to be my style, or I mean what my style means to be, for I am
passive. (2) The ESSAYS. Good news indeed. I think ORDERED SOUTH
must be thrown in. It always swells the volume, and it will never
find a more appropriate place. It was May 1874, Macmillan, I
believe. (3) PLAYS. I did not understand you meant to try the
draft. I shall make you a full scenario as soon as the EMIGRANT is
done. (4) EMIGRANT. He shall be sent off next week. (5) Stories.
You need not be alarmed that I am going to imitate Meredith. You
know I was a Story-teller ingrain; did not that reassure you? The
VENDETTA, which falls next to be finished, is not entirely
pleasant. But it has points. THE FOREST STATE or THE GREENWOOD
STATE: A ROMANCE, is another pair of shoes. It is my old
Semiramis, our half-seen Duke and Duchess, which suddenly sprang
into sunshine clearness as a story the other day. The kind, happy
DENOUEMENT is unfortunately absolutely undramatic, which will be
our only trouble in quarrying out the play. I mean we shall quarry
from it. CHARACTERS - Otto Frederick John, hereditary Prince of
Grunwald; Amelia Seraphina, Princess; Conrad, Baron Gondremarck,
Prime Minister; Cancellarius Greisengesang; Killian Gottesacker,
Steward of the River Farm; Ottilie, his daughter; the Countess von
Rosen. Seven in all. A brave story, I swear; and a brave play
too, if we can find the trick to make the end. The play, I fear,
will have to end darkly, and that spoils the quality as I now see
it of a kind of crockery, eighteenth century, high-life-below-
stairs life, breaking up like ice in spring before the nature and
the certain modicum of manhood of my poor, clever, feather-headed
Prince, whom I love already. I see Seraphina too. Gondremarck is
not quite so clear. The Countess von Rosen, I have; I'll never
tell you who she is; it's a secret; but I have known the countess;
well, I will tell you; it's my old Russian friend, Madame Z.
Certain scenes are, in conception, the best I have ever made,
except for HESTER NOBLE. Those at the end, Von Rosen and the
Princess, the Prince and Princess, and the Princess and
Gondremarck, as I now see them from here, should be nuts, Henley,
nuts. It irks me not to go to them straight. But the EMIGRANT
stops the way; then a reassured scenario for HESTER; then the
VENDETTA; then two (or three) Essays - Benjamin Franklin, Thoughts
on Literature as an Art, Dialogue on Character and Destiny between
two Puppets, The Human Compromise; and then, at length - come to
me, my Prince. O Lord, it's going to be courtly! And there is not
an ugly person nor an ugly scene in it. The SLATE both Fanny and I
have damned utterly; it is too morbid, ugly, and unkind; better

R. L. S.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - My landlord and landlady's little four-year-old
child is dying in the house; and O, what he has suffered. It has
really affected my health. O never, never any family for me! I am
cured of that.

I have taken a long holiday - have not worked for three days, and
will not for a week; for I was really weary. Excuse this scratch;
for the child weighs on me, dear Colvin. I did all I could to
help; but all seems little, to the point of crime, when one of
these poor innocents lies in such misery. - Ever yours,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR GOSSE, - You have not answered my last; and I know you will
repent when you hear how near I have been to another world. For
about six weeks I have been in utter doubt; it was a toss-up for
life or death all that time; but I won the toss, sir, and Hades
went off once more discomfited. This is not the first time, nor
will it be the last, that I have a friendly game with that
gentleman. I know he will end by cleaning me out; but the rogue is
insidious, and the habit of that sort of gambling seems to be a
part of my nature; it was, I suspect, too much indulged in youth;
break your children of this tendency, my dear Gosse, from the
first. It is, when once formed, a habit more fatal than opium - I
speak, as St. Paul says, like a fool. I have been very very sick;
on the verge of a galloping consumption, cold sweats, prostrating
attacks of cough, sinking fits in which I lost the power of speech,
fever, and all the ugliest circumstances of the disease; and I have
cause to bless God, my wife that is to be, and one Dr. Bamford (a
name the Muse repels), that I have come out of all this, and got my
feet once more upon a little hilltop, with a fair prospect of life
and some new desire of living. Yet I did not wish to die, neither;
only I felt unable to go on farther with that rough horseplay of
human life: a man must be pretty well to take the business in good
part. Yet I felt all the time that I had done nothing to entitle
me to an honourable discharge; that I had taken up many obligations
and begun many friendships which I had no right to put away from
me; and that for me to die was to play the cur and slinking
sybarite, and desert the colours on the eve of the decisive fight.
Of course I have done no work for I do not know how long; and here
you can triumph. I have been reduced to writing verses for
amusement. A fact. The whirligig of time brings in its revenges,
after all. But I'll have them buried with me, I think, for I have
not the heart to burn them while I live. Do write. I shall go to
the mountains as soon as the weather clears; on the way thither, I
marry myself; then I set up my family altar among the pinewoods,
3000 feet, sir, from the disputatious sea. - I am, dear Weg, most
truly yours,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR SIR, - Will you let me offer you this little book? If I
had anything better, it should be yours. May you not dislike it,
for it will be your own handiwork if there are other fruits from
the same tree! But for your kindness and skill, this would have
been my last book, and now I am in hopes that it will be neither my
last nor my best.

You doctors have a serious responsibility. You recall a man from
the gates of death, you give him health and strength once more to
use or to abuse. I hope I shall feel your responsibility added to
my own, and seek in the future to make a better profit of the life
you have renewed me. - I am, my dear sir, gratefully yours,




MY DEAR COLVIN, - You must be sick indeed of my demand for books,
for you have seemingly not yet sent me one. Still, I live on
promises: waiting for Penn, for H. James's HAWTHORNE, for my
BURNS, etc.; and now, to make matters worse, pending your
CENTURIES, etc., I do earnestly desire the best book about
mythology (if it be German, so much the worse; send a bunctionary
along with it, and pray for me). This is why. If I recover, I
feel called on to write a volume of gods and demi-gods in exile:
Pan, Jove, Cybele, Venus, Charon, etc.; and though I should like to
take them very free, I should like to know a little about 'em to
begin with. For two days, till last night, I had no night sweats,
and my cough is almost gone, and I digest well; so all looks
hopeful. However, I was near the other side of Jordan. I send the
proof of THOREAU to you, so that you may correct and fill up the
quotation from Goethe. It is a pity I was ill, as, for matter, I
think I prefer that to any of my essays except Burns; but the
style, though quite manly, never attains any melody or lenity. So
much for consumption: I begin to appreciate what the EMIGRANT must
be. As soon as I have done the last few pages of the EMIGRANT they
shall go to you. But when will that be? I know not quite yet - I
have to be so careful. - Ever yours,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - My dear people telegraphed me in these words:
'Count on 250 pounds annually.' You may imagine what a blessed
business this was. And so now recover the sheets of the EMIGRANT,
and post them registered to me. And now please give me all your
venom against it; say your worst, and most incisively, for now it
will be a help, and I'll make it right or perish in the attempt.
Now, do you understand why I protested against your depressing
eloquence on the subject? When I HAD to go on any way, for dear
life, I thought it a kind of pity and not much good to discourage
me. Now all's changed. God only knows how much courage and
suffering is buried in that MS. The second part was written in a
circle of hell unknown to Dante - that of the penniless and dying
author. For dying I was, although now saved. Another week, the
doctor said, and I should have been past salvation. I think I
shall always think of it as my best work. There is one page in
Part II., about having got to shore, and sich, which must have cost
me altogether six hours of work as miserable as ever I went
through. I feel sick even to think of it. - Ever your friend,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - I received your letter and proof to-day, and was
greatly delighted with the last.

I am now out of danger; in but a short while (I.E. as soon as the
weather is settled), F. and I marry and go up to the hills to look
for a place; 'I to the hills will lift mine eyes, from whence doth
come mine aid': once the place found, the furniture will follow.
There, sir, in, I hope, a ranche among the pine-trees and hard by a
running brook, we are to fish, hunt, sketch, study Spanish, French,
Latin, Euclid, and History; and, if possible, not quarrel. Far
from man, sir, in the virgin forest. Thence, as my strength
returns, you may expect works of genius. I always feel as if I
must write a work of genius some time or other; and when is it more
likely to come off, than just after I have paid a visit to Styx and
go thence to the eternal mountains? Such a revolution in a man's
affairs, as I have somewhere written, would set anybody singing.
When we get installed, Lloyd and I are going to print my poetical
works; so all those who have been poetically addressed shall
receive copies of their addresses. They are, I believe, pretty
correct literary exercises, or will be, with a few filings; but
they are not remarkable for white-hot vehemence of inspiration;
tepid works! respectable versifications of very proper and even
original sentiments: kind of Hayleyistic, I fear - but no, this is
morbid self-depreciation. The family is all very shaky in health,
but our motto is now 'Al Monte!' in the words of Don Lope, in the
play the sister and I are just beating through with two bad
dictionaries and an insane grammar.

I to the hills. - Yours ever,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR STODDARD, - I am guilty in thy sight and the sight of God.
However, I swore a great oath that you should see some of my
manuscript at last; and though I have long delayed to keep it, yet
it was to be. You re-read your story and were disgusted; that is
the cold fit following the hot. I don't say you did wrong to be
disgusted, yet I am sure you did wrong to be disgusted altogether.
There was, you may depend upon it, some reason for your previous
vanity, as well as your present mortification. I shall hear you,
years from now, timidly begin to retrim your feathers for a little
self-laudation, and trot out this misdespised novelette as not the
worst of your performances. I read the album extracts with sincere
interest; but I regret that you spared to give the paper more
development; and I conceive that you might do a great deal worse
than expand each of its paragraphs into an essay or sketch, the
excuse being in each case your personal intercourse; the bulk, when
that would not be sufficient, to be made up from their own works
and stories. Three at least - Menken, Yelverton, and Keeler -
could not fail of a vivid human interest. Let me press upon you
this plan; should any document be wanted from Europe, let me offer
my services to procure it. I am persuaded that there is stuff in
the idea.

Are you coming over again to see me some day soon? I keep
returning, and now hand over fist, from the realms of Hades: I saw
that gentleman between the eyes, and fear him less after each
visit. Only Charon, and his rough boatmanship, I somewhat fear.

I have a desire to write some verses for your album; so, if you
will give me the entry among your gods, goddesses, and godlets,
there will be nothing wanting but the Muse. I think of the verses
like Mark Twain; sometimes I wish fulsomely to belaud you;
sometimes to insult your city and fellow-citizens; sometimes to sit
down quietly, with the slender reed, and troll a few staves of
Panic ecstasy - but fy! fy! as my ancestors observed, the last is
too easy for a man of my feet and inches.

At least, Stoddard, you now see that, although so costive, when I
once begin I am a copious letter-writer. I thank you, and AU




MY DEAR COLVIN, - It is a long while since I have heard from you;
nearly a month, I believe; and I begin to grow very uneasy. At
first I was tempted to suppose that I had been myself to blame in
some way; but now I have grown to fear lest some sickness or
trouble among those whom you love may not be the impediment. I
believe I shall soon hear; so I wait as best I can. I am, beyond a
doubt, greatly stronger, and yet still useless for any work, and, I
may say, for any pleasure. My affairs and the bad weather still
keep me here unmarried; but not, I earnestly hope, for long.
Whenever I get into the mountain, I trust I shall rapidly pick up.
Until I get away from these sea fogs and my imprisonment in the
house, I do not hope to do much more than keep from active harm.
My doctor took a desponding fit about me, and scared Fanny into
blue fits; but I have talked her over again. It is the change I
want, and the blessed sun, and a gentle air in which I can sit out
and see the trees and running water: these mere defensive
hygienics cannot advance one, though they may prevent evil. I do
nothing now, but try to possess my soul in peace, and continue to
possess my body on any terms.


All which is a fortnight old and not much to the point nowadays.
Here we are, Fanny and I, and a certain hound, in a lovely valley
under Mount Saint Helena, looking around, or rather wondering when
we shall begin to look around, for a house of our own. I have
received the first sheets of the AMATEUR EMIGRANT; not yet the
second bunch, as announced. It is a pretty heavy, emphatic piece
of pedantry; but I don't care; the public, I verily believe, will
like it. I have excised all you proposed and more on my own
movement. But I have not yet been able to rewrite the two special
pieces which, as you said, so badly wanted it; it is hard work to
rewrite passages in proof; and the easiest work is still hard to
me. But I am certainly recovering fast; a married and convalescent

Received James's HAWTHORNE, on which I meditate a blast, Miss Bird,
Dixon's PENN, a WRONG CORNHILL (like my luck) and COQUELIN: for
all which, and especially the last, I tender my best thanks. I
have opened only James; it is very clever, very well written, and
out of sight the most inside-out thing in the world; I have dug up
the hatchet; a scalp shall flutter at my belt ere long. I think my
new book should be good; it will contain our adventures for the
summer, so far as these are worth narrating; and I have already a
few pages of diary which should make up bright. I am going to
repeat my old experiment, after buckling-to a while to write more
correctly, lie down and have a wallow. Whether I shall get any of
my novels done this summer I do not know; I wish to finish the
VENDETTA first, for it really could not come after PRINCE OTTO.
Lewis Campbell has made some noble work in that Agamemnon; it
surprised me. We hope to get a house at Silverado, a deserted
mining-camp eight miles up the mountain, now solely inhabited by a
mighty hunter answering to the name of Rufe Hansome, who slew last
year a hundred and fifty deer. This is the motto I propose for the
SIC VIVERE UT VELIS.' I always have a terror lest the wish should
have been father to the translation, when I come to quote; but that
seems too plain sailing. I should put REGIBUS in capitals for the
pleasantry's sake. We are in the Coast Range, that being so much
cheaper to reach; the family, I hope, will soon follow. - Love to
all, ever yours,

R. L. S.


Letter: TO A. G. DEW-SMITH


Figure me to yourself, I pray -
A man of my peculiar cut -
Apart from dancing and deray,
Into an Alpine valley shut;

Shut in a kind of damned Hotel,
Discountenanced by God and man;
The food? - Sir, you would do as well
To cram your belly full of bran.

The company? Alas, the day
That I should dwell with such a crew,
With devil anything to say,
Nor any one to say it to!

The place? Although they call it Platz,
I will be bold and state my view;
It's not a place at all - and that's
The bottom verity, my Dew.

There are, as I will not deny,
Innumerable inns; a road;
Several Alps indifferent high;
The snow's inviolable abode;

Eleven English parsons, all
Entirely inoffensive; four
True human beings - what I call
Human - the deuce a cipher more;

A climate of surprising worth;
Innumerable dogs that bark;
Some air, some weather, and some earth;
A native race - God save the mark! -

A race that works, yet cannot work,
Yodels, but cannot yodel right,
Such as, unhelp'd, with rusty dirk,
I vow that I could wholly smite.

A river that from morn to night
Down all the valley plays the fool;
Not once she pauses in her flight,
Nor knows the comfort of a pool;

But still keeps up, by straight or bend,
The selfsame pace she hath begun -
Still hurry, hurry, to the end -
Good God, is that the way to run?

If I a river were, I hope
That I should better realise
The opportunities and scope
Of that romantic enterprise.

I should not ape the merely strange,
But aim besides at the divine;
And continuity and change
I still should labour to combine.

Here should I gallop down the race,
Here charge the sterling like a bull;
There, as a man might wipe his face,
Lie, pleased and panting, in a pool.

But what, my Dew, in idle mood,
What prate I, minding not my debt?
What do I talk of bad or good?
The best is still a cigarette.

Me whether evil fate assault,
Or smiling providences crown -
Whether on high the eternal vault
Be blue, or crash with thunder down -

I judge the best, whate'er befall,
Is still to sit on one's behind,
And, having duly moistened all,
Smoke with an unperturbed mind.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR FATHER, - Here is the scheme as well as I can foresee. I
begin the book immediately after the '15, as then began the attempt
to suppress the Highlands.


(1) Rob Roy.
(2) The Independent Companies: the Watches.
(3) Story of Lady Grange.
(4) The Military Roads, and Disarmament: Wade and
(5) Burt.


(1) Duncan Forbes of Culloden.
(2) Flora Macdonald.
(3) The Forfeited Estates; including Hereditary Jurisdictions; and
the admirable conduct of the tenants.


(1) The Ossianic Controversy.
(2) Boswell and Johnson.
(3) Mrs. Grant of Laggan.


(1) Highland Economics.
(2) The Reinstatement of the Proprietors.
(3) The Evictions.
(4) Emigration.
(5) Present State.


(1) The Catholics, Episcopals, and Kirk, and Soc. Prop. Christ.
(2) The Men.
(3) The Disruption.

All this, of course, will greatly change in form, scope, and order;
this is just a bird's-eye glance. Thank you for BURT, which came,
and for your Union notes. I have read one-half (about 900 pages)
of Wodrow's CORRESPONDENCE, with some improvement, but great
fatigue. The doctor thinks well of my recovery, which puts me in
good hope for the future. I should certainly be able to make a
fine history of this.

My Essays are going through the press, and should be out in January
or February. - Ever affectionate son,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR WEG, - I have many letters that I ought to write in
preference to this; but a duty to letters and to you prevails over
any private consideration. You are going to collect odes; I could
not wish a better man to do so; but I tremble lest you should
commit two sins of omission. You will not, I am sure, be so far
left to yourself as to give us no more of Dryden than the hackneyed
St. Cecilia; I know you will give us some others of those
surprising masterpieces where there is more sustained eloquence and
harmony of English numbers than in all that has been written since;
there is a machine about a poetical young lady, and another about
either Charles or James, I know not which; and they are both
indescribably fine. (Is Marvell's Horatian Ode good enough? I
half think so.) But my great point is a fear that you are one of
those who are unjust to our old Tennyson's Duke of Wellington. I
have just been talking it over with Symonds; and we agreed that
whether for its metrical effects, for its brief, plain, stirring
words of portraiture, as - he 'that never lost an English gun,' or
- the soldier salute; or for the heroic apostrophe to Nelson; that
ode has never been surpassed in any tongue or time. Grant me the
Duke, O Weg! I suppose you must not put in yours about the
warship; you will have to admit worse ones, however. - Ever yours,

R. L. S.



This letter is a report of a long sederunt, also steterunt in small
committee at Davos Platz, Dec. 15, 1880.

Its results are unhesitatingly shot at your head.

MY DEAR WEG, - We both insist on the Duke of Wellington. Really it
cannot be left out. Symonds said you would cover yourself with
shame, and I add, your friends with confusion, if you leave it out.
Really, you know it is the only thing you have, since Dryden, where
that irregular odic, odal, odous (?) verse is used with mastery and
sense. And it's one of our few English blood-boilers.

(2) Byron: if anything: PROMETHEUS.

(3) Shelley (1) THE WORLD'S GREAT AGE from Hellas; we are both dead
on. After that you have, of course, THE WEST WIND thing. But we
think (1) would maybe be enough; no more than two any way.

(4) Herrick. MEDDOWES and COME, MY CORINNA. After that MR.
WICKES: two any way.

(5) Leave out stanza 3rd of Congreve's thing, like a dear; we can't
stand the 'sigh' nor the 'peruke.'

(6) Milton. TIME and the SOLEMN MUSIC. We both agree we would
rather go without L'Allegro and Il Penseroso than these; for the
reason that these are not so well known to the brutish herd.

(7) Is the ROYAL GEORGE an ode, or only an elegy? It's so good.

(8) We leave Campbell to you.

(9) If you take anything from Clough, but we don't either of us
fancy you will, let it be COME BACK.

(10) Quite right about Dryden. I had a hankering after THRENODIA
AUGUSTALIS; but I find it long and with very prosaic holes:
though, O! what fine stuff between whiles.

(11) Right with Collins.

(12) Right about Pope's Ode. But what can you give? THE DYING
CHRISTIAN? or one of his inimitable courtesies? These last are
fairly odes, by the Horatian model, just as my dear MEDDOWES is an
ode in the name and for the sake of Bandusia.

(13) Whatever you do, you'll give us the Greek Vase.

(14) Do you like Jonson's 'loathed stage'? Verses 2, 3, and 4 are
so bad, also the last line. But there is a fine movement and
feeling in the rest.

We will have the Duke of Wellington by God. Pro Symonds and

R. L. S.



DEAR CHARLES WARREN STODDARD, - Many thanks to you for the letter
and the photograph. Will you think it mean if I ask you to wait
till there appears a promised cheap edition? Possibly the canny
Scot does feel pleasure in the superior cheapness; but the true
reason is this, that I think to put a few words, by way of notes,
to each book in its new form, because that will be the Standard
Edition, without which no g.'s l. will be complete. The edition,
briefly, SINE QUA NON. Before that, I shall hope to send you my
essays, which are in the printer's hands. I look to get yours
soon. I am sorry to hear that the Custom House has proved
fallible, like all other human houses and customs. Life consists
of that sort of business, and I fear that there is a class of man,
of which you offer no inapt type, doomed to a kind of mild, general
disappointment through life. I do not believe that a man is the
more unhappy for that. Disappointment, except with one's self, is
not a very capital affair; and the sham beatitude, 'Blessed is he
that expecteth little,' one of the truest, and in a sense, the most
Christlike things in literature.

Alongside of you, I have been all my days a red cannon ball of
dissipated effort; here I am by the heels in this Alpine valley,
with just so much of a prospect of future restoration as shall make
my present caged estate easily tolerable to me - shall or should, I
would not swear to the word before the trial's done. I miss all my
objects in the meantime; and, thank God, I have enough of my old,
and maybe somewhat base philosophy, to keep me on a good
understanding with myself and Providence.

The mere extent of a man's travels has in it something consolatory.
That he should have left friends and enemies in many different and
distant quarters gives a sort of earthly dignity to his existence.
And I think the better of myself for the belief that I have left
some in California interested in me and my successes. Let me
assure you, you who have made friends already among such various
and distant races, that there is a certain phthisical Scot who will
always be pleased to hear good news of you, and would be better
pleased by nothing than to learn that you had thrown off your
present incubus, largely consisting of letters I believe, and had
sailed into some square work by way of change.

And by way of change in itself, let me copy on the other pages some
broad Scotch I wrote for you when I was ill last spring in Oakland.
It is no muckle worth: but ye should na look a gien horse in the
moo'. - Yours ever,




MY DEAR PEOPLE, - I do not understand these reproaches. The
letters come between seven and nine in the evening; and every one
about the books was answered that same night, and the answer left
Davos by seven o'clock next morning. Perhaps the snow delayed
then; if so, 'tis a good hint to you not to be uneasy at apparent
silences. There is no hurry about my father's notes; I shall not
be writing anything till I get home again, I believe. Only I want
to be able to keep reading AD HOC all winter, as it seems about all
I shall be fit for. About John Brown, I have been breaking my
heart to finish a Scotch poem to him. Some of it is not really
bad, but the rest will not come, and I mean to get it right before
I do anything else.

The bazaar is over, 160 pounds gained, and everybody's health lost:
altogether, I never had a more uncomfortable time; apply to Fanny
for further details of the discomfort.

We have our Wogg in somewhat better trim now, and vastly better
spirits. The weather has been bad - for Davos, but indeed it is a
wonderful climate. It never feels cold; yesterday, with a little,
chill, small, northerly draught, for the first time, it was
pinching. Usually, it may freeze, or snow, or do what it pleases,
you feel it not, or hardly any.

Thanks for your notes; that fishery question will come in, as you
notice, in the Highland Book, as well as under the Union; it is
very important. I hear no word of Hugh Miller's EVICTIONS; I count
on that. What you say about the old and new Statistical is odd.
It seems to me very much as if I were gingerly embarking on a
HISTORY OF MODERN SCOTLAND. Probably Tulloch will never carry it
out. And, you see, once I have studied and written these two
AND THE UNION, I shall have a good ground to go upon. The effect
on my mind of what I have read has been to awaken a livelier
sympathy for the Irish; although they never had the remarkable
virtues, I fear they have suffered many of the injustices, of the
Scottish Highlanders. Ruedi has seen me this morning; he says the
disease is at a standstill, and I am to profit by it to take more
exercise. Altogether, he seemed quite hopeful and pleased. - I am
your ever affectionate son,

R. L S.


[HOTEL BELVEDERE, DAVOS, Christmas 1880.]

MY DEAR COLVIN, - Thanks for yours; I waited, as said I would. I
now expect no answer from you, regarding you as a mere dumb cock-
shy, or a target, at which we fire our arrows diligently all day
long, with no anticipation it will bring them back to us. We are
both sadly mortified you are not coming, but health comes first;
alas, that man should be so crazy. What fun we could have, if we
were all well, what work we could do, what a happy place we could
make it for each other! If I were able to do what I want; but then
I am not, and may leave that vein.

No. I do not think I shall require to know the Gaelic; few things
are written in that language, or ever were; if you come to that,
the number of those who could write, or even read it, through
almost all my period, must, by all accounts, have been incredibly
small. Of course, until the book is done, I must live as much as
possible in the Highlands, and that suits my book as to health. It
is a most interesting and sad story, and from the '45 it is all to
be written for the first time. This, of course, will cause me a
far greater difficulty about authorities; but I have already
learned much, and where to look for more. One pleasant feature is
the vast number of delightful writers I shall have to deal with:
Burt, Johnson, Boswell, Mrs. Grant of Laggan, Scott. There will be
interesting sections on the Ossianic controversy and the growth of
the taste for Highland scenery. I have to touch upon Rob Roy,
Flora Macdonald, the strange story of Lady Grange, the beautiful
story of the tenants on the Forfeited Estates, and the odd, inhuman
problem of the great evictions. The religious conditions are wild,
unknown, very surprising. And three out of my five parts remain
hitherto entirely unwritten. Smack! - Yours ever,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MOTHER, - I was very tired yesterday and could not write;
tobogganed so furiously all morning; we had a delightful day,
crowned by an incredible dinner - more courses than I have fingers
on my hands. Your letter arrived duly at night, and I thank you
for it as I should. You need not suppose I am at all insensible to
my father's extraordinary kindness about this book; he is a brick;
I vote for him freely.

. . . The assurance you speak of is what we all ought to have, and
might have, and should not consent to live without. That people do
not have it more than they do is, I believe, because persons speak
so much in large-drawn, theological similitudes, and won't say out
what they mean about life, and man, and God, in fair and square
human language. I wonder if you or my father ever thought of the
obscurities that lie upon human duty from the negative form in
which the Ten Commandments are stated, or of how Christ was so
continually substituting affirmations. 'Thou shalt not' is but an
example; 'Thou shalt' is the law of God. It was this that seems
meant in the phrase that 'not one jot nor tittle of the law should
pass.' But what led me to the remark is this: A kind of black,
angry look goes with that statement of the law of negatives. 'To
love one's neighbour as oneself' is certainly much harder, but
states life so much more actively, gladly, and kindly, that you
begin to see some pleasure in it; and till you can see pleasure in
these hard choices and bitter necessities, where is there any Good
News to men? It is much more important to do right than not to do
wrong; further, the one is possible, the other has always been and
will ever be impossible; and the faithful DESIGN TO DO RIGHT is
accepted by God; that seems to me to be the Gospel, and that was
how Christ delivered us from the Law. After people are told that,
surely they might hear more encouraging sermons. To blow the
trumpet for good would seem the Parson's business; and since it is
not in our own strength, but by faith and perseverance (no account
made of slips), that we are to run the race, I do not see where
they get the material for their gloomy discourses. Faith is not to
believe the Bible, but to believe in God; if you believe in God
(or, for it's the same thing, have that assurance you speak about),
where is there any more room for terror? There are only three
possible attitudes - Optimism, which has gone to smash; Pessimism,
which is on the rising hand, and very popular with many clergymen
who seem to think they are Christians. And this Faith, which is
the Gospel. Once you hold the last, it is your business (1) to
find out what is right in any given case, and (2) to try to do it;
if you fail in the last, that is by commission, Christ tells you to
hope; if you fail in the first, that is by omission, his picture of
the last day gives you but a black lookout. The whole necessary
morality is kindness; and it should spring, of itself, from the one
fundamental doctrine, Faith. If you are sure that God, in the long
run, means kindness by you, you should be happy; and if happy,
surely you should be kind.

I beg your pardon for this long discourse; it is not all right, of
course, but I am sure there is something in it. One thing I have
not got clearly; that about the omission and the commission; but
there is truth somewhere about it, and I have no time to clear it
just now. Do you know, you have had about a Cornhill page of
sermon? It is, however, true.

Lloyd heard with dismay Fanny was not going to give me a present;
so F. and I had to go and buy things for ourselves, and go through
a representation of surprise when they were presented next morning.
It gave us both quite a Santa Claus feeling on Xmas Eve to see him
so excited and hopeful; I enjoyed it hugely. - Your affectionate




MY DEAR COLVIN. - My health is not just what it should be; I have
lost weight, pulse, respiration, etc., and gained nothing in the
way of my old bellows. But these last few days, with tonic, cod-
liver oil, better wine (there is some better now), and perpetual
beef-tea, I think I have progressed. To say truth, I have been
here a little over long. I was reckoning up, and since I have
known you, already quite a while, I have not, I believe, remained
so long in any one place as here in Davos. That tells on my old
gipsy nature; like a violin hung up, I begin to lose what music
there was in me; and with the music, I do not know what besides, or
do not know what to call it, but something radically part of life,
a rhythm, perhaps, in one's old and so brutally over-ridden nerves,
or perhaps a kind of variety of blood that the heart has come to
look for.

I purposely knocked myself off first. As to F. A. S., I believe I
am no sound authority; I alternate between a stiff disregard and a
kind of horror. In neither mood can a man judge at all. I know
the thing to be terribly perilous, I fear it to be now altogether
hopeless. Luck has failed; the weather has not been favourable;
and in her true heart, the mother hopes no more. But - well, I
feel a great deal, that I either cannot or will not say, as you
well know. It has helped to make me more conscious of the
wolverine on my own shoulders, and that also makes me a poor judge
and poor adviser. Perhaps, if we were all marched out in a row,
and a piece of platoon firing to the drums performed, it would be
well for us; although, I suppose - and yet I wonder! - so ill for
the poor mother and for the dear wife. But you can see this makes

You are right about the Carlyle book; F. and I are in a world not
ours; but pardon me, as far as sending on goes, we take another
view: the first volume, A LA BONNE HEURE! but not - never - the
second. Two hours of hysterics can be no good matter for a sick
nurse, and the strange, hard, old being in so lamentable and yet
human a desolation - crying out like a burnt child, and yet always
wisely and beautifully - how can that end, as a piece of reading,
even to the strong - but on the brink of the most cruel kind of
weeping? I observe the old man's style is stronger on me than ever
it was, and by rights, too, since I have just laid down his most
attaching book. God rest the baith o' them! But even if they do
not meet again, how we should all be strengthened to be kind, and
not only in act, in speech also, that so much more important part.
See what this apostle of silence most regrets, not speaking out his

I was struck as you were by the admirable, sudden, clear sunshine
upon Southey - even on his works. Symonds, to whom I repeated it,
remarked at once, a man who was thus respected by both Carlyle and
Landor must have had more in him than we can trace. So I feel with
true humility.

It was to save my brain that Symonds proposed reviewing. He and,
it appears, Leslie Stephen fear a little some eclipse; I am not
quite without sharing the fear. I know my own languor as no one
else does; it is a dead down-draught, a heavy fardel. Yet if I
could shake off the wolverine aforesaid, and his fangs are lighter,
though perhaps I feel them more, I believe I could be myself again
a while. I have not written any letter for a great time; none
saying what I feel, since you were here, I fancy. Be duly obliged
for it, and take my most earnest thanks not only for the books but
for your letter. Your affectionate,

R. L. S.

The effect of reading this on Fanny shows me I must tell you I am
very happy, peaceful, and jolly, except for questions of work and
the states of other people.

Woggin sends his love.


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