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The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson

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DAVOS, 1881.

MY DEAR BROWN. - Here it is, with the mark of a San Francisco
BOUQUINISTE. And if ever in all my 'human conduct' I have done a
better thing to any fellow-creature than handing on to you this
sweet, dignified, and wholesome book, I know I shall hear of it on
the last day. To write a book like this were impossible; at least
one can hand it on - with a wrench - one to another. My wife cries
out and my own heart misgives me, but still here it is. I could
scarcely better prove myself - Yours affectionately,



DAVOS, 1881.

MY DEAR BROWN. - I hope, if you get thus far, you will know what an
invaluable present I have made you. Even the copy was dear to me,
printed in the colony that Penn established, and carried in my
pocket all about the San Francisco streets, read in street cars and
ferry-boats, when I was sick unto death, and found in all times and
places a peaceful and sweet companion. But I hope, when you shall
have reached this note, my gift will not have been in vain; for
while just now we are so busy and intelligent, there is not the man
living, no, nor recently dead, that could put, with so lovely a
spirit, so much honest, kind wisdom into words.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR BROWN, - Nine years I have conded them.

Brave lads in olden musical centuries
Sang, night by night, adorable choruses,
Sat late by alehouse doors in April
Chaunting in joy as the moon was rising:

Moon-seen and merry, under the trellises,
Flush-faced they played with old polysyllables;
Spring scents inspired, old wine diluted;
Love and Apollo were there to chorus.

Now these, the songs, remain to eternity,
Those, only those, the bountiful choristers
Gone - those are gone, those unremembered
Sleep and are silent in earth for ever.

So man himself appears and evanishes,
So smiles and goes; as wanderers halting at
Some green-embowered house, play their music,
Play and are gone on the windy highway;

Yet dwells the strain enshrined in the memory
Long after they departed eternally,
Forth-faring tow'rd far mountain summits,
Cities of men on the sounding Ocean.

Youth sang the song in years immemorial;
Brave chanticleer, he sang and was beautiful;
Bird-haunted, green tree-tops in springtime
Heard and were pleased by the voice of singing;

Youth goes, and leaves behind him a prodigy -
Songs sent by thee afar from Venetian
Sea-grey lagunes, sea-paven highways,
Dear to me here in my Alpine exile.

Please, my dear Brown, forgive my horrid delay. Symonds overworked
and knocked up. I off my sleep; my wife gone to Paris. Weather
lovely. - Yours ever,


Monte Generoso in May; here, I think, till the end of April; write
again, to prove you are forgiving.



MY DEAR PEOPLE, - A week in Paris reduced me to the limpness and
lack of appetite peculiar to a kid glove, and gave Fanny a jumping
sore throat. It's my belief there is death in the kettle there; a
pestilence or the like. We came out here, pitched on the STAR and
GARTER (they call it Somebody's pavilion), found the place a bed of
lilacs and nightingales (first time I ever heard one), and also of
a bird called the PIASSEUR, cheerfulest of sylvan creatures, an
ideal comic opera in itself. 'Come along, what fun, here's Pan in
the next glade at picnic, and this-yer's Arcadia, and it's awful
fun, and I've had a glass, I will not deny, but not to see it on
me,' that is his meaning as near as I can gather. Well, the place
(forest of beeches all new-fledged, grass like velvet, fleets of
hyacinth) pleased us and did us good. We tried all ways to find a
cheaper place, but could find nothing safe; cold, damp, brick-
floored rooms and sich; we could not leave Paris till your seven
days' sight on draft expired; we dared not go back to be
miasmatised in these homes of putridity; so here we are till
Tuesday in the STAR AND GARTER. My throat is quite cured, appetite
and strength on the mend. Fanny seems also picking up.

If we are to come to Scotland, I WILL have fir-trees, and I want a
burn, the firs for my physical, the water for my moral health. -
Ever affectionate son,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR WEG, - Here I am in my native land, being gently blown and
hailed upon, and sitting nearer and nearer to the fire. A cottage
near a moor is soon to receive our human forms; it is also near a
burn to which Professor Blackie (no less!) has written some verses
in his hot old age, and near a farm from whence we shall draw cream
and fatness. Should I be moved to join Blackie, I shall go upon my
knees and pray hard against temptation; although, since the new
Version, I do not know the proper form of words. The swollen,
childish, and pedantic vanity that moved the said revisers to put
'bring' for 'lead,' is a sort of literary fault that calls for an
eternal hell; it may be quite a small place, a star of the least
magnitude, and shabbily furnished; there shall -, -, the revisers
of the Bible and other absolutely loathsome literary lepers, dwell
among broken pens, bad, GROUNDY ink and ruled blotting-paper made
in France - all eagerly burning to write, and all inflicted with
incurable aphasia. I should not have thought upon that torture had
I not suffered it in moderation myself, but it is too horrid even
for a hell; let's let 'em off with an eternal toothache.

All this talk is partly to persuade you that I write to you out of
good feeling only, which is not the case. I am a beggar: ask
Dobson, Saintsbury, yourself, and any other of these cheeses who
know something of the eighteenth century, what became of Jean
Cavalier between his coming to England and his death in 1740. Is
anything interesting known about him? Whom did he marry? The
happy French, smilingly following one another in a long procession
headed by the loud and empty Napoleon Peyrat, say, Olympe Dunoyer,
Voltaire's old flame. Vacquerie even thinks that they were rivals,
and is very French and very literary and very silly in his
comments. Now I may almost say it consists with my knowledge that
all this has not a shadow to rest upon. It is very odd and very
annoying; I have splendid materials for Cavalier till he comes to
my own country; and there, though he continues to advance in the
service, he becomes entirely invisible to me. Any information
about him will be greatly welcome: I may mention that I know as
much as I desire about the other prophets, Marion, Fage, Cavalier
(de Sonne), my Cavalier's cousin, the unhappy Lions, and the
idiotic Mr. Lacy; so if any erudite starts upon that track, you may
choke him off. If you can find aught for me, or if you will but
try, count on my undying gratitude. Lang's 'Library' is very
pleasant reading.

My book will reach you soon, for I write about it to-day - Yours





The Black Man:

I. Thrawn Janet.
II. The Devil on Cramond Sands.
The Shadow on the Bed.
The Body Snatchers.
The Case Bottle.
The King's Horn.
The Actor's Wife.
The Wreck of the SUSANNA.

This is the new work on which I am engaged with Fanny; they are all
supernatural. 'Thrawn Janet' is off to Stephen, but as it is all
in Scotch he cannot take it, I know. It was SO GOOD, I could not
help sending it. My health improves. We have a lovely spot here:
a little green glen with a burn, a wonderful burn, gold and green
and snow-white, singing loud and low in different steps of its
career, now pouring over miniature crags, now fretting itself to
death in a maze of rocky stairs and pots; never was so sweet a
little river. Behind, great purple moorlands reaching to Ben
Vrackie. Hunger lives here, alone with larks and sheep. Sweet
spot, sweet spot.

Write me a word about Bob's professoriate and Landor, and what you
think of THE BLACK MAN. The tales are all ghastly. 'Thrawn Janet'
frightened me to death. There will maybe be another - 'The Dead
Man's A Letter.' I believe I shall recover; and I am, in this
blessed hope, yours exuberantly,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MACKAY, - What is this I hear? - that you are retiring from
your chair. It is not, I hope, from ill-health?

But if you are retiring, may I ask if you have promised your
support to any successor? I have a great mind to try. The summer
session would suit me; the chair would suit me - if only I would
suit it; I certainly should work it hard: that I can promise. I
only wish it were a few years from now, when I hope to have
something more substantial to show for myself. Up to the present
time, all that I have published, even bordering on history, has
been in an occasional form, and I fear this is much against me.

Please let me hear a word in answer, and believe me, yours very




MY DEAR MACKAY, - Thank you very much for your kind letter, and
still more for your good opinion. You are not the only one who has
regretted my absence from your lectures; but you were to me, then,
only a part of a mangle through which I was being slowly and
unwillingly dragged - part of a course which I had not chosen -
part, in a word, of an organised boredom.

I am glad to have your reasons for giving up the chair; they are
partly pleasant, and partly honourable to you. And I think one may
say that every man who publicly declines a plurality of offices,
makes it perceptibly more difficult for the next man to accept

Every one tells me that I come too late upon the field, every one
being pledged, which, seeing it is yet too early for any one to
come upon the field, I must regard as a polite evasion. Yet all
advise me to stand, as it might serve me against the next vacancy.
So stand I shall, unless things are changed. As it is, with my
health this summer class is a great attraction; it is perhaps the
only hope I may have of a permanent income. I had supposed the
needs of the chair might be met by choosing every year some period
of history in which questions of Constitutional Law were involved;
but this is to look too far forward.

I understand (1ST) that no overt steps can be taken till your
resignation is accepted; and (2ND) that in the meantime I may,
without offence, mention my design to stand.

If I am mistaken about these, please correct me, as I do not wish
to appear where I should not.

Again thanking you very heartily for your coals of fire I remain
yours very sincerely,




MY DEAR GOSSE, - I wonder if I misdirected my last to you. I begin
to fear it. I hope, however, this will go right. I am in act to
do a mad thing - to stand for the Edinburgh Chair of History; it is
elected for by the advocates, QUORUM PARS; I am told that I am too
late this year; but advised on all hands to go on, as it is likely
soon to be once more vacant; and I shall have done myself good for
the next time. Now, if I got the thing (which I cannot, it
appears), I believe, in spite of all my imperfections, I could be
decently effectual. If you can think so also, do put it in a

Heavens! JE ME SAUVE, I have something else to say to you, but
after that (which is not a joke) I shall keep it for another shoot.
- Yours testimonially,


I surely need not add, dear lad, that if you don't feel like it,
you will only have to pacify me by a long letter on general
subjects, when I shall hasten to respond in recompense for my
assault upon the postal highway.



MY DEAR WEG, - Many thanks for the testimonial; many thanks for
your blind, wondering letter; many wishes, lastly, for your swift
recovery. Insomnia is the opposite pole from my complaint; which
brings with it a nervous lethargy, an unkind, unwholesome, and
ungentle somnolence, fruitful in heavy heads and heavy eyes at
morning. You cannot sleep; well, I can best explain my state thus:
I cannot wake. Sleep, like the lees of a posset, lingers all day,
lead-heavy, in my knees and ankles. Weight on the shoulders,
torpor on the brain. And there is more than too much of that from
an ungrateful hound who is now enjoying his first decently
competent and peaceful weeks for close upon two years; happy in a
big brown moor behind him, and an incomparable burn by his side;
happy, above all, in some work - for at last I am at work with that
appetite and confidence that alone makes work supportable.

I told you I had something else to say. I am very tedious - it is
another request. In August and a good part of September we shall
be in Braemar, in a house with some accommodation. Now Braemar is
a place patronised by the royalty of the Sister Kingdoms - Victoria
and the Cairngorms, sir, honouring that countryside by their
conjunct presence. This seems to me the spot for A Bard. Now can
you come to see us for a little while? I can promise you, you must
like my father, because you are a human being; you ought to like
Braemar, because of your avocation; and you ought to like me,
because I like you; and again, you must like my wife, because she
likes cats; and as for my mother - well, come and see, what do you
think? that is best. Mrs. Gosse, my wife tells me, will have other
fish to fry; and to be plain, I should not like to ask her till I
had seen the house. But a lone man I know we shall be equal to.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MR. HAMMERTON, - (There goes the second M.; it is a
certainty.) Thank you for your prompt and kind answer, little as I
deserved it, though I hope to show you I was less undeserving than
I seemed. But just might I delete two words in your testimonial?
The two words 'and legal' were unfortunately winged by chance
against my weakest spot, and would go far to damn me.

It was not my bliss that I was interested in when I was married; it
was a sort of marriage IN EXTREMIS; and if I am where I am, it is
thanks to the care of that lady who married me when I was a mere
complication of cough and bones, much fitter for an emblem of
mortality than a bridegroom.

I had a fair experience of that kind of illness when all the women
(God bless them!) turn round upon the streets and look after you
with a look that is only too kind not to be cruel. I have had
nearly two years of more or less prostration. I have done no work
whatever since the February before last until quite of late. To be
precise, until the beginning of last month, exactly two essays.
All last winter I was at Davos; and indeed I am home here just now
against the doctor's orders, and must soon be back again to that
unkindly haunt 'upon the mountains visitant' - there goes no angel
there but the angel of death. The deaths of last winter are still
sore spots to me. . . . So, you see, I am not very likely to go on
a 'wild expedition,' cis-Stygian at least. The truth is, I am
scarce justified in standing for the chair, though I hope you will
not mention this; and yet my health is one of my reasons, for the
class is in summer.

I hope this statement of my case will make my long neglect appear
less unkind. It was certainly not because I ever forgot you, or
your unwonted kindness; and it was not because I was in any sense
rioting in pleasures.

I am glad to hear the catamaran is on her legs again; you have my
warmest wishes for a good cruise down the Saone; and yet there
comes some envy to that wish, for when shall I go cruising? Here a
sheer hulk, alas! lies R. L. S. But I will continue to hope for a
better time, canoes that will sail better to the wind, and a river
grander than the Saone.

I heard, by the way, in a letter of counsel from a well-wisher, one
reason of my town's absurdity about the chair of Art: I fear it is
characteristic of her manners. It was because you did not call
upon the electors!

Will you remember me to Mrs. Hamerton and your son? - And believe
me, etc., etc.,




MY DEAR COLVIN, - I do believe I am better, mind and body; I am
tired just now, for I have just been up the burn with Wogg, daily
growing better and boo'f'ler; so do not judge my state by my style
in this. I am working steady, four Cornhill pages scrolled every
day, besides the correspondence about this chair, which is heavy in
itself. My first story, 'Thrawn Janet,' all in Scotch, is accepted
by Stephen; my second, 'The Body Snatchers,' is laid aside in a
justifiable disgust, the tale being horrid; my third, 'The Merry
Men,' I am more than half through, and think real well of. It is a
fantastic sonata about the sea and wrecks; and I like it much above
all my other attempts at story-telling; I think it is strange; if
ever I shall make a hit, I have the line now, as I believe.

Fanny has finished one of hers, 'The Shadow on the Bed,' and is now
hammering at a second, for which we have 'no name' as yet - not by
Wilkie Collins.

TALES FOR WINTER NIGHTS. Yes, that, I think, we will call the lot
of them when republished.

Why have you not sent me a testimonial? Everybody else but you has
responded, and Symonds, but I'm afraid he's ill. Do think, too, if
anybody else would write me a testimonial. I am told quantity goes
far. I have good ones from Rev. Professor Campbell, Professor
Meiklejohn, Leslie Stephen, Lang, Gosse, and a very shaky one from

Grant is an elector, so can't, but has written me kindly. From
Tulloch I have not yet heard. Do help me with suggestions. This
old chair, with its 250 pounds and its light work, would make me.

It looks as if we should take Cater's chalet after all; but O! to
go back to that place, it seems cruel. I have not yet received the
Landor; but it may be at home, detained by my mother, who returns

Believe me, dear Colvin, ever yours,

R. L. S.

Yours came; the class is in summer; many thanks for the
testimonial, it is bully; arrived along with it another from
Symonds, also bully; he is ill, but not lungs, thank God - fever
got in Italy. We HAVE taken Cater's chalet; so we are now the
aristo.'s of the valley. There is no hope for me, but if there
were, you would hear sweetness and light streaming from my lips.

'The Merry Men'

Chap. I. Eilean Aros. }
II. What the Wreck had brought to Aros. } Tip
III. Past and Present in Sandag Bay. } Top
IV. The Gale. } Tale.
V. A Man out of the Sea. }

Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY


MY DEAR HENLEY, - I hope, then, to have a visit from you. If
before August, here; if later, at Braemar. Tupe!

And now, MON BON, I must babble about 'The Merry Men,' my favourite
work. It is a fantastic sonata about the sea and wrecks. Chapter
I. 'Eilean Aros' - the island, the roost, the 'merry men,' the
three people there living - sea superstitions. Chapter II. 'What
the Wreck had brought to Aros.' Eh, boy? what had it? Silver and
clocks and brocades, and what a conscience, what a mad brain!
Chapter III. 'Past and Present in Sandag Bay' - the new wreck and
the old - so old - the Armada treasure-ship, Santma Trinid - the
grave in the heather - strangers there. Chapter IV. 'The Gale' -
the doomed ship - the storm - the drunken madman on the head -
cries in the night. Chapter V. 'A Man out of the Sea.' But I must
not breathe to you my plot. It is, I fancy, my first real shoot at
a story; an odd thing, sir, but, I believe, my own, though there is
a little of Scott's PIRATE in it, as how should there not? He had
the root of romance in such places. Aros is Earraid, where I lived
lang syne; the Ross of Grisapol is the Ross of Mull; Ben Ryan, Ben
More. I have written to the middle of Chapter IV. Like enough,
when it is finished I shall discard all chapterings; for the thing
is written straight through. It must, unhappily, be re-written -
too well written not to be.

The chair is only three months in summer; that is why I try for it.
If I get it, which I shall not, I should be independent at once.
Sweet thought. I liked your Byron well; your Berlioz better. No
one would remark these cuts; even I, who was looking for it, knew
it not at all to be a TORSO. The paper strengthens me in my
recommendation to you to follow Colvin's hint. Give us an 1830;
you will do it well, and the subject smiles widely on the world:-

1830: A CHAPTER OF ARTISTIC HISTORY, by William Ernest Henley (or
OF SOCIAL AND ARTISTIC HISTORY, as the thing might grow to you).
Sir, you might be in the Athenaeum yet with that; and, believe me,
you might and would be far better, the author of a readable book. -
Yours ever,

R. L. S.

The following names have been invented for Wogg by his dear papa:-

Grunty-pig (when he is scratched),
Rose-mouth (when he comes flying up with his rose-leaf tongue
depending), and
Hoofen-boots (when he has had his foots wet).

Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY


DEAR HENLEY, - To answer a point or two. First, the Spanish ship
was sloop-rigged and clumsy, because she was fitted out by some
private adventurers, not over wealthy, and glad to take what they
could get. Is that not right? Tell me if you think not. That, at
least, was how I meant it. As for the boat-cloaks, I am afraid
they are, as you say, false imagination; but I love the name,
nature, and being of them so dearly, that I feel as if I would
almost rather ruin a story than omit the reference. The proudest
moments of my life have been passed in the stern-sheets of a boat
with that romantic garment over my shoulders. This, without
prejudice to one glorious day when standing upon some water stairs
at Lerwick I signalled with my pocket-handkerchief for a boat to
come ashore for me. I was then aged fifteen or sixteen; conceive
my glory.

Several of the phrases you object to are proper nautical, or long-
shore phrases, and therefore, I think, not out of place in this
long-shore story. As for the two members which you thought at
first so ill-united; I confess they seem perfectly so to me. I
have chosen to sacrifice a long-projected story of adventure
because the sentiment of that is identical with the sentiment of
'My uncle.' My uncle himself is not the story as I see it, only
the leading episode of that story. It's really a story of wrecks,
as they appear to the dweller on the coast. It's a view of the
sea. Goodness knows when I shall be able to re-write; I must first
get over this copper-headed cold.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - This is the first letter I have written this good
while. I have had a brutal cold, not perhaps very wisely treated;
lots of blood - for me, I mean. I was so well, however, before,
that I seem to be sailing through with it splendidly. My appetite
never failed; indeed, as I got worse, it sharpened - a sort of
reparatory instinct. Now I feel in a fair way to get round soon.

MONDAY, AUGUST (2ND, is it?). - We set out for the Spital of
Glenshee, and reach Braemar on Tuesday. The Braemar address we
cannot learn; it looks as if 'Braemar' were all that was necessary;
if particular, you can address 17 Heriot Row. We shall be
delighted to see you whenever, and as soon as ever, you can make it

. . . I hope heartily you will survive me, and do not doubt it.
There are seven or eight people it is no part of my scheme in life
to survive - yet if I could but heal me of my bellowses, I could
have a jolly life - have it, even now, when I can work and stroll a
little, as I have been doing till this cold. I have so many things
to make life sweet to me, it seems a pity I cannot have that other
one thing - health. But though you will be angry to hear it, I
believe, for myself at least, what is is best. I believed it all
through my worst days, and I am not ashamed to profess it now.

Landor has just turned up; but I had read him already. I like him
extremely; I wonder if the 'cuts' were perhaps not advantageous.
It seems quite full enough; but then you know I am a

If I am to criticise, it is a little staid; but the classical is
apt to look so. It is in curious contrast to that inexpressive,
unplanned wilderness of Forster's; clear, readable, precise, and
sufficiently human. I see nothing lost in it, though I could have
wished, in my Scotch capacity, a trifle clearer and fuller
exposition of his moral attitude, which is not quite clear 'from

He and his tyrannicide! I am in a mad fury about these explosions.
If that is the new world! Damn O'Donovan Rossa; damn him behind
and before, above, below, and roundabout; damn, deracinate, and
destroy him, root and branch, self and company, world without end.
Amen. I write that for sport if you like, but I will pray in
earnest, O Lord, if you cannot convert, kindly delete him!

Stories naturally at - halt. Henley has seen one and approves. I
believe it to be good myself, even real good. He has also seen and
approved one of Fanny's. It will snake a good volume. We have now

Thrawn Janet (with Stephen), proof to-day.
The Shadow on the Bed (Fanny's copying).
The Merry Men (scrolled).
The Body Snatchers (scrolled).


The Travelling Companion.
The Torn Surplice (NOT FINAL TITLE).

Yours ever,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR SIR, - I should long ago have written to thank you for your
kind and frank letter; but in my state of health papers are apt to
get mislaid, and your letter has been vainly hunted for until this
(Sunday) morning.

I regret I shall not be able to see you in Edinburgh; one visit to
Edinburgh has already cost me too dear in that invaluable
particular health; but if it should be at all possible for you to
push on as far as Braemar, I believe you would find an attentive
listener, and I can offer you a bed, a drive, and necessary food,

If, however, you should not be able to come thus far, I can promise
you two things: First, I shall religiously revise what I have
written, and bring out more clearly the point of view from which I
regarded Thoreau; second, I shall in the Preface record your

The point of view (and I must ask you not to forget that any such
short paper is essentially only a SECTION THROUGH a man) was this:
I desired to look at the man through his books. Thus, for
instance, when I mentioned his return to the pencil-making, I did
it only in passing (perhaps I was wrong), because it seemed to me
not an illustration of his principles, but a brave departure from
them. Thousands of such there were I do not doubt; still, they
might be hardly to my purpose, though, as you say so, some of them
would be.

Our difference as to pity I suspect was a logomachy of my making.
No pitiful acts on his part would surprise me; I know he would be
more pitiful in practice than most of the whiners; but the spirit
of that practice would still seem to be unjustly described by the
word pity.

When I try to be measured, I find myself usually suspected of a
sneaking unkindness for my subject; but you may be sure, sir, I
would give up most other things to be so good a man as Thoreau.
Even my knowledge of him leads me thus far.

Should you find yourself able to push on to Braemar - it may even
be on your way - believe me, your visit will be most welcome. The
weather is cruel, but the place is, as I dare say you know, the
very 'wale' of Scotland - bar Tummelside. - Yours very sincerely,




... WELL, I have been pretty mean, but I have not yet got over my
cold so completely as to have recovered much energy. It is really
extraordinary that I should have recovered as well as I have in
this blighting weather; the wind pipes, the rain comes in squalls,
great black clouds are continually overhead, and it is as cold as
March. The country is delightful, more cannot be said; it is very
beautiful, a perfect joy when we get a blink of sun to see it in.
The Queen knows a thing or two, I perceive; she has picked out the
finest habitable spot in Britain.

I have done no work, and scarce written a letter for three weeks,
but I think I should soon begin again; my cough is now very
trifling. I eat well, and seem to have lost but I little flesh in
the meanwhile. I was WONDERFULLY well before I caught this horrid
cold. I never thought I should have been as well again; I really
enjoyed life and work; and, of course, I now have a good hope that
this may return.

I suppose you heard of our ghost stories. They are somewhat
delayed by my cold and a bad attack of laziness, embroidery, etc.,
under which Fanny had been some time prostrate. It is horrid that
we can get no better weather. I did not get such good accounts of
you as might have been. You must imitate me. I am now one of the
most conscientious people at trying to get better you ever saw. I
have a white hat, it is much admired; also a plaid, and a heavy
stoop; so I take my walks abroad, witching the world.

Last night I was beaten at chess, and am still grinding under the
blow. - Ever your faithful friend,

R. L. S.


AUGUST 10, 1881.

MY DEAR GOSSE, - Come on the 24th, there is a dear fellow.
Everybody else wants to come later, and it will be a godsend for,
sir - Yours sincerely.

You can stay as long as you behave decently, and are not sick of,
sir - Your obedient, humble servant.

We have family worship in the home of, sir - Yours respectfully.

Braemar is a fine country, but nothing to (what you will also see)
the maps of, sir - Yours in the Lord.

A carriage and two spanking hacks draw up daily at the hour of two
before the house of, sir - Yours truly.

The rain rains and the winds do beat upon the cottage of the late
Miss Macgregor and of, sir - Yours affectionately.

It is to be trusted that the weather may improve ere you know the
halls of, sir - Yours emphatically.

All will be glad to welcome you, not excepting, sir - Yours ever.

You will now have gathered the lamentable intellectual collapse of,
sir - Yours indeed.

And nothing remains for me but to sign myself, sir - Yours,


N.B. - Each of these clauses has to be read with extreme glibness,
coming down whack upon the 'Sir.' This is very important. The
fine stylistic inspiration will else be lost.

I commit the man who made, the man who sold, and the woman who
supplied me with my present excruciating gilt nib to that place
where the worm never dies.

The reference to a deceased Highland lady (tending as it does to
foster unavailing sorrow) may be with advantage omitted from the
address, which would therefore run - The Cottage, Castleton of



IF you had an uncle who was a sea captain and went to the North
Pole, you had better bring his outfit. VERBUM SAPIENTIBUS. I look
towards you.



[BRAEMAR], AUGUST 19, 1881.

MY DEAR WEG, - I have by an extraordinary drollery of Fortune sent
off to you by this day's post a P. C. inviting you to appear in
sealskin. But this had reference to the weather, and not at all,
as you may have been led to fancy, to our rustic raiment of an

As to that question, I would deal, in so far as in me lies, fairly
with all men. We are not dressy people by nature; but it sometimes
occurs to us to entertain angels. In the country, I believe, even
angels may be decently welcomed in tweed; I have faced many great
personages, for my own part, in a tasteful suit of sea-cloth with
an end of carpet pending from my gullet. Still, we do maybe twice
a summer burst out in the direction of blacks . . . and yet we do
it seldom. . . . In short, let your own heart decide, and the
capacity of your portmanteau. If you came in camel's hair, you
would still, although conspicuous, be welcome.

The sooner the better after Tuesday. - Yours ever,


Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY

BRAEMAR [AUGUST 25, 1881].

MY DEAR HENLEY, - Of course I am a rogue. Why, Lord, it's known,
man; but you should remember I have had a horrid cold. Now, I'm
better, I think; and see here - nobody, not you, nor Lang, nor the
devil, will hurry me with our crawlers. They are coming. Four of
them are as good as done, and the rest will come when ripe; but I
am now on another lay for the moment, purely owing to Lloyd, this
one; but I believe there's more coin in it than in any amount of
crawlers: now, see here, 'The Sea Cook, or Treasure Island: A
Story for Boys.'

If this don't fetch the kids, why, they have gone rotten since my
day. Will you be surprised to learn that it is about Buccaneers,
that it begins in the ADMIRAL BENBOW public-house on Devon coast,
that it's all about a map, and a treasure, and a mutiny, and a
derelict ship, and a current, and a fine old Squire Trelawney (the
real Tre, purged of literature and sin, to suit the infant mind),
and a doctor, and another doctor, and a sea-cook with one leg, and
a sea-song with the chorus 'Yo-ho-ho-and a bottle of rum' (at the
third Ho you heave at the capstan bars), which is a real
buccaneer's song, only known to the crew of the late Captain Flint
(died of rum at Key West, much regretted, friends will please
accept this intimation); and lastly, would you be surprised to
hear, in this connection, the name of ROUTLEDGE? That's the kind
of man I am, blast your eyes. Two chapters are written, and have
been tried on Lloyd with great success; the trouble is to work it
off without oaths. Buccaneers without oaths - bricks without
straw. But youth and the fond parient have to be consulted.

And now look here - this is next day - and three chapters are
written and read. (Chapter I. The Old Sea-dog at the ADMIRAL
BENBOW. Chapter II. Black Dog appears and disappears. Chapter
III. The Black Spot) All now heard by Lloyd, F., and my father and
mother, with high approval. It's quite silly and horrid fun, and
what I want is the BEST book about the Buccaneers that can be had -
the latter B's above all, Blackbeard and sich, and get Nutt or Bain
to send it skimming by the fastest post. And now I know you'll
write to me, for 'The Sea Cook's' sake.

Your 'Admiral Guinea' is curiously near my line, but of course I'm
fooling; and your Admiral sounds like a shublime gent. Stick to
him like wax - he'll do. My Trelawney is, as I indicate, several
thousand sea-miles off the lie of the original or your Admiral
Guinea; and besides, I have no more about him yet but one mention
of his name, and I think it likely he may turn yet farther from the
model in the course of handling. A chapter a day I mean to do;
they are short; and perhaps in a month the 'Sea Cook' may to
Routledge go, yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum! My Trelawney has a
strong dash of Landor, as I see him from here. No women in the
story, Lloyd's orders; and who so blithe to obey? It's awful fun
boys' stories; you just indulge the pleasure of your heart, that's
all; no trouble, no strain. The only stiff thing is to get it
ended - that I don't see, but I look to a volcano. O sweet, O
generous, O human toils. You would like my blind beggar in Chapter
III. I believe; no writing, just drive along as the words come and
the pen will scratch!

R. L. S.

Author of BOYS' STORIES.


BRAEMAR, 1881.

MY DEAR DR. JAPP, - My father has gone, but I think may take it
upon me to ask you to keep the book. Of all things you could do to
endear yourself to me, you have done the best, for my father and
you have taken a fancy to each other.

I do not know how to thank you for all your kind trouble in the
matter of 'The Sea-Cook,' but I am not unmindful. My health is
still poorly, and I have added intercostal rheumatism - a new
attraction - which sewed me up nearly double for two days, and
still gives me a list to starboard - let us be ever nautical!

I do not think with the start I have there will be any difficulty
in letting Mr. Henderson go ahead whenever he likes. I will write
my story up to its legitimate conclusion; and then we shall be in a
position to judge whether a sequel would be desirable, and I would
then myself know better about its practicability from the story-
teller's point of view. - Yours ever very sincerely,


Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY


MY DEAR HENLEY, - Thanks for your last. The 100 pounds fell
through, or dwindled at least into somewhere about 30 pounds.
However, that I've taken as a mouthful, so you may look out for
'The Sea Cook, or Treasure Island: A Tale of the Buccaneers,' in
YOUNG FOLKS. (The terms are 2 pounds, 10s. a page of 4500 words;
that's not noble, is it? But I have my copyright safe. I don't
get illustrated - a blessing; that's the price I have to pay for my

I'll make this boys' book business pay; but I have to make a
beginning. When I'm done with YOUNG FOLKS, I'll try Routledge or
some one. I feel pretty sure the 'Sea Cook' will do to reprint,
and bring something decent at that.

Japp is a good soul. The poet was very gay and pleasant. He told
me much: he is simply the most active young man in England, and
one of the most intelligent. 'He shall o'er Europe, shall o'er
earth extend.' (13) He is now extending over adjacent parts of

I propose to follow up the 'Sea Cook' at proper intervals by 'Jerry
Abershaw: A Tale of Putney Heath' (which or its site I must
visit), 'The Leading Light: A Tale of the Coast,' 'The Squaw Men:
or the Wild West,' and other instructive and entertaining work.
'Jerry Abershaw' should be good, eh? I love writing boys' books.
This first is only an experiment; wait till you see what I can make
'em with my hand in. I'll be the Harrison Ainsworth of the future;
and a chalk better by St. Christopher; or at least as good. You'll
see that even by the 'Sea Cook.'

Jerry Abershaw - O what a title! Jerry Abershaw: d-n it, sir,
it's a poem. The two most lovely words in English; and what a
sentiment! Hark you, how the hoofs ring! Is this a blacksmith's?
No, it's a wayside inn. Jerry Abershaw. 'It was a clear, frosty
evening, not 100 miles from Putney,' etc. Jerry Abershaw. Jerry
Abershaw. Jerry Abershaw. The 'Sea Cook' is now in its sixteenth
chapter, and bids for well up in the thirties. Each three chapters
is worth 2 pounds, 10s. So we've 12 pounds, 10s. already.

Don't read Marryat's' PIRATE anyhow; it is written in sand with a
salt-spoon: arid, feeble, vain, tottering production. But then
we're not always all there. He was all somewhere else that trip.
It's DAMNABLE, Henley. I don't go much on the 'Sea Cook'; but,
Lord, it's a little fruitier than the PIRATE by Cap'n. Marryat.

Since this was written 'The Cook' is in his nineteenth chapter.
Yo-heave ho!

R. L. S.



MY DEAR FATHER, - It occurred to me last night in bed that I could

The Murder of Red Colin,
A Story of the Forfeited Estates.

This I have all that is necessary for, with the following


The second volume of BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE.

You might also look in Arnot's CRIMINAL TRIALS up in my room, and
see what observations he has on the case (Trial of James Stewart in
Appin for murder of Campbell of Glenure, 1752); if he has none,
perhaps you could see - O yes, see if Burton has it in his two
vols. of trial stories. I hope he hasn't; but care not; do it over
again anyway.

The two named authorities I must see. With these, I could soon
pull off this article; and it shall be my first for the electors. -
Ever affectionate son,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MR. HAMERTON, - My conscience has long been smiting me,
till it became nearly chronic. My excuses, however, are many and
not pleasant. Almost immediately after I last wrote to you, I had
a hemorreage (I can't spell it), was badly treated by a doctor in
the country, and have been a long while picking up - still, in
fact, have much to desire on that side. Next, as soon as I got
here, my wife took ill; she is, I fear, seriously so; and this
combination of two invalids very much depresses both.

I have a volume of republished essays coming out with Chatto and
Windus; I wish they would come, that my wife might have the reviews
to divert her. Otherwise my news is NIL. I am up here in a little
chalet, on the borders of a pinewood, overlooking a great part of
the Davos Thal, a beautiful scene at night, with the moon upon the
snowy mountains, and the lights warmly shining in the village. J.
A. Symonds is next door to me, just at the foot of my Hill
Difficulty (this you will please regard as the House Beautiful),
and his society is my great stand-by.

Did you see I had joined the band of the rejected? 'Hardly one of
us,' said my CONFRERES at the bar.

I was blamed by a common friend for asking you to give me a
testimonial; in the circumstances he thought it was indelicate.
Lest, by some calamity, you should ever have felt the same way, I
must say in two words how the matter appeared to me. That silly
story of the election altered in no tittle the value of your
testimony: so much for that. On the other hand, it led me to take
quite a particular pleasure in asking you to give it; and so much
for the other. I trust, even if you cannot share it, you will
understand my view.

I am in treaty with Bentley for a life of Hazlitt; I hope it will
not fall through, as I love the subject, and appear to have found a
publisher who loves it also. That, I think, makes things more
pleasant. You know I am a fervent Hazlittite; I mean regarding him
as THE English writer who has had the scantiest justice. Besides
which, I am anxious to write biography; really, if I understand
myself in quest of profit, I think it must be good to live with
another man from birth to death. You have tried it, and know.

How has the cruising gone? Pray remember me to Mrs. Hamerton and
your son, and believe me, yours very sincerely,




MY DEAR CHARLES, - We have been in miserable case here; my wife
worse and worse; and now sent away with Lloyd for sick nurse, I not
being allowed to go down. I do not know what is to become of us;
and you may imagine how rotten I have been feeling, and feel now,
alone with my weasel-dog and my German maid, on the top of a hill
here, heavy mist and thin snow all about me, and the devil to pay
in general. I don't care so much for solitude as I used to;
results, I suppose, of marriage.

Pray write me something cheery. A little Edinburgh gossip, in
Heaven's name. Ah! what would I not give to steal this evening
with you through the big, echoing, college archway, and away south
under the street lamps, and away to dear Brash's, now defunct! But
the old time is dead also, never, never to revive. It was a sad
time too, but so gay and so hopeful, and we had such sport with all
our low spirits and all our distresses, that it looks like a kind
of lamplit fairyland behind me. O for ten Edinburgh minutes -
sixpence between us, and the ever-glorious Lothian Road, or dear
mysterious Leith Walk! But here, a sheer hulk, lies poor Tom
Bowling; here in this strange place, whose very strangeness would
have been heaven to him then; and aspires, yes, C. B., with tears,
after the past. See what comes of being left alone. Do you
remember Brash? the sheet of glass that we followed along George
Street? Granton? the blight at Bonny mainhead? the compass near
the sign of the TWINKLING EYE? the night I lay on the pavement in

I swear it by the eternal sky
Johnson - nor Thomson - ne'er shall die!

Yet I fancy they are dead too; dead like Brash.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MOTHER, - Yesterday, Sunday and Christmas, we finished this
eventful journey by a drive in an OPEN sleigh - none others were to
be had - seven hours on end through whole forests of Christmas
trees. The cold was beyond belief. I have often suffered less at
a dentist's. It was a clear, sunny day, but the sun even at noon
falls, at this season, only here and there into the Prattigau. I
kept up as long as I could in an imitation of a street singer:-

Away, ye gay landscapes, ye gardens of roses, etc.

At last Lloyd remarked, a blue mouth speaking from a corpse-
coloured face, 'You seem to be the only one with any courage left?'
And, do you know, with that word my courage disappeared, and I made
the rest of the stage in the same dumb wretchedness as the others.
My only terror was lest Fanny should ask for brandy, or laudanum,
or something. So awful was the idea of putting my hands out, that
I half thought I would refuse.

Well, none of us are a penny the worse, Lloyd's cold better; I,
with a twinge of the rheumatic; and Fanny better than her ordinary.

General conclusion between Lloyd and me as to the journey: A
prolonged visit to the dentist's, complicated with the fear of

Never, O never, do you get me there again. - Ever affectionate son,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR CUMMY, - My wife and I are very much vexed to hear you are
still unwell. We are both keeping far better; she especially seems
quite to have taken a turn - THE turn, we shall hope. Please let
us know how you get on, and what has been the matter with you;
Braemar I believe - the vile hole. You know what a lazy rascal I
am, so you won't be surprised at a short letter, I know; indeed,
you will be much more surprised at my having had the decency to
write at all. We have got rid of our young, pretty, and
incompetent maid; and now we have a fine, canny, twinkling, shrewd,
auld-farrant peasant body, who gives us good food and keeps us in
good spirits. If we could only understand what she says! But she
speaks Davos language, which is to German what Aberdeen-awa' is to
English, so it comes heavy. God bless you, my dear Cummy; and so
says Fanny forbye. - Ever your affectionate,




MY DEAR CHARLES, - Your most welcome letter has raised clouds of
sulphur from my horizon. . . .

I am glad you have gone back to your music. Life is a poor thing,
I am more and more convinced, without an art, that always waits for
us and is always new. Art and marriage are two very good stand-

In an article which will appear sometime in the CORNHILL, 'Talk and
Talkers,' and where I have full-lengthened the conversation of Bob,
Henley, Jenkin, Simpson, Symonds, and Gosse, I have at the end one
single word about yourself. It may amuse you to see it.

We are coming to Scotland after all, so we shall meet, which
pleases me, and I do believe I am strong enough to stand it this
time. My knee is still quite lame.

My wife is better again. . . . But we take it by turns; it is the
dog that is ill now. - Ever yours,

R. L. S.

Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY


MY DEAR HENLEY, - Here comes the letter as promised last night.
And first two requests: Pray send the enclosed to c/o Blackmore's
publisher, 'tis from Fanny; second, pray send us Routledge's
shilling book, Edward Mayhew's DOGS, by return if it can be

Our dog is very ill again, poor fellow, looks very ill too, only
sleeps at night because of morphine; and we do not know what ails
him, only fear it to be canker of the ear. He makes a bad, black
spot in our life, poor, selfish, silly, little tangle; and my wife
is wretched. Otherwise she is better, steadily and slowly moving
up through all her relapses. My knee never gets the least better;
it hurts to-night, which it has not done for long. I do not
suppose my doctor knows any least thing about it. He says it is a
nerve that I struck, but I assure you he does not know.

I have just finished a paper, 'A Gossip on Romance,' in which I
have tried to do, very popularly, about one-half of the matter you
wanted me to try. In a way, I have found an answer to the
question. But the subject was hardly fit for so chatty a paper,
and it is all loose ends. If ever I do my book on the Art of
Literature, I shall gather them together and be clear.

To-morrow, having once finished off the touches still due on this,
I shall tackle SAN FRANCISCO for you. Then the tide of work will
fairly bury me, lost to view and hope. You have no idea what it
costs me to wring out my work now. I have certainly been a
fortnight over this Romance, sometimes five hours a day; and yet it
is about my usual length - eight pages or so, and would be a d-d
sight the better for another curry. But I do not think I can
honestly re-write it all; so I call it done, and shall only
straighten words in a revision currently.

I had meant to go on for a great while, and say all manner of
entertaining things. But all's gone. I am now an idiot. - Yours

R. L. S.

Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY


MY DEAR HENLEY, - . . . Last night we had a dinner-party,
consisting of the John Addington, curry, onions (lovely onions),
and beefsteak. So unusual is any excitement, that F. and I feel
this morning as if we had been to a coronation. However I must, I
suppose, write.

I was sorry about your female contributor squabble. 'Tis very
comic, but really unpleasant. But what care I? Now that I
illustrate my own books, I can always offer you a situation in our
house - S. L. Osbourne and Co. As an author gets a halfpenny a
copy of verses, and an artist a penny a cut, perhaps a proof-reader
might get several pounds a year.

O that Coronation! What a shouting crowd there was! I obviously
got a firework in each eye. The king looked very magnificent, to
be sure; and that great hall where we feasted on seven hundred
delicate foods, and drank fifty royal wines - QUEL COUP D'OEIL! but
was it not over-done, even for a coronation - almost a vulgar
luxury? And eleven is certainly too late to begin dinner. (It was
really 6.30 instead of 5.30.)

Your list of books that Cassells have refused in these weeks is not
quite complete; they also refused:-

1. Six undiscovered Tragedies, one romantic Comedy, a fragment of
Journal extending over six years, and an unfinished Autobiography
reaching up to the first performance of King John. By William

2. The journals and Private Correspondence of David, King of

3. Poetical Works of Arthur, Iron Dook of Wellington, including a
Monody on Napoleon.

4. Eight books of an unfinished novel, SOLOMON CRABB. By Henry

5. Stevenson's Moral Emblems.

You also neglected to mention, as PER CONTRA, that they had during
the same time accepted and triumphantly published Brown's HANDBOOK
CHESHIRE, uniform with the same author's STATELY HOMES OF SALOP.

O if that list could come true! How we would tear at Solomon
Crabb! O what a bully, bully, bully business. Which would you
read first - Shakespeare's autobiography, or his journals? What
sport the monody on Napoleon would be - what wooden verse, what
stucco ornament! I should read both the autobiography and the
journals before I looked at one of the plays, beyond the names of
them, which shows that Saintsbury was right, and I do care more for
life than for poetry. No - I take it back. Do you know one of the
tragedies - a Bible tragedy too - DAVID - was written in his third
period - much about the same time as Lear? The comedy, APRIL RAIN,
is also a late work. BECKETT is a fine ranting piece, like RICHARD
II., but very fine for the stage. Irving is to play it this autumn
when I'm in town; the part rather suits him - but who is to play
Henry - a tremendous creation, sir. Betterton in his private
journal seems to have seen this piece; and he says distinctly that
Henry is the best part in any play. 'Though,' he adds, 'how it be
with the ancient plays I know not. But in this I have ever feared
to do ill, and indeed will not be persuaded to that undertaking.'
So says Betterton. RUFUS is not so good; I am not pleased with
RUFUS; plainly a RIFACCIMENTO of some inferior work; but there are
some damned fine lines. As for the purely satiric ill-minded
ABELARD AND HELOISE, another TROILUS, QUOI! it is not pleasant,
truly, but what strength, what verve, what knowledge of life, and
the Canon! What a finished, humorous, rich picture is the Canon!
Ah, there was nobody like Shakespeare. But what I like is the
David and Absalom business. Absalom is so well felt - you love him
as David did; David's speech is one roll of royal music from the
first act to the fifth.

I am enjoying SOLOMON CRABB extremely; Solomon's capital adventure
with the two highwaymen and Squire Trecothick and Parson Vance; it
is as good, I think, as anything in Joseph Andrews. I have just
come to the part where the highwayman with the black patch over his
eye has tricked poor Solomon into his place, and the squire and the
parson are hearing the evidence. Parson Vance is splendid. How
good, too, is old Mrs. Crabb and the coastguardsman in the third
chapter, or her delightful quarrel with the sexton of Seaham; Lord
Conybeare is surely a little overdone; but I don't know either;
he's such damned fine sport. Do you like Sally Barnes? I'm in
love with her. Constable Muddon is as good as Dogberry and Verges
put together; when he takes Solomon to the cage, and the highwayman
gives him Solomon's own guinea for his pains, and kisses Mrs.
Muddon, and just then up drives Lord Conybeare, and instead of
helping Solomon, calls him all the rascals in Christendom - O Henry
Fielding, Henry Fielding! Yet perhaps the scenes at Seaham are the
best. But I'm bewildered among all these excellences.

Stay, cried a voice that made the welkin crack -
This here's a dream, return and study BLACK!

- Ever yours,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR SIR, - This formidable paper need not alarm you; it argues
nothing beyond penury of other sorts, and is not at all likely to
lead me into a long letter. If I were at all grateful it would,
for yours has just passed for me a considerable part of a stormy
evening. And speaking of gratitude, let me at once and with
becoming eagerness accept your kind invitation to Bowdon. I shall
hope, if we can agree as to dates when I am nearer hand, to come to
you sometime in the month of May. I was pleased to hear you were a
Scot; I feel more at home with my compatriots always; perhaps the
more we are away, the stronger we feel that bond.

You ask about Davos; I have discoursed about it already, rather
sillily I think, in the PALL MALL, and I mean to say no more, but
the ways of the Muse are dubious and obscure, and who knows? I may
be wiled again. As a place of residence, beyond a splendid
climate, it has to my eyes but one advantage - the neighbourhood of
J. A. Symonds - I dare say you know his work, but the man is far
more interesting. It has done me, in my two winters' Alpine exile,
much good; so much, that I hope to leave it now for ever, but would
not be understood to boast. In my present unpardonably crazy
state, any cold might send me skipping, either back to Davos, or
further off. Let us hope not. It is dear; a little dreary; very
far from many things that both my taste and my needs prompt me to
seek; and altogether not the place that I should choose of my free

I am chilled by your description of the man in question, though I
had almost argued so much from his cold and undigested volume. If
the republication does not interfere with my publisher, it will not
interfere with me; but there, of course, comes the hitch. I do not
know Mr. Bentley, and I fear all publishers like the devil from
legend and experience both. However, when I come to town, we
shall, I hope, meet and understand each other as well as author and
publisher ever do. I liked his letters; they seemed hearty, kind,
and personal. Still - I am notedly suspicious of the trade - your
news of this republication alarms me.

The best of the present French novelists seems to me, incomparably,
Daudet. LES ROIS EN EXIL comes very near being a masterpiece. For
Zola I have no toleration, though the curious, eminently bourgeois,
and eminently French creature has power of a kind. But I would he
were deleted. I would not give a chapter of old Dumas (meaning
himself, not his collaborators) for the whole boiling of the Zolas.
Romance with the smallpox - as the great one: diseased anyway and
blackhearted and fundamentally at enmity with joy.

I trust that Mrs. Ireland does not object to smoking; and if you
are a teetotaller, I beg you to mention it before I come - I have
all the vices; some of the virtues also, let us hope - that, at
least, of being a Scotchman, and yours very sincerely,


P.S. - My father was in the old High School the last year, and
walked in the procession to the new. I blush to own I am an
Academy boy; it seems modern, and smacks not of the soil.

P.P.S. - I enclose a good joke - at least, I think so - my first
efforts at wood engraving printed by my stepson, a boy of thirteen.
I will put in also one of my later attempts. I have been nine days
at the art - observe my progress.

R. L. S.


DAVOS, MARCH 23, 1882.

MY DEAR WEG, - And I had just written the best note to Mrs. Gosse
that was in my power. Most blameable.

I now send (for Mrs. Gosse).


Also an advertisement of my new appearance as poet (bard, rather)
and hartis on wood. The cut represents the Hero and the Eagle, and
is emblematic of Cortez first viewing the Pacific Ocean, which
(according to the bard Keats) it took place in Darien. The cut is
much admired for the sentiment of discovery, the manly proportions
of the voyager, and the fine impression of tropical scenes and the
untrodden WASTE, so aptly rendered by the hartis.

I would send you the book; but I declare I'm ruined. I got a penny
a cut and a halfpenny a set of verses from the flint-hearted
publisher, and only one specimen copy, as I'm a sinner. - was
apostolic alongside of Osbourne.

I hope you will be able to decipher this, written at steam speed
with a breaking pen, the hotfast postman at my heels. No excuse,
says you. None, sir, says I, and touches my 'at most civil
(extraordinary evolution of pen, now quite doomed - to resume - )
I have not put pen to the Bloody Murder yet. But it is early on my
list; and when once I get to it, three weeks should see the last
bloodstain - maybe a fortnight. For I am beginning to combine an
extraordinary laborious slowness while at work, with the most
surprisingly quick results in the way of finished manuscripts. How
goes Gray? Colvin is to do Keats. My wife is still not well. -
Yours ever,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR DR. JAPP, - You must think me a forgetful rogue, as indeed
I am; for I have but now told my publisher to send you a copy of
the FAMILIAR STUDIES. However, I own I have delayed this letter
till I could send you the enclosed. Remembering the nights at
Braemar when we visited the Picture Gallery, I hoped they might
amuse you. You see, we do some publishing hereaway. I shall hope
to see you in town in May. - Always yours faithfully,




MY DEAR DR. JAPP, - A good day to date this letter, which is in
fact a confession of incapacity. During my wife's illness I
somewhat lost my head, and entirely lost a great quire of corrected
proofs. This is one of the results; I hope there are none more
serious. I was never so sick of any volume as I was of that; was
continually receiving fresh proofs with fresh infinitesimal
difficulties. I was ill - I did really fear my wife was worse than
ill. Well, it's out now; and though I have observed several
carelessnesses myself, and now here's another of your finding - of
which, indeed, I ought to be ashamed - it will only justify the
sweeping humility of the Preface.

Symonds was actually dining with us when your letter came, and I
communicated your remarks. . . . He is a far better and more
interesting thing than any of his books.

The Elephant was my wife's; so she is proportionately elate you
should have picked it out for praise - from a collection, let me
add, so replete with the highest qualities of art.

My wicked carcase, as John Knox calls it, holds together
wonderfully. In addition to many other things, and a volume of
travel, I find I have written, since December, 90 CORNHILL pages of
magazine work - essays and stories: 40,000 words, and I am none
the worse - I am the better. I begin to hope I may, if not outlive
this wolverine upon my shoulders, at least carry him bravely like
Symonds and Alexander Pope. I begin to take a pride in that hope.

I shall be much interested to see your criticisms; you might
perhaps send them to me. I believe you know that is not dangerous;
one folly I have not - I am not touchy under criticism.

Lloyd and my wife both beg to be remembered; and Lloyd sends as a
present a work of his own. I hope you feel flattered; for this is
own works, I can tell you. - Yours very sincerely,


Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY


MY DEAR HENLEY, - I hope and hope for a long letter - soon I hope
to be superseded by long talks - and it comes not. I remember I
have never formally thanked you for that hundred quid, nor in
general for the introduction to Chatto and Windus, and continue to
bury you in copy as if you were my private secretary. Well, I am
not unconscious of it all; but I think least said is often best,
generally best; gratitude is a tedious sentiment, it's not ductile,
not dramatic.

If Chatto should take both, CUI DEDICARE? I am running out of
dedikees; if I do, the whole fun of writing is stranded. TREASURE
ISLAND, if it comes out, and I mean it shall, of course goes to
Lloyd. Lemme see, I have now dedicated to

W. E. H. [William Ernest Henley].

S. C. [Sidney Colvin].

T. S. [Thomas Stevenson].

Simp. [Sir Walter Simpson].

There remain: C. B., the Williamses - you know they were the
parties who stuck up for us about our marriage, and Mrs. W. was my
guardian angel, and our Best Man and Bridesmaid rolled in one, and
the only third of the wedding party - my sister-in-law, who is
booked for PRINCE OTTO - Jenkin I suppose sometime - George
Meredith, the only man of genius of my acquaintance, and then I
believe I'll have to take to the dead, the immortal memory

Talking of Meredith, I have just re-read for the third and fourth
time THE EGOIST. When I shall have read it the sixth or seventh, I
begin to see I shall know about it. You will be astonished when
you come to re-read it; I had no idea of the matter - human, red
matter he has contrived to plug and pack into that strange and
admirable book. Willoughby is, of course, a pure discovery; a
complete set of nerves, not heretofore examined, and yet running
all over the human body - a suit of nerves. Clara is the best girl
ever I saw anywhere. Vernon is almost as good. The manner and the
faults of the book greatly justify themselves on further study.
Only Dr. Middleton does not hang together; and Ladies Busshe and
Culmer SONT DES MONSTRUOSITES. Vernon's conduct makes a wonderful
odd contrast with Daniel Deronda's. I see more and more that
Meredith is built for immortality.

Talking of which, Heywood, as a small immortal, an immortalet,
claims some attention. THE WOMAN KILLED WITH KINDNESS is one of
the most striking novels - not plays, though it's more of a play
than anything else of his - I ever read. He had such a sweet,
sound soul, the old boy. The death of the two pirates in FORTUNE
BY SEA AND LAND is a document. He had obviously been present, and
heard Purser and Clinton take death by the beard with similar
braggadocios. Purser and Clinton, names of pirates; Scarlet and
Bobbington, names of highwaymen. He had the touch of names, I
think. No man I ever knew had such a sense, such a tact, for
English nomenclature: Rainsforth, Lacy, Audley, Forrest, Acton,
Spencer, Frankford - so his names run.

Byron not only wrote DON JUAN; he called Joan of Arc 'a fanatical
strumpet.' These are his words. I think the double shame, first
to a great poet, second to an English noble, passes words.

Here is a strange gossip. - I am yours loquaciously,

R. L. S.

My lungs are said to be in a splendid state. A cruel examination,
an exaNIMation I may call it, had this brave result. TAIAUT!
Hillo! Hey! Stand by! Avast! Hurrah!



MY DEAR MOTHER, - Herewith please find belated birthday present.
Fanny has another.

Cockshot=Jenkin. But
Jack=Bob. pray
Burly=Henley. regard
Athelred=Simpson. these
Opalstein=Symonds. as
Purcel=Gosse. secrets.

My dear mother, how can I keep up with your breathless changes?
Innerleithen, Cramond, Bridge of Allan, Dunblane, Selkirk. I lean
to Cramond, but I shall be pleased anywhere, any respite from
Davos; never mind, it has been a good, though a dear lesson. Now,
with my improved health, if I can pass the summer, I believe I
shall be able no more to exceed, no more to draw on you. It is
time I sufficed for myself indeed. And I believe I can.

I am still far from satisfied about Fanny; she is certainly better,
but it is by fits a good deal, and the symptoms continue, which
should not be. I had her persuaded to leave without me this very
day (Saturday 8th), but the disclosure of my mismanagement broke up
that plan; she would not leave me lest I should mismanage more. I
think this an unfair revenge; but I have been so bothered that I
cannot struggle. All Davos has been drinking our wine. During the
month of March, three litres a day were drunk - O it is too
sickening - and that is only a specimen. It is enough to make any
one a misanthrope, but the right thing is to hate the donkey that
was duped - which I devoutly do.

I have this winter finished TREASURE ISLAND, written the preface to
the STUDIES, a small book about the INLAND VOYAGE size, THE
SILVERADO SQUATTERS, and over and above that upwards of ninety (90)
CORNHILL pages of magazine work. No man can say I have been idle.
- Your affectionate son,




. . . NOTE turned up, but no gray opuscule, which, however, will
probably turn up to-morrow in time to go out with me to Stobo
Manse, Peeblesshire, where, if you can make it out, you will be a
good soul to pay a visit. I shall write again about the opuscule;
and about Stobo, which I have not seen since I was thirteen, though
my memory speaks delightfully of it.

I have been very tired and seedy, or I should have written before,
INTER ALIA, to tell you that I had visited my murder place and
found LIVING TRADITIONS not yet in any printed book; most
startling. I also got photographs taken, but the negatives have
not yet turned up. I lie on the sofa to write this, whence the
pencil; having slept yesterdays - 1+4+7.5 = 12.5 hours and being (9
A.M.) very anxious to sleep again. The arms of Porpus, quoi! A
poppy gules, etc.

From Stobo you can conquer Peebles and Selkirk, or to give them
their old decent names, Tweeddale and Ettrick. Think of having
been called Tweeddale, and being called PEEBLES! Did I ever tell
you my skit on my own travel books? We understand that Mr.
Stevenson has in the press another volume of unconventional
MECHANTE. - Yours affectionately,

R. L. S.

- Did I say I had seen a verse on two of the Buccaneers? I did,
and CA-Y-EST.



I would shoot you, but I have no bow:
The place is not called Stobs, but Stobo.
As Gallic Kids complain of 'Bobo,'
I mourn for your mistake of Stobo.

First, we shall be gone in September. But if you think of coming
in August, my mother will hunt for you with pleasure. We should
all be overjoyed - though Stobo it could not be, as it is but a
kirk and manse, but possibly somewhere within reach. Let us know.

Second, I have read your Gray with care. A more difficult subject
I can scarce fancy; it is crushing; yet I think you have managed to
shadow forth a man, and a good man too; and honestly, I doubt if I
could have done the same. This may seem egoistic; but you are not
such a fool as to think so. It is the natural expression of real
praise. The book as a whole is readable; your subject peeps every
here and there out of the crannies like a shy violet - he could do
no more - and his aroma hangs there.

I write to catch a minion of the post. Hence brevity. Answer
about the house. - Yours affectionately,

R. L S.

Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY


DEAR HENLEY, . . . I am not worth an old damn. I am also crushed
by bad news of Symonds; his good lung going; I cannot help reading
it as a personal hint; God help us all! Really I am not very fit
for work; but I try, try, and nothing comes of it.

I believe we shall have to leave this place; it is low, damp, and
MAUCHY; the rain it raineth every day; and the glass goes tol-de-
rol-de riddle.

Yet it's a bonny bit; I wish I could live in it, but doubt. I wish
I was well away somewhere else. I feel like flight some days;
honour bright.

Pirbright Smith is well. Old Mr. Pegfurth Bannatyne is here
staying at a country inn. His whole baggage is a pair of socks and
a book in a fishing-basket; and he borrows even a rod from the
landlord. He walked here over the hills from Sanquhar, 'singin',
he says, 'like a mavis.' I naturally asked him about Hazlitt. 'He
wouldnae take his drink,' he said, 'a queer, queer fellow.' But
did not seem further communicative. He says he has become
'releegious,' but still swears like a trooper. I asked him if he
had no headquarters. 'No likely,' said he. He says he is writing
his memoirs, which will be interesting. He once met Borrow; they
boxed; 'and Geordie,' says the old man chuckling, 'gave me the
damnedest hiding.' Of Wordsworth he remarked, 'He wasnae sound in
the faith, sir, and a milk-blooded, blue-spectacled bitch forbye.
But his po'mes are grand - there's no denying that.' I asked him
what his book was. 'I havenae mind,' said he - that was his only
book! On turning it out, I found it was one of my own, and on
showing it to him, he remembered it at once. 'O aye,' he said, 'I
mind now. It's pretty bad; ye'll have to do better than that,
chieldy,' and chuckled, chuckled. He is a strange old figure, to
be sure. He cannot endure Pirbright Smith - 'a mere aesthAtic,' he
said. 'Pooh!' 'Fishin' and releegion - these are my aysthatics,'
he wound up.

I thought this would interest you, so scribbled it down. I still
hope to get more out of him about Hazlitt, though he utterly pooh-
poohed the idea of writing H.'s life. 'Ma life now,' he said,
'there's been queer things in IT.' He is seventy-nine! but may
well last to a hundred! - Yours ever,

R. L S.




SIR, - It has come to my ears that you have lent the authority of
your columns to an error.

More than half in pleasantry - and I now think the pleasantry ill-
judged - I complained in a note to my NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS that some
one, who shall remain nameless for me, had borrowed the idea of a
story from one of mine. As if I had not borrowed the ideas of the
half of my own! As if any one who had written a story ill had a
right to complain of any other who should have written it better!
I am indeed thoroughly ashamed of the note, and of the principle
which it implies.

But it is no mere abstract penitence which leads me to beg a corner
of your paper - it is the desire to defend the honour of a man of
letters equally known in America and England, of a man who could
afford to lend to me and yet be none the poorer; and who, if he
would so far condescend, has my free permission to borrow from me
all that he can find worth borrowing.

Indeed, sir, I am doubly surprised at your correspondent's error.
That James Payn should have borrowed from me is already a strange
conception. The author of LOST SIR MASSINGBERD and BY PROXY may be
trusted to invent his own stories. The author of A GRAPE FROM A
THORN knows enough, in his own right, of the humorous and pathetic
sides of human nature.

But what is far more monstrous - what argues total ignorance of the
man in question - is the idea that James Payn could ever have
transgressed the limits of professional propriety. I may tell his
thousands of readers on your side of the Atlantic that there
breathes no man of letters more inspired by kindness and generosity
to his brethren of the profession, and, to put an end to any
possibility of error, I may be allowed to add that I often have
recourse, and that I had recourse once more but a few weeks ago, to
the valuable practical help which he makes it his pleasure to
extend to younger men.

I send a duplicate of this letter to a London weekly; for the
mistake, first set forth in your columns, has already reached
England, and my wanderings have made me perhaps last of the persons
interested to hear a word of it. - I am, etc.,




MY DEAR BOB, - We have found a house! - at Saint Marcel, Banlieue
de Marseille. In a lovely valley between hills part wooded, part
white cliffs; a house of a dining-room, of a fine salon - one side
lined with a long divan - three good bedrooms (two of them with
dressing-rooms), three small rooms (chambers of BONNE and sich), a
large kitchen, a lumber room, many cupboards, a back court, a
large, large olive yard, cultivated by a resident PAYSAN, a well, a
berceau, a good deal of rockery, a little pine shrubbery, a railway
station in front, two lines of omnibus to Marseille.

48 pounds per annum.

It is called Campagne Defli! query Campagne Debug? The Campagne
Demosquito goes on here nightly, and is very deadly. Ere we can
get installed, we shall be beggared to the door, I see.

I vote for separations; F.'s arrival here, after our separation,
was better fun to me than being married was by far. A separation
completed is a most valuable property; worth piles. - Ever your
affectionate cousin,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR FATHER, - . . We grow, every time we see it, more
delighted with our house. It is five miles out of Marseilles, in a
lovely spot, among lovely wooded and cliffy hills - most
mountainous in line - far lovelier, to my eyes, than any Alps. To-
day we have been out inventorying; and though a mistral blew, it
was delightful in an open cab, and our house with the windows open
was heavenly, soft, dry, sunny, southern. I fear there are fleas -
it is called Campagne Defli - and I look forward to tons of
insecticide being employed.

I have had to write a letter to the NEW YORK TRIBUNE and the
ATHENAEUM. Payn was accused of stealing my stories! I think I
have put things handsomely for him.

Just got a servant! ! ! - Ever affectionate son,


Our servant is a Muckle Hash of a Weedy!



MY DEAR MOTHER, - Your delightful letters duly arrived this
morning. They were the only good feature of the day, which was not
a success. Fanny was in bed - she begged I would not split upon
her, she felt so guilty; but as I believe she is better this
evening, and has a good chance to be right again in a day or two, I
will disregard her orders. I do not go back, but do not go forward
- or not much. It is, in one way, miserable - for I can do no
work; a very little wood-cutting, the newspapers, and a note about
every two days to write, completely exhausts my surplus energy;
even Patience I have to cultivate with parsimony. I see, if I
could only get to work, that we could live here with comfort,
almost with luxury. Even as it is, we should be able to get
through a considerable time of idleness. I like the place
immensely, though I have seen so little of it - I have only been
once outside the gate since I was here! It puts me in mind of a
summer at Prestonpans and a sickly child you once told me of.

Thirty-two years now finished! My twenty-ninth was in San
Francisco, I remember - rather a bleak birthday. The twenty-eighth
was not much better; but the rest have been usually pleasant days
in pleasant circumstances.

Love to you and to my father and to Cummy.

From me and Fanny and Wogg.

R. L. S.



DEAR CHARLES, - Thanks for your good letter. It is true, man,
God's truth, what ye say about the body Stevison. The deil himsel,
it's my belief, couldnae get the soul harled oot o' the creature's
wame, or he had seen the hinder end o' they proofs. Ye crack o'
Maecenas, he's naebody by you! He gied the lad Horace a rax forrit
by all accounts; but he never gied him proofs like yon. Horace may
hae been a better hand at the clink than Stevison - mind, I'm no
sayin' 't - but onyway he was never sae weel prentit. Damned, but
it's bonny! Hoo mony pages will there be, think ye? Stevison maun
hae sent ye the feck o' twenty sangs - fifteen I'se warrant. Weel,
that'll can make thretty pages, gin ye were to prent on ae side
only, whilk wad be perhaps what a man o' your GREAT idees would be
ettlin' at, man Johnson. Then there wad be the Pre-face, an' prose
ye ken prents oot langer than po'try at the hinder end, for ye hae
to say things in't. An' then there'll be a title-page and a
dedication and an index wi' the first lines like, and the deil an'
a'. Man, it'll be grand. Nae copies to be given to the Liberys.

I am alane myself, in Nice, they ca't, but damned, I think they
micht as well ca't Nesty. The Pile-on, 's they ca't, 's aboot as
big as the river Tay at Perth; and it's rainin' maist like
Greenock. Dod, I've seen 's had mair o' what they ca' the I-talian
at Muttonhole. I-talian! I haenae seen the sun for eicht and
forty hours. Thomson's better, I believe. But the body's fair
attenyated. He's doon to seeven stane eleeven, an' he sooks awa'
at cod liver ile, till it's a fair disgrace. Ye see he tak's it on
a drap brandy; and it's my belief, it's just an excuse for a dram.
He an' Stevison gang aboot their lane, maistly; they're company to
either, like, an' whiles they'll speak o'Johnson. But HE'S far
awa', losh me! Stevison's last book's in a third edeetion; an'
it's bein' translated (like the psaulms o' David, nae less) into
French; and an eediot they ca' Asher - a kind o' rival of Tauchnitz
- is bringin' him oot in a paper book for the Frenchies and the
German folk in twa volumes. Sae he's in luck, ye see. - Yours,




MY DEAR CUMMY, - You must think, and quite justly, that I am one of
the meanest rogues in creation. But though I do not write (which
is a thing I hate), it by no means follows that people are out of
my mind. It is natural that I should always think more or less
about you, and still more natural that I should think of you when I

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