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Title: Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson — Volume 1
Author: Stevenson, Robert Louis, 1850-1894
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson — Volume 1" ***

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The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 1
Scanned and proofed by David Price 

The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson - Volume 1



MA CHERE MAMAN, - Jai recu votre lettre Aujourdhui et comme le jour 
prochaine est mon jour de naisance je vous ecrit ce lettre.  Ma 
grande gatteaux est arrive il leve 12 livres et demi le prix etait 
17 shillings.  Sur la soiree de Monseigneur Faux il y etait 
quelques belles feux d'artifice.  Mais les polissons entrent dans 
notre champ et nos feux d'artifice et handkerchiefs disappeared 
quickly, but we charged them out of the field.  Je suis presque 
driven mad par une bruit terrible tous les garcons kik up comme 
grand un bruit qu'll est possible.  I hope you will find your house 
at Mentone nice.  I have been obliged to stop from writing by the 
want of a pen, but now I have one, so I will continue.

My dear papa, you told me to tell you whenever I was miserable.  I 
do not feel well, and I wish to get home.

Do take me with you.



RESPECTED PATERNAL RELATIVE, - I write to make a request of the 
most moderate nature.  Every year I have cost you an enormous - 
nay, elephantine - sum of money for drugs and physician's fees, and 
the most expensive time of the twelve months was March.

But this year the biting Oriental blasts, the howling tempests, and 
the general ailments of the human race have been successfully 
braved by yours truly.

Does not this deserve remuneration?

I appeal to your charity, I appeal to your generosity, I appeal to 
your justice, I appeal to your accounts, I appeal, in fine, to your 

My sense of generosity forbids the receipt of more - my sense of 
justice forbids the receipt of less - than half-a-crown. - Greeting 
from, Sir, your most affectionate and needy son,




MY DEAR MOTHER, - . . . Wick lies at the end or elbow of an open 
triangular bay, hemmed on either side by shores, either cliff or 
steep earth-bank, of no great height.  The grey houses of Pulteney 
extend along the southerly shore almost to the cape; and it is 
about half-way down this shore - no, six-sevenths way down - that 
the new breakwater extends athwart the bay.

Certainly Wick in itself possesses no beauty:  bare, grey shores, 
grim grey houses, grim grey sea; not even the gleam of red tiles; 
not even the greenness of a tree.  The southerly heights, when I 
came here, were black with people, fishers waiting on wind and 
night.  Now all the S.Y.S. (Stornoway boats) have beaten out of the 
bay, and the Wick men stay indoors or wrangle on the quays with 
dissatisfied fish-curers, knee-high in brine, mud, and herring 
refuse.  The day when the boats put out to go home to the Hebrides, 
the girl here told me there was 'a black wind'; and on going out, I 
found the epithet as justifiable as it was picturesque.  A cold, 
BLACK southerly wind, with occasional rising showers of rain; it 
was a fine sight to see the boats beat out a-teeth of it.

In Wick I have never heard any one greet his neighbour with the 
usual 'Fine day' or 'Good morning.'  Both come shaking their heads, 
and both say, 'Breezy, breezy!'  And such is the atrocious quality 
of the climate, that the remark is almost invariably justified by 
the fact.

The streets are full of the Highland fishers, lubberly, stupid, 
inconceivably lazy and heavy to move.  You bruise against them, 
tumble over them, elbow them against the wall - all to no purpose; 
they will not budge; and you are forced to leave the pavement every 

To the south, however, is as fine a piece of coast scenery as I 
ever saw.  Great black chasms, huge black cliffs, rugged and over-
hung gullies, natural arches, and deep green pools below them, 
almost too deep to let you see the gleam of sand among the darker 
weed:  there are deep caves too.  In one of these lives a tribe of 
gipsies.  The men are ALWAYS drunk, simply and truthfully always.  
From morning to evening the great villainous-looking fellows are 
either sleeping off the last debauch, or hulking about the cove 'in 
the horrors.'  The cave is deep, high, and airy, and might be made 
comfortable enough.  But they just live among heaped boulders, damp 
with continual droppings from above, with no more furniture than 
two or three tin pans, a truss of rotten straw, and a few ragged 
cloaks.  In winter the surf bursts into the mouth and often forces 
them to abandon it.

An EMEUTE of disappointed fishers was feared, and two ships of war 
are in the bay to render assistance to the municipal authorities.  
This is the ides; and, to all intents and purposes, said ides are 
passed.  Still there is a good deal of disturbance, many drunk men, 
and a double supply of police.  I saw them sent for by some people 
and enter an inn, in a pretty good hurry:  what it was for I do not 

You would see by papa's letter about the carpenter who fell off the 
staging:  I don't think I was ever so much excited in my life.  The 
man was back at his work, and I asked him how he was; but he was a 
Highlander, and - need I add it? - dickens a word could I 
understand of his answer.  What is still worse, I find the people 
here-about - that is to say, the Highlanders, not the northmen - 
don't understand ME.

I have lost a shilling's worth of postage stamps, which has damped 
my ardour for buying big lots of 'em:  I'll buy them one at a time 
as I want 'em for the future.

The Free Church minister and I got quite thick.  He left last night 
about two in the morning, when I went to turn in.  He gave me the 
enclosed. - I remain your affectionate son,



WICK, September 5, 1868.  MONDAY.

MY DEAR MAMMA, - This morning I got a delightful haul:  your letter 
of the fourth (surely mis-dated); Papa's of same day; Virgil's 
BUCOLICS, very thankfully received; and Aikman's ANNALS, a precious 
and most acceptable donation, for which I tender my most ebullient 
thanksgivings.  I almost forgot to drink my tea and eat mine egg.

It contains more detailed accounts than anything I ever saw, except 
Wodrow, without being so portentously tiresome and so desperately 
overborne with footnotes, proclamations, acts of Parliament, and 
citations as that last history.

I have been reading a good deal of Herbert.  He's a clever and a 
devout cove; but in places awfully twaddley (if I may use the 
word).  Oughtn't this to rejoice Papa's heart -

'Carve or discourse; do not a famine fear.
Who carves is kind to two, who talks to all.'

You understand?  The 'fearing a famine' is applied to people 
gulping down solid vivers without a word, as if the ten lean kine 
began to-morrow.

Do you remember condemning something of mine for being too 
obtrusively didactic.  Listen to Herbert -

'Is it not verse except enchanted groves
And sudden arbours shadow coarse-spun lines?
Must purling streams refresh a lover's loves?

You see, 'except' was used for 'unless' before 1630.

TUESDAY. - The riots were a hum.  No more has been heard; and one 
of the war-steamers has deserted in disgust.

The MOONSTONE is frightfully interesting:  isn't the detective 
prime?  Don't say anything about the plot; for I have only read on 
to the end of Betteredge's narrative, so don't know anything about 
it yet.

I thought to have gone on to Thurso to-night, but the coach was 
full; so I go to-morrow instead.

To-day I had a grouse:  great glorification.

There is a drunken brute in the house who disturbed my rest last 
night.  He's a very respectable man in general, but when on the 
'spree' a most consummate fool.  When he came in he stood on the 
top of the stairs and preached in the dark with great solemnity and 
no audience from 12 P.M. to half-past one.  At last I opened my 
door.  'Are we to have no sleep at all for that DRUNKEN BRUTE?'  I 
said.  As I hoped, it had the desired effect.  'Drunken brute!' he 
howled, in much indignation; then after a pause, in a voice of some 
contrition, 'Well, if I am a drunken brute, it's only once in the 
twelvemonth!'  And that was the end of him; the insult rankled in 
his mind; and he retired to rest.  He is a fish-curer, a man over 
fifty, and pretty rich too.  He's as bad again to-day; but I'll be 
shot if he keeps me awake, I'll douse him with water if he makes a 
row. - Ever your affectionate son,




MY DEAR MOTHER, - The last two days have been dreadfully hard, and 
I was so tired in the evenings that I could not write.  In fact, 
last night I went to sleep immediately after dinner, or very nearly 
so.  My hours have been 10-2 and 3-7 out in the lighter or the 
small boat, in a long, heavy roll from the nor'-east.  When the dog 
was taken out, he got awfully ill; one of the men, Geordie Grant by 
name and surname, followed SHOOT with considerable ECLAT; but, 
wonderful to relate! I kept well.  My hands are all skinned, 
blistered, discoloured, and engrained with tar, some of which 
latter has established itself under my nails in a position of such 
natural strength that it defies all my efforts to dislodge it.  The 
worst work I had was when David (MacDonald's eldest) and I took the 
charge ourselves.  He remained in the lighter to tighten or slacken 
the guys as we raised the pole towards the perpendicular, with two 
men.  I was with four men in the boat.  We dropped an anchor out a 
good bit, then tied a cord to the pole, took a turn round the 
sternmost thwart with it, and pulled on the anchor line.  As the 
great, big, wet hawser came in it soaked you to the skin:  I was 
the sternest (used, by way of variety, for sternmost) of the lot, 
and had to coil it - a work which involved, from ITS being so stiff 
and YOUR being busy pulling with all your might, no little trouble 
and an extra ducking.  We got it up; and, just as we were going to 
sing 'Victory!' one of the guys slipped in, the pole tottered - 
went over on its side again like a shot, and behold the end of our 

You see, I have been roughing it; and though some parts of the 
letter may be neither very comprehensible nor very interesting to 
YOU, I think that perhaps it might amuse Willie Traquair, who 
delights in all such dirty jobs.

The first day, I forgot to mention, was like mid-winter for cold, 
and rained incessantly so hard that the livid white of our cold-
pinched faces wore a sort of inflamed rash on the windward side.

I am not a bit the worse of it, except fore-mentioned state of 
hands, a slight crick in my neck from the rain running down, and 
general stiffness from pulling, hauling, and tugging for dear life.

We have got double weights at the guys, and hope to get it up like 
a shot.

What fun you three must be having!  I hope the cold don't disagree 
with you. - I remain, my dear mother, your affectionate son,




MY DEAR MOTHER, - Another storm:  wind higher, rain thicker:  the 
wind still rising as the night closes in and the sea slowly rising 
along with it; it looks like a three days' gale.

Last week has been a blank one:  always too much sea.

I enjoyed myself very much last night at the R.'s.  There was a 
little dancing, much singing and supper.

Are you not well that you do not write?  I haven't heard from you 
for more than a fortnight.

The wind fell yesterday and rose again to-day; it is a dreadful 
evening; but the wind is keeping the sea down as yet.  Of course, 
nothing more has been done to the poles; and I can't tell when I 
shall be able to leave, not for a fortnight yet, I fear, at the 
earliest, for the winds are persistent.  Where's Murra?  Is Cummie 
struck dumb about the boots?  I wish you would get somebody to 
write an interesting letter and say how you are, for you're on the 
broad of your back I see.  There hath arrived an inroad of farmers 
to-night; and I go to avoid them to M- if he's disengaged, to the 
R.'s if not.

SUNDAY (LATER). - Storm without:  wind and rain:  a confused mass 
of wind-driven rain-squalls, wind-ragged mist, foam, spray, and 
great, grey waves.  Of this hereafter; in the meantime let us 
follow the due course of historic narrative.

Seven P.M. found me at Breadalbane Terrace, clad in spotless 
blacks, white tie, shirt, et caetera, and finished off below with a 
pair of navvies' boots.  How true that the devil is betrayed by his 
feet!  A message to Cummy at last.  Why, O treacherous woman! were 
my dress boots withheld?

Dramatis personae:  pere R., amusing, long-winded, in many points 
like papa; mere R., nice, delicate, likes hymns, knew Aunt Margaret 
('t'ould man knew Uncle Alan); fille R., nommee Sara (no h), rather 
nice, lights up well, good voice, INTERESTED face; Miss L., nice 
also, washed out a little, and, I think, a trifle sentimental; fils 
R., in a Leith office, smart, full of happy epithet, amusing.  They 
are very nice and very kind, asked me to come back - 'any night you 
feel dull; and any night doesn't mean no night:  we'll be so glad 
to see you.'  CEST LA MERE QUI PARLE.

I was back there again to-night.  There was hymn-singing, and 
general religious controversy till eight, after which talk was 
secular.  Mrs. S. was deeply distressed about the boot business.  
She consoled me by saying that many would be glad to have such feet 
whatever shoes they had on.  Unfortunately, fishers and seafaring 
men are too facile to be compared with!  This looks like enjoyment:  
better speck than Anster.

I have done with frivolity.  This morning I was awakened by Mrs. S. 
at the door.  'There's a ship ashore at Shaltigoe!'  As my senses 
slowly flooded, I heard the whistling and the roaring of wind, and 
the lashing of gust-blown and uncertain flaws of rain.  I got up, 
dressed, and went out.  The mizzled sky and rain blinded you.

C                  D

C D is the new pier.

A the schooner ashore.  B the salmon house.

She was a Norwegian:  coming in she saw our first gauge-pole, 
standing at point E. Norse skipper thought it was a sunk smack, and 
dropped his anchor in full drift of sea:  chain broke:  schooner 
came ashore.  Insured laden with wood:  skipper owner of vessel and 
cargo bottom out.

I was in a great fright at first lest we should be liable; but it 
seems that's all right.

Some of the waves were twenty feet high.  The spray rose eighty 
feet at the new pier.  Some wood has come ashore, and the roadway 
seems carried away.  There is something fishy at the far end where 
the cross wall is building; but till we are able to get along, all 
speculation is vain.

I am so sleepy I am writing nonsense.

I stood a long while on the cope watching the sea below me; I hear 
its dull, monotonous roar at this moment below the shrieking of the 
wind; and there came ever recurring to my mind the verse I am so 
fond of:-

'But yet the Lord that is on high
Is more of might by far
Than noise of many waters is
Or great sea-billows are.'

The thunder at the wall when it first struck - the rush along ever 
growing higher - the great jet of snow-white spray some forty feet 
above you - and the 'noise of many waters,' the roar, the hiss, the 
'shrieking' among the shingle as it fell head over heels at your 
feet.  I watched if it threw the big stones at the wall; but it 
never moved them.

MONDAY. - The end of the work displays gaps, cairns of ten ton 
blocks, stones torn from their places and turned right round.  The 
damage above water is comparatively little:  what there may be 
below, ON NE SAIT PAS ENCORE.  The roadway is torn away, cross 
heads, broken planks tossed here and there, planks gnawn and 
mumbled as if a starved bear had been trying to eat them, planks 
with spales lifted from them as if they had been dressed with a 
rugged plane, one pile swaying to and fro clear of the bottom, the 
rails in one place sunk a foot at least.  This was not a great 
storm, the waves were light and short.  Yet when we are standing at 
the office, I felt the ground beneath me QUAIL as a huge roller 
thundered on the work at the last year's cross wall.

How could NOSTER AMICUS Q. MAXIMUS appreciate a storm at Wick?  It 
requires a little of the artistic temperament, of which Mr. T. S., 
C.E., possesses some, whatever he may say.  I can't look at it 
practically however:  that will come, I suppose, like grey hair or 
coffin nails.

Our pole is snapped:  a fortnight's work and the loss of the Norse 
schooner all for nothing! - except experience and dirty clothes. - 
Your affectionate son,




MY DEAR MAUD, - If you have forgotten the hand-writing - as is like 
enough - you will find the name of a former correspondent (don't 
know how to spell that word) at the end.  I have begun to write to 
you before now, but always stuck somehow, and left it to drown in a 
drawerful of like fiascos.  This time I am determined to carry 
through, though I have nothing specially to say.

We look fairly like summer this morning; the trees are blackening 
out of their spring greens; the warmer suns have melted the 
hoarfrost of daisies of the paddock; and the blackbird, I fear, 
already beginning to 'stint his pipe of mellower days' - which is 
very apposite (I can't spell anything to-day - ONE p or TWO?) and 
pretty.  All the same, we have been having shocking weather - cold 
winds and grey skies.

I have been reading heaps of nice books; but I can't go back so 
far.  I am reading Clarendon's HIST. REBELL. at present, with which 
I am more pleased than I expected, which is saying a good deal.  It 
is a pet idea of mine that one gets more real truth out of one 
avowed partisan than out of a dozen of your sham impartialists - 
wolves in sheep's clothing - simpering honesty as they suppress 
documents.  After all, what one wants to know is not what people 
did, but why they did it - or rather, why they THOUGHT they did it; 
and to learn that, you should go to the men themselves.  Their very 
falsehood is often more than another man's truth.

I have possessed myself of Mrs. Hutchinson, which, of course, I 
admire, etc.  But is there not an irritating deliberation and 
correctness about her and everybody connected with her?  If she 
would only write bad grammar, or forget to finish a sentence, or do 
something or other that looks fallible, it would be a relief.  I 
sometimes wish the old Colonel had got drunk and beaten her, in the 
bitterness of my spirit.  I know I felt a weight taken off my heart 
when I heard he was extravagant.  It is quite possible to be too 
good for this evil world; and unquestionably, Mrs. Hutchinson was.  
The way in which she talks of herself makes one's blood run cold.  
There - I am glad to have got that out - but don't say it to 
anybody - seal of secrecy.

Please tell Mr. Babington that I have never forgotten one of his 
drawings - a Rubens, I think - a woman holding up a model ship.  
That woman had more life in her than ninety per cent. of the lame 
humans that you see crippling about this earth.

By the way, that is a feature in art which seems to have come in 
with the Italians.  Your old Greek statues have scarce enough 
vitality in them to keep their monstrous bodies fresh withal.  A 
shrewd country attorney, in a turned white neckcloth and rusty 
blacks, would just take one of these Agamemnons and Ajaxes quietly 
by his beautiful, strong arm, trot the unresisting statue down a 
little gallery of legal shams, and turn the poor fellow out at the 
other end, 'naked, as from the earth he came.'  There is more 
latent life, more of the coiled spring in the sleeping dog, about a 
recumbent figure of Michael Angelo's than about the most excited of 
Greek statues.  The very marble seems to wrinkle with a wild energy 
that we never feel except in dreams.

I think this letter has turned into a sermon, but I had nothing 
interesting to talk about.

I do wish you and Mr. Babington would think better of it and come 
north this summer.  We should be so glad to see you both.  DO 
reconsider it. - Believe me, my dear Maud, ever your most 
affectionate cousin,




MY DEAR CUMMY, - I was greatly pleased by your letter in many ways.  
Of course, I was glad to hear from you; you know, you and I have so 
many old stories between us, that even if there was nothing else, 
even if there was not a very sincere respect and affection, we 
should always be glad to pass a nod.  I say 'even if there was 
not.'  But you know right well there is.  Do not suppose that I 
shall ever forget those long, bitter nights, when I coughed and 
coughed and was so unhappy, and you were so patient and loving with 
a poor, sick child.  Indeed, Cummy, I wish I might become a man 
worth talking of, if it were only that you should not have thrown 
away your pains.

Happily, it is not the result of our acts that makes them brave and 
noble, but the acts themselves and the unselfish love that moved us 
to do them.  'Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of 
these.'  My dear old nurse, and you know there is nothing a man can 
say nearer his heart except his mother or his wife - my dear old 
nurse, God will make good to you all the good that you have done, 
and mercifully forgive you all the evil.  And next time when the 
spring comes round, and everything is beginning once again, if you 
should happen to think that you might have had a child of your own, 
and that it was hard you should have spent so many years taking 
care of some one else's prodigal, just you think this - you have 
been for a great deal in my life; you have made much that there is 
in me, just as surely as if you had conceived me; and there are 
sons who are more ungrateful to their own mothers than I am to you.  
For I am not ungrateful, my dear Cummy, and it is with a very 
sincere emotion that I write myself your little boy,




MY DEAR BAXTER, - By the date you may perhaps understand the 
purport of my letter without any words wasted about the matter.  I 
cannot walk with you to-morrow, and you must not expect me.  I came 
yesterday afternoon to Bridge of Allan, and have been very happy 
ever since, as every place is sanctified by the eighth sense, 
Memory.  I walked up here this morning (three miles, TU-DIEU! a 
good stretch for me), and passed one of my favourite places in the 
world, and one that I very much affect in spirit when the body is 
tied down and brought immovably to anchor on a sickbed.  It is a 
meadow and bank on a corner on the river, and is connected in my 
mind inseparably with Virgil's ECLOGUES.  HIC CORULIS MISTOS INTER 
CONSEDIMUS ULMOS, or something very like that, the passage begins 
(only I know my short-winded Latinity must have come to grief over 
even this much of quotation); and here, to a wish, is just such a 
cavern as Menalcas might shelter himself withal from the bright 
noon, and, with his lips curled backward, pipe himself blue in the 
face, while MESSIEURS LES ARCADIENS would roll out those cloying 
hexameters that sing themselves in one's mouth to such a curious 
lifting chant.

In such weather one has the bird's need to whistle; and I, who am 
specially incompetent in this art, must content myself by 
chattering away to you on this bit of paper.  All the way along I 
was thanking God that he had made me and the birds and everything 
just as they are and not otherwise; for although there was no sun, 
the air was so thrilled with robins and blackbirds that it made the 
heart tremble with joy, and the leaves are far enough forward on 
the underwood to give a fine promise for the future.  Even myself, 
as I say, I would not have had changed in one IOTA this forenoon, 
in spite of all my idleness and Guthrie's lost paper, which is ever 
present with me - a horrible phantom.

No one can be alone at home or in a quite new place.  Memory and 
you must go hand in hand with (at least) decent weather if you wish 
to cook up a proper dish of solitude.  It is in these little 
flights of mine that I get more pleasure than in anything else.  
Now, at present, I am supremely uneasy and restless - almost to the 
extent of pain; but O! how I enjoy it, and how I SHALL enjoy it 
afterwards (please God), if I get years enough allotted to me for 
the thing to ripen in.  When I am a very old and very respectable 
citizen with white hair and bland manners and a gold watch, I shall 
hear three crows cawing in my heart, as I heard them this morning:  
I vote for old age and eighty years of retrospect.  Yet, after all, 
I dare say, a short shrift and a nice green grave are about as 

Poor devil! how I am wearying you!  Cheer up.  Two pages more, and 
my letter reaches its term, for I have no more paper.  What 
delightful things inns and waiters and bagmen are!  If we didn't 
travel now and then, we should forget what the feeling of life is.  
The very cushion of a railway carriage - 'the things restorative to 
the touch.'  I can't write, confound it!  That's because I am so 
tired with my walk.  Believe me, ever your affectionate friend,




MY DEAR BAXTER, - I don't know what you mean.  I know nothing about 
the Standing Committee of the Spec., did not know that such a body 
existed, and even if it doth exist, must sadly repudiate all 
association with such 'goodly fellowship.'  I am a 'Rural 
Voluptuary' at present.  THAT is what is the matter with me.  The 
Spec. may go whistle.  As for 'C. Baxter, Esq.,' who is he?  'One 
Baxter, or Bagster, a secretary,' I say to mine acquaintance, 'is 
at present disquieting my leisure with certain illegal, 
uncharitable, unchristian, and unconstitutional documents called 
you hear THAT, you evildoer?  Sending business letters is surely a 
far more hateful and slimy degree of wickedness than sending 
threatening letters; the man who throws grenades and torpedoes is 
less malicious; the Devil in red-hot hell rubs his hands with glee 
as he reckons up the number that go forth spreading pain and 
anxiety with each delivery of the post.

I have been walking to-day by a colonnade of beeches along the 
brawling Allan.  My character for sanity is quite gone, seeing that 
I cheered my lonely way with the following, in a triumphant chaunt:  
'Thank God for the grass, and the fir-trees, and the crows, and the 
sheep, and the sunshine, and the shadows of the fir-trees.'  I hold 
that he is a poor mean devil who can walk alone, in such a place 
and in such weather, and doesn't set up his lungs and cry back to 
the birds and the river.  Follow, follow, follow me.  Come hither, 
come hither, come hither - here shall you see - no enemy - except a 
very slight remnant of winter and its rough weather.  My bedroom, 
when I awoke this morning, was full of bird-songs, which is the 
greatest pleasure in life.  Come hither, come hither, come hither, 
and when you come bring the third part of the EARTHLY PARADISE; you 
can get it for me in Elliot's for two and tenpence (2s. 10d.) 
(BUSINESS HABITS).  Also bring an ounce of honeydew from Wilson's.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MOTHER, - I am here at last, sitting in my room, without 
coat or waistcoat, and with both window and door open, and yet 
perspiring like a terra-cotta jug or a Gruyere cheese.

We had a very good passage, which we certainly deserved, in 
compensation for having to sleep on cabin floor, and finding 
absolutely nothing fit for human food in the whole filthy 
embarkation.  We made up for lost time by sleeping on deck a good 
part of the forenoon.  When I woke, Simpson was still sleeping the 
sleep of the just, on a coil of ropes and (as appeared afterwards) 
his own hat; so I got a bottle of Bass and a pipe and laid hold of 
an old Frenchman of somewhat filthy aspect (FIAT EXPERIMENTUM IN 
CORPORE VILI) to try my French upon.  I made very heavy weather of 
it.  The Frenchman had a very pretty young wife; but my French 
always deserted me entirely when I had to answer her, and so she 
soon drew away and left me to her lord, who talked of French 
politics, Africa, and domestic economy with great vivacity.  From 
Ostend a smoking-hot journey to Brussels.  At Brussels we went off 
after dinner to the Parc.  If any person wants to be happy, I 
should advise the Parc.  You sit drinking iced drinks and smoking 
penny cigars under great old trees.  The band place, covered walks, 
etc., are all lit up.  And you can't fancy how beautiful was the 
contrast of the great masses of lamplit foliage and the dark 
sapphire night sky with just one blue star set overhead in the 
middle of the largest patch.  In the dark walks, too, there are 
crowds of people whose faces you cannot see, and here and there a 
colossal white statue at the corner of an alley that gives the 
place a nice, ARTIFICIAL, eighteenth century sentiment.  There was 
a good deal of summer lightning blinking overhead, and the black 
avenues and white statues leapt out every minute into short-lived 

I get up to add one thing more.  There is in the hotel a boy in 
whom I take the deepest interest.  I cannot tell you his age, but 
the very first time I saw him (when I was at dinner yesterday) I 
was very much struck with his appearance.  There is something very 
leonine in his face, with a dash of the negro especially, if I 
remember aright, in the mouth.  He has a great quantity of dark 
hair, curling in great rolls, not in little corkscrews, and a pair 
of large, dark, and very steady, bold, bright eyes.  His manners 
are those of a prince.  I felt like an overgrown ploughboy beside 
him.  He speaks English perfectly, but with, I think, sufficient 
foreign accent to stamp him as a Russian, especially when his 
manners are taken into account.  I don't think I ever saw any one 
who looked like a hero before.  After breakfast this morning I was 
talking to him in the court, when he mentioned casually that he had 
caught a snake in the Riesengebirge.  'I have it here,' he said; 
'would you like to see it?'  I said yes; and putting his hand into 
his breast-pocket, he drew forth not a dried serpent skin, but the 
head and neck of the reptile writhing and shooting out its horrible 
tongue in my face.  You may conceive what a fright I got.  I send 
off this single sheet just now in order to let you know I am safe 
across; but you must not expect letters often.


P.S. - The snake was about a yard long, but harmless, and now, he 
says, quite tame.



... LAST night I met with rather an amusing adventurette.  Seeing a 
church door open, I went in, and was led by most importunate 
finger-bills up a long stair to the top of the tower.  The father 
smoking at the door, the mother and the three daughters received me 
as if I was a friend of the family and had come in for an evening 
visit.  The youngest daughter (about thirteen, I suppose, and a 
pretty little girl) had been learning English at the school, and 
was anxious to play it off upon a real, veritable Englander; so we 
had a long talk, and I was shown photographs, etc., Marie and I 
talking, and the others looking on with evident delight at having 
such a linguist in the family.  As all my remarks were duly 
translated and communicated to the rest, it was quite a good German 
lesson.  There was only one contretemps during the whole interview 
- the arrival of another visitor, in the shape (surely) the last of 
God's creatures, a wood-worm of the most unnatural and hideous 
appearance, with one great striped horn sticking out of his nose 
like a boltsprit.  If there are many wood-worms in Germany, I shall 
come home.  The most courageous men in the world must be 
entomologists.  I had rather be a lion-tamer.

To-day I got rather a curiosity - LIEDER UND BALLADEN VON ROBERT 
BURNS, translated by one Silbergleit, and not so ill done either.  
Armed with which, I had a swim in the Main, and then bread and 
cheese and Bavarian beer in a sort of cafe, or at least the German 
substitute for a cafe; but what a falling off after the heavenly 
forenoons in Brussels!

I have bought a meerschaum out of local sentiment, and am now very 
low and nervous about the bargain, having paid dearer than I should 
in England, and got a worse article, if I can form a judgment.

Do write some more, somebody.  To-morrow I expect I shall go into 
lodgings, as this hotel work makes the money disappear like butter 
in a furnace. - Meanwhile believe me, ever your affectionate son,




... YESTERDAY I walked to Eckenheim, a village a little way out of 
Frankfurt, and turned into the alehouse.  In the room, which was 
just such as it would have been in Scotland, were the landlady, two 
neighbours, and an old peasant eating raw sausage at the far end.  
I soon got into conversation; and was astonished when the landlady, 
having asked whether I were an Englishman, and received an answer 
in the affirmative, proceeded to inquire further whether I were not 
also a Scotchman.  It turned out that a Scotch doctor - a professor 
- a poet - who wrote books - GROSS WIE DAS - had come nearly every 
day out of Frankfurt to the ECKENHEIMER WIRTHSCHAFT, and had left 
behind him a most savoury memory in the hearts of all its 
customers.  One man ran out to find his name for me, and returned 
with the news that it was COBIE (Scobie, I suspect); and during his 
absence the rest were pouring into my ears the fame and 
acquirements of my countryman.  He was, in some undecipherable 
manner, connected with the Queen of England and one of the 
Princesses.  He had been in Turkey, and had there married a wife of 
immense wealth.  They could find apparently no measure adequate to 
express the size of his books.  In one way or another, he had 
amassed a princely fortune, and had apparently only one sorrow, his 
daughter to wit, who had absconded into a KLOSTER, with a 
considerable slice of the mother's GELD.  I told them we had no 
klosters in Scotland, with a certain feeling of superiority.  No 
more had they, I was told - 'HIER IST UNSER KLOSTER!' and the 
speaker motioned with both arms round the taproom.  Although the 
first torrent was exhausted, yet the Doctor came up again in all 
sorts of ways, and with or without occasion, throughout the whole 
interview; as, for example, when one man, taking his pipe out of 
his mouth and shaking his head, remarked APROPOS of nothing and 
with almost defiant conviction, 'ER WAR EIN FEINER MANN, DER HERR 
DOCTOR,' and was answered by another with 'YAW, YAW, UND TRANK 

Setting aside the Doctor, who had evidently turned the brains of 
the entire village, they were intelligent people.  One thing in 
particular struck me, their honesty in admitting that here they 
spoke bad German, and advising me to go to Coburg or Leipsic for 
German. - 'SIE SPRECHEN DA REIN' (clean), said one; and they all 
nodded their heads together like as many mandarins, and repeated 
REIN, SO REIN in chorus.

Of course we got upon Scotland.  The hostess said, 'DIE 
translated, 'Scotchmen are horrid fond of whisky.'  It was 
impossible, of course, to combat such a truism; and so I proceeded 
to explain the construction of toddy, interrupted by a cry of 
horror when I mentioned the HOT water; and thence, as I find is 
always the case, to the most ghastly romancing about Scottish 
scenery and manners, the Highland dress, and everything national or 
local that I could lay my hands upon.  Now that I have got my 
German Burns, I lean a good deal upon him for opening a 
conversation, and read a few translations to every yawning audience 
that I can gather.  I am grown most insufferably national, you see.  
I fancy it is a punishment for my want of it at ordinary times.  
Now, what do you think, there was a waiter in this very hotel, but, 
alas! he is now gone, who sang (from morning to night, as my 
informant said with a shrug at the recollection) what but 'S IST 
LANGE HER, the German version of Auld Lang Syne; so you see, 
madame, the finest lyric ever written will make its way out of 
whatsoever corner of patois it found its birth in.


I don't think I need translate that for you.

There is one thing that burthens me a good deal in my patriotic 
garrulage, and that is the black ignorance in which I grope about 
everything, as, for example, when I gave yesterday a full and, I 
fancy, a startlingly incorrect account of Scotch education to a 
very stolid German on a garden bench:  he sat and perspired under 
it, however with much composure.  I am generally glad enough to 
fall back again, after these political interludes, upon Burns, 
toddy, and the Highlands.

I go every night to the theatre, except when there is no opera.  I 
cannot stand a play yet; but I am already very much improved, and 
can understand a good deal of what goes on.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 2, 1872. - In the evening, at the theatre, I had a 
great laugh.  Lord Allcash in FRA DIAVOLO, with his white hat, red 
guide-books, and bad German, was the PIECE-DE-RESISTANCE from a 
humorous point of view; and I had the satisfaction of knowing that 
in my own small way I could minister the same amusement whenever I 
chose to open my mouth.

I am just going off to do some German with Simpson. - Your 
affectionate son,




MY DEAR FATHER, - You will perceive by the head of this page that 
we have at last got into lodgings, and powerfully mean ones too.  
If I were to call the street anything but SHADY, I should be 
boasting.  The people sit at their doors in shirt-sleeves, smoking 
as they do in Seven Dials of a Sunday.

Last night we went to bed about ten, for the first time 
HOUSEHOLDERS in Germany - real Teutons, with no deception, spring, 
or false bottom.  About half-past one there began such a 
trumpeting, shouting, pealing of bells, and scurrying hither and 
thither of feet as woke every person in Frankfurt out of their 
first sleep with a vague sort of apprehension that the last day was 
at hand.  The whole street was alive, and we could hear people 
talking in their rooms, or crying to passers-by from their windows, 
all around us.  At last I made out what a man was saying in the 
next room.  It was a fire in Sachsenhausen, he said (Sachsenhausen 
is the suburb on the other side of the Main), and he wound up with 
one of the most tremendous falsehoods on record, 'HIER ALLES RUHT - 
here all is still.'  If it can be said to be still in an engine 
factory, or in the stomach of a volcano when it is meditating an 
eruption, he might have been justified in what he said, but not 
otherwise.  The tumult continued unabated for near an hour; but as 
one grew used to it, it gradually resolved itself into three bells, 
answering each other at short intervals across the town, a man 
shouting, at ever shorter intervals and with superhuman energy, 
'FEUER, - IM SACHSENHAUSEN, and the almost continuous winding of 
all manner of bugles and trumpets, sometimes in stirring 
flourishes, and sometimes in mere tuneless wails.  Occasionally 
there was another rush of feet past the window, and once there was 
a mighty drumming, down between us and the river, as though the 
soldiery were turning out to keep the peace.  This was all we had 
of the fire, except a great cloud, all flushed red with the glare, 
above the roofs on the other side of the Gasse; but it was quite 
enough to put me entirely off my sleep and make me keenly alive to 
three or four gentlemen who were strolling leisurely about my 
person, and every here and there leaving me somewhat as a keepsake. 
. . . However, everything has its compensation, and when day came 
at last, and the sparrows awoke with trills and CAROL-ETS, the dawn 
seemed to fall on me like a sleeping draught.  I went to the window 
and saw the sparrows about the eaves, and a great troop of doves go 
strolling up the paven Gasse, seeking what they may devour.  And so 
to sleep, despite fleas and fire-alarms and clocks chiming the 
hours out of neighbouring houses at all sorts of odd times and with 
the most charming want of unanimity.

We have got settled down in Frankfurt, and like the place very 
much.  Simpson and I seem to get on very well together.  We suit 
each other capitally; and it is an awful joke to be living (two 
would-be advocates, and one a baronet) in this supremely mean 

The abode is, however, a great improvement on the hotel, and I 
think we shall grow quite fond of it. - Ever your affectionate son,




. . . Last night I was at the theatre and heard DIE JUDIN (LA 
JUIVE), and was thereby terribly excited.  At last, in the middle 
of the fifth act, which was perfectly beastly, I had to slope.  I 
could stand even seeing the cauldron with the sham fire beneath, 
and the two hateful executioners in red; but when at last the 
girl's courage breaks down, and, grasping her father's arm, she 
cries out - O so shudderfully! - I thought it high time to be out 
of that GALERE, and so I do not know yet whether it ends well or 
ill; but if I ever afterwards find that they do carry things to the 
extremity, I shall think more meanly of my species.  It was raining 
and cold outside, so I went into a BIERHALLE, and sat and brooded 
over a SCHNITT (half-glass) for nearly an hour.  An opera is far 
more REAL than real life to me.  It seems as if stage illusion, and 
particularly this hardest to swallow and most conventional illusion 
of them all - an opera - would never stale upon me.  I wish that 
life was an opera.  I should like to LIVE in one; but I don't know 
in what quarter of the globe I shall find a society so constituted.  
Besides, it would soon pall:  imagine asking for three-kreuzer 
cigars in recitative, or giving the washerwoman the inventory of 
your dirty clothes in a sustained and FLOURISHOUS aria.

I am in a right good mood this morning to sit here and write to 
you; but not to give you news.  There is a great stir of life, in a 
quiet, almost country fashion, all about us here.  Some one is 
hammering a beef-steak in the REZ-DE-CHAUSSEE:  there is a great 
clink of pitchers and noise of the pump-handle at the public well 
in the little square-kin round the corner.  The children, all 
seemingly within a month, and certainly none above five, that 
always go halting and stumbling up and down the roadway, are 
ordinarily very quiet, and sit sedately puddling in the gutter, 
trying, I suppose, poor little devils! to understand their 
MUTTERSPRACHE; but they, too, make themselves heard from time to 
time in little incomprehensible antiphonies, about the drift that 
comes down to them by their rivers from the strange lands higher up 
the Gasse.  Above all, there is here such a twittering of canaries 
(I can see twelve out of our window), and such continual visitation 
of grey doves and big-nosed sparrows, as make our little bye-street 
into a perfect aviary.

I look across the Gasse at our opposite neighbour, as he dandles 
his baby about, and occasionally takes a spoonful or two of some 
pale slimy nastiness that looks like DEAD PORRIDGE, if you can take 
the conception.  These two are his only occupations.  All day long 
you can hear him singing over the brat when he is not eating; or 
see him eating when he is not keeping baby.  Besides which, there 
comes into his house a continual round of visitors that puts me in 
mind of the luncheon hour at home.  As he has thus no ostensible 
avocation, we have named him 'the W.S.' to give a flavour of 
respectability to the street.

Enough of the Gasse.  The weather is here much colder.  It rained a 
good deal yesterday; and though it is fair and sunshiny again to-
day, and we can still sit, of course, with our windows open, yet 
there is no more excuse for the siesta; and the bathe in the river, 
except for cleanliness, is no longer a necessity of life.  The Main 
is very swift.  In one part of the baths it is next door to 
impossible to swim against it, and I suspect that, out in the open, 
it would be quite impossible. - Adieu, my dear mother, and believe 
me, ever your affectionate son,





MY DEAR BAXTER, - The thunderbolt has fallen with a vengeance now.  
On Friday night after leaving you, in the course of conversation, 
my father put me one or two questions as to beliefs, which I 
candidly answered.  I really hate all lying so much now - a new 
found honesty that has somehow come out of my late illness - that I 
could not so much as hesitate at the time; but if I had foreseen 
the real hell of everything since, I think I should have lied, as I 
have done so often before.  I so far thought of my father, but I 
had forgotten my mother.  And now! they are both ill, both silent, 
both as down in the mouth as if - I can find no simile.  You may 
fancy how happy it is for me.  If it were not too late, I think I 
could almost find it in my heart to retract, but it is too late; 
and again, am I to live my whole life as one falsehood?  Of course, 
it is rougher than hell upon my father, but can I help it?  They 
don't see either that my game is not the light-hearted scoffer; 
that I am not (as they call me) a careless infidel.  I believe as 
much as they do, only generally in the inverse ratio:  I am, I 
think, as honest as they can be in what I hold.  I have not come 
hastily to my views.  I reserve (as I told them) many points until 
I acquire fuller information, and do not think I am thus justly to 
be called 'horrible atheist.'

Now, what is to take place?  What a curse I am to my parents!  O 
Lord, what a pleasant thing it is to have just DAMNED the happiness 
of (probably) the only two people who care a damn about you in the 

What is my life to be at this rate?  What, you rascal?  Answer - I 
have a pistol at your throat.  If all that I hold true and most 
desire to spread is to be such death, and a worse than death, in 
the eyes of my father and mother, what the DEVIL am I to do?

Here is a good heavy cross with a vengeance, and all rough with 
rusty nails that tear your fingers, only it is not I that have to 
carry it alone; I hold the light end, but the heavy burden falls on 
these two.

Don't - I don't know what I was going to say.  I am an abject 
idiot, which, all things considered, is not remarkable. - Ever your 
affectionate and horrible atheist,





MY DEAR MOTHER, - I am too happy to be much of a correspondent.  
Yesterday we were away to Melford and Lavenham, both exceptionally 
placid, beautiful old English towns.  Melford scattered all round a 
big green, with an Elizabethan Hall and Park, great screens of 
trees that seem twice as high as trees should seem, and everything 
else like what ought to be in a novel, and what one never expects 
to see in reality, made me cry out how good we were to live in 
Scotland, for the many hundredth time.  I cannot get over my 
astonishment - indeed, it increases every day - at the hopeless 
gulf that there is between England and Scotland, and English and 
Scotch.  Nothing is the same; and I feel as strange and outlandish 
here as I do in France or Germany.  Everything by the wayside, in 
the houses, or about the people, strikes me with an unexpected 
unfamiliarity:  I walk among surprises, for just where you think 
you have them, something wrong turns up.

I got a little Law read yesterday, and some German this morning, 
but on the whole there are too many amusements going for much work; 
as for correspondence, I have neither heart nor time for it to-day.

R. L. S.



I HAVE been to-day a very long walk with my father through some of 
the most beautiful ways hereabouts; the day was cold with an iron, 
windy sky, and only glorified now and then with autumn sunlight.  
For it is fully autumn with us, with a blight already over the 
greens, and a keen wind in the morning that makes one rather timid 
of one's tub when it finds its way indoors.

I was out this evening to call on a friend, and, coming back 
through the wet, crowded, lamp-lit streets, was singing after my 
own fashion, DU HAST DIAMANTEN UND PERLEN, when I heard a poor 
cripple man in the gutter wailing over a pitiful Scotch air, his 
club-foot supported on the other knee, and his whole woebegone body 
propped sideways against a crutch.  The nearest lamp threw a strong 
light on his worn, sordid face and the three boxes of lucifer 
matches that he held for sale.  My own false notes stuck in my 
chest.  How well off I am! is the burthen of my songs all day long 
- DRUM IST SO WOHL MIR IN DER WELT! and the ugly reality of the 
cripple man was an intrusion on the beautiful world in which I was 
walking.  He could no more sing than I could; and his voice was 
cracked and rusty, and altogether perished.  To think that that 
wreck may have walked the streets some night years ago, as glad at 
heart as I was, and promising himself a future as golden and 

SUNDAY, 11.20 A.M. - I wonder what you are doing now? - in church 
likely, at the TE DEUM.  Everything here is utterly silent.  I can 
hear men's footfalls streets away; the whole life of Edinburgh has 
been sucked into sundry pious edifices; the gardens below my 
windows are steeped in a diffused sunlight, and every tree seems 
standing on tiptoes, strained and silent, as though to get its head 
above its neighbour's and LISTEN.  You know what I mean, don't you?  
How trees do seem silently to assert themselves on an occasion!  I 
have been trying to write ROADS until I feel as if I were standing 
on my head; but I mean ROADS, and shall do something to them.

I wish I could make you feel the hush that is over everything, only 
made the more perfect by rare interruptions; and the rich, placid 
light, and the still, autumnal foliage.  Houses, you know, stand 
all about our gardens:  solid, steady blocks of houses; all look 
empty and asleep.

MONDAY NIGHT. - The drums and fifes up in the Castle are sounding 
the guard-call through the dark, and there is a great rattle of 
carriages without.  I have had (I must tell you) my bed taken out 
of this room, so that I am alone in it with my books and two 
tables, and two chairs, and a coal-skuttle (or SCUTTLE) (?) and a 
DEBRIS of broken pipes in a corner, and my old school play-box, so 
full of papers and books that the lid will not shut down, standing 
reproachfully in the midst.  There is something in it that is still 
a little gaunt and vacant; it needs a little populous disorder over 
it to give it the feel of homeliness, and perhaps a bit more 
furniture, just to take the edge off the sense of illimitable 
space, eternity, and a future state, and the like, that is brought 
home to one, even in this small attic, by the wide, empty floor.

You would require to know, what only I can ever know, many grim and 
many maudlin passages out of my past life to feel how great a 
change has been made for me by this past summer.  Let me be ever so 
poor and thread-paper a soul, I am going to try for the best.

These good booksellers of mine have at last got a WERTHER without 
illustrations.  I want you to like Charlotte.  Werther himself has 
every feebleness and vice that could tend to make his suicide a 
most virtuous and commendable action; and yet I like Werther too - 
I don't know why, except that he has written the most delightful 
letters in the world.  Note, by the way, the passage under date 
June 21st not far from the beginning; it finds a voice for a great 
deal of dumb, uneasy, pleasurable longing that we have all had, 
times without number.  I looked that up the other day for ROADS, so 
I know the reference; but you will find it a garden of flowers from 
beginning to end.  All through the passion keeps steadily rising, 
from the thunderstorm at the country-house - there was thunder in 
that story too - up to the last wild delirious interview; either 
Lotte was no good at all, or else Werther should have remained 
alive after that; either he knew his woman too well, or else he was 
precipitate.  But an idiot like that is hopeless; and yet, he 
wasn't an idiot - I make reparation, and will offer eighteen pounds 
of best wax at his tomb.  Poor devil! he was only the weakest - or, 
at least, a very weak strong man.

R. L. S.



. . . I WAS over last night, contrary to my own wish, in Leven, 
Fife; and this morning I had a conversation of which, I think, some 
account might interest you.  I was up with a cousin who was fishing 
in a mill-lade, and a shower of rain drove me for shelter into a 
tumbledown steading attached to the mill.  There I found a labourer 
cleaning a byre, with whom I fell into talk.  The man was to all 
appearance as heavy, as HEBETE, as any English clodhopper; but I 
knew I was in Scotland, and launched out forthright into Education 
and Politics and the aims of one's life.  I told him how I had 
found the peasantry in Suffolk, and added that their state had made 
me feel quite pained and down-hearted.  'It but to do that,' he 
said, 'to onybody that thinks at a'!'  Then, again, he said that he 
could not conceive how anything could daunt or cast down a man who 
had an aim in life.  'They that have had a guid schoolin' and do 
nae mair, whatever they do, they have done; but him that has aye 
something ayont need never be weary.'  I have had to mutilate the 
dialect much, so that it might be comprehensible to you; but I 
think the sentiment will keep, even through a change of words, 
something of the heartsome ring of encouragement that it had for 
me:  and that from a man cleaning a byre!  You see what John Knox 
and his schools have done.

SATURDAY. - This has been a charming day for me from morning to now 
(5 P.M.).  First, I found your letter, and went down and read it on 
a seat in those Public Gardens of which you have heard already.  
After lunch, my father and I went down to the coast and walked a 
little way along the shore between Granton and Cramond.  This has 
always been with me a very favourite walk.  The Firth closes 
gradually together before you, the coast runs in a series of the 
most beautifully moulded bays, hill after hill, wooded and softly 
outlined, trends away in front till the two shores join together.  
When the tide is out there are great, gleaming flats of wet sand, 
over which the gulls go flying and crying; and every cape runs down 
into them with its little spit of wall and trees.  We lay together 
a long time on the beach; the sea just babbled among the stones; 
and at one time we heard the hollow, sturdy beat of the paddles of 
an unseen steamer somewhere round the cape.  I am glad to say that 
the peace of the day and scenery was not marred by any 
unpleasantness between us two.

I am, unhappily, off my style, and can do nothing well; indeed, I 
fear I have marred ROADS finally by patching at it when I was out 
of the humour.  Only, I am beginning to see something great about 
John Knox and Queen Mary:  I like them both so much, that I feel as 
if I could write the history fairly.

I have finished ROADS to-day, and send it off to you to see.  The 
Lord knows whether it is worth anything! - some of it pleases me a 
good deal, but I fear it is quite unfit for any possible magazine.  
However, I wish you to see it, as you know the humour in which it 
was conceived, walking alone and very happily about the Suffolk 
highways and byeways on several splendid sunny afternoons. - 
Believe me, ever your faithful friend,


MONDAY. - I have looked over ROADS again, and I am aghast at its 
feebleness.  It is the trial of a very ''prentice hand' indeed.  
Shall I ever learn to do anything well?  However, it shall go to 
you, for the reasons given above.



. . . I MUST be very strong to have all this vexation and still to 
be well.  I was weighed the other day, and the gross weight of my 
large person was eight stone six!  Does it not seem surprising that 
I can keep the lamp alight, through all this gusty weather, in so 
frail a lantern?  And yet it burns cheerily.

My mother is leaving for the country this morning, and my father 
and I will be alone for the best part of the week in this house.  
Then on Friday I go south to Dumfries till Monday.  I must write 
small, or I shall have a tremendous budget by then.

7.20 P.M. - I must tell you a thing I saw to-day.  I was going down 
to Portobello in the train, when there came into the next 
compartment (third class) an artisan, strongly marked with 
smallpox, and with sunken, heavy eyes - a face hard and unkind, and 
without anything lovely.  There was a woman on the platform seeing 
him off.  At first sight, with her one eye blind and the whole cast 
of her features strongly plebeian, and even vicious, she seemed as 
unpleasant as the man; but there was something beautifully soft, a 
sort of light of tenderness, as on some Dutch Madonna, that came 
over her face when she looked at the man.  They talked for a while 
together through the window; the man seemed to have been asking 
money.  'Ye ken the last time,' she said, 'I gave ye two shillin's 
for your ludgin', and ye said - ' it died off into whisper.  
Plainly Falstaff and Dame Quickly over again.  The man laughed 
unpleasantly, even cruelly, and said something; and the woman 
turned her back on the carriage and stood a long while so, and, do 
what I might, I could catch no glimpse of her expression, although 
I thought I saw the heave of a sob in her shoulders.  At last, 
after the train was already in motion, she turned round and put two 
shillings into his hand.  I saw her stand and look after us with a 
perfect heaven of love on her face - this poor one-eyed Madonna - 
until the train was out of sight; but the man, sordidly happy with 
his gains, did not put himself to the inconvenience of one glance 
to thank her for her ill-deserved kindness.

I have been up at the Spec. and looked out a reference I wanted.  
The whole town is drowned in white, wet vapour off the sea.  
Everything drips and soaks.  The very statues seem wet to the skin.  
I cannot pretend to be very cheerful; I did not see one contented 
face in the streets; and the poor did look so helplessly chill and 
dripping, without a stitch to change, or so much as a fire to dry 
themselves at, or perhaps money to buy a meal, or perhaps even a 
bed.  My heart shivers for them.

DUMFRIES, FRIDAY. - All my thirst for a little warmth, a little 
sun, a little corner of blue sky avails nothing.  Without, the rain 
falls with a long drawn SWISH, and the night is as dark as a vault.  
There is no wind indeed, and that is a blessed change after the 
unruly, bedlamite gusts that have been charging against one round 
street corners and utterly abolishing and destroying all that is 
peaceful in life.  Nothing sours my temper like these coarse 
termagant winds.  I hate practical joking; and your vulgarest 
practical joker is your flaw of wind.

I have tried to write some verses; but I find I have nothing to say 
that has not been already perfectly said and perfectly sung in 
ADELAIDE.  I have so perfect an idea out of that song!  The great 
Alps, a wonder in the starlight - the river, strong from the hills, 
and turbulent, and loudly audible at night - the country, a scented 
FRUHLINGSGARTEN of orchards and deep wood where the nightingales 
harbour - a sort of German flavour over all - and this love-drunken 
man, wandering on by sleeping village and silent town, pours out of 
his full heart, EINST, O WUNDER, EINST, etc.  I wonder if I am 
wrong about this being the most beautiful and perfect thing in the 
world - the only marriage of really accordant words and music - 
both drunk with the same poignant, unutterable sentiment.

To-day in Glasgow my father went off on some business, and my 
mother and I wandered about for two hours.  We had lunch together, 
and were very merry over what the people at the restaurant would 
think of us - mother and son they could not suppose us to be.

SATURDAY. - And to-day it came - warmth, sunlight, and a strong, 
hearty living wind among the trees.  I found myself a new being.  
My father and I went off a long walk, through a country most 
beautifully wooded and various, under a range of hills.  You should 
have seen one place where the wood suddenly fell away in front of 
us down a long, steep hill between a double row of trees, with one 
small fair-haired child framed in shadow in the foreground; and 
when we got to the foot there was the little kirk and kirkyard of 
Irongray, among broken fields and woods by the side of the bright, 
rapid river.  In the kirkyard there was a wonderful congregation of 
tombstones, upright and recumbent on four legs (after our Scotch 
fashion), and of flat-armed fir-trees.  One gravestone was erected 
by Scott (at a cost, I learn, of 70 pounds) to the poor woman who 
served him as heroine in the HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN, and the 
inscription in its stiff, Jedediah Cleishbotham fashion is not 
without something touching.  We went up the stream a little further 
to where two Covenanters lie buried in an oakwood; the tombstone 
(as the custom is) containing the details of their grim little 
tragedy in funnily bad rhyme, one verse of which sticks in my 

'We died, their furious rage to stay,
Near to the kirk of Iron-gray.'

We then fetched a long compass round about through Holywood Kirk 
and Lincluden ruins to Dumfries.  But the walk came sadly to grief 
as a pleasure excursion before our return . . .

SUNDAY. - Another beautiful day.  My father and I walked into 
Dumfries to church.  When the service was done I noted the two 
halberts laid against the pillar of the churchyard gate; and as I 
had not seen the little weekly pomp of civic dignitaries in our 
Scotch country towns for some years, I made my father wait.  You 
should have seen the provost and three bailies going stately away 
down the sunlit street, and the two town servants strutting in 
front of them, in red coats and cocked hats, and with the halberts 
most conspicuously shouldered.  We saw Burns's house - a place that 
made me deeply sad - and spent the afternoon down the banks of the 
Nith.  I had not spent a day by a river since we lunched in the 
meadows near Sudbury.  The air was as pure and clear and sparkling 
as spring water; beautiful, graceful outlines of hill and wood shut 
us in on every side; and the swift, brown river fled smoothly away 
from before our eyes, rippled over with oily eddies and dimples.  
White gulls had come up from the sea to fish, and hovered and flew 
hither and thither among the loops of the stream.  By good fortune, 
too, it was a dead calm between my father and me.

R. L. S.



IT is a little sharp to-day; but bright and sunny with a sparkle in 
the air, which is delightful after four days of unintermitting 
rain.  In the streets I saw two men meet after a long separation, 
it was plain.  They came forward with a little run and LEAPED at 
each other's hands.  You never saw such bright eyes as they both 
had.  It put one in a good humour to see it.

8 P.M. - I made a little more out of my work than I have made for a 
long while back; though even now I cannot make things fall into 
sentences - they only sprawl over the paper in bald orphan clauses.  
Then I was about in the afternoon with Baxter; and we had a good 
deal of fun, first rhyming on the names of all the shops we passed, 
and afterwards buying needles and quack drugs from open-air 
vendors, and taking much pleasure in their inexhaustible eloquence.  
Every now and then as we went, Arthur's Seat showed its head at the 
end of a street.  Now, to-day the blue sky and the sunshine were 
both entirely wintry; and there was about the hill, in these 
glimpses, a sort of thin, unreal, crystalline distinctness that I 
have not often seen excelled.  As the sun began to go down over the 
valley between the new town and the old, the evening grew 
resplendent; all the gardens and low-lying buildings sank back and 
became almost invisible in a mist of wonderful sun, and the Castle 
stood up against the sky, as thin and sharp in outline as a castle 
cut out of paper.  Baxter made a good remark about Princes Street, 
that it was the most elastic street for length that he knew; 
sometimes it looks, as it looked to-night, interminable, a way 
leading right into the heart of the red sundown; sometimes, again, 
it shrinks together, as if for warmth, on one of the withering, 
clear east-windy days, until it seems to lie underneath your feet.

I want to let you see these verses from an ODE TO THE CUCKOO, 
written by one of the ministers of Leith in the middle of last 
century - the palmy days of Edinburgh - who was a friend of Hume 
and Adam Smith and the whole constellation.  The authorship of 
these beautiful verses has been most truculently fought about; but 
whoever wrote them (and it seems as if this Logan had) they are 
lovely -

'What time the pea puts on the bloom,
Thou fliest the vocal vale,
An annual guest, in other lands
Another spring to hail.

Sweet bird! thy bower is ever green,
Thy sky is ever clear;
Thou hast no sorrow in thy song,
No winter in thy year.

O could I fly, I'd fly with thee!
We'd make on joyful wing
Our annual visit o'er the globe,
Companions of the spring.'

SUNDAY. - I have been at church with my mother, where we heard 
'Arise, shine,' sung excellently well, and my mother was so much 
upset with it that she nearly had to leave church.  This was the 
antidote, however, to fifty minutes of solid sermon, varra heavy.  
I have been sticking in to Walt Whitman; nor do I think I have ever 
laboured so hard to attain so small a success.  Still, the thing is 
taking shape, I think; I know a little better what I want to say 
all through; and in process of time, possibly I shall manage to say 
it.  I must say I am a very bad workman, MAIS J'AI DU COURAGE; I am 
indefatigable at rewriting and bettering, and surely that humble 
quality should get me on a little.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 6. - It is a magnificent glimmering moonlight 
night, with a wild, great west wind abroad, flapping above one like 
an immense banner, and every now and again swooping furiously 
against my windows.  The wind is too strong perhaps, and the trees 
are certainly too leafless for much of that wide rustle that we 
both remember; there is only a sharp, angry, sibilant hiss, like 
breath drawn with the strength of the elements through shut teeth, 
that one hears between the gusts only.  I am in excellent humour 
with myself, for I have worked hard and not altogether fruitlessly; 
and I wished before I turned in just to tell you that things were 
so.  My dear friend, I feel so happy when I think that you remember 
me kindly.  I have been up to-night lecturing to a friend on life 
and duties and what a man could do; a coal off the altar had been 
laid on my lips, and I talked quite above my average, and hope I 
spread, what you would wish to see spread, into one person's heart; 
and with a new light upon it.

I shall tell you a story.  Last Friday I went down to Portobello, 
in the heavy rain, with an uneasy wind blowing PAR RAFALES off the 
sea (or 'EN RAFALES' should it be? or what?).  As I got down near 
the beach a poor woman, oldish, and seemingly, lately at least, 
respectable, followed me and made signs.  She was drenched to the 
skin, and looked wretched below wretchedness.  You know, I did not 
like to look back at her; it seemed as if she might misunderstand 
and be terribly hurt and slighted; so I stood at the end of the 
street - there was no one else within sight in the wet - and lifted 
up my hand very high with some money in it.  I heard her steps draw 
heavily near behind me, and, when she was near enough to see, I let 
the money fall in the mud and went off at my best walk without ever 
turning round.  There is nothing in the story; and yet you will 
understand how much there is, if one chose to set it forth.  You 
see, she was so ugly; and you know there is something terribly, 
miserably pathetic in a certain smile, a certain sodden aspect of 
invitation on such faces.  It is so terrible, that it is in a way 
sacred; it means the outside of degradation and (what is worst of 
all in life) false position.  I hope you understand me rightly. - 
Ever your faithful friend,




MY father has returned in better health, and I am more delighted 
than I can well tell you.  The one trouble that I can see no way 
through is that his health, or my mother's, should give way.  To-
night, as I was walking along Princes Street, I heard the bugles 
sound the recall.  I do not think I had ever remarked it before; 
there is something of unspeakable appeal in the cadence.  I felt as 
if something yearningly cried to me out of the darkness overhead to 
come thither and find rest; one felt as if there must be warm 
hearts and bright fires waiting for one up there, where the buglers 
stood on the damp pavement and sounded their friendly invitation 
forth into the night.

WEDNESDAY. - I may as well tell you exactly about my health.  I am 
not at all ill; have quite recovered; only I am what MM. LES 
MEDECINS call below par; which, in plain English, is that I am 
weak.  With tonics, decent weather, and a little cheerfulness, that 
will go away in its turn, and I shall be all right again.

I am glad to hear what you say about the Exam.; until quite lately 
I have treated that pretty cavalierly, for I say honestly that I do 
not mind being plucked; I shall just have to go up again.  We 
travelled with the Lord Advocate the other day, and he strongly 
advised me in my father's hearing to go to the English Bar; and the 
Lord Advocate's advice goes a long way in Scotland.  It is a sort 
of special legal revelation.  Don't misunderstand me.  I don't, of 
course, want to be plucked; but so far as my style of knowledge 
suits them, I cannot make much betterment on it in a month.  If 
they wish scholarship more exact, I must take a new lease 

THURSDAY. - My head and eyes both gave in this morning, and I had 
to take a day of complete idleness.  I was in the open air all day, 
and did no thought that I could avoid, and I think I have got my 
head between my shoulders again; however, I am not going to do 
much.  I don't want you to run away with any fancy about my being 
ill.  Given a person weak and in some trouble, and working longer 
hours than he is used to, and you have the matter in a nutshell.  
You should have seen the sunshine on the hill to-day; it has lost 
now that crystalline clearness, as if the medium were spring-water 
(you see, I am stupid!); but it retains that wonderful thinness of 
outline that makes the delicate shape and hue savour better in 
one's mouth, like fine wine out of a finely-blown glass.  The birds 
are all silent now but the crows.  I sat a long time on the stairs 
that lead down to Duddingston Loch - a place as busy as a great 
town during frost, but now solitary and silent; and when I shut my 
eyes I heard nothing but the wind in the trees; and you know all 
that went through me, I dare say, without my saying it.

II. - I am now all right.  I do not expect any tic to-night, and 
shall be at work again to-morrow.  I have had a day of open air, 
only a little modified by LE CAPITAINE FRACASSE before the dining-
room fire.  I must write no more, for I am sleepy after two nights, 
and to quote my book, 'SINON BLANCHES, DU MOINS GRISES'; and so I 
must go to bed and faithfully, hoggishly slumber. - Your faithful




MY DEAR MOTHER, - The PLACE is not where I thought; it is about 
where the old Post Office was.  The Hotel de Londres is no more an 
hotel.  I have found a charming room in the Hotel du Pavillon, just 
across the road from the Prince's Villa; it has one window to the 
south and one to the east, with a superb view of Mentone and the 
hills, to which I move this afternoon.  In the old great PLACE 
there is a kiosque for the sale of newspapers; a string of 
omnibuses (perhaps thirty) go up and down under the plane-trees of 
the Turin Road on the occasion of each train; the Promenade has 
crossed both streams, and bids fair to reach the Cap St. Martin.  
The old chapel near Freeman's house at the entrance to the Gorbio 
valley is now entirely submerged under a shining new villa, with 
Pavilion annexed; over which, in all the pride of oak and chestnut 
and divers coloured marbles, I was shown this morning by the 
obliging proprietor.  The Prince's Palace itself is rehabilitated, 
and shines afar with white window-curtains from the midst of a 
garden, all trim borders and greenhouses and carefully kept walks.  
On the other side, the villas are more thronged together, and they 
have arranged themselves, shelf after shelf, behind each other.  I 
see the glimmer of new buildings, too, as far eastward as Grimaldi; 
and a viaduct carries (I suppose) the railway past the mouth of the 
bone caves.  F. Bacon (Lord Chancellor) made the remark that 'Time 
was the greatest innovator'; it is perhaps as meaningless a remark 
as was ever made; but as Bacon made it, I suppose it is better than 
any that I could make.  Does it not seem as if things were fluid?  
They are displaced and altered in ten years so that one has 
difficulty, even with a memory so very vivid and retentive for that 
sort of thing as mine, in identifying places where one lived a long 
while in the past, and which one has kept piously in mind during 
all the interval.  Nevertheless, the hills, I am glad to say, are 
unaltered; though I dare say the torrents have given them many a 
shrewd scar, and the rains and thaws dislodged many a boulder from 
their heights, if one were only keen enough to perceive it.  The 
sea makes the same noise in the shingle; and the lemon and orange 
gardens still discharge in the still air their fresh perfume; and 
the people have still brown comely faces; and the Pharmacie Gros 
still dispenses English medicines; and the invalids (eheu!) still 
sit on the promenade and trifle with their fingers in the fringes 
of shawls and wrappers; and the shop of Pascal Amarante still, in 
its present bright consummate flower of aggrandisement and new 
paint, offers everything that it has entered into people's hearts 
to wish for in the idleness of a sanatorium; and the 'Chateau des 
Morts' is still at the top of the town; and the fort and the jetty 
are still at the foot, only there are now two jetties; and - I am 
out of breath.  (To be continued in our next.)

For myself, I have come famously through the journey; and as I have 
written this letter (for the first time for ever so long) with ease 
and even pleasure, I think my head must be better.  I am still no 
good at coming down hills or stairs; and my feet are more 
consistently cold than is quite comfortable.  But, these apart, I 
feel well; and in good spirits all round.

I have written to Nice for letters, and hope to get them to-night.  
Continue to address Poste Restante.  Take care of yourselves.

This is my birthday, by the way - O, I said that before.  Adieu. - 
Ever your affectionate son,




MY DEAR FRIEND, - I sat a long while up among the olive yards to-
day at a favourite corner, where one has a fair view down the 
valley and on to the blue floor of the sea.  I had a Horace with 
me, and read a little; but Horace, when you try to read him fairly 
under the open heaven, sounds urban, and you find something of the 
escaped townsman in his descriptions of the country, just as 
somebody said that Morris's sea-pieces were all taken from the 
coast.  I tried for long to hit upon some language that might catch 
ever so faintly the indefinable shifting colour of olive leaves; 
and, above all, the changes and little silverings that pass over 
them, like blushes over a face, when the wind tosses great branches 
to and fro; but the Muse was not favourable.  A few birds scattered 
here and there at wide intervals on either side of the valley sang 
the little broken songs of late autumn and there was a great stir 
of insect life in the grass at my feet.  The path up to this coign 
of vantage, where I think I shall make it a habit to ensconce 
myself a while of a morning, is for a little while common to the 
peasant and a little clear brooklet.  It is pleasant, in the 
tempered grey daylight of the olive shadows, to see the people 
picking their way among the stones and the water and the brambles; 
the women especially, with the weights poised on their heads and 
walking all from the hips with a certain graceful deliberation.

TUESDAY. - I have been to Nice to-day to see Dr. Bennet; he agrees 
with Clark that there is no disease; but I finished up my day with 
a lamentable exhibition of weakness.  I could not remember French, 
or at least I was afraid to go into any place lest I should not be 
able to remember it, and so could not tell when the train went.  At 
last I crawled up to the station and sat down on the steps, and 
just steeped myself there in the sunshine until the evening began 
to fall and the air to grow chilly.  This long rest put me all 
right; and I came home here triumphantly and ate dinner well.  
There is the full, true, and particular account of the worst day I 
have had since I left London.  I shall not go to Nice again for 
some time to come.

THURSDAY. - I am to-day quite recovered, and got into Mentone to-
day for a book, which is quite a creditable walk.  As an 
intellectual being I have not yet begun to re-exist; my immortal 
soul is still very nearly extinct; but we must hope the best.  Now, 
do take warning by me.  I am set up by a beneficent providence at 
the corner of the road, to warn you to flee from the hebetude that 
is to follow.  Being sent to the South is not much good unless you 
take your soul with you, you see; and my soul is rarely with me 
here.  I don't see much beauty.  I have lost the key; I can only be 
placid and inert, and see the bright days go past uselessly one 
after another; therefore don't talk foolishly with your mouth any 
more about getting liberty by being ill and going south VIA the 
sickbed.  It is not the old free-born bird that gets thus to 
freedom; but I know not what manacled and hide-bound spirit, 
incapable of pleasure, the clay of a man.  Go south!  Why, I saw 
more beauty with my eyes healthfully alert to see in two wet windy 
February afternoons in Scotland than I can see in my beautiful 
olive gardens and grey hills in a whole week in my low and lost 
estate, as the Shorter Catechism puts it somewhere.  It is a 
pitiable blindness, this blindness of the soul; I hope it may not 
be long with me.  So remember to keep well; and remember rather 
anything than not to keep well; and again I say, ANYTHING rather 
than not to keep well.

Not that I am unhappy, mind you.  I have found the words already - 
placid and inert, that is what I am.  I sit in the sun and enjoy 
the tingle all over me, and I am cheerfully ready to concur with 
any one who says that this is a beautiful place, and I have a 
sneaking partiality for the newspapers, which would be all very 
well, if one had not fallen from heaven and were not troubled with 
some reminiscence of the INEFFABLE AURORE.

To sit by the sea and to be conscious of nothing but the sound of 
the waves, and the sunshine over all your body, is not unpleasant; 
but I was an Archangel once.

FRIDAY. - If you knew how old I felt!  I am sure this is what age 
brings with it - this carelessness, this disenchantment, this 
continual bodily weariness.  I am a man of seventy:  O Medea, kill 
me, or make me young again!

To-day has been cloudy and mild; and I have lain a great while on a 
bench outside the garden wall (my usual place now) and looked at 
the dove-coloured sea and the broken roof of cloud, but there was 
no seeing in my eye.  Let us hope to-morrow will be more 

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MOTHER, - We have here fallen on the very pink of hotels.  
I do not say that it is more pleasantly conducted than the 
Pavillon, for that were impossible; but the rooms are so cheery and 
bright and new, and then the food!  I never, I think, so fully 
appreciated the phrase 'the fat of the land' as I have done since I 
have been here installed.  There was a dish of eggs at DEJEUNER the 
other day, over the memory of which I lick my lips in the silent 

Now that the cold has gone again, I continue to keep well in body, 
and already I begin to walk a little more.  My head is still a very 
feeble implement, and easily set a-spinning; and I can do nothing 
in the way of work beyond reading books that may, I hope, be of 
some use to me afterwards.

I was very glad to see that M'Laren was sat upon, and principally 
for the reason why.  Deploring as I do much of the action of the 
Trades Unions, these conspiracy clauses and the whole partiality of 
the Master and Servant Act are a disgrace to our equal laws.  Equal 
laws become a byeword when what is legal for one class becomes a 
criminal offence for another.  It did my heart good to hear that 
man tell M'Laren how, as he had talked much of getting the 
franchise for working men, he must now be content to see them use 
it now they had got it.  This is a smooth stone well planted in the 
foreheads of certain dilettanti radicals, after M'Laren's fashion, 
who are willing to give the working men words and wind, and votes 
and the like, and yet think to keep all the advantages, just or 
unjust, of the wealthier classes without abatement.  I do hope wise 
men will not attempt to fight the working men on the head of this 
notorious injustice.  Any such step will only precipitate the 
action of the newly enfranchised classes, and irritate them into 
acting hastily; when what we ought to desire should be that they 
should act warily and little for many years to come, until 
education and habit may make them the more fit.

All this (intended for my father) is much after the fashion of his 
own correspondence.  I confess it has left my own head exhausted; I 
hope it may not produce the same effect on yours.  But I want him 
to look really into this question (both sides of it, and not the 
representations of rabid middle-class newspapers, sworn to support 
all the little tyrannies of wealth), and I know he will be 
convinced that this is a case of unjust law; and that, however 
desirable the end may seem to him, he will not be Jesuit enough to 
think that any end will justify an unjust law.

Here ends the political sermon of your affectionate (and somewhat 
dogmatical) son,




MY DEAR MOTHER, - I received yesterday two most charming letters - 
the nicest I have had since I left - December 26th and January 1st:  
this morning I got January 3rd.

Into the bargain with Marie, the American girl, who is grace 
itself, and comes leaping and dancing simply like a wave - like 
nothing else, and who yesterday was Queen out of the Epiphany cake 
and chose Robinet (the French Painter) as her FAVORI with the most 
pretty confusion possible - into the bargain with Marie, we have 
two little Russian girls, with the youngest of whom, a little 
polyglot button of a three-year old, I had the most laughable 
little scene at lunch to-day.  I was watching her being fed with 
great amusement, her face being as broad as it is long, and her 
mouth capable of unlimited extension; when suddenly, her eye 
catching mine, the fashion of her countenance was changed, and 
regarding me with a really admirable appearance of offended 
dignity, she said something in Italian which made everybody laugh 
much.  It was explained to me that she had said I was very POLISSON 
to stare at her.  After this she was somewhat taken up with me, and 
after some examination she announced emphatically to the whole 
table, in German, that I was a MADCHEN; which word she repeated 
with shrill emphasis, as though fearing that her proposition would 
be called in question - MADCHEN, MADCHEN, MADCHEN, MADCHEN.  This 
hasty conclusion as to my sex she was led afterwards to revise, I 
am informed; but her new opinion (which seems to have been 
something nearer the truth) was announced in a third language quite 
unknown to me, and probably Russian.  To complete the scroll of her 
accomplishments, she was brought round the table after the meal was 
over, and said good-bye to me in very commendable English.

The weather I shall say nothing about, as I am incapable of 
explaining my sentiments upon that subject before a lady.  But my 
health is really greatly improved:  I begin to recognise myself 
occasionally now and again, not without satisfaction.

Please remember me very kindly to Professor Swan; I wish I had a 
story to send him; but story, Lord bless you, I have none to tell, 
sir, unless it is the foregoing adventure with the little polyglot.  
The best of that depends on the significance of POLISSON, which is 
beautifully out of place.

SATURDAY, 10TH JANUARY. - The little Russian kid is only two and a 
half:  she speaks six languages.  She and her sister (aet. 8) and 
May Johnstone (aet. 8) are the delight of my life.  Last night I 
saw them all dancing - O it was jolly; kids are what is the matter 
with me.  After the dancing, we all - that is the two Russian 
ladies, Robinet the French painter, Mr. and Mrs. Johnstone, two 
governesses, and fitful kids joining us at intervals - played a 
game of the stool of repentance in the Gallic idiom.

O - I have not told you that Colvin is gone; however, he is coming 
back again; he has left clothes in pawn to me. - Ever your 
affectionate son,




. . . I LOST a Philipine to little Mary Johnstone last night; so 
to-day I sent her a rubbishing doll's toilet, and a little note 
with it, with some verses telling how happy children made every one 
near them happy also, and advising her to keep the lines, and some 
day, when she was 'grown a stately demoiselle,' it would make her 
'glad to know she gave pleasure long ago,' all in a very lame 
fashion, with just a note of prose at the end, telling her to mind 
her doll and the dog, and not trouble her little head just now to 
understand the bad verses; for some time when she was ill, as I am 
now, they would be plain to her and make her happy.  She has just 
been here to thank me, and has left me very happy.  Children are 
certainly too good to be true.

Yesterday I walked too far, and spent all the afternoon on the 
outside of my bed; went finally to rest at nine, and slept nearly 
twelve hours on the stretch.  Bennet (the doctor), when told of it 
this morning, augured well for my recovery; he said youth must be 
putting in strong; of course I ought not to have slept at all.  As 
it was, I dreamed HORRIDLY; but not my usual dreams of social 
miseries and misunderstandings and all sorts of crucifixions of the 
spirit; but of good, cheery, physical things - of long successions 
of vaulted, dimly lit cellars full of black water, in which I went 
swimming among toads and unutterable, cold, blind fishes.  Now and 
then these cellars opened up into sort of domed music-hall places, 
where one could land for a little on the slope of the orchestra, 
but a sort of horror prevented one from staying long, and made one 
plunge back again into the dead waters.  Then my dream changed, and 
I was a sort of Siamese pirate, on a very high deck with several 
others.  The ship was almost captured, and we were fighting 
desperately.  The hideous engines we used and the perfectly 
incredible carnage that we effected by means of them kept me 
cheery, as you may imagine; especially as I felt all the time my 
sympathy with the boarders, and knew that I was only a prisoner 
with these horrid Malays.  Then I saw a signal being given, and 
knew they were going to blow up the ship.  I leaped right off, and 
heard my captors splash in the water after me as thick as pebbles 
when a bit of river bank has given way beneath the foot.  I never 
heard the ship blow up; but I spent the rest of the night swimming 
about some piles with the whole sea full of Malays, searching for 
me with knives in their mouths.  They could swim any distance under 
water, and every now and again, just as I was beginning to reckon 
myself safe, a cold hand would be laid on my ankle - ugh!

However, my long sleep, troubled as it was, put me all right again, 
and I was able to work acceptably this morning and be very jolly 
all day.  This evening I have had a great deal of talk with both 
the Russian ladies; they talked very nicely, and are bright, 
likable women both.  They come from Georgia.

WEDNESDAY, 10.30. - We have all been to tea to-night at the 
Russians' villa.  Tea was made out of a samovar, which is something 
like a small steam engine, and whose principal advantage is that it 
burns the fingers of all who lay their profane touch upon it.  
After tea Madame Z. played Russian airs, very plaintive and pretty; 
so the evening was Muscovite from beginning to end.  Madame G.'s 
daughter danced a tarantella, which was very pretty.

Whenever Nelitchka cries - and she never cries except from pain - 
all that one has to do is to start 'Malbrook s'en va-t-en guerre.'  
She cannot resist the attraction; she is drawn through her sobs 
into the air; and in a moment there is Nelly singing, with the glad 
look that comes into her face always when she sings, and all the 
tears and pain forgotten.

It is wonderful, before I shut this up, how that child remains ever 
interesting to me.  Nothing can stale her infinite variety; and yet 
it is not very various.  You see her thinking what she is to do or 
to say next, with a funny grave air of reserve, and then the face 
breaks up into a smile, and it is probably 'Berecchino!' said with 
that sudden little jump of the voice that one knows in children, as 
the escape of a jack-in-the-box, and, somehow, I am quite happy 
after that!

R. L. S.



. . . LAST night I had a quarrel with the American on politics.  It 
is odd how it irritates you to hear certain political statements 
made.  He was excited, and he began suddenly to abuse our conduct 
to America.  I, of course, admitted right and left that we had 
behaved disgracefully (as we had); until somehow I got tired of 
turning alternate cheeks and getting duly buffeted; and when he 
said that the Alabama money had not wiped out the injury, I 
suggested, in language (I remember) of admirable directness and 
force, that it was a pity they had taken the money in that case.  
He lost his temper at once, and cried out that his dearest wish was 
a war with England; whereupon I also lost my temper, and, 
thundering at the pitch of my voice, I left him and went away by 
myself to another part of the garden.  A very tender reconciliation 
took place, and I think there will come no more harm out of it.  We 
are both of us nervous people, and he had had a very long walk and 
a good deal of beer at dinner:  that explains the scene a little.  
But I regret having employed so much of the voice with which I have 
been endowed, as I fear every person in the hotel was taken into 
confidence as to my sentiments, just at the very juncture when 
neither the sentiments nor (perhaps) the language had been 
sufficiently considered.

FRIDAY. - You have not yet heard of my book? - FOUR GREAT SCOTSMEN 
- John Knox, David Hume, Robert Burns, Walter Scott.  These, their 
lives, their work, the social media in which they lived and worked, 
with, if I can so make it, the strong current of the race making 
itself felt underneath and throughout - this is my idea.  You must 
tell me what you think of it.  The Knox will really be new matter, 
as his life hitherto has been disgracefully written, and the events 
are romantic and rapid; the character very strong, salient, and 
worthy; much interest as to the future of Scotland, and as to that 
part of him which was truly modern under his Hebrew disguise.  
Hume, of course, the urbane, cheerful, gentlemanly, letter-writing 
eighteenth century, full of attraction, and much that I don't yet 
know as to his work.  Burns, the sentimental side that there is in 
most Scotsmen, his poor troubled existence, how far his poems were 
his personally, and how far national, the question of the framework 
of society in Scotland, and its fatal effect upon the finest 
natures.  Scott again, the ever delightful man, sane, courageous, 
admirable; the birth of Romance, in a dawn that was a sunset; 
snobbery, conservatism, the wrong thread in History, and notably in 
that of his own land.  VOILA, MADAME, LE MENU.  COMMENT LE TROUVEZ-

R. L. S.


[MENTONE, MARCH 28, 1874.]

MY DEAR MOTHER, - Beautiful weather, perfect weather; sun, pleasant 
cooling winds; health very good; only incapacity to write.

The only new cloud on my horizon (I mean this in no menacing sense) 
is the Prince.  I have philosophical and artistic discussions with 
the Prince.  He is capable of talking for two hours upon end, 
developing his theory of everything under Heaven from his first 
position, which is that there is no straight line.  Doesn't that 
sound like a game of my father's - I beg your pardon, you haven't 
read it - I don't mean MY father, I mean Tristram Shandy's.  He is 
very clever, and it is an immense joke to hear him unrolling all 
the problems of life - philosophy, science, what you will - in this 
charmingly cut-and-dry, here-we-are-again kind of manner.  He is 
better to listen to than to argue withal.  When you differ from 
him, he lifts up his voice and thunders; and you know that the 
thunder of an excited foreigner often miscarries.  One stands 
aghast, marvelling how such a colossus of a man, in such a great 
commotion of spirit, can open his mouth so much and emit such a 
still small voice at the hinder end of it all.  All this while he 
walks about the room, smokes cigarettes, occupies divers chairs for 
divers brief spaces, and casts his huge arms to the four winds like 
the sails of a mill.  He is a most sportive Prince.

R. L. S.



WE are now at Swanston Cottage, Lothianburn, Edinburgh.  The garden 
is but little clothed yet, for, you know, here we are six hundred 
feet above the sea.  It is very cold, and has sleeted this morning.  
Everything wintry.  I am very jolly, however, having finished 
Victor Hugo, and just looking round to see what I should next take 
up.  I have been reading Roman Law and Calvin this morning.

EVENING. - I went up the hill a little this afternoon.  The air was 
invigorating, but it was so cold that my scalp was sore.  With this 
high wintry wind, and the grey sky, and faint northern daylight, it 
was quite wonderful to hear such a clamour of blackbirds coming up 
to me out of the woods, and the bleating of sheep being shorn in a 
field near the garden, and to see golden patches of blossom already 
on the furze, and delicate green shoots upright and beginning to 
frond out, among last year's russet bracken.  Flights of crows were 
passing continually between the wintry leaden sky and the wintry 
cold-looking hills.  It was the oddest conflict of seasons.  A wee 
rabbit - this year's making, beyond question - ran out from under 
my feet, and was in a pretty perturbation, until he hit upon a 
lucky juniper and blotted himself there promptly.  Evidently this 
gentleman had not had much experience of life.

I have made an arrangement with my people:  I am to have 84 pounds 
a year - I only asked for 80 pounds on mature reflection - and as I 
should soon make a good bit by my pen, I shall be very comfortable.  
We are all as jolly as can be together, so that is a great thing 

WEDNESDAY. - Yesterday I received a letter that gave me much 
pleasure from a poor fellow-student of mine, who has been all 
winter very ill, and seems to be but little better even now.  He 
seems very much pleased with ORDERED SOUTH.  'A month ago,' he 
says, 'I could scarcely have ventured to read it; to-day I felt on 
reading it as I did on the first day that I was able to sun myself 
a little in the open air.'  And much more to the like effect.  It 
is very gratifying. - Ever your faithful friend,




STRUGGLING away at FABLES IN SONG.  I am much afraid I am going to 
make a real failure; the time is so short, and I am so out of the 
humour.  Otherwise very calm and jolly:  cold still IMPOSSIBLE.

THURSDAY. - I feel happier about the FABLES, and it is warmer a 
bit; but my body is most decrepit, and I can just manage to be 
cheery and tread down hypochondria under foot by work.  I lead such 
a funny life, utterly without interest or pleasure outside of my 
work:  nothing, indeed, but work all day long, except a short walk 
alone on the cold hills, and meals, and a couple of pipes with my 
father in the evening.  It is surprising how it suits me, and how 
happy I keep.

SATURDAY. - I have received such a nice long letter (four sides) 
from Leslie Stephen to-day about my Victor Hugo.  It is accepted.  
This ought to have made me gay, but it hasn't.  I am not likely to 
be much of a tonic to-night.  I have been very cynical over myself 
to-day, partly, perhaps, because I have just finished some of the 
deedest rubbish about Lord Lytton's fables that an intelligent 
editor ever shot into his wastepaper basket.  If Morley prints it I 
shall be glad, but my respect for him will be shaken.

TUESDAY. - Another cold day; yet I have been along the hillside, 
wondering much at idiotic sheep, and raising partridges at every 
second step.  One little plover is the object of my firm adherence.  
I pass his nest every day, and if you saw how he files by me, and 
almost into my face, crying and flapping his wings, to direct my 
attention from his little treasure, you would have as kind a heart 
to him as I.  To-day I saw him not, although I took my usual way; 
and I am afraid that some person has abused his simple wiliness and 
harried (as we say in Scotland) the nest.  I feel much righteous 
indignation against such imaginary aggressor.  However, one must 
not be too chary of the lower forms.  To-day I sat down on a tree-
stump at the skirt of a little strip of planting, and thoughtlessly 
began to dig out the touchwood with an end of twig.  I found I had 
carried ruin, death, and universal consternation into a little 
community of ants; and this set me a-thinking of how close we are 
environed with frail lives, so that we can do nothing without 
spreading havoc over all manner of perishable homes and interests 
and affections; and so on to my favourite mood of an holy terror 
for all action and all inaction equally - a sort of shuddering 
revulsion from the necessary responsibilities of life.  We must not 
be too scrupulous of others, or we shall die.  Conscientiousness is 
a sort of moral opium; an excitant in small doses, perhaps, but at 
bottom a strong narcotic.

SATURDAY. - I have been two days in Edinburgh, and so had not the 
occasion to write to you.  Morley has accepted the FABLES, and I 
have seen it in proof, and think less of it than ever.  However, of 
course, I shall send you a copy of the MAGAZINE without fail, and 
you can be as disappointed as you like, or the reverse if you can.  
I would willingly recall it if I could.

Try, by way of change, Byron's MAZEPPA; you will be astonished.  It 
is grand and no mistake, and one sees through it a fire, and a 
passion, and a rapid intuition of genius, that makes one rather 
sorry for one's own generation of better writers, and - I don't 
know what to say; I was going to say 'smaller men'; but that's not 
right; read it, and you will feel what I cannot express.  Don't be 
put out by the beginning; persevere, and you will find yourself 
thrilled before you are at an end with it. - Ever your faithful 




MY father and mother reading.  I think I shall talk to you for a 
moment or two.  This morning at Swanston, the birds, poor 
creatures, had the most troubled hour or two; evidently there was a 
hawk in the neighbourhood; not one sang; and the whole garden 
thrilled with little notes of warning and terror.  I did not know 
before that the voice of birds could be so tragically expressive.  
I had always heard them before express their trivial satisfaction 
with the blue sky and the return of daylight.  Really, they almost 
frightened me; I could hear mothers and wives in terror for those 
who were dear to them; it was easy to translate, I wish it were as 
easy to write; but it is very hard in this flying train, or I would 
write you more.

CHESTER. - I like this place much; but somehow I feel glad when I 
get among the quiet eighteenth century buildings, in cosy places 
with some elbow room about them, after the older architecture.  
This other is bedevilled and furtive; it seems to stoop; I am 
afraid of trap-doors, and could not go pleasantly into such houses.  
I don't know how much of this is legitimately the effect of the 
architecture; little enough possibly; possibly far the most part of 
it comes from bad historical novels and the disquieting statuary 
that garnishes some facades.

On the way, to-day, I passed through my dear Cumberland country.  
Nowhere to as great a degree can one find the combination of 
lowland and highland beauties; the outline of the blue hills is 
broken by the outline of many tumultuous tree-clumps; and the broad 
spaces of moorland are balanced by a network of deep hedgerows that 
might rival Suffolk, in the foreground. - How a railway journey 
shakes and discomposes one, mind and body!  I grow blacker and 
blacker in humour as the day goes on; and when at last I am let 
out, and have the fresh air about me, it is as though I were born 
again, and the sick fancies flee away from my mind like swans in 

I want to come back on what I have said about eighteenth century 
and middle-age houses:  I do not know if I have yet explained to 
you the sort of loyalty, of urbanity, that there is about the one 
to my mind; the spirit of a country orderly and prosperous, a 
flavour of the presence of magistrates and well-to-do merchants in 
bag-wigs, the clink of glasses at night in fire-lit parlours, 
something certain and civic and domestic, is all about these quiet, 
staid, shapely houses, with no character but their exceeding 
shapeliness, and the comely external utterance that they make of 
their internal comfort.  Now the others are, as I have said, both 
furtive and bedevilled; they are sly and grotesque; they combine 
their sort of feverish grandeur with their sort of secretive 
baseness, after the manner of a Charles the Ninth.  They are 
peopled for me with persons of the same fashion.  Dwarfs and 
sinister people in cloaks are about them; and I seem to divine 
crypts, and, as I said, trap-doors.  O God be praised that we live 
in this good daylight and this good peace.

BARMOUTH, AUGUST 9TH. - To-day we saw the cathedral at Chester; 
and, far more delightful, saw and heard a certain inimitable verger 
who took us round.  He was full of a certain recondite, far-away 
humour that did not quite make you laugh at the time, but was 
somehow laughable to recollect.  Moreover, he had so far a just 
imagination, and could put one in the right humour for seeing an 
old place, very much as, according to my favourite text, Scott's 
novels and poems do for one.  His account of the monks in the 
Scriptorium, with their cowls over their heads, in a certain 
sheltered angle of the cloister where the big Cathedral building 
kept the sun off the parchments, was all that could be wished; and 
so too was what he added of the others pacing solemnly behind them 
and dropping, ever and again, on their knees before a little shrine 
there is in the wall, 'to keep 'em in the frame of mind.'  You will 
begin to think me unduly biassed in this verger's favour if I go on 
to tell you his opinion of me.  We got into a little side chapel, 
whence we could hear the choir children at practice, and I stopped 
a moment listening to them, with, I dare say, a very bright face, 
for the sound was delightful to me.  'Ah,' says he, 'you're VERY 
fond of music.'  I said I was.  'Yes, I could tell that by your 
head,' he answered.  'There's a deal in that head.'  And he shook 
his own solemnly.  I said it might be so, but I found it hard, at 
least, to get it out.  Then my father cut in brutally, said anyway 
I had no ear, and left the verger so distressed and shaken in the 
foundations of his creed that, I hear, he got my father aside 
afterwards and said he was sure there was something in my face, and 
wanted to know what it was, if not music.  He was relieved when he 
heard that I occupied myself with litterature (which word, note 
here, I do not spell correctly).  Good-night, and here's the 
verger's health!

R. L. S.



I HAVE been hard at work all yesterday, and besides had to write a 
long letter to Bob, so I found no time until quite late, and then 
was sleepy.  Last night it blew a fearful gale; I was kept awake 
about a couple of hours, and could not get to sleep for the horror 
of the wind's noise; the whole house shook; and, mind you, our 
house IS a house, a great castle of jointed stone that would weigh 
up a street of English houses; so that when it quakes, as it did 
last night, it means something.  But the quaking was not what put 
me about; it was the horrible howl of the wind round the corner; 
the audible haunting of an incarnate anger about the house; the 
evil spirit that was abroad; and, above all, the shuddering silent 
pauses when the storm's heart stands dreadfully still for a moment.  
O how I hate a storm at night!  They have been a great influence in 
my life, I am sure; for I can remember them so far back - long 
before I was six at least, for we left the house in which I 
remember listening to them times without number when I was six.  
And in those days the storm had for me a perfect impersonation, as 
durable and unvarying as any heathen deity.  I always heard it, as 
a horseman riding past with his cloak about his head, and somehow 
always carried away, and riding past again, and being baffled yet 
once more, AD INFINITUM, all night long.  I think I wanted him to 
get past, but I am not sure; I know only that I had some interest 
either for or against in the matter; and I used to lie and hold my 
breath, not quite frightened, but in a state of miserable 

My first John Knox is in proof, and my second is on the anvil.  It 
is very good of me so to do; for I want so much to get to my real 
tour and my sham tour, the real tour first:  it is always working 
in my head, and if I can only turn on the right sort of style at 
the right moment, I am not much afraid of it.  One thing bothers 
me; what with hammering at this J. K., and writing necessary 
letters, and taking necessary exercise (that even not enough, the 
weather is so repulsive to me, cold and windy), I find I have no 
time for reading except times of fatigue, when I wish merely to 
relax myself.  O - and I read over again for this purpose 
Flaubert's TENTATION DE ST. ANTOINE; it struck me a good deal at 
first, but this second time it has fetched me immensely.  I am but 
just done with it, so you will know the large proportion of salt to 
take with my present statement, that it's the finest thing I ever 
read!  Of course, it isn't that, it's full of LONGUEURS, and is not 
quite 'redd up,' as we say in Scotland, not quite articulated; but 
there are splendid things in it.

I say, DO take your maccaroni with oil:  DO, PLEASE.  It's BEASTLY 
with butter. - Ever your faithful friend,




MONDAY. - I have come from a concert, and the concert was rather a 
disappointment.  Not so my afternoon skating - Duddingston, our big 
loch, is bearing; and I wish you could have seen it this afternoon, 
covered with people, in thin driving snow flurries, the big hill 
grim and white and alpine overhead in the thick air, and the road 
up the gorge, as it were into the heart of it, dotted black with 
traffic.  Moreover, I CAN skate a little bit; and what one can do 
is always pleasant to do.

TUESDAY. - I got your letter to-day, and was so glad thereof.  It 
was of good omen to me also.  I worked from ten to one (my classes 
are suspended now for Xmas holidays), and wrote four or five 
Portfolio pages of my Buckinghamshire affair.  Then I went to 
Duddingston and skated all afternoon.  If you had seen the moon 
rising, a perfect sphere of smoky gold, in the dark air above the 
trees, and the white loch thick with skaters, and the great hill, 
snow-sprinkled, overhead!  It was a sight for a king.

WEDNESDAY. - I stayed on Duddingston to-day till after nightfall.  
The little booths that hucksters set up round the edge were marked 
each one by its little lamp.  There were some fires too; and the 
light, and the shadows of the people who stood round them to warm 
themselves, made a strange pattern all round on the snow-covered 
ice.  A few people with torches began to travel up and down the 
ice, a lit circle travelling along with them over the snow.  A 
gigantic moon rose, meanwhile, over the trees and the kirk on the 
promontory, among perturbed and vacillating clouds.

The walk home was very solemn and strange.  Once, through a broken 
gorge, we had a glimpse of a little space of mackerel sky, moon-
litten, on the other side of the hill; the broken ridges standing 
grey and spectral between; and the hilltop over all, snow-white, 
and strangely magnified in size.

This must go to you to-morrow, so that you may read it on Christmas 
Day for company.  I hope it may be good company to you.

THURSDAY. - Outside, it snows thick and steadily.  The gardens 
before our house are now a wonderful fairy forest.  And O, this 
whiteness of things, how I love it, how it sends the blood about my 
body!  Maurice de Guerin hated snow; what a fool he must have been!  
Somebody tried to put me out of conceit with it by saying that 
people were lost in it.  As if people don't get lost in love, too, 
and die of devotion to art; as if everything worth were not an 
occasion to some people's end.

What a wintry letter this is!  Only I think it is winter seen from 
the inside of a warm greatcoat.  And there is, at least, a warm 
heart about it somewhere.  Do you know, what they say in Xmas 
stories is true?  I think one loves their friends more dearly at 
this season. - Ever your faithful friend,




MY DEAR COLVIN, - I have worked too hard; I have given myself one 
day of rest, and that was not enough; I am giving myself another.  
I shall go to bed again likewise so soon as this is done, and 
slumber most potently.

9 P.M., slept all afternoon like a lamb.

About my coming south, I think the still small unanswerable voice 
of coins will make it impossible until the session is over (end of 
March); but for all that, I think I shall hold out jolly.  I do not 
want you to come and bother yourself; indeed, it is still not quite 
certain whether my father will be quite fit for you, although I 
have now no fear of that really.  Now don't take up this wrongly; I 
wish you could come; and I do not know anything that would make me 
happier, but I see that it is wrong to expect it, and so I resign 
myself:  some time after.  I offered Appleton a series of papers on 
the modern French school - the Parnassiens, I think they call them 
- de Banville, Coppee, Soulary, and Sully Prudhomme.  But he has 
not deigned to answer my letter.

I shall have another Portfolio paper so soon as I am done with this 
story, that has played me out; the story is to be called WHEN THE 
DEVIL WAS WELL:  scene, Italy, Renaissance; colour, purely 
imaginary of course, my own unregenerate idea of what Italy then 
was.  O, when shall I find the story of my dreams, that shall never 
halt nor wander nor step aside, but go ever before its face, and 
ever swifter and louder, until the pit receives it, roaring?  The 
Portfolio paper will be about Scotland and England. - Ever yours,




I GOT your nice long gossiping letter to-day - I mean by that that 
there was more news in it than usual - and so, of course, I am 
pretty jolly.  I am in the house, however, with such a beastly cold 
in the head.  Our east winds begin already to be very cold.

O, I have such a longing for children of my own; and yet I do not 
think I could bear it if I had one.  I fancy I must feel more like 
a woman than like a man about that.  I sometimes hate the children 
I see on the street - you know what I mean by hate - wish they were 
somewhere else, and not there to mock me; and sometimes, again, I 
don't know how to go by them for the love of them, especially the 
very wee ones.

THURSDAY. - I have been still in the house since I wrote, and I 
HAVE worked.  I finished the Italian story; not well, but as well 
as I can just now; I must go all over it again, some time soon, 
when I feel in the humour to better and perfect it.  And now I have 
taken up an old story, begun years ago; and I have now re-written 
all I had written of it then, and mean to finish it.  What I have 
lost and gained is odd.  As far as regards simple writing, of 
course, I am in another world now; but in some things, though more 
clumsy, I seem to have been freer and more plucky:  this is a 
lesson I have taken to heart.  I have got a jolly new name for my 
old story.  I am going to call it A COUNTRY DANCE; the two heroes 
keep changing places, you know; and the chapter where the most of 
this changing goes on is to be called 'Up the middle, down the 
middle.'  It will be in six, or (perhaps) seven chapters.  I have 
never worked harder in my life than these last four days.  If I can 
only keep it up.

SATURDAY. - Yesterday, Leslie Stephen, who was down here to 
lecture, called on me and took me up to see a poor fellow, a poet 
who writes for him, and who has been eighteen months in our 
infirmary, and may be, for all I know, eighteen months more.  It 
was very sad to see him there, in a little room with two beds, and 
a couple of sick children in the other bed; a girl came in to visit 
the children, and played dominoes on the counterpane with them; the 
gas flared and crackled, the fire burned in a dull economical way; 
Stephen and I sat on a couple of chairs, and the poor fellow sat up 
in his bed with his hair and beard all tangled, and talked as 
cheerfully as if he had been in a King's palace, or the great 
King's palace of the blue air.  He has taught himself two languages 
since he has been lying there.  I shall try to be of use to him.

We have had two beautiful spring days, mild as milk, windy withal, 
and the sun hot.  I dreamed last night I was walking by moonlight 
round the place where the scene of my story is laid; it was all so 
quiet and sweet, and the blackbirds were singing as if it was day; 
it made my heart very cool and happy. - Ever yours,



FEBRUARY 8, 1875.

MY DEAR COLVIN, - Forgive my bothering you.  Here is the proof of 
my second KNOX.  Glance it over, like a good fellow, and if there's 
anything very flagrant send it to me marked.  I have no confidence 
in myself; I feel such an ass.  What have I been doing?  As near as 
I can calculate, nothing.  And yet I have worked all this month 
from three to five hours a day, that is to say, from one to three 
hours more than my doctor allows me; positively no result.

No, I can write no article just now; I am PIOCHING, like a madman, 
at my stories, and can make nothing of them; my simplicity is tame 
and dull - my passion tinsel, boyish, hysterical.  Never mind - ten 
years hence, if I live, I shall have learned, so help me God.  I 
know one must work, in the meantime (so says Balzac) COMME LE 

J'Y PARVIENDRAI, NOM DE NOM DE NOM!  But it's a long look forward. 
- Ever yours,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR FRIEND, - This is just a line to say I am well and happy.  
I am here in my dear forest all day in the open air.  It is very be 
- no, not beautiful exactly, just now, but very bright and living.  
There are one or two song birds and a cuckoo; all the fruit-trees 
are in flower, and the beeches make sunshine in a shady place, I 
begin to go all right; you need not be vexed about my health; I 
really was ill at first, as bad as I have been for nearly a year; 
but the forest begins to work, and the air, and the sun, and the 
smell of the pines.  If I could stay a month here, I should be as 
right as possible.  Thanks for your letter. - Your faithful

R. L. S.



HERE is my long story:  yesterday night, after having supped, I 
grew so restless that I was obliged to go out in search of some 
excitement.  There was a half-moon lying over on its back, and 
incredibly bright in the midst of a faint grey sky set with faint 
stars:  a very inartistic moon, that would have damned a picture.

At the most populous place of the city I found a little boy, three 
years old perhaps, half frantic with terror, and crying to every 
one for his 'Mammy.'  This was about eleven, mark you.  People 
stopped and spoke to him, and then went on, leaving him more 
frightened than before.  But I and a good-humoured mechanic came up 
together; and I instantly developed a latent faculty for setting 
the hearts of children at rest.  Master Tommy Murphy (such was his 
name) soon stopped crying, and allowed me to take him up and carry 
him; and the mechanic and I trudged away along Princes Street to 
find his parents.  I was soon so tired that I had to ask the 
mechanic to carry the bairn; and you should have seen the puzzled 
contempt with which he looked at me, for knocking in so soon.  He 
was a good fellow, however, although very impracticable and 
sentimental; and he soon bethought him that Master Murphy might 
catch cold after his excitement, so we wrapped him up in my 
greatcoat.  'Tobauga (Tobago) Street' was the address he gave us; 
and we deposited him in a little grocer's shop and went through all 
the houses in the street without being able to find any one of the 
name of Murphy.  Then I set off to the head police office, leaving 
my greatcoat in pawn about Master Murphy's person.  As I went down 
one of the lowest streets in the town, I saw a little bit of life 
that struck me.  It was now half-past twelve, a little shop stood 
still half-open, and a boy of four or five years old was walking up 
and down before it imitating cockcrow.  He was the only living 
creature within sight.

At the police offices no word of Master Murphy's parents; so I went 
back empty-handed.  The good groceress, who had kept her shop open 
all this time, could keep the child no longer; her father, bad with 
bronchitis, said he must forth.  So I got a large scone with 
currants in it, wrapped my coat about Tommy, got him up on my arm, 
and away to the police office with him:  not very easy in my mind, 
for the poor child, young as he was - he could scarce speak - was 
full of terror for the 'office,' as he called it.  He was now very 
grave and quiet and communicative with me; told me how his father 
thrashed him, and divers household matters.  Whenever he saw a 
woman on our way he looked after her over my shoulder and then gave 
his judgment:  'That's no HER,' adding sometimes, 'She has a wean 
wi' her.'  Meantime I was telling him how I was going to take him 
to a gentleman who would find out his mother for him quicker than 
ever I could, and how he must not be afraid of him, but be brave, 
as he had been with me.  We had just arrived at our destination - 
we were just under the lamp - when he looked me in the face and 
said appealingly, 'He'll no put - me in the office?'  And I had to 
assure him that he would not, even as I pushed open the door and 
took him in.

The serjeant was very nice, and I got Tommy comfortably seated on a 
bench, and spirited him up with good words and the scone with the 
currants in it; and then, telling him I was just going out to look 
for Mammy, I got my greatcoat and slipped away.

Poor little boy! he was not called for, I learn, until ten this 
morning.  This is very ill written, and I've missed half that was 
picturesque in it; but to say truth, I am very tired and sleepy:  
it was two before I got to bed.  However, you see, I had my 

MONDAY. - I have written nothing all morning; I cannot settle to 
it.  Yes - I WILL though.

10.45. - And I did.  I want to say something more to you about the 
three women.  I wonder so much why they should have been WOMEN, and 
halt between two opinions in the matter.  Sometimes I think it is 
because they were made by a man for men; sometimes, again, I think 
there is an abstract reason for it, and there is something more 
substantive about a woman than ever there can be about a man.  I 
can conceive a great mythical woman, living alone among 
inaccessible mountain-tops or in some lost island in the pagan 
seas, and ask no more.  Whereas if I hear of a Hercules, I ask 
after Iole or Dejanira.  I cannot think him a man without women.  
But I can think of these three deep-breasted women, living out all 
their days on remote hilltops, seeing the white dawn and the purple 
even, and the world outspread before them for ever, and no more to 
them for ever than a sight of the eyes, a hearing of the ears, a 
far-away interest of the inflexible heart, not pausing, not 
pitying, but austere with a holy austerity, rigid with a calm and 
passionless rigidity; and I find them none the less women to the 

And think, if one could love a woman like that once, see her once 
grow pale with passion, and once wring your lips out upon hers, 
would it not be a small thing to die?  Not that there is not a 
passion of a quite other sort, much less epic, far more dramatic 
and intimate, that comes out of the very frailty of perishable 
women; out of the lines of suffering that we see written about 
their eyes, and that we may wipe out if it were but for a moment; 
out of the thin hands, wrought and tempered in agony to a fineness 
of perception, that the indifferent or the merely happy cannot 
know; out of the tragedy that lies about such a love, and the 
pathetic incompleteness.  This is another thing, and perhaps it is 
a higher.  I look over my shoulder at the three great headless 
Madonnas, and they look back at me and do not move; see me, and 
through and over me, the foul life of the city dying to its embers 
already as the night draws on; and over miles and miles of silent 
country, set here and there with lit towns, thundered through here 
and there with night expresses scattering fire and smoke; and away 
to the ends of the earth, and the furthest star, and the blank 
regions of nothing; and they are not moved.  My quiet, great-kneed, 
deep-breasted, well-draped ladies of Necessity, I give my heart to 

R. L. S.



MY DEAR FRIEND, - I have been so busy, away to Bridge Of Allan with 
my father first, and then with Simpson and Baxter out here from 
Saturday till Monday.  I had no time to write, and, as it is, am 
strangely incapable.  Thanks for your letter.  I have been reading 
such lots of law, and it seems to take away the power of writing 
from me.  From morning to night, so often as I have a spare moment, 
I am in the embrace of a law book - barren embraces.  I am in good 
spirits; and my heart smites me as usual, when I am in good 
spirits, about my parents.  If I get a bit dull, I am away to 
London without a scruple; but so long as my heart keeps up, I am 
all for my parents.

What do you think of Henley's hospital verses?  They were to have 
been dedicated to me, but Stephen wouldn't allow it - said it would 
be pretentious.

WEDNESDAY. - I meant to have made this quite a decent letter this 
morning, but listen.  I had pain all last night, and did not sleep 
well, and now am cold and sickish, and strung up ever and again 
with another flash of pain.  Will you remember me to everybody?  My 
principal characteristics are cold, poverty, and Scots Law - three 
very bad things.  Oo, how the rain falls!  The mist is quite low on 
the hill.  The birds are twittering to each other about the 
indifferent season.  O, here's a gem for you.  An old godly woman 
predicted the end of the world, because the seasons were becoming 
indistinguishable; my cousin Dora objected that last winter had 
been pretty well marked.  'Yes, my dear,' replied the 
soothsayeress; 'but I think you'll find the summer will be rather 
coamplicated.' - Ever your faithful

R. L. S.



I AM getting on with my rehearsals, but I find the part very hard.  
I rehearsed yesterday from a quarter to seven, and to-day from four 
(with interval for dinner) to eleven.  You see the sad strait I am 
in for ink. - A DEMAIN.

SUNDAY. - This is the third ink-bottle I have tried, and still it's 
nothing to boast of.  My journey went off all right, and I have 
kept ever in good spirits.  Last night, indeed, I did think my 
little bit of gaiety was going away down the wind like a whiff of 
tobacco smoke, but to-day it has come back to me a little.  The 
influence of this place is assuredly all that can be worst against 
one; MAIL IL FAUT LUTTER.  I was haunted last night when I was in 
bed by the most cold, desolate recollections of my past life here; 
I was glad to try and think of the forest, and warm my hands at the 
thought of it.  O the quiet, grey thickets, and the yellow 
butterflies, and the woodpeckers, and the outlook over the plain as 
it were over a sea!  O for the good, fleshly stupidity of the 
woods, the body conscious of itself all over and the mind 
forgotten, the clean air nestling next your skin as though your 
clothes were gossamer, the eye filled and content, the whole MAN 
HAPPY!  Whereas here it takes a pull to hold yourself together; it 
needs both hands, and a book of stoical maxims, and a sort of 
bitterness at the heart by way of armour. - Ever your faithful

R. L. S.

WEDNESDAY. - I am so played out with a cold in my eye that I cannot 
see to write or read without difficulty.  It is swollen HORRIBLE; 
so how I shall look as Orsino, God knows!  I have my fine clothes 
tho'.  Henley's sonnets have been taken for the CORNHILL.  He is 
out of hospital now, and dressed, but still not too much to brag of 
in health, poor fellow, I am afraid.

SUNDAY. - So.  I have still rather bad eyes, and a nasty sore 
throat.  I play Orsino every day, in all the pomp of Solomon, 
splendid Francis the First clothes, heavy with gold and stage 
jewellery.  I play it ill enough, I believe; but me and the 
clothes, and the wedding wherewith the clothes and me are 
reconciled, produce every night a thrill of admiration.  Our cook 
told my mother (there is a servants' night, you know) that she and 
the housemaid were 'just prood to be able to say it was oor young 
gentleman.'  To sup afterwards with these clothes on, and a 
wonderful lot of gaiety and Shakespearean jokes about the table, is 
something to live for.  It is so nice to feel you have been dead 
three hundred years, and the sound of your laughter is faint and 
far off in the centuries. - Ever your faithful


WEDNESDAY. - A moment at last.  These last few days have been as 
jolly as days could be, and by good fortune I leave to-morrow for 
Swanston, so that I shall not feel the whole fall back to habitual 
self.  The pride of life could scarce go further.  To live in 
splendid clothes, velvet and gold and fur, upon principally 
champagne and lobster salad, with a company of people nearly all of 
whom are exceptionally good talkers; when your days began about 
eleven and ended about four - I have lost that sentence; I give it 
up; it is very admirable sport, any way.  Then both my afternoons 
have been so pleasantly occupied - taking Henley drives.  I had a 
business to carry him down the long stair, and more of a business 
to get him up again, but while he was in the carriage it was 
splendid.  It is now just the top of spring with us.  The whole 
country is mad with green.  To see the cherry-blossom bitten out 
upon the black firs, and the black firs bitten out of the blue sky, 
was a sight to set before a king.  You may imagine what it was to a 
man who has been eighteen months in an hospital ward.  The look of 
his face was a wine to me.

I shall send this off to-day to let you know of my new address - 
Swanston Cottage, Lothianburn, Edinburgh.  Salute the faithful in 
my name.  Salute Priscilla, salute Barnabas, salute Ebenezer - O 
no, he's too much, I withdraw Ebenezer; enough of early Christians. 
- Ever your faithful




SIMPLY a scratch.  All right, jolly, well, and through with the 
difficulty.  My father pleased about the Burns.  Never travel in 
the same carriage with three able-bodied seamen and a fruiterer 
from Kent; the A.-B.'s speak all night as though they were hailing 
vessels at sea; and the fruiterer as if he were crying fruit in a 
noisy market-place - such, at least, is my FUNESTE experience.  I 
wonder if a fruiterer from some place else - say Worcestershire - 
would offer the same phenomena? insoluble doubt.

R. L. S.

Later. - Forgive me, couldn't get it off.  Awfully nice man here 
to-night.  Public servant - New Zealand.  Telling us all about the 
South Sea Islands till I was sick with desire to go there:  
beautiful places, green for ever; perfect climate; perfect shapes 
of men and women, with red flowers in their hair; and nothing to do 
but to study oratory and etiquette, sit in the sun, and pick up the 
fruits as they fall.  Navigator's Island is the place; absolute 
balm for the weary. - Ever your faithful friend,

R. L. S.



THURSDAY. - This day fortnight I shall fall or conquer.  Outside 
the rain still soaks; but now and again the hilltop looks through 
the mist vaguely.  I am very comfortable, very sleepy, and very 
much satisfied with the arrangements of Providence.

SATURDAY - NO, SUNDAY, 12.45. - Just been - not grinding, alas! - I 
couldn't - but doing a bit of Fontainebleau.  I don't think I'll be 
plucked.  I am not sure though - I am so busy, what with this d-d 
law, and this Fontainebleau always at my elbow, and three plays 
(three, think of that!) and a story, all crying out to me, 'Finish, 
finish, make an entire end, make us strong, shapely, viable 
creatures!'  It's enough to put a man crazy.  Moreover, I have my 
thesis given out now, which is a fifth (is it fifth? I can't count) 

SUNDAY. - I've been to church, and am not depressed - a great step.  
I was at that beautiful church my PETIT POEME EN PROSE was about.  
It is a little cruciform place, with heavy cornices and string 
course to match, and a steep slate roof.  The small kirkyard is 
full of old grave-stones.  One of a Frenchman from Dunkerque - I 
suppose he died prisoner in the military prison hard by - and one, 
the most pathetic memorial I ever saw, a poor school-slate, in a 
wooden frame, with the inscription cut into it evidently by the 
father's own hand.  In church, old Mr. Torrence preached - over 
eighty, and a relic of times forgotten, with his black thread 
gloves and mild old foolish face.  One of the nicest parts of it 
was to see John Inglis, the greatest man in Scotland, our Justice-
General, and the only born lawyer I ever heard, listening to the 
piping old body, as though it had all been a revelation, grave and 
respectful. - Ever your faithful

R. L. S.




MY DEAR MOTHER, - I have been three days at a place called Grez, a 
pretty and very melancholy village on the plain.  A low bridge of 
many arches choked with sedge; great fields of white and yellow 
water-lilies; poplars and willows innumerable; and about it all 
such an atmosphere of sadness and slackness, one could do nothing 
but get into the boat and out of it again, and yawn for bedtime.

Yesterday Bob and I walked home; it came on a very creditable 
thunderstorm; we were soon wet through; sometimes the rain was so 
heavy that one could only see by holding the hand over the eyes; 
and to crown all, we lost our way and wandered all over the place, 
and into the artillery range, among broken trees, with big shot 
lying about among the rocks.  It was near dinner-time when we got 
to Barbizon; and it is supposed that we walked from twenty-three to 
twenty-five miles, which is not bad for the Advocate, who is not 
tired this morning.  I was very glad to be back again in this dear 
place, and smell the wet forest in the morning.

Simpson and the rest drove back in a carriage, and got about as wet 
as we did.

Why don't you write?  I have no more to say. - Ever your 
affectionate son,




. . . I HAVE been walking these last days from place to place; and 
it does make it hot for walking with a sack in this weather.  I am 
burned in horrid patches of red; my nose, I fear, is going to take 
the lead in colour; Simpson is all flushed, as if he were seen by a 
sunset.  I send you here two rondeaux; I don't suppose they will 
amuse anybody but me; but this measure, short and yet intricate, is 
just what I desire; and I have had some good times walking along 
the glaring roads, or down the poplar alley of the great canal, 
pitting my own humour to this old verse.

Far have you come, my lady, from the town,
And far from all your sorrows, if you please,
To smell the good sea-winds and hear the seas,
And in green meadows lay your body down.

To find your pale face grow from pale to brown,
Your sad eyes growing brighter by degrees;
Far have you come, my lady, from the town,
And far from all your sorrows, if you please.

Here in this seaboard land of old renown,
In meadow grass go wading to the knees;
Bathe your whole soul a while in simple ease;
There is no sorrow but the sea can drown;
Far have you come, my lady, from the town.


We'll walk the woods no more,
But stay beside the fire,
To weep for old desire
And things that are no more.

The woods are spoiled and hoar,
The ways are full of mire;
We'll walk the woods no more,
But stay beside the fire.
We loved, in days of yore,
Love, laughter, and the lyre.
Ah God, but death is dire,
And death is at the door -
We'll walk the woods no more.




MY DEAR COLVIN, - Thanks for your letter and news.  No - my BURNS 
is not done yet, it has led me so far afield that I cannot finish 
it; every time I think I see my way to an end, some new game (or 
perhaps wild goose) starts up, and away I go.  And then, again, to 
be plain, I shirk the work of the critical part, shirk it as a man 
shirks a long jump.  It is awful to have to express and 
differentiate BURNS in a column or two.  O golly, I say, you know, 
it CAN'T be done at the money.  All the more as I'm going write a 
book about it.  RAMSAY, FERGUSSON, AND BURNS:  AN ESSAY (or A 
CRITICAL ESSAY? but then I'm going to give lives of the three 
gentlemen, only the gist of the book is the criticism) BY ROBERT 
LOUIS STEVENSON, ADVOCATE.  How's that for cut and dry?  And I 
COULD write this book.  Unless I deceive myself, I could even write 
it pretty adequately.  I feel as if I was really in it, and knew 
the game thoroughly.  You see what comes of trying to write an 
essay on BURNS in ten columns.

Meantime, when I have done Burns, I shall finish Charles of Orleans 
(who is in a good way, about the fifth month, I should think, and 
promises to be a fine healthy child, better than any of his elder 
brothers for a while); and then perhaps a Villon, for Villon is a 
very essential part of my RAMSAY-FERGUSSON-BURNS; I mean, is a note 
in it, and will recur again and again for comparison and 
illustration; then, perhaps, I may try Fontainebleau, by the way.  
But so soon as Charles of Orleans is polished off, and immortalised 
for ever, he and his pipings, in a solid imperishable shrine of R. 
L. S., my true aim and end will be this little book.  Suppose I 
could jerk you out 100 Cornhill pages; that would easy make 200 
pages of decent form; and then thickish paper - eh? would that do?  
I dare say it could be made bigger; but I know what 100 pages of 
copy, bright consummate copy, imply behind the scenes of weary 
manuscribing; I think if I put another nothing to it, I should not 
be outside the mark; and 100 Cornhill pages of 500 words means, I 
fancy (but I never was good at figures), means 500,00 words.  
There's a prospect for an idle young gentleman who lives at home at 
ease!  The future is thick with inky fingers.  And then perhaps 
nobody would publish.  AH NOM DE DIEU!  What do you think of all 
this? will it paddle, think you?

I hope this pen will write; it is the third I have tried.

About coming up, no, that's impossible; for I am worse than a 
bankrupt.  I have at the present six shillings and a penny; I have 
a sounding lot of bills for Christmas; new dress suit, for 
instance, the old one having gone for Parliament House; and new 
white shirts to live up to my new profession; I'm as gay and swell 
and gummy as can be; only all my boots leak; one pair water, and 
the other two simple black mud; so that my rig is more for the eye, 
than a very solid comfort to myself.  That is my budget.  Dismal 
enough, and no prospect of any coin coming in; at least for months.  
So that here I am, I almost fear, for the winter; certainly till 
after Christmas, and then it depends on how my bills 'turn out' 
whether it shall not be till spring.  So, meantime, I must whistle 
in my cage.  My cage is better by one thing; I am an Advocate now.  
If you ask me why that makes it better, I would remind you that in 
the most distressing circumstances a little consequence goes a long 
way, and even bereaved relatives stand on precedence round the 
coffin.  I idle finely.  I read Boswell's LIFE OF JOHNSON, Martin's 
walk about the Parliament House five forenoons a week, in wig and 
gown; I have either a five or six mile walk, or an hour or two hard 
skating on the rink, every afternoon, without fail.

I have not written much; but, like the seaman's parrot in the tale, 
I have thought a deal.  You have never, by the way, returned me 
either SPRING or BERANGER, which is certainly a d-d shame.  I 
always comforted myself with that when my conscience pricked me 
about a letter to you.  'Thus conscience' - O no, that's not 
appropriate in this connection. - Ever yours,


I say, is there any chance of your coming north this year?  Mind 
you that promise is now more respectable for age than is becoming.

R. L. S.



NOO lyart leaves blaw ower the green,
Red are the bonny woods o' Dean,
An' here we're back in Embro, freen',
To pass the winter.
Whilk noo, wi' frosts afore, draws in,
An' snaws ahint her.

I've seen's hae days to fricht us a',
The Pentlands poothered weel wi' snaw,
The ways half-smoored wi' liquid thaw,
An' half-congealin',
The snell an' scowtherin' norther blaw
Frae blae Brunteelan'.

I've seen's been unco sweir to sally,
And at the door-cheeks daff an' dally,
Seen's daidle thus an' shilly-shally
For near a minute -
Sae cauld the wind blew up the valley,
The deil was in it! -

Syne spread the silk an' tak the gate,
In blast an' blaudin' rain, deil hae't!
The hale toon glintin', stane an' slate,
Wi' cauld an' weet,
An' to the Court, gin we'se be late,
Bicker oor feet.

And at the Court, tae, aft I saw
Whaur Advocates by twa an' twa
Gang gesterin' end to end the ha'
In weeg an' goon,
To crack o' what ye wull but Law
The hale forenoon.

That muckle ha,' maist like a kirk,
I've kent at braid mid-day sae mirk
Ye'd seen white weegs an' faces lurk
Like ghaists frae Hell,
But whether Christian ghaist or Turk
Deil ane could tell.

The three fires lunted in the gloom,
The wind blew like the blast o' doom,
The rain upo' the roof abune
Played Peter Dick -
Ye wad nae'd licht enough i' the room
Your teeth to pick!

But, freend, ye ken how me an' you,
The ling-lang lanely winter through,
Keep'd a guid speerit up, an' true
To lore Horatian,
We aye the ither bottle drew
To inclination.

Sae let us in the comin' days
Stand sicker on our auncient ways -
The strauchtest road in a' the maze
Since Eve ate apples;
An' let the winter weet our cla'es -
We'll weet oor thrapples.



Is the thing lost?  Well, so be it.  There is one masterpiece fewer 
in the world.  The world can ill spare it, but I, sir, I (and here 
I strike my hollow boson, so that it resounds) I am full of this 
sort of bauble; I am made of it; it comes to me, sir, as the desire 
to sneeze comes upon poor ordinary devils on cold days, when they 
should be getting out of bed and into their horrid cold tubs by the 
light of a seven o'clock candle, with the dismal seven o'clock 
frost-flowers all over the window.

Show Stephen what you please; if you could show him how to give me 
money, you would oblige, sincerely yours,

R. L. S.

I have a scroll of SPRINGTIME somewhere, but I know that it is not 
in very good order, and do not feel myself up to very much grind 
over it.  I am damped about SPRINGTIME, that's the truth of it.  It 
might have been four or five quid!

Sir, I shall shave my head, if this goes on.  All men take a 
pleasure to gird at me.  The laws of nature are in open war with 
me.  The wheel of a dog-cart took the toes off my new boots.  Gout 
has set in with extreme rigour, and cut me out of the cheap 
refreshment of beer.  I leant my back against an oak, I thought it 
was a trusty tree, but first it bent, and syne - it lost the Spirit 
of Springtime, and so did Professor Sidney Colvin, Trinity College, 
to me. - Ever yours,


Along with this, I send you some P.P.P's; if you lose them, you 
need not seek to look upon my face again.  Do, for God's sake, 
answer me about them also; it is a horrid thing for a fond 
architect to find his monuments received in silence. - Yours,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR FRIEND, - Since I got your letter I have been able to do a 
little more work, and I have been much better contented with 
myself; but I can't get away, that is absolutely prevented by the 
state of my purse and my debts, which, I may say, are red like 
crimson.  I don't know how I am to clear my hands of them, nor 
when, not before Christmas anyway.  Yesterday I was twenty-five; so 
please wish me many happy returns - directly.  This one was not 
UNhappy anyway.  I have got back a good deal into my old random, 
little-thought way of life, and do not care whether I read, write, 
speak, or walk, so long as I do something.  I have a great delight 
in this wheel-skating; I have made great advance in it of late, can 
do a good many amusing things (I mean amusing in MY sense - amusing 
to do).  You know, I lose all my forenoons at Court!  So it is, but 
the time passes; it is a great pleasure to sit and hear cases 
argued or advised.  This is quite autobiographical, but I feel as 
if it was some time since we met, and I can tell you, I am glad to 
meet you again.  In every way, you see, but that of work the world 
goes well with me.  My health is better than ever it was before; I 
get on without any jar, nay, as if there never had been a jar, with 
my parents.  If it weren't about that work, I'd be happy.  But the 
fact is, I don't think - the fact is, I'm going to trust in 
Providence about work.  If I could get one or two pieces I hate out 
of my way all would be well, I think; but these obstacles disgust 
me, and as I know I ought to do them first, I don't do anything.  I 
must finish this off, or I'll just lose another day.  I'll try to 
write again soon. - Ever your faithful friend,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR KATHARINE, - The prisoner reserved his defence.  He has 
been seedy, however; principally sick of the family evil, 
despondency; the sun is gone out utterly; and the breath of the 
people of this city lies about as a sort of damp, unwholesome fog, 
in which we go walking with bowed hearts.  If I understand what is 
a contrite spirit, I have one; it is to feel that you are a small 
jar, or rather, as I feel myself, a very large jar, of pottery work 
rather MAL REUSSI, and to make every allowance for the potter (I 
beg pardon; Potter with a capital P.) on his ill-success, and 
rather wish he would reduce you as soon as possible to potsherds.  
However, there are many things to do yet before we go


For instance, I have never been in a revolution yet.  I pray God I 
may be in one at the end, if I am to make a mucker.  The best way 
to make a mucker is to have your back set against a wall and a few 
lead pellets whiffed into you in a moment, while yet you are all in 
a heat and a fury of combat, with drums sounding on all sides, and 
people crying, and a general smash like the infernal orchestration 
at the end of the HUGUENOTS. . . .

Please pardon me for having been so long of writing, and show your 
pardon by writing soon to me; it will be a kindness, for I am 
sometimes very dull.  Edinburgh is much changed for the worse by 
the absence of Bob; and this damned weather weighs on me like a 
curse.  Yesterday, or the day before, there came so black a rain 
squall that I was frightened - what a child would call frightened, 
you know, for want of a better word - although in reality it has 
nothing to do with fright.  I lit the gas and sat cowering in my 
chair until it went away again. - Ever yours,

R. L. S.

O I am trying my hand at a novel just now; it may interest you to 
know, I am bound to say I do not think it will be a success.  
However, it's an amusement for the moment, and work, work is your 
only ally against the 'bearded people' that squat upon their hams 
in the dark places of life and embrace people horribly as they go 
by.  God save us from the bearded people! to think that the sun is 
still shining in some happy places!

R. L S.



. . . OUR weather continues as it was, bitterly cold, and raining 
often.  There is not much pleasure in life certainly as it stands 

I meant to write some more last night, but my father was ill and it 
put it out of my way.  He is better this morning.

If I had written last night, I should have written a lot.  But this 
morning I am so dreadfully tired and stupid that I can say nothing.  
I was down at Leith in the afternoon.  God bless me, what horrid 
women I saw; I never knew what a plain-looking race it was before.  
I was sick at heart with the looks of them.  And the children, 
filthy and ragged!  And the smells!  And the fat black mud!

My soul was full of disgust ere I got back.  And yet the ships were 
beautiful to see, as they are always; and on the pier there was a 
clean cold wind that smelt a little of the sea, though it came down 
the Firth, and the sunset had a certain ECLAT and warmth.  Perhaps 
if I could get more work done, I should be in a better trim to 
enjoy filthy streets and people and cold grim weather; but I don't 
much feel as if it was what I would have chosen.  I am tempted 
every day of my life to go off on another walking tour.  I like 
that better than anything else that I know. - Ever your faithful 




MY DEAR COLVIN, - 1ST.  I have sent 'Fontainebleau' long ago, long 
ago.  And Leslie Stephen is worse than tepid about it - liked 'some 
parts' of it 'very well,' the son of Belial.  Moreover, he proposes 
to shorten it; and I, who want MONEY, and money soon, and not glory 
and the illustration of the English language, I feel as if my 
poverty were going to consent.

2ND.  I'm as fit as a fiddle after my walk.  I am four inches 
bigger about the waist than last July!  There, that's your prophecy 
did that.  I am on 'Charles of Orleans' now, but I don't know where 
to send him.  Stephen obviously spews me out of his mouth, and I 
spew him out of mine, so help me!  A man who doesn't like my 
'Fontainebleau'!  His head must be turned.

3RD.  If ever you do come across my 'Spring' (I beg your pardon for 
referring to it again, but I don't want you to forget) send it off 
at once.

4TH.  I went to Ayr, Maybole, Girvan, Ballantrae, Stranraer, 
Glenluce, and Wigton.  I shall make an article of it some day soon, 
'A Winter's Walk in Carrick and Galloway.'  I had a good time. - 

R. L S.



HERE I am, here, and very well too.  I am glad you liked 'Walking 
Tours'; I like it, too; I think it's prose; and I own with 
contrition that I have not always written prose.  However, I am 
'endeavouring after new obedience' (Scot. Shorter Catechism).  You 
don't say aught of 'Forest Notes,' which is kind.  There is one, if 
you will, that was too sweet to be wholesome.

I am at 'Charles d'Orleans.'  About fifteen CORNHILL pages have 
already coule'd from under my facile plume - no, I mean eleven, 
fifteen of MS. - and we are not much more than half-way through, 
'Charles' and I; but he's a pleasant companion.  My health is very 
well; I am in a fine exercisy state.  Baynes is gone to London; if 
you see him, inquire about my 'Burns.'  They have sent me 5 pounds, 
5s, for it, which has mollified me horrid.  5 pounds, 5s. is a good 
deal to pay for a read of it in MS.; I can't complain. - Yours,

R. L. S.



. . . I HAVE the strangest repugnance for writing; indeed, I have 
nearly got myself persuaded into the notion that letters don't 
arrive, in order to salve my conscience for never sending them off.  
I'm reading a great deal of fifteenth century:  TRIAL OF JOAN OF 
ARC, PASTON LETTERS, BASIN, etc., also BOSWELL daily by way of a 
Bible; I mean to read BOSWELL now until the day I die.  And now and 
again a bit of PILGRIM'S PROGRESS.  Is that all?  Yes, I think 
that's all.  I have a thing in proof for the CORNHILL called 
VIRGINIBUS PUERISQUE.  'Charles of Orleans' is again laid aside, 
but in a good state of furtherance this time.  A paper called 'A 
Defence of Idlers' (which is really a defence of R. L. S.) is in a 
good way.  So, you see, I am busy in a tumultuous, knotless sort of 
fashion; and as I say, I take lots of exercise, and I'm as brown a 

This is the first letter I've written for - O I don't know how 

JULY 30TH. - This is, I suppose, three weeks after I began.  Do, 
please, forgive me.

To the Highlands, first, to the Jenkins', then to Antwerp; thence, 
by canoe with Simpson, to Paris and Grez (on the Loing, and an old 
acquaintance of mine on the skirts of Fontainebleau) to complete 
our cruise next spring (if we're all alive and jolly) by Loing and 
Loire, Saone and Rhone to the Mediterranean.  It should make a 
jolly book of gossip, I imagine.

God bless you.


P.S. - VIRGINIBUS PUERISQUE is in August CORNHILL.  'Charles of 
Orleans' is finished, and sent to Stephen; 'Idlers' ditto, and sent 
to Grove; but I've no word of either.  So I've not been idle.

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


MY DEAR HENLEY, - Here I am, you see; and if you will take to a 
map, you will observe I am already more than two doors from 
Antwerp, whence I started.  I have fought it through under the 
worst weather I ever saw in France; I have been wet through nearly 
every day of travel since the second (inclusive); besides this, I 
have had to fight against pretty mouldy health; so that, on the 
whole, the essayist and reviewer has shown, I think, some pluck.  
Four days ago I was not a hundred miles from being miserably 
drowned, to the immense regret of a large circle of friends and the 
permanent impoverishment of British Essayism and Reviewery.  My 
boat culbutted me under a fallen tree in a very rapid current; and 
I was a good while before I got on to the outside of that fallen 
tree; rather a better while than I cared about.  When I got up, I 
lay some time on my belly, panting, and exuded fluid.  All my 
symptoms JUSQU' ICI are trifling.  But I've a damned sore throat. - 
Yours ever,

R. L. S.



. . . A PERFECT chorus of repudiation is sounding in my ears; and 
although you say nothing, I know you must be repudiating me, all 
the same.  Write I cannot - there's no good mincing matters, a 
letter frightens me worse than the devil; and I am just as unfit 
for correspondence as if I had never learned the three R.'s.

Let me give my news quickly before I relapse into my usual 
idleness.  I have a terror lest I should relapse before I get this 
finished.  Courage, R. L. S.!  On Leslie Stephen's advice, I gave 
up the idea of a book of essays.  He said he didn't imagine I was 
rich enough for such an amusement; and moreover, whatever was worth 
publication was worth republication.  So the best of those I had 
ready:  'An Apology for Idlers' is in proof for the CORNHILL.  I 
have 'Villon' to do for the same magazine, but God knows when I'll 
get it done, for drums, trumpets - I'm engaged upon - trumpets, 
is a most absurd story of a lot of young Cambridge fellows who are 
going to found a new society, with no ideas on the subject, and 
nothing but Bohemian tastes in the place of ideas; and who are - 
well, I can't explain about the trunk - it would take too long - 
but the trunk is the fun of it - everybody steals it; burglary, 
marine fight, life on desert island on west coast of Scotland, 
sloops, etc.  The first scene where they make their grand schemes 
and get drunk is supposed to be very funny, by Henley.  I really 
saw him laugh over it until he cried.

Please write to me, although I deserve it so little, and show a 
Christian spirit. - Ever your faithful friend,




MY DEAR COLVIN, - I'm to be whipped away to-morrow to Penzance, 
where at the post-office a letter will find me glad and grateful.  
I am well, but somewhat tired out with overwork.  I have only been 
home a fortnight this morning, and I have already written to the 
tune of forty-five CORNHILL pages and upwards.  The most of it was 
only very laborious re-casting and re-modelling, it is true; but it 
took it out of me famously, all the same.

TEMPLE BAR appears to like my 'Villon,' so I may count on another 
market there in the future, I hope.  At least, I am going to put it 
to the proof at once, and send another story, 'The Sire de 
Maletroit's Mousetrap':  a true novel, in the old sense; all 
unities preserved moreover, if that's anything, and I believe with 
some little merits; not so CLEVER perhaps as the last, but sounder 
and more natural.

My 'Villon' is out this month; I should so much like to know what 
you think of it.  Stephen has written to me apropos of 'Idlers,' 
that something more in that vein would be agreeable to his views.  
From Stephen I count that a devil of a lot.

I am honestly so tired this morning that I hope you will take this 
for what it's worth and give me an answer in peace. - Ever yours,




. . . YOU will do well to stick to your burn, that is a delightful 
life you sketch, and a very fountain of health.  I wish I could 
live like that but, alas! it is just as well I got my 'Idlers' 
written and done with, for I have quite lost all power of resting.  
I have a goad in my flesh continually, pushing me to work, work, 
work.  I have an essay pretty well through for Stephen; a story, 
'The Sire de Maletroit's Mousetrap,' with which I shall try TEMPLE 
BAR; another story, in the clouds, 'The Stepfather's Story,' most 
pathetic work of a high morality or immorality, according to point 
of view; and lastly, also in the clouds, or perhaps a little 
farther away, an essay on the 'Two St. Michael's Mounts,' 
historical and picturesque; perhaps if it didn't come too long, I 
might throw in the 'Bass Rock,' and call it 'Three Sea Fortalices,' 
or something of that kind.  You see how work keeps bubbling in my 
mind.  Then I shall do another fifteenth century paper this autumn 
- La Sale and PETIT JEHAN DE SAINTRE, which is a kind of fifteenth 
century SANDFORD AND MERTON, ending in horrid immoral cynicism, as 
if the author had got tired of being didactic, and just had a good 
wallow in the mire to wind up with and indemnify himself for so 
much restraint.

Cornwall is not much to my taste, being as bleak as the bleakest 
parts of Scotland, and nothing like so pointed and characteristic.  
It has a flavour of its own, though, which I may try and catch, if 
I find the space, in the proposed article.  'Will o' the Mill' I 
sent, red hot, to Stephen in a fit of haste, and have not yet had 
an answer.  I am quite prepared for a refusal.  But I begin to have 
more hope in the story line, and that should improve my income 
anyway.  I am glad you liked 'Villon'; some of it was not as good 
as it ought to be, but on the whole it seems pretty vivid, and the 
features strongly marked.  Vividness and not style is now my line; 
style is all very well, but vividness is the real line of country; 
if a thing is meant to be read, it seems just as well to try and 
make it readable.  I am such a dull person I cannot keep off my own 
immortal works.  Indeed, they are scarcely ever out of my head.  
And yet I value them less and less every day.  But occupation is 
the great thing; so that a man should have his life in his own 
pocket, and never be thrown out of work by anything.  I am glad to 
hear you are better.  I must stop - going to Land's End. - Always 
your faithful friend,




DEAR SIR, - It would not be very easy for me to give you any idea 
of the pleasure I found in your present.  People who write for the 
magazines (probably from a guilty conscience) are apt to suppose 
their works practically unpublished.  It seems unlikely that any 
one would take the trouble to read a little paper buried among so 
many others; and reading it, read it with any attention or 
pleasure.  And so, I can assure you, your little book, coming from 
so far, gave me all the pleasure and encouragement in the world.

I suppose you know and remember Charles Lamb's essay on distant 
correspondents?  Well, I was somewhat of his way of thinking about 
my mild productions.  I did not indeed imagine they were read, and 
(I suppose I may say) enjoyed right round upon the other side of 
the big Football we have the honour to inhabit.  And as your 
present was the first sign to the contrary, I feel I have been very 
ungrateful in not writing earlier to acknowledge the receipt.  I 
dare say, however, you hate writing letters as much as I can do 
myself (for if you like my article, I may presume other points of 
sympathy between us); and on this hypothesis you will be ready to 
forgive me the delay.

I may mention with regard to the piece of verses called 'Such is 
Life,' that I am not the only one on this side of the Football 
aforesaid to think it a good and bright piece of work, and 
recognised a link of sympathy with the poets who 'play in 
hostelries at euchre.' - Believe me, dear sir, yours truly,

R. L S.



MY DEAR SIR, - I am afraid you must already have condemned me for a 
very idle fellow truly.  Here it is more than two months since I 
received your letter; I had no fewer than three journals to 
acknowledge; and never a sign upon my part.  If you have seen a 
CORNHILL paper of mine upon idling, you will be inclined to set it 
all down to that.  But you will not be doing me justice.  Indeed, I 
have had a summer so troubled that I have had little leisure and 
still less inclination to write letters.  I was keeping the devil 
at bay with all my disposable activities; and more than once I 
thought he had me by the throat.  The odd conditions of our 
acquaintance enable me to say more to you than I would to a person 
who lived at my elbow.  And besides, I am too much pleased and 
flattered at our correspondence not to go as far as I can to set 
myself right in your eyes.

In this damnable confusion (I beg pardon) I have lost all my 
possessions, or near about, and quite lost all my wits.  I wish I 
could lay my hands on the numbers of the REVIEW, for I know I 
wished to say something on that head more particularly than I can 
from memory; but where they have escaped to, only time or chance 
can show.  However, I can tell you so far, that I was very much 
pleased with the article on Bret Harte; it seemed to me just, 
clear, and to the point.  I agreed pretty well with all you said 
about George Eliot:  a high, but, may we not add? - a rather dry 
lady.  Did you - I forget - did you have a kick at the stern works 
of that melancholy puppy and humbug Daniel Deronda himself? - the 
Prince of prigs; the literary abomination of desolation in the way 
of manhood; a type which is enough to make a man forswear the love 
of women, if that is how it must be gained. . . . Hats off all the 
same, you understand:  a woman of genius.

Of your poems I have myself a kindness for 'Noll and Nell,' 
although I don't think you have made it as good as you ought:  
verse five is surely not QUITE MELODIOUS.  I confess I like the 
Sonnet in the last number of the REVIEW - the Sonnet to England.

Please, if you have not, and I don't suppose you have, already read 
it, institute a search in all Melbourne for one of the rarest and 
certainly one of the best of books - CLARISSA HARLOWE.  For any man 
who takes an interest in the problems of the two sexes, that book 
is a perfect mine of documents.  And it is written, sir, with the 
pen of an angel.  Miss Howe and Lovelace, words cannot tell how 
good they are!  And the scene where Clarissa beards her family, 
with her fan going all the while; and some of the quarrel scenes 
between her and Lovelace; and the scene where Colonel Marden goes 
to Mr. Hall, with Lord M. trying to compose matters, and the 
Colonel with his eternal 'finest woman in the world,' and the 
inimitable affirmation of Mowbray - nothing, nothing could be 
better!  You will bless me when you read it for this 
recommendation; but, indeed, I can do nothing but recommend 
Clarissa.  I am like that Frenchman of the eighteenth century who 
discovered Habakkuk, and would give no one peace about that 
respectable Hebrew.  For my part, I never was able to get over his 
eminently respectable name; Isaiah is the boy, if you must have a 
prophet, no less.  About Clarissa, I meditate a choice work:  A 
clever that no array of terms can give you any idea; and very 
likely that particular array in which I shall finally embody it, 
less than any other.

Do you know, my dear sir, what I like best in your letter?  The 
egotism for which you thought necessary to apologise.  I am a rogue 
at egotism myself; and to be plain, I have rarely or never liked 
any man who was not.  The first step to discovering the beauties of 
God's universe is usually a (perhaps partial) apprehension of such 
of them as adorn our own characters.  When I see a man who does not 
think pretty well of himself, I always suspect him of being in the 
right.  And besides, if he does not like himself, whom he has seen, 
how is he ever to like one whom he never can see but in dim and 
artificial presentments?

I cordially reciprocate your offer of a welcome; it shall be at 
least a warm one.  Are you not my first, my only, admirer - a dear 
tie?  Besides, you are a man of sense, and you treat me as one by 
writing to me as you do, and that gives me pleasure also.  Please 
continue to let me see your work.  I have one or two things coming 
out in the CORNHILL:  a story called 'The Sire de Maletroit's Door' 
in TEMPLE BAR; and a series of articles on Edinburgh in the 
PORTFOLIO; but I don't know if these last fly all the way to 
Melbourne. - Yours very truly,




MY DEAR COLVIN, - I am at the INLAND VOYAGE again:  have finished 
another section, and have only two more to execute.  But one at 
least of these will be very long - the longest in the book - being 
a great digression on French artistic tramps.  I only hope Paul may 
take the thing; I want coin so badly, and besides it would be 
something done - something put outside of me and off my conscience; 
and I should not feel such a muff as I do, if once I saw the thing 
in boards with a ticket on its back.  I think I shall frequent 
circulating libraries a good deal.  The Preface shall stand over, 
as you suggest, until the last, and then, sir, we shall see.  This 
to be read with a big voice.

This is New Year's Day:  let me, my dear Colvin, wish you a very 
good year, free of all misunderstanding and bereavement, and full 
of good weather and good work.  You know best what you have done 
for me, and so you will know best how heartily I mean this. - Ever 




MY DEAR COLVIN, - Many thanks for your letter.  I was much 
interested by all the Edinburgh gossip.  Most likely I shall arrive 
in London next week.  I think you know all about the Crane sketch; 
but it should be a river, not a canal, you know, and the look 
should be 'cruel, lewd, and kindly,' all at once.  There is more 
sense in that Greek myth of Pan than in any other that I recollect 
except the luminous Hebrew one of the Fall:  one of the biggest 
things done.  If people would remember that all religions are no 
more than representations of life, they would find them, as they 
are, the best representations, licking Shakespeare.

What an inconceivable cheese is Alfred de Musset!  His comedies 
are, to my view, the best work of France this century:  a large 
order.  Did you ever read them?  They are real, clear, living work. 
- Ever yours,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR PEOPLE, - Do you know who is my favourite author just now?  
How are the mighty fallen!  Anthony Trollope.  I batten on him; he 
is so nearly wearying you, and yet he never does; or rather, he 
never does, until he gets near the end, when he begins to wean you 
from him, so that you're as pleased to be done with him as you 
thought you would be sorry.  I wonder if it's old age?  It is a 
little, I am sure.  A young person would get sickened by the dead 
level of meanness and cowardliness; you require to be a little 
spoiled and cynical before you can enjoy it.  I have just finished 
the WAY OF THE WORLD; there is only one person in it - no, there 
are three - who are nice:  the wild American woman, and two of the 
dissipated young men, Dolly and Lord Nidderdale.  All the heroes 
and heroines are just ghastly.  But what a triumph is Lady Carbury!  
That is real, sound, strong, genuine work:  the man who could do 
that, if he had had courage, might have written a fine book; he has 
preferred to write many readable ones.  I meant to write such a 
long, nice letter, but I cannot hold the pen.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MOTHER, - About criticisms, I was more surprised at the 
tone of the critics than I suppose any one else.  And the effect it 
has produced in me is one of shame.  If they liked that so much, I 
ought to have given them something better, that's all.  And I shall 
try to do so.  Still, it strikes me as odd; and I don't understand 
the vogue.  It should sell the thing. - Ever your affectionate son,




MY DEAR MOTHER, - You must not expect to hear much from me for the 
next two weeks; for I am near starting.  Donkey purchased - a love 
- price, 65 francs and a glass of brandy.  My route is all pretty 
well laid out; I shall go near no town till I get to Alais.  
Remember, Poste Restante, Alais, Gard.  Greyfriars will be in 
October.  You did not say whether you liked September; you might 
tell me that at Alais.  The other No.'s of Edinburgh are:  
Parliament Close, Villa Quarters (which perhaps may not appear), 
Calton Hill, Winter and New Year, and to the Pentland Hills.  'Tis 
a kind of book nobody would ever care to read; but none of the 
young men could have done it better than I have, which is always a 
consolation.  I read INLAND VOYAGE the other day:  what rubbish 
these reviewers did talk!  It is not badly written, thin, mildly 
cheery, and strained.  SELON MOI.  I mean to visit Hamerton on my 
return journey; otherwise, I should come by sea from Marseilles.  I 
am very well known here now; indeed, quite a feature of the place. 
- Your affectionate son,

R. L. S.

The Engineer is the Conductor of Roads and Bridges; then I have the 
Receiver of Registrations, the First Clerk of Excise, and the 
Perceiver of the Impost.  That is our dinner party.  I am a sort of 
hovering government official, as you see.  But away - away from 
these great companions!

Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


DEAR HENLEY, - I hope to leave Monastier this day (Saturday) week; 
thenceforward Poste Restante, Alais, Gard, is my address.  'Travels 
with a Donkey in the French Highlands.'  I am no good to-day.  I 
cannot work, nor even write letters.  A colossal breakfast 
yesterday at Puy has, I think, done for me for ever; I certainly 
ate more than ever I ate before in my life - a big slice of melon, 
some ham and jelly, A FILET, a helping of gudgeons, the breast and 
leg of a partridge, some green peas, eight crayfish, some Mont d'Or 
cheese, a peach, and a handful of biscuits, macaroons, and things.  
It sounds Gargantuan; it cost three francs a head.  So that it was 
inexpensive to the pocket, although I fear it may prove extravagant 
to the fleshly tabernacle.  I can't think how I did it or why.  It 
is a new form of excess for me; but I think it pays less than any 
of them.

R. L. S.



Lud knows about date, VIDE postmark.

MY DEAR CHARLES, - Yours (with enclosures) of the 16th to hand.  
All work done.  I go to Le Puy to-morrow to dispatch baggage, get 
cash, stand lunch to engineer, who has been very jolly and useful 
to me, and hope by five o'clock on Saturday morning to be driving 
Modestine towards the Gevaudan.  Modestine is my anesse; a darling, 
mouse-colour, about the size of a Newfoundland dog (bigger, between 
you and me), the colour of a mouse, costing 65 francs and a glass 
of brandy.  Glad you sent on all the coin; was half afraid I might 
come to a stick in the mountains, donkey and all, which would have 
been the devil.  Have finished ARABIAN NIGHTS and Edinburgh book, 
and am a free man.  Next address, Poste Restante, Alais, Gard.  
Give my servilities to the family.  Health bad; spirits, I think, 
looking up. - Ever yours,

R. L S.



MY DEAR MOTHER, - I have seen Hamerton; he was very kind, all his 
family seemed pleased to see an INLAND VOYAGE, and the book seemed 
to be quite a household word with them.  P. G. himself promised to 
help me in my bargains with publishers, which, said he, and I doubt 
not very truthfully, he could manage to much greater advantage than 
I.  He is also to read an INLAND VOYAGE over again, and send me his 
cuts and cuffs in private, after having liberally administered his 
kisses CORAM PUBLICO.  I liked him very much.  Of all the pleasant 
parts of my profession, I think the spirit of other men of letters 
makes the pleasantest.

Do you know, your sunset was very good?  The 'attack' (to speak 
learnedly) was so plucky and odd.  I have thought of it repeatedly 
since.  I have just made a delightful dinner by myself in the Cafe 
Felix, where I am an old established beggar, and am just smoking a 
cigar over my coffee.  I came last night from Autun, and I am 
muddled about my plans.  The world is such a dance! - Ever your 
affectionate son,


Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


MY DEAR HENLEY, - Here I am living like a fighting-cock, and have 
not spoken to a real person for about sixty hours.  Those who wait 
on me are not real.  The man I know to be a myth, because I have 
seen him acting so often in the Palais Royal.  He plays the Duke in 
TRICOCHE ET CACOLET; I knew his nose at once.  The part he plays 
here is very dull for him, but conscientious.  As for the bedmaker, 
she's a dream, a kind of cheerful, innocent nightmare; I never saw 
so poor an imitation of humanity.  I cannot work - CANNOT.  Even 
the GUITAR is still undone; I can only write ditch-water.  'Tis 
ghastly; but I am quite cheerful, and that is more important.  Do 
you think you could prepare the printers for a possible breakdown 
this week?  I shall try all I know on Monday; but if I can get 
nothing better than I got this morning, I prefer to drop a week.  
Telegraph to me if you think it necessary.  I shall not leave till 
Wednesday at soonest.  Shall write again.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR GOSSE, - Herewith of the dibbs - a homely fiver.  How, and 
why, do you continue to exist?  I do so ill, but for a variety of 
reasons.  First, I wait an angel to come down and trouble the 
waters; second, more angels; third - well, more angels.  The waters 
are sluggish; the angels - well, the angels won't come, that's 
about all.  But I sit waiting and waiting, and people bring me 
meals, which help to pass time (I'm sure it's very kind of them), 
and sometimes I whistle to myself; and as there's a very pretty 
echo at my pool of Siloam, the thing's agreeable to hear.  The sun 
continues to rise every day, to my growing wonder.  'The moon by 
night thee shall not smite.'  And the stars are all doing as well 
as can be expected.  The air of Arcady is very brisk and pure, and 
we command many enchanting prospects in space and time.  I do not 
yet know much about my situation; for, to tell the truth, I only 
came here by the run since I began to write this letter; I had to 
go back to date it; and I am grateful to you for having been the 
occasion of this little outing.  What good travellers we are, if we 
had only faith; no man need stay in Edinburgh but by unbelief; my 
religious organ has been ailing for a while past, and I have lain a 
great deal in Edinburgh, a sheer hulk in consequence.  But I got 
out my wings, and have taken a change of air.

I read your book with great interest, and ought long ago to have 
told you so.  An ordinary man would say that he had been waiting 
till he could pay his debts. . . . The book is good reading.  Your 
personal notes of those you saw struck me as perhaps most sharp and 
'best held.'  See as many people as you can, and make a book of 
them before you die.  That will be a living book, upon my word.  
You have the touch required.  I ask you to put hands to it in 
private already.  Think of what Carlyle's caricature of old 
Coleridge is to us who never saw S. T. C.  With that and Kubla 
Khan, we have the man in the fact.  Carlyle's picture, of course, 
is not of the author of KUBLA, but of the author of that surprising 
FRIEND which has knocked the breath out of two generations of 
hopeful youth.  Your portraits would be milder, sweeter, more true 
perhaps, and perhaps not so truth-TELLING - if you will take my 

I have to thank you for an introduction to that beautiful - no, 
that's not the word - that jolly, with an Arcadian jollity - thing 
of Vogelweide's.  Also for your preface.  Some day I want to read a 
whole book in the same picked dialect as that preface.  I think it 
must be one E. W. Gosse who must write it.  He has got himself into 
a fix with me by writing the preface; I look for a great deal, and 
will not be easily pleased.

I never thought of it, but my new book, which should soon be out, 
contains a visit to a murder scene, but not done as we should like 
to see them, for, of course, I was running another hare.

If you do not answer this in four pages, I shall stop the enclosed 
fiver at the bank, a step which will lead to your incarceration for 
life.  As my visits to Arcady are somewhat uncertain, you had 
better address 17 Heriot Row, Edinburgh, as usual.  I shall walk 
over for the note if I am not yet home. - Believe me, very really 


I charge extra for a flourish when it is successful; this isn't, so 
you have it gratis.  Is there any news in Babylon the Great?  My 
fellow-creatures are electing school boards here in the midst of 
the ages.  It is very composed of them.  I can't think why they do 
it.  Nor why I have written a real letter.  If you write a real 
letter back, damme, I'll try to CORRESPOND with you.  A thing 
unknown in this age.  It is a consequence of the decay of faith; we 
cannot believe that the fellow will be at the pains to read us.

Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


MY DEAR HENLEY, - Heavens! have I done the like?  'Clarify and 
strain,' indeed?  'Make it like Marvell,' no less.  I'll tell you 
what - you may go to the devil; that's what I think.  'Be eloquent' 
is another of your pregnant suggestions.  I cannot sufficiently 
thank you for that one.  Portrait of a person about to be eloquent 
at the request of a literary friend.  You seem to forget sir, that 
rhyme is rhyme, sir, and - go to the devil.

I'll try to improve it, but I shan't be able to - O go to the 

Seriously, you're a cool hand.  And then you have the brass to ask 
me WHY 'my steps went one by one'?   Why?  Powers of man! to rhyme 
with sun, to be sure.  Why else could it be?  And you yourself have 
been a poet!  G-r-r-r-r-r!  I'll never be a poet any more.  Men are 
so d-d ungrateful and captious, I declare I could weep.

O Henley, in my hours of ease
You may say anything you please,
But when I join the Muse's revel,
Begad, I wish you at the devil!
In vain my verse I plane and bevel,
Like Banville's rhyming devotees;
In vain by many an artful swivel
Lug in my meaning by degrees;
I'm sure to hear my Henley cavil;
And grovelling prostrate on my knees,
Devote his body to the seas,
His correspondence to the devil!

Impromptu poem.

I'm going to Shandon Hydropathic CUM PARENTIBUS.  Write here.  I 
heard from Lang.  Ferrier prayeth to be remembered; he means to 
write, likes his Tourgenieff greatly.  Also likes my 'What was on 
the Slate,' which, under a new title, yet unfound, and with a new 
and, on the whole, kindly DENOUEMENT, is going to shoot up and 
become a star. . . .

I see I must write some more to you about my Monastery.  I am a 
weak brother in verse.  You ask me to re-write things that I have 
already managed just to write with the skin of my teeth.  If I 
don't re-write them, it's because I don't see how to write them 
better, not because I don't think they should be.  But, curiously 
enough, you condemn two of my favourite passages, one of which is 
J. W. Ferrier's favourite of the whole.  Here I shall think it's 
you who are wrong.  You see, I did not try to make good verse, but 
to say what I wanted as well as verse would let me.  I don't like 
the rhyme 'ear' and 'hear.'  But the couplet, 'My undissuaded heart 
I hear Whisper courage in my ear,' is exactly what I want for the 
thought, and to me seems very energetic as speech, if not as verse.  
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,


Letter:  TO P. G. HAMERTON


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.

Letter:  TO DR. W. BAMFORD


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.

Letter:  TO C. W. STODDARD


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,



DECEMBER 21, 1880.  DAVOS.

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.


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.  
QU'EN DIS TU?  VIENS. - Yours,

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO P. G. HAMERTON


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.

Letter:  TO P. G. HAMERTON


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.,


Letter:  TO R. A. M. STEVENSON


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 
went back to Nice.  But the real reason why you have been more in 
my mind than usual is because of some little verses that I have 
been writing, and that I mean to make a book of; and the real 
reason of this letter (although I ought to have written to you 
anyway) is that I have just seen that the book in question must be 
dedicated to


the only person who will really understand it.  I don't know when 
it may be ready, for it has to be illustrated, but I hope in the 
meantime you may like the idea of what is to be; and when the time 
comes, I shall try to make the dedication as pretty as I can make 
it.  Of course, this is only a flourish, like taking off one's hat; 
but still, a person who has taken the trouble to write things does 
not dedicate them to any one without meaning it; and you must just 
try to take this dedication in place of a great many things that I 
might have said, and that I ought to have done, to prove that I am 
not altogether unconscious of the great debt of gratitude I owe 
you.  This little book, which is all about my childhood, should 
indeed go to no other person but you, who did so much to make that 
childhood happy.

Do you know, we came very near sending for you this winter.  If we 
had not had news that you were ill too, I almost believe we should 
have done so, we were so much in trouble.

I am now very well; but my wife has had a very, very bad spell, 
through overwork and anxiety, when I was LOST!  I suppose you heard 
of that.  She sends you her love, and hopes you will write to her, 
though she no more than I deserves it.  She would add a word 
herself, but she is too played out. - I am, ever your old boy,

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY

[NICE, MARCH 1883.]

MY DEAR LAD, - This is to announce to you the MS. of Nursery 
Verses, now numbering XLVIII. pieces or 599 verses, which, of 
course, one might augment AD INFINITUM.

But here is my notion to make all clear.

I do not want a big ugly quarto; my soul sickens at the look of a 
quarto.  I want a refined octavo, not large - not LARGER than the 
DONKEY BOOK, at any price.

I think the full page might hold four verses of four lines, that is 
to say, counting their blanks at two, of twenty-two lines in 
height.  The first page of each number would only hold two verses 
or ten lines, the title being low down.  At this rate, we should 
have seventy-eight or eighty pages of letterpress.

The designs should not be in the text, but facing the poem; so that 
if the artist liked, he might give two pages of design to every 
poem that turned the leaf, I.E. longer than eight lines, I.E. to 
twenty-eight out of the forty-six.  I should say he would not use 
this privilege (?) above five times, and some he might scorn to 
illustrate at all, so we may say fifty drawings.  I shall come to 
the drawings next.

But now you see my book of the thickness, since the drawings count 
two pages, of 180 pages; and since the paper will perhaps be 
thicker, of near two hundred by bulk.  It is bound in a quiet green 
with the words in thin gilt.  Its shape is a slender, tall octavo.  
And it sells for the publisher's fancy, and it will be a darling to 
look at; in short, it would be like one of the original Heine books 
in type and spacing.

Now for the pictures.  I take another sheet and begin to jot notes 
for them when my imagination serves:  I will run through the book, 
writing when I have an idea.  There, I have jotted enough to give 
the artist a notion.  Of course, I don't do more than contribute 
ideas, but I will be happy to help in any and every way.  I may as 
well add another idea; when the artist finds nothing much to 
illustrate, a good drawing of any OBJECT mentioned in the text, 
were it only a loaf of bread or a candlestick, is a most delightful 
thing to a young child.  I remember this keenly.

Of course, if the artist insists on a larger form, I must I 
suppose, bow my head.  But my idea I am convinced is the best, and 
would make the book truly, not fashionably pretty.

I forgot to mention that I shall have a dedication; I am going to 
dedicate 'em to Cummy; it will please her, and lighten a little my 
burthen of ingratitude.  A low affair is the Muse business.

I will add no more to this lest you should want to communicate with 
the artist; try another sheet.  I wonder how many I'll keep 
wandering to.

O I forgot.  As for the title, I think 'Nursery Verses' the best.  
Poetry is not the strong point of the text, and I shrink from any 
title that might seem to claim that quality; otherwise we might 
have 'Nursery Muses' or 'New Songs of Innocence' (but that were a 
blasphemy), or 'Rimes of Innocence':  the last not bad, or - an 
idea - 'The Jews' Harp,' or - now I have it - 'The Penny Whistle.'


And here we have an excellent frontispiece, of a party playing on a 
P. W. to a little ring of dancing children.

is the name for me.

Fool! this is all wrong, here is the true name:-


The second title is queried, it is perhaps better, as simply PENNY 

Nor you, O Penny Whistler, grudge
That I your instrument debase:
By worse performers still we judge,
And give that fife a second place!

Crossed penny whistles on the cover, or else a sheaf of 'em.


IV. The procession - the child running behind it.  The procession 
tailing off through the gates of a cloudy city.

IX. FOREIGN LANDS. - This will, I think, want two plates - the 
child climbing, his first glimpse over the garden wall, with what 
he sees - the tree shooting higher and higher like the beanstalk, 
and the view widening.  The river slipping in.  The road arriving 
in Fairyland.

X. WINDY NIGHTS. - The child in bed listening - the horseman 

XII. The child helplessly watching his ship - then he gets smaller, 
and the doll joyfully comes alive - the pair landing on the island 
- the ship's deck with the doll steering and the child firing the 
penny canon.  Query two plates?  The doll should never come 
properly alive.

XV. Building of the ship - storing her - Navigation - Tom's 
accident, the other child paying no attention.

XXXI. THE WIND. - I sent you my notion of already.

XXXVII. FOREIGN CHILDREN. - The foreign types dancing in a jing-a-
ring, with the English child pushing in the middle.  The foreign 
children looking at and showing each other marvels.  The English 
child at the leeside of a roast of beef.  The English child sitting 
thinking with his picture-books all round him, and the jing-a-ring 
of the foreign children in miniature dancing over the picture-

XXXIX.  Dear artist, can you do me that?

XLII. The child being started off - the bed sailing, curtains and 
all, upon the sea - the child waking and finding himself at home; 
the corner of toilette might be worked in to look like the pier.

XLVII. The lighted part of the room, to be carefully distinguished 
from my child's dark hunting grounds.  A shaded lamp.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MOTHER, - It must be at least a fortnight since we have had 
a scratch of a pen from you; and if it had not been for Cummy's 
letter, I should have feared you were worse again:  as it is, I 
hope we shall hear from you to-day or to-morrow at latest.


Our news is good:  Fanny never got so bad as we feared, and we hope 
now that this attack may pass off in threatenings.  I am greatly 
better, have gained flesh, strength, spirits; eat well, walk a good 
deal, and do some work without fatigue.  I am off the sick list.


We have found a house up the hill, close to the town, an excellent 
place though very, very little.  If I can get the landlord to agree 
to let us take it by the month just now, and let our month's rent 
count for the year in case we take it on, you may expect to hear we 
are again installed, and to receive a letter dated thus:-

La Solitude,

If the man won't agree to that, of course I must just give it up, 
as the house would be dear enough anyway at 2000 f.  However, I 
hope we may get it, as it is healthy, cheerful, and close to shops, 
and society, and civilisation.  The garden, which is above, is 
lovely, and will be cool in summer.  There are two rooms below with 
a kitchen, and four rooms above, all told. - Ever your affectionate 




DEAR SIR, - Your undated favour from Eastbourne came to hand in 
course of post, and I now hasten to acknowledge its receipt.  We 
must ask you in future, for the convenience of our business 
arrangements, to struggle with and tread below your feet this most 
unsatisfactory and uncommercial habit.  Our Mr. Cassandra is 
better; our Mr. Wogg expresses himself dissatisfied with our new 
place of business; when left alone in the front shop, he bawled 
like a parrot; it is supposed the offices are haunted.

To turn to the matter of your letter, your remarks on GREAT 
EXPECTATIONS are very good.  We have both re-read it this winter, 
and I, in a manner, twice.  The object being a play; the play, in 
its rough outline, I now see:  and it is extraordinary how much of 
Dickens had to be discarded as unhuman, impossible, and 
ineffective:  all that really remains is the loan of a file (but 
from a grown-up young man who knows what he was doing, and to a 
convict who, although he does not know it is his father - the 
father knows it is his son), and the fact of the convict-father's 
return and disclosure of himself to the son whom he has made rich.  
Everything else has been thrown aside; and the position has had to 
be explained by a prologue which is pretty strong.  I have great 
hopes of this piece, which is very amiable and, in places, very 
strong indeed:  but it was curious how Dickens had to be rolled 
away; he had made his story turn on such improbabilities, such 
fantastic trifles, not on a good human basis, such as I recognised.  
You are right about the casts, they were a capital idea; a good 
description of them at first, and then afterwards, say second, for 
the lawyer to have illustrated points out of the history of the 
originals, dusting the particular bust - that was all the 
development the thing would bear.  Dickens killed them.  The only 
really well EXECUTED scenes are the riverside ones; the escape in 
particular is excellent; and I may add, the capture of the two 
convicts at the beginning.  Miss Havisham is, probably, the worst 
thing in human fiction.  But Wemmick I like; and I like Trabb's 
boy; and Mr. Wopsle as Hamlet is splendid.

The weather here is greatly improved, and I hope in three days to 
be in the chalet.  That is, if I get some money to float me there.

I hope you are all right again, and will keep better.  The month of 
March is past its mid career; it must soon begin to turn toward the 
lamb; here it has already begun to do so; and I hope milder weather 
will pick you up.  Wogg has eaten a forpet of rice and milk, his 
beard is streaming, his eyes wild.  I am besieged by demands of 
work from America.

The 50 pounds has just arrived; many thanks; I am now at ease. - 
Ever your affectionate son, PRO Cassandra, Wogg and Co.,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR FRIEND, - I am one of the lowest of the - but that's 
understood.  I received the copy, excellently written, with I think 
only one slip from first to last.  I have struck out two, and added 
five or six; so they now number forty-five; when they are fifty, 
they shall out on the world.  I have not written a letter for a 
cruel time; I have been, and am, so busy, drafting a long story 
(for me, I mean), about a hundred CORNHILL pages, or say about as 
long as the Donkey book:  PRINCE OTTO it is called, and is, at the 
present hour, a sore burthen but a hopeful.  If I had him all 
drafted, I should whistle and sing.  But no:  then I'll have to 
rewrite him; and then there will be the publishers, alas!  But some 
time or other, I shall whistle and sing, I make no doubt.

I am going to make a fortune, it has not yet begun, for I am not 
yet clear of debt; but as soon as I can, I begin upon the fortune.  
I shall begin it with a halfpenny, and it shall end with horses and 
yachts and all the fun of the fair.  This is the first real grey 
hair in my character:  rapacity has begun to show, the greed of the 
protuberant guttler.  Well, doubtless, when the hour strikes, we 
must all guttle and protube.  But it comes hard on one who was 
always so willow-slender and as careless as the daisies.

Truly I am in excellent spirits.  I have crushed through a 
financial crisis; Fanny is much better; I am in excellent health, 
and work from four to five hours a day - from one to two above my 
average, that is; and we all dwell together and make fortunes in 
the loveliest house you ever saw, with a garden like a fairy story, 
and a view like a classical landscape.

Little?  Well, it is not large.  And when you come to see us, you 
will probably have to bed at the hotel, which is hard by.  But it 
is Eden, madam, Eden and Beulah and the Delectable Mountains and 
Eldorado and the Hesperidean Isles and Bimini.

We both look forward, my dear friend, with the greatest eagerness 
to have you here.  It seems it is not to be this season; but I 
appoint you with an appointment for next season.  You cannot see us 
else:  remember that.  Till my health has grown solid like an oak-
tree, till my fortune begins really to spread its boughs like the 
same monarch of the woods (and the acorn, ay de mi! is not yet 
planted), I expect to be a prisoner among the palms.

Yes, it is like old times to be writing you from the Riviera, and 
after all that has come and gone who can predict anything?  How 
fortune tumbles men about!  Yet I have not found that they change 
their friends, thank God.

Both of our loves to your sister and yourself.  As for me, if I am 
here and happy, I know to whom I owe it; I know who made my way for 
me in life, if that were all, and I remain, with love, your 
faithful friend,




MY DEAR GOSSE, - I am very guilty; I should have written to you 
long ago; and now, though it must be done, I am so stupid that I 
can only boldly recapitulate.  A phrase of three members is the 
outside of my syntax.

First, I liked the ROVER better than any of your other verse.  I 
believe you are right, and can make stories in verse.  The last two 
stanzas and one or two in the beginning - but the two last above 
all - I thought excellent.  I suggest a pursuit of the vein.  If 
you want a good story to treat, get the MEMOIRS OF THE CHEVALIER 
JOHNSTONE, and do his passage of the Tay; it would be excellent:  
the dinner in the field, the woman he has to follow, the dragoons, 
the timid boatmen, the brave lasses.  It would go like a charm; 
look at it, and you will say you owe me one.

Second, Gilder asking me for fiction, I suddenly took a great 
resolve, and have packed off to him my new work, THE SILVERADO 
SQUATTERS.  I do not for a moment suppose he will take it; but pray 
say all the good words you can for it.  I should be awfully glad to 
get it taken.  But if it does not mean dibbs at once, I shall be 
ruined for life.  Pray write soon and beg Gilder your prettiest for 
a poor gentleman in pecuniary sloughs.

Fourth, next time I am supposed to be at death's door, write to me 
like a Christian, and let not your correspondence attend on 
business. - Yours ever,

R. L. S.

P.S. - I see I have led you to conceive the SQUATTERS are fiction.  
They are not, alas!



MY DEAREST PEOPLE, - I have had a great piece of news.  There has 
been offered for TREASURE ISLAND - how much do you suppose?  I 
believe it would be an excellent jest to keep the answer till my 
next letter.  For two cents I would do so.  Shall I?  Anyway, I'll 
turn the page first.  No - well - A hundred pounds, all alive, O!  
A hundred jingling, tingling, golden, minted quid.  Is not this 
wonderful?  Add that I have now finished, in draft, the fifteenth 
chapter of my novel, and have only five before me, and you will see 
what cause of gratitude I have.

The weather, to look at the per contra sheet, continues vomitable; 
and Fanny is quite out of sorts.  But, really, with such cause of 
gladness, I have not the heart to be dispirited by anything.  My 
child's verse book is finished, dedication and all, and out of my 
hands - you may tell Cummy; SILVERADO is done, too, and cast upon 
the waters; and this novel so near completion, it does look as if I 
should support myself without trouble in the future.  If I have 
only health, I can, I thank God.  It is dreadful to be a great, big 
man, and not be able to buy bread.

O that this may last!

I have to-day paid my rent for the half year, till the middle of 
September, and got my lease:  why they have been so long, I know 

I wish you all sorts of good things.

When is our marriage day? - Your loving and ecstatic son,


It has been for me a Treasure Island verily.



MY DEAR PEOPLE, - I was disgusted to hear my father was not so 
well.  I have a most troubled existence of work and business.  But 
the work goes well, which is the great affair.  I meant to have 
written a most delightful letter; too tired, however, and must 
stop.  Perhaps I'll find time to add to it ere post.

I have returned refreshed from eating, but have little time, as 
Lloyd will go soon with the letters on his way to his tutor, Louis 
Robert (!!!!), with whom he learns Latin in French, and French, I 
suppose, in Latin, which seems to me a capital education.  He, 
Lloyd, is a great bicycler already, and has been long distances; he 
is most new-fangled over his instrument, and does not willingly 
converse on other subjects.

Our lovely garden is a prey to snails; I have gathered about a 
bushel, which, not having the heart to slay, I steal forth withal 
and deposit near my neighbour's garden wall.  As a case of 
casuistry, this presents many points of interest.  I loathe the 
snails, but from loathing to actual butchery, trucidation of 
multitudes, there is still a step that I hesitate to take.  What, 
then, to do with them?  My neighbour's vineyard, pardy!  It is a 
rich, villa, pleasure-garden of course; if it were a peasant's 
patch, the snails, I suppose, would have to perish.

The weather these last three days has been much better, though it 
is still windy and unkind.  I keep splendidly well, and am cruelly 
busy, with mighty little time even for a walk.  And to write at 
all, under such pressure, must be held to lean to virtue's side.

My financial prospects are shining.  O if the health will hold, I 
should easily support myself. - Your ever affectionate son,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR GOSSE, - I enclose the receipt and the corrections.  As for 
your letter and Gilder's, I must take an hour or so to think; the 
matter much importing - to me.  The 40 pounds was a heavenly thing.

I send the MS. by Henley, because he acts for me in all matters, 
and had the thing, like all my other books, in his detention.  He 
is my unpaid agent - an admirable arrangement for me, and one that 
has rather more than doubled my income on the spot.

If I have been long silent, think how long you were so and blush, 
sir, blush.

I was rendered unwell by the arrival of your cheque, and, like 
Pepys, 'my hand still shakes to write of it.'  To this grateful 
emotion, and not to D.T., please attribute the raggedness of my 

This year I should be able to live and keep my family on my own 
earnings, and that in spite of eight months and more of perfect 
idleness at the end of last and beginning of this.  It is a sweet 

This spot, our garden and our view, are sub-celestial.  I sing 
daily with my Bunyan, that great bard,

'I dwell already the next door to Heaven!'

If you could see my roses, and my aloes, and my fig-marigolds, and 
my olives, and my view over a plain, and my view of certain 
mountains as graceful as Apollo, as severe as Zeus, you would not 
think the phrase exaggerated.

It is blowing to-day a HOT mistral, which is the devil or a near 
connection of his.

This to catch the post. - Yours affectionately,




MY DEAR GOSSE, - The night giveth advice, generally bad advice; but 
I have taken it.  And I have written direct to Gilder to tell him 
to keep the book back and go on with it in November at his leisure.  
I do not know if this will come in time; if it doesn't, of course 
things will go on in the way proposed.  The 40 pounds, or, as I 
prefer to put it, the 1000 francs, has been such a piercing sun-ray 
as my whole grey life is gilt withal.  On the back of it I can 
endure.  If these good days of LONGMAN and the CENTURY only last, 
it will be a very green world, this that we dwell in and that 
philosophers miscall.  I have no taste for that philosophy; give me 
large sums paid on the receipt of the MS. and copyright reserved, 
and what do I care about the non-beent?  Only I know it can't last.  
The devil always has an imp or two in every house, and my imps are 
getting lively.  The good lady, the dear, kind lady, the sweet, 
excellent lady, Nemesis, whom alone I adore, has fixed her wooden 
eye upon me.  I fall prone; spare me, Mother Nemesis!  But catch 

I must now go to bed; for I have had a whoreson influenza cold, and 
have to lie down all day, and get up only to meals and the 
delights, June delights, of business correspondence.

You said nothing about my subject for a poem.  Don't you like it?  
My own fishy eye has been fixed on it for prose, but I believe it 
could be thrown out finely in verse, and hence I resign and pass 
the hand.  Twig the compliment? - Yours affectionately

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY

[HYERES, MAY 1883.]

. . . THE influenza has busted me a good deal; I have no spring, 
and am headachy.  So, as my good Red Lion Counter begged me for 
another Butcher's Boy - I turned me to - what thinkest 'ou? - to 
Tushery, by the mass!  Ay, friend, a whole tale of tushery.  And 
every tusher tushes me so free, that may I be tushed if the whole 
thing is worth a tush.  THE BLACK ARROW:  A TALE OF TUNSTALL FOREST 
is his name:  tush! a poor thing!

Will TREASURE ISLAND proofs be coming soon, think you?

I will now make a confession.  It was the sight of your maimed 
strength and masterfulness that begot John Silver in TREASURE 
ISLAND.  Of course, he is not in any other quality or feature the 
least like you; but the idea of the maimed man, ruling and dreaded 
by the sound, was entirely taken from you.

Otto is, as you say, not a thing to extend my public on.  It is 
queer and a little, little bit free; and some of the parties are 
immoral; and the whole thing is not a romance, nor yet a comedy; 
nor yet a romantic comedy; but a kind of preparation of some of the 
elements of all three in a glass jar.  I think it is not without 
merit, but I am not always on the level of my argument, and some 
parts are false, and much of the rest is thin; it is more a triumph 
for myself than anything else; for I see, beyond it, better stuff.  
I have nine chapters ready, or almost ready, for press.  My feeling 
would be to get it placed anywhere for as much as could be got for 
it, and rather in the shadow, till one saw the look of it in print. 
- Ever yours,


Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


MY DEAR LAD, - The books came some time since, but I have not had 
the pluck to answer:  a shower of small troubles having fallen in, 
or troubles that may be very large.

I have had to incur a huge vague debt for cleaning sewers; our 
house was (of course) riddled with hidden cesspools, but that was 
infallible.  I have the fever, and feel the duty to work very heavy 
on me at times; yet go it must.  I have had to leave FONTAINEBLEAU, 
when three hours would finish it, and go full-tilt at tushery for a 
while.  But it will come soon.

I think I can give you a good article on Hokusai; but that is for 
afterwards; FONTAINEBLEAU is first in hand

By the way, my view is to give the PENNY WHISTLES to Crane or 
Greenaway.  But Crane, I think, is likeliest; he is a fellow who, 
at least, always does his best.

Shall I ever have money enough to write a play?  O dire necessity!

A word in your ear:  I don't like trying to support myself.  I hate 
the strain and the anxiety; and when unexpected expenses are 
foisted on me, I feel the world is playing with false dice. - Now I 
must Tush, adieu,


A lytle Jape of TUSHERIE.

By A. Tusher.

The pleasant river gushes
Among the meadows green;
At home the author tushes;
For him it flows unseen.

The Birds among the Bushes
May wanton on the spray;
But vain for him who tushes
The brightness of the day!

The frog among the rushes
Sits singing in the blue.
By'r la'kin! but these tushes
Are wearisome to do!

The task entirely crushes
The spirit of the bard:
God pity him who tushes -
His task is very hard.

The filthy gutter slushes,
The clouds are full of rain,
But doomed is he who tushes
To tush and tush again.

At morn with his hair-brUshes,
Still, 'tush' he says, and weeps;
At night again he tushes,
And tushes till he sleeps.

And when at length he pushes
Beyond the river dark -
'Las, to the man who tushes,
'Tush' shall be God's remark!

Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


DEAR HENLEY, - You may be surprised to hear that I am now a great 
writer of verses; that is, however, so.  I have the mania now like 
my betters, and faith, if I live till I am forty, I shall have a 
book of rhymes like Pollock, Gosse, or whom you please.  Really, I 
have begun to learn some of the rudiments of that trade, and have 
written three or four pretty enough pieces of octosyllabic 
nonsense, semi-serious, semi-smiling.  A kind of prose Herrick, 
divested of the gift of verse, and you behold the Bard.  But I like 

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


DEAR LAD, - I was delighted to hear the good news about -.  Bravo, 
he goes uphill fast.  Let him beware of vanity, and he will go 
higher; let him be still discontented, and let him (if it might be) 
see the merits and not the faults of his rivals, and he may swarm 
at last to the top-gallant.  There is no other way.  Admiration is 
the only road to excellence; and the critical spirit kills, but 
envy and injustice are putrefaction on its feet.

Thus far the moralist.  The eager author now begs to know whether 
you may have got the other Whistles, and whether a fresh proof is 
to be taken; also whether in that case the dedication should not be 
printed therewith; Bulk Delights Publishers (original aphorism; to 
be said sixteen times in succession as a test of sobriety).

Your wild and ravening commands were received; but cannot be 
obeyed.  And anyway, I do assure you I am getting better every day; 
and if the weather would but turn, I should soon be observed to 
walk in hornpipes.  Truly I am on the mend.  I am still very 
careful.  I have the new dictionary; a joy, a thing of beauty, and 
- bulk.  I shall be raked i' the mools before it's finished; that 
is the only pity; but meanwhile I sing.

I beg to inform you that I, Robert Louis Stevenson, author of 
BRASHIANA and other works, am merely beginning to commence to 
prepare to make a first start at trying to understand my 
profession.  O the height and depth of novelty and worth in any 
art! and O that I am privileged to swim and shoulder through such 
oceans!  Could one get out of sight of land - all in the blue?  
Alas not, being anchored here in flesh, and the bonds of logic 
being still about us.

But what a great space and a great air there is in these small 
shallows where alone we venture! and how new each sight, squall, 
calm, or sunrise!  An art is a fine fortune, a palace in a park, a 
band of music, health, and physical beauty; all but love - to any 
worthy practiser.  I sleep upon my art for a pillow; I waken in my 
art; I am unready for death, because I hate to leave it.  I love my 
wife, I do not know how much, nor can, nor shall, unless I lost 
her; but while I can conceive my being widowed, I refuse the 
offering of life without my art.  I AM not but in my art; it is me; 
I am the body of it merely.

And yet I produce nothing, am the author of BRASHIANA and other 
works:  tiddy-iddity - as if the works one wrote were anything but 
'prentice's experiments.  Dear reader, I deceive you with husks, 
the real works and all the pleasure are still mine and 
incommunicable.  After this break in my work, beginning to return 
to it, as from light sleep, I wax exclamatory, as you see.

Sursum Corda:
Heave ahead:
Here's luck.
Art and Blue Heaven,
April and God's Larks.
Green reeds and the sky-scattering river.
A stately music.
Enter God!

R. L. S.

Ay, but you know, until a man can write that 'Enter God,' he has 
made no art!  None!  Come, let us take counsel together and make 

Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


DEAR LAD, - Glad you like FONTAINEBLEAU.  I am going to be the 
means, under heaven, of aerating or liberating your pages.  The 
idea that because a thing is a picture-book all the writing should 
be on the wrong tack is TRISTE but widespread.  Thus Hokusai will 
be really a gossip on convention, or in great part.  And the Skelt 
will be as like a Charles Lamb as I can get it.  The writer should 
write, and not illustrate pictures:  else it's bosh. . . .

Your remarks about the ugly are my eye.  Ugliness is only the prose 
of horror.  It is when you are not able to write MACBETH that you 
write THERESE RAQUIN.  Fashions are external:  the essence of art 
only varies in so far as fashion widens the field of its 
application; art is a mill whose thirlage, in different ages, 
widens and contracts; but, in any case and under any fashion, the 
great man produces beauty, terror, and mirth, and the little man 
produces cleverness (personalities, psychology) instead of beauty, 
ugliness instead of terror, and jokes instead of mirth.  As it was 
in the beginning, is now, and shall be ever, world without end.  

And even as you read, you say, 'Of course, QUELLE RENGAINE!'

R. L. S.



MY DEAR CUMMY, - Yes, I own I am a real bad correspondent, and am 
as bad as can be in most directions.

I have been adding some more poems to your book.  I wish they would 
look sharp about it; but, you see, they are trying to find a good 
artist to make the illustrations, without which no child would give 
a kick for it.  It will be quite a fine work, I hope.  The 
dedication is a poem too, and has been quite a long while written, 
but I do not mean you to see it till you get the book; keep the 
jelly for the last, you know, as you would often recommend in 
former days, so now you can take your own medicine.

I am very sorry to hear you have been so poorly; I have been very 
well; it used to be quite the other way, used it not?  Do you 
remember making the whistle at Mount Chessie?  I do not think it 
WAS my knife; I believe it was yours; but rhyme is a very great 
monarch, and goes before honesty, in these affairs at least.  Do 
you remember, at Warriston, one autumn Sunday, when the beech nuts 
were on the ground, seeing heaven open?  I would like to make a 
rhyme of that, but cannot.

Is it not strange to think of all the changes:  Bob, Cramond, 
Delhi, Minnie, and Henrietta, all married, and fathers and mothers, 
and your humble servant just the one point better off?  And such a 
little while ago all children together!  The time goes swift and 
wonderfully even; and if we are no worse than we are, we should be 
grateful to the power that guides us.  For more than a generation I 
have now been to the fore in this rough world, and been most 
tenderly helped, and done cruelly wrong, and yet escaped; and here 
I am still, the worse for wear, but with some fight in me still, 
and not unthankful - no, surely not unthankful, or I were then the 
worst of human beings!

My little dog is a very much better child in every way, both more 
loving and more amiable; but he is not fond of strangers, and is, 
like most of his kind, a great, specious humbug.

Fanny has been ill, but is much better again; she now goes donkey 
rides with an old woman, who compliments her on her French.  That 
old woman - seventy odd - is in a parlous spiritual state.

Pretty soon, in the new sixpenny illustrated magazine, Wogg's 
picture is to appear:  this is a great honour!  And the poor soul 
whose vanity would just explode if he could understand it, will 
never be a bit the wiser! - With much love, in which Fanny joins, 
believe me, your affectionate boy,


Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


DEAR LAD, - Snatches in return for yours; for this little once, I'm 
well to windward of you.

Seventeen chapters of OTTO are now drafted, and finding I was 
working through my voice and getting screechy, I have turned back 
again to rewrite the earlier part.  It has, I do believe, some 
merit:  of what order, of course, I am the last to know; and, 
triumph of triumphs, my wife - my wife who hates and loathes and 
slates my women - admits a great part of my Countess to be on the 

Yes, I could borrow, but it is the joy of being before the public, 
for once.  Really, 100 pounds is a sight more than TREASURE ISLAND 
is worth.

The reason of my DECHE?  Well, if you begin one house, have to 
desert it, begin another, and are eight months without doing any 
work, you will be in a DECHE too.  I am not in a DECHE, however; 
DISTINGUO - I would fain distinguish; I am rather a swell, but NOT 
SOLVENT.  At a touch the edifice, AEDIFICIUM, might collapse.  If 
my creditors began to babble around me, I would sink with a slow 
strain of music into the crimson west.  The difficulty in my 
elegant villa is to find oil, OLEUM, for the dam axles.  But I've 
paid my rent until September; and beyond the chemist, the grocer, 
the baker, the doctor, the gardener, Lloyd's teacher, and the great 
thief creditor Death, I can snap my fingers at all men.  Why will 
people spring bills on you?  I try to make 'em charge me at the 
moment; they won't, the money goes, the debt remains. - The 
Required Play is in the MERRY MEN.

Q. E. F.

I thus render honour to your FLAIR; it came on me of a clap; I do 
not see it yet beyond a kind of sunset glory.  But it's there:  
passion, romance, the picturesque, involved:  startling, simple, 
horrid:  a sea-pink in sea-froth!  S'AGIT DE LA DESENTERRER.  
'Help!' cries a buried masterpiece.

Once I see my way to the year's end, clear, I turn to plays; till 
then I grind at letters; finish OTTO; write, say, a couple of my 
TRAVELLER'S TALES; and then, if all my ships come home, I will 
attack the drama in earnest.  I cannot mix the skeins.  Thus, 
though I'm morally sure there is a play in OTTO, I dare not look 
for it:  I shoot straight at the story.

As a story, a comedy, I think OTTO very well constructed; the 
echoes are very good, all the sentiments change round, and the 
points of view are continually, and, I think (if you please), 
happily contrasted.  None of it is exactly funny, but some of it is 

R. L. S.



MY DEAR GOSSE, - I have now leisurely read your volume; pretty 
soon, by the way, you will receive one of mine.

It is a pleasant, instructive, and scholarly volume.  The three 
best being, quite out of sight - Crashaw, Otway, and Etherege.  
They are excellent; I hesitate between them; but perhaps Crashaw is 
the most brilliant

Your Webster is not my Webster; nor your Herrick my Herrick.  On 
these matters we must fire a gun to leeward, show our colours, and 
go by.  Argument is impossible.  They are two of my favourite 
authors:  Herrick above all:  I suppose they are two of yours.  
Well, Janus-like, they do behold us two with diverse countenances, 
few features are common to these different avatars; and we can but 
agree to differ, but still with gratitude to our entertainers, like 
two guests at the same dinner, one of whom takes clear and one 
white soup.  By my way of thinking, neither of us need be wrong.

The other papers are all interesting, adequate, clear, and with a 
pleasant spice of the romantic.  It is a book you may be well 
pleased to have so finished, and will do you much good.  The 
Crashaw is capital:  capital; I like the taste of it.  Preface 
clean and dignified.  The handling throughout workmanlike, with 
some four or five touches of preciosity, which I regret.

With my thanks for information, entertainment, and a pleasurable 
envy here and there. - Yours affectionately,

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


DEAR BOY, - Our letters vigorously cross:  you will ere this have 
received a note to Coggie:  God knows what was in it.

It is strange, a little before the first word you sent me - so late 
- kindly late, I know and feel - I was thinking in my bed, when I 
knew you I had six friends - Bob I had by nature; then came the 
good James Walter - with all his failings - the GENTLEMAN of the 
lot, alas to sink so low, alas to do so little, but now, thank God, 
in his quiet rest; next I found Baxter - well do I remember telling 
Walter I had unearthed 'a W.S. that I thought would do' - it was in 
the Academy Lane, and he questioned me as to the Signet's 
qualifications; fourth came Simpson; somewhere about the same time, 
I began to get intimate with Jenkin; last came Colvin.  Then, one 
black winter afternoon, long Leslie Stephen, in his velvet jacket, 
met me in the SPEC. by appointment, took me over to the infirmary, 
and in the crackling, blighting gaslight showed me that old head 
whose excellent representation I see before me in the photograph.  
Now when a man has six friends, to introduce a seventh is usually 
hopeless.  Yet when you were presented, you took to them and they 
to you upon the nail.  You must have been a fine fellow; but what a 
singular fortune I must have had in my six friends that you should 
take to all.  I don't know if it is good Latin, most probably not:  
but this is enscrolled before my eye for Walter:  TANDEM E NUBIBUS 
IN APRICUM PROPERAT.  Rest, I suppose, I know, was all that 
remained; but O to look back, to remember all the mirth, all the 
kindness, all the humorous limitations and loved defects of that 
character; to think that he was young with me, sharing that 
weather-beaten, Fergussonian youth, looking forward through the 
clouds to the sunburst; and now clean gone from my path, silent - 
well, well.  This has been a strange awakening.  Last night, when I 
was alone in the house, with the window open on the lovely still 
night, I could have sworn he was in the room with me; I could show 
you the spot; and, what was very curious, I heard his rich 
laughter, a thing I had not called to mind for I know not how long.

I see his coral waistcoat studs that he wore the first time he 
dined in my house; I see his attitude, leaning back a little, 
already with something of a portly air, and laughing internally.  
How I admired him!  And now in the West Kirk.

I am trying to write out this haunting bodily sense of absence; 
besides, what else should I write of?

Yes, looking back, I think of him as one who was good, though 
sometimes clouded.  He was the only gentle one of all my friends, 
save perhaps the other Walter.  And he was certainly the only 
modest man among the lot.  He never gave himself away; he kept back 
his secret; there was always a gentle problem behind all.  Dear, 
dear, what a wreck; and yet how pleasant is the retrospect!  God 
doeth all things well, though by what strange, solemn, and 
murderous contrivances!

It is strange:  he was the only man I ever loved who did not 
habitually interrupt.  The fact draws my own portrait.  And it is 
one of the many reasons why I count myself honoured by his 
friendship.  A man like you HAD to like me; you could not help 
yourself; but Ferrier was above me, we were not equals; his true 
self humoured and smiled paternally upon my failings, even as I 
humoured and sorrowed over his.

Well, first his mother, then himself, they are gone:  'in their 
resting graves.'

When I come to think of it, I do not know what I said to his 
sister, and I fear to try again.  Could you send her this?  There 
is too much both about yourself and me in it; but that, if you do 
not mind, is but a mark of sincerity.  It would let her know how 
entirely, in the mind of (I suppose) his oldest friend, the good, 
true Ferrier obliterates the memory of the other, who was only his 
'lunatic brother.'

Judge of this for me, and do as you please; anyway, I will try to 
write to her again; my last was some kind of scrawl that I could 
not see for crying.  This came upon me, remember, with terrible 
suddenness; I was surprised by this death; and it is fifteen or 
sixteen years since first I saw the handsome face in the SPEC.  I 
made sure, besides, to have died first.  Love to you, your wife, 
and her sisters.

- Ever yours, dear boy,

R. L. S.

I never knew any man so superior to himself as poor James Walter.  
The best of him only came as a vision, like Corsica from the 
Corniche.  He never gave his measure either morally or 
intellectually.  The curse was on him.  Even his friends did not 
know him but by fits.  I have passed hours with him when he was so 
wise, good, and sweet, that I never knew the like of it in any 
other.  And for a beautiful good humour he had no match.  I 
remember breaking in upon him once with a whole red-hot story (in 
my worst manner), pouring words upon him by the hour about some 
truck not worth an egg that had befallen me; and suddenly, some 
half hour after, finding that the sweet fellow had some concern of 
his own of infinitely greater import, that he was patiently and 
smilingly waiting to consult me on.  It sounds nothing; but the 
courtesy and the unselfishness were perfect.  It makes me rage to 
think how few knew him, and how many had the chance to sneer at 
their better.

Well, he was not wasted, that we know; though if anything looked 
liker irony than this fitting of a man out with these rich 
qualities and faculties to be wrecked and aborted from the very 
stocks, I do not know the name of it.  Yet we see that he has left 
an influence; the memory of his patient courtesy has often checked 
me in rudeness; has it not you?

You can form no idea of how handsome Walter was.  At twenty he was 
splendid to see; then, too, he had the sense of power in him, and 
great hopes; he looked forward, ever jesting of course, but he 
looked to see himself where he had the right to expect.  He 
believed in himself profoundly; but HE NEVER DISBELIEVED IN OTHERS.  
To the roughest Highland student he always had his fine, kind, open 
dignity of manner; and a good word behind his back.

The last time that I saw him before leaving for America - it was a 
sad blow to both of us.  When he heard I was leaving, and that 
might be the last time we might meet - it almost was so - he was 
terribly upset, and came round at once.  We sat late, in Baxter's 
empty house, where I was sleeping.  My dear friend Walter Ferrier:  
O if I had only written to him more! if only one of us in these 
last days had been well!  But I ever cherished the honour of his 
friendship, and now when he is gone, I know what I have lost still 
better.  We live on, meaning to meet; but when the hope is gone, 
the, pang comes.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR GOSSE, - It appears a bolt from Transatlantica is necessary 
to produce four lines from you.  It is not flattering; but as I was 
always a bad correspondent, 'tis a vice to which I am lenient.  I 
give you to know, however, that I have already twice (this makes 
three times) sent you what I please to call a letter, and received 
from you in return a subterfuge - or nothing. . . .

My present purpose, however, which must not be postponed, is to ask 
you to telegraph to the Americans.

After a summer of good health of a very radiant order, toothache 
and the death of a very old friend, which came upon me like a 
thunderclap, have rather shelved my powers.  I stare upon the 
paper, not write.  I wish I could write like your Sculptors; yet I 
am well aware that I should not try in that direction.  A certain 
warmth (tepid enough) and a certain dash of the picturesque are my 
poor essential qualities; and if I went fooling after the too 
classical, I might lose even these.  But I envied you that page.

I am, of course, deep in schemes; I was so ever.  Execution alone 
somewhat halts.  How much do you make per annum, I wonder?  This 
year, for the first time, I shall pass 300 pounds; I may even get 
halfway to the next milestone.  This seems but a faint 
remuneration; and the devil of it is, that I manage, with sickness, 
and moves, and education, and the like, to keep steadily in front 
of my income.  However, I console myself with this, that if I were 
anything else under God's Heaven, and had the same crank health, I 
should make an even zero.  If I had, with my present knowledge, 
twelve months of my old health, I would, could, and should do 
something neat.  As it is, I have to tinker at my things in little 
sittings; and the rent, or the butcher, or something, is always 
calling me off to rattle up a pot-boiler.  And then comes a back-
set of my health, and I have to twiddle my fingers and play 

Well, I do not complain, but I do envy strong health where it is 
squandered.  Treasure your strength, and may you never learn by 
experience the profound ENNUI and irritation of the shelved artist.  
For then, what is life?  All that one has done to make one's life 
effective then doubles the itch of inefficiency.

I trust also you may be long without finding out the devil that 
there is in a bereavement.  After love it is the one great surprise 
that life preserves for us.  Now I don't think I can be astonished 
any more. - Yours affectionately,

R. L. S.



COLVIN, COLVIN, COLVIN, - Yours received; also interesting copy of 
P. WHISTLES.  'In the multitude of councillors the Bible declares 
there is wisdom,' said my great-uncle, 'but I have always found in 
them distraction.'  It is extraordinary how tastes vary:  these 
proofs have been handed about, it appears, and I have had several 
letters; and - distraction. 'AEsop:  the Miller and the Ass.'  
Notes on details:-

1. I love the occasional trochaic line; and so did many excellent 
writers before me.

2. If you don't like 'A Good Boy,' I do.

3. In 'Escape at Bedtime,' I found two suggestions.  'Shove' for 
'above' is a correction of the press; it was so written.  
'Twinkled' is just the error; to the child the stars appear to be 
there; any word that suggests illusion is a horror.

4. I don't care; I take a different view of the vocative.

5. Bewildering and childering are good enough for me.  These are 
rhymes, jingles; I don't go for eternity and the three unities.

I will delete some of those condemned, but not all.  I don't care 
for the name Penny Whistles; I sent a sheaf to Henley when I sent 
'em.  But I've forgot the others.  I would just as soon call 'em 
'Rimes for Children' as anything else.  I am not proud nor 

Your remarks on the BLACK ARROW are to the point.  I am pleased you 
liked Crookback; he is a fellow whose hellish energy has always 
fired my attention.  I wish Shakespeare had written the play after 
he had learned some of the rudiments of literature and art rather 
than before.  Some day, I will re-tickle the Sable Missile, and 
shoot it, MOYENNANT FINANCES, once more into the air; I can lighten 
it of much, and devote some more attention to Dick o' Gloucester.  
It's great sport to write tushery.

By this I reckon you will have heard of my proposed excursiolorum 
to the Isles of Greece, the Isles of Greece, and kindred sites.  If 
the excursiolorum goes on, that is, if MOYENNANT FINANCES comes 
off, I shall write to beg you to collect introductiolorums for me.

Distinguo:  1. SILVERADO was not written in America, but in 
Switzerland's icy mountains.  2. What you read is the bleeding and 
disembowelled remains of what I wrote.  3. The good stuff is all to 
come - so I think.  'The Sea Fogs,' 'The Hunter's Family,' 'Toils 
and Pleasures' - BELLES PAGES. - Yours ever,


O! - Seeley is too clever to live, and the book a gem.  But why has 
he read too much Arnold?  Why will he avoid - obviously avoid - 
fine writing up to which he has led?  This is a winking, curled-
and-oiled, ultra-cultured, Oxford-don sort of an affectation that 
infuriates my honest soul.  'You see' - they say - 'how unbombastic 
WE are; we come right up to eloquence, and, when it's hanging on 
the pen, dammy, we scorn it!'  It is literary Deronda-ism.  If you 
don't want the woman, the image, or the phrase, mortify your vanity 
and avoid the appearance of wanting them.

Letter:  TO W. H. LOW


MY DEAR LOW, - . . . Some day or other, in Cassell's MAGAZINE OF 
ART, you will see a paper which will interest you, and where your 
name appears.  It is called 'Fontainebleau:  Village Communities of 
Artists,' and the signature of R. L. Stevenson will be found 

Please tell the editor of MANHATTAN the following secrets for me:  
1ST, That I am a beast; 2ND, that I owe him a letter; 3RD, that I 
have lost his, and cannot recall either his name or address; 4TH, 
that I am very deep in engagements, which my absurd health makes it 
hard for me to overtake; but 5TH, that I will bear him in mind; 6TH 
and last, that I am a brute.

My address is still the same, and I live in a most sweet corner of 
the universe, sea and fine hills before me, and a rich variegated 
plain; and at my back a craggy hill, loaded with vast feudal ruins.  
I am very quiet; a person passing by my door half startles me; but 
I enjoy the most aromatic airs, and at night the most wonderful 
view into a moonlit garden.  By day this garden fades into nothing, 
overpowered by its surroundings and the luminous distance; but at 
night and when the moon is out, that garden, the arbour, the flight 
of stairs that mount the artificial hillock, the plumed blue gum-
trees that hang trembling, become the very skirts of Paradise.  
Angels I know frequent it; and it thrills all night with the flutes 
of silence.  Damn that garden;- and by day it is gone.

Continue to testify boldly against realism.  Down with Dagon, the 
fish god!  All art swings down towards imitation, in these days, 
fatally.  But the man who loves art with wisdom sees the joke; it 
is the lustful that tremble and respect her ladyship; but the 
honest and romantic lovers of the Muse can see a joke and sit down 
to laugh with Apollo.

The prospect of your return to Europe is very agreeable; and I was 
pleased by what you said about your parents.  One of my oldest 
friends died recently, and this has given me new thoughts of death.  
Up to now I had rather thought of him as a mere personal enemy of 
my own; but now that I see him hunting after my friends, he looks 
altogether darker.  My own father is not well; and Henley, of whom 
you must have heard me speak, is in a questionable state of health.  
These things are very solemn, and take some of the colour out of 
life.  It is a great thing, after all, to be a man of reasonable 
honour and kindness.  Do you remember once consulting me in Paris 
whether you had not better sacrifice honesty to art; and how, after 
much confabulation, we agreed that your art would suffer if you 
did?  We decided better than we knew.  In this strange welter where 
we live, all hangs together by a million filaments; and to do 
reasonably well by others, is the first prerequisite of art.  Art 
is a virtue; and if I were the man I should be, my art would rise 
in the proportion of my life.

If you were privileged to give some happiness to your parents, I 
know your art will gain by it.  BY GOD, IT WILL!  SIC SUBSCRIBITUR,

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO R. A. M. STEVENSON


MY DEAR BOB, - Yes, I got both your letters at Lyons, but have been 
since then decading in several steps Toothache; fever; Ferrier's 
death; lung.  Now it is decided I am to leave to-morrow, penniless, 
for Nice to see Dr. Williams.

I was much struck by your last.  I have written a breathless note 
on Realism for Henley; a fifth part of the subject, hurriedly 
touched, which will show you how my thoughts are driving.  You are 
now at last beginning to think upon the problems of executive, 
plastic art, for you are now for the first time attacking them.  
Hitherto you have spoken and thought of two things - technique and 
the ARS ARTIUM, or common background of all arts.  Studio work is 
the real touch.  That is the genial error of the present French 
teaching.  Realism I regard as a mere question of method.  The 
'brown foreground,' 'old mastery,' and the like, ranking with 
villanelles, as technical sports and pastimes.  Real art, whether 
ideal or realistic, addresses precisely the same feeling, and seeks 
the same qualities - significance or charm.  And the same - very 
same - inspiration is only methodically differentiated according as 
the artist is an arrant realist or an arrant idealist.  Each, by 
his own method, seeks to save and perpetuate the same significance 
or charm; the one by suppressing, the other by forcing, detail.  
All other idealism is the brown foreground over again, and hence 
only art in the sense of a game, like cup and ball.  All other 
realism is not art at all - but not at all.  It is, then, an 
insincere and showy handicraft.

Were you to re-read some Balzac, as I have been doing, it would 
greatly help to clear your eyes.  He was a man who never found his 
method.  An inarticulate Shakespeare, smothered under forcible-
feeble detail.  It is astounding to the riper mind how bad he is, 
how feeble, how untrue, how tedious; and, of course, when he 
surrendered to his temperament, how good and powerful.  And yet 
never plain nor clear.  He could not consent to be dull, and thus 
became so.  He would leave nothing undeveloped, and thus drowned 
out of sight of land amid the multitude of crying and incongruous 
details.  There is but one art - to omit!  O if I knew how to omit, 
I would ask no other knowledge.  A man who knew how to omit would 
make an ILIAD of a daily paper.

Your definition of seeing is quite right.  It is the first part of 
omission to be partly blind.  Artistic sight is judicious 
blindness.  Sam Bough must have been a jolly blind old boy.  He 
would turn a corner, look for one-half or quarter minute, and then 
say, 'This'll do, lad.'  Down he sat, there and then, with whole 
artistic plan, scheme of colour, and the like, and begin by laying 
a foundation of powerful and seemingly incongruous colour on the 
block.  He saw, not the scene, but the water-colour sketch.  Every 
artist by sixty should so behold nature.  Where does he learn that?  
In the studio, I swear.  He goes to nature for facts, relations, 
values - material; as a man, before writing a historical novel, 
reads up memoirs.  But it is not by reading memoirs that he has 
learned the selective criterion.  He has learned that in the 
practice of his art; and he will never learn it well, but when 
disengaged from the ardent struggle of immediate representation, of 
realistic and EX FACTO art.  He learns it in the crystallisation of 
day-dreams; in changing, not in copying, fact; in the pursuit of 
the ideal, not in the study of nature.  These temples of art are, 
as you say, inaccessible to the realistic climber.  It is not by 
looking at the sea that you get

'The multitudinous seas incarnadine,'

nor by looking at Mont Blanc that you find

'And visited all night by troops of stars.'

A kind of ardour of the blood is the mother of all this; and 
according as this ardour is swayed by knowledge and seconded by 
craft, the art expression flows clear, and significance and charm, 
like a moon rising, are born above the barren juggle of mere 

The painter must study more from nature than the man of words.  But 
why?  Because literature deals with men's business and passions 
which, in the game of life, we are irresistibly obliged to study; 
but painting with relations of light, and colour, and 
significances, and form, which, from the immemorial habit of the 
race, we pass over with an unregardful eye.  Hence this crouching 
upon camp-stools, and these crusts.  But neither one nor other is a 
part of art, only preliminary studies.

I want you to help me to get people to understand that realism is a 
method, and only methodic in its consequences; when the realist is 
an artist, that is, and supposing the idealist with whom you 
compare him to be anything but a FARCEUR and a DILETTANTE.  The two 
schools of working do, and should, lead to the choice of different 
subjects.  But that is a consequence, not a cause.  See my chaotic 
note, which will appear, I fancy, in November in Henley's sheet.

Poor Ferrier, it bust me horrid.  He was, after you, the oldest of 
my friends.

I am now very tired, and will go to bed having prelected freely.  
Fanny will finish.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR FATHER, - I have just lunched; the day is exquisite, the 
air comes though the open window rich with odour, and I am by no 
means spiritually minded.  Your letter, however, was very much 
valued, and has been read oftener than once.  What you say about 
yourself I was glad to hear; a little decent resignation is not 
only becoming a Christian, but is likely to be excellent for the 
health of a Stevenson.  To fret and fume is undignified, suicidally 
foolish, and theologically unpardonable; we are here not to make, 
but to tread predestined, pathways; we are the foam of a wave, and 
to preserve a proper equanimity is not merely the first part of 
submission to God, but the chief of possible kindnesses to those 
about us.  I am lecturing myself, but you also.  To do our best is 
one part, but to wash our hands smilingly of the consequence is the 
next part, of any sensible virtue.

I have come, for the moment, to a pause in my moral works; for I 
have many irons in the fire, and I wish to finish something to 
bring coin before I can afford to go on with what I think 
doubtfully to be a duty.  It is a most difficult work; a touch of 
the parson will drive off those I hope to influence; a touch of 
overstrained laxity, besides disgusting, like a grimace, may do 
harm.  Nothing that I have ever seen yet speaks directly and 
efficaciously to young men; and I do hope I may find the art and 
wisdom to fill up a gap.  The great point, as I see it, is to ask 
as little as possible, and meet, if it may be, every view or 
absence of view; and it should be, must be, easy.  Honesty is the 
one desideratum; but think how hard a one to meet.  I think all the 
time of Ferrier and myself; these are the pair that I address.  
Poor Ferrier, so much a better man than I, and such a temporal 
wreck.  But the thing of which we must divest our minds is to look 
partially upon others; all is to be viewed; and the creature 
judged, as he must be by his Creator, not dissected through a prism 
of morals, but in the unrefracted ray.  So seen, and in relation to 
the almost omnipotent surroundings, who is to distinguish between 
F. and such a man as Dr. Candlish, or between such a man as David 
Hume and such an one as Robert Burns?  To compare my poor and good 
Walter with myself is to make me startle; he, upon all grounds 
above the merely expedient, was the nobler being.  Yet wrecked 
utterly ere the full age of manhood; and the last skirmishes so 
well fought, so humanly useless, so pathetically brave, only the 
leaps of an expiring lamp.  All this is a very pointed instance.  
It shuts the mouth.  I have learned more, in some ways, from him 
than from any other soul I ever met; and he, strange to think, was 
the best gentleman, in all kinder senses, that I ever knew. - Ever 
your affectionate son,


Letter:  TO W H LOW


MY DEAR LOW, - C'EST D'UN BON CAMARADE; and I am much obliged to 
you for your two letters and the inclosure.  Times are a lityle 
changed with all of us since the ever memorable days of Lavenue:  
hallowed be his name! hallowed his old Fleury! - of which you did 
not see - I think - as I did - the glorious apotheosis:  advanced 
on a Tuesday to three francs, on the Thursday to six, and on Friday 
swept off, holus bolus, for the proprietor's private consumption.  
Well, we had the start of that proprietor.  Many a good bottle came 
our way, and was, I think, worthily made welcome.

I am pleased that Mr. Gilder should like my literature; and I ask 
you particularly to thank Mr. Bunner (have I the name right?) for 
his notice, which was of that friendly, headlong sort that really 
pleases an author like what the French call a 'shake-hands.'  It 
pleased me the more coming from the States, where I have met not 
much recognition, save from the buccaneers, and above all from 
pirates who misspell my name.  I saw my book advertised in a number 
of the CRITIC as the work of one R. L. Stephenson; and, I own, I 
boiled.  It is so easy to know the name of the man whose book you 
have stolen; for there it is, at full length, on the title-page of 
your booty.  But no, damn him, not he!  He calls me Stephenson.  
These woes I only refer to by the way, as they set a higher value 
on the CENTURY notice.

I am now a person with an established ill-health - a wife - a dog 
possessed with an evil, a Gadarene spirit - a chalet on a hill, 
looking out over the Mediterranean - a certain reputation - and 
very obscure finances.  Otherwise, very much the same, I guess; and 
were a bottle of Fleury a thing to be obtained, capable of 
developing theories along with a fit spirit even as of yore.  Yet I 
now draw near to the Middle Ages; nearly three years ago, that 
fatal Thirty struck; and yet the great work is not yet done - not 
yet even conceived.  But so, as one goes on, the wood seems to 
thicken, the footpath to narrow, and the House Beautiful on the 
hill's summit to draw further and further away.  We learn, indeed, 
to use our means; but only to learn, along with it, the paralysing 
knowledge that these means are only applicable to two or three poor 
commonplace motives.  Eight years ago, if I could have slung ink as 
I can now, I should have thought myself well on the road after 
Shakespeare; and now - I find I have only got a pair of walking-
shoes and not yet begun to travel.  And art is still away there on 
the mountain summit.  But I need not continue; for, of course, this 
is your story just as much as it is mine; and, strange to think, it 
was Shakespeare's too, and Beethoven's, and Phidias's.  It is a 
blessed thing that, in this forest of art, we can pursue our wood-
lice and sparrows, AND NOT CATCH THEM, with almost the same fervour 
of exhilaration as that with which Sophocles hunted and brought 
down the Mastodon.

Tell me something of your work, and your wife. - My dear fellow, I 
am yours ever,


My wife begs to be remembered to both of you; I cannot say as much 
for my dog, who has never seen you, but he would like, on general 
principles, to bite you.

Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


MY DEAR LAD, - . . .  Of course, my seamanship is jimmy:  did I not 
beseech you I know not how often to find me an ancient mariner - 
and you, whose own wife's own brother is one of the ancientest, did 
nothing for me?  As for my seamen, did Runciman ever know 
eighteenth century buccaneers?  No?  Well, no more did I.  But I 
have known and sailed with seamen too, and lived and eaten with 
them; and I made my put-up shot in no great ignorance, but as a 
put-up thing has to be made, I.E. to be coherent and picturesque, 
and damn the expense.  Are they fairly lively on the wires?  Then, 
favour me with your tongues.  Are they wooden, and dim, and no 
sport?  Then it is I that am silent, otherwise not.  The work, 
strange as it may sound in the ear, is not a work of realism.  The 
next thing I shall hear is that the etiquette is wrong in Otto's 
Court!  With a warrant, and I mean it to be so, and the whole 
matter never cost me half a thought.  I make these paper people to 
please myself, and Skelt, and God Almighty, and with no ulterior 
purpose.  Yet am I mortal myself; for, as I remind you, I begged 
for a supervising mariner.  However, my heart is in the right 
place.  I have been to sea, but I never crossed the threshold of a 
court; and the courts shall be the way I want 'em.

I'm glad to think I owe you the review that pleased me best of all 
the reviews I ever had; the one I liked best before that was -'s on 
the ARABIANS.  These two are the flowers of the collection, 
according to me.  To live reading such reviews and die eating 
ortolans - sich is my aspiration.

Whenever you come you will be equally welcome.  I am trying to 
finish OTTO ere you shall arrive, so as to take and be able to 
enjoy a well-earned - O yes, a well-earned - holiday.  Longman 
fetched by Otto:  is it a spoon or a spoilt horn?  Momentous, if 
the latter; if the former, a spoon to dip much praise and pudding, 
and to give, I do think, much pleasure.  The last part, now in 
hand, much smiles upon me. - Ever yours,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MOTHER, - You must not blame me too much for my silence; I 
am over head and ears in work, and do not know what to do first.  I 
have been hard at OTTO, hard at SILVERADO proofs, which I have 
worked over again to a tremendous extent; cutting, adding, 
rewriting, until some of the worst chapters of the original are 
now, to my mind, as good as any.  I was the more bound to make it 
good, as I had such liberal terms; it's not for want of trying if I 
have failed.

I got your letter on my birthday; indeed, that was how I found it 
out about three in the afternoon, when postie comes.  Thank you for 
all you said.  As for my wife, that was the best investment ever 
made by man; but 'in our branch of the family' we seem to marry 
well.  I, considering my piles of work, am wonderfully well; I have 
not been so busy for I know not how long.  I hope you will send me 
the money I asked however, as I am not only penniless, but shall 
remain so in all human probability for some considerable time.  I 
have got in the mass of my expectations; and the 100 pounds which 
is to float us on the new year can not come due till SILVERADO is 
all ready; I am delaying it myself for the moment; then will follow 
the binders and the travellers and an infinity of other nuisances; 
and only at the last, the jingling-tingling.

Do you know that TREASURE ISLAND has appeared?  In the November 
number of Henley's Magazine, a capital number anyway, there is a 
funny publisher's puff of it for your book; also a bad article by 
me.  Lang dotes on TREASURE ISLAND:  'Except TOM SAWYER and the 
ODYSSEY,' he writes, 'I never liked any romance so much.'  I will 
inclose the letter though.  The Bogue is angelic, although very 
dirty.  It has rained - at last!  It was jolly cold when the rain 

I was overjoyed to hear such good news of my father.  Let him go on 
at that!  Ever your affectionate,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - I have been bad, but as you were worse, I feel no 
shame.  I raise a blooming countenance, not the evidence of a self-
righteous spirit.

I continue my uphill fight with the twin spirits of bankruptcy and 
indigestion.  Duns rage about my portal, at least to fancy's ear.

I suppose you heard of Ferrier's death:  my oldest friend, except 
Bob.  It has much upset me.  I did not fancy how much.  I am 
strangely concerned about it.

My house is the loveliest spot in the universe; the moonlight 
nights we have are incredible; love, poetry and music, and the 
Arabian Nights, inhabit just my corner of the world - nest there 
like mavises.

Here lies
The carcase
Robert Louis Stevenson,
An active, austere, and not inelegant
at the termination of a long career,
wealthy, wise, benevolent, and honoured by
the attention of two hemispheres,
yet owned it to have been his crowning favour

(With the consent of the intelligent edility of Hyeres, he has been 
interred, below this frugal stone, in the garden which he honoured 
for so long with his poetic presence.)

I must write more solemn letters.  Adieu.  Write.

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO MRS. MILNE


MY DEAR HENRIETTA, - Certainly; who else would they be?  More by 
token, on that particular occasion, you were sailing under the 
title of Princess Royal; I, after a furious contest, under that of 
Prince Alfred; and Willie, still a little sulky, as the Prince of 
Wales.  We were all in a buck basket about half-way between the 
swing and the gate; and I can still see the Pirate Squadron heave 
in sight upon the weather bow.

I wrote a piece besides on Giant Bunker; but I was not happily 
inspired, and it is condemned.  Perhaps I'll try again; he was a 
horrid fellow, Giant Bunker! and some of my happiest hours were 
passed in pursuit of him.  You were a capital fellow to play:  how 
few there were who could!  None better than yourself.  I shall 
never forget some of the days at Bridge of Allan; they were one 
golden dream.  See 'A Good Boy' in the PENNY WHISTLES, much of the 
sentiment of which is taken direct from one evening at B. of A. 
when we had had a great play with the little Glasgow girl.  
Hallowed be that fat book of fairy tales!  Do you remember acting 
the Fair One with Golden Locks?  What a romantic drama!  Generally 
speaking, whenever I think of play, it is pretty certain that you 
will come into my head.  I wrote a paper called 'Child's Play' 
once, where, I believe, you or Willie would recognise things. . . .

Surely Willie is just the man to marry; and if his wife wasn't a 
happy woman, I think I could tell her who was to blame.  Is there 
no word of it?  Well, these things are beyond arrangement; and the 
wind bloweth where it listeth - which, I observe, is generally 
towards the west in Scotland.  Here it prefers a south-easterly 
course, and is called the Mistral - usually with an adjective in 
front.  But if you will remember my yesterday's toothache and this 
morning's crick, you will be in a position to choose an adjective 
for yourself.  Not that the wind is unhealthy; only when it comes 
strong, it is both very high and very cold, which makes it the d-v-
l.  But as I am writing to a lady, I had better avoid this topic; 
winds requiring a great scope of language.

Please remember me to all at home; give Ramsay a pennyworth of 
acidulated drops for his good taste. - And believe me, your 
affectionate cousin,




DEAR MISS FERRIER, - Many thanks for the photograph.  It is - well, 
it is like most photographs.  The sun is an artist of too much 
renown; and, at any rate, we who knew Walter 'in the brave days of 
old' will be difficult to please.

I was inexpressibly touched to get a letter from some lawyers as to 
some money.  I have never had any account with my friends; some 
have gained and some lost; and I should feel there was something 
dishonest in a partial liquidation even if I could recollect the 
facts, WHICH I CANNOT.  But the fact of his having put aside this 
memorandum touched me greatly.

The mystery of his life is great.  Our chemist in this place, who 
had been at Malvern, recognised the picture.  You may remember 
Walter had a romantic affection for all pharmacies? and the bottles 
in the window were for him a poem?  He said once that he knew no 
pleasure like driving through a lamplit city, waiting for the 
chemists to go by.

All these things return now.

He had a pretty full translation of Schiller's AESTHETIC LETTERS, 
which we read together, as well as the second part of FAUST, in 
Gladstone Terrace, he helping me with the German.  There is no 
keepsake I should more value than the MS. of that translation.  
They were the best days I ever had with him, little dreaming all 
would so soon be over.  It needs a blow like this to convict a man 
of mortality and its burthen.  I always thought I should go by 
myself; not to survive.  But now I feel as if the earth were 
undermined, and all my friends have lost one thickness of reality 
since that one passed.  Those are happy who can take it otherwise; 
with that I found things all beginning to dislimn.  Here we have no 
abiding city, and one felt as though he had - and O too much acted.

But if you tell me, he did not feel my silence.  However, he must 
have done so; and my guilt is irreparable now.  I thank God at 
least heartily that he did not resent it.

Please remember me to Sir Alexander and Lady Grant, to whose care I 
will address this.  When next I am in Edinburgh I will take 
flowers, alas! to the West Kirk.  Many a long hour we passed in 
graveyards, the man who has gone and I - or rather not that man - 
but the beautiful, genial, witty youth who so betrayed him. - Dear 
Miss Ferrier, I am yours most sincerely,


Letter:  TO W. H. LOW


MY DEAR LOW, - . . . I was much pleased with what you send about my 
work.  Ill-health is a great handicapper in the race.  I have never 
at command that press of spirits that are necessary to strike out a 
thing red-hot.  SILVERADO is an example of stuff worried and pawed 
about, God knows how often, in poor health, and you can see for 
yourself the result:  good pages, an imperfect fusion, a certain 
languor of the whole.  Not, in short, art.  I have told Roberts to 
send you a copy of the book when it appears, where there are some 
fair passages that will be new to you.  My brief romance, PRINCE 
OTTO - far my most difficult adventure up to now - is near an end.  
I have still one chapter to write DE FOND EN COMBLE, and three or 
four to strengthen or recast.  The rest is done.  I do not know if 
I have made a spoon, or only spoiled a horn; but I am tempted to 
hope the first.  If the present bargain hold, it will not see the 
light of day for some thirteen months.  Then I shall be glad to 
know how it strikes you.  There is a good deal of stuff in it, both 
dramatic and, I think, poetic; and the story is not like these 
purposeless fables of to-day, but is, at least, intended to stand 
FIRM upon a base of philosophy - or morals - as you please.  It has 
been long gestated, and is wrought with care.  ENFIN, NOUS VERRONS.  
My labours have this year for the first time been rewarded with 
upwards of 350 pounds; that of itself, so base we are! encourages 
me; and the better tenor of my health yet more. - Remember me to 
Mrs. Low, and believe me, yours most sincerely,




MY DEAR FATHER, - I do not know which of us is to blame; I suspect 
it is you this time.  The last accounts of you were pretty good, I 
was pleased to see; I am, on the whole, very well - suffering a 
little still from my fever and liver complications, but better.

I have just finished re-reading a book, which I counsel you above 
all things NOT to read, as it has made me very ill, and would make 
you worse - Lockhart's SCOTT.  It is worth reading, as all things 
are from time to time that keep us nose to nose with fact; though I 
think such reading may be abused, and that a great deal of life is 
better spent in reading of a light and yet chivalrous strain.  
Thus, no Waverley novel approaches in power, blackness, bitterness, 
and moral elevation to the diary and Lockhart's narrative of the 
end; and yet the Waverley novels are better reading for every day 
than the Life.  You may take a tonic daily, but not phlebotomy.

The great double danger of taking life too easily, and taking it 
too hard, how difficult it is to balance that!  But we are all too 
little inclined to faith; we are all, in our serious moments, too 
much inclined to forget that all are sinners, and fall justly by 
their faults, and therefore that we have no more to do with that 
than with the thunder-cloud; only to trust, and do our best, and 
wear as smiling a face as may be for others and ourselves.  But 
there is no royal road among this complicated business.  Hegel the 
German got the best word of all philosophy with his antinomies:  
the contrary of everything is its postulate.  That is, of course, 
grossly expressed, but gives a hint of the idea, which contains a 
great deal of the mysteries of religion, and a vast amount of the 
practical wisdom of life.  For your part, there is no doubt as to 
your duty - to take things easy and be as happy as you can, for 
your sake, and my mother's, and that of many besides.  Excuse this 
sermon. - Ever your loving son,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR FATHER AND MOTHER, - This it is supposed will reach you 
about Christmas, and I believe I should include Lloyd in the 
greeting.  But I want to lecture my father; he is not grateful 
enough; he is like Fanny; his resignation is not the 'true blue.'  
A man who has gained a stone; whose son is better, and, after so 
many fears to the contrary, I dare to say, a credit to him; whose 
business is arranged; whose marriage is a picture - what I should 
call resignation in such a case as his would be to 'take down his 
fiddle and play as lood as ever he could.'  That and nought else.  
And now, you dear old pious ingrate, on this Christmas morning, 
think what your mercies have been; and do not walk too far before 
your breakfast - as far as to the top of India Street, then to the 
top of Dundas Street, and then to your ain stair heid; and do not 
forget that even as LABORARE, so JOCULARI, EST ORARE; and to be 
happy the first step to being pious.

I have as good as finished my novel, and a hard job it has been - 
but now practically over,  LAUS DEO!  My financial prospects better 
than ever before; my excellent wife a touch dolorous, like Mr. 
Tommy; my Bogue quite converted, and myself in good spirits.  O, 
send Curry Powder per Baxter.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MOTHER, - I give my father up.  I give him a parable:  that 
the Waverley novels are better reading for every day than the 
tragic Life.  And he takes it backside foremost, and shakes his 
head, and is gloomier than ever.  Tell him that I give him up.  I 
don't want no such a parent.  This is not the man for my money.  I 
do not call that by the name of religion which fills a man with 
bile.  I write him a whole letter, bidding him beware of extremes, 
and telling him that his gloom is gallows-worthy; and I get back an 
answer - Perish the thought of it.

Here am I on the threshold of another year, when, according to all 
human foresight, I should long ago have been resolved into my 
elements; here am I, who you were persuaded was born to disgrace 
you - and, I will do you the justice to add, on no such 
insufficient grounds - no very burning discredit when all is done; 
here am I married, and the marriage recognised to be a blessing of 
the first order, A1 at Lloyd's.  There is he, at his not first 
youth, able to take more exercise than I at thirty-three, and 
gaining a stone's weight, a thing of which I am incapable.  There 
are you; has the man no gratitude?  There is Smeoroch:  is he 
blind?  Tell him from me that all this is


I will think more of his prayers when I see in him a spirit of 
PRAISE.  Piety is a more childlike and happy attitude than he 
admits.  Martha, Martha, do you hear the knocking at the door?  But 
Mary was happy.  Even the Shorter Catechism, not the merriest 
epitome of religion, and a work exactly as pious although not quite 
so true as the multiplication table - even that dry-as-dust epitome 
begins with a heroic note.  What is man's chief end?  Let him study 
that; and ask himself if to refuse to enjoy God's kindest gifts is 
in the spirit indicated.  Up, Dullard!  It is better service to 
enjoy a novel than to mump.

I have been most unjust to the Shorter Catechism, I perceive.  I 
wish to say that I keenly admire its merits as a performance; and 
that all that was in my mind was its peculiarly unreligious and 
unmoral texture; from which defect it can never, of course, 
exercise the least influence on the minds of children.  But they 
learn fine style and some austere thinking unconsciously. - Ever 
your loving son,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR PEOPLE, - A Good New Year to you.  The year closes, leaving 
me with 50 pounds in the bank, owing no man nothing, 100 pounds 
more due to me in a week or so, and 150 pounds more in the course 
of the month; and I can look back on a total receipt of 465 pounds, 
0s. 6d. for the last twelve months!

And yet I am not happy!

Yet I beg!  Here is my beggary:-

1. Sellar's Trial.
2. George Borrow's Book about Wales.
3. My Grandfather's Trip to Holland.
4. And (but this is, I fear, impossible) the Bell Rock Book.

When I think of how last year began, after four months of sickness 
and idleness, all my plans gone to water, myself starting alone, a 
kind of spectre, for Nice - should I not be grateful?  Come, let us 
sing unto the Lord!

Nor should I forget the expected visit, but I will not believe in 
that till it befall; I am no cultivator of disappointments, 'tis a 
herb that does not grow in my garden; but I get some good crops 
both of remorse and gratitude.  The last I can recommend to all 
gardeners; it grows best in shiny weather, but once well grown, is 
very hardy; it does not require much labour; only that the 
husbandman should smoke his pipe about the flower-plots and admire 
God's pleasant wonders.  Winter green (otherwise known as 
Resignation, or the 'false gratitude plant') springs in much the 
same soil; is little hardier, if at all; and requires to be so dug 
about and dunged, that there is little margin left for profit.  The 
variety known as the Black Winter green (H. V. Stevensoniana) is 
rather for ornament than profit.

'John, do you see that bed of resignation?' - 'It's doin' bravely, 
sir.' - 'John, I will not have it in my garden; it flatters not the 
eye and comforts not the stomach; root it out.' - 'Sir, I ha'e seen 
o' them that rase as high as nettles; gran' plants!' - 'What then?  
Were they as tall as alps, if still unsavoury and bleak, what 
matters it?  Out with it, then; and in its place put Laughter and a 
Good Conceit (that capital home evergreen), and a bush of Flowering 
Piety - but see it be the flowering sort - the other species is no 
ornament to any gentleman's Back Garden.'




MY DEAR S. C., - You will already have received a not very sane 
note from me; so your patience was rewarded - may I say, your 
patient silence?  However, now comes a letter, which on receipt, I 
thus acknowledge.

I have already expressed myself as to the political aspect.  About 
Grahame, I feel happier; it does seem to have been really a good, 
neat, honest piece of work.  We do not seem to be so badly off for 
commanders:  Wolseley and Roberts, and this pile of Woods, 
Stewarts, Alisons, Grahames, and the like.  Had we but ONE 
statesman on any side of the house!

Two chapters of OTTO do remain:  one to rewrite, one to create; and 
I am not yet able to tackle them.  For me it is my chief o' works; 
hence probably not so for others, since it only means that I have 
here attacked the greatest difficulties.  But some chapters towards 
the end:  three in particular - I do think come off.  I find them 
stirring, dramatic, and not unpoetical.  We shall see, however; as 
like as not, the effort will be more obvious than the success.  
For, of course, I strung myself hard to carry it out.  The next 
will come easier, and possibly be more popular.  I believe in the 
covering of much paper, each time with a definite and not too 
difficult artistic purpose; and then, from time to time, drawing 
oneself up and trying, in a superior effort, to combine the 
facilities thus acquired or improved.  Thus one progresses.  But, 
mind, it is very likely that the big effort, instead of being the 
masterpiece, may be the blotted copy, the gymnastic exercise.  This 
no man can tell; only the brutal and licentious public, snouting in 
Mudie's wash-trough, can return a dubious answer.

I am to-day, thanks to a pure heaven and a beneficent, loud-
talking, antiseptic mistral, on the high places as to health and 
spirits.  Money holds out wonderfully.  Fanny has gone for a drive 
to certain meadows which are now one sheet of jonquils:  sea-bound 
meadows, the thought of which may freshen you in Bloomsbury.  'Ye 
have been fresh and fair, Ye have been filled with flowers' - I 
fear I misquote.  Why do people babble?  Surely Herrick, in his 
true vein, is superior to Martial himself, though Martial is a very 
pretty poet.

Did you ever read St. Augustine?  The first chapters of the 
CONFESSIONS are marked by a commanding genius.  Shakespearian in 
depth.  I was struck dumb, but, alas! when you begin to wander into 
controversy, the poet drops out.  His description of infancy is 
most seizing.  And how is this:  'Sed majorum nugae negotia 
vocantur; puerorum autem talia cum sint puniuntur a majoribus.'  
Which is quite after the heart of R. L. S.  See also his splendid 
passage about the 'luminosus limes amicitiae' and the 'nebulae de 
limosa concupiscentia carnis'; going on 'UTRUMQUE in confuso 
aestuabat et rapiebat imbecillam aetatem per abrupta cupiditatum.'  
That 'Utrumque' is a real contribution to life's science.  Lust 
ALONE is but a pigmy; but it never, or rarely, attacks us single-

Do you ever read (to go miles off, indeed) the incredible Barbey 
d'Aurevilly?  A psychological Poe - to be for a moment Henley.  I 
own with pleasure I prefer him with all his folly, rot, sentiment, 
and mixed metaphors, to the whole modern school in France.  It 
makes me laugh when it's nonsense; and when he gets an effect 
(though it's still nonsense and mere Poery, not poesy) it wakens 
me.  CE QUI NE MEURT PAS nearly killed me with laughing, and left 
me - well, it left me very nearly admiring the old ass.  At least, 
it's the kind of thing one feels one couldn't do.  The dreadful 
moonlight, when they all three sit silent in the room - by George, 
sir, it's imagined - and the brief scene between the husband and 
wife is all there.  QUANT AU FOND, the whole thing, of course, is a 
fever dream, and worthy of eternal laughter.  Had the young man 
broken stones, and the two women been hard-working honest 
prostitutes, there had been an end of the whole immoral and 
baseless business:  you could at least have respected them in that 

I also read PETRONIUS ARBITER, which is a rum work, not so immoral 
as most modern works, but singularly silly.  I tackled some Tacitus 
too.  I got them with a dreadful French crib on the same page with 
the text, which helps me along and drives me mad.  The French do 
not even try to translate.  They try to be much more classical than 
the classics, with astounding results of barrenness and tedium.  
Tacitus, I fear, was too solid for me.  I liked the war part; but 
the dreary intriguing at Rome was too much.

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO MR. DICK


MY DEAR MR. DICK, - I have been a great while owing you a letter; 
but I am not without excuses, as you have heard.  I overworked to 
get a piece of work finished before I had my holiday, thinking to 
enjoy it more; and instead of that, the machinery near hand came 
sundry in my hands! like Murdie's uniform.  However, I am now, I 
think, in a fair way of recovery; I think I was made, what there is 
of me, of whipcord and thorn-switches; surely I am tough!  But I 
fancy I shall not overdrive again, or not so long.  It is my theory 
that work is highly beneficial, but that it should, if possible, 
and certainly for such partially broken-down instruments as the 
thing I call my body, be taken in batches, with a clear break and 
breathing space between.  I always do vary my work, laying one 
thing aside to take up another, not merely because I believe it 
rests the brain, but because I have found it most beneficial to the 
result.  Reading, Bacon says, makes a full man, but what makes me 
full on any subject is to banish it for a time from all my 
thoughts.  However, what I now propose is, out of every quarter, to 
work two months' and rest the third.  I believe I shall get more 
done, as I generally manage, on my present scheme, to have four 
months' impotent illness and two of imperfect health - one before, 
one after, I break down.  This, at least, is not an economical 
division of the year.

I re-read the other day that heartbreaking book, the LIFE OF SCOTT.  
One should read such works now and then, but O, not often.  As I 
live, I feel more and more that literature should be cheerful and 
brave-spirited, even if it cannot be made beautiful and pious and 
heroic.  We wish it to be a green place; the WAVERLEY NOVELS are 
better to re-read than the over-true life, fine as dear Sir Walter 
was.  The Bible, in most parts, is a cheerful book; it is our 
little piping theologies, tracts, and sermons that are dull and 
dowie; and even the Shorter Catechism, which is scarcely a work of 
consolation, opens with the best and shortest and completest sermon 
ever written - upon Man's chief end. - Believe me, my dear Mr. 
Dick, very sincerely yours,


P.S. - You see I have changed my hand.  I was threatened apparently 
with scrivener's cramp, and at any rate had got to write so small, 
that the revisal of my MS. tried my eyes, hence my signature alone 
remains upon the old model; for it appears that if I changed that, 
I should be cut off from my 'vivers.'

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MONKHOUSE, - You see with what promptitude I plunge into 
correspondence; but the truth is, I am condemned to a complete 
inaction, stagnate dismally, and love a letter.  Yours, which would 
have been welcome at any time, was thus doubly precious.

Dover sounds somewhat shiveringly in my ears.  You should see the 
weather I have - cloudless, clear as crystal, with just a punkah-
draft of the most aromatic air, all pine and gum tree.  You would 
be ashamed of Dover; you would scruple to refer, sir, to a spot so 
paltry.  To be idle at Dover is a strange pretension; pray, how do 
you warm yourself?  If I were there I should grind knives or write 
blank verse, or -  But at least you do not bathe?  It is idle to 
deny it:  I have - I may say I nourish - a growing jealousy of the 
robust, large-legged, healthy Britain-dwellers, patient of grog, 
scorners of the timid umbrella, innocuously breathing fog:  all 
which I once was, and I am ashamed to say liked it.  How ignorant 
is youth! grossly rolling among unselected pleasures; and how 
nobler, purer, sweeter, and lighter, to sip the choice tonic, to 
recline in the luxurious invalid chair, and to tread, well-shawled, 
the little round of the constitutional.  Seriously, do you like to 
repose?  Ye gods, I hate it.  I never rest with any acceptation; I 
do not know what people mean who say they like sleep and that 
damned bedtime which, since long ere I was breeched, has rung a 
knell to all my day's doings and beings.  And when a man, seemingly 
sane, tells me he has 'fallen in love with stagnation,' I can only 
say to him, 'You will never be a Pirate!'  This may not cause any 
regret to Mrs. Monkhouse; but in your own soul it will clang hollow 
- think of it!  Never!  After all boyhood's aspirations and youth's 
immoral day-dreams, you are condemned to sit down, grossly draw in 
your chair to the fat board, and be a beastly Burgess till you die.  
Can it be?  Is there not some escape, some furlough from the Moral 
Law, some holiday jaunt contrivable into a Better Land?  Shall we 
never shed blood?  This prospect is too grey.

'Here lies a man who never did
Anything but what he was bid;
Who lived his life in paltry ease,
And died of commonplace disease.'

To confess plainly, I had intended to spend my life (or any leisure 
I might have from Piracy upon the high seas) as the leader of a 
great horde of irregular cavalry, devastating whole valleys.  I can 
still, looking back, see myself in many favourite attitudes; 
signalling for a boat from my pirate ship with a pocket-
handkerchief, I at the jetty end, and one or two of my bold blades 
keeping the crowd at bay; or else turning in the saddle to look 
back at my whole command (some five thousand strong) following me 
at the hand-gallop up the road out of the burning valley:  this 
last by moonlight.

ET POINT DU TOUT.  I am a poor scribe, and have scarce broken a 
commandment to mention, and have recently dined upon cold veal!  As 
for you (who probably had some ambitions), I hear of you living at 
Dover, in lodgings, like the beasts of the field.  But in heaven, 
when we get there, we shall have a good time, and see some real 
carnage.  For heaven is - must be - that great Kingdom of 
Antinomia, which Lamb saw dimly adumbrated in the COUNTRY WIFE, 
where the worm which never dies (the conscience) peacefully 
expires, and the sinner lies down beside the Ten Commandments.  
Till then, here a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Bowling, with neither 
health nor vice for anything more spirited than procrastination, 
which I may well call the Consolation Stakes of Wickedness; and by 
whose diligent practice, without the least amusement to ourselves, 
we can rob the orphan and bring down grey hairs with sorrow to the 

This astonishing gush of nonsense I now hasten to close, envelope, 
and expedite to Shakespeare's Cliff.  Remember me to Shakespeare, 
and believe me, yours very sincerely,




MY DEAR GOSSE, - Your office - office is profanely said - your 
bower upon the leads is divine.  Have you, like Pepys, 'the right 
to fiddle' there?  I see you mount the companion, barbiton in hand, 
and, fluttered about by city sparrows, pour forth your spirit in a 
voluntary.  Now when the spring begins, you must lay in your 
flowers:  how do you say about a potted hawthorn?  Would it bloom?  
Wallflower is a choice pot-herb; lily-of-the-valley, too, and 
carnation, and Indian cress trailed about the window, is not only 
beautiful by colour, but the leaves are good to eat.  I recommend 
thyme and rosemary for the aroma, which should not be left upon one 
side; they are good quiet growths.

On one of your tables keep a great map spread out; a chart is still 
better - it takes one further - the havens with their little 
anchors, the rocks, banks, and soundings, are adorably marine; and 
such furniture will suit your ship-shape habitation.  I wish I 
could see those cabins; they smile upon me with the most intimate 
charm.  From your leads, do you behold St. Paul's?  I always like 
to see the Foolscap; it is London PER SE and no spot from which it 
is visible is without romance.  Then it is good company for the man 
of letters, whose veritable nursing Pater-Noster is so near at 

I am all at a standstill; as idle as a painted ship, but not so 
pretty.  My romance, which has so nearly butchered me in the 
writing, not even finished; though so near, thank God, that a few 
days of tolerable strength will see the roof upon that structure.  
I have worked very hard at it, and so do not expect any great 
THINGS THAT PEOPLE LIKE.  There is the golden maxim; thus one 
should strain and then play, strain again and play again.  The 
strain is for us, it educates; the play is for the reader, and 
pleases.  Do you not feel so?  We are ever threatened by two 
contrary faults:  both deadly.  To sink into what my forefathers 
would have called 'rank conformity,' and to pour forth cheap 
replicas, upon the one hand; upon the other, and still more 
insidiously present, to forget that art is a diversion and a 
decoration, that no triumph or effort is of value, nor anything 
worth reaching except charm. - Yours affectionately,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MISS FERRIER, - Are you really going to fall us?  This 
seems a dreadful thing.  My poor wife, who is not well off for 
friends on this bare coast, has been promising herself, and I have 
been promising her, a rare acquisition.  And now Miss Burn has 
failed, and you utter a very doubtful note.  You do not know how 
delightful this place is, nor how anxious we are for a visit.  Look 
at the names:  'The Solitude' - is that romantic?  The palm-trees? 
- how is that for the gorgeous East?  'Var'? the name of a river - 
'the quiet waters by'!  'Tis true, they are in another department, 
and consist of stones and a biennial spate; but what a music, what 
a plash of brooks, for the imagination!  We have hills; we have 
skies; the roses are putting forth, as yet sparsely; the meadows by 
the sea are one sheet of jonquils; the birds sing as in an English 
May - for, considering we are in France and serve up our song-
birds, I am ashamed to say, on a little field of toast and with a 
sprig of thyme (my own receipt) in their most innocent and now 
unvocal bellies - considering all this, we have a wonderfully fair 
wood-music round this Solitude of ours.  What can I say more? - All 
this awaits you.  KENNST DU DAS LAND, in short. - Your sincere 


Letter:  TO W. H. LOW


MY DEAR LOW, - The blind man in these sprawled lines sends 
greeting.  I have been ill, as perhaps the papers told you.  The 
news - 'great news - glorious news - sec-ond ed-ition!' - went the 
round in England.

Anyway, I now thank you for your pictures, which, particularly the 
Arcadian one, we all (Bob included, he was here sick-nursing me) 
much liked.

Herewith are a set of verses which I thought pretty enough to send 
to press.  Then I thought of the MANHATTAN, towards whom I have 
guilty and compunctious feelings.  Last, I had the best thought of 
all - to send them to you in case you might think them suitable for 
illustration.  It seemed to me quite in your vein.  If so, good; if 
not, hand them on to MANHATTAN, CENTURY, or LIPPINCOTT, at your 
pleasure, as all three desire my work or pretend to.  But I trust 
the lines will not go unattended.  Some riverside will haunt you; 
and O! be tender to my bathing girls.  The lines are copied in my 
wife's hand, as I cannot see to write otherwise than with the pen 
of Cormoran, Gargantua, or Nimrod.  Love to your wife. - Yours 

R. L. S.

Copied it myself.



MY DEAR FATHER, - Yesterday I very powerfully stated the HERESIS 
STEVENSONIANA, or the complete body of divinity of the family 
theologian, to Miss Ferrier.  She was much impressed; so was I.  
You are a great heresiarch; and I know no better.  Whaur the devil 
did ye get thon about the soap?  Is it altogether your own?  I 
never heard it elsewhere; and yet I suspect it must have been held 
at some time or other, and if you were to look up you would 
probably find yourself condemned by some Council.

I am glad to hear you are so well.  The hear is excellent.  The 
CORNHILLS came; I made Miss Ferrier read us 'Thrawn Janet,' and was 
quite bowled over by my own works.  The 'Merry Men' I mean to make 
much longer, with a whole new denouement, not yet quite clear to 
me.  'The Story of a Lie,' I must rewrite entirely also, as it is 
too weak and ragged, yet is worth saving for the Admiral.  Did I 
ever tell you that the Admiral was recognised in America?

When they are all on their legs this will make an excellent 

Has Davie never read GUY MANNERING, ROB ROY, or THE ANTIQUARY?  All 
of which are worth three WAVERLEYS.  I think KENILWORTH better than 
WAVERLEY; NIGEL, too; and QUENTIN DURWARD about as good.  But it 
shows a true piece of insight to prefer WAVERLEY, for it IS 
different; and though not quite coherent, better worked in parts 
than almost any other:  surely more carefully.  It is undeniable 
that the love of the slap-dash and the shoddy grew upon Scott with 
success.  Perhaps it does on many of us, which may be the granite 
on which D.'s opinion stands.  However, I hold it, in Patrick 
Walker's phrase, for an 'old, condemned, damnable error.'  Dr. 
Simson was condemned by P. W. as being 'a bagful of' such.  One of 
Patrick's amenities!

Another ground there may be to D.'s opinion; those who avoid (or 
seek to avoid) Scott's facility are apt to be continually straining 
and torturing their style to get in more of life.  And to many the 
extra significance does not redeem the strain.




DEAR MONKHOUSE, - If you are in love with repose, here is your 
occasion:  change with me.  I am too blind to read, hence no 
reading; I am too weak to walk, hence no walking; I am not allowed 
to speak, hence no talking; but the great simplification has yet to 
be named; for, if this goes on, I shall soon have nothing to eat - 
and hence, O Hallelujah! hence no eating.  The offer is a fair one:  
I have not sold myself to the devil, for I could never find him.  I 
am married, but so are you.  I sometimes write verses, but so do 
you.  Come!  HIC QUIES!  As for the commandments, I have broken 
them so small that they are the dust of my chambers; you walk upon 
them, triturate and toothless; and with the Golosh of Philosophy, 
they shall not bite your heel.  True, the tenement is falling.  Ay, 
friend, but yours also.  Take a larger view; what is a year or two? 
dust in the balance!  'Tis done, behold you Cosmo Stevenson, and me 
R. L. Monkhouse; you at Hyeres, I in London; you rejoicing in the 
clammiest repose, me proceeding to tear your tabernacle into rags, 
as I have already so admirably torn my own.

My place to which I now introduce you - it is yours - is like a 
London house, high and very narrow; upon the lungs I will not 
linger; the heart is large enough for a ballroom; the belly greedy 
and inefficient; the brain stocked with the most damnable 
explosives, like a dynamiter's den.  The whole place is well 
furnished, though not in a very pure taste; Corinthian much of it; 
showy and not strong.

About your place I shall try to find my way alone, an interesting 
exploration.  Imagine me, as I go to bed, falling over a blood-
stained remorse; opening that cupboard in the cerebellum and being 
welcomed by the spirit of your murdered uncle.  I should probably 
not like your remorses; I wonder if you will like mine; I have a 
spirited assortment; they whistle in my ear o' nights like a north-
easter.  I trust yours don't dine with the family; mine are better 
mannered; you will hear nought of them till, 2 A.M., except one, to 
be sure, that I have made a pet of, but he is small; I keep him in 
buttons, so as to avoid commentaries; you will like him much - if 
you like what is genuine.

Must we likewise change religions?  Mine is a good article, with a 
trick of stopping; cathedral bell note; ornamental dial; supported 
by Venus and the Graces; quite a summer-parlour piety.  Of yours, 
since your last, I fear there is little to be said.

There is one article I wish to take away with me:  my spirits.  
They suit me.  I don't want yours; I like my own; I have had them a 
long while in bottle.  It is my only reservation. - Yours (as you 


Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


DEAR BOY, - OLD MORTALITY is out, and I am glad to say Coggie likes 
it.  We like her immensely.

I keep better, but no great shakes yet; cannot work - cannot:  that 
is flat, not even verses:  as for prose, that more active place is 
shut on me long since.

My view of life is essentially the comic; and the romantically 
comic.  AS YOU LIKE IT is to me the most bird-haunted spot in 
letters; TEMPEST and TWELFTH NIGHT follow.  These are what I mean 
by poetry and nature.  I make an effort of my mind to be quite one 
with Moliere, except upon the stage, where his inimitable JEUX DE 
SCENE beggar belief; but you will observe they are stage-plays - 
things AD HOC; not great Olympian debauches of the heart and fancy; 
hence more perfect, and not so great.  Then I come, after great 
wanderings, to Carmosine and to Fantasio; to one part of La 
Derniere Aldini (which, by the by, we might dramatise in a week), 
to the notes that Meredith has found, Evan and the postillion, Evan 
and Rose, Harry in Germany.  And to me these things are the good; 
beauty, touched with sex and laughter; beauty with God's earth for 
the background.  Tragedy does not seem to me to come off; and when 
it does, it does so by the heroic illusion; the anti-masque has 
been omitted; laughter, which attends on all our steps in life, and 
sits by the deathbed, and certainly redacts the epitaph, laughter 
has been lost from these great-hearted lies.  But the comedy which 
keeps the beauty and touches the terrors of our life (laughter and 
tragedy-in-a-good-humour having kissed), that is the last word of 
moved representation; embracing the greatest number of elements of 
fate and character; and telling its story, not with the one eye of 
pity, but with the two of pity and mirth.

R. L. S.


FROM MY BED, MAY 29, 1884.

DEAR GOSSE, - The news of the Professorate found me in the article 
of - well, of heads or tails; I am still in bed, and a very poor 
person.  You must thus excuse my damned delay; but, I assure you, I 
was delighted.  You will believe me the more, if I confess to you 
that my first sentiment was envy; yes, sir, on my blood-boltered 
couch I envied the professor.  However, it was not of long 
duration; the double thought that you deserved and that you would 
thoroughly enjoy your success fell like balsam on my wounds.  How 
came it that you never communicated my rejection of Gilder's offer 
for the Rhone?  But it matters not.  Such earthly vanities are over 
for the present.  This has been a fine well-conducted illness.  A 
month in bed; a month of silence; a fortnight of not stirring my 
right hand; a month of not moving without being lifted.  Come!  CA 
Y EST:  devilish like being dead. - Yours, dear Professor, 

R. L. S.

I am soon to be moved to Royat; an invalid valet goes with me!  I 
got him cheap - second-hand.

In turning over my late friend Ferrier's commonplace book, I find 
three poems from VIOL AND FLUTE copied out in his hand:  'When 
Flower-time,' 'Love in Winter,' and 'Mistrust.'  They are capital 
too.  But I thought the fact would interest you.  He was no poetist 
either; so it means the more.  'Love in W.!' I like the best.



MY DEAR PEOPLE, - The weather has been demoniac; I have had a skiff 
of cold, and was finally obliged to take to bed entirely; to-day, 
however, it has cleared, the sun shines, and I begin to


I have been out once, but now am back in bed.  I am better, and 
keep better, but the weather is a mere injustice.  The imitation of 
Edinburgh is, at times, deceptive; there is a note among the 
chimney pots that suggests Howe Street; though I think the 
shrillest spot in Christendom was not upon the Howe Street side, 
but in front, just under the Miss Graemes' big chimney stack.  It 
had a fine alto character - a sort of bleat that used to divide the 
marrow in my joints - say in the wee, slack hours.  That music is 
now lost to us by rebuilding; another air that I remember, not 
regret, was the solo of the gas-burner in the little front room; a 
knickering, flighty, fleering, and yet spectral cackle.  I mind it 
above all on winter afternoons, late, when the window was blue and 
spotted with rare rain-drops, and, looking out, the cold evening 
was seen blue all over, with the lamps of Queen's and Frederick's 
Street dotting it with yellow, and flaring east-ward in the 
squalls.  Heavens, how unhappy I have been in such circumstances - 
I, who have now positively forgotten the colour of unhappiness; who 
am full like a fed ox, and dull like a fresh turf, and have no more 
spiritual life, for good or evil, than a French bagman.

We are at Chabassiere's, for of course it was nonsense to go up the 
hill when we could not walk.

The child's poems in a far extended form are likely soon to be 
heard of - which Cummy I dare say will be glad to know.  They will 
make a book of about one hundred pages. - Ever your affectionate,

R. L. S.


[ROYAT, JULY 1884.]

. . . HERE is a quaint thing, I have read ROBINSON, COLONEL JACK, 
knowledge of Defoe ends - except a book, the name of which I 
forget, about Peterborough in Spain, which Defoe obviously did not 
write, and could not have written if he wanted.  To which of these 
does B. J. refer?  I guess it must be the history of the Scottish 
Church.  I jest; for, of course, I KNOW it must be a book I have 
never read, and which this makes me keen to read - I mean CAPTAIN 
SINGLETON.  Can it be got and sent to me?  If TREASURE ISLAND is at 
all like it, it will be delightful.  I was just the other day 
wondering at my folly in not remembering it, when I was writing T. 
I., as a mine for pirate tips.  T. I. came out of Kingsley's AT 
LAST, where I got the Dead Man's Chest - and that was the seed - 
and out of the great Captain Johnson's HISTORY OF NOTORIOUS 
PIRATES.  The scenery is Californian in part, and in part CHIC.

I was downstairs to-day!  So now I am a made man - till the next 


If it was CAPTAIN SINGLETON, send it to me, won't you?

LATER. - My life dwindles into a kind of valley of the shadow 
picnic.  I cannot read; so much of the time (as to-day) I must not 
speak above my breath, that to play patience, or to see my wife 
play it, is become the be-all and the end-all of my dim career.  To 
add to my gaiety, I may write letters, but there are few to answer.  
Patience and Poesy are thus my rod and staff; with these I not 
unpleasantly support my days.

I am very dim, dumb, dowie, and damnable.  I hate to be silenced; 
and if to talk by signs is my forte (as I contend), to understand 
them cannot be my wife's.  Do not think me unhappy; I have not been 
so for years; but I am blurred, inhabit the debatable frontier of 
sleep, and have but dim designs upon activity.  All is at a 
standstill; books closed, paper put aside, the voice, the eternal 
voice of R. L. S., well silenced.  Hence this plaint reaches you 
with no very great meaning, no very great purpose, and written part 
in slumber by a heavy, dull, somnolent, superannuated son of a 




MY DEAR PEOPLE, - I keep better, and am to-day downstairs for the 
first time.  I find the lockers entirely empty; not a cent to the 
front.  Will you pray send us some?  It blows an equinoctial gale, 
and has blown for nearly a week.  Nimbus Britannicus; piping wind, 
lashing rain; the sea is a fine colour, and wind-bound ships lie at 
anchor under the Old Harry rocks, to make one glad to be ashore.

The Henleys are gone, and two plays practically done.  I hope they 
may produce some of the ready. - I am, ever affectionate son,

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


DEAR BOY, - I trust this finds you well; it leaves me so-so.  The 
weather is so cold that I must stick to bed, which is rotten and 
tedious, but can't be helped.

I find in the blotting book the enclosed, which I wrote to you the 
eve of my blood.  Is it not strange?  That night, when I naturally 
thought I was coopered, the thought of it was much in my mind; I 
thought it had gone; and I thought what a strange prophecy I had 
made in jest, and how it was indeed like to be the end of many 
letters.  But I have written a good few since, and the spell is 
broken.  I am just as pleased, for I earnestly desire to live.  
This pleasant middle age into whose port we are steering is quite 
to my fancy.  I would cast anchor here, and go ashore for twenty 
years, and see the manners of the place.  Youth was a great time, 
but somewhat fussy.  Now in middle age (bar lucre) all seems mighty 
placid.  It likes me; I spy a little bright cafe in one corner of 
the port, in front of which I now propose we should sit down.  
There is just enough of the bustle of the harbour and no more; and 
the ships are close in, regarding us with stern-windows - the ships 
that bring deals from Norway and parrots from the Indies.  Let us 
sit down here for twenty years, with a packet of tobacco and a 
drink, and talk of art and women.  By-and-by, the whole city will 
sink, and the ships too, and the table, and we also; but we shall 
have sat for twenty years and had a fine talk; and by that time, 
who knows? exhausted the subject.

I send you a book which (or I am mistook) will please you; it 
pleased me.  But I do desire a book of adventure - a romance - and 
no man will get or write me one.  Dumas I have read and re-read too 
often; Scott, too, and I am short.  I want to hear swords clash.  I 
want a book to begin in a good way; a book, I guess, like TREASURE 
ISLAND, alas! which I have never read, and cannot though I live to 
ninety.  I would God that some one else had written it!  By all 
that I can learn, it is the very book for my complaint.  I like the 
way I hear it opens; and they tell me John Silver is good fun.  And 
to me it is, and must ever be, a dream unrealised, a book 
unwritten.  O my sighings after romance, or even Skeltery, and O! 
the weary age which will produce me neither!


The night was damp and cloudy, the ways foul.  The single horseman, 
cloaked and booted, who pursued his way across Willesden Common, 
had not met a traveller, when the sound of wheels -


'Yes, sir,' said the old pilot, 'she must have dropped into the bay 
a little afore dawn.  A queer craft she looks.'

'She shows no colours,' returned the young gentleman musingly.

'They're a-lowering of a quarter-boat, Mr. Mark,' resumed the old 
salt.  'We shall soon know more of her.'

'Ay,' replied the young gentleman called Mark, 'and here, Mr. 
Seadrift, comes your sweet daughter Nancy tripping down the cliff.'

'God bless her kind heart, sir,' ejaculated old Seadrift.


The notary, Jean Rossignol, had been summoned to the top of a great 
house in the Isle St. Louis to make a will; and now, his duties 
finished, wrapped in a warm roquelaure and with a lantern swinging 
from one hand, he issued from the mansion on his homeward way.  
Little did he think what strange adventures were to befall him! -

That is how stories should begin.  And I am offered HUSKS instead.

What should be:                What is:
The Filibuster's Cache.       Aunt Anne's Tea Cosy.
Jerry Abershaw.               Mrs. Brierly's Niece.
Blood Money:  A Tale.          Society:  A Novel

R. L. S.



MY DEAR CAMPBELL, - The books came duly to hand.  My wife has 
occupied the translation ever since, nor have I yet been able to 
dislodge her.  As for the primer, I have read it with a very 
strange result:  that I find no fault.  If you knew how, dogmatic 
and pugnacious, I stand warden on the literary art, you would the 
more appreciate your success and my - well, I will own it -  
disappointment.  For I love to put people right (or wrong) about 
the arts.  But what you say of Tragedy and of Sophocles very amply 
satisfies me; it is well felt and well said; a little less 
technically than it is my weakness to desire to see it put, but 
clear and adequate.  You are very right to express your admiration 
for the resource displayed in OEdipus King; it is a miracle.  Would 
it not have been well to mention Voltaire's interesting onslaught, 
a thing which gives the best lesson of the difference of neighbour 
arts? - since all his criticisms, which had been fatal to a 
narrative, do not amount among them to exhibit one flaw in this 
masterpiece of drama.  For the drama, it is perfect; though such a 
fable in a romance might make the reader crack his sides, so 
imperfect, so ethereally slight is the verisimilitude required of 
these conventional, rigid, and egg-dancing arts.

I was sorry to see no more of you; but shall conclude by hoping for 
better luck next time.  My wife begs to be remembered to both of 
you. - Yours sincerely,




DEAR MR. CHATTO, - I have an offer of 25 pounds for OTTO from 
America.  I do not know if you mean to have the American rights; 
from the nature of the contract, I think not; but if you understood 
that you were to sell the sheets, I will either hand over the 
bargain to you, or finish it myself and hand you over the money if 
you are pleased with the amount.  You see, I leave this quite in 
your hands.  To parody an old Scotch story of servant and master:  
if you don't know that you have a good author, I know that I have a 
good publisher.  Your fair, open, and handsome dealings are a good 
point in my life, and do more for my crazy health than has yet been 
done by any doctor. - Very truly yours,


Letter:  TO W. H. LOW


MY DEAR LOW, - NOW, look here, the above is my address for three 
months, I hope; continue, on your part, if you please, to write to 
Edinburgh, which is safe; but if Mrs. Low thinks of coming to 
England, she might take a run down from London (four hours from 
Waterloo, main line) and stay a day or two with us among the pines.  
If not, I hope it will be only a pleasure deferred till you can 
join her.

My Children's Verses will be published here in a volume called A 
CHILD'S GARDEN.  The sheets are in hand; I will see if I cannot 
send you the lot, so that you might have a bit of a start.  In that 
case I would do nothing to publish in the States, and you might try 
an illustrated edition there; which, if the book went fairly over 
here, might, when ready, be imported.  But of this more fully ere 
long.  You will see some verses of mine in the last MAGAZINE OF 
ART, with pictures by a young lady; rather pretty, I think.  If we 
find a market for PHASELLULUS LOQUITUR, we can try another.  I hope 
it isn't necessary to put the verse into that rustic printing.  I 
am Philistine enough to prefer clean printer's type; indeed, I can 
form no idea of the verses thus transcribed by the incult and 
tottering hand of the draughtsman, nor gather any impression beyond 
one of weariness to the eyes.  Yet the other day, in the CENTURY, I 
saw it imputed as a crime to Vedder that he had not thus travestied 
Omar Khayyam.  We live in a rum age of music without airs, stories 
without incident, pictures without beauty, American wood engravings 
that should have been etchings, and dry-point etchings that ought 
to have been mezzo-tints.  I think of giving 'em literature without 
words; and I believe if you were to try invisible illustration, it 
would enjoy a considerable vogue.  So long as an artist is on his 
head, is painting with a flute, or writes with an etcher's needle, 
or conducts the orchestra with a meat-axe, all is well; and 
plaudits shower along with roses.  But any plain man who tries to 
follow the obtrusive canons of his art, is but a commonplace 
figure.  To hell with him is the motto, or at least not that; for 
he will have his reward, but he will never be thought a person of 

JANUARY 3, 1885.

And here has this been lying near two months.  I have failed to get 
together a preliminary copy of the Child's Verses for you, in spite 
of doughty efforts; but yesterday I sent you the first sheet of the 
definitive edition, and shall continue to send the others as they 
come.  If you can, and care to, work them - why so, well.  If not, 
I send you fodder.  But the time presses; for though I will delay a 
little over the proofs, and though - it is even possible they may 
delay the English issue until Easter, it will certainly not be 
later.  Therefore perpend, and do not get caught out.  Of course, 
if you can do pictures, it will be a great pleasure to me to see 
our names joined; and more than that, a great advantage, as I 
daresay you may be able to make a bargain for some share a little 
less spectral than the common for the poor author.  But this is all 
as you shall choose; I give you CARTE BLANCHE to do or not to do. - 
Yours most sincerely,


O, Sargent has been and painted my portrait; a very nice fellow he 
is, and is supposed to have done well; it is a poetical but very 
chicken-boned figure-head, as thus represented.  R. L. S. Go on.

P.P.S. - Your picture came; and let me thank you for it very much.  
I am so hunted I had near forgotten.  I find it very graceful; and 
I mean to have it framed.



MY DEAR FATHER, - I have no hesitation in recommending you to let 
your name go up; please yourself about an address; though I think, 
if we could meet, we could arrange something suitable.  What you 
propose would be well enough in a way, but so modest as to suggest 
a whine.  From that point of view it would be better to change a 
little; but this, whether we meet or not, we must discuss.  Tait, 
Chrystal, the Royal Society, and I, all think you amply deserve 
this honour and far more; it is not the True Blue to call this 
serious compliment a 'trial'; you should be glad of this 
recognition.  As for resigning, that is easy enough if found 
necessary; but to refuse would be husky and unsatisfactory.  SIC 

R. L. S.

My cold is still very heavy; but I carry it well.  Fanny is very 
very much out of sorts, principally through perpetual misery with 
me.  I fear I have been a little in the dumps, which, AS YOU KNOW, 
SIR, is a very great sin.  I must try to be more cheerful; but my 
cough is so severe that I have sometimes most exhausting nights and 
very peevish wakenings.  However, this shall be remedied, and last 
night I was distinctly better than the night before.  There is, my 
dear Mr. Stevenson (so I moralise blandly as we sit together on the 
devil's garden-wall), no more abominable sin than this gloom, this 
plaguey peevishness; why (say I) what matters it if we be a little 
uncomfortable - that is no reason for mangling our unhappy wives.  
And then I turn and GIRN on the unfortunate Cassandra. - Your 
fellow culprit,

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


DEAR HENLEY, - We are all to pieces in health, and heavily 
handicapped with Arabs.  I have a dreadful cough, whose attacks 
leave me AETAT. 90.  I never let up on the Arabs, all the same, and 
rarely get less than eight pages out of hand, though hardly able to 
come downstairs for twittering knees.

I shall put in -'s letter.  He says so little of his circumstances 
that I am in an impossibility to give him advice more specific than 
a copybook.  Give him my love, however, and tell him it is the mark 
of the parochial gentleman who has never travelled to find all 
wrong in a foreign land.  Let him hold on, and he will find one 
country as good as another; and in the meanwhile let him resist the 
fatal British tendency to communicate his dissatisfaction with a 
country to its inhabitants.  'Tis a good idea, but it somehow fails 
to please.  In a fortnight, if I can keep my spirit in the box at 
all, I should be nearly through this Arabian desert; so can tackle 
something fresh. - Yours ever,

R. L. S.


[NOVEMBER 5, 1884].

MY DEAR FATHER, - Allow me to say, in a strictly Pickwickian sense, 
that you are a silly fellow.  I am pained indeed, but how should I 
be offended?  I think you exaggerate; I cannot forget that you had 
the same impression of the DEACON; and yet, when you saw it played, 
were less revolted than you looked for; and I will still hope that 
the ADMIRAL also is not so bad as you suppose.  There is one point, 
however, where I differ from you very frankly.  Religion is in the 
world; I do not think you are the man to deny the importance of its 
role; and I have long decided not to leave it on one side in art.  
The opposition of the Admiral and Mr. Pew is not, to my eyes, 
either horrible or irreverent; but it may be, and it probably is, 
very ill done:  what then?  This is a failure; better luck next 
time; more power to the elbow, more discretion, more wisdom in the 
design, and the old defeat becomes the scene of the new victory.  
Concern yourself about no failure; they do not cost lives, as in 
engineering; they are the PIERRES PERDUES of successes.  Fame is 
(truly) a vapour; do not think of it; if the writer means well and 
tries hard, no failure will injure him, whether with God or man.

I wish I could hear a brighter account of yourself; but I am 
inclined to acquit the ADMIRAL of having a share in the 
responsibility.  My very heavy cold is, I hope, drawing off; and 
the change to this charming house in the forest will, I hope, 
complete my re-establishment. - With love to all, believe me, your 
ever affectionate,




MY DEAR CHARLES, - I am in my new house, thus proudly styled, as 
you perceive; but the deevil a tower ava' can be perceived (except 
out of window); this is not as it should be; one might have hoped, 
at least, a turret.  We are all vilely unwell.  I put in the dark 
watches imitating a donkey with some success, but little pleasure; 
and in the afternoon I indulge in a smart fever, accompanied by 
aches and shivers.  There is thus little monotony to be deplored.  
I at least am a REGULAR invalid; I would scorn to bray in the 
afternoon; I would indignantly refuse the proposal to fever in the 
night.  What is bred in the bone will come out, sir, in the flesh; 
and the same spirit that prompted me to date my letter regulates 
the hour and character of my attacks. - I am, sir, yours,




MY DEAR THOMSON, - It's a maist remarkable fac', but nae shuner had 
I written yon braggin', blawin' letter aboot ma business habits, 
when bang! that very day, ma hoast begude in the aifternune.  It is 
really remaurkable; it's providenshle, I believe.  The ink wasnae 
fair dry, the words werenae weel ooten ma mouth, when bang, I got 
the lee.  The mair ye think o't, Thomson, the less ye'll like the 
looks o't.  Proavidence (I'm no' sayin') is all verra weel IN ITS 
PLACE; but if Proavidence has nae mainners, wha's to learn't?  
Proavidence is a fine thing, but hoo would you like Proavidence to 
keep your till for ye?  The richt place for Proavidence is in the 
kirk; it has naething to do wi' private correspondence between twa 
gentlemen, nor freendly cracks, nor a wee bit word of sculduddery 
ahint the door, nor, in shoart, wi' ony HOLE-AND-CORNER WARK, what 
I would call.  I'm pairfec'ly willin' to meet in wi' Proavidence, 
I'll be prood to meet in wi' him, when my time's come and I cannae 
dae nae better; but if he's to come skinking aboot my stair-fit, 
damned, I micht as weel be deid for a' the comfort I'll can get in 
life.  Cannae he no be made to understand that it's beneath him?  
Gosh, if I was in his business, I wouldnae steir my heid for a 
plain, auld ex-elder that, tak him the way he taks himsel,' 's just 
aboot as honest as he can weel afford, an' but for a wheen auld 
scandals, near forgotten noo, is a pairfec'ly respectable and 
thoroughly decent man.  Or if I fashed wi' him ava', it wad be kind 
o' handsome like; a pun'-note under his stair door, or a bottle o' 
auld, blended malt to his bit marnin', as a teshtymonial like yon 
ye ken sae weel aboot, but mair successfu'.

Dear Thomson, have I ony money?  If I have, SEND IT, for the 
loard's sake.




MY DEAR COGGIE, - Many thanks for the two photos which now decorate 
my room.  I was particularly glad to have the Bell Rock.  I wonder 
if you saw me plunge, lance in rest, into a controversy thereanent?  
It was a very one-sided affair.  I slept upon the field of battle, 
paraded, sang Te Deum, and came home after a review rather than a 

Please tell Campbell I got his letter.  The Wild Woman of the West 
has been much amiss and complaining sorely.  I hope nothing more 
serious is wrong with her than just my ill-health, and consequent 
anxiety and labour; but the deuce of it is, that the cause 
continues.  I am about knocked out of time now:  a miserable, 
snuffling, shivering, fever-stricken, nightmare-ridden, knee-
jottering, hoast-hoast-hoasting shadow and remains of man.  But 
we'll no gie ower jist yet a bittie.  We've seen waur; and dod, 
mem, it's my belief that we'll see better.  I dinna ken 'at I've 
muckle mair to say to ye, or, indeed, onything; but jist here's 
guid-fallowship, guid health, and the wale o' guid fortune to your 
bonny sel'; and my respecs to the Perfessor and his wife, and the 
Prinshiple, an' the Bell Rock, an' ony ither public chara'ters that 
I'm acquaunt wi'.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR GOSSE, - This Mr. Morley of yours is a most desperate 
fellow.  He has sent me (for my opinion) the most truculent 
advertisement I ever saw, in which the white hairs of Gladstone are 
dragged round Troy behind my chariot wheels.  What can I say?  I 
say nothing to him; and to you, I content myself with remarking 
that he seems a desperate fellow.

All luck to you on your American adventure; may you find health, 
wealth, and entertainment!  If you see, as you likely will, Frank 
R. Stockton, pray greet him from me in words to this effect:-

My Stockton if I failed to like,
It were a sheer depravity,
For I went down with the THOMAS HYKE
And up with the NEGATIVE GRAVITY!

I adore these tales.

I hear flourishing accounts of your success at Cambridge, so you 
leave with a good omen.  Remember me to GREEN CORN if it is in 
season; if not, you had better hang yourself on a sour apple tree, 
for your voyage has been lost. - Yours affectionately,




DEAR DOBSON, - Set down my delay to your own fault; I wished to 
acknowledge such a gift from you in some of my inapt and slovenly 
rhymes; but you should have sent me your pen and not your desk.  
The verses stand up to the axles in a miry cross-road, whence the 
coursers of the sun shall never draw them; hence I am constrained 
to this uncourtliness, that I must appear before one of the kings 
of that country of rhyme without my singing robes.  For less than 
this, if we may trust the book of Esther, favourites have tasted 
death; but I conceive the kingdom of the Muses mildlier mannered; 
and in particular that county which you administer and which I seem 
to see as a half-suburban land; a land of holly-hocks and country 
houses; a land where at night, in thorny and sequestered bypaths, 
you will meet masqueraders going to a ball in their sedans, and the 
rector steering homeward by the light of his lantern; a land of the 
windmill, and the west wind, and the flowering hawthorn with a 
little scented letter in the hollow of its trunk, and the kites 
flying over all in the season of kites, and the far away blue 
spires of a cathedral city.

Will you forgive me, then, for my delay and accept my thanks not 
only for your present, but for the letter which followed it, and 
which perhaps I more particularly value, and believe me to be, with 
much admiration, yours very truly,




MY DEAR HENRY JAMES,  - This is a very brave hearing from more 
points than one.  The first point is that there is a hope of a 
sequel.  For this I laboured.  Seriously, from the dearth of 
information and thoughtful interest in the art of literature, those 
who try to practise it with any deliberate purpose run the risk of 
finding no fit audience.  People suppose it is 'the stuff' that 
interests them; they think, for instance, that the prodigious fine 
thoughts and sentiments in Shakespeare impress by their own weight, 
not understanding that the unpolished diamond is but a stone.  They 
think that striking situations, or good dialogue, are got by 
studying life; they will not rise to understand that they are 
prepared by deliberate artifice and set off by painful 
suppressions.  Now, I want the whole thing well ventilated, for my 
own education and the public's; and I beg you to look as quick as 
you can, to follow me up with every circumstance of defeat where we 
differ, and (to prevent the flouting of the laity) to emphasise the 
points where we agree.  I trust your paper will show me the way to 
a rejoinder; and that rejoinder I shall hope to make with so much 
art as to woo or drive you from your threatened silence.  I would 
not ask better than to pass my life in beating out this quarter of 
corn with such a seconder as yourself.

Point the second - I am rejoiced indeed to hear you speak so kindly 
of my work; rejoiced and surprised.  I seem to myself a very rude, 
left-handed countryman; not fit to be read, far less complimented, 
by a man so accomplished, so adroit, so craftsmanlike as you.  You 
will happily never have cause to understand the despair with which 
a writer like myself considers (say) the park scene in Lady 
Barberina.  Every touch surprises me by its intangible precision; 
and the effect when done, as light as syllabub, as distinct as a 
picture, fills me with envy.  Each man among us prefers his own 
aim, and I prefer mine; but when we come to speak of performance, I 
recognise myself, compared with you, to be a lout and slouch of the 
first water.

Where we differ, both as to the design of stories and the 
delineation of character, I begin to lament.  Of course, I am not 
so dull as to ask you to desert your walk; but could you not, in 
one novel, to oblige a sincere admirer, and to enrich his shelves 
with a beloved volume, could you not, and might you not, cast your 
characters in a mould a little more abstract and academic (dear 
Mrs. Pennyman had already, among your other work, a taste of what I 
mean), and pitch the incidents, I do not say in any stronger, but 
in a slightly more emphatic key - as it were an episode from one of 
the old (so-called) novels of adventure?  I fear you will not; and 
I suppose I must sighingly admit you to be right.  And yet, when I 
see, as it were, a book of Tom Jones handled with your exquisite 
precision and shot through with those side-lights of reflection in 
which you excel, I relinquish the dear vision with regret.  Think 
upon it.

As you know, I belong to that besotted class of man, the invalid:  
this puts me to a stand in the way of visits.  But it is possible 
that some day you may feel that a day near the sea and among 
pinewoods would be a pleasant change from town.  If so, please let 
us know; and my wife and I will be delighted to put you up, and 
give you what we can to eat and drink (I have a fair bottle of 
claret). - On the back of which, believe me, yours sincerely,


P.S. - I reopen this to say that I have re-read my paper, and 
cannot think I have at all succeeded in being either veracious or 
polite.  I knew, of course, that I took your paper merely as a pin 
to hang my own remarks upon; but, alas! what a thing is any paper!  
What fine remarks can you not hang on mine!  How I have sinned 
against proportion, and with every effort to the contrary, against 
the merest rudiments of courtesy to you!  You are indeed a very 
acute reader to have divined the real attitude of my mind; and I 
can only conclude, not without closed eyes and shrinking shoulders, 
in the well-worn words

Lay on, Macduff!



MY DEAR PEOPLE, - The dreadful tragedy of the PALL MALL has come to 
a happy but ludicrous ending:  I am to keep the money, the tale 
writ for them is to be buried certain fathoms deep, and they are to 
flash out before the world with our old friend of Kinnaird, 'The 
Body Snatcher.'  When you come, please to bring -

(1) My MONTAIGNE, or, at least, the two last volumes.
(2) My MILTON in the three vols. in green.
(3) The SHAKESPEARE that Babington sent me for a wedding-gift.

If you care to get a box of books from Douglas and Foulis, let them 
HENRY IV., Lang's FOLK LORE, would be my desires.

I had a charming letter from Henry James about my LONGMAN paper.  I 
did not understand queries about the verses; the pictures to the 
Seagull I thought charming; those to the second have left me with a 
pain in my poor belly and a swimming in the head.

About money, I am afloat and no more, and I warn you, unless I have 
great luck, I shall have to fall upon you at the New Year like a 
hundredweight of bricks.  Doctor, rent, chemist, are all 
threatening; sickness has bitterly delayed my work; and unless, as 
I say, I have the mischief's luck, I shall completely break down.  
VERBUM SAPIENTIBUS.  I do not live cheaply, and I question if I 
ever shall; but if only I had a halfpenny worth of health, I could 
now easily suffice.  The last breakdown of my head is what makes 
this bankruptcy probable.

Fanny is still out of sorts; Bogue better; self fair, but a 
stranger to the blessings of sleep. - Ever affectionate son,

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


DEAR LAD, - I have made up my mind about the P. M. G., and send you 
a copy, which please keep or return.  As for not giving a 
reduction, what are we?  Are we artists or city men?  Why do we 
sneer at stock-brokers?  O nary; I will not take the 40 pounds.  I 
took that as a fair price for my best work; I was not able to 
produce my best; and I will be damned if I steal with my eyes open.  
SUFFICIT.  This is my lookout.  As for the paper being rich, 
certainly it is; but I am honourable.  It is no more above me in 
money than the poor slaveys and cads from whom I look for honesty 
are below me.  Am I Pepys, that because I can find the countenance 
of 'some of our ablest merchants,' that because - and - pour forth 
languid twaddle and get paid for it, I, too, should 'cheerfully 
continue to steal'?  I am not Pepys.  I do not live much to God and 
honour; but I will not wilfully turn my back on both.  I am, like 
all the rest of us, falling ever lower from the bright ideas I 
began with, falling into greed, into idleness, into middle-aged and 
slippered fireside cowardice; but is it you, my bold blade, that I 
hear crying this sordid and rank twaddle in my ear?  Preaching the 
dankest Grundyism and upholding the rank customs of our trade - 
you, who are so cruel hard upon the customs of the publishers?  O 
man, look at the Beam in our own Eyes; and whatever else you do, do 
not plead Satan's cause, or plead it for all; either embrace the 
bad, or respect the good when you see a poor devil trying for it.  
If this is the honesty of authors - to take what you can get and 
console yourself because publishers are rich - take my name from 
the rolls of that association.  'Tis a caucus of weaker thieves, 
jealous of the stronger. - Ever yours,


You will see from the enclosed that I have stuck to what I think my 
dues pretty tightly in spite of this flourish:  these are my words 
for a poor ten-pound note!

Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


MY DEAR LAD, - Here was I in bed; not writing, not hearing, and 
finding myself gently and agreeably ill used; and behold I learn 
you are bad yourself.  Get your wife to send us a word how you are.  
I am better decidedly.  Bogue got his Christmas card, and behaved 
well for three days after.  It may interest the cynical to learn 
that I started my last haemorrhage by too sedulous attentions to my 
dear Bogue.  The stick was broken; and that night Bogue, who was 
attracted by the extraordinary aching of his bones, and is always 
inclined to a serious view of his own ailments, announced with his 
customary pomp that he was dying.  In this case, however, it was 
not the dog that died.  (He had tried to bite his mother's ankles.)  
I have written a long and peculiarly solemn paper on the technical 
elements of style.  It is path-breaking and epoch-making; but I do 
not think the public will be readily convoked to its perusal.  Did 
I tell you that S. C. had risen to the paper on James?  At last!  O 
but I was pleased; he's (like Johnnie) been lang, lang o' comin', 
but here he is.  He will not object to my future manoeuvres in the 
same field, as he has to my former.  All the family are here; my 
father better than I have seen him these two years; my mother the 
same as ever.  I do trust you are better, and I am yours ever,

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO H. A. JONES


DEAR SIR, - I am so accustomed to hear nonsense spoken about all 
the arts, and the drama in particular, that I cannot refrain from 
saying 'Thank you,' for your paper.  In my answer to Mr. James, in 
the December LONGMAN, you may see that I have merely touched, I 
think in a parenthesis, on the drama; but I believe enough was said 
to indicate our agreement in essentials.

Wishing you power and health to further enunciate and to act upon 
these principles, believe me, dear sir, yours truly,




DEAR S. C., - I am on my feet again, and getting on my boots to do 
the IRON DUKE.  Conceive my glee:  I have refused the 100 pounds, 
and am to get some sort of royalty, not yet decided, instead.  'Tis 
for Longman's ENGLISH WORTHIES, edited by A. Lang.  Aw haw, haw!

Now, look here, could you get me a loan of the Despatches, or is 
that a dream?  I should have to mark passages I fear, and certainly 
note pages on the fly.  If you think it a dream, will Bain get me a 
second-hand copy, or who would?  The sooner, and cheaper, I can get 
it the better.  If there is anything in your weird library that 
bears on either the man or the period, put it in a mortar and fire 
it here instanter; I shall catch.  I shall want, of course, an 
infinity of books:  among which, any lives there may be; a life of 
the Marquis Marmont (the Marechal), MARMONT'S MEMOIRS, GREVILLE'S 
MEMOIRS, PEEL'S MEMOIRS, NAPIER, that blind man's history of 
England you once lent me, Hamley's WATERLOO; can you get me any of 
these?  Thiers, idle Thiers also.  Can you help a man getting into 
his boots for such a huge campaign?  How are you?  A Good New Year 
to you.  I mean to have a good one, but on whose funds I cannot 
fancy:  not mine leastways, as I am a mere derelict and drift beam-
on to bankruptcy.

For God's sake, remember the man who set out for to conquer Arthur 
Wellesley, with a broken bellows and an empty pocket. - Yours ever,




MY DEAR FATHER, - I am glad you like the changes.  I own I was 
pleased with my hand's darg; you may observe, I have corrected 
several errors which (you may tell Mr. Dick) he had allowed to pass 
his eagle eye; I wish there may be none in mine; at least, the 
order is better.  The second title, 'Some new Engineering Questions 
involved in the M. S. C. Scheme of last Session of P.', likes me 
the best.  I think it a very good paper; and I am vain enough to 
think I have materially helped to polish the diamond.  I ended by 
feeling quite proud of the paper, as if it had been mine; the next 
time you have as good a one, I will overhaul it for the wages of 
feeling as clever as I did when I had managed to understand and 
helped to set it clear.  I wonder if I anywhere misapprehended you?  
I rather think not at the last; at the first shot I know I missed a 
point or two.  Some of what may appear to you to be wanton changes, 
a little study will show to be necessary.

Yes, Carlyle was ashamed of himself as few men have been; and let 
all carpers look at what he did.  He prepared all these papers for 
publication with his own hand; all his wife's complaints, all the 
evidence of his own misconduct:  who else would have done so much?  
Is repentance, which God accepts, to have no avail with men? nor 
even with the dead?  I have heard too much against the thrawn, 
discomfortable dog:  dead he is, and we may be glad of it; but he 
was a better man than most of us, no less patently than he was a 
worse.  To fill the world with whining is against all my views:  I 
do not like impiety.  But - but - there are two sides to all 
things, and the old scalded baby had his noble side. - Ever 
affectionate son,

R. L. S.



DEAR S. C., - I have addressed a letter to the G. O. M., A PROPOS 
of Wellington; and I became aware, you will be interested to hear, 
of an overwhelming respect for the old gentleman.  I can BLAGUER 
his failures; but when you actually address him, and bring the two 
statures and records to confrontation, dismay is the result.  By 
mere continuance of years, he must impose; the man who helped to 
rule England before I was conceived, strikes me with a new sense of 
greatness and antiquity, when I must actually beard him with the 
cold forms of correspondence.  I shied at the necessity of calling 
him plain 'Sir'!  Had he been 'My lord,' I had been happier; no, I 
am no equalitarian.  Honour to whom honour is due; and if to none, 
why, then, honour to the old!

These, O Slade Professor, are my unvarnished sentiments:  I was a 
little surprised to find them so extreme, and therefore I 
communicate the fact.

Belabour thy brains, as to whom it would be well to question.  I 
have a small space; I wish to make a popular book, nowhere obscure, 
nowhere, if it can be helped, unhuman.  It seems to me the most 
hopeful plan to tell the tale, so far as may be, by anecdote.  He 
did not die till so recently, there must be hundreds who remember 
him, and thousands who have still ungarnered stories.  Dear man, to 
the breach!  Up, soldier of the iron dook, up, Slades, and at 'em! 
(which, conclusively, he did not say:  the at 'em-ic theory is to 
be dismissed).  You know piles of fellows who must reek with 
matter; help! help! - Yours ever,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - You are indeed a backward correspondent, and much 
may be said against you.  But in this weather, and O dear! in this 
political scene of degradation, much must be forgiven.  I fear 
England is dead of Burgessry, and only walks about galvanised.  I 
do not love to think of my countrymen these days; nor to remember 
myself.  Why was I silent?  I feel I have no right to blame any 
one; but I won't write to the G. O. M.  I do really not see my way 
to any form of signature, unless 'your fellow criminal in the eyes 
of God,' which might disquiet the proprieties.

About your book, I have always said:  go on.  The drawing of 
character is a different thing from publishing the details of a 
private career.  No one objects to the first, or should object, if 
his name be not put upon it; at the other, I draw the line.  In a 
preface, if you chose, you might distinguish; it is, besides, a 
thing for which you are eminently well equipped, and which you 
would do with taste and incision.  I long to see the book.  People 
like themselves (to explain a little more); no one likes his life, 
which is a misbegotten issue, and a tale of failure.  To see these 
failures either touched upon, or COASTED, to get the idea of a 
spying eye and blabbing tongue about the house, is to lose all 
privacy in life.  To see that thing, which we do love, our 
character, set forth, is ever gratifying.  See how my TALK AND 
TALKERS went; every one liked his own portrait, and shrieked about 
other people's; so it will be with yours.  If you are the least 
true to the essential, the sitter will be pleased; very likely not 
his friends, and that from VARIOUS MOTIVES.

R. L. S.

When will your holiday be?  I sent your letter to my wife, and 
forget.  Keep us in mind, and I hope we shall he able to receive 

Letter:  TO J. A. SYMONDS


MY DEAR SYMONDS, - Yes, we have both been very neglectful.  I had 
horrid luck, catching two thundering influenzas in August and 
November.  I recovered from the last with difficulty, but have come 
through this blustering winter with some general success; in the 
house, up and down.  My wife, however, has been painfully upset by 
my health.  Last year, of course, was cruelly trying to her nerves; 
Nice and Hyeres are bad experiences; and though she is not ill, the 
doctor tells me that prolonged anxiety may do her a real mischief.

I feel a little old and fagged, and chary of speech, and not very 
sure of spirit in my work; but considering what a year I have 
passed, and how I have twice sat on Charon's pierhead, I am 

My father has presented us with a very pretty home in this place, 
into which we hope to move by May.  My CHILD'S VERSES come out next 
week.  OTTO begins to appear in April; MORE NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS as 
soon as possible.  Moreover, I am neck deep in Wellington; also a 
story on the stocks, GREAT NORTH ROAD.  O, I am busy! Lloyd is at 
college in Edinburgh.  That is, I think, all that can be said by 
way of news.

Have you read HUCKLEBERRY FINN?  It contains many excellent things; 
above all, the whole story of a healthy boy's dealings with his 
conscience, incredibly well done.

My own conscience is badly seared; a want of piety; yet I pray for 
it, tacitly, every day; believing it, after courage, the only gift 
worth having; and its want, in a man of any claims to honour, quite 
unpardonable.  The tone of your letter seemed to me very sound.  In 
these dark days of public dishonour, I do not know that one can do 
better than carry our private trials piously.  What a picture is 
this of a nation!  No man that I can see, on any side or party, 
seems to have the least sense of our ineffable shame:  the 
desertion of the garrisons.  I tell my little parable that Germany 
took England, and then there was an Indian Mutiny, and Bismarck 
said:  'Quite right:  let Delhi and Calcutta and Bombay fall; and 
let the women and children be treated Sepoy fashion,' and people 
say, 'O, but that is very different!'  And then I wish I were dead.  
Millais (I hear) was painting Gladstone when the news came of 
Gordon's death; Millais was much affected, and Gladstone said, 
'Why?  IT IS THE MAN'S OWN TEMERITY!'  Voila le Bourgeois! le voila 
nu!  But why should I blame Gladstone, when I too am a Bourgeois? 
when I have held my peace?  Why did I hold my peace?  Because I am 
a sceptic:  I.E. a Bourgeois.  We believe in nothing, Symonds; you 
don't, and I don't; and these are two reasons, out of a handful of 
millions, why England stands before the world dripping with blood 
and daubed with dishonour.  I will first try to take the beam out 
of my own eye, trusting that even private effort somehow betters 
and braces the general atmosphere.  See, for example, if England 
has shown (I put it hypothetically) one spark of manly sensibility, 
they have been shamed into it by the spectacle of Gordon.  Police-
Officer Cole is the only man that I see to admire.  I dedicate my 
NEW ARABS to him and Cox, in default of other great public 
characters. - Yours ever most affectionately,




MY DEAR GOSSE, - I was indeed much exercised how I could be worked 
into Gray; and lo! when I saw it, the passage seemed to have been 
written with a single eye to elucidate the - worst? - well, not a 
very good poem of Gray's.  Your little life is excellent, clean, 
neat, efficient.  I have read many of your notes, too, with 
pleasure.  Your connection with Gray was a happy circumstance; it 
was a suitable conjunction.

I did not answer your letter from the States, for what was I to 
say?  I liked getting it and reading it; I was rather flattered 
that you wrote it to me; and then I'll tell you what I did - I put 
it in the fire.  Why?  Well, just because it was very natural and 
expansive; and thinks I to myself, if I die one of these fine 
nights, this is just the letter that Gosse would not wish to go 
into the hands of third parties.  Was I well inspired?  And I did 
not answer it because you were in your high places, sailing with 
supreme dominion, and seeing life in a particular glory; and I was 
peddling in a corner, confined to the house, overwhelmed with 
necessary work, which I was not always doing well, and, in the very 
mild form in which the disease approaches me, touched with a sort 
of bustling cynicism.  Why throw cold water?  How ape your 
agreeable frame of mind?  In short, I held my tongue.

I have now published on 101 small pages THE COMPLETE PROOF OF MR. 
graduated examples with table of contents.  I think I shall issue a 
companion volume of exercises:  'Analyse this poem.  Collect and 
comminate the ugly words.  Distinguish and condemn the CHEVILLES.  
State Mr. Stevenson's faults of taste in regard to the measure.  
What reasons can you gather from this example for your belief that 
Mr. S. is unable to write any other measure?'

They look ghastly in the cold light of print; but there is 
something nice in the little ragged regiment for all; the 
blackguards seem to me to smile, to have a kind of childish treble 
note that sounds in my ears freshly; not song, if you will, but a 
child's voice.

I was glad you enjoyed your visit to the States.  Most Englishmen 
go there with a confirmed design of patronage, as they go to France 
for that matter; and patronage will not pay.  Besides, in this year 
of - grace, said I? - of disgrace, who should creep so low as an 
Englishman?  'It is not to be thought of that the flood' - ah, 
Wordsworth, you would change your note were you alive to-day!

I am now a beastly householder, but have not yet entered on my 
domain.  When I do, the social revolution will probably cast me 
back upon my dung heap.  There is a person called Hyndman whose eye 
is on me; his step is beHynd me as I go.  I shall call my house 
Skerryvore when I get it:  SKERRYVORE:  C'EST BON POUR LA POESHIE.  
I will conclude with my favourite sentiment:  'The world is too 
much with me.'


Author of 'John Vane Tempest:  a Romance,' 'Herbert and Henrietta:  
or the Nemesis of Sentiment,' 'The Life and Adventures of Colonel 
Bludyer Fortescue,' 'Happy Homes and Hairy Faces,' 'A Pound of 
Feathers and a Pound of Lead,' part author of 'Minn's Complete 
Capricious Correspondent:  a Manual of Natty, Natural, and Knowing 
Letters,' and editor of the 'Poetical Remains of Samuel Burt 
Crabbe, known as the melodious Bottle-Holder.'

Uniform with the above:

'The Life and Remains of the Reverend Jacob Degray Squah,' author 
of 'Heave-yo for the New Jerusalem.'  'A Box of Candles; or the 
Patent Spiritual Safety Match,' and 'A Day with the Heavenly 

Letter:  TO W. H. LOW


MY DEAR LOW, - Your success has been immense.  I wish your letter 
had come two days ago:  OTTO, alas! has been disposed of a good 
while ago; but it was only day before yesterday that I settled the 
new volume of Arabs.  However, for the future, you and the sons of 
the deified Scribner are the men for me.  Really they have behaved 
most handsomely.  I cannot lay my hand on the papers, or I would 
tell you exactly how it compares with my English bargain; but it 
compares well.  Ah, if we had that copyright, I do believe it would 
go far to make me solvent, ill-health and all.

I wrote you a letter to the Rembrandt, in which I stated my views 
about the dedication in a very brief form.  It will give me sincere 
pleasure, and will make the second dedication I have received, the 
other being from John Addington Symonds.  It is a compliment I 
value much; I don't know any that I should prefer.

I am glad to hear you have windows to do; that is a fine business, 
I think; but, alas! the glass is so bad nowadays; realism invading 
even that, as well as the huge inferiority of our technical 
resource corrupting every tint.  Still, anything that keeps a man 
to decoration is, in this age, good for the artist's spirit.

By the way, have you seen James and me on the novel?  James, I 
think in the August or September - R.  L. S. in the December 
LONGMAN.  I own I think the ECOLE BETE, of which I am the champion, 
has the whip hand of the argument; but as James is to make a 
rejoinder, I must not boast.  Anyway the controversy is amusing to 
see.  I was terribly tied down to space, which has made the end 
congested and dull.  I shall see if I can afford to send you the 
April CONTEMPORARY - but I dare say you see it anyway - as it will 
contain a paper of mine on style, a sort of continuation of old 
arguments on art in which you have wagged a most effective tongue.  
It is a sort of start upon my Treatise on the Art of Literature:  a 
small, arid book that shall some day appear.

With every good wish from me and mine (should I not say 'she and 
hers'?) to you and yours, believe me yours ever,


Letter:  TO P. G. HAMERTON


MY DEAR HAMERTON, - Various things have been reminding me of my 
misconduct:  First, Swan's application for your address; second, a 
sight of the sheets of your LANDSCAPE book; and last, your note to 
Swan, which he was so kind as to forward.  I trust you will never 
suppose me to be guilty of anything more serious than an idleness, 
partially excusable.  My ill-health makes my rate of life heavier 
than I can well meet, and yet stops me from earning more.  My 
conscience, sometimes perhaps too easily stifled, but still (for my 
time of life and the public manners of the age) fairly well alive, 
forces me to perpetual and almost endless transcriptions.  On the 
back of all this, my correspondence hangs like a thundercloud; and 
just when I think I am getting through my troubles, crack, down 
goes my health, I have a long, costly sickness, and begin the world 
again.  It is fortunate for me I have a father, or I should long 
ago have died; but the opportunity of the aid makes the necessity 
none the more welcome.  My father has presented me with a beautiful 
house here - or so I believe, for I have not yet seen it, being a 
cage bird but for nocturnal sorties in the garden.  I hope we shall 
soon move into it, and I tell myself that some day perhaps we may 
have the pleasure of seeing you as our guest.  I trust at least 
that you will take me as I am, a thoroughly bad correspondent, and 
a man, a hater, indeed, of rudeness in others, but too often rude 
in all unconsciousness himself; and that you will never cease to 
believe the sincere sympathy and admiration that I feel for you and 
for your work.

About the LANDSCAPE, which I had a glimpse of while a friend of 
mine was preparing a review, I was greatly interested, and could 
write and wrangle for a year on every page; one passage 
particularly delighted me, the part about Ulysses - jolly.  Then, 
you know, that is just what I fear I have come to think landscape 
ought to be in literature; so there we should be at odds.  Or 
perhaps not so much as I suppose, as Montaigne says it is a pot 
with two handles, and I own I am wedded to the technical handle, 
which (I likewise own and freely) you do well to keep for a 
mistress.  I should much like to talk with you about some other 
points; it is only in talk that one gets to understand.  Your 
delightful Wordsworth trap I have tried on two hardened 
Wordsworthians, not that I am not one myself.  By covering up the 
context, and asking them to guess what the passage was, both (and 
both are very clever people, one a writer, one a painter) 
pronounced it a guide-book.  'Do you think it an unusually good 
guide-book?' I asked, and both said, 'No, not at all!'  Their 
grimace was a picture when I showed the original.

I trust your health and that of Mrs. Hamerton keep better; your 
last account was a poor one.  I was unable to make out the visit I 
had hoped, as (I do not know if you heard of it) I had a very 
violent and dangerous haemorrhage last spring.  I am almost glad to 
have seen death so close with all my wits about me, and not in the 
customary lassitude and disenchantment of disease.  Even thus 
clearly beheld I find him not so terrible as we suppose.  But, 
indeed, with the passing of years, the decay of strength, the loss 
of all my old active and pleasant habits, there grows more and more 
upon me that belief in the kindness of this scheme of things, and 
the goodness of our veiled God, which is an excellent and pacifying 
compensation.  I trust, if your health continues to trouble you, 
you may find some of the same belief.  But perhaps my fine 
discovery is a piece of art, and belongs to a character cowardly, 
intolerant of certain feelings, and apt to self-deception.  I don't 
think so, however; and when I feel what a weak and fallible vessel 
I was thrust into this hurly-burly, and with what marvellous 
kindness the wind has been tempered to my frailties, I think I 
should be a strange kind of ass to feel anything but gratitude.

I do not know why I should inflict this talk upon you; but when I 
summon the rebellous pen, he must go his own way; I am no Michael 
Scott, to rule the fiend of correspondence.  Most days he will none 
of me; and when he comes, it is to rape me where he will. - Yours 
very sincerely,




DEAR MR. ARCHER, - Yes, I have heard of you and read some of your 
work; but I am bound in particular to thank you for the notice of 
my verses.  'There,' I said, throwing it over to the friend who was 
staying with me, 'it's worth writing a book to draw an article like 
that.'  Had you been as hard upon me as you were amiable, I try to 
tell myself I should have been no blinder to the merits of your 
notice.  For I saw there, to admire and to be very grateful for, a 
most sober, agile pen; an enviable touch; the marks of a reader, 
such as one imagines for one's self in dreams, thoughtful, 
critical, and kind; and to put the top on this memorial column, a 
greater readiness to describe the author criticised than to display 
the talents of his censor.

I am a man BLASE to injudicious praise (though I hope some of it 
may be judicious too), but I have to thank you for THE BEST 
CRITICISM I EVER HAD; and am therefore, dear Mr. Archer, the most 
grateful critickee now extant.


P.S. - I congratulate you on living in the corner of all London 
that I like best.  A PROPOS, you are very right about my voluntary 
aversion from the painful sides of life.  My childhood was in 
reality a very mixed experience, full of fever, nightmare, 
insomnia, painful days and interminable nights; and I can speak 
with less authority of gardens than of that other 'land of 
counterpane.'  But to what end should we renew these sorrows?  The 
sufferings of life may be handled by the very greatest in their 
hours of insight; it is of its pleasures that our common poems 
should be formed; these are the experiences that we should seek to 
recall or to provoke; and I say with Thoreau, 'What right have I to 
complain, who have not ceased to wonder?' and, to add a rider of my 
own, who have no remedy to offer.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MRS. JENKIN, - You know how much and for how long I have 
loved, respected, and admired him; I am only able to feel a little 
with you.  But I know how he would have wished us to feel.  I never 
knew a better man, nor one to me more lovable; we shall all feel 
the loss more greatly as time goes on.  It scarce seems life to me; 
what must it be to you?  Yet one of the last things that he said to 
me was, that from all these sad bereavements of yours he had 
learned only more than ever to feel the goodness and what we, in 
our feebleness, call the support of God; he had been ripening so 
much - to other eyes than ours, we must suppose he was ripe, and 
try to feel it.  I feel it is better not to say much more.  It will 
be to me a great pride to write a notice of him:  the last I can 
now do.  What more in any way I can do for you, please to think and 
let me know.  For his sake and for your own, I would not be a 
useless friend:  I know, you know me a most warm one; please 
command me or my wife, in any way.  Do not trouble to write to me; 
Austin, I have no doubt, will do so, if you are, as I fear you will 
be, unfit.

My heart is sore for you.  At least you know what you have been to 
him; how he cherished and admired you; how he was never so pleased 
as when he spoke of you; with what a boy's love, up to the last, he 
loved you.  This surely is a consolation.  Yours is the cruel part 
- to survive; you must try and not grudge to him his better 
fortune, to go first.  It is the sad part of such relations that 
one must remain and suffer; I cannot see my poor Jenkin without 
you.  Nor you indeed without him; but you may try to rejoice that 
he is spared that extremity.  Perhaps I (as I was so much his 
confidant) know even better than you can do what your loss would 
have been to him; he never spoke of you but his face changed; it 
was - you were - his religion.

I write by this post to Austin and to the ACADEMY. - Yours most 




MY DEAR MRS. JENKIN, - I should have written sooner, but we are in 
a bustle, and I have been very tired, though still well.  Your very 
kind note was most welcome to me.  I shall be very much pleased to 
have you call me Louis, as he has now done for so many years.  
Sixteen, you say? is it so long?  It seems too short now; but of 
that we cannot judge, and must not complain.

I wish that either I or my wife could do anything for you; when we 
can, you will, I am sure, command us.

I trust that my notice gave you as little pain as was possible.  I 
found I had so much to say, that I preferred to keep it for another 
place and make but a note in the ACADEMY.  To try to draw my friend 
at greater length, and say what he was to me and his intimates, 
what a good influence in life and what an example, is a desire that 
grows upon me.  It was strange, as I wrote the note, how his old 
tests and criticisms haunted me; and it reminded me afresh with 
every few words how much I owe to him.

I had a note from Henley, very brief and very sad.  We none of us 
yet feel the loss; but we know what he would have said and wished.

Do you know that Dew Smith has two photographs of him, neither very 
bad? and one giving a lively, though not flattering air of him in 
conversation?  If you have not got them, would you like me to write 
to Dew and ask him to give you proofs?

I was so pleased that he and my wife made friends; that is a great 
pleasure.  We found and have preserved one fragment (the head) of 
the drawing he made and tore up when he was last here.  He had 
promised to come and stay with us this summer.  May we not hope, at 
least, some time soon to have one from you? - Believe me, my dear 
Mrs. Jenkin, with the most real sympathy, your sincere friend,


Dear me, what happiness I owe to both of you!

Letter:  TO W. H. LOW


MY DEAR LOW, - I trust you are not annoyed with me beyond 
forgiveness; for indeed my silence has been devilish prolonged.  I 
can only tell you that I have been nearly six months (more than 
six) in a strange condition of collapse, when it was impossible to 
do any work, and difficult (more difficult than you would suppose) 
to write the merest note.  I am now better, but not yet my own man 
in the way of brains, and in health only so-so.  I suppose I shall 
learn (I begin to think I am learning) to fight this vast, vague 
feather-bed of an obsession that now overlies and smothers me; but 
in the beginnings of these conflicts, the inexperienced wrestler is 
always worsted, and I own I have been quite extinct.  I wish you to 
know, though it can be no excuse, that you are not the only one of 
my friends by many whom I have thus neglected; and even now, having 
come so very late into the possession of myself, with a substantial 
capital of debts, and my work still moving with a desperate 
slowness - as a child might fill a sandbag with its little handfuls 
- and my future deeply pledged, there is almost a touch of virtue 
in my borrowing these hours to write to you.  Why I said 'hours' I 
know not; it would look blue for both of us if I made good the 

I was writing your address the other day, ordering a copy of my 
next, PRINCE OTTO, to go your way.  I hope you have not seen it in 
parts; it was not meant to be so read; and only my poverty 
(dishonourably) consented to the serial evolution.

I will send you with this a copy of the English edition of the 
CHILD'S GARDEN.  I have heard there is some vile rule of the post-
office in the States against inscriptions; so I send herewith a 
piece of doggerel which Mr. Bunner may, if he thinks fit, copy off 
the fly leaf.

Sargent was down again and painted a portrait of me walking about 
in my own dining-room, in my own velveteen jacket, and twisting as 
I go my own moustache; at one corner a glimpse of my wife, in an 
Indian dress, and seated in a chair that was once my grandfather's; 
but since some months goes by the name of Henry James's, for it was 
there the novelist loved to sit - adds a touch of poesy and 
comicality.  It is, I think, excellent, but is too eccentric to be 
exhibited.  I am at one extreme corner; my wife, in this wild 
dress, and looking like a ghost, is at the extreme other end; 
between us an open door exhibits my palatial entrance hall and a 
part of my respected staircase.  All this is touched in lovely, 
with that witty touch of Sargent's; but, of course, it looks dam 
queer as a whole.

Pray let me hear from you, and give me good news of yourself and 
your wife, to whom please remember me. -

Yours most sincerely, my dear Low,


Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


DEAR LAD, - If there was any more praise in what you wrote, I think 
[the editor] has done us both a service; some of it stops my 
throat.  What, it would not have been the same if Dumas or Musset 
had done it, would it not?  Well, no, I do not think it would, do 
you know, now; I am really of opinion it would not; and a dam good 
job too.  Why, think what Musset would have made of Otto!  Think 
how gallantly Dumas would have carried his crowd through!  And 
whatever you do, don't quarrel with -.  It gives me much pleasure 
to see your work there; I think you do yourself great justice in 
that field; and I would let no annoyance, petty or justifiable, 
debar me from such a market.  I think you do good there.  Whether 
(considering our intimate relations) you would not do better to 
refrain from reviewing me, I will leave to yourself:  were it all 
on my side, you could foresee my answer; but there is your side 
also, where you must be the judge.

As for the SATURDAY.  Otto is no 'fool,' the reader is left in no 
doubt as to whether or not Seraphina was a Messalina (though much 
it would matter, if you come to that); and therefore on both these 
points the reviewer has been unjust.  Secondly, the romance lies 
precisely in the freeing of two spirits from these court intrigues; 
and here I think the reviewer showed himself dull.  Lastly, if 
Otto's speech is offensive to him, he is one of the large class of 
unmanly and ungenerous dogs who arrogate and defile the name of 
manly.  As for the passages quoted, I do confess that some of them 
reek Gongorically; they are excessive, but they are not inelegant 
after all.  However, had he attacked me only there, he would have 

Your criticism on Gondremark is, I fancy, right.  I thought all 
your criticisms were indeed; only your praise - chokes me. - Yours 

R. L. S.



DEAR MR. ARCHER, - I have read your paper with my customary 
admiration; it is very witty, very adroit; it contains a great deal 
that is excellently true (particularly the parts about my stories 
and the description of me as an artist in life); but you will not 
be surprised if I do not think it altogether just.  It seems to me, 
in particular, that you have wilfully read all my works in terms of 
my earliest; my aim, even in style, has quite changed in the last 
six or seven years; and this I should have thought you would have 
noticed.  Again, your first remark upon the affectation of the 
italic names; a practice only followed in my two affected little 
books of travel, where a typographical MINAUDERIE of the sort 
appeared to me in character; and what you say of it, then, is quite 
just.  But why should you forget yourself and use these same 
italics as an index to my theology some pages further on?  This is 
lightness of touch indeed; may I say, it is almost sharpness of 

Excuse these remarks.  I have been on the whole much interested, 
and sometimes amused.  Are you aware that the praiser of this 
'brave gymnasium' has not seen a canoe nor taken a long walk since 
'79? that he is rarely out of the house nowadays, and carries his 
arm in a sling?  Can you imagine that he is a backslidden 
communist, and is sure he will go to hell (if there be such an 
excellent institution) for the luxury in which he lives?  And can 
you believe that, though it is gaily expressed, the thought is hag 
and skeleton in every moment of vacuity or depression?  Can you 
conceive how profoundly I am irritated by the opposite affectation 
to my own, when I see strong men and rich men bleating about their 
sorrows and the burthen of life, in a world full of 'cancerous 
paupers,' and poor sick children, and the fatally bereaved, ay, and 
down even to such happy creatures as myself, who has yet been 
obliged to strip himself, one after another, of all the pleasures 
that he had chosen except smoking (and the days of that I know in 
my heart ought to be over), I forgot eating, which I still enjoy, 
and who sees the circle of impotence closing very slowly but quite 
steadily around him?  In my view, one dank, dispirited word is 
harmful, a crime of LESE- HUMANITE, a piece of acquired evil; every 
gay, every bright word or picture, like every pleasant air of 
music, is a piece of pleasure set afloat; the reader catches it, 
and, if he be healthy, goes on his way rejoicing; and it is the 
business of art so to send him, as often as possible.

For what you say, so kindly, so prettily, so precisely, of my 
style, I must in particular thank you; though even here, I am vexed 
you should not have remarked on my attempted change of manner:  
seemingly this attempt is still quite unsuccessful!  Well, we shall 
fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.

And now for my last word:  Mrs. Stevenson is very anxious that you 
should see me, and that she should see you, in the flesh.  If you 
at all share in these views, I am a fixture.  Write or telegraph 
(giving us time, however, to telegraph in reply, lest the day be 
impossible), and come down here to a bed and a dinner.  What do you 
say, my dear critic?  I shall be truly pleased to see you; and to 
explain at greater length what I meant by saying narrative was the 
most characteristic mood of literature, on which point I have great 
hopes I shall persuade you. - Yours truly,


P.S. - My opinion about Thoreau, and the passage in THE WEEK, is 
perhaps a fad, but it is sincere and stable.  I am still of the 
same mind five years later; did you observe that I had said 
'modern' authors? and will you observe again that this passage 
touches the very joint of our division?  It is one that appeals to 
me, deals with that part of life that I think the most important, 
and you, if I gather rightly, so much less so?  You believe in the 
extreme moment of the facts that humanity has acquired and is 
acquiring; I think them of moment, but still or much less than 
those inherent or inherited brute principles and laws that sit upon 
us (in the character of conscience) as heavy as a shirt of mail, 
and that (in the character of the affections and the airy spirit of 
pleasure) make all the light of our lives.  The house is, indeed, a 
great thing, and should be rearranged on sanitary principles; but 
my heart and all my interest are with the dweller, that ancient of 
days and day-old infant man.

R. L. S.

An excellent touch is p. 584.  'By instinct or design he eschews 
what demands constructive patience.'  I believe it is both; my 
theory is that literature must always be most at home in treating 
movement and change; hence I look for them.



MY DEAREST FATHER, - Get the November number of TIME, and you will 
see a review of me by a very clever fellow, who is quite furious at 
bottom because I am too orthodox, just as Purcell was savage 
because I am not orthodox enough.  I fall between two stools.  It 
is odd, too, to see how this man thinks me a full-blooded fox-
hunter, and tells me my philosophy would fail if I lost my health 
or had to give up exercise!

An illustrated TREASURE ISLAND will be out next month.  I have had 
an early copy, and the French pictures are admirable.  The artist 
has got his types up in Hogarth; he is full of fire and spirit, can 
draw and can compose, and has understood the book as I meant it, 
all but one or two little accidents, such as making the HISPANIOLA 
a brig.  I would send you my copy, BUT I CANNOT; it is my new toy, 
and I cannot divorce myself from this enjoyment.

I am keeping really better, and have been out about every second 
day, though the weather is cold and very wild.

I was delighted to hear you were keeping better; you and Archer 
would agree, more shame to you!  (Archer is my pessimist critic.)  
Good-bye to all of you, with my best love.  We had a dreadful 
overhauling of my conduct as a son the other night; and my wife 
stripped me of my illusions and made me admit I had been a 
detestable bad one.  Of one thing in particular she convicted me in 
my own eyes:  I mean, a most unkind reticence, which hung on me 
then, and I confess still hangs on me now, when I try to assure you 
that I do love you. - Ever your bad son,




MY DEAR HENRY JAMES, - At last, my wife being at a concert, and a 
story being done, I am at some liberty to write and give you of my 
views.  And first, many thanks for the works that came to my 
sickbed.  And second, and more important, as to the PRINCESS.  
Well, I think you are going to do it this time; I cannot, of 
course, foresee, but these two first numbers seem to me picturesque 
and sound and full of lineament, and very much a new departure.  As 
for your young lady, she is all there; yes, sir, you can do low 
life, I believe.  The prison was excellent; it was of that nature 
of touch that I sometimes achingly miss from your former work; with 
some of the grime, that is, and some of the emphasis of skeleton 
there is in nature.  I pray you to take grime in a good sense; it 
need not be ignoble:  dirt may have dignity; in nature it usually 
has; and your prison was imposing.

And now to the main point:  why do we not see you?  Do not fail us.  
Make an alarming sacrifice, and let us see 'Henry James's chair' 
properly occupied.  I never sit in it myself (though it was my 
grandfather's); it has been consecrated to guests by your approval, 
and now stands at my elbow gaping.  We have a new room, too, to 
introduce to you - our last baby, the drawing-room; it never cries, 
and has cut its teeth.  Likewise, there is a cat now.  It promises 
to be a monster of laziness and self-sufficiency.

Pray see, in the November TIME (a dread name for a magazine of 
light reading), a very clever fellow, W. Archer, stating his views 
of me; the rosy-gilled 'athletico-aesthete'; and warning me, in a 
fatherly manner, that a rheumatic fever would try my philosophy (as 
indeed it would), and that my gospel would not do for 'those who 
are shut out from the exercise of any manly virtue save 
renunciation.'  To those who know that rickety and cloistered 
spectre, the real R. L. S., the paper, besides being clever in 
itself, presents rare elements of sport.  The critical parts are in 
particular very bright and neat, and often excellently true.  Get 
it by all manner of means.

I hear on all sides I am to be attacked as an immoral writer; this 
is painful.  Have I at last got, like you, to the pitch of being 
attacked?  'Tis the consecration I lack - and could do without.  
Not that Archer's paper is an attack, or what either he or I, I 
believe, would call one; 'tis the attacks on my morality (which I 
had thought a gem of the first water) I referred to.

Now, my dear James, come - come - come.  The spirit (that is me) 
says, Come; and the bride (and that is my wife) says, Come; and the 
best thing you can do for us and yourself and your work is to get 
up and do so right away, - Yours affectionately,




DEAR MR. ARCHER. - It is possible my father may be soon down with 
me; he is an old man and in bad health and spirits; and I could 
neither leave him alone, nor could we talk freely before him.  If 
he should be here when you offer your visit, you will understand if 
I have to say no, and put you off.

I quite understand your not caring to refer to things of private 
knowledge.  What still puzzles me is how you ('in the witness box' 
- ha!  I like the phrase) should have made your argument actually 
hinge on a contention which the facts answered.

I am pleased to hear of the correctness of my guess.  It is then as 
I supposed; you are of the school of the generous and not the 
sullen pessimists; and I can feel with you.  I used myself to rage 
when I saw sick folk going by in their Bath-chairs; since I have 
been sick myself (and always when I was sick myself), I found life, 
even in its rough places, to have a property of easiness.  That 
which we suffer ourselves has no longer the same air of monstrous 
injustice and wanton cruelty that suffering wears when we see it in 
the case of others.  So we begin gradually to see that things are 
not black, but have their strange compensations; and when they draw 
towards their worst, the idea of death is like a bed to lie on.  I 
should bear false witness if I did not declare life happy.  And 
your wonderful statement that happiness tends to die out and misery 
to continue, which was what put me on the track of your frame of 
mind, is diagnostic of the happy man raging over the misery of 
others; it could never be written by the man who had tried what 
unhappiness was like.  And at any rate, it was a slip of the pen:  
the ugliest word that science has to declare is a reserved 
indifference to happiness and misery in the individual; it declares 
no leaning toward the black, no iniquity on the large scale in 
fate's doings, rather a marble equality, dread not cruel, giving 
and taking away and reconciling.

Why have I not written my TIMON?  Well, here is my worst quarrel 
with you.  You take my young books as my last word.  The tendency 
to try to say more has passed unperceived (my fault, that).  And 
you make no allowance for the slowness with which a man finds and 
tries to learn his tools.  I began with a neat brisk little style, 
and a sharp little knack of partial observation; I have tried to 
expand my means, but still I can only utter a part of what I wish 
to say, and am bound to feel; and much of it will die unspoken.  
But if I had the pen of Shakespeare, I have no TIMON to give forth.  
I feel kindly to the powers that be; I marvel they should use me so 
well; and when I think of the case of others, I wonder too, but in 
another vein, whether they may not, whether they must not, be like 
me, still with some compensation, some delight.  To have suffered, 
nay, to suffer, sets a keen edge on what remains of the agreeable.  
This is a great truth, and has to be learned in the fire. - Yours 
very truly,


We expect you, remember that.



DEAR MR. ARCHER, - You will see that I had already had a sight of 
your article and what were my thoughts.

One thing in your letter puzzles me.  Are you, too, not in the 
witness-box?  And if you are, why take a wilfully false hypothesis?  
If you knew I was a chronic invalid, why say that my philosophy was 
unsuitable to such a case?  My call for facts is not so general as 
yours, but an essential fact should not be put the other way about.

The fact is, consciously or not, you doubt my honesty; you think I 
am making faces, and at heart disbelieve my utterances.  And this I 
am disposed to think must spring from your not having had enough of 
pain, sorrow, and trouble in your existence.  It is easy to have 
too much; easy also or possible to have too little; enough is 
required that a man may appreciate what elements of consolation and 
joy there are in everything but absolutely over-powering physical 
pain or disgrace, and how in almost all circumstances the human 
soul can play a fair part.  You fear life, I fancy, on the 
principle of the hand of little employment.  But perhaps my 
hypothesis is as unlike the truth as the one you chose.  Well, if 
it be so, if you have had trials, sickness, the approach of death, 
the alienation of friends, poverty at the heels, and have not felt 
your soul turn round upon these things and spurn them under - you 
must be very differently made from me, and I earnestly believe from 
the majority of men.  But at least you are in the right to wonder 
and complain.

To 'say all'?  Stay here.  All at once?  That would require a word 
from the pen of Gargantua.  We say each particular thing as it 
comes up, and 'with that sort of emphasis that for the time there 
seems to be no other.'  Words will not otherwise serve us; no, nor 
even Shakespeare, who could not have put AS YOU LIKE IT and TIMON 
into one without ruinous loss both of emphasis and substance.  Is 
it quite fair then to keep your face so steadily on my most light-
hearted works, and then say I recognise no evil?  Yet in the paper 
on Burns, for instance, I show myself alive to some sorts of evil.  
But then, perhaps, they are not your sorts.

And again:  'to say all'?  All:  yes.  Everything:  no.  The task 
were endless, the effect nil.  But my all, in such a vast field as 
this of life, is what interests me, what stands out, what takes on 
itself a presence for my imagination or makes a figure in that 
little tricky abbreviation which is the best that my reason can 
conceive.  That I must treat, or I shall be fooling with my 
readers.  That, and not the all of some one else.

And here we come to the division:  not only do I believe that 
literature should give joy, but I see a universe, I suppose, 
eternally different from yours; a solemn, a terrible, but a very 
joyous and noble universe, where suffering is not at least wantonly 
inflicted, though it falls with dispassionate partiality, but where 
it may be and generally is nobly borne; where, above all (this I 
believe; probably you don't:  I think he may, with cancer), ANY 
BRAVE MAN MAY MAKE out a life which shall be happy for himself, 
and, by so being, beneficent to those about him.  And if he fails, 
why should I hear him weeping?  I mean if I fail, why should I 
weep?  Why should YOU hear ME?  Then to me morals, the conscience, 
the affections, and the passions are, I will own frankly and 
sweepingly, so infinitely more important than the other parts of 
life, that I conceive men rather triflers who become immersed in 
the latter; and I will always think the man who keeps his lip 
stiff, and makes 'a happy fireside clime,' and carries a pleasant 
face about to friends and neighbours, infinitely greater (in the 
abstract) than an atrabilious Shakespeare or a backbiting Kant or 
Darwin.  No offence to any of these gentlemen, two of whom probably 
(one for certain) came up to my standard.

And now enough said; it were hard if a poor man could not criticise 
another without having so much ink shed against him.  But I shall 
still regret you should have written on an hypothesis you knew to 
be untenable, and that you should thus have made your paper, for 
those who do not know me, essentially unfair.  The rich, fox-
hunting squire speaks with one voice; the sick man of letters with 
another. - Yours very truly,



P.S. - Here I go again.  To me, the medicine bottles on my chimney 
and the blood on my handkerchief are accidents; they do not colour 
my view of life, as you would know, I think, if you had experience 
of sickness; they do not exist in my prospect; I would as soon drag 
them under the eyes of my readers as I would mention a pimple I 
might chance to have (saving your presence) on my posteriors.  What 
does it prove? what does it change? it has not hurt, it has not 
changed me in any essential part; and I should think myself a 
trifler and in bad taste if I introduced the world to these 
unimportant privacies.

But, again, there is this mountain-range between us - THAT YOU DO 
NOT BELIEVE ME.  It is not flattering, but the fault is probably in 
my literary art.

Letter:  TO W. H. LOW


MY DEAR LOW, - LAMIA has not yet turned up, but your letter came to 
me this evening with a scent of the Boulevard Montparnasse that was 
irresistible.  The sand of Lavenue's crumbled under my heel; and 
the bouquet of the old Fleury came back to me, and I remembered the 
day when I found a twenty franc piece under my fetish.  Have you 
that fetish still? and has it brought you luck?  I remembered, too, 
my first sight of you in a frock coat and a smoking-cap, when we 
passed the evening at the Cafe de Medicis; and my last when we sat 
and talked in the Parc Monceau; and all these things made me feel a 
little young again, which, to one who has been mostly in bed for a 
month, was a vivifying change.

Yes, you are lucky to have a bag that holds you comfortably.  Mine 
is a strange contrivance; I don't die, damme, and I can't get along 
on both feet to save my soul; I am a chronic sickist; and my work 
cripples along between bed and the parlour, between the medicine 
bottle and the cupping glass.  Well, I like my life all the same; 
and should like it none the worse if I could have another talk with 
you, though even my talks now are measured out to me by the minute 
hand like poisons in a minim glass.

A photograph will be taken of my ugly mug and sent to you for 
ulterior purposes:  I have another thing coming out, which I did 
not put in the way of the Scribners, I can scarce tell how; but I 
was sick and penniless and rather back on the world, and mismanaged 
it.  I trust they will forgive me.

I am sorry to hear of Mrs. Low's illness, and glad to hear of her 
recovery.  I will announce the coming LAMIA to Bob:  he steams away 
at literature like smoke.  I have a beautiful Bob on my walls, and 
a good Sargent, and a delightful Lemon; and your etching now hangs 
framed in the dining-room.  So the arts surround me. - Yours,

R. L. S.

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