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Title: Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson — Volume 2
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 2" ***

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

The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume II




DEAREST KATHARINE, - Here, on a very little book and accompanied 
with lame verses, I have put your name.  Our kindness is now 
getting well on in years; it must be nearly of age; and it gets 
more valuable to me with every time I see you.  It is not possible 
to express any sentiment, and it is not necessary to try, at least 
between us.  You know very well that I love you dearly, and that I 
always will.  I only wish the verses were better, but at least you 
like the story; and it is sent to you by the one that loves you - 
Jekyll, and not Hyde.

R. L. S.


Bells upon the city are ringing in the night;
High above the gardens are the houses full of light;
On the heathy Pentlands is the curlew flying free;
And the broom is blowing bonnie in the north countrie.

We cannae break the bonds that God decreed to bind,
Still we'll be the children of the heather and the wind;
Far away from home, O, it's still for you and me
That the broom is blowing bonnie in the north countrie!

R. L. S.



MY DEAR KINNICUM, - I am a very bad dog, but not for the first 
time.  Your book, which is very interesting, came duly; and I 
immediately got a very bad cold indeed, and have been fit for 
nothing whatever.  I am a bit better now, and aye on the mend; so I 
write to tell you, I thought of you on New Year's Day; though, I 
own, it would have been more decent if I had thought in time for 
you to get my letter then.  Well, what can't be cured must be 
endured, Mr. Lawrie; and you must be content with what I give.  If 
I wrote all the letters I ought to write, and at the proper time, I 
should be very good and very happy; but I doubt if I should do 
anything else.

I suppose you will be in town for the New Year; and I hope your 
health is pretty good.  What you want is diet; but it is as much 
use to tell you that as it is to tell my father.  And I quite admit 
a diet is a beastly thing.  I doubt, however, if it be as bad as 
not being allowed to speak, which I have tried fully, and do not 
like.  When, at the same time, I was not allowed to read, it passed 
a joke.  But these are troubles of the past, and on this day, at 
least, it is proper to suppose they won't return.  But we are not 
put here to enjoy ourselves:  it was not God's purpose; and I am 
prepared to argue, it is not our sincere wish.  As for our deserts, 
the less said of them the better, for somebody might hear, and 
nobody cares to be laughed at.  A good man is a very noble thing to 
see, but not to himself; what he seems to God is, fortunately, not 
our business; that is the domain of faith; and whether on the first 
of January or the thirty-first of December, faith is a good word to 
end on.

My dear Cummy, many happy returns to you and my best love. - The 
worst correspondent in the world,




MY DEAR PEOPLE, - Many happy returns of the day to you all; I am 
fairly well and in good spirits; and much and hopefully occupied 
with dear Jenkin's life.  The inquiry in every detail, every letter 
that I read, makes me think of him more nobly.  I cannot imagine 
how I got his friendship; I did not deserve it.  I believe the 
notice will be interesting and useful.

My father's last letter, owing to the use of a quill pen and the 
neglect of blotting-paper, was hopelessly illegible.  Every one 
tried, and every one failed to decipher an important word on which 
the interest of one whole clause (and the letter consisted of two) 

I find I can make little more of this; but I'll spare the blots. - 
Dear people, ever your loving son,

R. L. S.

I will try again, being a giant refreshed by the house being empty.  
The presence of people is the great obstacle to letter-writing.  I 
deny that letters should contain news (I mean mine; those of other 
people should).  But mine should contain appropriate sentiments and 
humorous nonsense, or nonsense without the humour.  When the house 
is empty, the mind is seized with a desire - no, that is too strong 
- a willingness to pour forth unmitigated rot, which constitutes 
(in me) the true spirit of correspondence.  When I have no remarks 
to offer (and nobody to offer them to), my pen flies, and you see 
the remarkable consequence of a page literally covered with words 
and genuinely devoid of sense.  I can always do that, if quite 
alone, and I like doing it; but I have yet to learn that it is 
beloved by correspondents.  The deuce of it is, that there is no 
end possible but the end of the paper; and as there is very little 
left of that - if I cannot stop writing - suppose you give up 
reading.  It would all come to the same thing; and I think we 
should all be happier...

Letter:  TO W. H. LOW


MY DEAR LOW, - LAMIA has come, and I do not know how to thank you, 
not only for the beautiful art of the designs, but for the handsome 
and apt words of the dedication.  My favourite is 'Bathes unseen,' 
which is a masterpiece; and the next, 'Into the green recessed 
woods,' is perhaps more remarkable, though it does not take my 
fancy so imperiously.  The night scene at Corinth pleases me also.  
The second part offers fewer opportunities.  I own I should like to 
see both ISABELLA and the EVE thus illustrated; and then there's 
HYPERION - O, yes, and ENDYMION!  I should like to see the lot:  
beautiful pictures dance before me by hundreds:  I believe ENDYMION 
would suit you best.  It also is in faery-land; and I see a hundred 
opportunities, cloudy and flowery glories, things as delicate as 
the cobweb in the bush; actions, not in themselves of any mighty 
purport, but made for the pencil:  the feast of Pan, Peona's isle, 
the 'slabbed margin of a well,' the chase of the butterfly, the 
nymph, Glaucus, Cybele, Sleep on his couch, a farrago of 
unconnected beauties.  But I divagate; and all this sits in the 
bosom of the publisher.

What is more important, I accept the terms of the dedication with a 
frank heart, and the terms of your Latin legend fairly.  The sight 
of your pictures has once more awakened me to my right mind; 
something may come of it; yet one more bold push to get free of 
this prisonyard of the abominably ugly, where I take my daily 
exercise with my contemporaries.  I do not know, I have a feeling 
in my bones, a sentiment which may take on the forms of 
imagination, or may not.  If it does, I shall owe it to you; and 
the thing will thus descend from Keats even if on the wrong side of 
the blanket.  If it can be done in prose - that is the puzzle - I 
divagate again.  Thank you again:  you can draw and yet you do not 
love the ugly:  what are you doing in this age?  Flee, while it is 
yet time; they will have your four limbs pinned upon a stable door 
to scare witches.  The ugly, my unhappy friend, is DE RIGUEUR:  it 
is the only wear!  What a chance you threw away with the serpent!  
Why had Apollonius no pimples?  Heavens, my dear Low, you do not 
know your business....

I send you herewith a Gothic gnome for your Greek nymph; but the 
gnome is interesting, I think, and he came out of a deep mine, 
where he guards the fountain of tears.  It is not always the time 
to rejoice. - Yours ever,

R. L. S.

The gnome's name is JEKYLL & HYDE; I believe you will find he is 
likewise quite willing to answer to the name of Low or Stevenson.

SAME DAY. - I have copied out on the other sheet some bad verses, 
which somehow your picture suggested; as a kind of image of things 
that I pursue and cannot reach, and that you seem - no, not to have 
reached - but to have come a thought nearer to than I.  This is the 
life we have chosen:  well, the choice was mad, but I should make 
it again.

What occurs to me is this:  perhaps they might be printed in (say) 
the CENTURY for the sake of my name; and if that were possible, 
they might advertise your book.  It might be headed as sent in 
acknowledgment of your LAMIA.  Or perhaps it might be introduced by 
the phrases I have marked above.  I dare say they would stick it 
in:  I want no payment, being well paid by LAMIA.  If they are not, 
keep them to yourself.



Youth now flees on feathered foot.
Faint and fainter sounds the flute;
Rarer songs of Gods.
And still,
Somewhere on the sunny hill,
Or along the winding stream,
Through the willows, flits a dream;
Flits, but shows a smiling face,
Flees, but with so quaint a grace,
None can choose to stay at home,
All must follow - all must roam.
This is unborn beauty:  she
Now in air floats high and free,
Takes the sun, and breaks the blue; -
Late, with stooping pinion flew
Raking hedgerow trees, and wet
Her wing in silver streams, and set
Shining foot on temple roof.
Now again she flies aloof,
Coasting mountain clouds, and kissed
By the evening's amethyst.
In wet wood and miry lane
Still we pound and pant in vain;
Still with earthy foot we chase
Waning pinion, fainting face;
Still, with grey hair, we stumble on
Till - behold! - the vision gone!
Where has fleeting beauty led?
To the doorway of the dead!
qy. omit? [Life is gone, but life was gay:
We have come the primrose way!]

R. L. S.



MY DEAR GOSSE, - Thank you for your letter, so interesting to my 
vanity.  There is a review in the St. James's, which, as it seems 
to hold somewhat of your opinions, and is besides written with a 
pen and not a poker, we think may possibly be yours.  The PRINCE 
has done fairly well in spite of the reviews, which have been bad:  
he was, as you doubtless saw, well slated in the SATURDAY; one 
paper received it as a child's story; another (picture my agony) 
described it as a 'Gilbert comedy.'  It was amusing to see the race 
between me and Justin M'Carthy:  the Milesian has won by a length.

That is the hard part of literature.  You aim high, and you take 
longer over your work, and it will not be so successful as if you 
had aimed low and rushed it.  What the public likes is work (of any 
kind) a little loosely executed; so long as it is a little wordy, a 
little slack, a little dim and knotless, the dear public likes it; 
it should (if possible) be a little dull into the bargain.  I know 
that good work sometimes hits; but, with my hand on my heart, I 
think it is by an accident.  And I know also that good work must 
succeed at last; but that is not the doing of the public; they are 
only shamed into silence or affectation.  I do not write for the 
public; I do write for money, a nobler deity; and most of all for 
myself, not perhaps any more noble, but both more intelligent and 
nearer home.

Let us tell each other sad stories of the bestiality of the beast 
whom we feed.  What he likes is the newspaper; and to me the press 
is the mouth of a sewer, where lying is professed as from an 
university chair, and everything prurient, and ignoble, and 
essentially dull, finds its abode and pulpit.  I do not like 
mankind; but men, and not all of these - and fewer women.  As for 
respecting the race, and, above all, that fatuous rabble of 
burgesses called 'the public,' God save me from such irreligion! - 
that way lies disgrace and dishonour.  There must be something 
wrong in me, or I would not be popular.

This is perhaps a trifle stronger than my sedate and permanent 
opinion.  Not much, I think.  As for the art that we practise, I 
have never been able to see why its professors should be respected.  
They chose the primrose path; when they found it was not all 
primroses, but some of it brambly, and much of it uphill, they 
began to think and to speak of themselves as holy martyrs.  But a 
man is never martyred in any honest sense in the pursuit of his 
pleasure; and DELIRIUM TREMENS has more of the honour of the cross.  
We were full of the pride of life, and chose, like prostitutes, to 
live by a pleasure.  We should be paid if we give the pleasure we 
pretend to give; but why should we be honoured?

I hope some day you and Mrs. Gosse will come for a Sunday; but we 
must wait till I am able to see people.  I am very full of Jenkin's 
life; it is painful, yet very pleasant, to dig into the past of a 
dead friend, and find him, at every spadeful, shine brighter.  I 
own, as I read, I wonder more and more why he should have taken me 
to be a friend.  He had many and obvious faults upon the face of 
him; the heart was pure gold.  I feel it little pain to have lost 
him, for it is a loss in which I cannot believe; I take it, against 
reason, for an absence; if not to-day, then to-morrow, I still 
fancy I shall see him in the door; and then, now when I know him 
better, how glad a meeting!  Yes, if I could believe in the 
immortality business, the world would indeed be too good to be 
true; but we were put here to do what service we can, for honour 
and not for hire:  the sods cover us, and the worm that never dies, 
the conscience, sleeps well at last; these are the wages, besides 
what we receive so lavishly day by day; and they are enough for a 
man who knows his own frailty and sees all things in the proportion 
of reality.  The soul of piety was killed long ago by that idea of 
reward.  Nor is happiness, whether eternal or temporal, the reward 
that mankind seeks.  Happinesses are but his wayside campings; his 
soul is in the journey; he was born for the struggle, and only 
tastes his life in effort and on the condition that he is opposed.  
How, then, is such a creature, so fiery, so pugnacious, so made up 
of discontent and aspiration, and such noble and uneasy passions - 
how can he be rewarded but by rest?  I would not say it aloud; for 
man's cherished belief is that he loves that happiness which he 
continually spurns and passes by; and this belief in some ulterior 
happiness exactly fits him.  He does not require to stop and taste 
it; he can be about the rugged and bitter business where his heart 
lies; and yet he can tell himself this fairy tale of an eternal 
tea-party, and enjoy the notion that he is both himself and 
something else; and that his friends will yet meet him, all ironed 
out and emasculate, and still be lovable, - as if love did not live 
in the faults of the beloved only, and draw its breath in an 
unbroken round of forgiveness!  But the truth is, we must fight 
until we die; and when we die there can be no quiet for mankind but 
complete resumption into - what? - God, let us say - when all these 
desperate tricks will lie spellbound at last.

Here came my dinner and cut this sermon short - EXCUSEZ.

R. L. S.



DEAR JAMES PAYN, - Your very kind letter came very welcome; and 
still more welcome the news that you see -'s tale.  I will now tell 
you (and it was very good and very wise of me not to tell it 
before) that he is one of the most unlucky men I know, having put 
all his money into a pharmacy at Hyeres, when the cholera 
(certainly not his fault) swept away his customers in a body.  Thus 
you can imagine the pleasure I have to announce to him a spark of 
hope, for he sits to-day in his pharmacy, doing nothing and taking 
nothing, and watching his debts inexorably mount up.

To pass to other matters:  your hand, you are perhaps aware, is not 
one of those that can be read running; and the name of your 
daughter remains for me undecipherable.  I call her, then, your 
daughter - and a very good name too - and I beg to explain how it 
came about that I took her house.  The hospital was a point in my 
tale; but there is a house on each side.  Now the true house is the 
one before the hospital:  is that No. 11?  If not, what do you 
complain of?  If it is, how can I help what is true?  Everything in 
the DYNAMITER is not true; but the story of the Brown Box is, in 
almost every particular; I lay my hand on my heart and swear to it.  
It took place in that house in 1884; and if your daughter was in 
that house at the time, all I can say is she must have kept very 
bad society.

But I see you coming.  Perhaps your daughter's house has not a 
balcony at the back?  I cannot answer for that; I only know that 
side of Queen Square from the pavement and the back windows of 
Brunswick Row.  Thence I saw plenty of balconies (terraces rather); 
and if there is none to the particular house in question, it must 
have been so arranged to spite me.

I now come to the conclusion of this matter.  I address three 
questions to your daughter:-

1st Has her house the proper terrace?

2nd.  Is it on the proper side of the hospital?

3rd.  Was she there in the summer of 1884?

You see, I begin to fear that Mrs. Desborough may have deceived me 
on some trifling points, for she is not a lady of peddling 
exactitude.  If this should prove to be so, I will give your 
daughter a proper certificate, and her house property will return 
to its original value.

Can man say more? - Yours very truly,


I saw the other day that the Eternal had plagiarised from LOST SIR 
MASSINGBERD:  good again, sir!  I wish he would plagiarise the 
death of Zero.

Letter:  TO W. H. LOW


MY DEAR LOW, - I send you two photographs:  they are both done by 
Sir Percy Shelley, the poet's son, which may interest.  The sitting 
down one is, I think, the best; but if they choose that, see that 
the little reflected light on the nose does not give me a turn-up; 
that would be tragic.  Don't forget 'Baronet' to Sir Percy's name.

We all think a heap of your book; and I am well pleased with my 
dedication. - Yours ever,


P.S. - APROPOS of the odd controversy about Shelley's nose:  I have 
before me four photographs of myself, done by Shelley's son:  my 
nose is hooked, not like the eagle, indeed, but like the 
accipitrine family in man:  well, out of these four, only one marks 
the bend, one makes it straight, and one suggests a turn-up.  This 
throws a flood of light on calumnious man - and the scandal-
mongering sun.  For personally I cling to my curve.  To continue 
the Shelley controversy:  I have a look of him, all his sisters had 
noses like mine; Sir Percy has a marked hook; all the family had 
high cheek-bones like mine; what doubt, then, but that this turn-up 
(of which Jeaffreson accuses the poet, along with much other 
FATRAS) is the result of some accident similar to what has happened 
in my photographs by his son?

R. L. S.



MY DEAR FATHER, - Many thanks for a letter quite like yourself.  I 
quite agree with you, and had already planned a scene of religion 
in BALFOUR; the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge 
furnishes me with a catechist whom I shall try to make the man.  I 
have another catechist, the blind, pistol-carrying highway robber, 
whom I have transferred from the Long Island to Mull.  I find it a 
most picturesque period, and wonder Scott let it escape.  The 
COVENANT is lost on one of the Tarrans, and David is cast on 
Earraid, where (being from inland) he is nearly starved before he 
finds out the island is tidal; then he crosses Mull to Toronsay, 
meeting the blind catechist by the way; then crosses Morven from 
Kinlochaline to Kingairloch, where he stays the night with the good 
catechist; that is where I am; next day he is to be put ashore in 
Appin, and be present at Colin Campbell's death.  To-day I rest, 
being a little run down.  Strange how liable we are to brain fag in 
this scooty family!  But as far as I have got, all but the last 
chapter, I think David is on his feet, and (to my mind) a far 
better story and far sounder at heart than TREASURE ISLAND.

I have no earthly news, living entirely in my story, and only 
coming out of it to play patience.  The Shelleys are gone; the 
Taylors kinder than can be imagined.  The other day, Lady Taylor 
drove over and called on me; she is a delightful old lady, and 
great fun.  I mentioned a story about the Duchess of Wellington 
which I had heard Sir Henry tell; and though he was very tired, he 
looked it up and copied it out for me in his own hand. - Your most 
affectionate son,


Letter:  TO C. W. STODDARD


MY DEAR STODDARD, - I am a dreadful character; but, you see, I have 
at last taken pen in hand; how long I may hold it, God knows.  This 
is already my sixth letter to-day, and I have many more waiting; 
and my wrist gives me a jog on the subject of scrivener's cramp, 
which is not encouraging.

I gather you were a little down in the jaw when you wrote your 
last.  I am as usual pretty cheerful, but not very strong.  I stay 
in the house all winter, which is base; but, as you continue to 
see, the pen goes from time to time, though neither fast enough nor 
constantly enough to please me.

My wife is at Bath with my father and mother, and the interval of 
widowery explains my writing.  Another person writing for you when 
you have done work is a great enemy to correspondence.  To-day I 
feel out of health, and shan't work; and hence this so much overdue 

I was re-reading some of your South Sea Idyls the other day:  some 
of the chapters are very good indeed; some pages as good as they 
can be.

How does your class get along?  If you like to touch on OTTO, any 
day in a by-hour, you may tell them - as the author's last dying 
confession - that it is a strange example of the difficulty of 
being ideal in an age of realism; that the unpleasant giddy-
mindedness, which spoils the book and often gives it a wanton air 
of unreality and juggling with air-bells, comes from unsteadiness 
of key; from the too great realism of some chapters and passages - 
some of which I have now spotted, others I dare say I shall never 
spot - which disprepares the imagination for the cast of the 

Any story can be made TRUE in its own key; any story can be made 
FALSE by the choice of a wrong key of detail or style:  Otto is 
made to reel like a drunken - I was going to say man, but let us 
substitute cipher - by the variations of the key.  Have you 
observed that the famous problem of realism and idealism is one 
purely of detail?  Have you seen my 'Note on Realism' in Cassell's 
MAGAZINE OF ART; and 'Elements of Style' in the CONTEMPORARY; and 
'Romance' and 'Humble Apology' in LONGMAN'S?  They are all in your 
line of business; let me know what you have not seen and I'll send 

I am glad I brought the old house up to you.  It was a pleasant old 
spot, and I remember you there, though still more dearly in your 
own strange den upon a hill in San Francisco; and one of the most 
San Francisco-y parts of San Francisco.

Good-bye, my dear fellow, and believe me your friend,


Letter:  TO J. A. SYMONDS


MY DEAR SYMONDS, - If we have lost touch, it is (I think) only in a 
material sense; a question of letters, not hearts.  You will find a 
warm welcome at Skerryvore from both the lightkeepers; and, indeed, 
we never tell ourselves one of our financial fairy tales, but a run 
to Davos is a prime feature.  I am not changeable in friendship; 
and I think I can promise you you have a pair of trusty well-
wishers and friends in Bournemouth:  whether they write or not is 
but a small thing; the flag may not be waved, but it is there.

Jekyll is a dreadful thing, I own; but the only thing I feel 
dreadful about is that damned old business of the war in the 
members.  This time it came out; I hope it will stay in, in future.

Raskolnikoff is easily the greatest book I have read in ten years; 
I am glad you took to it.  Many find it dull:  Henry James could 
not finish it:  all I can say is, it nearly finished me.  It was 
like having an illness.  James did not care for it because the 
character of Raskolnikoff was not objective; and at that I divined 
a great gulf between us, and, on further reflection, the existence 
of a certain impotence in many minds of to-day, which prevents them 
from living IN a book or a character, and keeps them standing afar 
off, spectators of a puppet show.  To such I suppose the book may 
seem empty in the centre; to the others it is a room, a house of 
life, into which they themselves enter, and are tortured and 
purified.  The Juge d'Instruction I thought a wonderful, weird, 
touching, ingenious creation:  the drunken father, and Sonia, and 
the student friend, and the uncircumscribed, protaplasmic humanity 
of Raskolnikoff, all upon a level that filled me with wonder:  the 
execution also, superb in places.  Another has been translated - 
HUMILIES ET OFFENSES.  It is even more incoherent than LE CRIME ET 
LE CHATIMENT, but breathes much of the same lovely goodness, and 
has passages of power.  Dostoieffsky is a devil of a swell, to be 
sure.  Have you heard that he became a stout, imperialist 
conservative?  It is interesting to know.  To something of that 
side, the balance leans with me also in view of the incoherency and 
incapacity of all.  The old boyish idea of the march on Paradise 
being now out of season, and all plans and ideas that I hear 
debated being built on a superb indifference to the first 
principles of human character, a helpless desire to acquiesce in 
anything of which I know the worst assails me.  Fundamental errors 
in human nature of two sorts stand on the skyline of all this modem 
world of aspirations.  First, that it is happiness that men want; 
and second, that happiness consists of anything but an internal 
harmony.  Men do not want, and I do not think they would accept, 
happiness; what they live for is rivalry, effort, success - the 
elements our friends wish to eliminate.  And, on the other hand, 
happiness is a question of morality - or of immorality, there is no 
difference - and conviction.  Gordon was happy in Khartoum, in his 
worst hours of danger and fatigue; Marat was happy, I suppose, in 
his ugliest frenzy; Marcus Aurelius was happy in the detested camp; 
Pepys was pretty happy, and I am pretty happy on the whole, because 
we both somewhat crowingly accepted a VIA MEDIA, both liked to 
attend to our affairs, and both had some success in managing the 
same.  It is quite an open question whether Pepys and I ought to be 
happy; on the other hand, there is no doubt that Marat had better 
be unhappy.  He was right (if he said it) that he was LA MISERE 
HUMAINE, cureless misery - unless perhaps by the gallows.  Death is 
a great and gentle solvent; it has never had justice done it, no, 
not by Whitman.  As for those crockery chimney-piece ornaments, the 
bourgeois (QUORUM PARS), and their cowardly dislike of dying and 
killing, it is merely one symptom of a thousand how utterly they 
have got out of touch of life.  Their dislike of capital punishment 
and their treatment of their domestic servants are for me the two 
flaunting emblems of their hollowness.

God knows where I am driving to.  But here comes my lunch.

Which interruption, happily for you, seems to have stayed the 
issue.  I have now nothing to say, that had formerly such a 
pressure of twaddle.  Pray don't fail to come this summer.  It will 
be a great disappointment, now it has been spoken of, if you do. - 
Yours ever,


Letter:  TO W. H. LOW


MY DEAR LOW, - This is the most enchanting picture.  Now understand 
my state:  I am really an invalid, but of a mysterious order.  I 
might be a MALADE IMAGINAIRE, but for one too tangible symptom, my 
tendency to bleed from the lungs.  If we could go, (1ST)  We must 
have money enough to travel with LEISURE AND COMFORT - especially 
the first.  (2ND)  You must be prepared for a comrade who would go 
to bed some part of every day and often stay silent (3RD)  You 
would have to play the part of a thoughtful courier, sparing me 
fatigue, looking out that my bed was warmed, etc. (4TH)  If you are 
very nervous, you must recollect a bad haemorrhage is always on the 
cards, with its concomitants of anxiety and horror for those who 
are beside me.

Do you blench?  If so, let us say no more about it.

If you are still unafraid, and the money were forthcoming, I 
believe the trip might do me good, and I feel sure that, working 
together, we might produce a fine book.  The Rhone is the river of 
Angels.  I adore it:  have adored it since I was twelve, and first 
saw it from the train.

Lastly, it would depend on how I keep from now on.  I have stood 
the winter hitherto with some credit, but the dreadful weather 
still continues, and I cannot holloa till I am through the wood.

Subject to these numerous and gloomy provisos, I embrace the 
prospect with glorious feelings.

I write this from bed, snow pouring without, and no circumstance of 
pleasure except your letter.  That, however, counts for much.  I am 
glad you liked the doggerel:  I have already had a liberal cheque, 
over which I licked my fingers with a sound conscience.  I had not 
meant to make money by these stumbling feet, but if it comes, it is 
only too welcome in my handsome but impecunious house.

Let me know soon what is to be expected - as far as it does not 
hang by that inconstant quantity, my want of health.  Remember me 
to Madam with the best thanks and wishes; and believe me your 




MY DEAR MRS. JENKIN, - I try to tell myself it is good nature, but 
I know it is vanity that makes me write.

I have drafted the first part of Chapter VI., Fleeming and his 
friends, his influence on me, his views on religion and literature, 
his part at the Savile; it should boil down to about ten pages, and 
I really do think it admirably good.  It has so much evoked 
Fleeming for myself that I found my conscience stirred just as it 
used to be after a serious talk with him:  surely that means it is 
good?  I had to write and tell you, being alone.

I have excellent news of Fanny, who is much better for the change.  
My father is still very yellow, and very old, and very weak, but 
yesterday he seemed happier, and smiled, and followed what was 
said; even laughed, I think.  When he came away, he said to me, 
'Take care of yourself, my dearie,' which had a strange sound of 
childish days, and will not leave my mind.

You must get Litolf's GAVOTTES CELEBRES:  I have made another 
trover there:  a musette of Lully's.  The second part of it I have 
not yet got the hang of; but the first - only a few bars!  The 
gavotte is beautiful and pretty hard, I think, and very much of the 
period; and at the end of it, this musette enters with the most 
really thrilling effect of simple beauty.  O - it's first-rate.  I 
am quite mad over it.  If you find other books containing Lully, 
Rameau, Martini, please let me know; also you might tell me, you 
who know Bach, where the easiest is to be found.  I write all 
morning, come down, and never leave the piano till about five; 
write letters, dine, get down again about eight, and never leave 
the piano till I go to bed.  This is a fine life. - Yours most 

R. L. S.

If you get the musette (Lully's), please tell me if I am right, and 
it was probably written for strings.  Anyway, it is as neat as - as 
neat as Bach - on the piano; or seems so to my ignorance.

I play much of the Rigadoon but it is strange, it don't come off 
QUITE so well with me!

[Musical score which cannot be reproduced]

There is the first part of the musette copied (from memory, so I 
hope there's nothing wrong).  Is it not angelic?  But it ought, of 
course, to have the gavotte before.  The gavotte is in G, and ends 
on the keynote thus (if I remember):-

[Musical score which cannot be reproduced]

staccato, I think.  Then you sail into the musette.

N.B. - Where I have put an 'A,' is that a dominant eleventh, or 
what? or just a seventh on the D? and if the latter, is that 
allowed?  It sounds very funny.  Never mind all my questions; if I 
begin about music (which is my leading ignorance and curiosity), I 
have always to babble questions:  all my friends know me now, and 
take no notice whatever.  The whole piece is marked allegro; but 
surely could easily be played too fast?  The dignity must not be 
lost; the periwig feeling.



MY DEAR FATHER, - The David problem has to-day been decided.  I am 
to leave the door open for a sequel if the public take to it, and 
this will save me from butchering a lot of good material to no 
purpose.  Your letter from Carlisle was pretty like yourself, sir, 
as I was pleased to see; the hand of Jekyll, not the hand of Hyde.  
I am for action quite unfit, and even a letter is beyond me; so 
pray take these scraps at a vast deal more than their intrinsic 
worth.  I am in great spirits about David, Colvin agreeing with 
Henley, Fanny, and myself in thinking it far the most human of my 
labours hitherto.  As to whether the long-eared British public may 
take to it, all think it more than doubtful; I wish they would, for 
I could do a second volume with ease and pleasure, and Colvin 
thinks it sin and folly to throw away David and Alan Breck upon so 
small a field as this one. - Ever your affectionate son,

R. L. S.


KNOWN), 1886.

MY DEAR MRS. JENKIN, - It is I know not what hour of the night; but 
I cannot sleep, have lit the gas, and here goes.

First, all your packet arrived:  I have dipped into the Schumann 
already with great pleasure.  Surely, in what concerns us there is 
a sweet little chirrup; the GOOD WORDS arrived in the morning just 
when I needed it, and the famous notes that I had lost were 
recovered also in the nick of time.

And now I am going to bother you with my affairs:  premising, 
first, that this is PRIVATE; second, that whatever I do the LIFE 
shall be done first, and I am getting on with it well; and third, 
that I do not quite know why I consult you, but something tells me 
you will hear with fairness.

Here is my problem.  The Curtin women are still miserable 
prisoners; no one dare buy their farm of them, all the manhood of 
England and the world stands aghast before a threat of murder.  (1) 
Now, my work can be done anywhere; hence I can take up without loss 
a back-going Irish farm, and live on, though not (as I had 
originally written) in it:  First Reason.  (2) If I should be 
killed, there are a good many who would feel it:  writers are so 
much in the public eye, that a writer being murdered would attract 
attention, throw a bull's-eye light upon this cowardly business:  
Second Reason.  (3) I am not unknown in the States, from which the 
funds come that pay for these brutalities:  to some faint extent, 
my death (if I should be killed) would tell there:  Third Reason.  
Reason.  (5) I have a crazy health and may die at any moment, my 
life is of no purchase in an insurance office, it is the less 
account to husband it, and the business of husbanding a life is 
dreary and demoralising:  Fifth Reason.

I state these in no order, but as they occur to me.  And I shall do 
the like with the objections.

First Objection:  It will do no good; you have seen Gordon die and 
nobody minded; nobody will mind if you die.  This is plainly of the 
devil.  Second Objection:  You will not even be murdered, the 
climate will miserably kill you, you will strangle out in a rotten 
damp heat, in congestion, etc.  Well, what then?  It changes 
nothing:  the purpose is to brave crime; let me brave it, for such 
time and to such an extent as God allows.  Third Objection:  The 
Curtin women are probably highly uninteresting females.  I haven't 
a doubt of it.  But the Government cannot, men will not, protect 
them.  If I am the only one to see this public duty, it is to the 
public and the Right I should perform it - not to Mesdames Curtin.  
Fourth Objection:  I am married.  'I have married a wife!'  I seem 
to have heard it before.  It smells ancient! what was the context?  
Fifth Objection:  My wife has had a mean life (1), loves me (2), 
could not bear to lose me (3).  (1) I admit:  I am sorry.  (2) But 
what does she love me for? and (3) she must lose me soon or late.  
And after all, because we run this risk, it does not follow we 
should fail.  Sixth Objection:  My wife wouldn't like it.  No, she 
wouldn't.  Who would?  But the Curtins don't like it.  And all 
those who are to suffer if this goes on, won't like it.  And if 
there is a great wrong, somebody must suffer.  Seventh Objection:  
I won't like it.  No, I will not; I have thought it through, and I 
will not.  But what of that?  And both she and I may like it more 
than we suppose.  We shall lose friends, all comforts, all society:  
so has everybody who has ever done anything; but we shall have some 
excitement, and that's a fine thing; and we shall be trying to do 
the right, and that's not to be despised.  Eighth Objection:  I am 
an author with my work before me.  See Second Reason.  Ninth 
Objection:  But am I not taken with the hope of excitement?  I was 
at first.  I am not much now.  I see what a dreary, friendless, 
miserable, God-forgotten business it will be.  And anyway, is not 
excitement the proper reward of doing anything both right and a 
little dangerous?  Tenth Objection:  But am I not taken with a 
notion of glory?  I dare say I am.  Yet I see quite clearly how all 
points to nothing coming, to a quite inglorious death by disease 
and from the lack of attendance; or even if I should be knocked on 
the head, as these poor Irish promise, how little any one will 
care.  It will be a smile at a thousand breakfast-tables.  I am 
nearly forty now; I have not many illusions.  And if I had?  I do 
not love this health-tending, housekeeping life of mine.  I have a 
taste for danger, which is human, like the fear of it.  Here is a 
fair cause; a just cause; no knight ever set lance in rest for a 
juster.  Yet it needs not the strength I have not, only the passive 
courage that I hope I could muster, and the watchfulness that I am 
sure I could learn.

Here is a long midnight dissertation; with myself; with you.  
Please let me hear.  But I charge you this:  if you see in this 
idea of mine the finger of duty, do not dissuade me.  I am nearing 
forty, I begin to love my ease and my home and my habits, I never 
knew how much till this arose; do not falsely counsel me to put my 
head under the bed-clothes.  And I will say this to you:  my wife, 
who hates the idea, does not refuse.  'It is nonsense,' says she, 
'but if you go, I will go.'  Poor girl, and her home and her garden 
that she was so proud of!  I feel her garden most of all, because 
it is a pleasure (I suppose) that I do not feel myself to share.

1. Here is a great wrong.
2. " growing wrong.
3. " wrong founded on crime.
4. " crime that the Government cannot prevent.
5. " crime that it occurs to no man to defy.
6. But it has occurred to me.
7. Being a known person, some will notice my defiance.
8. Being a writer, I can MAKE people notice it.
9. And, I think, MAKE people imitate me.
10. Which would destroy in time this whole scaffolding of 
11. And if I fail, however ignominiously, that is not my concern.  
It is, with an odd mixture of reverence and humorous remembrances 
of Dickens, be it said - it is A-nother's.

And here, at I cannot think what hour of the morning, I shall dry 
up, and remain, - Yours, really in want of a little help,

R. L S.

Sleepless at midnight's dewy hour.
     "          "       witching "
     "          "       maudlin "
     "          "       etc.

NEXT MORNING. - Eleventh Objection:  I have a father and mother.  
And who has not?  Macduff's was a rare case; if we must wait for a 
Macduff.  Besides, my father will not perhaps be long here.  
Twelfth Objection:  The cause of England in Ireland is not worth 
supporting.  A QUI LE DITES-VOUS?  And I am not supporting that.  
Home Rule, if you like.  Cause of decency, the idea that 
populations should not be taught to gain public ends by private 
crime, the idea that for all men to bow before a threat of crime is 
to loosen and degrade beyond redemption the whole fabric of man's 



MY DEAR MRS. JENKIN, - The Book - It is all drafted:  I hope soon 
to send you for comments Chapters III., IV., and V.  Chapter VII. 
is roughly but satisfactorily drafted:  a very little work should 
put that to rights.  But Chapter VI. is no joke; it is a MARE 
MAGNUM:  I swim and drown and come up again; and it is all broken 
ends and mystification:  moreover, I perceive I am in want of more 
matter.  I must have, first of all, a little letter from Mr. Ewing 
about the phonograph work:  IF you think he would understand it is 
quite a matter of chance whether I use a word or a fact out of it.  
If you think he would not:  I will go without.  Also, could I have 
a look at Ewing's PRECIS?  And lastly, I perceive I must interview 
you again about a few points; they are very few, and might come to 
little; and I propose to go on getting things as well together as I 
can in the meanwhile, and rather have a final time when all is 
ready and only to be criticised.  I do still think it will be good.  
I wonder if Trelat would let me cut?  But no, I think I wouldn't 
after all; 'tis so quaint and pretty and clever and simple and 
French, and gives such a good sight of Fleeming:  the plum of the 
book, I think.

You misunderstood me in one point:  I always hoped to found such a 
society; that was the outside of my dream, and would mean entire 
success.  BUT - I cannot play Peter the Hermit.  In these days of 
the Fleet Street journalist, I cannot send out better men than 
myself, with wives or mothers just as good as mine, and sisters (I 
may at least say) better, to a danger and a long-drawn dreariness 
that I do not share.  My wife says it's cowardice; what brave men 
are the leader-writers!  Call it cowardice; it is mine.  Mind you, 
I may end by trying to do it by the pen only:  I shall not love 
myself if I do; and is it ever a good thing to do a thing for which 
you despise yourself? - even in the doing?  And if the thing you do 
is to call upon others to do the thing you neglect?  I have never 
dared to say what I feel about men's lives, because my own was in 
the wrong:  shall I dare to send them to death?  The physician must 
heal himself; he must honestly TRY the path he recommends:  if he 
does not even try, should he not be silent?

I thank you very heartily for your letter, and for the seriousness 
you brought to it.  You know, I think when a serious thing is your 
own, you keep a saner man by laughing at it and yourself as you go.  
So I do not write possibly with all the really somewhat sickened 
gravity I feel.  And indeed, what with the book, and this business 
to which I referred, and Ireland, I am scarcely in an enviable 
state.  Well, I ought to be glad, after ten years of the worst 
training on earth - valetudinarianism - that I can still be 
troubled by a duty.  You shall hear more in time; so far, I am at 
least decided:  I will go and see Balfour when I get to London.

We have all had a great pleasure:  a Mrs. Rawlinson came and 
brought with her a nineteen-year-old daughter, simple, human, as 
beautiful as - herself; I never admired a girl before, you know it 
was my weakness:  we are all three dead in love with her.  How nice 
to be able to do so much good to harassed people by - yourself!  
Ever yours,

R. L. S.



OF the many flowers you brought me,
Only some were meant to stay,
And the flower I thought the sweetest
Was the flower that went away.

Of the many flowers you brought me,
All were fair and fresh and gay,
But the flower I thought the sweetest
Was the blossom of the May.




DEAR MISS MONROE, - (I hope I have this rightly) I must lose no 
time in thanking you for a letter singularly pleasant to receive.  
It may interest you to know that I read to the signature without 
suspecting my correspondent was a woman; though in one point (a 
reference to the Countess) I might have found a hint of the truth.  
You are not pleased with Otto; since I judge you do not like 
weakness; and no more do I.  And yet I have more than tolerance for 
Otto, whose faults are the faults of weakness, but never of ignoble 
weakness, and who seeks before all to be both kind and just.  
Seeks, not succeeds.  But what is man?  So much of cynicism to 
recognise that nobody does right is the best equipment for those 
who do not wish to be cynics in good earnest.  Think better of 
Otto, if my plea can influence you; and this I mean for your own 
sake - not his, poor fellow, as he will never learn your opinion; 
but for yours, because, as men go in this world (and women too), 
you will not go far wrong if you light upon so fine a fellow; and 
to light upon one and not perceive his merits is a calamity.  In 
the flesh, of course, I mean; in the book the fault, of course, is 
with my stumbling pen.  Seraphina made a mistake about her Otto; it 
begins to swim before me dimly that you may have some traits of 

With true ingratitude you see me pitch upon your exception; but it 
is easier to defend oneself gracefully than to acknowledge praise.  
I am truly glad that you should like my books; for I think I see 
from what you write that you are a reader worth convincing.  Your 
name, if I have properly deciphered it, suggests that you may be 
also something of my countrywoman; for it is hard to see where 
Monroe came from, if not from Scotland.  I seem to have here a 
double claim on your good nature:  being myself pure Scotch and 
having appreciated your letter, make up two undeniable merits 
which, perhaps, if it should be quite without trouble, you might 
reward with your photograph. - Yours truly,




MY DEAR MISS MONROE, - I am ill in bed and stupid, incoherently 
stupid; yet I have to answer your letter, and if the answer is 
incomprehensible you must forgive me.  You say my letter caused you 
pleasure; I am sure, as it fell out, not near so much as yours has 
brought to me.  The interest taken in an author is fragile:  his 
next book, or your next year of culture, might see the interest 
frosted or outgrown; and himself, in spite of all, you might 
probably find the most distasteful person upon earth.  My case is 
different.  I have bad health, am often condemned to silence for 
days together - was so once for six weeks, so that my voice was 
awful to hear when I first used it, like the whisper of a shadow - 
have outlived all my chief pleasures, which were active and 
adventurous, and ran in the open air:  and being a person who 
prefers life to art, and who knows it is a far finer thing to be in 
love, or to risk a danger, than to paint the finest picture or 
write the noblest book, I begin to regard what remains to me of my 
life as very shadowy.  From a variety of reasons, I am ashamed to 
confess I was much in this humour when your letter came.  I had a 
good many troubles; was regretting a high average of sins; had been 
recently reminded that I had outlived some friends, and wondering 
if I had not outlived some friendships; and had just, while 
boasting of better health, been struck down again by my haunting 
enemy, an enemy who was exciting at first, but has now, by the 
iteration of his strokes, become merely annoying and inexpressibly 
irksome.  Can you fancy that to a person drawing towards the 
elderly this sort of conjunction of circumstances brings a rather 
aching sense of the past and the future?  Well, it was just then 
that your letter and your photograph were brought to me in bed; and 
there came to me at once the most agreeable sense of triumph.  My 
books were still young; my words had their good health and could go 
about the world and make themselves welcome; and even (in a shadowy 
and distant sense) make something in the nature of friends for the 
sheer hulk that stays at home and bites his pen over the 
manuscripts.  It amused me very much to remember that I had been in 
Chicago, not so many years ago, in my proper person; where I had 
failed to awaken much remark, except from the ticket collector; and 
to think how much more gallant and persuasive were the fellows that 
I now send instead of me, and how these are welcome in that quarter 
to the sitter of Herr Platz, while their author was not very 
welcome even in the villainous restaurant where he tried to eat a 
meal and rather failed.

And this leads me directly to a confession.  The photograph which 
shall accompany this is not chosen as the most like, but the best-
looking.  Put yourself in my place, and you will call this 
pardonable.  Even as it is, even putting forth a flattered 
presentment, I am a little pained; and very glad it is a photograph 
and not myself that has to go; for in this case, if it please you, 
you can tell yourself it is my image - and if it displeased you, 
you can lay the blame on the photographer; but in that, there were 
no help, and the poor author might belie his labours.

KIDNAPPED should soon appear; I am afraid you may not like it, as 
it is very unlike PRINCE OTTO in every way; but I am myself a great 
admirer of the two chief characters, Alan and David.  VIRGINIBUS 
PUERISQUE has never been issued in the States.  I do not think it 
is a book that has much charm for publishers in any land; but I am 
to bring out a new edition in England shortly, a copy of which I 
must try to remember to send you.  I say try to remember, because I 
have some superficial acquaintance with myself:  and I have 
determined, after a galling discipline, to promise nothing more 
until the day of my death:  at least, in this way, I shall no more 
break my word, and I must now try being churlish instead of being 

I do not believe you to be the least like Seraphina.  Your 
photograph has no trace of her, which somewhat relieves me, as I am 
a good deal afraid of Seraphinas - they do not always go into the 
woods and see the sunrise, and some are so well-mailed that even 
that experience would leave them unaffected and unsoftened.  The 
'hair and eyes of several complexions' was a trait taken from 
myself; and I do not bind myself to the opinions of Sir John.  In 
this case, perhaps - but no, if the peculiarity is shared by two 
such pleasant persons as you and I (as you and me - the grammatical 
nut is hard), it must be a very good thing indeed, and Sir John 
must be an ass.

The BOOK READER notice was a strange jumble of fact and fancy.  I 
wish you could have seen my father's old assistant and present 
partner when he heard my father described as an 'inspector of 
lighthouses,' for we are all very proud of the family achievements, 
and the name of my house here in Bournemouth is stolen from one of 
the sea-towers of the Hebrides which are our pyramids and 
monuments.  I was never at Cambridge, again; but neglected a 
considerable succession of classes at Edinburgh.  But to correct 
that friendly blunderer were to write an autobiography. - And so 
now, with many thanks, believe me yours sincerely,


Letter:  TO R. A. M. STEVENSON


SIR, - Your foolish letter was unduly received.  There may be 
hidden fifths, and if there are, it shows how dam spontaneous the 
thing was.  I could tinker and tic-tac-toe on a piece of paper, but 
scorned the act with a Threnody, which was poured forth like blood 
and water on the groaning organ.  If your heart (which was what I 
addressed) remained unmoved, let us refer to the affair no more:  
crystallised emotion, the statement and the reconciliation of the 
sorrows of the race and the individual, is obviously no more to you 
than supping sawdust.  Well, well.  If ever I write another 
Threnody!  My next op. will probably be a Passepied and fugue in G 
(or D).

The mind is in my case shrunk to the size and sp. gr. of an aged 
Spanish filbert.  O, I am so jolly silly.  I now pickle with some 
freedom (1) the refrain of MARTINI'S MOUTONS; (2) SUL MARGINE D'UN 
RIO, arranged for the infant school by the Aged Statesman; (3) the 
first phrase of Bach's musette (Sweet Englishwoman, No. 3), the 
rest of the musette being one prolonged cropper, which I take daily 
for the benefit of my health.  All my other works (of which there 
are many) are either arranged (by R. L. Stevenson) for the manly 
and melodious forefinger, or else prolonged and melancholy 
croppers. . . . I find one can get a notion of music very nicely.  
I have been pickling deeply in the Magic Flute; and have arranged 
LA DOVE PRENDE, almost to the end, for two melodious forefingers.  
I am next going to score the really nobler COLOMBA O TORTORELLA for 
the same instruments.

This day is published
The works of Ludwig van Beethoven
and wiederdurchgearbeiteted
for two melodious forefingers
Sir, - Your obedient servant,


That's a good idea?  There's a person called Lenz who actually does 
it - beware his den; I lost eighteenpennies on him, and found the 
bleeding corpses of pieces of music divorced from their keys, 
despoiled of their graces, and even changed in time; I do not wish 
to regard music (nor to be regarded) through that bony Lenz.  You 
say you are 'a spumfed idiot'; but how about Lenz?  And how about 
me, sir, me?

I yesterday sent Lloyd by parcel post, at great expense, an empty 
matchbox and empty cigarette-paper book, a bell from a cat's 
collar, an iron kitchen spoon, and a piece of coal more than half 
the superficies of this sheet of paper.  They are now 
(appropriately enough) speeding towards the Silly Isles; I hope he 
will find them useful.  By that, and my telegram with prepaid 
answer to yourself, you may judge of my spiritual state.  The 
finances have much brightened; and if KIDNAPPED keeps on as it has 
begun, I may be solvent. - Yours,


(The authour of ane Threnodie).

Op. 2:  Scherzo (in G Major) expressive of the Sense of favours to 

Letter:  TO R. A. M. STEVENSON


DEAR BOB, - Herewith another shy; more melancholy than before, but 
I think not so abjectly idiotic.  The musical terms seem to be as 
good as in Beethoven, and that, after all, is the great affair.  
Bar the dam bareness of the base, it looks like a piece of real 
music from a distance.  I am proud to say it was not made one hand 
at a time; the base was of synchronous birth with the treble; they 
are of the same age, sir, and may God have mercy on their souls! - 




MY DEAR PEOPLE, - It is probably my fault, and not yours, that I 
did not understand.  I think it would be well worth trying the 
winter in Bournemouth; but I would only take the house by the month 
- this after mature discussion.  My leakage still pursues its 
course; if I were only well, I have a notion to go north and get in 
(if I could) at the inn at Kirkmichael, which has always smiled 
upon me much.  If I did well there, we might then meet and do what 
should most smile at the time.

Meanwhile, of course, I must not move, and am in a rancid box here, 
feeling the heat a great deal, and pretty tired of things.  
Alexander did a good thing of me at last; it looks like a mixture 
of an aztec idol, a lion, an Indian Rajah, and a woman; and 
certainly represents a mighty comic figure.  F. and Lloyd both 
think it is the best thing that has been done of me up to now.

You should hear Lloyd on the penny whistle, and me on the piano!  
Dear powers, what a concerto!  I now live entirely for the piano, 
he for the whistle; the neighbours, in a radius of a furlong and a 
half, are packing up in quest of brighter climes. - Ever yours,

R. L. S.

P.S. - Please say if you can afford to let us have money for this 
trip, and if so, how much.  I can see the year through without 
help, I believe, and supposing my health to keep up; but can scarce 
make this change on my own metal.

R. L. S.



DEAR CHARLES, - Doubtless, if all goes well, towards the 1st of 
August we shall be begging at your door.  Thanks for a sight of the 
papers, which I return (you see) at once, fearing further 

Glad you like Dauvit; but eh, man, yon's terrible strange conduc' 
o' thon man Rankeillor.  Ca' him a legal adviser!  It would make a 
bonny law-shuit, the Shaws case; and yon paper they signed, I'm 
thinking, wouldnae be muckle thought o' by Puggy Deas. - Yours 

R. L. S.



MY DEAR FATHER, - We have decided not to come to Scotland, but just 
to do as Dobell wished, and take an outing.  I believe this is 
wiser in all ways; but I own it is a disappointment.  I am weary of 
England; like Alan, 'I weary for the heather,' if not for the deer.  
Lloyd has gone to Scilly with Katharine and C., where and with whom 
he should have a good time.  David seems really to be going to 
succeed, which is a pleasant prospect on all sides.  I am, I 
believe, floated financially; a book that sells will be a pleasant 
novelty.  I enclose another review; mighty complimentary, and 
calculated to sell the book too.

Coolin's tombstone has been got out, honest man! and it is to be 
polished, for it has got scratched, and have a touch of gilding in 
the letters, and be sunk in the front of the house.  Worthy man, 
he, too, will maybe weary for the heather, and the bents of 
Gullane, where (as I dare say you remember) he gaed clean gyte, and 
jumped on to his crown from a gig, in hot and hopeless chase of 
many thousand rabbits.  I can still hear the little cries of the 
honest fellow as he disappeared; and my mother will correct me, but 
I believe it was two days before he turned up again at North 
Berwick:  to judge by his belly, he had caught not one out of these 
thousands, but he had had some exercise.

I keep well. - Ever your affectionate son,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MOTHER, - We are having a capital holiday, and I am much 
better, and enjoying myself to the nines.  Richmond is painting my 
portrait.  To-day I lunch with him, and meet Burne-Jones; to-night 
Browning dines with us.  That sounds rather lofty work, does it 
not?  His path was paved with celebrities.  To-morrow we leave for 
Paris, and next week, I suppose, or the week after, come home.  
Address here, as we may not reach Paris.  I am really very well. - 
Ever your affectionate son,

R. L. S.



DEAR MR. WATTS, The sight of the last ATHENAEUM reminds me of you, 
and of my debt, now too long due.  I wish to thank you for your 
notice of KIDNAPPED; and that not because it was kind, though for 
that also I valued it, but in the same sense as I have thanked you 
before now for a hundred articles on a hundred different writers.  
A critic like you is one who fights the good fight, contending with 
stupidity, and I would fain hope not all in vain; in my own case, 
for instance, surely not in vain.

What you say of the two parts in KIDNAPPED was felt by no one more 
painfully than by myself.  I began it partly as a lark, partly as a 
pot-boiler; and suddenly it moved, David and Alan stepped out from 
the canvas, and I found I was in another world.  But there was the 
cursed beginning, and a cursed end must be appended; and our old 
friend Byles the butcher was plainly audible tapping at the back 
door.  So it had to go into the world, one part (as it does seem to 
me) alive, one part merely galvanised:  no work, only an essay.  
For a man of tentative method, and weak health, and a scarcity of 
private means, and not too much of that frugality which is the 
artist's proper virtue, the days of sinecures and patrons look very 
golden:  the days of professional literature very hard.  Yet I do 
not so far deceive myself as to think I should change my character 
by changing my epoch; the sum of virtue in our books is in a 
relation of equality to the sum of virtues in ourselves; and my 
KIDNAPPED was doomed, while still in the womb and while I was yet 
in the cradle, to be the thing it is.

And now to the more genial business of defence.  You attack my 
fight on board the COVENANT:  I think it literal.  David and Alan 
had every advantage on their side - position, arms, training, a 
good conscience; a handful of merchant sailors, not well led in the 
first attack, not led at all in the second, could only by an 
accident have taken the round-house by attack; and since the 
defenders had firearms and food, it is even doubtful if they could 
have been starved out.  The only doubtful point with me is whether 
the seamen would have ever ventured on the second onslaught; I half 
believe they would not; still the illusion of numbers and the 
authority of Hoseason would perhaps stretch far enough to justify 
the extremity. - I am, dear Mr. Watts, your very sincere admirer,




NOT roses to the rose, I trow,
The thistle sends, nor to the bee
Do wasps bring honey.  Wherefore now
Should Locker ask a verse from me?

Martial, perchance, - but he is dead,
And Herrick now must rhyme no more;
Still burning with the muse, they tread
(And arm in arm) the shadowy shore.

They, if they lived, with dainty hand,
To music as of mountain brooks,
Might bring you worthy words to stand
Unshamed, dear Locker, in your books.

But tho' these fathers of your race
Be gone before, yourself a sire,
To-day you see before your face
Your stalwart youngsters touch the lyre -

On these - on Lang, or Dobson - call,
Long leaders of the songful feast.
They lend a verse your laughing fall -
A verse they owe you at the least.



DEAR LOCKER, - You take my verses too kindly, but you will admit, 
for such a bluebottle of a versifier to enter the house of 
Gertrude, where her necklace hangs, was not a little brave.  Your 
kind invitation, I fear, must remain unaccented; and yet - if I am 
very well - perhaps next spring - (for I mean to be very well) - my 
wife might....  But all that is in the clouds with my better 
health.  And now look here:  you are a rich man and know many 
people, therefore perhaps some of the Governors of Christ's 
Hospital.  If you do, I know a most deserving case, in which I 
would (if I could) do anything.  To approach you, in this way, is 
not decent; and you may therefore judge by my doing it, how near 
this matter lies to my heart.  I enclose you a list of the 
Governors, which I beg you to return, whether or not you shall be 
able to do anything to help me.

The boy's name is -; he and his mother are very poor.  It may 
interest you in her cause if I tell you this:  that when I was 
dangerously ill at Hyeres, this brave lady, who had then a sick 
husband of her own (since dead) and a house to keep and a family of 
four to cook for, all with her own hands, for they could afford no 
servant, yet took watch-about with my wife, and contributed not 
only to my comfort, but to my recovery in a degree that I am not 
able to limit.  You can conceive how much I suffer from my 
impotence to help her, and indeed I have already shown myself a 
thankless friend.  Let not my cry go up before you in vain! - Yours 
in hope,




MY DEAR LOCKER, - That I should call myself a man of letters, and 
land myself in such unfathomable ambiguities!  No, my dear Locker, 
I did not want a cheque; and in my ignorance of business, which is 
greater even than my ignorance of literature, I have taken the 
liberty of drawing a pen through the document and returning it; 
should this be against the laws of God or man, forgive me.  All 
that I meant by my excessively disgusting reference to your 
material well-being was the vague notion that a man who is well off 
was sure to know a Governor of Christ's Hospital; though how I 
quite arrived at this conclusion I do not see.  A man with a cold 
in the head does not necessarily know a ratcatcher; and the 
connection is equally close - as it now appears to my awakened and 
somewhat humbled spirit.  For all that, let me thank you in the 
warmest manner for your friendly readiness to contribute.  You say 
you have hopes of becoming a miser:  I wish I had; but indeed I 
believe you deceive yourself, and are as far from it as ever.  I 
wish I had any excuse to keep your cheque, for it is much more 
elegant to receive than to return; but I have my way of making it 
up to you, and I do sincerely beg you to write to the two 
Governors.  This extraordinary outpouring of correspondence would 
(if you knew my habits) convince you of my great eagerness in this 
matter.  I would promise gratitude; but I have made a promise to 
myself to make no more promises to anybody else, having broken such 
a host already, and come near breaking my heart in consequence; and 
as for gratitude, I am by nature a thankless dog, and was spoiled 
from a child up.  But if you can help this lady in the matter of 
the Hospital, you will have helped the worthy.  Let me continue to 
hope that I shall make out my visit in the spring, and believe me, 
yours very truly,


It may amuse you to know that a very long while ago, I broke my 
heart to try to imitate your verses, and failed hopelessly.  I saw 
some of the evidences the other day among my papers, and blushed to 
the heels.

R. L. S.

I give up finding out your name in the meantime, and keep to that 
by which you will be known - Frederick Locker.



MY DEAR LOCKER, - You are simply an angel of light, and your two 
letters have gone to the post; I trust they will reach the hearts 
of the recipients - at least, that could not be more handsomely 
expressed.  About the cheque:  well now, I am going to keep it; but 
I assure you Mrs. - has never asked me for money, and I would not 
dare to offer any till she did.  For all that I shall stick to the 
cheque now, and act to that amount as your almoner.  In this way I 
reward myself for the ambiguity of my epistolary style.

I suppose, if you please, you may say your verses are thin (would 
you so describe an arrow, by the way, and one that struck the gold?  
It scarce strikes me as exhaustively descriptive), and, thin or 
not, they are (and I have found them) inimitably elegant.  I thank 
you again very sincerely for the generous trouble you have taken in 
this matter which was so near my heart, and you may be very certain 
it will be the fault of my health and not my inclination, if I do 
not see you before very long; for all that has past has made me in 
more than the official sense sincerely yours,



SKERRYVORE, DEC. 14, 1886.

MY DEAR COLVIN, - This is first-rate of you, the Lord love you for 
it!  I am truly much obliged.  He - my father - is very changeable; 
at times, he seems only a slow quiet edition of himself; again, he 
will be very heavy and blank; but never so violent as last spring; 
and therefore, to my mind, better on the whole.

Fanny is pretty peepy; I am splendid.  I have been writing much 
verse - quite the bard, in fact; and also a dam tale to order, 
which will be what it will be:  I don't love it, but some of it is 
passable in its mouldy way, THE MISADVENTURES OF JOHN NICHOLSON.  
All my bardly exercises are in Scotch; I have struck my somewhat 
ponderous guitar in that tongue to no small extent:  with what 
success, I know not, but I think it's better than my English verse; 
more marrow and fatness, and more ruggedness.

How goes KEATS?  Pray remark, if he (Keats) hung back from Shelley, 
it was not to be wondered at, WHEN SO MANY OF HIS FRIENDS WERE 
SHELLEY'S PENSIONERS.  I forget if you have made this point; it has 
been borne in upon me reading Dowden and the SHELLEY PAPERS; and it 
will do no harm if you have made it.  I finished a poem to-day, and 
writ 3000 words of a story, TANT BIEN QUE MAL; and have a right to 
be sleepy, and (what is far nobler and rarer) am so. - My dear 
Colvin, ever yours,




MY DEAR LOCKER, - Here I am in my bed as usual, and it is indeed a 
long while since I went out to dinner.  You do not know what a 
crazy fellow this is.  My winter has not so far been luckily 
passed, and all hope of paying visits at Easter has vanished for 
twelve calendar months.  But because I am a beastly and indurated 
invalid, I am not dead to human feelings; and I neither have 
forgotten you nor will forget you.  Some day the wind may round to 
the right quarter and we may meet; till then I am still truly 




MY DEAR JAMES, - My health has played me it in once more in the 
absurdest fashion, and the creature who now addresses you is but a 
stringy and white-faced BOUILLI out of the pot of fever, with the 
devil to pay in every corner of his economy.  I suppose (to judge 
by your letter) I need not send you these sheets, which came during 
my collapse by the rush.  I am on the start with three volumes, 
that one of tales, a second one of essays, and one of - ahem - 
verse.  This is a great order, is it not?  After that I shall have 
empty lockers.  All new work stands still; I was getting on well 
with Jenkin when this blessed malady unhorsed me, and sent me back 
to the dung-collecting trade of the republisher.  I shall re-issue 
VIRG. PUER. as Vol. I. of ESSAYS, and the new vol. as Vol. II. of 
ditto; to be sold, however, separately.  This is but a dry 
maundering; however, I am quite unfit - 'I am for action quite 
unfit Either of exercise or wit.'  My father is in a variable 
state; many sorrows and perplexities environ the house of 
Stevenson; my mother shoots north at this hour on business of a 
distinctly rancid character; my father (under my wife's tutorage) 
proceeds to-morrow to Salisbury; I remain here in my bed and 
whistle; in no quarter of heaven is anything encouraging apparent, 
except that the good Colvin comes to the hotel here on a visit.  
This dreary view of life is somewhat blackened by the fact that my 
head aches, which I always regard as a liberty on the part of the 
powers that be.  This is also my first letter since my recovery.  
God speed your laudatory pen!

My wife joins in all warm messages. - Yours,

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO W. H. LOW

(APRIL 1887.)

MY DEAR LOW, - The fares to London may be found in any continental 
Bradshaw or sich; from London to Bournemouth impoverished parties 
who can stoop to the third class get their ticket for the matter of 
10s., or, as my wife loves to phrase it, 'a half a pound.'  You 
will also be involved in a 3s. fare to get to Skerryvore; but this, 
I dare say, friends could help you in on your arrival; so that you 
may reserve your energies for the two tickets - costing the matter 
of a pound - and the usual gratuities to porters.  This does not 
seem to me much:  considering the intellectual pleasures that await 
you here, I call it dirt cheap.  I BELIEVE the third class from 
Paris to London (VIA Dover) is ABOUT forty francs, but I cannot 
swear.  Suppose it to be fifty.


The expense of spirit or spontaneous lapse of coin on the journey, 
at 5 frcs. a head, 5x2=10

Victuals on ditto, at 5 frcs. a head, 5x2 = 10

Gratuity to stewardess, in case of severe prostration, at 3 francs

One night in London, on a modest footing, say 20

Two tickets to Bournemouth at 12.50, 12.50x2=25

Porters and general devilment, say 5

Cabs in London, say 2 shillings, and in Bournemouth, 3 shillings=5 
shillings, 6 frcs. 25

Total frcs. 179.25

Or, the same in pounds, 7 pounds, 3s. 6 and a half d.

 Or, the same in dollars, $35.45,

if there be any arithmetical virtue in me.  I have left out dinner 
in London in case you want to blow out, which would come extry, and 
with the aid of VANGS FANGS might easily double the whole amount - 
above all if you have a few friends to meet you.

In making this valuable project, or budget, I discovered for the 
first time a reason (frequently overlooked) for the singular 
costliness of travelling with your wife.  Anybody would count the 
tickets double; but how few would have remembered - or indeed has 
any one ever remembered? - to count the spontaneous lapse of coin 
double also?  Yet there are two of you, each must do his daily 
leakage, and it must be done out of your travelling fund.  You will 
tell me, perhaps, that you carry the coin yourself:  my dear sir, 
do you think you can fool your Maker?  Your wife has to lose her 
quota; and by God she will - if you kept the coin in a belt.  One 
thing I have omitted:  you will lose a certain amount on the 
exchange, but this even I cannot foresee, as it is one of the few 
things that vary with the way a man has. - I am, dear sir, yours 




MY DEAREST CUMMY, - As usual, I have been a dreary bad fellow and 
not written for ages; but you must just try to forgive me, to 
believe (what is the truth) that the number of my letters is no 
measure of the number of times I think of you, and to remember how 
much writing I have to do.  The weather is bright, but still cold; 
and my father, I'm afraid, feels it sharply.  He has had - still 
has, rather - a most obstinate jaundice, which has reduced him 
cruelly in strength, and really upset him altogether.  I hope, or 
think, he is perhaps a little better; but he suffers much, cannot 
sleep at night, and gives John and my mother a severe life of it to 
wait upon him.  My wife is, I think, a little better, but no great 
shakes.  I keep mightily respectable myself.

Coolin's Tombstone is now built into the front wall of Skerryvore, 
and poor Bogie's (with a Latin inscription also) is set just above 
it.  Poor, unhappy wee man, he died, as you must have heard, in 
fight, which was what he would have chosen; for military glory was 
more in his line than the domestic virtues.  I believe this is 
about all my news, except that, as I write, there is a blackbird 
singing in our garden trees, as it were at Swanston.  I would like 
fine to go up the burnside a bit, and sit by the pool and be young 
again - or no, be what I am still, only there instead of here, for 
just a little.  Did you see that I had written about John Todd?  In 
this month's LONGMAN it was; if you have not seen it, I will try 
and send it you.  Some day climb as high as Halkerside for me (I am 
never likely to do it for myself), and sprinkle some of the well 
water on the turf.  I am afraid it is a pagan rite, but quite 
harmless, and YE CAN SAIN IT WI' A BIT PRAYER.  Tell the Peewies 
that I mind their forbears well.  My heart is sometimes heavy, and 
sometimes glad to mind it all.  But for what we have received, the 
Lord make us truly thankful.  Don't forget to sprinkle the water, 
and do it in my name; I feel a childish eagerness in this.

Remember me most kindly to James, and with all sorts of love to 
yourself, believe me, your laddie,


P.S. - I suppose Mrs. Todd ought to see the paper about her man; 
judge of that, and if you think she would not dislike it, buy her 
one from me, and let me know.  The article is called 'Pastoral,' in 
LONGMAN'S MAGAZINE for April.  I will send you the money; I would 
to-day, but it's the Sabbie day, and I cannae.

R. L. S.

Remembrances from all here.



MY DEAR S. C., - At last I can write a word to you.  Your little 
note in the P. M. G. was charming.  I have written four pages in 
the CONTEMPORARY, which Bunting found room for:  they are not very 
good, but I shall do more for his memory in time.

About the death, I have long hesitated, I was long before I could 
tell my mind; and now I know it, and can but say that I am glad.  
If we could have had my father, that would have been a different 
thing.  But to keep that changeling - suffering changeling - any 
longer, could better none and nothing.  Now he rests; it is more 
significant, it is more like himself.  He will begin to return to 
us in the course of time, as he was and as we loved him.

My favourite words in literature, my favourite scene - 'O let him 
pass,' Kent and Lear - was played for me here in the first moment 
of my return.  I believe Shakespeare saw it with his own father.  I 
had no words; but it was shocking to see.  He died on his feet, you 
know; was on his feet the last day, knowing nobody - still he would 
be up.  This was his constant wish; also that he might smoke a pipe 
on his last day.  The funeral would have pleased him; it was the 
largest private funeral in man's memory here.

We have no plans, and it is possible we may go home without going 
through town.  I do not know; I have no views yet whatever; nor can 
have any at this stage of my cold and my business. - Ever yours,

R. L. S.


Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


DEAR LAD, - I write to inform you that Mr. Stevenson's well-known 
work, VIRGINIBUS PUERISQUE, is about to be reprinted.  At the same 
time a second volume called MEMORIES AND PORTRAITS will issue from 
the roaring loom.  Its interest will be largely autobiographical, 
Mr. S. having sketched there the lineaments of many departed 
friends, and dwelt fondly, and with a m'istened eye, upon byegone 
pleasures.  The two will be issued under the common title of 
FAMILIAR ESSAYS; but the volumes will be vended separately to those 
who are mean enough not to hawk at both.

The blood is at last stopped:  only yesterday.  I began to think I 
should not get away.  However, I hope - I hope - remark the word - 
no boasting - I hope I may luff up a bit now.  Dobell, whom I saw, 
gave as usual a good account of my lungs, and expressed himself, 
like his neighbours, hopefully about the trip.  He says, my uncle 
says, Scott says, Brown says - they all say - You ought not to be 
in such a state of health; you should recover.  Well, then, I mean 
to.  My spirits are rising again after three months of black 
depression:  I almost begin to feel as if I should care to live:  I 
would, by God!  And so I believe I shall. - Yours, BULLETIN 

How has the Deacon gone?

Letter:  TO W. H. LOW


MY DEAR LOW, - We - my mother, my wife, my stepson, my maidservant, 
and myself, five souls - leave, if all is well, Aug. 20th, per 
Wilson line SS. LUDGATE HILL.  Shall probably evade N. Y. at first, 
cutting straight to a watering-place:  Newport, I believe, its 
name.  Afterwards we shall steal incognito into LA BONNE VILLA, and 
see no one but you and the Scribners, if it may be so managed.  You 
must understand I have been very seedy indeed, quite a dead body; 
and unless the voyage does miracles, I shall have to draw it dam 
fine.  Alas, 'The Canoe Speaks' is now out of date; it will figure 
in my volume of verses now imminent.  However, I may find some 
inspiration some day. - Till very soon, yours ever,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MISS BOODLE, - I promise you the paper-knife shall go to 
sea with me; and if it were in my disposal, I should promise it 
should return with me too.  All that you say, I thank you for very 
much; I thank you for all the pleasantness that you have brought 
about our house; and I hope the day may come when I shall see you 
again in poor old Skerryvore, now left to the natives of Canada, or 
to worse barbarians, if such exist.  I am afraid my attempt to jest 
is rather A CONTRE-COEUR.  Good-bye - AU REVOIR - and do not forget 
your friend,




DEAR SIRS, - I here enclose the two titles.  Had you not better 
send me the bargains to sign?  I shall be here till Saturday; and 
shall have an address in London (which I shall send you) till 
Monday, when I shall sail.  Even if the proofs do not reach you 
till Monday morning, you could send a clerk from Fenchurch Street 
Station at 10.23 A.M. for Galleons Station, and he would find me 
embarking on board the LUDGATE HILL, Island Berth, Royal Albert 
Dock.  Pray keep this in case it should be necessary to catch this 
last chance.  I am most anxious to have the proofs with me on the 
voyage. - Yours very truly,




SIR, - The weather has been hitherto inimitable.  Inimitable is the 
only word that I can apply to our fellow-voyagers, whom a 
categorist, possibly premature, has been already led to divide into 
two classes - the better sort consisting of the baser kind of 
Bagman, and the worser of undisguised Beasts of the Field.  The 
berths are excellent, the pasture swallowable, the champagne of H. 
James (to recur to my favourite adjective) inimitable.  As for the 
Commodore, he slept awhile in the evening, tossed off a cup of 
Henry James with his plain meal, walked the deck till eight, among 
sands and floating lights and buoys and wrecked brigantines, came 
down (to his regret) a minute too soon to see Margate lit up, 
turned in about nine, slept, with some interruptions, but on the 
whole sweetly, until six, and has already walked a mile or so of 
deck, among a fleet of other steamers waiting for the tide, within 
view of Havre, and pleasantly entertained by passing fishing-boats, 
hovering sea-gulls, and Vulgarians pairing on deck with endearments 
of primitive simplicity.  There, sir, can be viewed the sham 
quarrel, the sham desire for information, and every device of these 
two poor ancient sexes (who might, you might think, have learned in 
the course of the ages something new) down to the exchange of head-
gear. - I am, sir, yours,


B. B. B. (ALIAS the Commodore) will now turn to his proofs.  Havre 
de Grace is a city of some show.  It is for-ti-fied; and, so far as 
I can see, is a place of some trade.  It is situ-ated in France, a 
country of Europe.  You always complain there are no facts in my 

R. L. S.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - So long it went excellent well, and I had a time 
I am glad to have had; really enjoying my life.  There is nothing 
like being at sea, after all.  And O, why have I allowed myself to 
rot so long on land?  But on the Banks I caught a cold, and I have 
not yet got over it.  My reception here was idiotic to the last 
degree....  It is very silly, and not pleasant, except where humour 
enters; and I confess the poor interviewer lads pleased me.  They 
are too good for their trade; avoided anything I asked them to 
avoid, and were no more vulgar in their reports than they could 
help.  I liked the lads.

O, it was lovely on our stable-ship, chock full of stallions.  She 
rolled heartily, rolled some of the fittings out of our state-room, 
and I think a more dangerous cruise (except that it was summer) it 
would be hard to imagine.  But we enjoyed it to the masthead, all 
but Fanny; and even she perhaps a little.  When we got in, we had 
run out of beer, stout, cocoa, soda-water, water, fresh meat, and 
(almost) of biscuit.  But it was a thousandfold pleasanter than a 
great big Birmingham liner like a new hotel; and we liked the 
officers, and made friends with the quartermasters, and I (at 
least) made a friend of a baboon (for we carried a cargo of apes), 
whose embraces have pretty near cost me a coat.  The passengers 
improved, and were a very good specimen lot, with no drunkard, no 
gambling that I saw, and less grumbling and backbiting than one 
would have asked of poor human nature.  Apes, stallions, cows, 
matches, hay, and poor men-folk, all, or almost all, came 
successfully to land. - Yours ever,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR JAMES, - Here we are at Newport in the house of the good 
Fairchilds; and a sad burthen we have laid upon their shoulders.  I 
have been in bed practically ever since I came.  I caught a cold on 
the Banks after having had the finest time conceivable, and enjoyed 
myself more than I could have hoped on board our strange floating 
menagerie:  stallions and monkeys and matches made our cargo; and 
the vast continent of these incongruities rolled the while like a 
haystack; and the stallions stood hypnotised by the motion, looking 
through the ports at our dinner-table, and winked when the crockery 
was broken; and the little monkeys stared at each other in their 
cages, and were thrown overboard like little bluish babies; and the 
big monkey, Jacko, scoured about the ship and rested willingly in 
my arms, to the ruin of my clothing; and the man of the stallions 
made a bower of the black tarpaulin, and sat therein at the feet of 
a raddled divinity, like a picture on a box of chocolates; and the 
other passengers, when they were not sick, looked on and laughed.  
Take all this picture, and make it roll till the bell shall sound 
unexpected notes and the fittings shall break lose in our state-
room, and you have the voyage of the LUDGATE HILL.  She arrived in 
the port of New York, without beer, porter, soda-water, curacoa, 
fresh meat, or fresh water; and yet we lived, and we regret her.

My wife is a good deal run down, and I am no great shakes.

America is, as I remarked, a fine place to eat in, and a great 
place for kindness; but, Lord, what a silly thing is popularity!  I 
envy the cool obscurity of Skerryvore.  If it even paid, said 
Meanness! and was abashed at himself. - Yours most sincerely,

R. L S.



MY DEAR S. C., - Your delightful letter has just come, and finds me 
in a New York hotel, waiting the arrival of a sculptor (St. 
Gaudens) who is making a medallion of yours truly and who is (to 
boot) one of the handsomest and nicest fellows I have seen.  I 
caught a cold on the Banks; fog is not for me; nearly died of 
interviewers and visitors, during twenty-four hours in New York; 
cut for Newport with Lloyd and Valentine, a journey like fairy-land 
for the most engaging beauties, one little rocky and pine-shaded 
cove after another, each with a house and a boat at anchor, so that 
I left my heart in each and marvelled why American authors had been 
so unjust to their country; caught another cold on the train; 
arrived at Newport to go to bed and to grow worse, and to stay in 
bed until I left again; the Fairchilds proving during this time 
kindness itself; Mr. Fairchild simply one of the most engaging men 
in the world, and one of the children, Blair, AET. ten, a great joy 
and amusement in his solemn adoring attitude to the author of 

Here I was interrupted by the arrival of my sculptor.  I have 
begged him to make a medallion of himself and give me a copy.  I 
will not take up the sentence in which I was wandering so long, but 
begin fresh.  I was ten or twelve days at Newport; then came back 
convalescent to New York.  Fanny and Lloyd are off to the 
Adirondacks to see if that will suit; and the rest of us leave 
Monday (this is Saturday) to follow them up.  I hope we may manage 
to stay there all winter.  I have a splendid appetite and have on 
the whole recovered well after a mighty sharp attack.  I am now on 
a salary of 500 pounds a year for twelve articles in SCRIBNER'S 
MAGAZINE on what I like; it is more than 500 pounds, but I cannot 
calculate more precisely.  You have no idea how much is made of me 
here; I was offered 2000 pounds for a weekly article - eh heh! how 
is that? but I refused that lucrative job.  The success of 
UNDERWOODS is gratifying.  You see, the verses are sane; that is 
their strong point, and it seems it is strong enough to carry them.

A thousand thanks for your grand letter, ever yours,

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


MY DEAR LAD, - Herewith verses for Dr. Hake, which please 
communicate.  I did my best with the interviewers; I don't know if 
Lloyd sent you the result; my heart was too sick:  you can do 
nothing with them; and yet - literally sweated with anxiety to 
please, and took me down in long hand!

I have been quite ill, but go better.  I am being not busted, but 
medallioned, by St. Gaudens, who is a first-rate, plain, high-
minded artist and honest fellow; you would like him down to the 
ground.  I believe sculptors are fine fellows when they are not 
demons.  O, I am now a salaried person, 600 pounds a year, to write 
twelve articles in SCRIBNER'S MAGAZINE; it remains to be seen if it 
really pays, huge as the sum is, but the slavery may overweigh me.  
I hope you will like my answer to Hake, and specially that he will.

Love to all. - Yours affectionately,

R. L. S.


Letter:  To R. A. M. STEVENSON


MY DEAR BOB, - The cold [of Colorado] was too rigorous for me; I 
could not risk the long railway voyage, and the season was too late 
to risk the Eastern, Cape Hatteras side of the steamer one; so here 
we stuck and stick.  We have a wooden house on a hill-top, 
overlooking a river, and a village about a quarter of a mile away, 
and very wooded hills; the whole scene is very Highland, bar want 
of heather and the wooden houses.

I have got one good thing of my sea voyage:  it is proved the sea 
agrees heartily with me, and my mother likes it; so if I get any 
better, or no worse, my mother will likely hire a yacht for a month 
or so in summer.  Good Lord!  What fun!  Wealth is only useful for 
two things:  a yacht and a string quartette.  For these two I will 
sell my soul.  Except for these I hold that 700 pounds a year is as 
much as anybody can possibly want; and I have had more, so I know, 
for the extry coins were for no use, excepting for illness, which 
damns everything.

I was so happy on board that ship, I could not have believed it 
possible.  We had the beastliest weather, and many discomforts; but 
the mere fact of its being a tramp-ship gave us many comforts; we 
could cut about with the men and officers, stay in the wheel-house, 
discuss all manner of things, and really be a little at sea.  And 
truly there is nothing else.  I had literally forgotten what 
happiness was, and the full mind - full of external and physical 
things, not full of cares and labours and rot about a fellow's 
behaviour.  My heart literally sang; I truly care for nothing so 
much as for that.  We took so north a course, that we saw 
Newfoundland; no one in the ship had ever seen it before.

It was beyond belief to me how she rolled; in seemingly smooth 
water, the bell striking, the fittings bounding out of our state-
room.  It is worth having lived these last years, partly because I 
have written some better books, which is always pleasant, but 
chiefly to have had the joy of this voyage.  I have been made a lot 
of here, and it is sometimes pleasant, sometimes the reverse; but I 
could give it all up, and agree that - was the author of my works, 
for a good seventy ton schooner and the coins to keep her on.  And 
to think there are parties with yachts who would make the exchange!  
I know a little about fame now; it is no good compared to a yacht; 
and anyway there is more fame in a yacht, more genuine fame; to 
cross the Atlantic and come to anchor in Newport (say) with the 
Union Jack, and go ashore for your letters and hang about the pier, 
among the holiday yachtsmen - that's fame, that's glory, and nobody 
can take it away; they can't say your book is bad; you HAVE crossed 
the Atlantic.  I should do it south by the West Indies, to avoid 
the damned Banks; and probably come home by steamer, and leave the 
skipper to bring the yacht home.

Well, if all goes well, we shall maybe sail out of Southampton 
water some of these days and take a run to Havre, and try the 
Baltic, or somewhere.

Love to you all. - Ever your afft.,




MY DEAR GOSSE, - I have just read your article twice, with cheers 
of approving laughter.  I do not believe you ever wrote anything so 
funny:  Tyndall's 'shell,' the passage on the Davos press and its 
invaluable issues, and that on V. Hugo and Swinburne, are 
exquisite; so, I say it more ruefully, is the touch about the 
doctors.  For the rest, I am very glad you like my verses so well; 
and the qualities you ascribe to them seem to me well found and 
well named.  I own to that kind of candour you attribute to me:  
when I am frankly interested, I suppose I fancy the public will be 
so too; and when I am moved, I am sure of it.  It has been my luck 
hitherto to meet with no staggering disillusion.  'Before' and 
'After' may be two; and yet I believe the habit is now too 
thoroughly ingrained to be altered.  About the doctors, you were 
right, that dedication has been the subject of some pleasantries 
that made me grind, and of your happily touched reproof which made 
me blush.  And to miscarry in a dedication is an abominable form of 
book-wreck; I am a good captain, I would rather lose the tent and 
save my dedication.

I am at Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks, I suppose for the winter:  
it seems a first-rate place; we have a house in the eye of many 
winds, with a view of a piece of running water - Highland, all but 
the dear hue of peat - and of many hills - Highland also, but for 
the lack of heather.  Soon the snow will close on us; we are here 
some twenty miles - twenty-seven, they say, but this I profoundly 
disbelieve - in the woods; communication by letter is slow and (let 
me be consistent) aleatory; by telegram is as near as may be 

I had some experience of American appreciation; I liked a little of 
it, but there is too much; a little of that would go a long way to 
spoil a man; and I like myself better in the woods.  I am so damned 
candid and ingenuous (for a cynic), and so much of a 'cweatu' of 
impulse - aw' (if you remember that admirable Leech), that I begin 
to shirk any more taffy; I think I begin to like it too well.  But 
let us trust the Gods; they have a rod in pickle; reverently I doff 
my trousers, and with screwed eyes await the AMARI ALIQUID of the 
great God Busby.

I thank you for the article in all ways, and remain yours 

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO W. H. LOW


SIR,  - I have to trouble you with the following PAROLES BIEN 
SENTIES.  We are here at a first-rate place.  'Baker's' is the name 
of our house, but we don't address there; we prefer the tender care 
of the Post-Office, as more aristocratic (it is no use to telegraph 
even to the care of the Post-Office who does not give a single 
damn).  Baker's has a prophet's chamber, which the hypercritical 
might describe as a garret with a hole in the floor:  in that 
garret, sir, I have to trouble you and your wife to come and 
slumber.  Not now, however:  with manly hospitality, I choke off 
any sudden impulse.  Because first, my wife and my mother are gone 
(a note for the latter, strongly suspected to be in the hand of 
your talented wife, now sits silent on the mantel shelf), one to 
Niagara and t'other to Indianapolis.  Because, second, we are not 
yet installed.  And because third, I won't have you till I have a 
buffalo robe and leggings, lest you should want to paint me as a 
plain man, which I am not, but a rank Saranacker and wild man of 
the woods. - Yours,




DEAR ARCHER, - Many thanks for the Wondrous Tale.  It is scarcely a 
work of genius, as I believe you felt.  Thanks also for your 
pencillings; though I defend 'shrew,' or at least many of the 

We are here (I suppose) for the winter in the Adirondacks, a hill 
and forest country on the Canadian border of New York State, very 
unsettled and primitive and cold, and healthful, or we are the more 
bitterly deceived.  I believe it will do well for me; but must not 

My wife is away to Indiana to see her family; my mother, Lloyd, and 
I remain here in the cold, which has been exceeding sharp, and the 
hill air, which is inimitably fine.  We all eat bravely, and sleep 
well, and make great fires, and get along like one o'clock,

I am now a salaried party; I am a BOURGEOIS now; I am to write a 
weekly paper for Scribner's, at a scale of payment which makes my 
teeth ache for shame and diffidence.  The editor is, I believe, to 
apply to you; for we were talking over likely men, and when I 
instanced you, he said he had had his eye upon you from the first.  
It is worth while, perhaps, to get in tow with the Scribners; they 
are such thorough gentlefolk in all ways that it is always a 
pleasure to deal with them.  I am like to be a millionaire if this 
goes on, and be publicly hanged at the social revolution:  well, I 
would prefer that to dying in my bed; and it would be a godsend to 
my biographer, if ever I have one.  What are you about?  I hope you 
are all well and in good case and spirits, as I am now, after a 
most nefast experience of despondency before I left; but indeed I 
was quite run down.  Remember me to Mrs. Archer, and give my 
respects to Tom. - Yours very truly,



[SARANAC LAKE, OCTOBER 1887.]  I know not the day; but the month it 
is the drear October by the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir

MY DEAR HENRY JAMES, - This is to say FIRST, the voyage was a huge 
success.  We all enjoyed it (bar my wife) to the ground:  sixteen 
days at sea with a cargo of hay, matches, stallions, and monkeys, 
and in a ship with no style on, and plenty of sailors to talk to, 
and the endless pleasures of the sea - the romance of it, the sport 
of the scratch dinner and the smashing crockery, the pleasure - an 
endless pleasure - of balancing to the swell:  well, it's over.

SECOND, I had a fine time, rather a troubled one, at Newport and 
New York; saw much of and liked hugely the Fairchilds, St. Gaudens 
the sculptor, Gilder of the CENTURY - just saw the dear Alexander - 
saw a lot of my old and admirable friend Will Low, whom I wish you 
knew and appreciated - was medallioned by St. Gaudens, and at last 
escaped to

THIRD, Saranac Lake, where we now are, and which I believe we mean 
to like and pass the winter at.  Our house - emphatically 'Baker's' 
- is on a hill, and has a sight of a stream turning a corner in the 
valley - bless the face of running water! - and sees some hills 
too, and the paganly prosaic roofs of Saranac itself; the Lake it 
does not see, nor do I regret that; I like water (fresh water I 
mean) either running swiftly among stones, or else largely 
qualified with whisky.  As I write, the sun (which has been long a 
stranger) shines in at my shoulder; from the next room, the bell of 
Lloyd's typewriter makes an agreeable music as it patters off (at a 
rate which astonishes this experienced novelist) the early chapters 
of a humorous romance; from still further off - the walls of 
Baker's are neither ancient nor massive - rumours of Valentine 
about the kitchen stove come to my ears; of my mother and Fanny I 
hear nothing, for the excellent reason that they have gone sparking 
off, one to Niagara, one to Indianapolis.  People complain that I 
never give news in my letters.  I have wiped out that reproach.

But now, FOURTH, I have seen the article; and it may be from 
natural partiality, I think it the best you have written.  O - I 
remember the Gautier, which was an excellent performance; and the 
Balzac, which was good; and the Daudet, over which I licked my 
chops; but the R. L. S. is better yet.  It is so humorous, and it 
hits my little frailties with so neat (and so friendly) a touch; 
and Alan is the occasion for so much happy talk, and the quarrel is 
so generously praised.  I read it twice, though it was only some 
hours in my possession; and Low, who got it for me from the 
CENTURY, sat up to finish it ere he returned it; and, sir, we were 
all delighted.  Here is the paper out, nor will anything, not even 
friendship, not even gratitude for the article, induce me to begin 
a second sheet; so here with the kindest remembrances and the 
warmest good wishes, I remain, yours affectionately,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR CHARLES, - No likely I'm going to waste a sheet of paper. . 
. .  I am offered 1600 pounds ($8000) for the American serial 
rights on my next story!  As you say, times are changed since the 
Lothian Road.  Well, the Lothian Road was grand fun too; I could 
take an afternoon of it with great delight.  But I'm awfu' grand 
noo, and long may it last!

Remember me to any of the faithful - if there are any left.  I wish 
I could have a crack with you. - Yours ever affectionately,

R. L. S.

I find I have forgotten more than I remembered of business. . . .  
Please let us know (if you know) for how much Skerryvore is let; 
you will here detect the female mind; I let it for what I could 
get; nor shall the possession of this knowledge (which I am happy 
to have forgot) increase the amount by so much as the shadow of a 
sixpenny piece; but my females are agog. - Yours ever,

R. L. S.


[SARANAC, NOVEMBER 20 OR 21, 1887.]

MY DEAR MR. SCRIBNER, - Heaven help me, I am under a curse just 
now.  I have played fast and loose with what I said to you; and 
that, I beg you to believe, in the purest innocence of mind.  I 
told you you should have the power over all my work in this 
country; and about a fortnight ago, when M'Clure was here, I calmly 
signed a bargain for the serial publication of a story.  You will 
scarce believe that I did this in mere oblivion; but I did; and all 
that I can say is that I will do so no more, and ask you to forgive 
me.  Please write to me soon as to this.

Will you oblige me by paying in for three articles, as already 
sent, to my account with John Paton & Co., 52 William Street?  This 
will be most convenient for us.

The fourth article is nearly done; and I am the more deceived, or 
it is A BUSTER.

Now as to the first thing in this letter, I do wish to hear from 
you soon; and I am prepared to hear any reproach, or (what is 
harder to hear) any forgiveness; for I have deserved the worst. - 
Yours sincerely,




DEAR MR. BURLINGAME, - I enclose corrected proof of BEGGARS, which 
seems good.  I mean to make a second sermon, which, if it is about 
the same length as PULVIS ET UMBRA, might go in along with it as 
two sermons, in which case I should call the first 'The Whole 
Creation,' and the second 'Any Good.'  We shall see; but you might 
say how you like the notion.

One word:  if you have heard from Mr. Scribner of my unhappy 
oversight in the matter of a story, you will make me ashamed to 
write to you, and yet I wish to beg you to help me into quieter 
waters.  The oversight committed - and I do think it was not so bad 
as Mr. Scribner seems to think it-and discovered, I was in a 
miserable position.  I need not tell you that my first impulse was 
to offer to share or to surrender the price agreed upon when it 
should fall due; and it is almost to my credit that I arranged to 
refrain.  It is one of these positions from which there is no 
escape; I cannot undo what I have done.  And I wish to beg you - 
should Mr. Scribner speak to you in the matter - to try to get him 
to see this neglect of mine for no worse than it is:  unpardonable 
enough, because a breach of an agreement; but still pardonable, 
because a piece of sheer carelessness and want of memory, done, God 
knows, without design and since most sincerely regretted.  I have 
no memory.  You have seen how I omitted to reserve the American 
rights in JEKYLL:  last winter I wrote and demanded, as an 
increase, a less sum than had already been agreed upon for a story 
that I gave to Cassell's.  For once that my forgetfulness has, by a 
cursed fortune, seemed to gain, instead of lose, me money, it is 
painful indeed that I should produce so poor an impression on the 
mind of Mr. Scribner.  But I beg you to believe, and if possible to 
make him believe, that I am in no degree or sense a FAISEUR, and 
that in matters of business my design, at least, is honest.  Nor 
(bating bad memory and self-deception) am I untruthful in such 

If Mr. Scribner shall have said nothing to you in the matter, 
please regard the above as unwritten, and believe me, yours very 




DEAR MR. BURLINGAME, - The revise seemed all right, so I did not 
trouble you with it; indeed, my demand for one was theatrical, to 
impress that obdurate dog, your reader.  Herewith a third paper:  
it has been a cruel long time upon the road, but here it is, and 
not bad at last, I fondly hope.  I was glad you liked the LANTERN 
BEARERS; I did, too.  I thought it was a good paper, really 
contained some excellent sense, and was ingeniously put together.  
I have not often had more trouble than I have with these papers; 
thirty or forty pages of foul copy, twenty is the very least I have 
had.  Well, you pay high; it is fit that I should have to work 
hard, it somewhat quiets my conscience. - Yours very truly,


Letter:  TO J. A. SYMONDS


MY DEAR SYMONDS, - I think we have both meant and wanted to write 
to you any time these months; but we have been much tossed about, 
among new faces and old, and new scenes and old, and scenes (like 
this of Saranac) which are neither one nor other.  To give you some 
clue to our affairs, I had best begin pretty well back.  We sailed 
from the Thames in a vast bucket of iron that took seventeen days 
from shore to shore.  I cannot describe how I enjoyed the voyage, 
nor what good it did me; but on the Banks I caught friend catarrh.  
In New York and then in Newport I was pretty ill; but on my return 
to New York, lying in bed most of the time, with St. Gaudens the 
sculptor sculping me, and my old friend Low around, I began to pick 
up once more.  Now here we are in a kind of wilderness of hills and 
firwoods and boulders and snow and wooden houses.  So far as we 
have gone the climate is grey and harsh, but hungry and somnolent; 
and although not charming like that of Davos, essentially bracing 
and briskening.  The country is a kind of insane mixture of 
Scotland and a touch of Switzerland and a dash of America, and a 
thought of the British Channel in the skies.  We have a decent 
house -


- A decent house, as I was saying, sir, on a hill-top, with a look 
down a Scottish river in front, and on one hand a Perthshire hill; 
on the other, the beginnings and skirts of the village play hide 
and seek among other hills.  We have been below zero, I know not 
how far (10 at 8 A.M. once), and when it is cold it is delightful; 
but hitherto the cold has not held, and we have chopped in and out 
from frost to thaw, from snow to rain, from quiet air to the most 
disastrous north-westerly curdlers of the blood.  After a week of 
practical thaw, the ice still bears in favoured places.  So there 
is hope.

I wonder if you saw my book of verses?  It went into a second 
edition, because of my name, I suppose, and its PROSE merits.  I do 
not set up to be a poet.  Only an all-round literary man:  a man 
who talks, not one who sings.  But I believe the very fact that it 
was only speech served the book with the public.  Horace is much a 
speaker, and see how popular! most of Martial is only speech, and I 
cannot conceive a person who does not love his Martial; most of 
Burns, also, such as 'The Louse,' 'The Toothache,' 'The Haggis,' 
and lots more of his best.  Excuse this little apology for my 
house; but I don't like to come before people who have a note of 
song, and let it be supposed I do not know the difference.

To return to the more important - news.  My wife again suffers in 
high and cold places; I again profit.  She is off to-day to New 
York for a change, as heretofore to Berne, but I am glad to say in 
better case than then.  Still it is undeniable she suffers, and you 
must excuse her (at least) if we both prove bad correspondents.  I 
am decidedly better, but I have been terribly cut up with business 
complications:  one disagreeable, as threatening loss; one, of the 
most intolerable complexion, as involving me in dishonour.  The 
burthen of consistent carelessness:  I have lost much by it in the 
past; and for once (to my damnation) I have gained.  I am sure you 
will sympathise.  It is hard work to sleep; it is hard to be told 
you are a liar, and have to hold your peace, and think, 'Yes, by 
God, and a thief too!'  You remember my lectures on Ajax, or the 
Unintentional Sin?  Well, I know all about that now.  Nothing seems 
so unjust to the sufferer:  or is more just in essence.  LAISSEZ 

Lloyd has learned to use the typewriter, and has most gallantly 
completed upon that the draft of a tale, which seems to me not 
without merit and promise, it is so silly, so gay, so absurd, in 
spots (to my partial eyes) so genuinely humorous.  It is true, he 
would not have written it but for the New Arabian Nights; but it is 
strange to find a young writer funny.  Heavens, but I was 
depressing when I took the pen in hand!  And now I doubt if I am 
sadder than my neighbours.  Will this beginner move in the inverse 

Let me have your news, and believe me, my dear Symonds, with 
genuine affection, yours,


Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


MY DEAR LAD, - I was indeed overjoyed to hear of the Dumas.  In the 
matter of the dedication, are not cross dedications a little 
awkward?  Lang and Rider Haggard did it, to be sure.  Perpend.  And 
if you should conclude against a dedication, there is a passage in 
MEMORIES AND PORTRAITS written AT you, when I was most desperate 
(to stir you up a bit), which might be quoted:  something about 
Dumas still waiting his biographer.  I have a decent time when the 
weather is fine; when it is grey, or windy, or wet (as it too often 
is), I am merely degraded to the dirt.  I get some work done every 
day with a devil of a heave; not extra good ever; and I regret my 
engagement.  Whiles I have had the most deplorable business 
annoyances too; have been threatened with having to refund money; 
got over that; and found myself in the worse scrape of being a kind 
of unintentional swindler.  These have worried me a great deal; 
also old age with his stealing steps seems to have clawed me in his 
clutch to some tune.

Do you play All Fours?  We are trying it; it is still all haze to 
me.  Can the elder hand BEG more than once?  The Port Admiral is at 
Boston mingling with millionaires.  I am but a weed on Lethe wharf.  
The wife is only so-so.  The Lord lead us all:  if I can only get 
off the stage with clean hands, I shall sing Hosanna.  'Put' is 
described quite differently from your version in a book I have; 
what are your rules?  The Port Admiral is using a game of put in a 
tale of his, the first copy of which was gloriously finished about 
a fortnight ago, and the revise gallantly begun:  THE FINSBURY 
TONTINE it is named, and might fill two volumes, and is quite 
incredibly silly, and in parts (it seems to me) pretty humorous. - 
Love to all from


would turn the dead body of Charles Fox into a living Tory.



MY DEAR MRS. JENKIN, - The Opal is very well; it is fed with 
glycerine when it seems hungry.  I am very well, and get about much 
more than I could have hoped.  My wife is not very well; there is 
no doubt the high level does not agree with her, and she is on the 
move for a holiday to New York.  Lloyd is at Boston on a visit, and 
I hope has a good time.  My mother is really first-rate; she and I, 
despairing of other games for two, now play All Fours out of a 
gamebook, and have not yet discovered its niceties, if any.

You will have heard, I dare say, that they made a great row over me 
here.  They also offered me much money, a great deal more than my 
works are worth:  I took some of it, and was greedy and hasty, and 
am now very sorry.  I have done with big prices from now out.  
Wealth and self-respect seem, in my case, to be strangers.

We were talking the other day of how well Fleeming managed to grow 
rich.  Ah, that is a rare art; something more intellectual than a 
virtue.  The book has not yet made its appearance here; the life 
alone, with a little preface, is to appear in the States; and the 
Scribners are to send you half the royalties.  I should like it to 
do well, for Fleeming's sake.

Will you please send me the Greek water-carrier's song?  I have a 
particular use for it.

Have I any more news, I wonder? - and echo wonders along with me.  
I am strangely disquieted on all political matters; and I do not 
know if it is 'the signs of the times' or the sign of my own time 
of life.  But to me the sky seems black both in France and England, 
and only partly clear in America.  I have not seen it so dark in my 
time; of that I am sure.

Please let us have some news; and, excuse me, for the sake of my 
well-known idleness; and pardon Fanny, who is really not very well, 
for this long silence. - Very sincerely your friend,




MY DEAR MISS BOODLE, - I am so much afraid, our gamekeeper may 
weary of unacknowledged reports!  Hence, in the midst of a perfect 
horror of detestable weathers of a quite incongruous strain, and 
with less desire for correspondence than - well, than - well, with 
no desire for correspondence, behold me dash into the breach.  Do 
keep up your letters.  They are most delightful to this exiled 
backwoods family; and in your next, we shall hope somehow or other 
to hear better news of you and yours - that in the first place - 
and to hear more news of our beasts and birds and kindly fruits of 
earth and those human tenants who are (truly) too much with us.

I am very well; better than for years:  that is for good.  But then 
my wife is no great shakes; the place does not suit her - it is my 
private opinion that no place does - and she is now away down to 
New York for a change, which (as Lloyd is in Boston) leaves my 
mother and me and Valentine alone in our wind-beleaguered hilltop 
hatbox of a house.  You should hear the cows butt against the walls 
in the early morning while they feed; you should also see our back 
log when the thermometer goes (as it does go) away - away below 
zero, till it can be seen no more by the eye of man - not the 
thermometer, which is still perfectly visible, but the mercury, 
which curls up into the bulb like a hibernating bear; you should 
also see the lad who 'does chores' for us, with his red stockings 
and his thirteen year old face, and his highly manly tramp into the 
room; and his two alternative answers to all questions about the 
weather:  either 'Cold,' or with a really lyrical movement of the 
voice, 'LOVELY - raining!'

Will you take this miserable scarp for what it is worth?  Will you 
also understand that I am the man to blame, and my wife is really 
almost too much out of health to write, or at least doesn't write? 
- And believe me, with kind remembrance to Mrs. Boodle and your 
sisters, very sincerely yours,




Give us news of all your folk.  A Merry Christmas from all of us.

MY DEAR CHARLES, - Will you please send 20 pounds to - for a 
Christmas gift from -?  Moreover, I cannot remember what I told you 
to send to - ; but as God has dealt so providentially with me this 
year, I now propose to make it 20 pounds.

I beg of you also to consider my strange position.  I jined a club 
which it was said was to defend the Union; and had a letter from 
the secretary, which his name I believe was Lord Warmingpan (or 
words to that effect), to say I am elected, and had better pay up a 
certain sum of money, I forget what.  Now I cannae verra weel draw 
a blank cheque and send to -

LORD WARMINGPAN (or words to that effect),
London, England.

And, man, if it was possible, I would be dooms glad to be out o' 
this bit scrapie.  Mebbe the club was ca'd  'The Union,' but I 
wouldnae like to sweir; and mebbe it wasnae, or mebbe only words to 
that effec' - but I wouldnae care just exac'ly about sweirin'.  Do 
ye no think Henley, or Pollick, or some o' they London fellies, 
micht mebbe perhaps find out for me? and just what the soom was?  
And that you would aiblins pay for me?  For I thocht I was sae dam 
patriotic jinin', and it would be a kind o' a come-doun to be 
turned out again.  Mebbe Lang would ken; or mebbe Rider Haggyard:  
they're kind o' Union folks.  But it's my belief his name was 
Warmingpan whatever. Yours,


Could it be Warminster?



DEAR MISS MONROE, - Many thanks for your letter and your good 
wishes.  It was much my desire to get to Chicago:  had I done - or 
if I yet do - so, I shall hope to see the original of my 
photograph, which is one of my show possessions; but the fates are 
rather contrary.  My wife is far from well; I myself dread worse 
than almost any other imaginable peril, that miraculous and really 
insane invention the American Railroad Car.  Heaven help the man - 
may I add the woman - that sets foot in one!  Ah, if it were only 
an ocean to cross, it would be a matter of small thought to me - 
and great pleasure.  But the railroad car - every man has his weak 
point; and I fear the railroad car as abjectly as I do an earwig, 
and, on the whole, on better grounds.  You do not know how bitter 
it is to have to make such a confession; for you have not the 
pretension nor the weakness of a man.  If I do get to Chicago, you 
will hear of me:  so much can be said.  And do you never come east?

I was pleased to recognise a word of my poor old Deacon in your 
letter.  It would interest me very much to hear how it went and 
what you thought of piece and actors; and my collaborator, who 
knows and respects the photograph, would be pleased too. - Still in 
the hope of seeing you, I am, yours very truly,




MY DEAR HENRY JAMES, - It may please you to know how our family has 
been employed.  In the silence of the snow the afternoon lamp has 
lighted an eager fireside group:  my mother reading, Fanny, Lloyd, 
and I devoted listeners; and the work was really one of the best 
works I ever heard; and its author is to be praised and honoured; 
and what do you suppose is the name of it? and have you ever read 
it yourself? and (I am bound I will get to the bottom of the page 
before I blow the gaff, if I have to fight it out on this line all 
summer; for if you have not to turn a leaf, there can be no 
suspense, the conspectory eye being swift to pick out proper names; 
and without suspense, there can be little pleasure in this world, 
to my mind at least) - and, in short, the name of it is RODERICK 
HUDSON, if you please.  My dear James, it is very spirited, and 
very sound, and very noble too.  Hudson, Mrs. Hudson, Rowland, O, 
all first-rate:  Rowland a very fine fellow; Hudson as good as he 
can stick (did you know Hudson?  I suspect you did), Mrs. H. his 
real born mother, a thing rarely managed in fiction.

We are all keeping pretty fit and pretty hearty; but this letter is 
not from me to you, it is from a reader of R. H. to the author of 
the same, and it says nothing, and has nothing to say, but thank 

We are going to re-read CASAMASSIMA as a proper pendant.  Sir, I 
think these two are your best, and care not who knows it.

May I beg you, the next time RODERICK is printed off, to go over 
the sheets of the last few chapters, and strike out 'immense' and 
'tremendous'?  You have simply dropped them there like your pocket-
handkerchief; all you have to do is to pick them up and pouch them, 
and your room - what do I say? - your cathedral! - will be swept 
and garnished. - I am, dear sir, your delighted reader,


P.S. - Perhaps it is a pang of causeless honesty, perhaps.  I hope 
it will set a value on my praise of RODERICK, perhaps it's a burst 
of the diabolic, but I must break out with the news that I can't 
bear the PORTRAIT OF A LADY.  I read it all, and I wept too; but I 
can't stand your having written it; and I beg you will write no 
more of the like.  INFRA, sir; Below you:  I can't help it - it may 
be your favourite work, but in my eyes it's BELOW YOU to write and 
me to read.  I thought RODERICK was going to be another such at the 
beginning; and I cannot describe my pleasure as I found it taking 
bones and blood, and looking out at me with a moved and human 
countenance, whose lineaments are written in my memory until my 
last of days.

R. L. S.

My wife begs your forgiveness; I believe for her silence.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - This goes to say that we are all fit, and the 
place is very bleak and wintry, and up to now has shown no such 
charms of climate as Davos, but is a place where men eat and where 
the cattarh, catarrh (cattarrh, or cattarrhh) appears to be 
unknown.  I walk in my verandy in the snaw, sir, looking down over 
one of those dabbled wintry landscapes that are (to be frank) so 
chilly to the human bosom, and up at a grey, English - nay, 
MEHERCLE, Scottish - heaven; and I think it pretty bleak; and the 
wind swoops at me round the corner, like a lion, and fluffs the 
snow in my face; and I could aspire to be elsewhere; but yet I do 
not catch cold, and yet, when I come in, I eat.  So that hitherto 
Saranac, if not deliriously delectable, has not been a failure; 
nay, from the mere point of view of the wicked body, it has proved 
a success.  But I wish I could still get to the woods; alas, NOUS 
N'IRONS PLUS AU BOIS is my poor song; the paths are buried, the 
dingles drifted full, a little walk is grown a long one; till 
spring comes, I fear the burthen will hold good.

I get along with my papers for SCRIBNER not fast, nor so far 
specially well; only this last, the fourth one (which makes a third 
part of my whole task), I do believe is pulled off after a fashion.  
It is a mere sermon:  'Smith opens out'; but it is true, and I find 
it touching and beneficial, to me at least; and I think there is 
some fine writing in it, some very apt and pregnant phrases.  
PULVIS ET UMBRA, I call it; I might have called it a Darwinian 
Sermon, if I had wanted.  Its sentiments, although parsonic, will 
not offend even you, I believe.  The other three papers, I fear, 
bear many traces of effort, and the ungenuine inspiration of an 
income at so much per essay, and the honest desire of the incomer 
to give good measure for his money.  Well, I did my damndest 

We have been reading H. James's RODERICK HUDSON, which I eagerly 
press you to get at once:  it is a book of a high order - the last 
volume in particular.  I wish Meredith would read it.  It took my 
breath away.

I am at the seventh book of the AENEID, and quite amazed at its 
merits (also very often floored by its difficulties).  The Circe 
passage at the beginning, and the sublime business of Amata with 
the simile of the boy's top - O Lord, what a happy thought! - have 
specially delighted me. - I am, dear sir, your respected friend,




MY DEAR COLVIN, - Thank you for your explanations.  I have done no 
more Virgil since I finished the seventh book, for I have, first 
been eaten up with Taine, and next have fallen head over heels into 
a new tale, THE MASTER OF BALLANTRAE.  No thought have I now apart 
from it, and I have got along up to page ninety-two of the draft 
with great interest.  It is to me a most seizing tale:  there are 
some fantastic elements; the most is a dead genuine human problem - 
human tragedy, I should say rather.  It will be about as long, I 
imagine, as KIDNAPPED.


(1) My old Lord Durrisdeer.
(2) The Master of Ballantrae, AND
(3) Henry Durie, HIS SONS.
(6) Francis Burke, Chevalier de St. Louis, ONE OF PRINCE CHARLIE'S 

Besides these, many instant figures, most of them dumb or nearly 
so:  Jessie Brown the whore, Captain Crail, Captain MacCombie, our 
old friend Alan Breck, our old friend Riach (both only for an 
instant), Teach the pirate (vulgarly Blackbeard), John Paul and 
Macconochie, servants at Durrisdeer.  The date is from 1745 to '65 
(about).  The scene, near Kirkcudbright, in the States, and for a 
little moment in the French East Indies.  I have done most of the 
big work, the quarrel, duel between the brothers, and announcement 
of the death to Clementina and my Lord - Clementina, Henry, and 
Mackellar (nicknamed Squaretoes) are really very fine fellows; the 
Master is all I know of the devil.  I have known hints of him, in 
the world, but always cowards; he is as bold as a lion, but with 
the same deadly, causeless duplicity I have watched with so much 
surprise in my two cowards.  'Tis true, I saw a hint of the same 
nature in another man who was not a coward; but he had other things 
to attend to; the Master has nothing else but his devilry.  Here 
come my visitors - and have now gone, or the first relay of them; 
and I hope no more may come.  For mark you, sir, this is our 'day' 
- Saturday, as ever was, and here we sit, my mother and I, before a 
large wood fire and await the enemy with the most steadfast 
courage; and without snow and greyness:  and the woman Fanny in New 
York for her health, which is far from good; and the lad Lloyd at 
the inn in the village because he has a cold; and the handmaid 
Valentine abroad in a sleigh upon her messages; and to-morrow 
Christmas and no mistake.  Such is human life:  LA CARRIERE 
HUMAINE.  I will enclose, if I remember, the required autograph.

I will do better, put it on the back of this page.  Love to all, 
and mostly, my very dear Colvin, to yourself.  For whatever I say 
or do, or don't say or do, you may be very sure I am, - Yours 
always affectionately,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MISS BOODLE, - And a very good Christmas to you all; and 
better fortune; and if worse, the more courage to support it - 
which I think is the kinder wish in all human affairs.  Somewhile - 
I fear a good while - after this, you should receive our Christmas 
gift; we have no tact and no taste, only a welcome and (often) 
tonic brutality; and I dare say the present, even after my friend 
Baxter has acted on and reviewed my hints, may prove a White 
Elephant.  That is why I dread presents.  And therefore pray 
understand if any element of that hamper prove unwelcome, IT IS TO 
BE EXCHANGED.  I will not sit down under the name of a giver of 
White Elephants.  I never had any elephant but one, and his 
initials were R. L. S.; and he trod on my foot at a very early age.  
But this is a fable, and not in the least to the point:  which is 
that if, for once in my life, I have wished to make things nicer 
for anybody but the Elephant (see fable), do not suffer me to have 
made them ineffably more embarrassing, and exchange - ruthlessly 

For my part, I am the most cockered up of any mortal being; and one 
of the healthiest, or thereabout, at some modest distance from the 
bull's eye.  I am condemned to write twelve articles in SCRIBNER'S 
MAGAZINE for the love of gain; I think I had better send you them; 
what is far more to the purpose, I am on the jump with a new story 
which has bewitched me - I doubt it may bewitch no one else.  It is 
called THE MASTER OF BALLANTRAE - pronounce Ballan-tray.  If it is 
not good, well, mine will be the fault; for I believe it is a good 

The greetings of the season to you, and your mother, and your 
sisters.  My wife heartily joins. - And I am, yours very sincerely,


P.S. - You will think me an illiterate dog:  I am, for the first 
time, reading ROBERTSON'S SERMONS.  I do not know how to express 
how much I think of them.  If by any chance you should be as 
illiterate as I, and not know them, it is worth while curing the 

R. L. S.



DEAR CHARLES, - You are the flower of Doers. . . . Will my doer 
collaborate thus much in my new novel?  In the year 1794 or 5, Mr. 
Ephraim Mackellar, A.M., late. steward on the Durrisdeer estates, 
completed a set of memoranda (as long as a novel) with regard to 
the death of the (then) late Lord Durrisdeer, and as to that of his 
attainted elder brother, called by the family courtesy title the 
Master of Ballantrae.  These he placed in the hands of John 
Macbrair.  W.S., the family agent, on the understanding they were 
to be sealed until 1862, when a century would have elapsed since 
the affair in the wilderness (my lord's death).  You succeeded Mr. 
Macbrair's firm; the Durrisdeers are extinct; and last year, in an 
old green box, you found these papers with Macbrair's indorsation.  
It is that indorsation of which I want a copy; you may remember, 
when you gave me the papers, I neglected to take that, and I am 
sure you are a man too careful of antiquities to have let it fall 
aside.  I shall have a little introduction descriptive of my visit 
to Edinburgh, arrival there, denner with yoursel', and first 
reading of the papers in your smoking-room:  all of which, of 
course, you well remember. - Ever yours affectionately,

R. L S.

Your name is my friend Mr. Johnstone Thomson, W.S.!!!



DEAR MR. BURLINGAME, - I am keeping the sermon to see if I can't 
add another.  Meanwhile, I will send you very soon a different 
paper which may take its place.  Possibly some of these days soon I 
may get together a talk on things current, which should go in (if 
possible) earlier than either.  I am now less nervous about these 
papers; I believe I can do the trick without great strain, though 
the terror that breathed on my back in the beginning is not yet 

THE MASTER OF BALLANTRAE I have had to leave aside, as I was quite 
worked out.  But in about a week I hope to try back and send you 
the first four numbers:  these are all drafted, it is only the 
revision that has broken me down, as it is often the hardest work.  
These four I propose you should set up for me at once, and we'll 
copyright 'em in a pamphlet.  I will tell you the names of the BONA 
FIDE purchasers in England.

The numbers will run from twenty to thirty pages of my manuscript.  
You can give me that much, can you not?  It is a howling good tale 
- at least these first four numbers are; the end is a trifle more 
fantastic, but 'tis all picturesque.

Don't trouble about any more French books; I am on another scent, 
you see, just now.  Only the FRENCH IN HINDUSTAN I await with 
impatience, as that is for BALLANTRAE.  The scene of that romance 
is Scotland - the States - Scotland - India - Scotland - and the 
States again; so it jumps like a flea.  I have enough about the 
States now, and very much obliged I am; yet if Drake's TRAGEDIES OF 
the WILDERNESS is (as I gather) a collection of originals, I should 
like to purchase it.  If it is a picturesque vulgarisation, I do 
not wish to look it in the face.  Purchase, I say; for I think it 
would be well to have some such collection by me with a view to 
fresh works. - Yours very sincerely,


P.S. - If you think of having the MASTER illustrated, I suggest 
that Hole would be very well up to the Scottish, which is the 
larger part.  If you have it done here, tell your artist to look at 
the hall of Craigievar in Billing's BARONIAL AND ECCLESIASTICAL 
ANTIQUITIES, and he will get a broad hint for the hall at 
Durrisdeer:  it is, I think, the chimney of Craigievar and the roof 
of Pinkie, and perhaps a little more of Pinkie altogether; but I 
should have to see the book myself to be sure.  Hole would be 
invaluable for this.  I dare say if you had it illustrated, you 
could let me have one or two for the English edition.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR ARCHER, - What am I to say?  I have read your friend's book 
with singular relish.  If he has written any other, I beg you will 
let me see it; and if he has not, I beg him to lose no time in 
supplying the deficiency.  It is full of promise; but I should like 
to know his age.  There are things in it that are very clever, to 
which I attach small importance; it is the shape of the age.  And 
there are passages, particularly the rally in presence of the Zulu 
king, that show genuine and remarkable narrative talent - a talent 
that few will have the wit to understand, a talent of strength, 
spirit, capacity, sufficient vision, and sufficient self-sacrifice, 
which last is the chief point in a narrator.

As a whole, it is (of course) a fever dream of the most feverish.  
Over Bashville the footman I howled with derision and delight; I 
dote on Bashville - I could read of him for ever; DE BASHVILLE JE 
SUIS LE FERVENT - there is only one Bashville, and I am his devoted 
is the note of the book.  It is all mad, mad and deliriously 
delightful; the author has a taste in chivalry like Walter Scott's 
or Dumas', and then he daubs in little bits of socialism; he soars 
away on the wings of the romantic griffon - even the griffon, as he 
cleaves air, shouting with laughter at the nature of the quest - 
and I believe in his heart he thinks he is labouring in a quarry of 
solid granite realism.

It is this that makes me - the most hardened adviser now extant - 
stand back and hold my peace.  If Mr. Shaw is below five-and-
twenty, let him go his path; if he is thirty, he had best be told 
that he is a romantic, and pursue romance with his eyes open; - or 
perhaps he knows it; - God knows! - my brain is softened.

It is HORRID FUN.  All I ask is more of it.  Thank you for the 
pleasure you gave us, and tell me more of the inimitable author.

(I say, Archer, my God, what women!) - Yours very truly,




MY DEAR ARCHER, - Pretty sick in bed; but necessary to protest and 
continue your education.

Why was Jenkin an amateur in my eyes?  You think because not 
amusing (I think he often was amusing).  The reason is this:  I 
never, or almost never, saw two pages of his work that I could not 
have put in one without the smallest loss of material.  That is the 
only test I know of writing.  If there is anywhere a thing said in 
two sentences that could have been as clearly and as engagingly and 
as forcibly said in one, then it's amateur work.  Then you will 
bring me up with old Dumas.  Nay, the object of a story is to be 
long, to fill up hours; the story-teller's art of writing is to 
water out by continual invention, historical and technical, and yet 
not seem to water; seem on the other hand to practise that same wit 
of conspicuous and declaratory condensation which is the proper art 
of writing.  That is one thing in which my stories fail:  I am 
always cutting the flesh off their bones.

I would rise from the dead to preach!

Hope all well.  I think my wife better, but she's not allowed to 
write; and this (only wrung from me by desire to Boss and Parsonise 
and Dominate, strong in sickness) is my first letter for days, and 
will likely be my last for many more.  Not blame my wife for her 
silence:  doctor's orders.  All much interested by your last, and 
fragment from brother, and anecdotes of Tomarcher. - The sick but 
still Moral

R. L. S.

Tell Shaw to hurry up:  I want another.



MY DEAR ARCHER, - It happened thus.  I came forth from that 
performance in a breathing heat of indignation.  (Mind, at this 
distance of time and with my increased knowledge, I admit there is 
a problem in the piece; but I saw none then, except a problem in 
brutality; and I still consider the problem in that case not 
established.)  On my way down the FRANCAIS stairs, I trod on an old 
gentleman's toes, whereupon with that suavity that so well becomes 
me, I turned about to apologise, and on the instant, repenting me 
of that intention, stopped the apology midway, and added something 
in French to this effect:  No, you are one of the LACHES who have 
been applauding that piece.  I retract my apology.  Said the old 
Frenchman, laying his hand on my arm, and with a smile that was 
truly heavenly in temperance, irony, good-nature, and knowledge of 
the world, 'Ah, monsieur, vous etes bien jeune!' - Yours very 




DEAR MR. BURLINGAME, - Will you send me (from the library) some of 
the works of my dear old G. P. R. James.  With the following 
especially I desire to make or to renew acquaintance:  THE 


This sudden return to an ancient favourite hangs upon an accident.  
The 'Franklin County Library' contains two works of his, THE 
CAVALIER and MORLEY ERNSTEIN.  I read the first with indescribable 
amusement - it was worse than I had feared, and yet somehow 
engaging; the second (to my surprise) was better than I had dared 
to hope:  a good honest, dull, interesting tale, with a genuine 
old-fashioned talent in the invention when not strained; and a 
genuine old-fashioned feeling for the English language.  This 
experience awoke appetite, and you see I have taken steps to stay 

R. L. S.



DEAR MR. BURLINGAME, - 1.  Of course then don't use it.  Dear Man, 
I write these to please you, not myself, and you know a main sight 
better than I do what is good.  In that case, however, I enclose 
another paper, and return the corrected proof of PULVIS ET UMBRA, 
so that we may be afloat.

2.  I want to say a word as to the MASTER.  (THE MASTER OF 
BALLANTRAE shall be the name by all means.)  If you like and want 
it, I leave it to you to make an offer.  You may remember I thought 
the offer you made when I was still in England too small; by which 
I did not at all mean, I thought it less than it was worth, but too 
little to tempt me to undergo the disagreeables of serial 
publication.  This tale (if you want it) you are to have; for it is 
the least I can do for you; and you are to observe that the sum you 
pay me for my articles going far to meet my wants, I am quite open 
to be satisfied with less than formerly.  I tell you I do dislike 
this battle of the dollars.  I feel sure you all pay too much here 
in America; and I beg you not to spoil me any more.  For I am 
getting spoiled:  I do not want wealth, and I feel these big sums 
demoralise me.

My wife came here pretty ill; she had a dreadful bad night; to-day 
she is better.  But now Valentine is ill; and Lloyd and I have got 
breakfast, and my hand somewhat shakes after washing dishes. - 
Yours very sincerely,


P.S. - Please order me the EVENING POST for two months.  My 
subscription is run out.  The MUTINY and EDWARDES to hand.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - Fanny has been very unwell.  She is not long 
home, has been ill again since her return, but is now better again 
to a degree.  You must not blame her for not writing, as she is not 
allowed to write at all, not even a letter.  To add to our 
misfortunes, Valentine is quite ill and in bed.  Lloyd and I get 
breakfast; I have now, 10.15, just got the dishes washed and the 
kitchen all clear, and sit down to give you as much news as I have 
spirit for, after such an engagement.  Glass is a thing that really 
breaks my spirit:  I do not like to fail, and with glass I cannot 
reach the work of my high calling - the artist's.

I am, as you may gather from this, wonderfully better:  this harsh, 
grey, glum, doleful climate has done me good.  You cannot fancy how 
sad a climate it is.  When the thermometer stays all day below 10 
degrees, it is really cold; and when the wind blows, O commend me 
to the result.  Pleasure in life is all delete; there is no red 
spot left, fires do not radiate, you burn your hands all the time 
on what seem to be cold stones.  It is odd, zero is like summer 
heat to us now; and we like, when the thermometer outside is really 
low, a room at about 48 degrees:  60 degrees we find oppressive.  
Yet the natives keep their holes at 90 degrees or even 100 degrees.

This was interrupted days ago by household labours.  Since then I 
have had and (I tremble to write it, but it does seem as if I had) 
beaten off an influenza.  The cold is exquisite.  Valentine still 
in bed.  The proofs of the first part of the MASTER OF BALLANTRAE 
begin to come in; soon you shall have it in the pamphlet form; and 
I hope you will like it.  The second part will not be near so good; 
but there - we can but do as it'll do with us.  I have every reason 
to believe this winter has done me real good, so far as it has 
gone; and if I carry out my scheme for next winter, and succeeding 
years, I should end by being a tower of strength.  I want you to 
save a good holiday for next winter; I hope we shall be able to 
help you to some larks.  Is there any Greek Isle you would like to 
explore? or any creek in Asia Minor? - Yours ever affectionately,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR DR. CHARTERIS, - I have asked Douglas and Foulis to send 
you my last volume, so that you may possess my little paper on my 
father in a permanent shape; not for what that is worth, but as a 
tribute of respect to one whom my father regarded with such love, 
esteem, and affection.  Besides, as you will see, I have brought 
you under contribution, and I have still to thank you for your 
letter to my mother; so more than kind; in much, so just.  It is my 
hope, when time and health permit, to do something more definite 
for my father's memory.  You are one of the very few who can (if 
you will) help me.  Pray believe that I lay on you no obligation; I 
know too well, you may believe me, how difficult it is to put even 
two sincere lines upon paper, where all, too, is to order.  But if 
the spirit should ever move you, and you should recall something 
memorable of your friend, his son will heartily thank you for a 
note of it. - With much respect, believe me, yours sincerely,




MY DEAR DELIGHTFUL JAMES, - To quote your heading to my wife, I 
think no man writes so elegant a letter, I am sure none so kind, 
unless it be Colvin, and there is more of the stern parent about 
him.  I was vexed at your account of my admired Meredith:  I wish I 
could go and see him; as it is I will try to write.  I read with 
indescribable admiration your EMERSON.  I begin to long for the day 
when these portraits of yours shall be collected:  do put me in.  
But Emerson is a higher flight.  Have you a TOURGUENEFF?  You have 
told me many interesting things of him, and I seem to see them 
written, and forming a graceful and BILDEND sketch.  My novel is a 
tragedy; four parts out of six or seven are written, and gone to 
Burlingame.  Five parts of it are sound, human tragedy; the last 
one or two, I regret to say, not so soundly designed; I almost 
hesitate to write them; they are very picturesque, but they are 
fantastic; they shame, perhaps degrade, the beginning.  I wish I 
knew; that was how the tale came to me however.  I got the 
situation; it was an old taste of mine:  The older brother goes out 
in the '45, the younger stays; the younger, of course, gets title 
and estate and marries the bride designate of the elder - a family 
match, but he (the younger) had always loved her, and she had 
really loved the elder.  Do you see the situation?  Then the devil 
and Saranac suggested this DENOUEMENT, and I joined the two ends in 
a day or two of constant feverish thought, and began to write.  And 
now - I wonder if I have not gone too far with the fantastic?  The 
elder brother is an INCUBUS:  supposed to be killed at Culloden, he 
turns up again and bleeds the family of money; on that stopping he 
comes and lives with them, whence flows the real tragedy, the 
nocturnal duel of the brothers (very naturally, and indeed, I 
think, inevitably arising), and second supposed death of the elder.  
Husband and wife now really make up, and then the cloven hoof 
appears.  For the third supposed death and the manner of the third 
reappearance is steep; steep, sir.  It is even very steep, and I 
fear it shames the honest stuff so far; but then it is highly 
pictorial, and it leads up to the death of the elder brother at the 
hands of the younger in a perfectly cold-blooded murder, of which I 
wish (and mean) the reader to approve.  You see how daring is the 
design.  There are really but six characters, and one of these 
episodic, and yet it covers eighteen years, and will be, I imagine, 
the longest of my works. - Yours ever,

R. L. S.

READ GOSSE'S RALEIGH.  First-rate. - Yours ever,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR DR. CHARTERIS, - The funeral letter, your notes, and many 
other things, are reserved for a book, MEMORIALS OF A SCOTTISH 
FAMILY, if ever I can find time and opportunity.  I wish I could 
throw off all else and sit down to it to-day.  Yes, my father was a 
'distinctly religious man,' but not a pious.  The distinction 
painfully and pleasurably recalls old conflicts; it used to be my 
great gun - and you, who suffered for the whole Church, know how 
needful it was to have some reserve artillery!  His sentiments were 
tragic; he was a tragic thinker.  Now, granted that life is tragic 
to the marrow, it seems the proper function of religion to make us 
accept and serve in that tragedy, as officers in that other and 
comparable one of war.  Service is the word, active service, in the 
military sense; and the religious man - I beg pardon, the pious man 
- is he who has a military joy in duty - not he who weeps over the 
wounded.  We can do no more than try to do our best.  Really, I am 
the grandson of the manse - I preach you a kind of sermon.  Box the 
brat's ears!

My mother - to pass to matters more within my competence - finely 
enjoys herself.  The new country, some new friends we have made, 
the interesting experiment of this climate-which (at least) is 
tragic - all have done her good.  I have myself passed a better 
winter than for years, and now that it is nearly over have some 
diffident hopes of doing well in the summer and 'eating a little 
more air' than usual.

I thank you for the trouble you are taking, and my mother joins 
with me in kindest regards to yourself and Mrs. Charteris. - Yours 
very truly,


Letter:  TO S. R. CROCKETT


read your name! - That I have been so long in answering your 
delightful letter sits on my conscience badly.  The fact is I let 
my correspondence accumulate until I am going to leave a place; and 
then I pitch in, overhaul the pile, and my cries of penitence might 
be heard a mile about.  Yesterday I despatched thirty-five belated 
letters:  conceive the state of my conscience, above all as the 
Sins of Omission (see boyhood's guide, the Shorter Catechism) are 
in my view the only serious ones; I call it my view, but it cannot 
have escaped you that it was also Christ's.  However, all that is 
not to the purpose, which is to thank you for the sincere pleasure 
afforded by your charming letter.  I get a good few such; how few 
that please me at all, you would be surprised to learn - or have a 
singularly just idea of the dulness of our race; how few that 
please me as yours did, I can tell you in one word - NONE.  I am no 
great kirkgoer, for many reasons - and the sermon's one of them, 
and the first prayer another, but the chief and effectual reason is 
the stuffiness.  I am no great kirkgoer, says I, but when I read 
yon letter of yours, I thought I would like to sit under ye.  And 
then I saw ye were to send me a bit buik, and says I, I'll wait for 
the bit buik, and then I'll mebbe can read the man's name, and 
anyway I'll can kill twa birds wi' ae stane.  And, man! the buik 
was ne'er heard tell o'!

That fact is an adminicle of excuse for my delay.

And now, dear minister of the illegible name, thanks to you, and 
greeting to your wife, and may you have good guidance in your 
difficult labours, and a blessing on your life.


(No just so young sae young's he was, though -
I'm awfae near forty, man.)


Don't put 'N.B.' in your paper:  put SCOTLAND, and be done with it.  
Alas, that I should be thus stabbed in the home of my friends!  The 
name of my native land is not NORTH BRITAIN, whatever may be the 
name of yours.

R. L. S.



MY DEAREST COGGIE, - I wish I could find the letter I began to you 
some time ago when I was ill; but I can't and I don't believe there 
was much in it anyway.  We have all behaved like pigs and beasts 
and barn-door poultry to you; but I have been sunk in work, and the 
lad is lazy and blind and has been working too; and as for Fanny, 
she has been (and still is) really unwell.  I had a mean hope you 
might perhaps write again before I got up steam:  I could not have 
been more ashamed of myself than I am, and I should have had 
another laugh.

They always say I cannot give news in my letters:  I shall shake 
off that reproach.  On Monday, if she is well enough, Fanny leaves 
for California to see her friends; it is rather an anxiety to let 
her go alone; but the doctor simply forbids it in my case, and she 
is better anywhere than here - a bleak, blackguard, beggarly 
climate, of which I can say no good except that it suits me and 
some others of the same or similar persuasions whom (by all rights) 
it ought to kill.  It is a form of Arctic St. Andrews, I should 
imagine; and the miseries of forty degrees below zero, with a high 
wind, have to be felt to be appreciated.  The greyness of the 
heavens here is a circumstance eminently revolting to the soul; I 
have near forgot the aspect of the sun - I doubt if this be news; 
it is certainly no news to us.  My mother suffers a little from the 
inclemency of the place, but less on the whole than would be 
imagined.  Among other wild schemes, we have been projecting yacht 
voyages; and I beg to inform you that Cogia Hassan was cast for the 
part of passenger.  They may come off! - Again this is not news.  
The lad?  Well, the lad wrote a tale this winter, which appeared to 
me so funny that I have taken it in hand, and some of these days 
you will receive a copy of a work entitled 'A GAME OF BLUFF, by 
Lloyd Osbourne and Robert Louis Stevenson.'

Otherwise he (the lad) is much as usual.  There remains, I believe, 
to be considered only R. L. S., the house-bond, prop, pillar, 
bread-winner, and bully of the establishment.  Well, I do think him 
much better; he is making piles of money; the hope of being able to 
hire a yacht ere long dances before his eyes; otherwise he is not 
in very high spirits at this particular moment, though compared 
with last year at Bournemouth an angel of joy.

And now is this news, Cogia, or is it not?  It all depends upon the 
point of view, and I call it news.  The devil of it is that I can 
think of nothing else, except to send you all our loves, and to 
wish exceedingly you were here to cheer us all up.  But we'll see 
about that on board the yacht. - Your affectionate friend,




MY DEAR COLVIN, - I have been long without writing to you, but am 
not to blame, I had some little annoyances quite for a private eye, 
but they ran me so hard that I could not write without lugging them 
in, which (for several reasons) I did not choose to do.  Fanny is 
off to San Francisco, and next week I myself flit to New York:  
address Scribner's.  Where we shall go I know not, nor (I was going 
to say) care; so bald and bad is my frame of mind.  Do you know our 
- ahem! - fellow clubman, Colonel Majendie?  I had such an 
interesting letter from him.  Did you see my sermon?  It has evoked 
the worst feeling:  I fear people don't care for the truth, or else 
I don't tell it.  Suffer me to wander without purpose.  I have sent 
off twenty letters to-day, and begun and stuck at a twenty-first, 
and taken a copy of one which was on business, and corrected 
several galleys of proof, and sorted about a bushel of old letters; 
so if any one has a right to be romantically stupid it is I - and I 
am.  Really deeply stupid, and at that stage when in old days I 
used to pour out words without any meaning whatever and with my 
mind taking no part in the performance.  I suspect that is now the 
case.  I am reading with extraordinary pleasure the life of Lord 
Lawrence:  Lloyd and I have a mutiny novel -

(NEXT MORNING, AFTER TWELVE OTHER LETTERS) - mutiny novel on hand - 
a tremendous work - so we are all at Indian books.  The idea of the 
novel is Lloyd's:  I call it a novel.  'Tis a tragic romance, of 
the most tragic sort:  I believe the end will be almost too much 
for human endurance - when the hero is thrown to the ground with 
one of his own (Sepoy) soldier's knees upon his chest, and the 
cries begin in the Beebeeghar.  O truly, you know it is a howler!  
The whole last part is - well the difficulty is that, short of 
resuscitating Shakespeare, I don't know who is to write it.

I still keep wonderful.  I am a great performer before the Lord on 
the penny whistle.  Dear sir, sincerely yours,




MY DEAR GAMEKEEPER, - Your p. c. (proving you a good student of 
Micawber) has just arrived, and it paves the way to something I am 
anxious to say.  I wrote a paper the other day - PULVIS ET UMBRA; - 
I wrote it with great feeling and conviction:  to me it seemed 
bracing and healthful, it is in such a world (so seen by me), that 
I am very glad to fight out my battle, and see some fine sunsets, 
and hear some excellent jests between whiles round the camp fire.  
But I find that to some people this vision of mine is a nightmare, 
and extinguishes all ground of faith in God or pleasure in man.  
Truth I think not so much of; for I do not know it.  And I could 
wish in my heart that I had not published this paper, if it 
troubles folk too much:  all have not the same digestion, nor the 
same sight of things.  And it came over me with special pain that 
perhaps this article (which I was at the pains to send to her) 
might give dismalness to my GAMEKEEPER AT HOME.  Well, I cannot 
take back what I have said; but yet I may add this.  If my view be 
everything but the nonsense that it may be - to me it seems self-
evident and blinding truth - surely of all things it makes this 
world holier.  There is nothing in it but the moral side - but the 
great battle and the breathing times with their refreshments.  I 
see no more and no less.  And if you look again, it is not ugly, 
and it is filled with promise.

Pray excuse a desponding author for this apology.  My wife is away 
off to the uttermost parts of the States, all by herself.  I shall 
be off, I hope, in a week; but where?  Ah! that I know not.  I keep 
wonderful, and my wife a little better, and the lad flourishing.  
We now perform duets on two D tin whistles; it is no joke to make 
the bass; I think I must really send you one, which I wish you 
would correct . . . I may be said to live for these instrumental 
labours now, but I have always some childishness on hand. - I am, 
dear Gamekeeper, your indulgent but intemperate Squire,




MY DEAR CHARLES, - I have found a yacht, and we are going the full 
pitch for seven months.  If I cannot get my health back (more or 
less), 'tis madness; but, of course, there is the hope, and I will 
play big. . . . If this business fails to set me up, well, 2000 
pounds is gone, and I know I can't get better.  We sail from San 
Francisco, June 15th, for the South Seas in the yacht CASCO. - With 
a million thanks for all your dear friendliness, ever yours 




DEAR HOMER ST. GAUDENS, - Your father has brought you this day to 
see me, and he tells me it is his hope you may remember the 
occasion.  I am going to do what I can to carry out his wish; and 
it may amuse you, years after, to see this little scrap of paper 
and to read what I write.  I must begin by testifying that you 
yourself took no interest whatever in the introduction, and in the 
most proper spirit displayed a single-minded ambition to get back 
to play, and this I thought an excellent and admirable point in 
your character.  You were also (I use the past tense, with a view 
to the time when you shall read, rather than to that when I am 
writing) a very pretty boy, and (to my European views) startlingly 
self-possessed.  My time of observation was so limited that you 
must pardon me if I can say no more:  what else I marked, what 
restlessness of foot and hand, what graceful clumsiness, what 
experimental designs upon the furniture, was but the common 
inheritance of human youth.  But you may perhaps like to know that 
the lean flushed man in bed, who interested you so little, was in a 
state of mind extremely mingled and unpleasant:  harassed with work 
which he thought he was not doing well, troubled with difficulties 
to which you will in time succeed, and yet looking forward to no 
less a matter than a voyage to the South Seas and the visitation of 
savage and desert islands. -Your father's friend,




MY DEAR JAMES, - With what a torrent it has come at last!  Up to 
now, what I like best is the first number of a LONDON LIFE.  You 
have never done anything better, and I don't know if perhaps you 
have ever done anything so good as the girl's outburst:  tip-top.  
I have been preaching your later works in your native land.  I had 
to present the Beltraffio volume to Low, and it has brought him to 
his knees; he was AMAZED at the first part of Georgina's Reasons, 
although (like me) not so well satisfied with Part II.  It is 
annoying to find the American public as stupid as the English, but 
they will waken up in time:  I wonder what they will think of TWO 

This, dear James, is a valedictory.  On June 15th the schooner 
yacht CASCO will (weather and a jealous providence permitting) 
steam through the Golden Gates for Honolulu, Tahiti, the Galapagos, 
Guayaquil, and - I hope NOT the bottom of the Pacific.  It will 
contain your obedient 'umble servant and party.  It seems too good 
to be true, and is a very good way of getting through the green-
sickness of maturity which, with all its accompanying ills, is now 
declaring itself in my mind and life.  They tell me it is not so 
severe as that of youth; if I (and the CASCO) are spared, I shall 
tell you more exactly, as I am one of the few people in the world 
who do not forget their own lives.

Good-bye, then, my dear fellow, and please write us a word; we 
expect to have three mails in the next two months:  Honolulu, 
Tahiti, and Guayaquil.  But letters will be forwarded from 
Scribner's, if you hear nothing more definite directly.  In 3 
(three) days I leave for San Francisco. - Ever yours most 

R. L. S.




MY DEAR COLVIN, - From this somewhat (ahem) out of the way place, I 
write to say how d'ye do.  It is all a swindle:  I chose these 
isles as having the most beastly population, and they are far 
better, and far more civilised than we.  I know one old chief Ko-o-
amua, a great cannibal in his day, who ate his enemies even as he 
walked home from killing 'em, and he is a perfect gentleman and 
exceedingly amiable and simple-minded:  no fool, though.

The climate is delightful; and the harbour where we lie one of the 
loveliest spots imaginable.  Yesterday evening we had near a score 
natives on board; lovely parties.  We have a native god; very rare 
now.  Very rare and equally absurd to view.

This sort of work is not favourable to correspondence:  it takes me 
all the little strength I have to go about and see, and then come 
home and note, the strangeness around us.  I shouldn't wonder if 
there came trouble here some day, all the same.  I could name a 
nation that is not beloved in certain islands - and it does not 
know it!  Strange:  like ourselves, perhaps, in India!  Love to all 
and much to yourself.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR CHARLES, - Last night as I lay under my blanket in the 
cockpit, courting sleep, I had a comic seizure.  There was nothing 
visible but the southern stars, and the steersman there out by the 
binnacle lamp; we were all looking forward to a most deplorable 
landfall on the morrow, praying God we should fetch a tuft of palms 
which are to indicate the Dangerous Archipelago; the night was as 
warm as milk, and all of a sudden I had a vision of - Drummond 
Street.  It came on me like a flash of lightning:  I simply 
returned thither, and into the past.  And when I remember all I 
hoped and feared as I pickled about Rutherford's in the rain and 
the east wind; how I feared I should make a mere shipwreck, and yet 
timidly hoped not; how I feared I should never have a friend, far 
less a wife, and yet passionately hoped I might; how I hoped (if I 
did not take to drink) I should possibly write one little book, 
etc. etc.  And then now - what a change!  I feel somehow as if I 
should like the incident set upon a brass plate at the corner of 
that dreary thoroughfare for all students to read, poor devils, 
when their hearts are down.  And I felt I must write one word to 
you.  Excuse me if I write little:  when I am at sea, it gives me a 
headache; when I am in port, I have my diary crying 'Give, give.'  
I shall have a fine book of travels, I feel sure; and will tell you 
more of the South Seas after very few months than any other writer 
has done - except Herman Melville perhaps, who is a howling cheese.  
Good luck to you, God bless you. - Your affectionate friend,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - Only a word.  Get out your big atlas, and imagine 
a straight line from San Francisco to Anaho, the N.E. corner of 
Nukahiva, one of the Marquesas Islands; imagine three weeks there:  
imagine a day's sail on August 12th round the eastern end of the 
island to Tai-o-hae, the capital; imagine us there till August 
22nd:  imagine us skirt the east side of Ua-pu - perhaps Rona-Poa 
on your atlas - and through the Bondelais straits to Taaka-uku in 
Hiva-Oa, where we arrive on the 23rd; imagine us there until 
September 4th, when we sailed for Fakarava, which we reached on the 
9th, after a very difficult and dangerous passage among these 
isles.  Tuesday, we shall leave for Taiti, where I shall knock off 
and do some necessary work ashore.  It looks pretty bald in the 
atlas; not in fact; nor I trust in the 130 odd pages of diary which 
I have just been looking up for these dates:  the interest, indeed, 
has been INCREDIBLE:  I did not dream there were such places or 
such races.  My health has stood me splendidly; I am in for hours 
wading over the knees for shells; I have been five hours on 
horseback:  I have been up pretty near all night waiting to see 
where the CASCO would go ashore, and with my diary all ready - 
simply the most entertaining night of my life.  Withal I still have 
colds; I have one now, and feel pretty sick too; but not as at 
home:  instead of being in bed, for instance, I am at this moment 
sitting snuffling and writing in an undershirt and trousers; and as 
for colour, hands, arms, feet, legs, and face, I am browner than 
the berry:  only my trunk and the aristocratic spot on which I sit 
retain the vile whiteness of the north.

Please give my news and kind love to Henley, Henry James, and any 
whom you see of well-wishers.  Accept from me the very best of my 
affection:  and believe me ever yours,



Never having found a chance to send this off, I may add more of my 
news.  My cold took a very bad turn, and I am pretty much out of 
sorts at this particular, living in a little bare one-twentieth-
furnished house, surrounded by mangoes, etc.  All the rest are 
well, and I mean to be soon.  But these Taiti colds are very severe 
and, to children, often fatal; so they were not the thing for me.  
Yesterday the brigantine came in from San Francisco, so we can get 
our letters off soon.  There are in Papeete at this moment, in a 
little wooden house with grated verandahs, two people who love you 
very much, and one of them is




MY DEAR CHARLES, - . . . You will receive a lot of mostly very bad 
proofs of photographs:  the paper was so bad.  Please keep them 
very private, as they are for the book.  We send them, having 
learned so dread a fear of the sea, that we wish to put our eggs in 
different baskets.  We have been thrice within an ace of being 
ashore:  we were lost (!) for about twelve hours in the Low 
Archipelago, but by God's blessing had quiet weather all the time; 
and once, in a squall, we cam' so near gaun heels ower hurdies, 
that I really dinnae ken why we didnae athegither.  Hence, as I 
say, a great desire to put our eggs in different baskets, 
particularly on the Pacific (aw-haw-haw) Pacific Ocean.

You can have no idea what a mean time we have had, owing to 
incidental beastlinesses, nor what a glorious, owing to the 
intrinsic interest of these isles.  I hope the book will be a good 
one; nor do I really very much doubt that - the stuff is so 
curious; what I wonder is, if the public will rise to it.  A copy 
of my journal, or as much of it as is made, shall go to you also; 
it is, of course, quite imperfect, much being to be added and 
corrected; but O, for the eggs in the different baskets.

All the rest are well enough, and all have enjoyed the cruise so 
far, in spite of its drawbacks.  We have had an awfae time in some 
ways, Mr. Baxter; and if I wasnae sic a verra patient man (when I 
ken that I HAVE to be) there wad hae been a braw row; and ance if I 
hadnae happened to be on deck about three in the marnin', I THINK 
there would have been MURDER done.  The American Mairchant Marine 
is a kent service; ye'll have heard its praise, I'm thinkin'; an' 
if ye never did, ye can get TWA YEARS BEFORE THE MAST, by Dana, 
whaur forbye a great deal o' pleisure, ye'll get a' the needcessary 
information.  Love to your father and all the family. - Ever your 
affectionate friend,




DEAR GIVER, - I am at a loss to conceive your object in giving me 
to a person so locomotory as my proprietor.  The number of thousand 
miles that I have travelled, the strange bed-fellows with which I 
have been made acquainted, I lack the requisite literary talent to 
make clear to your imagination.  I speak of bed-fellows; pocket-
fellows would be a more exact expression, for the place of my abode 
is in my master's righthand trouser-pocket; and there, as he waded 
on the resounding beaches of Nukahiva, or in the shallow tepid 
water on the reef of Fakarava, I have been overwhelmed by and 
buried among all manner of abominable South Sea shells, beautiful 
enough in their way, I make no doubt, but singular company for any 
self-respecting paper-cutter.  He, my master - or as I more justly 
call him, my bearer; for although I occasionally serve him, does 
not he serve me daily and all day long, carrying me like an African 
potentate on my subject's legs? - HE is delighted with these isles, 
and this climate, and these savages, and a variety of other things.  
He now blows a flageolet with singular effects:  sometimes the poor 
thing appears stifled with shame, sometimes it screams with agony; 
he pursues his career with truculent insensibility.  Health appears 
to reign in the party.  I was very nearly sunk in a squall.  I am 
sorry I ever left England, for here there are no books to be had, 
and without books there is no stable situation for, dear Giver, 
your affectionate


A neighbouring pair of scissors snips a kiss in your direction.



MY DEAR COLVIN, - The cruiser for San Francisco departs to-morrow 
morning bearing you some kind of a scratch.  This much more 
important packet will travel by way of Auckland.  It contains a 
ballant; and I think a better ballant than I expected ever to do.  
I can imagine how you will wag your pow over it; and how ragged you 
will find it, etc., but has it not spirit all the same? and though 
the verse is not all your fancy painted it, has it not some life?  
And surely, as narrative, the thing has considerable merit!  Read 
it, get a typewritten copy taken, and send me that and your opinion 
to the Sandwiches.  I know I am only courting the most excruciating 
mortification; but the real cause of my sending the thing is that I 
could bear to go down myself, but not to have much MS. go down with 
me.  To say truth, we are through the most dangerous; but it has 
left in all minds a strong sense of insecurity, and we are all for 
putting eggs in various baskets.

We leave here soon, bound for Uahiva, Reiatea, Bora-Bora, and the 

O, how my spirit languishes
To step ashore on the Sanguishes;
For there my letters wait,
There shall I know my fate.
O, how my spirit languidges
To step ashore on the Sanguidges.

18TH. - I think we shall leave here if all is well on Monday.  I am 
quite recovered, astonishingly recovered. It must be owned these 
climates and this voyage have given me more strength than I could 
have thought possible.  And yet the sea is a terrible place, 
stupefying to the mind and poisonous to the temper, the sea, the 
motion, the lack of space, the cruel publicity, the villainous 
tinned foods, the sailors, the captain, the passengers - but you 
are amply repaid when you sight an island, and drop anchor in a new 
world.  Much trouble has attended this trip, but I must confess 
more pleasure.  Nor should I ever complain, as in the last few 
weeks, with the curing of my illness indeed, as if that were the 
bursting of an abscess, the cloud has risen from my spirits and to 
some degree from my temper.  Do you know what they called the CASCO 
at Fakarava?  The SILVER SHIP.  Is that not pretty?  Pray tell Mrs. 
Jenkin, DIE SILBERNE FRAU, as I only learned it since I wrote her.  
I think of calling the book by that name:  THE CRUISE OF THE SILVER 
SHIP - so there will be one poetic page at least - the title.  At 
the Sandwiches we shall say farewell to the S. S. with mingled 
feelings.  She is a lovely creature:  the most beautiful thing at 
this moment in Taiti.

Well, I will take another sheet, though I know I have nothing to 
say.  You would think I was bursting:  but the voyage is all stored 
up for the book, which is to pay for it, we fondly hope; and the 
troubles of the time are not worth telling; and our news is little.

Here I conclude (Oct. 24th, I think), for we are now stored, and 
the Blue Peter metaphorically flies.

R. L. S.



DEAR ARCHER, - Though quite unable to write letters, I nobly send 
you a line signifying nothing.  The voyage has agreed well with 
all; it has had its pains, and its extraordinary pleasures; nothing 
in the world can equal the excitement of the first time you cast 
anchor in some bay of a tropical island, and the boats begin to 
surround you, and the tattooed people swarm aboard.  Tell 
Tomarcher, with my respex, that hide-and-seek is not equal to it; 
no, nor hidee-in-the-dark; which, for the matter of that, is a game 
for the unskilful:  the artist prefers daylight, a good-sized 
garden, some shrubbery, an open paddock, and - come on, Macduff.

TOMARCHER, I am now a distinguished litterytour, but that was not 
the real bent of my genius.  I was the best player of hide-and-seek 
going; not a good runner, I was up to every shift and dodge, I 
could jink very well, I could crawl without any noise through 
leaves, I could hide under a carrot plant, it used to be my 
favourite boast that I always WALKED into the den.  You may care to 
hear, Tomarcher, about the children in these parts; their parents 
obey them, they do not obey their parents; and I am sorry to tell 
you (for I dare say you are already thinking the idea a good one) 
that it does not pay one halfpenny.  There are three sorts of 
civilisation, Tomarcher:  the real old-fashioned one, in which 
children either had to find out how to please their dear papas, or 
their dear papas cut their heads off.  This style did very well, 
but is now out of fashion.  Then the modern European style:  in 
which children have to behave reasonably well, and go to school and 
say their prayers, or their dear papas WILL KNOW THE REASON WHY.  
This does fairly well.  Then there is the South Sea Island plan, 
which does not do one bit.  The children beat their parents here; 
it does not make their parents any better; so do not try it.

Dear Tomarcher, I have forgotten the address of your new house, but 
will send this to one of your papa's publishers.  Remember us all 
to all of you, and believe me, yours respectably,




MY DEAR CHARLES, - Whether I have a penny left in the wide world, I 
know not, nor shall know, till I get to Honolulu, where I 
anticipate a devil of an awakening.  It will be from a mighty 
pleasant dream at least:  Tautira being mere Heaven.  But suppose, 
for the sake of argument, any money to be left in the hands of my 
painful doer, what is to be done with it?  Save us from exile would 
be the wise man's choice, I suppose; for the exile threatens to be 
eternal.  But yet I am of opinion - in case there should be SOME 
dibs in the hand of the P.D., I.E. painful doer; because if there 
be none, I shall take to my flageolet on the high-road, and work 
home the best way I can, having previously made away with my family 
- I am of opinion that if - and his are in the customary state, and 
you are thinking of an offering, and there should be still some 
funds over, you would be a real good P.D. to put some in with yours 
and tak' the credit o't, like a wee man!  I know it's a beastly 
thing to ask; but it, after all, does no earthly harm, only that 
much good.  And besides, like enough there's nothing in the till, 
and there is an end.  Yet I live here in the full lustre of 
millions; it is thought I am the richest son of man that has yet 
been to Tautira:  I! - and I am secretly eaten with the fear of 
lying in pawn, perhaps for the remainder of my days, in San 
Francisco.  As usual, my colds have much hashed my finances.

Do tell Henley I write this just after having dismissed Ori the 
sub-chief, in whose house I live, Mrs. Ori, and Pairai, their 
adopted child, from the evening hour of music:  during which I 
Publickly (with a k) Blow on the Flageolet.  These are words of 
truth.  Yesterday I told Ori about W. E. H., counterfeited his 
playing on the piano and the pipe, and succeeded in sending the six 
feet four there is of that sub-chief somewhat sadly to his bed; 
feeling that his was not the genuine article after all.  Ori is 
exactly like a colonel in the Guards. - I am, dear Charles, ever 
yours affectionately,

R. L. S.

Letter:  TAUTIRA, 10TH NOVEMBER '88.

MY DEAR CHARLES, - Our mainmast is dry-rotten, and we are all to 
the devil; I shall lie in a debtor's jail.  Never mind, Tautira is 
first chop.  I am so besotted that I shall put on the back of this 
my attempt at words to Wandering Willie; if you can conceive at all 
the difficulty, you will also conceive the vanity with which I 
regard any kind of result; and whatever mine is like, it has some 
sense, and Burns's has none.

Home no more home to me, whither must I wander?
Hunger my driver, I go where I must.
Cold blows the winter wind over hill and heather;
Thick drives the rain, and my roof is in the dust.
Loved of wise men was the shade of my roof-tree.
The true word of welcome was spoken in the door -
Dear days of old, with the faces in the firelight,
Kind folks of old, you come again no more.

Home was home then, my dear, full of kindly faces,
Home was home then, my dear, happy for the child.
Fire and the windows bright glittered on the moorland;
Song, tuneful song, built a palace in the wild.
Now, when day dawns on the brow of the moorland,
Lone stands the house, and the chimney-stone is cold.
Lone let it stand, now the friends are all departed,
The kind hearts, the true hearts, that loved the place of old.

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO J. A. SYMONDS


One November night, in the village of Tautira, we sat at the high 
table in the hall of assembly, hearing the natives sing.  It was 
dark in the hall, and very warm; though at times the land wind blew 
a little shrewdly through the chinks, and at times, through the 
larger openings, we could see the moonlight on the lawn.  As the 
songs arose in the rattling Tahitian chorus, the chief translated 
here and there a verse.  Farther on in the volume you shall read 
the songs themselves; and I am in hopes that not you only, but all 
who can find a savour in the ancient poetry of places, will read 
them with some pleasure.  You are to conceive us, therefore, in 
strange circumstances and very pleasing; in a strange land and 
climate, the most beautiful on earth; surrounded by a foreign race 
that all travellers have agreed to be the most engaging; and taking 
a double interest in two foreign arts.

We came forth again at last, in a cloudy moonlight, on the forest 
lawn which is the street of Tautira.  The Pacific roared outside 
upon the reef.  Here and there one of the scattered palm-built 
lodges shone out under the shadow of the wood, the lamplight 
bursting through the crannies of the wall.  We went homeward 
slowly, Ori a Ori carrying behind us the lantern and the chairs, 
properties with which we had just been enacting our part of the 
distinguished visitor.  It was one of those moments in which minds 
not altogether churlish recall the names and deplore the absence of 
congenial friends; and it was your name that first rose upon our 
lips.  'How Symonds would have enjoyed this evening!' said one, and 
then another.  The word caught in my mind; I went to bed, and it 
was still there.  The glittering, frosty solitudes in which your 
days are cast arose before me:  I seemed to see you walking there 
in the late night, under the pine-trees and the stars; and I 
received the image with something like remorse.

There is a modern attitude towards fortune; in this place I will 
not use a graver name.  Staunchly to withstand her buffets and to 
enjoy with equanimity her favours was the code of the virtuous of 
old.  Our fathers, it should seem, wondered and doubted how they 
had merited their misfortunes:  we, rather how we have deserved our 
happiness.  And we stand often abashed and sometimes revolted, at 
those partialities of fate by which we profit most.  It was so with 
me on that November night:  I felt that our positions should be 
changed.   It was you, dear Symonds, who should have gone upon that 
voyage and written this account.  With your rich stores of 
knowledge, you could have remarked and understood a thousand things 
of interest and beauty that escaped my ignorance; and the brilliant 
colours of your style would have carried into a thousand sickrooms 
the sea air and the strong sun of tropic islands.  It was otherwise 
decreed.  But suffer me at least to connect you, if only in name 
and only in the fondness of imagination, with the voyage of the 


DEAR SYMONDS, - I send you this (November 11th), the morning of its 
completion.  If I ever write an account of this voyage, may I place 
this letter at the beginning?  It represents - I need not tell you, 
for you too are an artist - a most genuine feeling, which kept me 
long awake last night; and though perhaps a little elaborate, I 
think it a good piece of writing.  We are IN HEAVEN HERE.  Do not 

R. L. S.

Please keep this:  I have no perfect copy.



DEAR TOMARCHER, - This is a pretty state of things! seven o'clock 
and no word of breakfast!  And I was awake a good deal last night, 
for it was full moon, and they had made a great fire of cocoa-nut 
husks down by the sea, and as we have no blinds or shutters, this 
kept my room very bright.  And then the rats had a wedding or a 
school-feast under my bed.  And then I woke early, and I have 
nothing to read except Virgil's AENEID, which is not good fun on an 
empty stomach, and a Latin dictionary, which is good for naught, 
and by some humorous accident, your dear papa's article on 
Skerryvore.  And I read the whole of that, and very impudent it is, 
but you must not tell your dear papa I said so, or it might come to 
a battle in which you might lose either a dear papa or a valued 
correspondent, or both, which would be prodigal.  And still no 
breakfast; so I said 'Let's write to Tomarcher.'

This is a much better place for children than any I have hitherto 
seen in these seas.  The girls (and sometimes the boys) play a very 
elaborate kind of hopscotch.  The boys play horses exactly as we do 
in Europe; and have very good fun on stilts, trying to knock each 
other down, in which they do not often succeed.  The children of 
all ages go to church and are allowed to do what they please, 
running about the aisles, rolling balls, stealing mamma's bonnet 
and publicly sitting on it, and at last going to sleep in the 
middle of the floor.  I forgot to say that the whips to play 
horses, and the balls to roll about the church - at least I never 
saw them used elsewhere - grow ready made on trees; which is rough 
on toy-shops.  The whips are so good that I wanted to play horses 
myself; but no such luck! my hair is grey, and I am a great, big, 
ugly man.  The balls are rather hard, but very light and quite 
round.  When you grow up and become offensively rich, you can 
charter a ship in the port of London, and have it come back to you 
entirely loaded with these balls; when you could satisfy your mind 
as to their character, and give them away when done with to your 
uncles and aunts.  But what I really wanted to tell you was this:  
besides the tree-top toys (Hush-a-by, toy-shop, on the tree-top!), 
I have seen some real MADE toys, the first hitherto observed in the 
South Seas.

This was how.  You are to imagine a four-wheeled gig; one horse; in 
the front seat two Tahiti natives, in their Sunday clothes, blue 
coat, white shirt, kilt (a little longer than the Scotch) of a blue 
stuff with big white or yellow flowers, legs and feet bare; in the 
back seat me and my wife, who is a friend of yours; under our feet, 
plenty of lunch and things:  among us a great deal of fun in broken 
Tahitian, one of the natives, the sub-chief of the village, being a 
great ally of mine.  Indeed we have exchanged names; so that he is 
now called Rui, the nearest they can come to Louis, for they have 
no L and no S in their language.  Rui is six feet three in his 
stockings, and a magnificent man.  We all have straw hats, for the 
sun is strong.  We drive between the sea, which makes a great 
noise, and the mountains; the road is cut through a forest mostly 
of fruit trees, the very creepers, which take the place of our ivy, 
heavy with a great and delicious fruit, bigger than your head and 
far nicer, called Barbedine.  Presently we came to a house in a 
pretty garden, quite by itself, very nicely kept, the doors and 
windows open, no one about, and no noise but that of the sea.  It 
looked like a house in a fairy-tale, and just beyond we must ford a 
river, and there we saw the inhabitants.  Just in the mouth of the 
river, where it met the sea waves, they were ducking and bathing 
and screaming together like a covey of birds:  seven or eight 
little naked brown boys and girls as happy as the day was long; and 
on the banks of the stream beside them, real toys - toy ships, full 
rigged, and with their sails set, though they were lying in the 
dust on their beam ends.  And then I knew for sure they were all 
children in a fairy-story, living alone together in that lonely 
house with the only toys in all the island; and that I had myself 
driven, in my four-wheeled gig, into a corner of the fairy-story, 
and the question was, should I get out again?  But it was all 
right; I guess only one of the wheels of the gig had got into the 
fairy-story; and the next jolt the whole thing vanished, and we 
drove on in our sea-side forest as before, and I have the honour to 
be Tomarcher's valued correspondent, TERIITEPA, which he was 
previously known as




MY DEAR COLVIN, - Twenty days out from Papeete.  Yes, sir, all 
that, and only (for a guess) in 4 degrees north or at the best 4 
degrees 30 minutes, though already the wind seems to smell a little 
of the North Pole.  My handwriting you must take as you get, for we 
are speeding along through a nasty swell, and I can only keep my 
place at the table by means of a foot against the divan, the 
unoccupied hand meanwhile gripping the ink-bottle.  As we begin (so 
very slowly) to draw near to seven months of correspondence, we are 
all in some fear; and I want to have letters written before I shall 
be plunged into that boiling pot of disagreeables which I 
constantly expect at Honolulu.  What is needful can be added there.

We were kept two months at Tautira in the house of my dear old 
friend, Ori a Ori, till both the masts of this invaluable yacht had 
been repaired.  It was all for the best:  Tautira being the most 
beautiful spot, and its people the most amiable, I have ever found.  
Besides which, the climate suited me to the ground; I actually went 
sea-bathing almost every day, and in our feasts (we are all huge 
eaters in Taiarapu) have been known to apply four times for pig.  
And then again I got wonderful materials for my book, collected 
songs and legends on the spot; songs still sung in chorus by 
perhaps a hundred persons, not two of whom can agree on their 
translation; legends, on which I have seen half a dozen seniors 
sitting in conclave and debating what came next.  Once I went a 
day's journey to the other side of the island to Tati, the high 
chief of the Tevas - MY chief that is, for I am now a Teva and 
Teriitera, at your service - to collect more and correct what I had 
already.  In the meanwhile I got on with my work, almost finished 
the MASTER OF BALLANTRAE, which contains more human work than 
anything of mine but KIDNAPPED, and wrote the half of another 
ballad, the SONG OF RAHERO, on a Taiarapu legend of my own clan, 
sir - not so much fire as the FEAST OF FAMINE, but promising to be 
more even and correct.  But the best fortune of our stay at Tautira 
was my knowledge of Ori himself, one of the finest creatures 
extant.  The day of our parting was a sad one.  We deduced from it 
a rule for travellers:  not to stay two months in one place - which 
is to cultivate regrets.

At last our contemptible ship was ready; to sea we went, bound for 
Honolulu and the letter-bag, on Christmas Day; and from then to now 
have experienced every sort of minor misfortune, squalls, calms, 
contrary winds and seas, pertinacious rains, declining stores, till 
we came almost to regard ourselves as in the case of Vanderdecken.  
Three days ago our luck seemed to improve, we struck a leading 
breeze, got creditably through the doldrums, and just as we looked 
to have the N.E. trades and a straight run, the rains and squalls 
and calms began again about midnight, and this morning, though 
there is breeze enough to send us along, we are beaten back by an 
obnoxious swell out of the north.  Here is a page of complaint, 
when a verse of thanksgiving had perhaps been more in place.  For 
all this time we must have been skirting past dangerous weather, in 
the tail and circumference of hurricanes, and getting only 
annoyance where we should have had peril, and ill-humour instead of 

I wonder if I have managed to give you any news this time, or 
whether the usual damn hangs over my letter?  'The midwife 
whispered, Be thou dull!' or at least inexplicit.  Anyway I have 
tried my best, am exhausted with the effort, and fall back into the 
land of generalities.  I cannot tell you how often we have planned 
our arrival at the Monument:  two nights ago, the 12th January, we 
had it all planned out, arrived in the lights and whirl of 
Waterloo, hailed a hansom, span up Waterloo Road, over the bridge, 
etc. etc., and hailed the Monument gate in triumph and with 
indescribable delight.  My dear Custodian, I always think we are 
too sparing of assurances:  Cordelia is only to be excused by Regan 
and Goneril in the same nursery; I wish to tell you that the longer 
I live, the more dear do you become to me; nor does my heart own 
any stronger sentiment.  If the bloody schooner didn't send me 
flying in every sort of direction at the same time, I would say 
better what I feel so much; but really, if you were here, you would 
not be writing letters, I believe; and even I, though of a more 
marine constitution, am much perturbed by this bobbery and wish - O 
ye Gods, how I wish! - that it was done, and we had arrived, and I 
had Pandora's Box (my mail bag) in hand, and was in the lively hope 
of something eatable for dinner instead of salt horse, tinned 
mutton, duff without any plums, and pie fruit, which now make up 
our whole repertory.  O Pandora's Box!  I wonder what you will 
contain.  As like as not you will contain but little money:  if 
that be so, we shall have to retire to 'Frisco in the CASCO, and 
thence by sea VIA Panama to Southampton, where we should arrive in 
April.  I would like fine to see you on the tug:  ten years older 
both of us than the last time you came to welcome Fanny and me to 
England.  If we have money, however, we shall do a little 
differently:  send the CASCO away from Honolulu empty of its high-
born lessees, for that voyage to 'Frisco is one long dead beat in 
foul and at last in cold weather; stay awhile behind, follow by 
steamer, cross the States by train, stay awhile in New York on 
business, and arrive probably by the German Line in Southampton.  
But all this is a question of money.  We shall have to lie very 
dark awhile to recruit our finances:  what comes from the book of 
the cruise, I do not want to touch until the capital is repaid.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - Here at last I have arrived.  We could not 
get away from Tahiti till Christmas Day, and then had thirty days 
of calms and squalls, a deplorable passage.  This has thrown me all 
out of gear in every way.  I plunge into business.

1.  THE MASTER:  Herewith go three more parts.  You see he grows in 
balk; this making ten already, and I am not yet sure if I can 
finish it in an eleventh; which shall go to you QUAM PRIMUM - I 
hope by next mail.

2.  ILLUSTRATIONS TO M.  I totally forgot to try to write to Hole.  
It was just as well, for I find it impossible to forecast with 
sufficient precision.  You had better throw off all this and let 
him have it at once.  PLEASE DO:  ALL, AND AT ONCE:  SEE FURTHER; 
and I should hope he would still be in time for the later numbers.  
The three pictures I have received are so truly good that I should 
bitterly regret having the volume imperfectly equipped.  They are 
the best illustrations I have seen since I don't know when.

3.  MONEY.  To-morrow the mail comes in, and I hope it will bring 
me money either from you or home, but I will add a word on that 

4.  My address will be Honolulu - no longer Yacht CASCO, which I am 
packing off - till probably April.

5.  As soon as I am through with THE MASTER, I shall finish the 
GAME OF BLUFF - now rechristened THE WRONG BOX.  This I wish to 
sell, cash down.  It is of course copyright in the States; and I 
offer it to you for five thousand dollars.  Please reply on this by 
return.  Also please tell the typewriter who was so good as to be 
amused by our follies that I am filled with admiration for his 
piece of work.

6.  MASTER again.  Please see that I haven't the name of the 
Governor of New York wrong (1764 is the date) in part ten.  I have 
no book of reference to put me right.  Observe you now have up to 
August inclusive in hand, so you should begin to feel happy.

Is this all?  I wonder, and fear not.  Henry the Trader has not yet 
turned up:  I hope he may to-morrow, when we expect a mail.  Not 
one word of business have I received either from the States or 
England, nor anything in the shape of coin; which leaves me in a 
fine uncertainty and quite penniless on these islands.  H.M. (who 
is a gentleman of a courtly order and much tinctured with letters) 
is very polite; I may possibly ask for the position of palace 
doorkeeper.  My voyage has been a singular mixture of good and ill-
fortune.  As far as regards interest and material, the fortune has 
been admirable; as far as regards time, money, and impediments of 
all kinds, from squalls and calms to rotten masts and sprung spars, 
simply detestable.  I hope you will be interested to hear of two 
volumes on the wing.  The cruise itself, you are to know, will make 
a big volume with appendices; some of it will first appear as (what 
they call) letters in some of M'Clure's papers.  I believe the book 
when ready will have a fair measure of serious interest:  I have 
had great fortune in finding old songs and ballads and stories, for 
instance, and have many singular instances of life in the last few 
years among these islands.

The second volume is of ballads.  You know TICONDEROGA.  I have 
written another:  THE FEAST OF FAMINE, a Marquesan story.  A third 
is half done:  THE SONG OF RAHERO, a genuine Tahitian legend.  A 
fourth dances before me.  A Hawaiian fellow this, THE PRIEST'S 
DROUGHT, or some such name.  If, as I half suspect, I get enough 
subjects out of the islands, TICONDEROGA shall be suppressed, and 
we'll call the volume SOUTH SEA BALLADS.  In health, spirits, 
renewed interest in life, and, I do believe, refreshed capacity for 
work, the cruise has proved a wise folly.  Still we're not home, 
and (although the friend of a crowned head) are penniless upon 
these (as one of my correspondents used to call them) 'lovely but 
FATIL islands.'  By the way, who wrote the LION OF THE NILE?  My 
dear sir, that is Something Like.  Overdone in bits, it has a true 
thought and a true ring of language.  Beg the anonymous from me, to 
delete (when he shall republish) the two last verses, and end on 
'the lion of the Nile.'  One Lampman has a good sonnet on a 'Winter 
Evening' in, I think, the same number:  he seems ill named, but I 
am tempted to hope a man is not always answerable for his name.  
For instance, you would think you knew mine.  No such matter.  It 
is - at your service and Mr. Scribner's and that of all of the 
faithful - Teriitera (pray pronounce Tayree-Tayra) or (GALLICE) 

R. L. S.

More when the mail shall come.

I am an idiot.  I want to be clear on one point.  Some of Hole's 
drawings must of course be too late; and yet they seem to me so 
excellent I would fain have the lot complete.  It is one thing for 
you to pay for drawings which are to appear in that soul-swallowing 
machine, your magazine:  quite another if they are only to 
illustrate a volume.  I wish you to take a brisk (even a fiery) 
decision on the point; and let Hole know.  To resume my desultory 
song, I desire you would carry the same fire (hereinbefore 
suggested) into your decision on the WRONG BOX; for in my present 
state of benighted ignorance as to my affairs for the last seven 
months - I know not even whether my house or my mother's house have 
been let - I desire to see something definite in front of me - 
outside the lot of palace doorkeeper.  I believe the said WRONG BOX 
is a real lark; in which, of course, I may be grievously deceived; 
but the typewriter is with me.  I may also be deceived as to the 
numbers of THE MASTER now going and already gone; but to me they 
seem First Chop, sir, First Chop.  I hope I shall pull off that 
damned ending; but it still depresses me:  this is your doing, Mr. 
Burlingame:  you would have it there and then, and I fear it - I 
fear that ending.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR CHARLES, - Here we are at Honolulu, and have dismissed the 
yacht, and lie here till April anyway, in a fine state of haze, 
which I am yet in hopes some letter of yours (still on the way) may 
dissipate.  No money, and not one word as to money!  However, I 
have got the yacht paid off in triumph, I think; and though we stay 
here impignorate, it should not be for long, even if you bring us 
no extra help from home.  The cruise has been a great success, both 
as to matter, fun, and health; and yet, Lord, man! we're pleased to 
be ashore!  Yon was a very fine voyage from Tahiti up here, but - 
the dry land's a fine place too, and we don't mind squalls any 
longer, and eh, man, that's a great thing.  Blow, blow, thou wintry 
wind, thou hast done me no appreciable harm beyond a few grey 
hairs!  Altogether, this foolhardy venture is achieved; and if I 
have but nine months of life and any kind of health, I shall have 
both eaten my cake and got it back again with usury.  But, man, 
there have been days when I felt guilty, and thought I was in no 
position for the head of a house.

Your letter and accounts are doubtless at S. F., and will reach me 
in course.  My wife is no great shakes; she is the one who has 
suffered most.  My mother has had a Huge Old Time; Lloyd is first 
chop; I so well that I do not know myself - sea-bathing, if you 
please, and what is far more dangerous, entertaining and being 
entertained by His Majesty here, who is a very fine intelligent 
fellow, but O, Charles! what a crop for the drink!  He carries it, 
too, like a mountain with a sparrow on its shoulders.  We 
calculated five bottles of champagne in three hours and a half 
(afternoon), and the sovereign quite presentable, although 
perceptibly more dignified at the end. . . .

The extraordinary health I enjoy and variety of interests I find 
among these islands would tempt me to remain here; only for Lloyd, 
who is not well placed in such countries for a permanency; and a 
little for Colvin, to whom I feel I owe a sort of filial duty.  And 
these two considerations will no doubt bring me back - to go to bed 
again - in England. - Yours ever affectionately,

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO R. A. M. STEVENSON


MY DEAR BOB, - My extremely foolhardy venture is practically over.  
How foolhardy it was I don't think I realised.  We had a very small 
schooner, and, like most yachts, over-rigged and over-sparred, and 
like many American yachts on a very dangerous sail plan.  The 
waters we sailed in are, of course, entirely unlighted, and very 
badly charted; in the Dangerous Archipelago, through which we were 
fools enough to go, we were perfectly in ignorance of where we were 
for a whole night and half the next day, and this in the midst of 
invisible islands and rapid and variable currents; and we were 
lucky when we found our whereabouts at last.  We have twice had all 
we wanted in the way of squalls:  once, as I came on deck, I found 
the green sea over the cockpit coamings and running down the 
companion like a brook to meet me; at that same moment the foresail 
sheet jammed and the captain had no knife; this was the only 
occasion on the cruise that ever I set a hand to a rope, but I 
worked like a Trojan, judging the possibility of haemorrhage better 
than the certainty of drowning.  Another time I saw a rather 
singular thing:  our whole ship's company as pale as paper from the 
captain to the cook; we had a black squall astern on the port side 
and a white squall ahead to starboard; the complication passed off 
innocuous, the black squall only fetching us with its tail, and the 
white one slewing off somewhere else.  Twice we were a long while 
(days) in the close vicinity of hurricane weather, but again luck 
prevailed, and we saw none of it.  These are dangers incident to 
these seas and small craft.  What was an amazement, and at the same 
time a powerful stroke of luck, both our masts were rotten, and we 
found it out - I was going to say in time, but it was stranger and 
luckier than that.  The head of the mainmast hung over so that 
hands were afraid to go to the helm; and less than three weeks 
before - I am not sure it was more than a fortnight - we had been 
nearly twelve hours beating off the lee shore of Eimeo (or Moorea, 
next island to Tahiti) in half a gale of wind with a violent head 
sea:  she would neither tack nor wear once, and had to be boxed off 
with the mainsail - you can imagine what an ungodly show of kites 
we carried - and yet the mast stood.  The very day after that, in 
the southern bight of Tahiti, we had a near squeak, the wind 
suddenly coming calm; the reefs were close in with, my eye! what a 
surf!  The pilot thought we were gone, and the captain had a boat 
cleared, when a lucky squall came to our rescue.  My wife, hearing 
the order given about the boats, remarked to my mother, 'Isn't that 
nice?  We shall soon be ashore!'  Thus does the female mind 
unconsciously skirt along the verge of eternity.  Our voyage up 
here was most disastrous - calms, squalls, head sea, waterspouts of 
rain, hurricane weather all about, and we in the midst of the 
hurricane season, when even the hopeful builder and owner of the 
yacht had pronounced these seas unfit for her.  We ran out of food, 
and were quite given up for lost in Honolulu:  people had ceased to 
speak to Belle about the CASCO, as a deadly subject.

But the perils of the deep were part of the programme; and though I 
am very glad to be done with them for a while and comfortably 
ashore, where a squall does not matter a snuff to any one, I feel 
pretty sure I shall want to get to sea again ere long.  The 
dreadful risk I took was financial, and double-headed.  First, I 
had to sink a lot of money in the cruise, and if I didn't get 
health, how was I to get it back?  I have got health to a wonderful 
extent; and as I have the most interesting matter for my book, bar 
accidents, I ought to get all I have laid out and a profit.  But, 
second (what I own I never considered till too late), there was the 
danger of collisions, of damages and heavy repairs, of disablement, 
towing, and salvage; indeed, the cruise might have turned round and 
cost me double.  Nor will this danger be quite over till I hear the 
yacht is in San Francisco; for though I have shaken the dust of her 
deck from my feet, I fear (as a point of law) she is still mine 
till she gets there.

From my point of view, up to now the cruise has been a wonderful 
success.  I never knew the world was so amusing.  On the last 
voyage we had grown so used to sea-life that no one wearied, though 
it lasted a full month, except Fanny, who is always ill.  All the 
time our visits to the islands have been more like dreams than 
realities:  the people, the life, the beachcombers, the old stories 
and songs I have picked up, so interesting; the climate, the 
scenery, and (in some places) the women, so beautiful.  The women 
are handsomest in Tahiti, the men in the Marquesas; both as fine 
types as can be imagined.  Lloyd reminds me, I have not told you 
one characteristic incident of the cruise from a semi-naval point 
of view.  One night we were going ashore in Anaho Bay; the most 
awful noise on deck; the breakers distinctly audible in the cabin; 
and there I had to sit below, entertaining in my best style a 
negroid native chieftain, much the worse for rum!  You can imagine 
the evening's pleasure.

This naval report on cruising in the South Seas would be incomplete 
without one other trait.  On our voyage up here I came one day into 
the dining-room, the hatch in the floor was open, the ship's boy 
was below with a baler, and two of the hands were carrying buckets 
as for a fire; this meant that the pumps had ceased working.

One stirring day was that in which we sighted Hawaii.  It blew 
fair, but very strong; we carried jib, foresail, and mainsail, all 
single-reefed, and she carried her lee rail under water and flew.  
The swell, the heaviest I have ever been out in - I tried in vain 
to estimate the height, AT LEAST fifteen feet - came tearing after 
us about a point and a half off the wind.  We had the best hand - 
old Louis - at the wheel; and, really, he did nobly, and had noble 
luck, for it never caught us once.  At times it seemed we must have 
it; Louis would look over his shoulder with the queerest look and 
dive down his neck into his shoulders; and then it missed us 
somehow, and only sprays came over our quarter, turning the little 
outside lane of deck into a mill race as deep as to the cockpit 
coamings.  I never remember anything more delightful and exciting.  
Pretty soon after we were lying absolutely becalmed under the lee 
of Hawaii, of which we had been warned; and the captain never 
confessed he had done it on purpose, but when accused, he smiled.  
Really, I suppose he did quite right, for we stood committed to a 
dangerous race, and to bring her to the wind would have been rather 
a heart-sickening manoeuvre.

R. L. S.



DEAR SIR, - I thank you - from the midst of such a flurry as you 
can imagine, with seven months' accumulated correspondence on my 
table - for your two friendly and clever letters.  Pray write me 
again.  I shall be home in May or June, and not improbably shall 
come to Paris in the summer.  Then we can talk; or in the interval 
I may be able to write, which is to-day out of the question.  Pray 
take a word from a man of crushing occupations, and count it as a 
volume.  Your little CONTE is delightful.  Ah yes, you are right, I 
love the eighteenth century; and so do you, and have not listened 
to its voice in vain. - The Hunted One,




MY DEAR CHARLES, - At last I have the accounts:  the Doer has done 
excellently, and in the words of -, 'I reciprocate every step of 
your behaviour.' . .  I send a letter for Bob in your care, as I 
don't know his Liverpool address, by which (for he is to show you 
part of it) you will see we have got out of this adventure - or 
hope to have - with wonderful fortune.  I have the retrospective 
horrors on me when I think of the liabilities I incurred; but, 
thank God, I think I'm in port again, and I have found one climate 
in which I can enjoy life.  Even Honolulu is too cold for me; but 
the south isles were a heaven upon earth to a puir, catarrhal party 
like Johns'one.  We think, as Tahiti is too complete a banishment, 
to try Madeira.  It's only a week from England, good 
communications, and I suspect in climate and scenery not unlike our 
dear islands; in people, alas! there can be no comparison.  But 
friends could go, and I could come in summer, so I should not be 
quite cut off.

Lloyd and I have finished a story, THE WRONG BOX.  If it is not 
funny, I am sure I do not know what is.  I have split over writing 
it.  Since I have been here, I have been toiling like a galley 
slave:  three numbers of THE MASTER to rewrite, five chapters of 
the WRONG BOX to write and rewrite, and about five hundred lines of 
a narrative poem to write, rewrite, and re-rewrite.  Now I have THE 
MASTER waiting me for its continuation, two numbers more; when 
that's done, I shall breathe.  This spasm of activity has been 
chequered with champagne parties:  Happy and Glorious, Hawaii Ponoi 
paua:  kou moi - (Native Hawaiians, dote upon your monarch!) 
Hawaiian God save the King.  (In addition to my other labours, I am 
learning the language with a native moonshee.)  Kalakaua is a 
terrible companion; a bottle of fizz is like a glass of sherry to 
him, he thinks nothing of five or six in an afternoon as a whet for 
dinner.  You should see a photograph of our party after an 
afternoon with H. H. M.:  my! what a crew! - Yours ever 




MY DEAR JAMES, - Yes - I own up - I am untrue to friendship and 
(what is less, but still considerable) to civilisation.  I am not 
coming home for another year.  There it is, cold and bald, and now 
you won't believe in me at all, and serve me right (says you) and 
the devil take me.  But look here, and judge me tenderly.  I have 
had more fun and pleasure of my life these past months than ever 
before, and more health than any time in ten long years.  And even 
here in Honolulu I have withered in the cold; and this precious 
deep is filled with islands, which we may still visit; and though 
the sea is a deathful place, I like to be there, and like squalls 
(when they are over); and to draw near to a new island, I cannot 
say how much I like.  In short, I take another year of this sort of 
life, and mean to try to work down among the poisoned arrows, and 
mean (if it may be) to come back again when the thing is through, 
and converse with Henry James as heretofore; and in the meanwhile 
issue directions to H. J. to write to me once more.  Let him 
address here at Honolulu, for my views are vague; and if it is sent 
here it will follow and find me, if I am to be found; and if I am 
not to be found the man James will have done his duty, and we shall 
be at the bottom of the sea, where no post-office clerk can be 
expected to discover us, or languishing on a coral island, the 
philosophic drudges of some barbarian potentate:  perchance, of an 
American Missionary.  My wife has just sent to Mrs. Sitwell a 
translation (TANT BIEN QUE MAL) of a letter I have had from my 
chief friend in this part of the world:  go and see her, and get a 
hearing of it; it will do you good; it is a better method of 
correspondence 'than even Henry James's.  I jest, but seriously it 
is a strange thing for a tough, sick, middle-aged scrivener like R. 
L. S. to receive a letter so conceived from a man fifty years old, 
a leading politician, a crack orator, and the great wit of his 
village:  boldly say, 'the highly popular M.P. of Tautira.'  My 
nineteenth century strikes here, and lies alongside of something 
beautiful and ancient.  I think the receipt of such a letter might 
humble, shall I say even -? and for me, I would rather have 
received it than written REDGAUNTLET or the SIXTH AENEID.  All 
told, if my books have enabled or helped me to make this voyage, to 
know Rui, and to have received such a letter, they have (in the old 
prefatorial expression) not been writ in vain.  It would seem from 
this that I have been not so much humbled as puffed up; but, I 
assure you, I have in fact been both.  A little of what that letter 
says is my own earning; not all, but yet a little; and the little 
makes me proud, and all the rest ashamed; and in the contrast, how 
much more beautiful altogether is the ancient man than him of to-

Well, well, Henry James is pretty good, though he IS of the 
nineteenth century, and that glaringly.  And to curry favour with 
him, I wish I could be more explicit; but, indeed, I am still of 
necessity extremely vague, and cannot tell what I am to do, nor 
where I am to go for some while yet.  As soon as I am sure, you 
shall hear.  All are fairly well - the wife, your countrywoman, 
least of all; troubles are not entirely wanting; but on the whole 
we prosper, and we are all affectionately yours,




MY DEAR COLVIN, - I am beginning to be ashamed of writing on to you 
without the least acknowledgment, like a tramp; but I do not care - 
I am hardened; and whatever be the cause of your silence, I mean to 
write till all is blue.  I am outright ashamed of my news, which is 
that we are not coming home for another year.  I cannot but hope it 
may continue the vast improvement of my health:  I think it good 
for Fanny and Lloyd; and we have all a taste for this wandering and 
dangerous life.  My mother I send home, to my relief, as this part 
of our cruise will be (if we can carry it out) rather difficult in 
places.  Here is the idea:  about the middle of June (unless the 
Boston Board objects) we sail from Honolulu in the missionary ship 
(barquentine auxiliary steamer) MORNING STAR:  she takes us through 
the Gilberts and Marshalls, and drops us (this is my great idea) on 
Ponape, one of the volcanic islands of the Carolines.  Here we stay 
marooned among a doubtful population, with a Spanish vice-governor 
and five native kings, and a sprinkling of missionaries all at 
loggerheads, on the chance of fetching a passage to Sydney in a 
trader, a labour ship, or (maybe, but this appears too bright) a 
ship of war.  If we can't get the MORNING STAR (and the Board has 
many reasons that I can see for refusing its permission) I mean to 
try to fetch Fiji, hire a schooner there, do the Fijis and 
Friendlies, hit the course of the RICHMOND at Tonga Tabu, make back 
by Tahiti, and so to S. F., and home:  perhaps in June 1890.  For 
the latter part of the cruise will likely be the same in either 
case.  You can see for yourself how much variety and adventure this 
promises, and that it is not devoid of danger at the best; but if 
we can pull it off in safety, gives me a fine book of travel, and 
Lloyd a fine lecture and diorama, which should vastly better our 

I feel as if I were untrue to friendship; believe me, Colvin, when 
I look forward to this absence of another year, my conscience sinks 
at thought of the Monument; but I think you will pardon me if you 
consider how much this tropical weather mends my health.  Remember 
me as I was at home, and think of me sea-bathing and walking about, 
as jolly as a sandboy:  you will own the temptation is strong; and 
as the scheme, bar fatal accidents, is bound to pay into the 
bargain, sooner or later, it seems it would be madness to come home 
now, with an imperfect book, no illustrations to speak of, no 
diorama, and perhaps fall sick again by autumn.  I do not think I 
delude myself when I say the tendency to catarrh has visibly 

It is a singular tiring that as I was packing up old papers ere I 
left Skerryvore, I came on the prophecies of a drunken Highland 
sibyl, when I was seventeen.  She said I was to be very happy, to 
visit America, and TO BE MUCH UPON THE SEA.  It seems as if it were 
coming true with a vengeance.  Also, do you remember my strong, 
old, rooted belief that I shall die by drowning?  I don't want that 
to come true, though it is an easy death; but it occurs to me 
oddly, with these long chances in front.  I cannot say why I like 
the sea; no man is more cynically and constantly alive to its 
perils; I regard it as the highest form of gambling; and yet I love 
the sea as much as I hate gambling.  Fine, clean emotions; a world 
all and always beautiful; air better than wine; interest 
unflagging; there is upon the whole no better life. - Yours ever,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - This is to announce the most prodigious 
change of programme.  I have seen so much of the South Seas that I 
desire to see more, and I get so much health here that I dread a 
return to our vile climates.  I have applied accordingly to the 
missionary folk to let me go round in the MORNING STAR; and if the 
Boston Board should refuse, I shall get somehow to Fiji, hire a 
trading schooner, and see the Fijis and Friendlies and Samoa.  He 
would be a South Seayer, Mr. Burlingame.  Of course, if I go in the 
MORNING STAR, I see all the eastern (or western?) islands.

Before I sail, I shall make out to let you have the last of THE 
MASTER:  though I tell you it sticks! - and I hope to have had some 
proofs forbye, of the verses anyway.  And now to business.

I want (if you can find them) in the British sixpenny edition, if 
not, in some equally compact and portable shape - Seaside Library, 
for instance - the Waverley Novels entire, or as entire as you can 
get 'em, and the following of Marryat:  PHANTOM SHIP, PETER SIMPLE, 
REPUBLIC, Lang's LETTERS ON LITERATURE, a complete set of my works, 
JENKIN, in duplicate; also FAMILIAR STUDIES, ditto.

I have to thank you for the accounts, which are satisfactory 
indeed, and for the cheque for $1000.  Another account will have 
come and gone before I see you.  I hope it will be equally roseate 
in colour.  I am quite worked out, and this cursed end of THE 
MASTER hangs over me like the arm of the gallows; but it is always 
darkest before dawn, and no doubt the clouds will soon rise; but it 
is a difficult thing to write, above all in Mackellarese; and I 
cannot yet see my way clear.  If I pull this off, THE MASTER will 
be a pretty good novel or I am the more deceived; and even if I 
don't pull it off, it'll still have some stuff in it.

We shall remain here until the middle of June anyway; but my mother 
leaves for Europe early in May.  Hence our mail should continue to 
come here; but not hers.  I will let you know my next address, 
which will probably be Sydney.  If we get on the MORNING STAR, I 
propose at present to get marooned on Ponape, and take my chance of 
getting a passage to Australia.  It will leave times and seasons 
mighty vague, and the cruise is risky; but I shall know something 
of the South Seas when it is done, or else the South Seas will 
contain all there is of me.  It should give me a fine book of 
travels, anyway.

Low will probably come and ask some dollars of you.  Pray let him 
have them, they are for outfit.  O, another complete set of my 
books should go to Captain A. H. Otis, care of Dr. Merritt, Yacht 
CASCO, Oakland, Cal.  In haste,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MISS BOODLE, - Nobody writes a better letter than my 
Gamekeeper:  so gay, so pleasant, so engagingly particular, 
answering (by some delicate instinct) all the questions she 
suggests.  It is a shame you should get such a poor return as I can 
make, from a mind essentially and originally incapable of the art 
epistolary.  I would let the paper-cutter take my place; but I am 
sorry to say the little wooden seaman did after the manner of 
seamen, and deserted in the Societies.  The place he seems to have 
stayed at - seems, for his absence was not observed till we were 
near the Equator - was Tautira, and, I assure you, he displayed 
good taste, Tautira being as 'nigh hand heaven' as a paper-cutter 
or anybody has a right to expect.

I think all our friends will be very angry with us, and I give the 
grounds of their probable displeasure bluntly - we are not coming 
home for another year.  My mother returns next month.  Fanny, 
Lloyd, and I push on again among the islands on a trading schooner, 
the EQUATOR - first for the Gilbert group, which we shall have an 
opportunity to explore thoroughly; then, if occasion serve, to the 
Marshalls and Carolines; and if occasion (or money) fail, to Samoa, 
and back to Tahiti.  I own we are deserters, but we have excuses.  
You cannot conceive how these climates agree with the wretched 
house-plant of Skerryvore:  he wonders to find himself sea-bathing, 
and cutting about the world loose, like a grown-up person.  They 
agree with Fanny too, who does not suffer from her rheumatism, and 
with Lloyd also.  And the interest of the islands is endless; and 
the sea, though I own it is a fearsome place, is very delightful.  
We had applied for places in the American missionary ship, the 
MORNING STAR, but this trading schooner is a far preferable idea, 
giving us more time and a thousandfold more liberty; so we 
determined to cut off the missionaries with a shilling.

The Sandwich Islands do not interest us very much; we live here, 
oppressed with civilisation, and look for good things in the 
future.  But it would surprise you if you came out to-night from 
Honolulu (all shining with electric lights, and all in a bustle 
from the arrival of the mail, which is to carry you these lines) 
and crossed the long wooden causeway along the beach, and came out 
on the road through Kapiolani park, and seeing a gate in the 
palings, with a tub of gold-fish by the wayside, entered casually 
in.  The buildings stand in three groups by the edge of the beach, 
where an angry little spitfire sea continually spirts and thrashes 
with impotent irascibility, the big seas breaking further out upon 
the reef.  The first is a small house, with a very large summer 
parlour, or LANAI, as they call it here, roofed, but practically 
open.  There you will find the lamps burning and the family sitting 
about the table, dinner just done:  my mother, my wife, Lloyd, 
Belle, my wife's daughter, Austin her child, and to-night (by way 
of rarity) a guest.  All about the walls our South Sea curiosities, 
war clubs, idols, pearl shells, stone axes, etc.; and the walls are 
only a small part of a lanai, the rest being glazed or latticed 
windows, or mere open space.  You will see there no sign of the 
Squire, however; and being a person of a humane disposition, you 
will only glance in over the balcony railing at the merry-makers in 
the summer parlour, and proceed further afield after the Exile.  
You look round, there is beautiful green turf, many trees of an 
outlandish sort that drop thorns - look out if your feet are bare; 
but I beg your pardon, you have not been long enough in the South 
Seas - and many oleanders in full flower.  The next group of 
buildings is ramshackle, and quite dark; you make out a coach-house 
door, and look in - only some cocoanuts; you try round to the left 
and come to the sea front, where Venus and the moon are making 
luminous tracks on the water, and a great swell rolls and shines on 
the outer reef; and here is another door - all these places open 
from the outside - and you go in, and find photography, tubs of 
water, negatives steeping, a tap, and a chair and an inkbottle, 
where my wife is supposed to write; round a little further, a third 
door, entering which you find a picture upon the easel and a table 
sticky with paints; a fourth door admits you to a sort of court, 
where there is a hen sitting - I believe on a fallacious egg.  No 
sign of the Squire in all this.  But right opposite the studio door 
you have observed a third little house, from whose open door 
lamplight streams and makes hay of the strong moonlight shadows.  
You had supposed it made no part of the grounds, for a fence runs 
round it lined with oleander; but as the Squire is nowhere else, is 
it not just possible he may be here?  It is a grim little wooden 
shanty; cobwebs bedeck it; friendly mice inhabit its recesses; the 
mailed cockroach walks upon the wall; so also, I regret to say, the 
scorpion.  Herein are two pallet beds, two mosquito curtains, 
strung to the pitch-boards of the roof, two tables laden with books 
and manuscripts, three chairs, and, in one of the beds, the Squire 
busy writing to yourself, as it chances, and just at this moment 
somewhat bitten by mosquitoes.  He has just set fire to the insect 
powder, and will be all right in no time; but just now he 
contemplates large white blisters, and would like to scratch them, 
but knows better.  The house is not bare; it has been inhabited by 
Kanakas, and - you know what children are! - the bare wood walls 
are pasted over with pages from the GRAPHIC, HARPER'S WEEKLY, etc.  
The floor is matted, and I am bound to say the matting is filthy.  
There are two windows and two doors, one of which is condemned; on 
the panels of that last a sheet of paper is pinned up, and covered 
with writing.  I cull a few plums:-

'A duck-hammock for each person.
A patent organ like the commandant's at Taiohae.
Cheap and bad cigars for presents.
Permanganate of potass.
Liniment for the head and sulphur.
Fine tooth-comb.'

What do you think this is?  Simply life in the South Seas 
foreshortened.  These are a few of our desiderata for the next 
trip, which we jot down as they occur.

There, I have really done my best and tried to send something like 
a letter - one letter in return for all your dozens.  Pray remember 
us all to yourself, Mrs. Boodle, and the rest of your house.  I do 
hope your mother will be better when this comes.  I shall write and 
give you a new address when I have made up my mind as to the most 
probable, and I do beg you will continue to write from time to time 
and give us airs from home.  To-morrow - think of it - I must be 
off by a quarter to eight to drive in to the palace and breakfast 
with his Hawaiian Majesty at 8.30:  I shall be dead indeed.  Please 
give my news to Scott, I trust he is better; give him my warm 
regards.  To you we all send all kinds of things, and I am the 
absentee Squire,




MY DEAR CHARLES, - As usual, your letter is as good as a cordial, 
and I thank you for it, and all your care, kindness, and generous 
and thoughtful friendship, from my heart.  I was truly glad to hear 
a word of Colvin, whose long silence has terrified me; and glad to 
hear that you condoned the notion of my staying longer in the South 
Seas, for I have decided in that sense.  The first idea was to go 
in the MORNING STAR, missionary ship; but now I have found a 
trading schooner, the EQUATOR, which is to call for me here early 
in June and carry us through the Gilberts.  What will happen then, 
the Lord knows.  My mother does not accompany us:  she leaves here 
for home early in May, and you will hear of us from her; but not, I 
imagine, anything more definite.  We shall get dumped on 
Butaritari, and whether we manage to go on to the Marshalls and 
Carolines, or whether we fall back on Samoa, Heaven must decide; 
but I mean to fetch back into the course of the RICHMOND - (to 
think you don't know what the RICHMOND is! - the steamer of the 
Eastern South Seas, joining New Zealand, Tongatabu, the Samoas, 
Taheite, and Rarotonga, and carrying by last advices sheep in the 
saloon!) - into the course of the RICHMOND and make Taheite again 
on the home track.  Would I like to see the SCOTS OBSERVER?  
Wouldn't I not?  But whaur?  I'm direckit at space.  They have nae 
post offishes at the Gilberts, and as for the Car'lines!  Ye see, 
Mr. Baxter, we're no just in the punkshewal CENTRE o' civ'lisation.  
But pile them up for me, and when I've decided on an address, I'll 
let you ken, and ye'll can send them stavin' after me. - Ever your 

R. L. S.



MY DEAR CHARLES, - I am appalled to gather from your last just to 
hand that you have felt so much concern about the letter.  Pray 
dismiss it from your mind.  But I think you scarce appreciate how 
disagreeable it is to have your private affairs and private 
unguarded expressions getting into print.  It would soon sicken any 
one of writing letters.  I have no doubt that letter was very 
wisely selected, but it just shows how things crop up.  There was a 
raging jealousy between the two yachts; our captain was nearly in a 
fight over it.  However, no more; and whatever you think, my dear 
fellow, do not suppose me angry with you or -; although I was 
ANNOYED AT THE CIRCUMSTANCE - a very different thing.  But it is 
difficult to conduct life by letter, and I continually feel I may 
be drifting into some matter of offence, in which my heart takes no 

I must now turn to a point of business.  This new cruise of ours is 
somewhat venturesome; and I think it needful to warn you not to be 
in a hurry to suppose us dead.  In these ill-charted seas, it is 
quite on the cards we might be cast on some unvisited, or very 
rarely visited, island; that there we might lie for a long time, 
even years, unheard of; and yet turn up smiling at the hinder end.  
So do not let me be 'rowpit' till you get some certainty we have 
gone to Davie Jones in a squall, or graced the feast of some 
barbarian in the character of Long Pig.

I have just been a week away alone on the lee coast of Hawaii, the 
only white creature in many miles, riding five and a half hours one 
day, living with a native, seeing four lepers shipped off to 
Molokai, hearing native causes, and giving my opinion as AMICUS 
CURIAE as to the interpretation of a statute in English; a lovely 
week among God's best - at least God's sweetest works - 
Polynesians.  It has bettered me greatly.  If I could only stay 
there the time that remains, I could get my work done and be happy; 
but the care of my family keeps me in vile Honolulu, where I am 
always out of sorts, amidst heat and cold and cesspools and beastly 
HAOLES.  What is a haole?  You are one; and so, I am sorry to say, 
am I.  After so long a dose of whites, it was a blessing to get 
among Polynesians again even for a week.

Well, Charles, there are waur haoles than yoursel', I'll say that 
for ye; and trust before I sail I shall get another letter with 
more about yourself. - Ever your affectionate friend

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO W. H. LOW


MY DEAR LOW, - The goods have come; many daughters have done 
virtuously, but thou excellest them all. - I have at length 
finished THE MASTER; it has been a sore cross to me; but now he is 
buried, his body's under hatches, - his soul, if there is any hell 
to go to, gone to hell; and I forgive him:  it is harder to forgive 
Burlingame for having induced me to begin the publication, or 
myself for suffering the induction. - Yes, I think Hole has done 
finely; it will be one of the most adequately illustrated books of 
our generation; he gets the note, he tells the story - MY story:  I 
know only one failure - the Master standing on the beach. - You 
must have a letter for me at Sydney - till further notice.  
Remember me to Mrs. Will. H., the godlike sculptor, and any of the 
faithful.  If you want to cease to be a republican, see my little 
Kaiulani, as she goes through - but she is gone already.  You will 
die a red, I wear the colours of that little royal maiden, NOUS 
ALLONS CHANTER A LA RONDE, SI VOUS VOULEZ! only she is not blonde 
by several chalks, though she is but a half-blood, and the wrong 
half Edinburgh Scots like mysel'.  But, O Low, I love the 
Polynesian:  this civilisation of ours is a dingy, ungentlemanly 
business; it drops out too much of man, and too much of that the 
very beauty of the poor beast:  who has his beauties in spite of 
Zola and Co.  As usual, here is a whole letter with no news:  I am 
a bloodless, inhuman dog; and no doubt Zola is a better 
correspondent. - Long live your fine old English admiral - yours, I 
mean - the U.S.A. one at Samoa; I wept tears and loved myself and 
mankind when I read of him:  he is not too much civilised.  And 
there was Gordon, too; and there are others, beyond question.  But 
if you could live, the only white folk, in a Polynesian village; 
and drink that warm, light VIN DU PAYS of human affection, and 
enjoy that simple dignity of all about you - I will not gush, for I 
am now in my fortieth year, which seems highly unjust, but there it 
is, Mr. Low, and the Lord enlighten your affectionate

R. L. S.



DEAR FANNY, - I had a lovely sail up.  Captain Cameron and Mr. 
Gilfillan, both born in the States, yet the first still with a 
strong Highland, and the second still with a strong Lowland accent, 
were good company; the night was warm, the victuals plain but good.  
Mr. Gilfillan gave me his berth, and I slept well, though I heard 
the sisters sick in the next stateroom, poor souls.  Heavy rolling 
woke me in the morning; I turned in all standing, so went right on 
the upper deck.  The day was on the peep out of a low morning bank, 
and we were wallowing along under stupendous cliffs.  As the lights 
brightened, we could see certain abutments and buttresses on their 
front where wood clustered and grass grew brightly.  But the whole 
brow seemed quite impassable, and my heart sank at the sight.  Two 
thousand feet of rock making 19 degrees (the Captain guesses) 
seemed quite beyond my powers.  However, I had come so far; and, to 
tell you the truth, I was so cowed with fear and disgust that I 
dared not go back on the adventure in the interests of my own self-
respect.  Presently we came up with the leper promontory:  lowland, 
quite bare and bleak and harsh, a little town of wooden houses, two 
churches, a landing-stair, all unsightly, sour, northerly, lying 
athwart the sunrise, with the great wall of the pali cutting the 
world out on the south.  Our lepers were sent on the first boat, 
about a dozen, one poor child very horrid, one white man, leaving a 
large grown family behind him in Honolulu, and then into the second 
stepped the sisters and myself.  I do not know how it would have 
been with me had the sisters not been there.  My horror of the 
horrible is about my weakest point; but the moral loveliness at my 
elbow blotted all else out; and when I found that one of them was 
crying, poor soul, quietly under her veil, I cried a little myself; 
then I felt as right as a trivet, only a little crushed to be there 
so uselessly.  I thought it was a sin and a shame she should feel 
unhappy; I turned round to her, and said something like this:  
'Ladies, God Himself is here to give you welcome.  I'm sure it is 
good for me to be beside you; I hope it will be blessed to me; I 
thank you for myself and the good you do me.'  It seemed to cheer 
her up; but indeed I had scarce said it when we were at the 
landing-stairs, and there was a great crowd, hundreds of (God save 
us!) pantomime masks in poor human flesh, waiting to receive the 
sisters and the new patients.

Every hand was offered:  I had gloves, but I had made up my mind on 
the boat's voyage NOT to give my hand; that seemed less offensive 
than the gloves.  So the sisters and I went up among that crew, and 
presently I got aside (for I felt I had no business there) and set 
off on foot across the promontory, carrying my wrap and the camera.  
All horror was quite gone from me:  to see these dread creatures 
smile and look happy was beautiful.  On my way through Kalaupapa I 
was exchanging cheerful ALOHAS with the patients coming galloping 
over on their horses; I was stopping to gossip at house-doors; I 
was happy, only ashamed of myself that I was here for no good.  One 
woman was pretty, and spoke good English, and was infinitely 
engaging and (in the old phrase) towardly; she thought I was the 
new white patient; and when she found I was only a visitor, a 
curious change came in her face and voice - the only sad thing, 
morally sad, I mean - that I met that morning.  But for all that, 
they tell me none want to leave.  Beyond Kalaupapa the houses 
became rare; dry stone dykes, grassy, stony land, one sick 
pandanus; a dreary country; from overhead in the little clinging 
wood shogs of the pali chirruping of birds fell; the low sun was 
right in my face; the trade blew pure and cool and delicious; I 
felt as right as ninepence, and stopped and chatted with the 
patients whom I still met on their horses, with not the least 
disgust.  About half-way over, I met the superintendent (a leper) 
with a horse for me, and O, wasn't I glad!  But the horse was one 
of those curious, dogged, cranky brutes that always dully want to 
go somewhere else, and my traffic with him completed my crushing 
fatigue.  I got to the guest-house, an empty house with several 
rooms, kitchen, bath, etc.  There was no one there, and I let the 
horse go loose in the garden, lay down on the bed, and fell asleep.

Dr. Swift woke me and gave me breakfast, then I came back and slept 
again while he was at the dispensary, and he woke me for dinner; 
and I came back and slept again, and he woke me about six for 
supper; and then in about an hour I felt tired again, and came up 
to my solitary guest-house, played the flageolet, and am now 
writing to you.  As yet, you see, I have seen nothing of the 
settlement, and my crushing fatigue (though I believe that was 
moral and a measure of my cowardice) and the doctor's opinion make 
me think the pali hopeless.  'You don't look a strong man,' said 
the doctor; 'but are you sound?'  I told him the truth; then he 
said it was out of the question, and if I were to get up at all, I 
must be carried up.  But, as it seems, men as well as horses 
continually fall on this ascent:  the doctor goes up with a change 
of clothes - it is plain that to be carried would in itself be very 
fatiguing to both mind and body; and I should then be at the 
beginning of thirteen miles of mountain road to be ridden against 
time.  How should I come through?  I hope you will think me right 
in my decision:  I mean to stay, and shall not be back in Honolulu 
till Saturday, June first.  You must all do the best you can to 
make ready.

Dr. Swift has a wife and an infant son, beginning to toddle and 
run, and they live here as composed as brick and mortar - at least 
the wife does, a Kentucky German, a fine enough creature, I 
believe, who was quite amazed at the sisters shedding tears!  How 
strange is mankind!  Gilfillan too, a good fellow I think, and far 
from a stupid, kept up his hard Lowland Scottish talk in the boat 
while the sister was covering her face; but I believe he knew, and 
did it (partly) in embarrassment, and part perhaps in mistaken 
kindness.  And that was one reason, too, why I made my speech to 
them.  Partly, too, I did it, because I was ashamed to do so, and 
remembered one of my golden rules, 'When you are ashamed to speak, 
speak up at once.'  But, mind you, that rule is only golden with 
strangers; with your own folks, there are other considerations.  
This is a strange place to be in.  A bell has been sounded at 
intervals while I wrote, now all is still but a musical humming of 
the sea, not unlike the sound of telegraph wires; the night is 
quite cool and pitch dark, with a small fine rain; one light over 
in the leper settlement, one cricket whistling in the garden, my 
lamp here by my bedside, and my pen cheeping between my inky 

Next day, lovely morning, slept all night, 80 degrees in the shade, 
strong, sweet Anaho trade-wind.




MY DEAR COLVIN, - I am just home after twelve days journey to 
Molokai, seven of them at the leper settlement, where I can only 
say that the sight of so much courage, cheerfulness, and devotion 
strung me too high to mind the infinite pity and horror of the 
sights.  I used to ride over from Kalawao to Kalaupapa (about three 
miles across the promontory, the cliff-wall, ivied with forest and 
yet inaccessible from steepness, on my left), go to the Sisters' 
home, which is a miracle of neatness, play a game of croquet with 
seven leper girls (90 degrees in the shade), got a little old-maid 
meal served me by the Sisters, and ride home again, tired enough, 
but not too tired.  The girls have all dolls, and love dressing 
them.  You who know so many ladies delicately clad, and they who 
know so many dressmakers, please make it known it would be an 
acceptable gift to send scraps for doll dressmaking to the Reverend 
Sister Maryanne, Bishop Home, Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaiian Islands.

I have seen sights that cannot be told, and heard stories that 
cannot be repeated:  yet I never admired my poor race so much, nor 
(strange as it may seem) loved life more than in the settlement.  A 
horror of moral beauty broods over the place:  that's like bad 
Victor Hugo, but it is the only way I can express the sense that 
lived with me all these days.  And this even though it was in great 
part Catholic, and my sympathies flew never with so much difficulty 
as towards Catholic virtues.  The pass-book kept with heaven stirs 
me to anger and laughter.  One of the sisters calls the place 'the 
ticket office to heaven.'  Well, what is the odds?  They do their 
darg and do it with kindness and efficiency incredible; and we must 
take folk's virtues as we find them, and love the better part.  Of 
old Damien, whose weaknesses and worse perhaps I heard fully, I 
think only the more.  It was a European peasant:  dirty, bigoted, 
untruthful, unwise, tricky, but superb with generosity, residual 
candour and fundamental good-humour:  convince him he had done 
wrong (it might take hours of insult) and he would undo what he had 
done and like his corrector better.  A man, with all the grime and 
paltriness of mankind, but a saint and hero all the more for that.  
The place as regards scenery is grand, gloomy, and bleak.  Mighty 
mountain walls descending sheer along the whole face of the island 
into a sea unusually deep; the front of the mountain ivied and 
furred with clinging forest, one viridescent cliff:  about half-way 
from east to west, the low, bare, stony promontory edged in between 
the cliff and the ocean; the two little towns (Kalawao and 
Kalaupapa) seated on either side of it, as bare almost as bathing 
machines upon a beach; and the population - gorgons and chimaeras 
dire.  All this tear of the nerves I bore admirably; and the day 
after I got away, rode twenty miles along the opposite coast and up 
into the mountains:  they call it twenty, I am doubtful of the 
figures:  I should guess it nearer twelve; but let me take credit 
for what residents allege; and I was riding again the day after, so 
I need say no more about health.  Honolulu does not agree with me 
at all:  I am always out of sorts there, with slight headache, 
blood to the head, etc.  I had a good deal of work to do and did it 
with miserable difficulty; and yet all the time I have been gaining 
strength, as you see, which is highly encouraging.  By the time I 
am done with this cruise I shall have the material for a very 
singular book of travels:  names of strange stories and characters, 
cannibals, pirates, ancient legends, old Polynesian poetry, - never 
was so generous a farrago.  I am going down now to get the story of 
a shipwrecked family, who were fifteen months on an island with a 
murderer:  there is a specimen.  The Pacific is a strange place; 
the nineteenth century only exists there in spots:  all round, it 
is a no man's land of the ages, a stir-about of epochs and races, 
barbarisms and civilisations, virtues and crimes.

It is good of you to let me stay longer, but if I had known how ill 
you were, I should be now on my way home.  I had chartered my 
schooner and made all arrangements before (at last) we got definite 
news.  I feel highly guilty; I should be back to insult and worry 
you a little.  Our address till further notice is to be c/o R. 
Towns and Co., Sydney.  That is final:  I only got the arrangement 
made yesterday; but you may now publish it abroad. - Yours ever,

R. L. S.


HONOLULU, H.I., JUNE 13TH, 1889.

MY DEAR JAMES PAYN, - I get sad news of you here at my offsetting 
for further voyages:  I wish I could say what I feel.  Sure there 
was never any man less deserved this calamity; for I have heard you 
speak time and again, and I remember nothing that was unkind, 
nothing that was untrue, nothing that was not helpful, from your 
lips.  It is the ill-talkers that should hear no more.  God knows, 
I know no word of consolation; but I do feel your trouble.  You are 
the more open to letters now; let me talk to you for two pages.  I 
have nothing but happiness to tell; and you may bless God you are a 
man so sound-hearted that (even in the freshness of your calamity) 
I can come to you with my own good fortune unashamed and secure of 
sympathy.  It is a good thing to be a good man, whether deaf or 
whether dumb; and of all our fellow-craftsmen (whom yet they count 
a jealous race), I never knew one but gave you the name of honesty 
and kindness:  come to think of it gravely, this is better than the 
finest hearing.  We are all on the march to deafness, blindness, 
and all conceivable and fatal disabilities; we shall not all get 
there with a report so good.  My good news is a health 
astonishingly reinstated.  This climate; these voyagings; these 
landfalls at dawn; new islands peaking from the morning bank; new 
forested harbours; new passing alarms of squalls and surf; new 
interests of gentle natives, - the whole tale of my life is better 
to me than any poem.

I am fresh just now from the leper settlement of Molokai, playing 
croquet with seven leper girls, sitting and yarning with old, 
blind, leper beachcombers in the hospital, sickened with the 
spectacle of abhorrent suffering and deformation amongst the 
patients, touched to the heart by the sight of lovely and effective 
virtues in their helpers:  no stranger time have I ever had, nor 
any so moving.  I do not think it a little thing to be deaf, God 
knows, and God defend me from the same! - but to be a leper, of one 
of the self-condemned, how much more awful! and yet there's a way 
there also.  'There are Molokais everywhere,' said Mr. Dutton, 
Father Damien's dresser; you are but new landed in yours; and my 
dear and kind adviser, I wish you, with all my soul, that patience 
and courage which you will require.  Think of me meanwhile on a 
trading schooner, bound for the Gilbert Islands, thereafter for the 
Marshalls, with a diet of fish and cocoanut before me; bound on a 
cruise of - well, of investigation to what islands we can reach, 
and to get (some day or other) to Sydney, where a letter addressed 
to the care of R. Towns & Co. will find me sooner or later; and if 
it contain any good news, whether of your welfare or the courage 
with which you bear the contrary, will do me good. - Yours 
affectionately (although so near a stranger),




MY DEAR COLVIN, - The missionary ship is outside the reef trying 
(vainly) to get in; so I may have a chance to get a line off.  I am 
glad to say I shall be home by June next for the summer, or we 
shall know the reason why.  For God's sake be well and jolly for 
the meeting.  I shall be, I believe, a different character from 
what you have seen this long while.  This cruise is up to now a 
huge success, being interesting, pleasant, and profitable.  The 
beachcomber is perhaps the most interesting character here; the 
natives are very different, on the whole, from Polynesians:  they 
are moral, stand-offish (for good reasons), and protected by a dark 
tongue.  It is delightful to meet the few Hawaiians (mostly 
missionaries) that are dotted about, with their Italian BRIO and 
their ready friendliness.  The whites are a strange lot, many of 
them good, kind, pleasant fellows; others quite the lowest I have 
ever seen even in the slums of cities.  I wish I had time to 
narrate to you the doings and character of three white murderers 
(more or less proven) I have met.  One, the only undoubted assassin 
of the lot, quite gained my affection in his big home out of a 
wreck, with his New Hebrides wife in her savage turban of hair and 
yet a perfect lady, and his three adorable little girls in Rob Roy 
Macgregor dresses, dancing to the hand organ, performing circus on 
the floor with startling effects of nudity, and curling up together 
on a mat to sleep, three sizes, three attitudes, three Rob Roy 
dresses, and six little clenched fists:  the murderer meanwhile 
brooding and gloating over his chicks, till your whole heart went 
out to him; and yet his crime on the face of it was dark:  
disembowelling, in his own house, an old man of seventy, and him 

It is lunch-time, I see, and I must close up with my warmest love 
to you.  I wish you were here to sit upon me when required.  Ah! if 
you were but a good sailor!  I will never leave the sea, I think; 
it is only there that a Briton lives:  my poor grandfather, it is 
from him I inherit the taste, I fancy, and he was round many 
islands in his day; but I, please God, shall beat him at that 
before the recall is sounded.  Would you be surprised to learn that 
I contemplate becoming a shipowner?  I do, but it is a secret.  
Life is far better fun than people dream who fall asleep among the 
chimney stacks and telegraph wires.

Love to Henry James and others near. - Ever yours, my dear fellow,



No MORNING STAR came, however; and so now I try to send this to you 
by the schooner J. L. TIERNAN.  We have been about a month ashore, 
camping out in a kind of town the king set up for us:  on the idea 
that I was really a 'big chief' in England.  He dines with us 
sometimes, and sends up a cook for a share of our meals when he 
does not come himself.  This sounds like high living! alas, 
undeceive yourself.  Salt junk is the mainstay; a low island, 
except for cocoanuts, is just the same as a ship at sea:  brackish 
water, no supplies, and very little shelter.  The king is a great 
character - a thorough tyrant, very much of a gentleman, a poet, a 
musician, a historian, or perhaps rather more a genealogist - it is 
strange to see him lying in his house among a lot of wives (nominal 
wives) writing the History of Apemama in an account-book; his 
description of one of his own songs, which he sang to me himself, 
as 'about sweethearts, and trees, and the sea - and no true, all-
the-same lie,' seems about as compendious a definition of lyric 
poetry as a man could ask.  Tembinoka is here the great attraction:  
all the rest is heat and tedium and villainous dazzle, and yet more 
villainous mosquitoes.  We are like to be here, however, many a 
long week before we get away, and then whither?  A strange trade 
this voyaging:  so vague, so bound-down, so helpless.  Fanny has 
been planting some vegetables, and we have actually onions and 
radishes coming up:  ah, onion-despiser, were you but awhile in a 
low island, how your heart would leap at sight of a coster's 
barrow!  I think I could shed tears over a dish of turnips.  No 
doubt we shall all be glad to say farewell to low islands - I had 
near said for ever.  They are very tame; and I begin to read up the 
directory, and pine for an island with a profile, a running brook, 
or were it only a well among the rocks.  The thought of a mango 
came to me early this morning and set my greed on edge; but you do 
not know what a mango is, so -.

I have been thinking a great deal of you and the Monument of late, 
and even tried to get my thoughts into a poem, hitherto without 
success.  God knows how you are:  I begin to weary dreadfully to 
see you - well, in nine months, I hope; but that seems a long time.  
I wonder what has befallen me too, that flimsy part of me that 
lives (or dwindles) in the public mind; and what has befallen THE 
MASTER, and what kind of a Box the Merry Box has been found.  It is 
odd to know nothing of all this.  We had an old woman to do devil-
work for you about a month ago, in a Chinaman's house on Apaiang 
(August 23rd or 24th).  You should have seen the crone with a noble 
masculine face, like that of an old crone [SIC], a body like a 
man's (naked all but the feathery female girdle), knotting cocoanut 
leaves and muttering spells:  Fanny and I, and the good captain of 
the EQUATOR, and the Chinaman and his native wife and sister-in-
law, all squatting on the floor about the sibyl; and a crowd of 
dark faces watching from behind her shoulder (she sat right in the 
doorway) and tittering aloud with strange, appalled, embarrassed 
laughter at each fresh adjuration.  She informed us you were in 
England, not travelling and now no longer sick; she promised us a 
fair wind the next day, and we had it, so I cherish the hope she 
was as right about Sidney Colvin.  The shipownering has rather 
petered out since I last wrote, and a good many other plans beside.

Health?  Fanny very so-so; I pretty right upon the whole, and 
getting through plenty work:  I know not quite how, but it seems to 
me not bad and in places funny.

South Sea Yarns:

1. THE WRECKER       }
                     }     R. L. S.
2. THE PEARL FISHER  } by    and
                     }     Lloyd O.

THE PEARL FISHER, part done, lies in Sydney.  It is THE WRECKER we 
are now engaged upon:  strange ways of life, I think, they set 
forth:  things that I can scarce touch upon, or even not at all, in 
my travel book; and the yarns are good, I do believe.  THE PEARL 
FISHER is for the NEW YORK LEDGER:  the yarn is a kind of Monte 
Cristo one.  THE WRECKER is the least good as a story, I think; but 
the characters seem to me good.  THE BEACHCOMBERS is more 
sentimental.  These three scarce touch the outskirts of the life we 
have been viewing; a hot-bed of strange characters and incidents:  
Lord, how different from Europe or the Pallid States!  Farewell.  
Heaven knows when this will get to you.  I burn to be in Sydney and 
have news.

R. L. S.


2ND, 1889

MY DEAR COLVIN, - We are just nearing the end of our long cruise.  
Rain, calms, squalls, bang - there's the foretopmast gone; rain, 
calm, squalls, away with the staysail; more rain, more calm, more 
squalls; a prodigious heavy sea all the time, and the EQUATOR 
staggering and hovering like a swallow in a storm; and the cabin, a 
great square, crowded with wet human beings, and the rain 
avalanching on the deck, and the leaks dripping everywhere:  Fanny, 
in the midst of fifteen males, bearing up wonderfully.  But such 
voyages are at the best a trial.  We had one particularity:  coming 
down on Winslow Reef, p. d. (position doubtful):  two positions in 
the directory, a third (if you cared to count that) on the chart; 
heavy sea running, and the night due.  The boats were cleared, 
bread put on board, and we made up our packets for a boat voyage of 
four or five hundred miles, and turned in, expectant of a crash.  
Needless to say it did not come, and no doubt we were far to 
leeward.  If we only had twopenceworth of wind, we might be at 
dinner in Apia to-morrow evening; but no such luck:  here we roll, 
dead before a light air - and that is no point of sailing at all 
for a fore and aft schooner - the sun blazing overhead, thermometer 
88 degrees, four degrees above what I have learned to call South 
Sea temperature; but for all that, land so near, and so much grief 
being happily astern, we are all pretty gay on board, and have been 
photographing and draught-playing and sky-larking like anything.  I 
am minded to stay not very long in Samoa and confine my studies 
there (as far as any one can forecast) to the history of the late 
war.  My book is now practically modelled:  if I can execute what 
is designed, there are few better books now extant on this globe, 
bar the epics, and the big tragedies, and histories, and the choice 
lyric poetics and a novel or so - none.  But it is not executed 
yet; and let not him that putteth on his armour, vaunt himself.  At 
least, nobody has had such stuff; such wild stories, such beautiful 
scenes, such singular intimacies, such manners and traditions, so 
incredible a mixture of the beautiful and horrible, the savage and 
civilised.  I will give you here some idea of the table of 
contents, which ought to make your mouth water.  I propose to call 
the book THE SOUTH SEAS:  it is rather a large title, but not many 
people have seen more of them than I, perhaps no one - certainly no 
one capable of using the material.


CHAPTER I. Marine.

II. Contraband (smuggling, barratry, labour traffic).

III. The Beachcomber.

IV. Beachcomber stories.  i. The Murder of the Chinaman.  ii. Death 
of a Beachcomber.  iii. A Character.  iv. The Apia Blacksmith.


V. Anaho.  i. Arrival.  ii. Death.  iii. The Tapu.  iv. Morals.  v. 

VI. Tai-o-hae.  i. Arrival.  ii. The French.  iii. The Royal 
Family.  iv. Chiefless Folk.  v. The Catholics.  vi. Hawaiian 

VII. Observations of a Long Pig.  i. Cannibalism.  ii. Hatiheu.  
iii. Frere Michel.  iv.  Toahauka and Atuona.  v. The Vale of 
Atuona.  vi. Moipu.  vii. Captain Hati.


VIII. The Group.

IX. A House to let in a Low Island.

X. A Paumotuan Funeral.  i. The Funeral.  ii. Tales of the Dead.


XI. Tautira.

XII. Village Government in Tahiti.

XIII. A Journey in Quest of Legends.

XIV. Legends and Songs.

XV. Life in Eden.

XVI. Note on the French Regimen.


XVII. A Note on Missions.

XVIII. The Kona Coast of Hawaii.  i. Hookena.  ii. A Ride in the 
Forest.  iii. A Law Case.  iv. The City of Refuge.  v. The Lepers.

XIX. Molokai.  i. A Week in the Precinct.  ii. History of the Leper 
Settlement.  iii. The Mokolii.  iv. The Free Island.


XX. The Group.  ii. Position of Woman.  iii. The Missions.  iv. 
Devilwork.  v. Republics.

XXI. Rule and Misrule on Makin.  i. Butaritari, its King and Court.  
ii. History of Three Kings.  iii. The Drink Question.

XXII. A Butaritarian Festival.

XXIII. The King of Apemama.  i. First Impressions.  ii. Equator 
Town and the Palace.  iii. The Three Corselets.


which I have not yet reached.

Even as so sketched it makes sixty chapters, not less than 300 
CORNHILL pages; and I suspect not much under 500.  Samoa has yet to 
be accounted for:  I think it will be all history, and I shall work 
in observations on Samoan manners, under the similar heads in other 
Polynesian islands.  It is still possible, though unlikely, that I 
may add a passing visit to Fiji or Tonga, or even both; but I am 
growing impatient to see yourself, and I do not want to be later 
than June of coming to England.  Anyway, you see it will be a large 
work, and as it will be copiously illustrated, the Lord knows what 
it will cost.  We shall return, God willing, by Sydney, Ceylon, 
Suez and, I guess, Marseilles the many-masted (copyright epithet).  
I shall likely pause a day or two in Paris, but all that is too far 
ahead - although now it begins to look near - so near, and I can 
hear the rattle of the hansom up Endell Street, and see the gates 
swing back, and feel myself jump out upon the Monument steps - 
Hosanna! - home again.  My dear fellow, now that my father is done 
with his troubles, and 17 Heriot Row no more than a mere shell, you 
and that gaunt old Monument in Bloomsbury are all that I have in 
view when I use the word home; some passing thoughts there may be 
of the rooms at Skerryvore, and the black-birds in the chine on a 
May morning; but the essence is S. C. and the Museum.  Suppose, by 
some damned accident, you were no more:  well, I should return just 
the same, because of my mother and Lloyd, whom I now think to send 
to Cambridge; but all the spring would have gone out of me, and 
ninety per cent. of the attraction lost.  I will copy for you here 
a copy of verses made in Apemama.

I heard the pulse of the besieging sea
Throb far away all night.  I heard the wind
Fly crying, and convulse tumultuous palms.
I rose and strolled.  The isle was all bright sand,
And flailing fans and shadows of the palm:
The heaven all moon, and wind, and the blind vault -
The keenest planet slain, for Venus slept.
The King, my neighbour, with his host of wives,
Slept in the precinct of the palisade:
Where single, in the wind, under the moon,
Among the slumbering cabins, blazed a fire,
Sole street-lamp and the only sentinel.
To other lands and nights my fancy turned,
To London first, and chiefly to your house,
The many-pillared and the well-beloved.
There yearning fancy lighted; there again
In the upper room I lay and heard far off
The unsleeping city murmur like a shell;
The muffled tramp of the Museum guard
Once more went by me; I beheld again
Lamps vainly brighten the dispeopled street;
Again I longed for the returning morn,
The awaking traffic, the bestirring birds,
The consentaneous trill of tiny song
That weaves round monumental cornices
A passing charm of beauty:  most of all,
For your light foot I wearied, and your knock
That was the glad reveille of my day.
Lo, now, when to your task in the great house
At morning through the portico you pass,
One moment glance where, by the pillared wall,
Far-voyaging island gods, begrimed with smoke,
Sit now unworshipped, the rude monument
Of faiths forgot and races undivined;
Sit now disconsolate, remembering well
The priest, the victim, and the songful crowd,
The blaze of the blue noon, and that huge voice
Incessant, of the breakers on the shore.
As far as these from their ancestral shrine,
So far, so foreign, your divided friends
Wander, estranged in body, not in mind.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - We are now about to rise, like whales, from 
this long dive, and I make ready a communication which is to go to 
you by the first mail from Samoa.  How long we shall stay in that 
group I cannot forecast; but it will be best still to address at 
Sydney, where I trust, when I shall arrive, perhaps in one month 
from now, more probably in two or three, to find all news.

BUSINESS. - Will you be likely to have a space in the Magazine for 
a serial story, which should be, ready, I believe, by April, at 
latest by autumn?  It is called THE WRECKER; and in book form will 
appear as number 1 of South Sea Yarns by R. L. S. and Lloyd 
Osbourne.  Here is the table as far as fully conceived, and indeed 
executed. ...

The story is founded on fact, the mystery I really believe to be 
insoluble; the purchase of a wreck has never been handled before, 
no more has San Francisco.  These seem all elements of success.  
There is, besides, a character, Jim Pinkerton, of the advertising 
American, on whom we build a good deal; and some sketches of the 
American merchant marine, opium smuggling in Honolulu, etc.  It 
should run to (about) three hundred pages of my MS.  I would like 
to know if this tale smiles upon you, if you will have a vacancy, 
and what you will be willing to pay.  It will of course be 
copyright in both the States and England.  I am a little anxious to 
have it tried serially, as it tests the interest of the mystery.

PLEASURE. - We have had a fine time in the Gilbert group, though 
four months on low islands, which involves low diet, is a largish 
order; and my wife is rather down.  I am myself, up to now, a 
pillar of health, though our long and vile voyage of calms, 
squalls, cataracts of rain, sails carried away, foretopmast lost, 
boats cleared and packets made on the approach of a p. d. reef, 
etc., has cured me of salt brine, and filled me with a longing for 
beef steak and mangoes not to be depicted.  The interest has been 
immense.  Old King Tembinoka of Apemama, the Napoleon of the group, 
poet, tyrant, altogether a man of mark, gave me the woven corselets 
of his grandfather, his father and his uncle, and, what pleased me 
more, told me their singular story, then all manner of strange 
tales, facts and experiences for my South Sea book, which should be 
a Tearer, Mr. Burlingame:  no one at least has had such stuff.

We are now engaged in the hell of a dead calm, the heat is cruel - 
it is the only time when I suffer from heat:  I have nothing on but 
a pair of serge trousers, and a singlet without sleeves of Oxford 
gauze - O, yes, and a red sash about my waist; and yet as I sit 
here in the cabin, sweat streams from me.  The rest are on deck 
under a bit of awning; we are not much above a hundred miles from 
port, and we might as well be in Kamschatka.  However, I should be 
honest:  this is the first calm I have endured without the added 
bane of a heavy swell, and the intoxicated blue-bottle wallowings 
and knockings of the helpless ship.

I wonder how you liked the end of THE MASTER; that was the hardest 
job I ever had to do; did I do it?

My wife begs to be remembered to yourself and Mrs. Burlingame.  
Remember all of us to all friends, particularly Low, in case I 
don't get a word through for him. - I am, yours very sincerely,




MY DEAR BAXTER, - . . . I cannot return until I have seen either 
Tonga or Fiji or both:  and I must not leave here till I have 
finished my collections on the war - a very interesting bit of 
history, the truth often very hard to come at, and the search (for 
me) much complicated by the German tongue, from the use of which I 
have desisted (I suppose) these fifteen years.  The last two days I 
have been mugging with a dictionary from five to six hours a day; 
besides this, I have to call upon, keep sweet, and judiciously 
interview all sorts of persons - English, American, German, and 
Samoan.  It makes a hard life; above all, as after every interview 
I have to come and get my notes straight on the nail.  I believe I 
should have got my facts before the end of January, when I shall 
make our Tonga or Fiji.  I am down right in the hurricane season; 
but they had so bad a one last year, I don't imagine there will be 
much of an edition this.  Say that I get to Sydney some time in 
April, and I shall have done well, and be in a position to write a 
very singular and interesting book, or rather two; for I shall 
begin, I think, with a separate opuscule on the Samoan Trouble, 
about as long as KIDNAPPED, not very interesting, but valuable - 
and a thing proper to be done.  And then, hey! for the big South 
Sea Book:  a devil of a big one, and full of the finest sport.

This morning as I was going along to my breakfast a little before 
seven, reading a number of BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE, I was startled by 
a soft TALOFA, ALII (note for my mother:  they are quite courteous 
here in the European style, quite unlike Tahiti), right in my ear:  
it was Mataafa coming from early mass in his white coat and white 
linen kilt, with three fellows behind him.  Mataafa is the nearest 
thing to a hero in my history, and really a fine fellow; plenty 
sense, and the most dignified, quiet, gentle manners.  Talking of 
BLACKWOOD - a file of which I was lucky enough to find here in the 
lawyer's - Mrs. Oliphant seems in a staggering state:  from the 
WRONG BOX to THE MASTER I scarce recognise either my critic or 
myself.  I gather that THE MASTER should do well, and at least that 
notice is agreeable reading.  I expect to be home in June:  you 
will have gathered that I am pretty well.  In addition to my 
labours, I suppose I walk five or six miles a day, and almost every 
day I ride up and see Fanny and Lloyd, who are in a house in the 
bush with Ah Fu.  I live in Apia for history's sake with Moors, an 
American trader.  Day before yesterday I was arrested and fined for 
riding fast in the street, which made my blood bitter, as the wife 
of the manager of the German Firm has twice almost ridden me down, 
and there seems none to say her nay.  The Germans have behaved 
pretty badly here, but not in all ways so ill as you may have 
gathered:  they were doubtless much provoked; and if the insane 
Knappe had not appeared upon the scene, might have got out of the 
muddle with dignity.  I write along without rhyme or reason, as 
things occur to me.

I hope from my outcries about printing you do not think I want you 
to keep my news or letters in a Blue Beard closet.  I like all 
friends to hear of me; they all should if I had ninety hours in the 
day, and strength for all of them; but you must have gathered how 
hard worked I am, and you will understand I go to bed a pretty 
tired man.

29TH DECEMBER, [1889].

To-morrow (Monday, I won't swear to my day of the month; this is 
the Sunday between Christmas and New Year) I go up the coast with 
Mr. Clarke, one of the London Society missionaries, in a boat to 
examine schools, see Tamasese, etc.  Lloyd comes to photograph.  
Pray Heaven we have good weather; this is the rainy season; we 
shall be gone four or five days; and if the rain keep off, I shall 
be glad of the change; if it rain, it will be beastly.  This 
explains still further how hard pressed I am, as the mail will be 
gone ere I return, and I have thus lost the days I meant to write 
in.  I have a boy, Henry, who interprets and copies for me, and is 
a great nuisance.  He said he wished to come to me in order to 
learn 'long expressions.'  Henry goes up along with us; and as I am 
not fond of him, he may before the trip is over hear some 'strong 
expressions.'  I am writing this on the back balcony at Moors', 
palms and a hill like the hill of Kinnoull looking in at me; myself 
lying on the floor, and (like the parties in Handel's song) 'clad 
in robes of virgin white'; the ink is dreadful, the heat delicious, 
a fine going breeze in the palms, and from the other side of the 
house the sudden angry splash and roar of the Pacific on the reef, 
where the warships are still piled from last year's hurricane, some 
under water, one high and dry upon her side, the strangest figure 
of a ship was ever witnessed; the narrow bay there is full of 
ships; the men-of-war covered with sail after the rains, and 
(especially the German ship, which is fearfully and awfully top 
heavy) rolling almost yards in, in what appears to be calm water.

Samoa, Apia at least, is far less beautiful than the Marquesas or 
Tahiti:  a more gentle scene, gentler acclivities, a tamer face of 
nature; and this much aided, for the wanderer, by the great German 
plantations with their countless regular avenues of palms.  The 
island has beautiful rivers, of about the bigness of our waters in 
the Lothians, with pleasant pools and waterfalls and overhanging 
verdure, and often a great volume of sound, so that once I thought 
I was passing near a mill, and it was only the voice of the river.  
I am not specially attracted by the people; but they are courteous; 
the women very attractive, and dress lovely; the men purposelike, 
well set up, tall, lean, and dignified.  As I write the breeze is 
brisking up, doors are beginning to slam:  and shutters; a strong 
draught sweeps round the balcony; it looks doubtful for to-morrow.  
Here I shut up. - Ever your affectionate,


Letter:  TO DR. SCOTT


MY DEAR SCOTT, - Shameful indeed that you should not have heard of 
me before!  I have now been some twenty months in the South Seas, 
and am (up to date) a person whom you would scarce know.  I think 
nothing of long walks and rides:  I was four hours and a half gone 
the other day, partly riding, partly climbing up a steep ravine.  I 
have stood a six months' voyage on a copra schooner with about 
three months ashore on coral atolls, which means (except for 
cocoanuts to drink) no change whatever from ship's food.  My wife 
suffered badly - it was too rough a business altogether - Lloyd 
suffered - and, in short, I was the only one of the party who 'kept 
my end up.'

I am so pleased with this climate that I have decided to settle; 
have even purchased a piece of land from three to four hundred 
acres, I know not which till the survey is completed, and shall 
only return next summer to wind up my affairs in England; 
thenceforth I mean to be a subject of the High Commissioner.

Now you would have gone longer yet without news of your truant 
patient, but that I have a medical discovery to communicate.  I 
find I can (almost immediately) fight off a cold with liquid 
extract of coca; two or (if obstinate) three teaspoonfuls in the 
day for a variable period of from one to five days sees the cold 
generally to the door.  I find it at once produces a glow, stops 
rigour, and though it makes one very uncomfortable, prevents the 
advance of the disease.  Hearing of this influenza, it occurred to 
me that this might prove remedial; and perhaps a stronger 
exhibition - injections of cocaine, for instance - still better.

If on my return I find myself let in for this epidemic, which seems 
highly calculated to nip me in the bud, I shall feel very much 
inclined to make the experiment.  See what a gulf you may save me 
from if you shall have previously made it on ANIMA VILI, on some 
less important sufferer, and shall have found it worse than 

How is Miss Boodle and her family?  Greeting to your brother and 
all friends in Bournemouth, yours very sincerely,




MY DEAR CHARLES, - I have got one delightful letter from you, and 
heard from my mother of your kindness in going to see her.  Thank 
you for that:  you can in no way more touch and serve me. . . . Ay, 
ay, it is sad to sell 17; sad and fine were the old days:  when I 
was away in Apemama, I wrote two copies of verse about Edinburgh 
and the past, so ink black, so golden bright.  I will send them, if 
I can find them, for they will say something to you, and indeed one 
is more than half addressed to you.  This is it -


Do you remember - can we e'er forget? -
How, in the coiled perplexities of youth,
In our wild climate, in our scowling town,
We gloomed and shivered, sorrowed, sobbed, and feared?
The belching winter wind, the missile rain,
The rare and welcome silence of the snows,
The laggard morn, the haggard day, the night,
The grimy spell of the nocturnal town,
Do you remember? - Ah, could one forget!
As when the fevered sick that all night long
Listed the wind intone, and hear at last
The ever-welcome voice of the chanticleer
Sing in the bitter hour before the dawn, -
With sudden ardour, these desire the day:

(Here a squall sends all flying.)

So sang in the gloom of youth the bird of hope;
So we, exulting, hearkened and desired.
For lo! as in the palace porch of life
We huddled with chimeras, from within -
How sweet to hear! - the music swelled and fell,
And through the breach of the revolving doors
What dreams of splendour blinded us and fled!
I have since then contended and rejoiced;
Amid the glories of the house of life
Profoundly entered, and the shrine beheld:
Yet when the lamp from my expiring eyes
Shall dwindle and recede, the voice of love
Fall insignificant on my closing ears,
What sound shall come but the old cry of the wind
In our inclement city? what return
But the image of the emptiness of youth,
Filled with the sound of footsteps and that voice
Of discontent and rapture and despair?
So, as in darkness, from the magic lamp,
The momentary pictures gleam and fade
And perish, and the night resurges - these
Shall I remember, and then all forget.

They're pretty second-rate, but felt.  I can't be bothered to copy 
the other.

I have bought 314 and a half acres of beautiful land in the bush 
behind Apia; when we get the house built, the garden laid, and 
cattle in the place, it will be something to fall back on for 
shelter and food; and if the island could stumble into political 
quiet, it is conceivable it might even bring a little income. . . . 
We range from 600 to 1500 feet, have five streams, waterfalls, 
precipices, profound ravines, rich tablelands, fifty head of cattle 
on the ground (if any one could catch them), a great view of 
forest, sea, mountains, the warships in the haven:  really a noble 
place.  Some day you are to take a long holiday and come and see 
us:  it has been all planned.

With all these irons in the fire, and cloudy prospects, you may be 
sure I was pleased to hear a good account of business.  I believed 
THE MASTER was a sure card:  I wonder why Henley thinks it grimy; 
grim it is, God knows, but sure not grimy, else I am the more 
deceived.  I am sorry he did not care for it; I place it on the 
line with KIDNAPPED myself.  We'll see as time goes on whether it 
goes above or falls below.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - I desire nothing better than to continue my 
relation with the Magazine, to which it pleases me to hear I have 
been useful.  The only thing I have ready is the enclosed barbaric 
piece.  As soon as I have arrived in Sydney I shall send you some 
photographs, a portrait of Tembinoka, perhaps a view of the palace 
or of the 'matted men' at their singing; also T.'s flag, which my 
wife designed for him:  in a word, what I can do best for you.  It 
will be thus a foretaste of my book of travels.  I shall ask you to 
let me have, if I wish it, the use of the plates made, and to make 
up a little tract of the verses and illustrations, of which you 
might send six copies to H. M. Tembinoka, King of Apemama VIA 
Butaritari, Gilbert Islands.  It might be best to send it by 
Crawford and Co., S. F.  There is no postal service; and schooners 
must take it, how they may and when.  Perhaps some such note as 
this might be prefixed:


R. L. S.

You will have received from me a letter about THE WRECKER.  No 
doubt it is a new experiment for me, being disguised so much as a 
study of manners, and the interest turning on a mystery of the 
detective sort, I think there need be no hesitation about beginning 
it in the fall of the year.  Lloyd has nearly finished his part, 
and I shall hope to send you very soon the MS. of about the first 
four-sevenths.  At the same time, I have been employing myself in 
Samoa, collecting facts about the recent war; and I propose to 
write almost at once and to publish shortly a small volume, called 
I know not what - the War In Samoa, the Samoa Trouble, an Island 
War, the War of the Three Consuls, I know not - perhaps you can 
suggest.  It was meant to be a part of my travel book; but material 
has accumulated on my hands until I see myself forced into volume 
form, and I hope it may be of use, if it come soon.  I have a few 
photographs of the war, which will do for illustrations.  It is 
conceivable you might wish to handle this in the Magazine, although 
I am inclined to think you won't, and to agree with you.  But if 
you think otherwise, there it is.  The travel letters (fifty of 
them) are already contracted for in papers; these I was quite bound 
to let M'Clure handle, as the idea was of his suggestion, and I 
always felt a little sore as to one trick I played him in the 
matter of the end-papers.  The war-volume will contain some very 
interesting and picturesque details:  more I can't promise for it.  
Of course the fifty newspaper letters will be simply patches chosen 
from the travel volume (or volumes) as it gets written.

But you see I have in hand:-

Say half done.  1. THE WRECKER.

Lloyd's copy half done, mine not touched.  2. THE PEARL FISHER (a 
novel promised to the LEDGER, and which will form, when it comes in 
book form, No. 2 of our SOUTH SEA YARNS).

Not begun, but all material ready.  3. THE WAR VOLUME.

Ditto.  4. THE BIG TRAVEL BOOK, which includes the letters.

You know how they stand.  5. THE BALLADS.

EXCUSEZ DU PEU!  And you see what madness it would be to make any 
fresh engagement.  At the same time, you have THE WRECKER and the 
WAR VOLUME, if you like either - or both - to keep my name in the 

It begins to look as if I should not be able to get any more 
ballads done this somewhile.  I know the book would sell better if 
it were all ballads; and yet I am growing half tempted to fill up 
with some other verses.  A good few are connected with my voyage, 
such as the 'Home of Tembinoka' sent herewith, and would have a 
sort of slight affinity to the SOUTH SEA BALLADS.  You might tell 
me how that strikes a stranger.

In all this, my real interest is with the travel volume, which 
ought to be of a really extraordinary interest

I am sending you 'Tembinoka' as he stands; but there are parts of 
him that I hope to better, particularly in stanzas III. and II.  I 
scarce feel intelligent enough to try just now; and I thought at 
any rate you had better see it, set it up if you think well, and 
let me have a proof; so, at least, we shall get the bulk of it 
straight.  I have spared you Tenkoruti, Tenbaitake, Tembinatake, 
and other barbarous names, because I thought the dentists in the 
States had work enough without my assistance; but my chiefs name is 
TEMBINOKA, pronounced, according to the present quite modern habit 
in the Gilberts, Tembinok'.  Compare in the margin Tengkorootch; a 
singular new trick, setting at defiance all South Sea analogy, for 
nowhere else do they show even the ability, far less the will, to 
end a word upon a consonant.  Loia is Lloyd's name, ship becomes 
shipe, teapot, tipote, etc.  Our admirable friend Herman Melville, 
of whom, since I could judge, I have thought more than ever, had no 
ear for languages whatever:  his Hapar tribe should be Hapaa, etc.

But this is of no interest to you:  suffice it, you see how I am as 
usual up to the neck in projects, and really all likely bairns this 
time.  When will this activity cease?  Too soon for me, I dare to 

R. L. S.



MY DEAR JAMES PAYN, - In virtue of confessions in your last, you 
would at the present moment, if you were along of me, be sick; and 
I will ask you to receive that as an excuse for my hand of write.  
Excuse a plain seaman if he regards with scorn the likes of you 
pore land-lubbers ashore now.  (Reference to nautical ditty.)  
Which I may however be allowed to add that when eight months' mail 
was laid by my side one evening in Apia, and my wife and I sat up 
the most of the night to peruse the same - (precious indisposed we 
were next day in consequence) - no letter, out of so many, more 
appealed to our hearts than one from the pore, stick-in-the-mud, 
land-lubbering, common (or garden) Londoner, James Payn.  Thank you 
for it; my wife says, 'Can't I see him when we get back to London?'  
I have told her the thing appeared to me within the spear of 
practical politix.  (Why can't I spell and write like an honest, 
sober, god-fearing litry gent?  I think it's the motion of the 
ship.)  Here I was interrupted to play chess with the chief 
engineer; as I grow old, I prefer the 'athletic sport of cribbage,' 
of which (I am sure I misquote) I have just been reading in your 
delightful LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS.  How you skim along, you and 
Andrew Lang (different as you are), and yet the only two who can 
keep a fellow smiling every page, and ever and again laughing out 
loud.  I joke wi' deeficulty, I believe; I am not funny; and when I 
am, Mrs. Oliphant says I'm vulgar, and somebody else says (in 
Latin) that I'm a whore, which seems harsh and even uncalled for:  
I shall stick to weepers; a 5s. weeper, 2s. 6d. laugher, 1s. 

My dear sir, I grow more and more idiotic; I cannot even feign 
sanity.  Sometime in the month of June a stalwart weather-beaten 
man, evidently of seafaring antecedents, shall be observed wending 
his way between the Athenaeum Club and Waterloo Place.  Arrived off 
No. 17, he shall be observed to bring his head sharply to the wind, 
and tack into the outer haven.  'Captain Payn in the harbour?' - 
'Ay, ay, sir.  What ship?' - 'Barquentin R. L. S., nine hundred and 
odd days out from the port of Bournemouth, homeward bound, with 
yarns and curiosities.'

Who was it said, 'For God's sake, don't speak of it!' about Scott 
and his tears?  He knew what he was saying.  The fear of that hour 
is the skeleton in all our cupboards; that hour when the pastime 
and the livelihood go together; and - I am getting hard of hearing 
myself; a pore young child of forty, but new come frae my Mammy, O!

Excuse these follies, and accept the expression of all my regards. 
- Yours affectionately,




MY DEAR CHARLES, - I did not send off the enclosed before from 
laziness; having gone quite sick, and being a blooming prisoner 
here in the club, and indeed in my bedroom.  I was in receipt of 
your letters and your ornamental photo, and was delighted to see 
how well you looked, and how reasonably well I stood. . . . I am 
sure I shall never come back home except to die; I may do it, but 
shall always think of the move as suicidal, unless a great change 
comes over me, of which as yet I see no symptom.  This visit to 
Sydney has smashed me handsomely; and yet I made myself a prisoner 
here in the club upon my first arrival.  This is not encouraging 
for further ventures; Sydney winter - or, I might almost say, 
Sydney spring, for I came when the worst was over - is so small an 
affair, comparable to our June depression at home in Scotland. . . 
. The pipe is right again; it was the springs that had rusted, and 
ought to have been oiled.  Its voice is now that of an angel; but, 
Lord! here in the club I dare not wake it!  Conceive my impatience 
to be in my own backwoods and raise the sound of minstrelsy.  What 
pleasures are to be compared with those of the Unvirtuous Virtuoso. 
- Yours ever affectionately, the Unvirtuous Virtuoso,




MY DEAREST COLVIN, - I was sharply ill at Sydney, cut off, right 
out of bed, in this steamer on a fresh island cruise, and have 
already reaped the benefit.  We are excellently found this time, on 
a spacious vessel, with an excellent table; the captain, 
supercargo, our one fellow-passenger, etc., very nice; and the 
charterer, Mr. Henderson, the very man I could have chosen.  The 
truth is, I fear, this life is the only one that suits me; so long 
as I cruise in the South Seas, I shall be well and happy - alas, 
no, I do not mean that, and ABSIT OMEN! - I mean that, so soon as I 
cease from cruising, the nerves are strained, the decline 
commences, and I steer slowly but surely back to bedward.  We left 
Sydney, had a cruel rough passage to Auckland, for the JANET is the 
worst roller I was ever aboard of.  I was confined to my cabin, 
ports closed, self shied out of the berth, stomach (pampered till 
the day I left on a diet of perpetual egg-nogg) revolted at ship's 
food and ship eating, in a frowsy bunk, clinging with one hand to 
the plate, with the other to the glass, and using the knife and 
fork (except at intervals) with the eyelid.  No matter:  I picked 
up hand over hand.  After a day in Auckland, we set sail again; 
were blown up in the main cabin with calcium fires, as we left the 
bay.  Let no man say I am unscientific:  when I ran, on the alert, 
out of my stateroom, and found the main cabin incarnadined with the 
glow of the last scene of a pantomime, I stopped dead:  'What is 
this?' said I.  'This ship is on fire, I see that; but why a 
pantomime?'  And I stood and reasoned the point, until my head was 
so muddled with the fumes that I could not find the companion.  A 
few seconds later, the captain had to enter crawling on his belly, 
and took days to recover (if he has recovered) from the fumes.  By 
singular good fortune, we got the hose down in time and saved the 
ship, but Lloyd lost most of his clothes and a great part of our 
photographs was destroyed.  Fanny saw the native sailors tossing 
overboard a blazing trunk; she stopped them in time, and behold, it 
contained my manuscripts.  Thereafter we had three (or two) days 
fine weather:  then got into a gale of wind, with rain and a 
vexatious sea.  As we drew into our anchorage in a bight of Savage 
Island, a man ashore told me afterwards the sight of the JANET 
NICOLL made him sick; and indeed it was rough play, though nothing 
to the night before.  All through this gale I worked four to six 
hours per diem, spearing the ink-bottle like a flying fish, and 
holding my papers together as I might.  For, of all things, what I 
was at was history - the Samoan business - and I had to turn from 
one to another of these piles of manuscript notes, and from one 
page to another in each, until I should have found employment for 
the hands of Briareus.  All the same, this history is a godsend for 
a voyage; I can put in time, getting events co-ordinated and the 
narrative distributed, when my much-heaving numskull would be 
incapable of finish or fine style.  At Savage we met the missionary 
barque JOHN WILLIAMS.  I tell you it was a great day for Savage 
Island:  the path up the cliffs was crowded with gay islandresses 
(I like that feminine plural) who wrapped me in their embraces, and 
picked my pockets of all my tobacco, with a manner which a touch 
would have made revolting, but as it was, was simply charming, like 
the Golden Age.  One pretty, little, stalwart minx, with a red 
flower behind her ear, had searched me with extraordinary zeal; and 
when, soon after, I missed my matches, I accused her (she still 
following us) of being the thief.  After some delay, and with a 
subtle smile, she produced the box, gave me ONE MATCH, and put the 
rest away again.  Too tired to add more. - Your most affectionate,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - I am moved to write to you in the matter of 
the end papers.  I am somewhat tempted to begin them again.  Follow 
the reasons PRO and CON:-

1st.  I must say I feel as if something in the nature of the end 
paper were a desirable finish to the number, and that the 
substitutes of occasional essays by occasional contributors somehow 
fail to fill the bill.  Should you differ with me on this point, no 
more is to be said.  And what follows must be regarded as lost 

2nd.  I am rather taken with the idea of continuing the work.  For 
instance, should you have no distaste for papers of the class 
called RANDOM MEMORIES, I should enjoy continuing them (of course 
at intervals), and when they were done I have an idea they might 
make a readable book.  On the other hand, I believe a greater 
freedom of choice might be taken, the subjects more varied and more 
briefly treated, in somewhat approaching the manner of Andrew Lang 
in the SIGN OF THE SHIP; it being well understood that the broken 
sticks method is one not very suitable (as Colonel Burke would say) 
to my genius, and not very likely to be pushed far in my practice.  
Upon this point I wish you to condense your massive brain.  In the 
last lot I was promised, and I fondly expected to receive, a vast 
amount of assistance from intelligent and genial correspondents.  I 
assure you, I never had a scratch of a pen from any one above the 
level of a village idiot, except once, when a lady sowed my head 
full of grey hairs by announcing that she was going to direct her 
life in future by my counsels.  Will the correspondents be more 
copious and less irrelevant in the future?  Suppose that to be the 
case, will they be of any use to me in my place of exile?  Is it 
possible for a man in Samoa to be in touch with the great heart of 
the People?  And is it not perhaps a mere folly to attempt, from so 
hopeless a distance, anything so delicate as a series of papers?  
Upon these points, perpend, and give me the results of your 

3rd.  The emolument would be agreeable to your humble servant.

I have now stated all the PROS, and the most of the CONS are come 
in by the way.  There follows, however, one immense Con (with a 
capital 'C'), which I beg you to consider particularly.  I fear 
that, to be of any use for your magazine, these papers should begin 
with the beginning of a volume.  Even supposing my hands were free, 
this would be now impossible for next year.  You have to consider 
whether, supposing you have no other objection, it would be worth 
while to begin the series in the middle of a volume, or desirable 
to delay the whole matter until the beginning of another year.

Now supposing that the CONS have it, and you refuse my offer, let 
me make another proposal, which you will be very inclined to refuse 
at the first off-go, but which I really believe might in time come 
to something.  You know how the penny papers have their answers to 
correspondents.  Why not do something of the same kind for the 
'culchawed'?  Why not get men like Stimson, Brownell, Professor 
James, Goldwin Smith, and others who will occur to you more readily 
than to me, to put and to answer a series of questions of 
intellectual and general interest, until at last you should have 
established a certain standard of matter to be discussed in this 
part of the Magazine?

I want you to get me bound volumes of the Magazine from its start.  
The Lord knows I have had enough copies; where they are I know not.  
A wandering author gathers no magazines.

THE WRECKER is in no forrader state than in last reports.  I have 
indeed got to a period when I cannot well go on until I can refresh 
myself on the proofs of the beginning.  My respected collaborator, 
who handles the machine which is now addressing you, has indeed 
carried his labours farther, but not, I am led to understand, with 
what we used to call a blessing; at least, I have been refused a 
sight of his latest labours.  However, there is plenty of time 
ahead, and I feel no anxiety about the tale, except that it may 
meet with your approval.

All this voyage I have been busy over my TRAVELS, which, given a 
very high temperature and the saloon of a steamer usually going 
before the wind, and with the cabins in front of the engines, has 
come very near to prostrating me altogether.  You will therefore 
understand that there are no more poems.  I wonder whether there 
are already enough, and whether you think that such a volume would 
be worth the publishing?  I shall hope to find in Sydney some 
expression of your opinion on this point.  Living as I do among - 
not the most cultured of mankind ('splendidly educated and perfect 
gentlemen when sober') - I attach a growing importance to friendly 
criticisms from yourself.

I believe that this is the most of our business.  As for my health, 
I got over my cold in a fine style, but have not been very well of 
late.  To my unaffected annoyance, the blood-spitting has started 
again.  I find the heat of a steamer decidedly wearing and trying 
in these latitudes, and I am inclined to think the superior 
expedition rather dearly paid for.  Still, the fact that one does 
not even remark the coming of a squall, nor feel relief on its 
departure, is a mercy not to be acknowledged without gratitude.  
The rest of the family seem to be doing fairly well; both seem less 
run down than they were on the EQUATOR, and Mrs. Stevenson very 
much less so.  We have now been three months away, have visited 
about thirty-five islands, many of which were novel to us, and some 
extremely entertaining; some also were old acquaintances, and 
pleasant to revisit.  In the meantime, we have really a capital 
time aboard ship, in the most pleasant and interesting society, and 
with (considering the length and nature of the voyage) an excellent 
table.  Please remember us all to Mr. Scribner, the young chieftain 
of the house, and the lady, whose health I trust is better.  To 
Mrs. Burlingame we all desire to be remembered, and I hope you will 
give our news to Low, St. Gaudens, Faxon, and others of the 
faithful in the city.  I shall probably return to Samoa direct, 
having given up all idea of returning to civilisation in the 
meanwhile.  There, on my ancestral acres, which I purchased six 
months ago from a blind Scots blacksmith, you will please address 
me until further notice.  The name of the ancestral acres is going 
to be Vailima; but as at the present moment nobody else knows the 
name, except myself and the co-patentees, it will be safer, if less 
ambitious, to address R. L. S., Apia, Samoa.  The ancestral acres 
run to upwards of three hundred; they enjoy the ministrations of 
five streams, whence the name.  They are all at the present moment 
under a trackless covering of magnificent forest, which would be 
worth a great deal if it grew beside a railway terminus.  To me, as 
it stands, it represents a handsome deficit.  Obliging natives from 
the Cannibal Islands are now cutting it down at my expense.  You 
would be able to run your magazine to much greater advantage if the 
terms of authors were on the same scale with those of my cannibals.  
We have also a house about the size of a manufacturer's lodge.  
'Tis but the egg of the future palace, over the details of which on 
paper Mrs. Stevenson and I have already shed real tears; what it 
will be when it comes to paying for it, I leave you to imagine.  
But if it can only be built as now intended, it will be with 
genuine satisfaction and a growunded pride that I shall welcome you 
at the steps of my Old Colonial Home, when you land from the 
steamer on a long-merited holiday.  I speak much at my ease; yet I 
do not know, I may be now an outlaw, a bankrupt, the abhorred of 
all good men.  I do not know, you probably do.  Has Hyde turned 
upon me?  Have I fallen, like Danvers Carew?

It is suggested to me that you might like to know what will be my 
future society.  Three consuls, all at logger-heads with one 
another, or at the best in a clique of two against one; three 
different sects of missionaries, not upon the best of terms; and 
the Catholics and Protestants in a condition of unhealable ill-
feeling as to whether a wooden drum ought or ought not to be beaten 
to announce the time of school.  The native population, very 
genteel, very songful, very agreeable, very good-looking, 
chronically spoiling for a fight (a circumstance not to be entirely 
neglected in the design of the palace).  As for the white 
population of (technically, 'The Beach'), I don't suppose it is 
possible for any person not thoroughly conversant with the South 
Seas to form the smallest conception of such a society, with its 
grog-shops, its apparently unemployed hangers-on, its merchants of 
all degrees of respectability and the reverse.  The paper, of which 
I must really send you a copy - if yours were really a live 
magazine, you would have an exchange with the editor:  I assure 
you, it has of late contained a great deal of matter about one of 
your contributors - rejoices in the name of SAMOA TIMES AND SOUTH 
SEA ADVERTISER.  The advertisements in the ADVERTISER are 
permanent, being simply subsidies for its existence.  A dashing 
warfare of newspaper correspondence goes on between the various 
residents, who are rather fond of recurring to one another's 
antecedents.  But when all is said, there are a lot of very nice, 
pleasant people, and I don't know that Apia is very much worse than 
half a hundred towns that I could name.




MY DEAR CHARLES, - I have stayed here a week while Lloyd and my 
wife continue to voyage in the JANET NICOLL; this I did, partly to 
see the convict system, partly to shorten my stay in the extreme 
cold - hear me with my extreme! MOI QUI SUIS ORIGINAIRE D'EDINBOURG 
- of Sydney at this season.  I am feeling very seedy, utterly 
fatigued, and overborne with sleep.  I have a fine old gentleman of 
a doctor, who attends and cheers and entertains, if he does not 
cure me; but even with his ministrations I am almost incapable of 
the exertion sufficient for this letter; and I am really, as I 
write, falling down with sleep.  What is necessary to say, I must 
try to say shortly.  Lloyd goes to clear out our establishments:  
pray keep him in funds, if I have any; if I have not, pray try to 
raise them.  Here is the idea:  to install ourselves, at the risk 
of bankruptcy, in Samoa.  It is not the least likely it will pay 
(although it may); but it is almost certain it will support life, 
with very few external expenses.  If I die, it will be an endowment 
for the survivors, at least for my wife and Lloyd; and my mother, 
who might prefer to go home, has her own.  Hence I believe I shall 
do well to hurry my installation.  The letters are already in part 
done; in part done is a novel for Scribner; in the course of the 
next twelve months I should receive a considerable amount of money.  
I am aware I had intended to pay back to my capital some of this.  
I am now of opinion I should act foolishly.  Better to build the 
house and have a roof and farm of my own; and thereafter, with a 
livelihood assured, save and repay . . .  There is my livelihood, 
all but books and wine, ready in a nutshell; and it ought to be 
more easy to save and to repay afterwards.  Excellent, say you, but 
will you save and will you repay?  I do not know, said the Bell of 
Old Bow. . . . It seems clear to me. . . . The deuce of the affair 
is that I do not know when I shall see you and Colvin.  I guess you 
will have to come and see me:  many a time already we have arranged 
the details of your visit in the yet unbuilt house on the mountain.  
I shall be able to get decent wine from Noumea.  We shall be able 
to give you a decent welcome, and talk of old days.  APROPOS of old 
days, do you remember still the phrase we heard in Waterloo Place?  
I believe you made a piece for the piano on that phrase.  Pray, if 
you remember it, send it me in your next.  If you find it 
impossible to write correctly, send it me A LA RECITATIVE, and 
indicate the accents.  Do you feel (you must) how strangely heavy 
and stupid I am?  I must at last give up and go sleep; I am simply 
a rag.

The morrow:  I feel better, but still dim and groggy.  To-night I 
go to the governor's; such a lark - no dress clothes - twenty-four 
hours' notice - able-bodied Polish tailor - suit made for a man 
with the figure of a puncheon - same hastily altered for self with 
the figure of a bodkin - sight inconceivable.  Never mind; dress 
clothes, 'which nobody can deny'; and the officials have been all 
so civil that I liked neither to refuse nor to appear in mufti.  
Bad dress clothes only prove you are a grisly ass; no dress 
clothes, even when explained, indicate a want of respect.  I wish 
you were here with me to help me dress in this wild raiment, and to 
accompany me to M. Noel-Pardon's.  I cannot say what I would give 
if there came a knock now at the door and you came in.  I guess 
Noel-Pardon would go begging, and we might burn the fr. 200 dress 
clothes in the back garden for a bonfire; or what would be yet more 
expensive and more humorous, get them once more expanded to fit 
you, and when that was done, a second time cut down for my gossamer 

I hope you never forget to remember me to your father, who has 
always a place in my heart, as I hope I have a little in his.  His 
kindness helped me infinitely when you and I were young; I recall 
it with gratitude and affection in this town of convicts at the 
world's end.  There are very few things, my dear Charles, worth 
mention:  on a retrospect of life, the day's flash and colour, one 
day with another, flames, dazzles, and puts to sleep; and when the 
days are gone, like a fast-flying thaumatrope, they make but a 
single pattern.  Only a few things stand out; and among these - 
most plainly to me - Rutland Square, - Ever, my dear Charles, your 
affectionate friend,


P.S. - Just returned from trying on the dress clo'.  Lord, you 
should see the coat!  It stands out at the waist like a bustle, the 
flaps cross in front, the sleeves are like bags.





The deuce is in this volume.  It has cost me more botheration and 
dubiety than any other I ever took in hand.  On one thing my mind 
is made up:  the verses at the end have no business there, and 
throw them down.  Many of them are bad, many of the rest want nine 
years' keeping, and the remainder are not relevant - throw them 
down; some I never want to hear of more, others will grow in time 
towards decent items in a second UNDERWOODS - and in the meanwhile, 
down with them!  At the same time, I have a sneaking idea the 
ballads are not altogether without merit - I don't know if they're 
poetry, but they're good narrative, or I'm deceived.  (You've never 
said one word about them, from which I astutely gather you are dead 
set against:  'he was a diplomatic man' - extract from epitaph of 
E. L. B. - 'and remained on good terms with Minor Poets.')  You 
will have to judge:  one of the Gladstonian trinity of paths must 
be chosen.  (1st) Either publish the five ballads, such as they 
are, in a volume called BALLADS; in which case pray send sheets at 
once to Chatto and Windus.  Or (2nd) write and tell me you think 
the book too small, and I'll try and get into the mood to do some 
more.  Or (3rd) write and tell me the whole thing is a blooming 
illusion; in which case draw off some twenty copies for my private 
entertainment, and charge me with the expense of the whole dream.

In the matter of rhyme no man can judge himself; I am at the 
world's end, have no one to consult, and my publisher holds his 
tongue.  I call it unfair and almost unmanly.  I do indeed begin to 
be filled with animosity; Lord, wait till you see the continuation 
of THE WRECKER, when I introduce some New York publishers. . . It's 
a good scene; the quantities you drink and the really hideous 
language you are represented as employing may perhaps cause you one 
tithe of the pain you have inflicted by your silence on, sir, The 

R. L. S.

Lloyd is off home; my wife and I dwell sundered:  she in lodgings, 
preparing for the move; I here in the club, and at my old trade - 
bedridden.  Naturally, the visit home is given up; we only wait our 
opportunity to get to Samoa, where, please, address me.

Have I yet asked you to despatch the books and papers left in your 
care to me at Apia, Samoa?  I wish you would, QUAM PRIMUM.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR HENRY JAMES, - Kipling is too clever to live.  The BETE 
HUMAINE I had already perused in Noumea, listening the while to the 
strains of the convict band.  He a Beast; but not human, and, to be 
frank, not very interesting.  'Nervous maladies:  the homicidal 
ward,' would be the better name:  O, this game gets very tedious.

Your two long and kind letters have helped to entertain the old 
familiar sickbed.  So has a book called THE BONDMAN, by Hall Caine; 
I wish you would look at it.  I am not half-way through yet.  Read 
the book, and communicate your views.  Hall Caine, by the way, 
appears to take Hugo's view of History and Chronology.  (LATER; the 
book doesn't keep up; it gets very wild.)

I must tell you plainly - I can't tell Colvin - I do not think I 
shall come to England more than once, and then it'll be to die.  
Health I enjoy in the tropics; even here, which they call sub- or 
semi-tropical, I come only to catch cold.  I have not been out 
since my arrival; live here in a nice bedroom by the fireside, and 
read books and letters from Henry James, and send out to get his 
TRAGIC MUSE, only to be told they can't be had as yet in Sydney, 
and have altogether a placid time.  But I can't go out!  The 
thermometer was nearly down to 50 degrees the other day - no 
temperature for me, Mr. James:  how should I do in England?  I fear 
not at all.  Am I very sorry?  I am sorry about seven or eight 
people in England, and one or two in the States.  And outside of 
that, I simply prefer Samoa.  These are the words of honesty and 
soberness.  (I am fasting from all but sin, coughing, THE BONDMAN, 
a couple of eggs and a cup of tea.)  I was never fond of towns, 
houses, society, or (it seems) civilisation.  Nor yet it seems was 
I ever very fond of (what is technically called) God's green earth.  
The sea, islands, the islanders, the island life and climate, make 
and keep me truly happier.  These last two years I have been much 
at sea, and I have NEVER WEARIED; sometimes I have indeed grown 
impatient for some destination; more often I was sorry that the 
voyage drew so early to an end; and never once did I lose my 
fidelity to blue water and a ship.  It is plain, then, that for me 
my exile to the place of schooners and islands can be in no sense 
regarded as a calamity.

Good-bye just now:  I must take a turn at my proofs.

N.B. - Even my wife has weakened about the sea.  She wearied, the 
last time we were ashore, to get afloat again. - Yours ever,

R. L. S.



VOUS!  More about Villon; it seems incredible:  when it is put in 
order, pray send it me.

You wish to translate the BLACK ARROW:  dear sir, you are hereby 
authorised; but I warn you, I do not like the work.  Ah, if you, 
who know so well both tongues, and have taste and instruction - if 
you would but take a fancy to translate a book of mine that I 
myself admired - for we sometimes admire our own - or I do - with 
what satisfaction would the authority be granted!  But these things 
are too much to expect.  VOUS NE DETESTEZ PAS ALORS MES BONNES 
FEMMES? MOI, JE LES DETESTE.  I have never pleased myself with any 
women of mine save two character parts, one of only a few lines - 
the Countess of Rosen, and Madame Desprez in the TREASURE OF 

I had indeed one moment of pride about my poor BLACK ARROW:  Dickon 
Crookback I did, and I do, think is a spirited and possible figure.  
Shakespeare's - O, if we can call that cocoon Shakespeare! - 
Shakespeare's is spirited - one likes to see the untaught athlete 
butting against the adamantine ramparts of human nature, head down, 
breach up; it reminds us how trivial we are to-day, and what safety 
resides in our triviality.  For spirited it may be, but O, sure not 
possible!  I love Dumas and I love Shakespeare:  you will not 
mistake me when I say that the Richard of the one reminds me of the 
Porthos of the other; and if by any sacrifice of my own literary 
baggage I could clear the VICOMTE DE BRAGELONNE of Porthos, JEKYLL 
might go, and the MASTER, and the BLACK ARROW, you may be sure, and 
I should think my life not lost for mankind if half a dozen more of 
my volumes must be thrown in.

The tone of your pleasant letters makes me egotistical; you make me 
take myself too gravely.  Comprehend how I have lived much of my 
time in France, and loved your country, and many of its people, and 
all the time was learning that which your country has to teach - 
breathing in rather that atmosphere of art which can only there be 
breathed; and all the time knew - and raged to know - that I might 
write with the pen of angels or of heroes, and no Frenchman be the 
least the wiser!  And now steps in M. Marcel Schwob, writes me the 
most kind encouragement, and reads and understands, and is kind 
enough to like my work.

I am just now overloaded with work.  I have two huge novels on hand 
- THE WRECKER and the PEARL FISHER, in collaboration with my 
stepson:  the latter, the PEARL FISHER, I think highly of, for a 
black, ugly, trampling, violent story, full of strange scenes and 
striking characters.  And then I am about waist-deep in my big book 
on the South Seas:  THE big book on the South Seas it ought to be, 
and shall.  And besides, I have some verses in the press, which, 
however, I hesitate to publish.  For I am no judge of my own verse; 
self-deception is there so facile.  All this and the cares of an 
impending settlement in Samoa keep me very busy, and a cold (as 
usual) keeps me in bed.

Alas, I shall not have the pleasure to see you yet awhile, if ever.  
You must be content to take me as a wandering voice, and in the 
form of occasional letters from recondite islands; and address me, 
if you will be good enough to write, to Apia, Samoa.  My stepson, 
Mr. Osbourne, goes home meanwhile to arrange some affairs; it is 
not unlikely he may go to Paris to arrange about the illustrations 
to my South Seas; in which case I shall ask him to call upon you, 
and give you some word of our outlandish destinies.  You will find 
him intelligent, I think; and I am sure, if (PAR HASARD) you should 
take any interest in the islands, he will have much to tell you. - 
Herewith I conclude, and am your obliged and interested 


P.S. - The story you refer to has got lost in the post.



MY DEAR LANG, - I observed with a great deal of surprise and 
interest that a controversy in which you have been taking sides at 
home, in yellow London, hinges in part at least on the Gilbert 
Islanders and their customs in burial.  Nearly six months of my 
life has been passed in the group:  I have revisited it but the 
other day; and I make haste to tell you what I know.  The upright 
stones - I enclose you a photograph of one on Apemama - are 
certainly connected with religion; I do not think they are adored.  
They stand usually on the windward shore of the islands, that is to 
say, apart from habitation (on ENCLOSED ISLANDS, where the people 
live on the sea side, I do not know how it is, never having lived 
on one).  I gathered from Tembinoka, Rex Apemamae, that the pillars 
were supposed to fortify the island from invasion:  spiritual 
martellos.  I think he indicated they were connected with the cult 
of Tenti - pronounce almost as chintz in English, the T being 
explosive; but you must take this with a grain of salt, for I knew 
no word of Gilbert Island; and the King's English, although 
creditable, is rather vigorous than exact.  Now, here follows the 
point of interest to you:  such pillars, or standing stones, have 
no connection with graves.  The most elaborate grave that I have 
ever seen in the group - to be certain - is in the form of a RAISED 
BORDER of gravel, usually strewn with broken glass.  One, of which 
I cannot be sure that it was a grave, for I was told by one that it 
was, and by another that it was not - consisted of a mound about 
breast high in an excavated taro swamp, on the top of which was a 
child's house, or rather MANIAPA - that is to say, shed, or open 
house, such as is used in the group for social or political 
gatherings - so small that only a child could creep under its 
eaves.  I have heard of another great tomb on Apemama, which I did 
not see; but here again, by all accounts, no sign of a standing 
stone.  My report would be - no connection between standing stones 
and sepulture.  I shall, however, send on the terms of the problem 
to a highly intelligent resident trader, who knows more than 
perhaps any one living, white or native, of the Gilbert group; and 
you shall have the result.  In Samoa, whither I return for good, I 
shall myself make inquiries; up to now, I have neither seen nor 
heard of any standing stones in that group. - Yours,




MY DEAR MRS. FAIRCHILD, - I began a letter to you on board the 
JANET NICOLL on my last cruise, wrote, I believe, two sheets, and 
ruthlessly destroyed the flippant trash.  Your last has given me 
great pleasure and some pain, for it increased the consciousness of 
my neglect.  Now, this must go to you, whatever it is like.

. . . You are quite right; our civilisation is a hollow fraud, all 
the fun of life is lost by it; all it gains is that a larger number 
of persons can continue to be contemporaneously unhappy on the 
surface of the globe.  O, unhappy! - there is a big word and a 
false - continue to be not nearly - by about twenty per cent. - so 
happy as they might be:  that would be nearer the mark.

When - observe that word, which I will write again and larger - 
WHEN you come to see us in Samoa, you will see for yourself a 
healthy and happy people.

You see, you are one of the very few of our friends rich enough to 
come and see us; and when my house is built, and the road is made, 
and we have enough fruit planted and poultry and pigs raised, it is 
undeniable that you must come - must is the word; that is the way 
in which I speak to ladies.  You and Fairchild, anyway - perhaps my 
friend Blair - we'll arrange details in good time.  It will be the 
salvation of your souls, and make you willing to die.

Let me tell you this:  In '74 or 5 there came to stay with my 
father and mother a certain Mr. Seed, a prime minister or something 
of New Zealand.  He spotted what my complaint was; told me that I 
had no business to stay in Europe; that I should find all I cared 
for, and all that was good for me, in the Navigator Islands; sat up 
till four in the morning persuading me, demolishing my scruples.  
And I resisted:  I refused to go so far from my father and mother.  
O, it was virtuous, and O, wasn't it silly!  But my father, who was 
always my dearest, got to his grave without that pang; and now in 
1890, I (or what is left of me) go at last to the Navigator 
Islands.  God go with us!  It is but a Pisgah sight when all is 
said; I go there only to grow old and die; but when you come, you 
will see it is a fair place for the purpose.

Flaubert has not turned up; I hope he will soon; I knew of him only 
through Maxime Descamps. - With kindest messages to yourself and 
all of yours, I remain,





I WISH you to add to the words at the end of the prologue; they 
run, I think, thus, 'And this is the yarn of Loudon Dodd'; add, 
'not as he told, but as he wrote it afterwards for his diversion.'  
This becomes the more needful, because, when all is done, I shall 
probably revert to Tai-o-hae, and give final details about the 
characters in the way of a conversation between Dodd and Havers.  
These little snippets of information and FAITS-DIVERS have always a 
disjointed, broken-backed appearance; yet, readers like them.  In 
this book we have introduced so many characters, that this kind of 
epilogue will be looked for; and I rather hope, looking far ahead, 
that I can lighten it in dialogue.

We are well past the middle now.  How does it strike you? and can 
you guess my mystery?  It will make a fattish volume!

I say, have you ever read the HIGHLAND WIDOW?  I never had till 
yesterday:  I am half inclined, bar a trip or two, to think it 
Scott's masterpiece; and it has the name of a failure!  Strange 
things are readers.

I expect proofs and revises in duplicate.

We have now got into a small barrack at our place.  We see the sea 
six hundred feet below filling the end of two vales of forest.  On 
one hand the mountain runs above us some thousand feet higher; 
great trees stand round us in our clearing; there is an endless 
voice of birds; I have never lived in such a heaven; just now, I 
have fever, which mitigates but not destroys my gusto in my 
circumstances. - You may envy


. . . O, I don't know if I mentioned that having seen your new tail 
to the magazine, I cried off interference, at least for this trip.  
Did I ask you to send me my books and papers, and all the bound 
volumes of the mag.? QUORUM PARS.  I might add that were there a 
good book or so - new - I don't believe there is - such would be 

I desire - I positively begin to awake - to be remembered to 
Scribner, Low, St. Gaudens, Russell Sullivan.  Well, well, you 
fellows have the feast of reason and the flow of soul; I have a 
better-looking place and climate:  you should hear the birds on the 
hill now!  The day has just wound up with a shower; it is still 
light without, though I write within here at the cheek of a lamp; 
my wife and an invaluable German are wrestling about bread on the 
back verandah; and how the birds and the frogs are rattling, and 
piping, and hailing from the woods!  Here and there a throaty 
chuckle; here and there, cries like those of jolly children who 
have lost their way; here and there, the ringing sleigh-bell of the 
tree frog.  Out and away down below me on the sea it is still 
raining; it will be wet under foot on schooners, and the house will 
leak; how well I know that!  Here the showers only patter on the 
iron roof, and sometimes roar; and within, the lamp burns steady on 
the tafa-covered walls, with their dusky tartan patterns, and the 
book-shelves with their thin array of books; and no squall can rout 
my house or bring my heart into my mouth. - The well-pleased South 
Sea Islander,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - By some diabolical accident, I have mislaid 
your last.  What was in it?  I know not, and here I am caught 
unexpectedly by the American mail, a week earlier than by 
computation.  The computation, not the mail, is supposed to be in 
error.  The vols. of SCRIBNER'S have arrived, and present a noble 
appearance in my house, which is not a noble structure at present.  
But by autumn we hope to be sprawling in our verandah, twelve feet, 
sir, by eighty-eight in front, and seventy-two on the flank; view 
of the sea and mountains, sunrise, moonrise, and the German fleet 
at anchor three miles away in Apia harbour.  I hope some day to 
offer you a bowl of kava there, or a slice of a pineapple, or some 
lemonade from my own hedge.  'I know a hedge where the lemons grow' 
- SHAKESPEARE.  My house at this moment smells of them strong; and 
the rain, which a while ago roared there, now rings in minute drops 
upon the iron roof.  I have no WRECKER for you this mail, other 
things having engaged me.  I was on the whole rather relieved you 
did not vote for regular papers, as I feared the traces.  It is my 
design from time to time to write a paper of a reminiscential 
(beastly word) description; some of them I could scarce publish 
from different considerations; but some of them - for instance, my 
long experience of gambling places - Homburg, Wiesbaden, Baden-
Baden, old Monaco, and new Monte Carlo - would make good magazine 
padding, if I got the stuff handled the right way.  I never could 
fathom why verse was put in magazines; it has something to do with 
the making-up, has it not?  I am scribbling a lot just now; if you 
are taken badly that way, apply to the South Seas.  I could send 
you some, I believe, anyway, only none of it is thoroughly ripe.  
If kept back the volume of ballads, I'll soon make it a respectable 
size if this fit continue.  By the next mail you may expect some 
more WRECKER, or I shall be displeased.  Probably no more than a 
chapter, however, for it is a hard one, and I am denuded of my 
proofs, my collaborator having walked away with them to England; 
hence some trouble in catching the just note.

I am a mere farmer:  my talk, which would scarce interest you on 
Broadway, is all of fuafua and tuitui, and black boys, and planting 
and weeding, and axes and cutlasses; my hands are covered with 
blisters and full of thorns; letters are, doubtless, a fine thing, 
so are beer and skittles, but give me farmering in the tropics for 
real interest.  Life goes in enchantment; I come home to find I am 
late for dinner; and when I go to bed at night, I could cry for the 
weariness of my loins and thighs.  Do not speak to me of vexation, 
the life brims with it, but with living interest fairly.

Christmas I go to Auckland, to meet Tamate, the New Guinea 
missionary, a man I love.  The rest of my life is a prospect of 
much rain, much weeding and making of paths, a little letters, and 
devilish little to eat. - I am, my dear Burlingame, with messages 
to all whom it may concern, very sincerely yours,




MY DEAR HENRY JAMES, - It is terrible how little everybody writes, 
and how much of that little disappears in the capacious maw of the 
Post Office.  Many letters, both from and to me, I now know to have 
been lost in transit:  my eye is on the Sydney Post Office, a large 
ungainly structure with a tower, as being not a hundred miles from 
the scene of disappearance; but then I have no proof.  THE TRAGIC 
MUSE you announced to me as coming; I had already ordered it from a 
Sydney bookseller:  about two months ago he advised me that his 
copy was in the post; and I am still tragically museless.

News, news, news.  What do we know of yours?  What do you care for 
ours?  We are in the midst of the rainy season, and dwell among 
alarms of hurricanes, in a very unsafe little two-storied wooden 
box 650 feet above and about three miles from the sea-beach.  
Behind us, till the other slope of the island, desert forest, 
peaks, and loud torrents; in front green slopes to the sea, some 
fifty miles of which we dominate.  We see the ships as they go out 
and in to the dangerous roadstead of Apia; and if they lie far out, 
we can even see their topmasts while they are at anchor.  Of sounds 
of men, beyond those of our own labourers, there reach us, at very 
long intervals, salutes from the warships in harbour, the bell of 
the cathedral church, and the low of the conch-shell calling the 
labour boys on the German plantations.  Yesterday, which was Sunday 
- the QUANTIEME is most likely erroneous; you can now correct it - 
we had a visitor - Baker of Tonga.  Heard you ever of him?  He is a 
great man here:  he is accused of theft, rape, judicial murder, 
private poisoning, abortion, misappropriation of public moneys - 
oddly enough, not forgery, nor arson:  you would be amused if you 
knew how thick the accusations fly in this South Sea world.  I make 
no doubt my own character is something illustrious; or if not yet, 
there is a good time coming.

But all our resources have not of late been Pacific.  We have had 
enlightened society:  La Farge the painter, and your friend Henry 
Adams:  a great privilege - would it might endure.  I would go 
oftener to see them, but the place is awkward to reach on 
horseback.  I had to swim my horse the last time I went to dinner; 
and as I have not yet returned the clothes I had to borrow, I dare 
not return in the same plight:  it seems inevitable - as soon as 
the wash comes in, I plump straight into the American consul's 
shirt or trousers!  They, I believe, would come oftener to see me 
but for the horrid doubt that weighs upon our commissariat 
department; we have OFTEN almost nothing to eat; a guest would 
simply break the bank; my wife and I have dined on one avocado 
pear; I have several times dined on hard bread and onions.  What 
would you do with a guest at such narrow seasons? - eat him? or 
serve up a labour boy fricasseed?

Work? work is now arrested, but I have written, I should think, 
about thirty chapters of the South Sea book; they will all want 
rehandling, I dare say.  Gracious, what a strain is a long book!  
The time it took me to design this volume, before I could dream of 
putting pen to paper, was excessive; and then think of writing a 
book of travels on the spot, when I am continually extending my 
information, revising my opinions, and seeing the most finely 
finished portions of my work come part by part in pieces.  Very 
soon I shall have no opinions left.  And without an opinion, how to 
string artistically vast accumulations of fact?  Darwin said no one 
could observe without a theory; I suppose he was right; 'tis a fine 
point of metaphysic; but I will take my oath, no man can write 
without one - at least the way he would like to, and my theories 
melt, melt, melt, and as they melt the thaw-waters wash down my 
writing, and leave unideal tracts - wastes instead of cultivated 

Kipling is by far the most promising young man who has appeared 
since - ahem - I appeared.  He amazes me by his precocity and 
various endowment.  But he alarms me by his copiousness and haste.  
He should shield his fire with both hands 'and draw up all his 
strength and sweetness in one ball.'  ('Draw all his strength and 
all His sweetness up into one ball'?  I cannot remember Marvell's 
words.)  So the critics have been saying to me; but I was never 
capable of - and surely never guilty of - such a debauch of 
production.  At this rate his works will soon fill the habitable 
globe; and surely he was armed for better conflicts than these 
succinct sketches and flying leaves of verse?  I look on, I admire, 
I rejoice for myself; but in a kind of ambition we all have for our 
tongue and literature I am wounded.  If I had this man's fertility 
and courage, it seems to me I could heave a pyramid.

Well, we begin to be the old fogies now; and it was high time 
SOMETHING rose to take our places.  Certainly Kipling has the 
gifts; the fairy godmothers were all tipsy at his christening:  
what will he do with them?

Goodbye, my dear James; find an hour to write to us, and register 
your letter. - Yours affectionately,

R. L. S.


[VAILIMA, 1891.]

SIR, - I cannot call to mind having written you, but I am so throng 
with occupation this may have fallen aside.  I never heard tell I 
had any friends in Ireland, and I am led to understand you are come 
of no considerable family.  The gentleman I now serve with assures 
me, however, you are a very pretty fellow and your letter deserves 
to be remarked.  It's true he is himself a man of a very low 
descent upon the one side; though upon the other he counts 
cousinship with a gentleman, my very good friend, the late Mr. 
Balfour of the Shaws, in the Lothian; which I should be wanting in 
good fellowship to forget.  He tells me besides you are a man of 
your hands; I am not informed of your weapon; but if all be true it 
sticks in my mind I would be ready to make exception in your 
favour, and meet you like one gentleman with another.  I suppose 
this'll be your purpose in your favour, which I could very ill make 
out; it's one I would be sweir to baulk you of.  It seems, Mr. 
McIlvaine, which I take to be your name, you are in the household 
of a gentleman of the name of Coupling:  for whom my friend is very 
much engaged.  The distances being very uncommodious, I think it 
will be maybe better if we leave it to these two to settle all 
that's necessary to honour.  I would have you to take heed it's a 
very unusual condescension on my part, that bear a King's name; and 
for the matter of that I think shame to be mingled with a person of 
the name of Coupling, which is doubtless a very good house but one 
I never heard tell of, any more than Stevenson.  But your purpose 
being laudable, I would be sorry (as the word goes) to cut off my 
nose to spite my face. - I am, Sir, your humble servant,



He has read me some of your Barrack Room Ballants, which are not of 
so noble a strain as some of mine in the Gaelic, but I could set 
some of them to the pipes if this rencounter goes as it's to be 
desired.  Let's first, as I understand you to move, do each other 
this rational courtesys; and if either will survive, we may grow 
better acquaint.  For your tastes for what's martial and for poetry 
agree with mine.

A. S.


SYDNEY, JANUARY 19th, 1891.

Dumas, with all my heart; but not Hamlet.  Hamlet is great 
literature; Richard III. a big, black, gross, sprawling melodrama, 
writ with infinite spirit but with no refinement or philosophy by a 
man who had the world, himself, mankind, and his trade still to 
learn.  I prefer the Vicomte de Bragelonne to Richard III.; it is 
better done of its kind:  I simply do not mention the Vicomte in 
the same part of the building with Hamlet, or Lear, or Othello, or 
any of those masterpieces that Shakespeare survived to give us.

Also, COMME VOUS Y ALLEZ in my commendation!  I fear my SOLIDE 
EDUCATION CLASSIQUE had best be described, like Shakespeare's, as 
'little Latin and no Greek,' and I was educated, let me inform you, 
for an engineer.  I shall tell my bookseller to send you a copy of 
MEMORIES AND PORTRAITS, where you will see something of my descent 
and education, as it was, and hear me at length on my dear Vicomte.  
I give you permission gladly to take your choice out of my works, 
and translate what you shall prefer, too much honoured that so 
clever a young man should think it worth the pains.  My own choice 
would lie between KIDNAPPED and the MASTER OF BALLANTRAE.  Should 
you choose the latter, pray do not let Mrs. Henry thrust the sword 
up to the hilt in the frozen ground - one of my inconceivable 
blunders, an exaggeration to stagger Hugo.  Say 'she sought to 
thrust it in the ground.'  In both these works you should be 
prepared for Scotticisms used deliberately.

I fear my stepson will not have found time to get to Paris; he was 
overwhelmed with occupation, and is already on his voyage back.  We 
live here in a beautiful land, amid a beautiful and interesting 
people.  The life is still very hard:  my wife and I live in a two-
roomed cottage, about three miles and six hundred and fifty feet 
above the sea; we have had to make the road to it; our supplies are 
very imperfect; in the wild weather of this (the hurricane) season 
we have much discomfort:  one night the wind blew in our house so 
outrageously that we must sit in the dark; and as the sound of the 
rain on the roof made speech inaudible, you may imagine we found 
the evening long.  All these things, however, are pleasant to me.  
You say L'ARTISTE INCONSCIENT set off to travel:  you do not divide 
me right.  0.6 of me is artist; 0.4, adventurer.  First, I suppose, 
come letters; then adventure; and since I have indulged the second 
part, I think the formula begins to change:  0.55 of an artist, 
0.45 of the adventurer were nearer true.  And if it had not been 
for my small strength, I might have been a different man in all 

Whatever you do, do not neglect to send me what you publish on 
Villon:  I look forward to that with lively interest.  I have no 
photograph at hand, but I will send one when I can.  It would be 
kind if you would do the like, for I do not see much chance of our 
meeting in the flesh:  and a name, and a handwriting, and an 
address, and even a style?  I know about as much of Tacitus, and 
more of Horace; it is not enough between contemporaries, such as we 
still are.  I have just remembered another of my books, which I re-
read the other day, and thought in places good - PRINCE OTTO.  It 
is not as good as either of the others; but it has one 
recommendation - it has female parts, so it might perhaps please 
better in France.

I will ask Chatto to send you, then - PRINCE OTTO, MEMORIES AND 
PORTRAITS, UNDERWOODS, and BALLADS, none of which you seem to have 
seen.  They will be too late for the New Year:  let them be an 
Easter present.

You must translate me soon; you will soon have better to do than to 
transverse the work of others. - Yours very truly,


With the worst pen in the South Pacific.



MY DEAR CHARLES, - Perhaps in my old days I do grow irascible; 'the 
old man virulent' has long been my pet name for myself.  Well, the 
temper is at least all gone now; time is good at lowering these 
distemperatures; far better is a sharp sickness, and I am just (and 
scarce) afoot again after a smoking hot little malady at Sydney.  
And the temper being gone, I still think the same. . . .  We have 
not our parents for ever; we are never very good to them; when they 
go and we have lost our front-file man, we begin to feel all our 
neglects mighty sensibly.  I propose a proposal.  My mother is here 
on board with me; to-day for once I mean to make her as happy as I 
am able, and to do that which I know she likes.  You, on the other 
hand, go and see your father, and do ditto, and give him a real 
good hour or two.  We shall both be glad hereafter. - Yours ever,

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO H. B. BAILDON


MY DEAR BAILDON, - This is a real disappointment.  It was so long 
since we had met, I was anxious to see where time had carried and 
stranded us.  Last time we saw each other - it must have been all 
ten years ago, as we were new to the thirties - it was only for a 
moment, and now we're in the forties, and before very long we shall 
be in our graves.  Sick and well, I have had a splendid life of it, 
grudge nothing, regret very little - and then only some little 
corners of misconduct for which I deserve hanging, and must 
infallibly be damned - and, take it all over, damnation and all, 
would hardly change with any man of my time, unless perhaps it were 
Gordon or our friend Chalmers:  a man I admire for his virtues, 
love for his faults, and envy for the really A1 life he has, with 
everything heart - my heart, I mean - could wish.  It is curious to 
think you will read this in the grey metropolis; go the first grey, 
east-windy day into the Caledonian Station, if it looks at all as 
it did of yore:  I met Satan there.  And then go and stand by the 
cross, and remember the other one - him that went down - my 
brother, Robert Fergusson.  It is a pity you had not made me out, 
and seen me as patriarch and planter.  I shall look forward to some 
record of your time with Chalmers:  you can't weary me of that 
fellow, he is as big as a house and far bigger than any church, 
where no man warms his hands.  Do you know anything of Thomson?  Of 
A-, B-, C-, D-, E-, F-, at all?  As I write C.'s name mustard rises 
my nose; I have never forgiven that weak, amiable boy a little 
trick he played me when I could ill afford it:  I mean that 
whenever I think of it, some of the old wrath kindles, not that I 
would hurt the poor soul, if I got the world with it.  And Old X-?  
Is he still afloat?  Harmless bark!  I gather you ain't married 
yet, since your sister, to whom I ask to be remembered, goes with 
you.  Did you see a silly tale, JOHN NICHOLSON'S PREDICAMENT, or 
some such name, in which I made free with your home at Murrayfield?  
There is precious little sense in it, but it might amuse.  
Cassell's published it in a thing called YULE-TIDE years ago, and 
nobody that ever I heard of read or has ever seen YULE-TIDE.  It is 
addressed to a class we never met - readers of Cassell's series and 
that class of conscientious chaff, and my tale was dull, though I 
don't recall that it was conscientious.  Only, there's the house at 
Murrayfield and a dead body in it.  Glad the BALLADS amused you.  
They failed to entertain a coy public, at which I wondered, not 
that I set much account by my verses, which are the verses of 
Prosator; but I do know how to tell a yarn, and two of the yarns 
are great.  RAHERO is for its length a perfect folk-tale:  savage 
and yet fine, full of tailforemost morality, ancient as the granite 
rocks; if the historian, not to say the politician, could get that 
yarn into his head, he would have learned some of his A B C. But 
the average man at home cannot understand antiquity; he is sunk 
over the ears in Roman civilisation; and a tale like that of RAHERO 
falls on his ears inarticulate.  The SPECTATOR said there was no 
psychology in it; that interested me much:  my grandmother (as I 
used to call that able paper, and an able paper it is, and a fair 
one) cannot so much as observe the existence of savage psychology 
when it is put before it.  I am at bottom a psychologist and 
ashamed of it; the tale seized me one-third because of its 
picturesque features, two-thirds because of its astonishing 
psychology, and the SPECTATOR says there's none.  I am going on 
with a lot of island work, exulting in the knowledge of a new 
world, 'a new created world' and new men; and I am sure my income 
will DECLINE and FALL off; for the effort of comprehension is death 
to the intelligent public, and sickness to the dull.

I do not know why I pester you with all this trash, above all as 
you deserve nothing.  I give you my warm TALOFA ('my love to you,' 
Samoan salutation).  Write me again when the spirit moves you.  And 
some day, if I still live, make out the trip again and let us hob-
a-nob with our grey pows on my verandah. - Yours sincerely,




DEAR MR. ANGUS, - Surely I remember you!  It was W. C. Murray who 
made us acquainted, and we had a pleasant crack.  I see your poet 
is not yet dead.  I remember even our talk - or you would not think 
of trusting that invaluable JOLLY BEGGARS to the treacherous posts, 
and the perils of the sea, and the carelessness of authors.  I love 
the idea, but I could not bear the risk.  However -

'Hale be your heart, hale be your fiddle - '

 it was kindly thought upon.

My interest in Burns is, as you suppose, perennial.  I would I 
could be present at the exhibition, with the purpose of which I 
heartily sympathise; but the NANCY has not waited in vain for me, I 
have followed my chest, the anchor is weighed long ago, I have said 
my last farewell to the hills and the heather and the lynns:  like 
Leyden, I have gone into far lands to die, not stayed like Burns to 
mingle in the end with Scottish soil.  I shall not even return like 
Scott for the last scene.  Burns Exhibitions are all over.  'Tis a 
far cry to Lochow from tropical Vailima.

'But still our hearts are true, our hearts are Highland,
And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.'

When your hand is in, will you remember our poor Edinburgh Robin?  
Burns alone has been just to his promise; follow Burns, he knew 
best, he knew whence he drew fire - from the poor, white-faced, 
drunken, vicious boy that raved himself to death in the Edinburgh 
madhouse.  Surely there is more to be gleaned about Fergusson, and 
surely it is high time the task was set about.  I way tell you 
(because your poet is not dead) something of how I feel:  we are 
three Robins who have touched the Scots lyre this last century.  
Well, the one is the world's, he did it, he came off, he is for 
ever; but I and the other - ah! what bonds we have - born in the 
same city; both sickly, both pestered, one nearly to madness, one 
to the madhouse, with a damnatory creed; both seeing the stars and 
the dawn, and wearing shoe-leather on the same ancient stones, 
under the same pends, down the same closes, where our common 
ancestors clashed in their armour, rusty or bright.  And the old 
Robin, who was before Burns and the flood, died in his acute, 
painful youth, and left the models of the great things that were to 
come; and the new, who came after, outlived his greensickness, and 
has faintly tried to parody the finished work.  If you will collect 
the strays of Robin Fergusson, fish for material, collect any last 
re-echoing of gossip, command me to do what you prefer - to write 
the preface - to write the whole if you prefer:  anything, so that 
another monument (after Burns's) be set up to my unhappy 
predecessor on the causey of Auld Reekie.  You will never know, nor 
will any man, how deep this feeling is:  I believe Fergusson lives 
in me.  I do, but tell it not in Gath; every man has these fanciful 
superstitions, coming, going, but yet enduring; only most men are 
so wise (or the poet in them so dead) that they keep their follies 
for themselves. - I am, yours very truly,




MY DEAR GOSSE, - I have to thank you and Mrs. Gosse for many 
mementoes, chiefly for your LIFE of your father.  There is a very 
delicate task, very delicately done.  I noted one or two 
carelessnesses, which I meant to point out to you for another 
edition; but I find I lack the time, and you will remark them for 
yourself against a new edition.  They were two, or perhaps three, 
flabbinesses of style which (in your work) amazed me.  Am I right 
in thinking you were a shade bored over the last chapters? or was 
it my own fault that made me think them susceptible of a more 
athletic compression?  (The flabbinesses were not there, I think, 
but in the more admirable part, where they showed the bigger.)  
Take it all together, the book struck me as if you had been hurried 
at the last, but particularly hurried over the proofs, and could 
still spend a very profitable fortnight in earnest revision and 
(towards the end) heroic compression.  The book, in design, 
subject, and general execution, is well worth the extra trouble.  
And even if I were wrong in thinking it specially wanted, it will 
not be lost; for do we not know, in Flaubert's dread confession, 
that 'prose is never done'?  What a medium to work in, for a man 
tired, perplexed among different aims and subjects, and spurred by 
the immediate need of 'siller'!  However, it's mine for what it's 
worth; and it's one of yours, the devil take it; and you know, as 
well as Flaubert, and as well as me, that it is NEVER DONE; in 
other words, it is a torment of the pit, usually neglected by the 
bards who (lucky beggars!) approached the Styx in measure.  I speak 
bitterly at the moment, having just detected in myself the last 
fatal symptom, three blank verses in succession - and I believe, 
God help me, a hemistich at the tail of them; hence I have deposed 
the labourer, come out of hell by my private trap, and now write to 
you from my little place in purgatory.  But I prefer hell:  would I 
could always dig in those red coals - or else be at sea in a 
schooner, bound for isles unvisited:  to be on shore and not to 
work is emptiness - suicidal vacancy.

I was the more interested in your LIFE of your father, because I 
meditate one of mine, or rather of my family.  I have no such 
materials as you, and (our objections already made) your attack 
fills me with despair; it is direct and elegant, and your style is 
always admirable to me - lenity, lucidity, usually a high strain of 
breeding, an elegance that has a pleasant air of the accidental.  
But beware of purple passages.  I wonder if you think as well of 
your purple passages as I do of mine?  I wonder if you think as ill 
of mine as I do of yours?  I wonder; I can tell you at least what 
is wrong with yours - they are treated in the spirit of verse.  The 
spirit - I don't mean the measure, I don't mean you fall into 
bastard cadences; what I mean is that they seem vacant and smoothed 
out, ironed, if you like.  And in a style which (like yours) aims 
more and more successfully at the academic, one purple word is 
already much; three - a whole phrase - is inadmissible.  Wed 
yourself to a clean austerity:  that is your force.  Wear a linen 
ephod, splendidly candid.  Arrange its folds, but do not fasten it 
with any brooch.  I swear to you, in your talking robes, there 
should be no patch of adornment; and where the subject forces, let 
it force you no further than it must; and be ready with a twinkle 
of your pleasantry.  Yours is a fine tool, and I see so well how to 
hold it; I wonder if you see how to hold mine?  But then I am to 
the neck in prose, and just now in the 'dark INTERSTYLAR cave,' all 
methods and effects wooing me, myself in the midst impotent to 
follow any.  I look for dawn presently, and a full flowing river of 
expression, running whither it wills.  But these useless seasons, 
above all, when a man MUST continue to spoil paper, are infinitely 

We are in our house after a fashion; without furniture, 'tis true, 
camping there, like the family after a sale.  But the bailiff has 
not yet appeared; he will probably come after.  The place is 
beautiful beyond dreams; some fifty miles of the Pacific spread in 
front; deep woods all round; a mountain making in the sky a profile 
of huge trees upon our left; about us, the little island of our 
clearing, studded with brave old gentlemen (or ladies, or 'the twa 
o' them') whom we have spared.  It is a good place to be in; night 
and morning, we have Theodore Rousseaus (always a new one) hung to 
amuse us on the walls of the world; and the moon - this is our good 
season, we have a moon just now - makes the night a piece of 
heaven.  It amazes me how people can live on in the dirty north; 
yet if you saw our rainy season (which is really a caulker for 
wind, wet, and darkness - howling showers, roaring winds, pit-
blackness at noon) you might marvel how we could endure that.  And 
we can't.  But there's a winter everywhere; only ours is in the 
summer.  Mark my words:  there will be a winter in heaven - and in 
There's another very good thing about Vailima, I am away from the 
little bubble of the literary life.  It is not all beer and 
skittles, is it?  By the by, my BALLADS seem to have been dam bad; 
all the crickets sing so in their crickety papers; and I have no 
ghost of an idea on the point myself:  verse is always to me the 
unknowable.  You might tell me how it strikes a professional bard:  
not that it really matters, for, of course, good or bad, I don't 
think I shall get into THAT galley any more.  But I should like to 
know if you join the shrill chorus of the crickets.  The crickets 
are the devil in all to you:  'tis a strange thing, they seem to 
rejoice like a strong man in their injustice.  I trust you got my 
letter about your Browning book.  In case it missed, I wish to say 
again that your publication of Browning's kind letter, as an 
illustration of HIS character, was modest, proper, and in radiant 
good taste. - In Witness whereof, etc., etc.,




MY DEAR MAY, - I never think of you by any more ceremonial name, so 
I will not pretend.  There is not much chance that I shall forget 
you until the time comes for me to forget all this little turmoil 
in a corner (though indeed I have been in several corners) of an 
inconsiderable planet.  You remain in my mind for a good reason, 
having given me (in so short a time) the most delightful pleasure.  
I shall remember, and you must still be beautiful.  The truth is, 
you must grow more so, or you will soon be less.  It is not so easy 
to be a flower, even when you bear a flower's name.  And if I 
admired you so much, and still remember you, it is not because of 
your face, but because you were then worthy of it, as you must 
still continue.

Will you give my heartiest congratulations to Mr. S.?  He has my 
admiration; he is a brave man; when I was young, I should have run 
away from the sight of you, pierced with the sense of my unfitness.  
He is more wise and manly.  What a good husband he will have to be!  
And you - what a good wife!  Carry your love tenderly.  I will 
never forgive him - or you - it is in both your hands - if the face 
that once gladdened my heart should be changed into one sour or 

What a person you are to give flowers!  It was so I first heard of 
you; and now you are giving the May flower!

Yes, Skerryvore has passed; it was, for us.  But I wish you could 
see us in our new home on the mountain, in the middle of great 
woods, and looking far out over the Pacific.  When Mr. S. is very 
rich, he must bring you round the world and let you see it, and see 
the old gentleman and the old lady.  I mean to live quite a long 
while yet, and my wife must do the same, or else I couldn't manage 
it; so, you see, you will have plenty of time; and it's a pity not 
to see the most beautiful places, and the most beautiful people 
moving there, and the real stars and moon overhead, instead of the 
tin imitations that preside over London.  I do not think my wife 
very well; but I am in hopes she will now have a little rest.  It 
has been a hard business, above all for her; we lived four months 
in the hurricane season in a miserable house, overborne with work, 
ill-fed, continually worried, drowned in perpetual rain, beaten 
upon by wind, so that we must sit in the dark in the evenings; and 
then I ran away, and she had a month of it alone.  Things go better 
now; the back of the work is broken; and we are still foolish 
enough to look forward to a little peace.  I am a very different 
person from the prisoner of Skerryvore.  The other day I was three-
and-twenty hours in an open boat; it made me pretty ill; but fancy 
its not killing me half-way!  It is like a fairy story that I 
should have recovered liberty and strength, and should go round 
again among my fellow-men, boating, riding, bathing, toiling hard 
with a wood-knife in the forest.  I can wish you nothing more 
delightful than my fortune in life; I wish it you; and better, if 
the thing be possible.

Lloyd is tinkling below me on the typewriter; my wife has just left 
the room; she asks me to say she would have written had she been 
well enough, and hopes to do it still. - Accept the best wishes of 
your admirer,



[VAILIMA, MAY 1891.]

MY DEAR ADELAIDE, - I will own you just did manage to tread on my 
gouty toe; and I beg to assure you with most people I should simply 
have turned away and said no more.  My cudgelling was therefore in 
the nature of a caress or testimonial.

God forbid, I should seem to judge for you on such a point; it was 
what you seemed to set forth as your reasons that fluttered my old 
Presbyterian spirit - for, mind you, I am a child of the 
Covenanters - whom I do not love, but they are mine after all, my 
father's and my mother's - and they had their merits too, and their 
ugly beauties, and grotesque heroisms, that I love them for, the 
while I laugh at them; but in their name and mine do what you think 
right, and let the world fall.  That is the privilege and the duty 
of private persons; and I shall think the more of you at the 
greater distance, because you keep a promise to your fellow-man, 
your helper and creditor in life, by just so much as I was tempted 
to think the less of you (O not much, or I would never have been 
angry) when I thought you were the swallower of a (tinfoil) 

I must say I was uneasy about my letter, not because it was too 
strong as an expression of my unregenerate sentiments, but because 
I knew full well it should be followed by something kinder.  And 
the mischief has been in my health.  I fell sharply sick in Sydney, 
was put aboard the LUBECK pretty bad, got to Vailima, hung on a 
month there, and didn't pick up as well as my work needed; set off 
on a journey, gained a great deal, lost it again; and am back at 
Vailima, still no good at my necessary work.  I tell you this for 
my imperfect excuse that I should not have written you again sooner 
to remove the bad taste of my last.

A road has been called Adelaide Road; it leads from the back of our 
house to the bridge, and thence to the garden, and by a bifurcation 
to the pig pen.  It is thus much traversed, particularly by Fanny.  
An oleander, the only one of your seeds that prospered in this 
climate, grows there; and the name is now some week or ten days 
applied and published.  ADELAIDE ROAD leads also into the bush, to 
the banana patch, and by a second bifurcation over the left branch 
of the stream to the plateau and the right hand of the gorges.  In 
short, it leads to all sorts of good, and is, besides, in itself a 
pretty winding path, bound downhill among big woods to the margin 
of the stream.

What a strange idea, to think me a Jew-hater!  Isaiah and David and 
Heine are good enough for me; and I leave more unsaid.  Were I of 
Jew blood, I do not think I could ever forgive the Christians; the 
ghettos would get in my nostrils like mustard or lit gunpowder.  
Just so you as being a child of the Presbytery, I retain - I need 
not dwell on that.  The ascendant hand is what I feel most 
strongly; I am bound in and in with my forbears; were he one of 
mine, I should not be struck at all by Mr. Moss of Bevis Marks, I 
should still see behind him Moses of the Mount and the Tables and 
the shining face.  We are all nobly born; fortunate those who know 
it; blessed those who remember.

I am, my dear Adelaide, most genuinely yours,


Write by return to say you are better, and I will try to do the 



MY DEAR CHARLES, - I don't know what you think of me, not having 
written to you at all during your illness.  I find two sheets begun 
with your name, but that is no excuse. . . . I am keeping bravely; 
getting about better, every day, and hope soon to be in my usual 
fettle.  My books begin to come; and I fell once more on the Old 
Bailey session papers.  I have 1778, 1784, and 1786.  Should you be 
able to lay hands on any other volumes, above all a little later, I 
should be very glad you should buy them for me.  I particularly 
want ONE or TWO during the course of the Peninsular War.  Come to 
think, I ought rather to have communicated this want to Bain.  
Would it bore you to communicate to that effect with the great man?  
The sooner I have them, the better for me.  'Tis for Henry Shovel.  
But Henry Shovel has now turned into a work called 'The Shovels of 
Newton French:  Including Memoirs of Henry Shovel, a Private in the 
Peninsular War,' which work is to begin in 1664 with the marriage 
of Skipper, afterwards Alderman Shovel of Bristol, Henry's great-
great-grandfather, and end about 1832 with his own second marriage 
to the daughter of his runaway aunt.  Will the public ever stand 
such an opus?  Gude kens, but it tickles me.  Two or three 
historical personages will just appear:  Judge Jeffreys, 
Wellington, Colquhoun, Grant, and I think Townsend the runner.  I 
know the public won't like it; let 'em lump it then; I mean to make 
it good; it will be more like a saga. - Adieu, yours ever 




MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - I find among my grandfather's papers his own 
reminiscences of his voyage round the north with Sir Walter, eighty 
years ago, LABUNTUR ANNI!  They are not remarkably good, but he was 
not a bad observer, and several touches seem to me speaking.  It 
has occurred to me you might like them to appear in the MAGAZINE.  
If you would, kindly let me know, and tell me how you would like it 
handled.  My grandad's MS. runs to between six and seven thousand 
words, which I could abbreviate of anecdotes that scarce touch Sir 
W.  Would you like this done?  Would you like me to introduce the 
old gentleman?  I had something of the sort in my mind, and could 
fill a few columns rather A PROPOS.  I give you the first offer of 
this, according to your request; for though it may forestall one of 
the interests of my biography, the thing seems to me particularly 
suited for prior appearance in a magazine.

I see the first number of the WRECKER; I thought it went lively 
enough; and by a singular accident, the picture is not unlike Tai-

Thus we see the age of miracles, etc. - Yours very sincerely,

R. L. S.

Proofs for next mail.


[SUMMER 1891.]

DEAR MR. ANGUS, - You can use my letter as you will.  The parcel 
has not come; pray Heaven the next post bring it safe.  Is it 
possible for me to write a preface here?  I will try if you like, 
if you think I must:  though surely there are Rivers in Assyria.  
Of course you will send me sheets of the catalogue; I suppose it 
(the preface) need not be long; perhaps it should be rather very 
short?  Be sure you give me your views upon these points.  Also 
tell me what names to mention among those of your helpers, and do 
remember to register everything, else it is not safe.

The true place (in my view) for a monument to Fergusson were the 
churchyard of Haddington.  But as that would perhaps not carry many 
votes, I should say one of the two following sites:- First, either 
as near the site of the old Bedlam as we could get, or, second, 
beside the Cross, the heart of his city.  Upon this I would have a 
fluttering butterfly, and, I suggest, the citation,

Poor butterfly, thy case I mourn.

For the case of Fergusson is not one to pretend about.  A more 
miserable tragedy the sun never shone upon, or (in consideration of 
our climate) I should rather say refused to brighten. - Yours 


Where Burns goes will not matter.  He is no local poet, like your 
Robin the First; he is general as the casing air.  Glasgow, as the 
chief city of Scottish men, would do well; but for God's sake, 
don't let it be like the Glasgow memorial to Knox:  I remember, 
when I first saw this, laughing for an hour by Shrewsbury clock.

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO H. C. IDE

[VAILIMA, JUNE 19, 1891.]

DEAR MR. IDE, - Herewith please find the DOCUMENT, which I trust 
will prove sufficient in law.  It seems to me very attractive in 
its eclecticism; Scots, English, and Roman law phrases are all 
indifferently introduced, and a quotation from the works of Haynes 
Bayly can hardly fail to attract the indulgence of the Bench. - 
Yours very truly,


I, Robert Louis Stevenson, Advocate of the Scots Bar, author of THE 
MASTER OF BALLANTRAE and MORAL EMBLEMS, stuck civil engineer, sole 
owner and patentee of the Palace and Plantation known as Vailima in 
the island of Upolu, Samoa, a British Subject, being in sound mind, 
and pretty well, I thank you, in body:

In consideration that Miss Annie H. Ide, daughter of H. C. Ide, in 
the town of Saint Johnsbury, in the county of Caledonia, in the 
state of Vermont, United States of America, was born, out of all 
reason, upon Christmas Day, and is therefore out of all justice 
denied the consolation and profit of a proper birthday;

And considering that I, the said Robert Louis Stevenson, have 
attained an age when O, we never mention it, and that I have now no 
further use for a birthday of any description;

And in consideration that I have met H. C. Ide, the father of the 
said Annie H. Ide, and found him about as white a land commissioner 
as I require:

HAVE TRANSFERRED, and DO HEREBY TRANSFER, to the said Annie H. Ide, 
ALL AND WHOLE my rights and priviledges in the thirteenth day of 
November, formerly my birthday, now, hereby, and henceforth, the 
birthday of the said Annie H. Ide, to have, hold, exercise, and 
enjoy the same in the customary manner, by the sporting of fine 
raiment, eating of rich meats, and receipt of gifts, compliments, 
and copies of verse, according to the manner of our ancestors;

AND I DIRECT the said Annie H. Ide to add to the said name of Annie 
H. Ide the name Louisa - at least in private; and I charge her to 
use my said birthday with moderation and humanity, ET TAMQUAM BONA 
FILIA FAMILIAE, the said birthday not being so young as it once 
was, and having carried me in a very satisfactory manner since I 
can remember;

And in case the said Annie H. Ide shall neglect or contravene 
either of the above conditions, I hereby revoke the donation and 
transfer my rights in the said birthday to the President of the 
United States of America for the time being:

In witness whereof I have hereto set my hand and seal this 
nineteenth day of June in the year of grace eighteen hundred and 






MY DEAR HENRY JAMES, - From this perturbed and hunted being expect 
but a line, and that line shall be but a whoop for Adela.  O she's 
delicious, delicious; I could live and die with Adela - die, rather 
the better of the two; you never did a straighter thing, and never 

DAVID BALFOUR, second part of KIDNAPPED, is on the stocks at last; 
and is not bad, I think.  As for THE WRECKER, it's a machine, you 
know - don't expect aught else - a machine, and a police machine; 
but I believe the end is one of the most genuine butcheries in 
literature; and we point to our machine with a modest pride, as the 
only police machine without a villain.  Our criminals are a most 
pleasing crew, and leave the dock with scarce a stain upon their 

What a different line of country to be trying to draw Adela, and 
trying to write the last four chapters of THE WRECKER!  Heavens, 
it's like two centuries; and ours is such rude, transpontine 
business, aiming only at a certain fervour of conviction and sense 
of energy and violence in the men; and yours is so neat and bright 
and of so exquisite a surface!  Seems dreadful to send such a book 
to such an author; but your name is on the list.  And we do 
modestly ask you to consider the chapters on the NORAH CREINA with 
the study of Captain Nares, and the forementioned last four, with 
their brutality of substance and the curious (and perhaps unsound) 
technical manoeuvre of running the story together to a point as we 
go along, the narrative becoming more succinct and the details 
fining off with every page. - Sworn affidavit of

R. L. S.



A Sublime Poem to follow.

Adela, Adela, Adela Chart,
What have you done to my elderly heart?
Of all the ladies of paper and ink
I count you the paragon, call you the pink.
The word of your brother depicts you in part:
'You raving maniac!' Adela Chart;
But in all the asylums that cumber the ground,
So delightful a maniac was ne'er to be found.

I pore on you, dote on you, clasp you to heart,
I laud, love, and laugh at you, Adela Chart,
And thank my dear maker the while I admire
That I can be neither your husband nor sire.

Your husband's, your sire's were a difficult part;
You're a byway to suicide, Adela Chart;
But to read of, depicted by exquisite James,
O, sure you're the flower and quintessence of dames.

R. L. S.


My heart was inditing a goodly matter about Adela Chart.
Though oft I've been touched by the volatile dart,
To none have I grovelled but Adela Chart,
There are passable ladies, no question, in art -
But where is the marrow of Adela Chart?
I dreamed that to Tyburn I passed in the cart -
I dreamed I was married to Adela Chart:
From the first I awoke with a palpable start,
The second dumfoundered me, Adela Chart!

Another verse bursts from me, you see; no end to the violence of 
the Muse.


OCTOBER 8TH, 1891.

MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - All right, you shall have the TALES OF MY 
GRANDFATHER soon, but I guess we'll try and finish off THE WRECKER 
first.  A PROPOS of whom, please send some advanced sheets to 
Cassell's - away ahead of you - so that they may get a dummy out.

Do you wish to illustrate MY GRANDFATHER?  He mentions as excellent 
a portrait of Scott by Basil Hall's brother.  I don't think I ever 
saw this engraved; would it not, if you could get track of it, 
prove a taking embellishment?  I suggest this for your 
consideration and inquiry.  A new portrait of Scott strikes me as 
good.  There is a hard, tough, constipated old portrait of my 
grandfather hanging in my aunt's house, Mrs. Alan Stevenson, 16 St. 
Leonard's Terrace, Chelsea, which has never been engraved - the 
better portrait, Joseph's bust has been reproduced, I believe, 
twice - and which, I am sure, my aunt would let you have a copy of.  
The plate could be of use for the book when we get so far, and thus 
to place it in the MAGAZINE might be an actual saving.

I am swallowed up in politics for the first, I hope for the last, 
time in my sublunary career.  It is a painful, thankless trade; but 
one thing that came up I could not pass in silence.  Much drafting, 
addressing, deputationising has eaten up all my time, and again (to 
my contrition) I leave you Wreckerless.  As soon as the mail leaves 
I tackle it straight. - Yours very sincerely,




MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - The time draws nigh, the mail is near due, 
and I snatch a moment of collapse so that you may have at least 
some sort of a scratch of note along with the 

\ end
 \ of
  \ THE

which I mean to go herewith.  It has taken me a devil of a pull, 
but I think it's going to be ready.  If I did not know you were on 
the stretch waiting for it and trembling for your illustrations, I 
would keep it for another finish; but things being as they are, I 
will let it go the best way I can get it.  I am now within two 
pages of the end of Chapter XXV., which is the last chapter, the 
end with its gathering up of loose threads, being the dedication to 
Low, and addressed to him:  this is my last and best expedient for 
the knotting up of these loose cards.  'Tis possible I may not get 
that finished in time, in which case you'll receive only Chapters 
XXII. to XXV. by this mail, which is all that can be required for 

I wish you would send me MEMOIRS OF BARON MARBOT (French); 
Logeman & Wheeler; PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGY, William James; Morris 
& Magnusson's SAGA LIBRARY, any volumes that are out; George 
Meredith's ONE OF OUR CONQUERORS; LA BAS, by Huysmans (French); 
CONTEMPORAINE, I have only as far as LA REVOLUTION, vol. iii.; if 
another volume is out, please add that.  There is for a book-box.

I hope you will like the end; I think it is rather strong meat.  I 
have got into such a deliberate, dilatory, expansive turn, that the 
effort to compress this last yarn was unwelcome; but the longest 
yarn has to come to an end sometime.  Please look it over for 
carelessnesses, and tell me if it had any effect upon your jaded 
editorial mind.  I'll see if ever I have time to add more.

I add to my book-box list Adams' HISTORICAL ESSAYS; the Plays of A. 
W. Pinero - all that have appeared, and send me the rest in course 
as they do appear; NOUGHTS AND CROSSES by Q.; Robertson's SCOTLAND 


The deed is done, didst thou not hear a noise?  'The end' has been 
written to this endless yarn, and I am once more a free man.  What 
will he do with it?



MY DEAR MR. ANGUS, - Herewith the invaluable sheets.  They came 
months after your letter, and I trembled; but here they are, and I 
have scrawled my vile name on them, and 'thocht shame' as I did it.  
I am expecting the sheets of your catalogue, so that I may attack 
the preface.  Please give me all the time you can.  The sooner the 
better; you might even send me early proofs as they are sent out, 
to give me more incubation.  I used to write as slow as judgment; 
now I write rather fast; but I am still 'a slow study,' and sit a 
long while silent on my eggs.  Unconscious thought, there is the 
only method:  macerate your subject, let it boil slow, then take 
the lid off and look in - and there your stuff is, good or bad.  
But the journalist's method is the way to manufacture lies; it is 
will-worship - if you know the luminous quaker phrase; and the will 
is only to be brought in the field for study, and again for 
revision.  The essential part of work is not an act, it is a state.

I do not know why I write you this trash.

Many thanks for your handsome dedication.  I have not yet had time 
to do more than glance at Mrs. Begg; it looks interesting. - Yours 
very truly,




MY DEAR LOUISA, - Your picture of the church, the photograph of 
yourself and your sister, and your very witty and pleasing letter, 
came all in a bundle, and made me feel I had my money's worth for 
that birthday.  I am now, I must be, one of your nearest relatives; 
exactly what we are to each other, I do not know, I doubt if the 
case has ever happened before - your papa ought to know, and I 
don't believe he does; but I think I ought to call you in the 
meanwhile, and until we get the advice of counsel learned in the 
law, my name-daughter.  Well, I was extremely pleased to see by the 
church that my name-daughter could draw; by the letter, that she 
was no fool; and by the photograph, that she was a pretty girl, 
which hurts nothing.  See how virtues are rewarded!  My first idea 
of adopting you was entirely charitable; and here I find that I am 
quite proud of it, and of you, and that I chose just the kind of 
name-daughter I wanted.  For I can draw too, or rather I mean to 
say I could before I forgot how; and I am very far from being a 
fool myself, however much I may look it; and I am as beautiful as 
the day, or at least I once hoped that perhaps I might be going to 
be.  And so I might.  So that you see we are well met, and peers on 
these important points.  I am VERY glad also that you are older 
than your sister.  So should I have been, if I had had one.  So 
that the number of points and virtues which you have inherited from 
your name-father is already quite surprising.

I wish you would tell your father - not that I like to encourage my 
rival - that we have had a wonderful time here of late, and that 
they are having a cold day on Mulinuu, and the consuls are writing 
reports, and I am writing to the TIMES, and if we don't get rid of 
our friends this time I shall begin to despair of everything but my 

You are quite wrong as to the effect of the birthday on your age.  
From the moment the deed was registered (as it was in the public 
press with every solemnity), the 13th of November became your own 
AND ONLY birthday, and you ceased to have been born on Christmas 
Day.  Ask your father:  I am sure he will tell you this is sound 
law.  You are thus become a month and twelve days younger than you 
were, but will go on growing older for the future in the regular 
and human manner from one 13th November to the next.  The effect on 
me is more doubtful; I may, as you suggest, live for ever; I might, 
on the other hand, come to pieces like the one-horse shay at a 
moment's notice; doubtless the step was risky, but I do not the 
least regret that which enables me to sign myself your revered and 
delighted name-father,


Letter:  TO FRED ORR


DEAR SIR, - Your obliging communication is to hand.  I am glad to 
find that you have read some of my books, and to see that you spell 
my name right.  This is a point (for some reason) of great 
difficulty; and I believe that a gentleman who can spell Stevenson 
with a v at sixteen, should have a show for the Presidency before 
fifty.  By that time

I, nearer to the wayside inn,

predict that you will have outgrown your taste for autographs, but 
perhaps your son may have inherited the collection, and on the 
morning of the great day will recall my prophecy to your mind.  And 
in the papers of 1921 (say) this letter may arouse a smile.

Whatever you do, read something else besides novels and newspapers; 
the first are good enough when they are good; the second, at their 
best, are worth nothing.  Read great books of literature and 
history; try to understand the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages; be 
sure you do not understand when you dislike them; condemnation is 
non-comprehension.  And if you know something of these two periods, 
you will know a little more about to-day, and may be a good 

I send you my best wishes, and am yours,





MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - The end of THE WRECKER having but just come 
in, you will, I dare say, be appalled to receive three (possibly 
four) chapters of a new book of the least attractive sort:  a 
history of nowhere in a corner, for no time to mention, running to 
a volume!  Well, it may very likely be an illusion; it is very 
likely no one could possibly wish to read it, but I wish to publish 
it.  If you don't cotton to the idea, kindly set it up at my 
expense, and let me know your terms for publishing.  The great 
affair to me is to have per return (if it might be) four or five - 
better say half a dozen - sets of the roughest proofs that can be 
drawn.  There are a good many men here whom I want to read the 
blessed thing, and not one would have the energy to read MS.  At 
the same time, if you care to glance at it, and have the time, I 
should be very glad of your opinion as to whether I have made any 
step at all towards possibly inducing folk at home to read matter 
so extraneous and outlandish.  I become heavy and owlish; years sit 
upon me; it begins to seem to me to be a man's business to leave 
off his damnable faces and say his say.  Else I could have made it 
pungent and light and lively.  In considering, kindly forget that I 
am R. L. S.; think of the four chapters as a book you are reading, 
by an inhabitant of our 'lovely but fatil' islands; and see if it 
could possibly amuse the hebetated public.  I have to publish 
anyway, you understand; I have a purpose beyond; I am concerned for 
some of the parties to this quarrel.  What I want to hear is from 
curiosity; what I want you to judge of is what we are to do with 
the book in a business sense.  To me it is not business at all; I 
had meant originally to lay all the profits to the credit of Samoa; 
when it comes to the pinch of writing, I judge this unfair - I give 
too much - and I mean to keep (if there be any profit at all) one-
half for the artisan; the rest I shall hold over to give to the 
have never heard of greater insolence than to attempt such a 
subject; yet the tale is so strange and mixed, and the people so 
oddly charactered - above all, the whites - and the high note of 
the hurricane and the warships is so well prepared to take popular 
interest, and the latter part is so directly in the day's movement, 
that I am not without hope but some may read it; and if they don't, 
a murrain on them!  Here is, for the first time, a tale of Greeks - 
Homeric Greeks - mingled with moderns, and all true; Odysseus 
alongside of Rajah Brooke, PROPORTION GARDEE; and all true.  Here 
is for the first time since the Greeks (that I remember) the 
history of a handful of men, where all know each other in the eyes, 
and live close in a few acres, narrated at length, and with the 
seriousness of history.  Talk of the modern novel; here is a modern 
history.  And if I had the misfortune to found a school, the 
legitimate historian might lie down and die, for he could never 
overtake his material.  Here is a little tale that has not 'caret'-
ed its 'vates'; 'sacer' is another point.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR HENRY JAMES, - Thanks for yours; your former letter was 
lost; so it appears was my long and masterly treatise on the TRAGIC 
MUSE.  I remember sending it very well, and there went by the same 
mail a long and masterly tractate to Gosse about his daddy's life, 
for which I have been long expecting an acknowledgment, and which 
is plainly gone to the bottom with the other.  If you see Gosse, 
please mention it.  These gems of criticism are now lost 
literature, like the tomes of Alexandria.  I could not do 'em 
again.  And I must ask you to be content with a dull head, a weary 
hand, and short commons, for to-day, as I am physically tired with 
hard work of every kind, the labours of the planter and the author 
both piled upon me mountain deep.  I am delighted beyond expression 
by Bourget's book:  he has phrases which affect me almost like 
Montaigne; I had read ere this a masterly essay of his on Pascal; 
this book does it; I write for all his essays by this mail, and 
shall try to meet him when I come to Europe.  The proposal is to 
pass a summer in France, I think in Royat, where the faithful could 
come and visit me; they are now not many.  I expect Henry James to 
come and break a crust or two with us.  I believe it will be only 
my wife and myself; and she will go over to England, but not I, or 
possibly incog. to Southampton, and then to Boscombe to see poor 
Lady Shelley.  I am writing - trying to write in a Babel fit for 
the bottomless pit; my wife, her daughter, her grandson and my 
mother, all shrieking at each other round the house - not in war, 
thank God! but the din is ultra martial, and the note of Lloyd 
joins in occasionally, and the cause of this to-do is simply cacao, 
whereof chocolate comes.  You may drink of our chocolate perhaps in 
five or six years from now, and not know it.  It makes a fine 
bustle, and gives us some hard work, out of which I have slunk for 

I have a story coming out:  God knows when or how; it answers to 
the name of the BEACH OF FALESA, and I think well of it.  I was 
delighted with the TRAGIC MUSE; I thought the Muse herself one of 
your best works; I was delighted also to hear of the success of 
your piece, as you know I am a dam failure, and might have dined 
with the dinner club that Daudet and these parties frequented.


I have just been breakfasting at Baiae and Brindisi, and the charm 
of Bourget hag-rides me.  I wonder if this exquisite fellow, all 
made of fiddle-strings and scent and intelligence, could bear any 
of my bald prose.  If you think he could, ask Colvin to send him a 
copy of these last essays of mine when they appear; and tell 
Bourget they go to him from a South Sea Island as literal homage.  
I have read no new book for years that gave me the same literary 
thrill as his SENSATIONS D'ITALIE.  If (as I imagine) my cut-and-
dry literature would be death to him, and worse than death - 
journalism - be silent on the point.  For I have a great curiosity 
to know him, and if he doesn't know my work, I shall have the 
better chance of making his acquaintance.  I read THE PUPIL the 
other day with great joy; your little boy is admirable; why is 
there no little boy like that unless he hails from the Great 

Here I broke off, and wrote Bourget a dedication; no use resisting; 
it's a love affair.  O, he's exquisite, I bless you for the gift of 
him.  I have really enjoyed this book as I - almost as I - used to 
enjoy books when I was going twenty - twenty-three; and these are 
the years for reading!

R. L. S.



MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - Overjoyed you were pleased with WRECKER, and 
shall consider your protests.  There is perhaps more art than you 
think for in the peccant chapter, where I have succeeded in packing 
into one a dedication, an explanation, and a termination.  Surely 
you had not recognised the phrase about boodle?  It was a quotation 
from Jim Pinkerton, and seemed to me agreeably skittish.  However, 
all shall be prayerfully considered.

To come to a more painful subject.  Herewith go three more chapters 
of the wretched HISTORY; as you see, I approach the climax.  I 
expect the book to be some 70,000 words, of which you have now 45.  
Can I finish it for next mail?  I am going to try!  'Tis a long 
piece of journalism, and full of difficulties here and there, of 
this kind and that, and will make me a power of friends to be sure.  
There is one Becker who will probably put up a window to me in the 
church where he was baptized; and I expect a testimonial from 
Captain Hand.

Sorry to let the mail go without the Scott; this has been a bad 
month with me, and I have been below myself.  I shall find a way to 
have it come by next, or know the reason why.  The mail after, 

A bit of a sketch map appears to me necessary for my HISTORY; 
perhaps two.  If I do not have any, 'tis impossible any one should 
follow; and I, even when not at all interested, demand that I shall 
be able to follow; even a tourist book without a map is a cross to 
me; and there must be others of my way of thinking.  I inclose the 
very artless one that I think needful.  Vailima, in case you are 
curious, is about as far again behind Tanugamanono as that is from 
the sea.

M'Clure is publishing a short story of mine, some 50,000 words, I 
think, THE BEACH OF FALESA; when he's done with it, I want you and 
Cassell to bring it out in a little volume; I shall send you a 
dedication for it; I believe it good; indeed, to be honest, very 
good.  Good gear that pleases the merchant.

The other map that I half threaten is a chart for the hurricane.  
Get me Kimberley's report of the hurricane:  not to be found here.  
It is of most importance; I MUST have it with my proofs of that 
part, if I cannot have it earlier, which now seems impossible. - 
Yours in hot haste,


Letter:  TO J. M. BARRIE


DEAR MR. BARRIE, - This is at least the third letter I have written 
you, but my correspondence has a bad habit of not getting so far as 
the post.  That which I possess of manhood turns pale before the 
business of the address and envelope.  But I hope to be more 
fortunate with this:  for, besides the usual and often recurrent 
desire to thank you for your work-you are one of four that have 
come to the front since I was watching and had a corner of my own 
to watch, and there is no reason, unless it be in these mysterious 
tides that ebb and flow, and make and mar and murder the works of 
poor scribblers, why you should not do work of the best order.  The 
tides have borne away my sentence, of which I was weary at any 
rate, and between authors I may allow myself so much freedom as to 
leave it pending.  We are both Scots besides, and I suspect both 
rather Scotty Scots; my own Scotchness tends to intermittency, but 
is at times erisypelitous - if that be rightly spelt.  Lastly, I 
have gathered we had both made our stages in the metropolis of the 
winds:  our Virgil's 'grey metropolis,' and I count that a lasting 
bond.  No place so brands a man.

Finally, I feel it a sort of duty to you to report progress.  This 
may be an error, but I believed I detected your hand in an article 
- it may be an illusion, it may have been by one of those 
industrious insects who catch up and reproduce the handling of each 
emergent man - but I'll still hope it was yours - and hope it may 
please you to hear that the continuation of KIDNAPPED is under way.  
I have not yet got to Alan, so I do not know if he is still alive, 
but David seems to have a kick or two in his shanks.  I was pleased 
to see how the Anglo-Saxon theory fell into the trap:  I gave my 
Lowlander a Gaelic name, and even commented on the fact in the 
text; yet almost all critics recognised in Alan and David a Saxon 
and a Celt.  I know not about England; in Scotland at least, where 
Gaelic was spoken in Fife little over the century ago, and in 
Galloway not much earlier, I deny that there exists such a thing as 
a pure Saxon, and I think it more than questionable if there be 
such a thing as a pure Celt.

But what have you to do with this? and what have I?  Let us 
continue to inscribe our little bits of tales, and let the heathen 
rage!  Yours, with sincere interest in your career,




MASTER, - A plea from a place so distant should have some weight, 
and from a heart so grateful should have some address.  I have been 
long in your debt, Master, and I did not think it could be so much 
increased as you have now increased it.  I was long in your debt 
and deep in your debt for many poems that I shall never forget, and 
for SIGURD before all, and now you have plunged me beyond payment 
by the Saga Library.  And so now, true to human nature, being 
plunged beyond payment, I come and bark at your heels.

For surely, Master, that tongue that we write, and that you have 
illustrated so nobly, is yet alive.  She has her rights and laws, 
and is our mother, our queen, and our instrument.  Now in that 
living tongue WHERE has one sense, WHEREAS another.  In the 
HEATHSLAYINGS STORY, p. 241, line 13, it bears one of its ordinary 
senses.  Elsewhere and usually through the two volumes, which is 
all that has yet reached me of this entrancing publication, WHEREAS 
is made to figure for WHERE.

For the love of God, my dear and honoured Morris, use WHERE, and 
let us know WHEREAS we are, wherefore our gratitude shall grow, 
whereby you shall be the more honoured wherever men love clear 
language, whereas now, although we honour, we are troubled.

Whereunder, please find inscribed to this very impudent but yet 
very anxious document, the name of one of the most distant but not 
the youngest or the coldest of those who honour you.




MY DEAR MRS. FAIRCHILD, - I am guilty in your sight, but my affairs 
besiege me.      The chief-justiceship of a family of nineteen 
persons is in itself no sinecure, and sometimes occupies me for 
days:  two weeks ago for four days almost entirely, and for two 
days entirely.  Besides which, I have in the last few months 
written all but one chapter of a HISTORY OF SAMOA for the last 
eight or nine years; and while I was unavoidably delayed in the 
writing of this, awaiting material, put in one-half of DAVID 
BALFOUR, the sequel to KIDNAPPED.  Add the ordinary impediments of 
life, and admire my busyness.  I am now an old, but healthy 
skeleton, and degenerate much towards the machine.  By six at work:  
stopped at half-past ten to give a history lesson to a step-
grandson; eleven, lunch; after lunch we have a musical performance 
till two; then to work again; bath, 4.40, dinner, five; cards in 
the evening till eight; and then to bed - only I have no bed, only 
a chest with a mat and blankets - and read myself to sleep.  This 
is the routine, but often sadly interrupted.  Then you may see me 
sitting on the floor of my verandah haranguing and being harangued 
by squatting chiefs on a question of a road; or more privately 
holding an inquiry into some dispute among our familiars, myself on 
my bed, the boys on the floor - for when it comes to the judicial I 
play dignity - or else going down to Apia on some more or less 
unsatisfactory errand.  Altogether it is a life that suits me, but 
it absorbs me like an ocean.  That is what I have always envied and 
admired in Scott; with all that immensity of work and study, his 
mind kept flexible, glancing to all points of natural interest.  
But the lean hot spirits, such as mine, become hypnotised with 
their bit occupations - if I may use Scotch to you - it is so far 
more scornful than any English idiom.  Well, I can't help being a 
skeleton, and you are to take this devious passage for an apology.

I thought ALADDIN capital fun; but why, in fortune, did he pretend 
it was moral at the end?  The so-called nineteenth century, OU VA-
T-IL SE NICHER?  'Tis a trifle, but Pyle would do well to knock the 
passage out, and leave his boguey tale a boguey tale, and a good 
one at that.

The arrival of your box was altogether a great success to the 
castaways.  You have no idea where we live.  Do you know, in all 
these islands there are not five hundred whites, and no postal 
delivery, and only one village - it is no more - and would be a 
mean enough village in Europe?  We were asked the other day if 
Vailima were the name of our post town, and we laughed.  Do you 
know, though we are but three miles from the village metropolis, we 
have no road to it, and our goods are brought on the pack-saddle?  
And do you know - or I should rather say, can you believe - or (in 
the famous old Tichborne trial phrase) would you be surprised to 
learn, that all you have read of Vailima - or Subpriorsford, as I 
call it - is entirely false, and we have no ice-machine, and no 
electric light, and no water supply but the cistern of the heavens, 
and but one public room, and scarce a bedroom apiece?  But, of 
course, it is well known that I have made enormous sums by my 
evanescent literature, and you will smile at my false humility.  
The point, however, is much on our minds just now.  We are 
expecting an invasion of Kiplings; very glad we shall be to see 
them; but two of the party are ladies, and I tell you we had to 
hold a council of war to stow them.  You European ladies are so 
particular; with all of mine, sleeping has long become a public 
function, as with natives and those who go down much into the sea 
in ships.

Dear Mrs. Fairchild, I must go to my work.  I have but two words to 
say in conclusion.

First, civilisation is rot.

Second, console a savage with more of the milk of that over 
civilised being, your adorable schoolboy.

As I wrote these remarkable words, I was called down to eight 
o'clock prayers, and have just worked through a chapter of Joshua 
and five verses, with five treble choruses of a Samoan hymn; but 
the music was good, our boys and precentress ('tis always a woman 
that leads) did better than I ever heard them, and to my great 
pleasure I understood it all except one verse.  This gave me the 
more time to try and identify what the parts were doing, and 
further convict my dull ear.  Beyond the fact that the soprano rose 
to the tonic above, on one occasion I could recognise nothing.  
This is sickening, but I mean to teach my ear better before I am 
done with it or this vile carcase.

I think it will amuse you (for a last word) to hear that our 
precentress - she is the washerwoman - is our shame.  She is a 
good, healthy, comely, strapping young wench, full of energy and 
seriousness, a splendid workwoman, delighting to train our chorus, 
delighting in the poetry of the hymns, which she reads aloud (on 
the least provocation) with a great sentiment of rhythm.  Well, 
then, what is curious?  Ah, we did not know! but it was told us in 
a whisper from the cook-house - she is not of good family.  Don't 
let it get out, please; everybody knows it, of course, here; there 
is no reason why Europe and the States should have the advantage of 
me also.  And the rest of my housefolk are all chief-people, I 
assure you.  And my late overseer (far the best of his race) is a 
really serious chief with a good 'name.'  Tina is the name; it is 
not in the Almanach de Gotha, it must have got dropped at press.  
The odd thing is, we rather share the prejudice.  I have almost 
always - though not quite always - found the higher the chief the 
better the man through all the islands; or, at least, that the best 
man came always from a highish rank.  I hope Helen will continue to 
prove a bright exception.

With love to Fairchild and the Huge Schoolboy, I am, my dear Mrs. 
Fairchild, yours very sincerely,




MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - Herewith Chapters IX. and X., and I am left 
face to face with the horrors and dilemmas of the present regimen:  
pray for those that go down to the sea in ships.  I have promised 
Henley shall have a chance to publish the hurricane chapter if he 
like, so please let the slips be sent QUAM PRIMUM to C. Baxter, 
W.S., 11 S. Charlotte Street, Edinburgh.  I got on mighty quick 
with that chapter - about five days of the toughest kind of work.  
God forbid I should ever have such another pirn to wind!  When I 
invent a language, there shall be a direct and an indirect pronoun 
differently declined - then writing would be some fun.


  He         Tu
  Him        Tum
  His        Tus

Ex.:  HE seized TUM by TUS throat; but TU at the same moment caught 
HIM by HIS hair.  A fellow could write hurricanes with an 
inflection like that!  Yet there would he difficulties too.

Do what you please about THE BEACH; and I give you CARTE BLANCHE to 
write in the matter to Baxter - or telegraph if the time press - to 
delay the English contingent.  Herewith the two last slips of THE 
WRECKER.  I cannot go beyond.  By the way, pray compliment the 
printers on the proofs of the Samoa racket, but hint to them that 
it is most unbusiness-like and unscholarly to clip the edges of the 
galleys; these proofs should really have been sent me on large 
paper; and I and my friends here are all put to a great deal of 
trouble and confusion by the mistake. - For, as you must conceive, 
in a matter so contested and complicated, the number of corrections 
and the length of explanations is considerable.

Please add to my former orders -

LE CHEVALIER DES TOUCHES  } by Barbey d'Aurevilly.

Yours sincerely,


Letter:  TO T. W. DOVER


SIR, - In reply to your very interesting letter, I cannot fairly 
say that I have ever been poor, or known what it was to want a 
meal.  I have been reduced, however, to a very small sum of money, 
with no apparent prospect of increasing it; and at that time I 
reduced myself to practically one meal a day, with the most 
disgusting consequences to my health.  At this time I lodged in the 
house of a working man, and associated much with others.  At the 
same time, from my youth up, I have always been a good deal and 
rather intimately thrown among the working-classes, partly as a 
civil engineer in out-of-the-way places, partly from a strong and, 
I hope, not ill-favoured sentiment of curiosity.  But the place 
where, perhaps, I was most struck with the fact upon which you 
comment was the house of a friend, who was exceedingly poor, in 
fact, I may say destitute, and who lived in the attic of a very 
tall house entirely inhabited by persons in varying stages of 
poverty.  As he was also in ill-health, I made a habit of passing 
my afternoon with him, and when there it was my part to answer the 
door.  The steady procession of people begging, and the expectant 
and confident manner in which they presented themselves, struck me 
more and more daily; and I could not but remember with surprise 
that though my father lived but a few streets away in a fine house, 
beggars scarce came to the door once a fortnight or a month.  From 
that time forward I made it my business to inquire, and in the 
stories which I am very fond of hearing from all sorts and 
conditions of men, learned that in the time of their distress it 
was always from the poor they sought assistance, and almost always 
from the poor they got it.

Trusting I have now satisfactorily answered your question, which I 
thank you for asking, I remain, with sincere compliments,




'THE WRECKER.'  I found I had made what I meant and forgotten it, 
and was so careless as not to tell you.

Second, of course, and by all means, charge corrections on the 
Samoa book to me; but there are not near so many as I feared.  The 
Lord hath dealt bountifully with me, and I believe all my advisers 
were amazed to see how nearly correct I had got the truck, at least 
I was.  With this you will receive the whole revise and a 
typewritten copy of the last chapter.  And the thing now is Speed, 
to catch a possible revision of the treaty.  I believe Cassells are 
to bring it out, but Baxter knows, and the thing has to be crammed 

You mention the belated Barbeys; what about the equally belated 
Pineros?  And I hope you will keep your bookshop alive to supplying 
me continuously with the SAGA LIBRARY.  I cannot get enough of 
SAGAS; I wish there were nine thousand; talk about realism!

All seems to flourish with you; I also prosper; none the less for 
being quit of that abhorred task, Samoa.  I could give a supper 
party here were there any one to sup.  Never was such a 
disagreeable task, but the thing had to be told. . . .

There, I trust I am done with this cursed chapter of my career, bar 
the rotten eggs and broken bottles that may follow, of course.  
Pray remember, speed is now all that can be asked, hoped, or 
wished.  I give up all hope of proofs, revises, proof of the map, 
or sic like; and you on your side will try to get it out as 
reasonably seemly as may be.

Whole Samoa book herewith.  Glory be to God. - Yours very 




MY DEAR CHARLES,- . . . I have been now for some time contending 
with powers and principalities, and I have never once seen one of 
my own letters to the TIMES.  So when you see something in the 
papers that you think might interest the exiles of Upolu, do not 
think twice, out with your saxpence, and send it flying to Vailima.  
Of what you say of the past, eh, man, it was a queer time, and 
awful miserable, but there's no sense in denying it was awful fun.  
Do you mind the youth in Highland garb and the tableful of coppers?  
Do you mind the SIGNAL of Waterloo Place? - Hey, how the blood 
stands to the heart at such a memory! - Hae ye the notes o't?  
Gie's them. - Gude's sake, man, gie's the notes o't; I mind ye made 
a tune o't an' played it on your pinanny; gie's the notes.  Dear 
Lord, that past.

Glad to hear Henley's prospects are fair:  his new volume is the 
work of a real poet.  He is one of those who can make a noise of 
his own with words, and in whom experience strikes an individual 
note.  There is perhaps no more genuine poet living, bar the Big 
Guns.  In case I cannot overtake an acknowledgment to himself by 
this mail, please let him hear of my pleasure and admiration.  How 
poorly - compares!  He is all smart journalism and cleverness:  it 
is all bright and shallow and limpid, like a business paper - a 
good one, S'ENTEND; but there is no blot of heart's blood and the 
Old Night:  there are no harmonics, there is scarce harmony to his 
music; and in Henley - all of these; a touch, a sense within sense, 
a sound outside the sound, the shadow of the inscrutable, eloquent 
beyond all definition.  The First London Voluntary knocked me 
wholly. - Ever yours affectionately, my dear Charles,


Kind memories to your father and all friends.

Letter:  TO W. E. HENLEY


MY DEAR HENLEY, - It is impossible to let your new volume pass in 
silence.  I have not received the same thrill of poetry since G. 
M.'s JOY OF EARTH volume and LOVE IN A VALLEY; and I do not know 
that even that was so intimate and deep.  Again and again, I take 
the book down, and read, and my blood is fired as it used to be in 
youth.  ANDANTE CON MOTO in the VOLUNTARIES, and the thing about 
the trees at night (No. XXIV. I think) are up to date my 
favourites.  I did not guess you were so great a magician; these 
are new tunes, this is an undertone of the true Apollo; these are 
not verse, they are poetry - inventions, creations, in language.  I 
thank you for the joy you have given me, and remain your old friend 
and present huge admirer,


The hand is really the hand of Esau, but under a course of 
threatened scrivener's cramp.

For the next edition of the Book of Verses, pray accept an 
emendation.  Last three lines of Echoes No. XLIV. read -

'But life in act?  How should the grave
Be victor over these,
Mother, a mother of men?'

The two vocatives scatter the effect of this inimitable close.  If 
you insist on the longer line, equip 'grave' with an epithet.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - Herewith MY GRANDFATHER.  I have had rather a 
bad time suppressing the old gentleman, who was really in a very 
garrulous stage; as for getting him IN ORDER, I could do but little 
towards that; however, there are one or two points of interest 
which may justify us in printing.  The swinging of his stick and 
not knowing the sailor of Coruiskin, in particular, and the account 
of how he wrote the lives in the Bell Book particularly please me. 
I hope my own little introduction is not egoistic; or rather I do 
not care if it is.  It was that old gentleman's blood that brought 
me to Samoa.

By the by, vols. vii., viii., and ix. of Adams's HISTORY have never 
come to hand; no more have the dictionaries.

WRECKER has turned up.  So far as I have seen, it is very 
satisfactory, but on pp. 548, 549, there has been a devil of a 
miscarriage.  The two Latin quotations instead of following each 
other being separated (doubtless for printing considerations) by a 
line of prose.  My compliments to the printers; there is doubtless 
such a thing as good printing, but there is such a thing as good 

The sequel to KIDNAPPED, DAVID BALFOUR by name, is about three-
quarters done and gone to press for serial publication.  By what I 
can find out it ought to be through hand with that and ready for 
volume form early next spring. - Yours very sincerely,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR LANG, - I knew you would prove a trusty purveyor.  The 
books you have sent are admirable.  I got the name of my hero out 
of Brown - Blair of Balmyle - Francie Blair.  But whether to call 
the story BLAIR OF BALMYLE, or whether to call it THE YOUNG 
CHEVALIER, I have not yet decided.  The admirable Cameronian tract 
- perhaps you will think this a cheat - is to be boned into DAVID 
BALFOUR, where it will fit better, and really furnishes me with a 
desired foothold over a boggy place.

LATER; no, it won't go in, and I fear I must give up 'the 
idolatrous occupant upon the throne,' a phrase that overjoyed me 
beyond expression.  I am in a deuce of a flutter with politics, 
which I hate, and in which I certainly do not shine; but a fellow 
cannot stand aside and look on at such an exhibition as our 
government.  'Taint decent; no gent can hold a candle to it.  But 
it's a grind to be interrupted by midnight messengers and pass your 
days writing proclamations (which are never proclaimed) and 
petitions (which ain't petited) and letters to the TIMES, which it 
makes my jaws yawn to re-read, and all your time have your heart 
with David Balfour:  he has just left Glasgow this morning for 
Edinburgh, James More has escaped from the castle; it is far more 
real to me than the Behring Sea or the Baring brothers either - he 
got the news of James More's escape from the Lord Advocate, and 
started off straight to comfort Catriona.  You don't know her; 
she's James More's daughter, and a respectable young wumman; the 
Miss Grants think so - the Lord Advocate's daughters - so there 
can't be anything really wrong.  Pretty soon we all go to Holland, 
and be hanged; thence to Dunkirk, and be damned; and the tale 
concludes in Paris, and be Poll-parrotted.  This is the last 
authentic news.  You are not a real hard-working novelist; not a 
practical novelist; so you don't know the temptation to let your 
characters maunder.  Dumas did it, and lived.  But it is not war; 
it ain't sportsmanlike, and I have to be stopping their chatter all 
the time.  Brown's appendix is great reading.

My only grief is that I can't
Use the idolatrous occupant.

Yours ever,

R. L. S.

Blessing and praising you for a useful (though idolatrous) occupant 
of Kensington.


AUGUST 14, 1745.

expedition to leeward on Tuesday morning.  If a lady were perhaps 
to be encountered on horseback - say, towards the Gasi-gasi river - 
about six A.M., I think we should have an episode somewhat after 
the style of the '45.  What a misfortune, my dear cousin, that you 
should have arrived while your cousin Graham was occupying my only 
guest-chamber - for Osterley Park is not so large in Samoa as it 
was at home - but happily our friend Haggard has found a corner for 

The King over the Water - the Gasi-gasi water - will be pleased to 
see the clan of Balfour mustering so thick around his standard.

I have (one serious word) been so lucky as to get a really secret 
interpreter, so all is for the best in our little adventure into 
the WAVERLEY NOVELS. - I am your affectionate cousin,


Observe the stealth with which I have blotted my signature, but we 
must be political A OUTRANCE.


MY DEAR COUSIN, - I send for your information a copy of my last 
letter to the gentleman in question.  'Tis thought more wise, in 
consideration of the difficulty and peril of the enterprise, that 
we should leave the town in the afternoon, and by several 
detachments.  If you would start for a ride with the Master of 
Haggard and Captain Lockhart of Lee, say at three o'clock of the 
afternoon, you would make some rencounters by the wayside which 
might be agreeable to your political opinions.  All present will be 

The Master of Haggard might extend his ride a little, and return 
through the marsh and by the nuns' house (I trust that has the 
proper flavour), so as a little to diminish the effect of 
separation. - I remain, your affectionate cousin to command,


P.S. - It is to be thought this present year of grace will be 



MY DEAR MRS. FAIRCHILD, - Thank you a thousand times for your 
letter.  You are the Angel of (the sort of) Information (that I 
care about); I appoint you successor to the newspaper press; and I 
beg of you, whenever you wish to gird at the age, or think the bugs 
out of proportion to the roses, or despair, or enjoy any cosmic or 
epochal emotion, to sit down again and write to the Hermit of 
Samoa.  What do I think of it all?  Well, I love the romantic 
solemnity of youth; and even in this form, although not without 
laughter, I have to love it still.  They are such ducks!  But what 
are they made of?  We were just as solemn as that about atheism and 
the stars and humanity; but we were all for belief anyway - we held 
atheism and sociology (of which none of us, nor indeed anybody, 
knew anything) for a gospel and an iron rule of life; and it was 
lucky enough, or there would have been more windows broken.  What 
is apt to puzzle one at first sight in the New Youth is that, with 
such rickety and risky problems always at heart, they should not 
plunge down a Niagara of Dissolution.  But let us remember the high 
practical timidity of youth.  I was a particularly brave boy - this 
I think of myself, looking back - and plunged into adventures and 
experiments, and ran risks that it still surprises me to recall.  
But, dear me, what a fear I was in of that strange blind machinery 
in the midst of which I stood; and with what a compressed heart and 
what empty lungs I would touch a new crank and await developments!  
I do not mean to say I do not fear life still; I do; and that 
terror (for an adventurer like myself) is still one of the chief 
joys of living.

But it was different indeed while I was yet girt with the priceless 
robes of inexperience; then the fear was exquisite and infinite.  
And so, when you see all these little Ibsens, who seem at once so 
dry and so excitable, and faint in swathes over a play (I suppose - 
for a wager) that would seem to me merely tedious, smile behind 
your hand, and remember the little dears are all in a blue funk.  
It must be very funny, and to a spectator like yourself I almost 
envy it.  But never get desperate; human nature is human nature; 
and the Roman Empire, since the Romans founded it and made our 
European human nature what it is, bids fair to go on and to be true 
to itself.  These little bodies will all grow up and become men and 
women, and have heaps of fun; nay, and are having it now; and 
whatever happens to the fashion of the age, it makes no difference 
- there are always high and brave and amusing lives to be lived; 
and a change of key, however exotic, does not exclude melody.  Even 
Chinamen, hard as we find it to believe, enjoy being Chinese.  And 
the Chinaman stands alone to be unthinkable; natural enough, as the 
representative of the only other great civilisation.  Take my 
people here at my doors; their life is a very good one; it is quite 
thinkable, quite acceptable to us.  And the little dears will be 
soon skating on the other foot; sooner or later, in each 
generation, the one-half of them at least begin to remember all the 
material they had rejected when first they made and nailed up their 
little theory of life; and these become reactionaries or 
conservatives, and the ship of man begins to fill upon the other 

Here is a sermon, by your leave!  It is your own fault, you have 
amused and interested me so much by your breath of the New Youth, 
which comes to me from so far away, where I live up here in my 
mountain, and secret messengers bring me letters from rebels, and 
the government sometimes seizes them, and generally grumbles in its 
beard that Stevenson should really be deported.  O, my life is the 
more lively, never fear!

It has recently been most amusingly varied by a visit from Lady 
Jersey.  I took her over mysteriously (under the pseudonym of my 
cousin, Miss Amelia Balfour) to visit Mataafa, our rebel; and we 
had great fun, and wrote a Ouida novel on our life here, in which 
every author had to describe himself in the Ouida glamour, and of 
which - for the Jerseys intend printing it - I must let you have a 
copy.  My wife's chapter, and my description of myself, should, I 
think, amuse you.  But there were finer touches still; as when 
Belle and Lady Jersey came out to brush their teeth in front of the 
rebel King's palace, and the night guard squatted opposite on the 
grass and watched the process; or when I and my interpreter, and 
the King with his secretary, mysteriously disappeared to conspire. 
- Ever yours sincerely,




DEAR SIR, - I only know you under the initials G. B., but you have 
done some exceedingly spirited and satisfactory illustrations to my 
story THE BEACH OF FALESA, and I wish to write and thank you 
expressly for the care and talent shown.  Such numbers of people 
can do good black and whites!  So few can illustrate a story, or 
apparently read it.  You have shown that you can do both, and your 
creation of Wiltshire is a real illumination of the text.  It was 
exactly so that Wiltshire dressed and looked, and you have the line 
of his nose to a nicety.  His nose is an inspiration.  Nor should I 
forget to thank you for Case, particularly in his last appearance.  
It is a singular fact - which seems to point still more directly to 
inspiration in your case - that your missionary actually resembles 
the flesh-and-blood person from whom Mr. Tarleton was drawn.  The 
general effect of the islands is all that could be wished; indeed I 
have but one criticism to make, that in the background of Case 
taking the dollar from Mr. Tarleton's head - head - not hand, as 
the fools have printed it - the natives have a little too much the 
look of Africans.

But the great affair is that you have been to the pains to 
illustrate my story instead of making conscientious black and 
whites of people sitting talking.  I doubt if you have left 
unrepresented a single pictorial incident.  I am writing by this 
mail to the editor in the hopes that I may buy from him the 
originals, and I am, dear sir, your very much obliged,




DEAR MADAM, - I have a great diffidence in answering your valued 
letter.  It would be difficult for me to express the feelings with 
which I read it - and am now trying to re-read it as I dictate 

You ask me to forgive what you say 'must seem a liberty,' and I 
find that I cannot thank you sufficiently or even find a word with 
which to qualify your letter.  Dear Madam, such a communication 
even the vainest man would think a sufficient reward for a lifetime 
of labour.  That I should have been able to give so much help and 
pleasure to your sister is the subject of my grateful wonder.

That she, being dead, and speaking with your pen, should be able to 
repay the debt with such a liberal interest, is one of those things 
that reconcile us with the world and make us take hope again.  I do 
not know what I have done to deserve so beautiful and touching a 
compliment; and I feel there is but one thing fit for me to say 
here, that I will try with renewed courage to go on in the same 
path, and to deserve, if not to receive, a similar return from 

You apologise for speaking so much about yourselves.  Dear Madam, I 
thought you did so too little.  I should have wished to have known 
more of those who were so sympathetic as to find a consolation in 
my work, and so graceful and so tactful as to acknowledge it in 
such a letter as was yours.

Will you offer to your mother the expression of a sympathy which 
(coming from a stranger) must seem very airy, but which yet is 
genuine; and accept for yourself my gratitude for the thought which 
inspired you to write to me and the words which you found to 
express it.




MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - It is now, as you see, the 10th of October, 
and there has not reached the Island of Upolu one single copy, or 
rag of a copy, of the Samoa book.  I lie; there has come one, and 
that in the pocket of a missionary man who is at daggers drawn with 
me, who lends it to all my enemies, conceals it from all my 
friends, and is bringing a lawsuit against me on the strength of 
expressions in the same which I have forgotten, and now cannot see.  
This is pretty tragic, I think you will allow; and I was inclined 
to fancy it was the fault of the Post Office.  But I hear from my 
sister-in-law Mrs. Sanchez that she is in the same case, and has 
received no 'Footnote.'  I have also to consider that I had no 
letter from you last mail, although you ought to have received by 
that time 'My Grandfather and Scott,' and 'Me and my Grandfather.'  
Taking one consideration with another, therefore, I prefer to 
conceive that No. 743 Broadway has fallen upon gentle and 
continuous slumber, and is become an enchanted palace among 
publishing houses.  If it be not so, if the 'Footnotes' were really 
sent, I hope you will fall upon the Post Office with all the vigour 
you possess.  How does THE WRECKER go in the States?  It seems to 
be doing exceptionally well in England. - Yours sincerely,


Letter:  TO J. M.  BARRIE


DEAR MR. BARRIE, - I can scarce thank you sufficiently for your 
extremely amusing letter.  No, THE AULD LICHT IDYLS never reached 
me - I wish it had, and I wonder extremely whether it would not be 
good for me to have a pennyworth of the Auld Licht pulpit.  It is a 
singular thing that I should live here in the South Seas under 
conditions so new and so striking, and yet my imagination so 
continually inhabit that cold old huddle of grey hills from which 
we come.  I have just finished DAVID BALFOUR; I have another book 
on the stocks, THE YOUNG CHEVALIER, which is to be part in France 
and part in Scotland, and to deal with Prince Charlie about the 
year 1749; and now what have I done but begun a third which is to 
be all moorland together, and is to have for a centrepiece a figure 
that I think you will appreciate - that of the immortal Braxfield - 
Braxfield himself is my GRAND PREMIER, or, since you are so much 
involved in the British drama, let me say my heavy lead. . . .

Your descriptions of your dealings with Lord Rintoul are 
frightfully unconscientious.  You should never write about anybody 
until you persuade yourself at least for the moment that you love 
him, above all anybody on whom your plot revolves.  It will always 
make a hole in the book; and, if he has anything to do with the 
mechanism, prove a stick in your machinery.  But you know all this 
better than I do, and it is one of your most promising traits that 
you do not take your powers too seriously.  The LITTLE MINISTER 
ought to have ended badly; we all know it did; and we are 
infinitely grateful to you for the grace and good feeling with 
which you lied about it.  If you had told the truth, I for one 
could never have forgiven you.  As you had conceived and written 
the earlier parts, the truth about the end, though indisputably 
true to fact, would have been a lie, or what is worse, a discord in 
art.  If you are going to make a book end badly, it must end badly 
from the beginning.  Now your book began to end well.  You let 
yourself fall in love with, and fondle, and smile at your puppets.  
Once you had done that, your honour was committed - at the cost of 
truth to life you were bound to save them.  It is the blot on 
RICHARD FEVEREL, for instance, that it begins to end well; and then 
tricks you and ends ill.  But in that case there is worse behind, 
for the ill-ending does not inherently issue from the plot - the 
story HAD, in fact, ENDED WELL after the great last interview 
between Richard and Lucy - and the blind, illogical bullet which 
smashes all has no more to do between the boards than a fly has to 
do with the room into whose open window it comes buzzing.  It MIGHT 
have so happened; it needed not; and unless needs must, we have no 
right to pain our readers.  I have had a heavy case of conscience 
of the same kind about my Braxfield story.  Braxfield - only his 
name is Hermiston - has a son who is condemned to death; plainly, 
there is a fine tempting fitness about this; and I meant he was to 
hang.  But now on considering my minor characters, I saw there were 
five people who would - in a sense who must - break prison and 
attempt his rescue.  They were capable, hardy folks, too, who might 
very well succeed.  Why should they not then?  Why should not young 
Hermiston escape clear out of the country? and be happy, if he 
could, with his -  But soft!  I will not betray my secret of my 
heroine.  Suffice it to breathe in your ear that she was what Hardy 
calls (and others in their plain way don't) a Pure Woman.  Much 
virtue in a capital letter, such as yours was.

Write to me again in my infinite distance.  Tell me about your new 
book.  No harm in telling ME; I am too far off to be indiscreet; 
there are too few near me who would care to hear.  I am rushes by 
the riverside, and the stream is in Babylon:  breathe your secrets 
to me fearlessly; and if the Trade Wind caught and carried them 
away, there are none to catch them nearer than Australia, unless it 
were the Tropic Birds.  In the unavoidable absence of my 
amanuensis, who is buying eels for dinner, I have thus concluded my 
despatch, like St. Paul, with my own hand.

And in the inimitable words of Lord Kames, Faur ye weel, ye bitch. 
- Yours very truly,




MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - In the first place, I have to acknowledge 
receipt of your munificent cheque for three hundred and fifty 
dollars.  Glad you liked the Scott voyage; rather more than I did 
upon the whole.  As the proofs have not turned up at all, there can 
be no question of returning them, and I am therefore very much 
pleased to think you have arranged not to wait.  The volumes of 
Adams arrived along with yours of October 6th.  One of the 
dictionaries has also blundered home, apparently from the Colonies; 
the other is still to seek.  I note and sympathise with your 
bewilderment as to FALESA.  My own direct correspondence with Mr. 
Baxter is now about three months in abeyance.  Altogether you see 
how well it would be if you could do anything to wake up the Post 
Office.  Not a single copy of the 'Footnote' has yet reached Samoa, 
but I hear of one having come to its address in Hawaii.  Glad to 
hear good news of Stoddard. - Yours sincerely,


P.S. - Since the above was written an aftermath of post matter came 
in, among which were the proofs of MY GRANDFATHER.  I shall correct 
and return them, but as I have lost all confidence in the Post 
Office, I shall mention here:  first galley, 4th line from the 
bottom, for 'AS' read 'OR.'

Should I ever again have to use my work without waiting for proofs, 
bear in mind this golden principle.  From a congenital defect, I 
must suppose, I am unable to write the word OR - wherever I write 
it the printer unerringly puts AS - and those who read for me had 
better, wherever it is possible, substitute OR for AS.  This the 
more so since many writers have a habit of using AS which is death 
to my temper and confusion to my face.

R. L. S.



DEAR EELES, - In the first place, excuse me writing to you by 
another hand, as that is the way in which alone all my 
correspondence gets effected.  Before I took to this method, or 
rather before I found a victim, it SIMPLY didn't get effected.

Thank you again and again, first for your kind thought of writing 
to me, and second for your extremely amusing and interesting 
letter.  You can have no guess how immediately interesting it was 
to our family.  First of all, the poor soul at Nukufetau is an old 
friend of ours, and we have actually treated him ourselves on a 
former visit to the island.  I don't know if Hoskin would approve 
of our treatment; it consisted, I believe, mostly in a present of 
stout and a recommendation to put nails in his water-tank.  We also 
(as you seem to have done) recommended him to leave the island; and 
I remember very well how wise and kind we thought his answer.  He 
had half-caste children (he said) who would suffer and perhaps be 
despised if he carried them elsewhere; if he left them there alone, 
they would almost certainly miscarry; and the best thing was that 
he should stay and die with them.  But the cream of the fun was 
your meeting with Burn.  We not only know him, but (as the French 
say) we don't know anybody else; he is our intimate and adored 
original; and - prepare your mind - he was, is, and ever will be, 
TOMMY HADDON!  As I don't believe you to be inspired, I suspect you 
to have suspected this.  At least it was a mighty happy suspicion.  
You are quite right:  Tommy is really 'a good chap,' though about 
as comic as they make them.

I was extremely interested in your Fiji legend, and perhaps even 
more so in your capital account of the CURACOA'S misadventure.  
Alas! we have nothing so thrilling to relate.  All hangs and fools 
on in this isle of misgovernment, without change, though not 
without novelty, but wholly without hope, unless perhaps you should 
consider it hopeful that I am still more immediately threatened 
with arrest.  The confounded thing is, that if it comes off, I 
shall be sent away in the Ringarooma instead of the CURACOA.  The 
former ship burst upon by the run - she had been sent off by 
despatch and without orders - and to make me a little more easy in 
my mind she brought newspapers clamouring for my incarceration.  
Since then I have had a conversation with the German Consul.  He 
said he had read a review of my Samoa book, and if the review were 
fair, must regard it as an insult, and one that would have to be 
resented.  At the same time, I learn that letters addressed to the 
German squadron lie for them here in the Post Office.  Reports are 
current of other English ships being on the way - I hope to 
goodness yours will be among the number.  And I gather from one 
thing and another that there must be a holy row going on between 
the powers at home, and that the issue (like all else connected 
with Samoa) is on the knees of the gods.  One thing, however, is 
pretty sure - if that issue prove to be a German Protectorate, I 
shall have to tramp.  Can you give us any advice as to a fresh 
field of energy?  We have been searching the atlas, and it seems 
difficult to fill the bill.  How would Rarotonga do?  I forget if 
you have been there.  The best of it is that my new house is going 
up like winking, and I am dictating this letter to the 
accompaniment of saws and hammers.  A hundred black boys and about 
a score draught-oxen perished, or at least barely escaped with 
their lives, from the mud-holes on our road, bringing up the 
materials.  It will be a fine legacy to H.I.G.M.'s Protectorate, 
and doubtless the Governor will take it for his country-house.  The 
Ringarooma people, by the way, seem very nice.  I liked Stansfield 

Our middy has gone up to San Francisco in pursuit of the phantom 
Education.  We have good word of him, and I hope he will not be in 
disgrace again, as he was when the hope of the British Navy - need 
I say that I refer to Admiral Burney? - honoured us last.  The next 
time you come, as the new house will be finished, we shall be able 
to offer you a bed.  Nares and Meiklejohn may like to hear that our 
new room is to be big enough to dance in.  It will be a very 
pleasant day for me to see the Curacoa in port again and at least a 
proper contingent of her officers 'skipping in my 'all.'

We have just had a feast on my birthday at which we had three of 
the Ringaromas, and I wish they had been three CURACOAS - say 
yourself, Hoskin, and Burney the ever Great.  (Consider this an 
invitation.)  Our boys had got the thing up regardless.  There were 
two huge sows - oh, brutes of animals that would have broken down a 
hansom cab - four smaller pigs, two barrels of beef, and a horror 
of vegetables and fowls.  We sat down between forty and fifty in a 
big new native house behind the kitchen that you have never seen, 
and ate and public spoke till all was blue.  Then we had about half 
an hour's holiday with some beer and sherry and brandy and soda to 
restrengthen the European heart, and then out to the old native 
house to see a siva.  Finally, all the guests were packed off in a 
trackless black night and down a road that was rather fitted for 
the CURACOA than any human pedestrian, though to be sure I do not 
know the draught of the CURACOA.  My ladies one and all desire to 
be particularly remembered to our friends on board, and all look 
forward, as I do myself, in the hope of your return. - Yours 


And let me hear from you again!


1ST DEC. '92.

. . . I have a novel on the stocks to be called THE JUSTICE-CLERK.  
It is pretty Scotch, the Grand Premier is taken from Braxfield - 
(Oh, by the by, send me Cockburn's MEMORIALS) - and some of the 
story is - well - queer.  The heroine is seduced by one man, and 
finally disappears with the other man who shot him. . . . Mind you, 
I expect the JUSTICE-CLERK to be my masterpiece.  My Braxfield is 
already a thing of beauty and a joy for ever, and so far as he has 
gone FAR my best character.


Second thought.  I wish Pitcairn's CRIMINAL TRIALS QUAM PRIMUM.  
Also, an absolutely correct text of the Scots judiciary oath.

Also, in case Pitcairn does not come down late enough, I wish as 
full a report as possible of a Scotch murder trial between 1790-
1820.  Understand, THE FULLEST POSSIBLE.

Is there any book which would guide me as to the following facts?

The Justice-Clerk tries some people capitally on circuit.  Certain 
evidence cropping up, the charge is transferred to the J.-C.'s own 
son.  Of course, in the next trial the J.-C. is excluded, and the 
case is called before the Lord-Justice General.

Where would this trial have to be?  I fear in Edinburgh, which 
would not suit my view.  Could it be again at the circuit town?




MY DEAR MRS. JENKIN, - . . . So much said, I come with guilty speed 
to what more immediately concerns myself.  Spare us a month or two 
for old sake's sake, and make my wife and me happy and proud.  We 
are only fourteen days from San Francisco, just about a month from 
Liverpool; we have our new house almost finished.  The thing CAN be 
done; I believe we can make you almost comfortable.  It is the 
loveliest climate in the world, our political troubles seem near an 
end.  It can be done, it must!  Do, please, make a virtuous effort, 
come and take a glimpse of a new world I am sure you do not dream 
of, and some old friends who do often dream of your arrival.

Alas, I was just beginning to get eloquent, and there goes the 
lunch bell, and after lunch I must make up the mail.

Do come.  You must not come in February or March - bad months.  
From April on it is delightful. - Your sincere friend,




MY DEAR JAMES, - How comes it so great a silence has fallen?  The 
still small voice of self-approval whispers me it is not from me.  
I have looked up my register, and find I have neither written to 
you nor heard from you since June 22nd, on which day of grace that 
invaluable work began.  This is not as it should be.  How to get 
back?  I remember acknowledging with rapture the - of the MASTER, 
and I remember receiving MARBOT:  was that our last relation?

Hey, well! anyway, as you may have probably gathered from the 
papers, I have been in devilish hot water, and (what may be new to 
you) devilish hard at work.  In twelve calendar months I finished 
THE WRECKER, wrote all of FALESA but the first chapter (well, much 
of), the HISTORY OF SAMOA, did something here and there to my LIFE 
OF MY GRANDFATHER, and began And Finished DAVID BALFOUR.  What do 
you think of it for a year?  Since then I may say I have done 
nothing beyond draft three chapters of another novel, THE JUSTICE-
CLERK, which ought to be shorter and a blower - at least if it 
don't make a spoon, it will spoil the horn of an Aurochs (if that's 
how it should be spelt).

On the hot water side it may entertain you to know that I have been 
actually sentenced to deportation by my friends on Mulinuu, C. J. 
Cedercrantz, and Baron Senfft von Pilsach.  The awful doom, 
however, declined to fall, owing to Circumstances over Which.  I 
only heard of it (so to speak) last night.  I mean officially, but 
I had walked among rumours.  The whole tale will be some day put 
into my hand, and I shall share it with humorous friends.

It is likely, however, by my judgment, that this epoch of gaiety in 
Samoa will soon cease; and the fierce white light of history will 
beat no longer on Yours Sincerely and his fellows here on the 
beach.  We ask ourselves whether the reason will more rejoice over 
the end of a disgraceful business, or the unregenerate man more 
sorrow over the stoppage of the fun.  For, say what you please, it 
has been a deeply interesting time.  You don't know what news is, 
nor what politics, nor what the life of man, till you see it on so 
small a scale and with your own liberty on the board for stake.  I 
would not have missed it for much.  And anxious friends beg me to 
stay at home and study human nature in Brompton drawing-rooms!  
FARCEURS!  And anyway you know that such is not my talent.  I could 
never be induced to take the faintest interest in Brompton QUA 
Brompton or a drawing-room QUA a drawing-room.  I am an Epick 
Writer with a k to it, but without the necessary genius.

Hurry up with another book of stories.  I am now reduced to two of 
my contemporaries, you and Barrie - O, and Kipling - you and Barrie 
and Kipling are now my Muses Three.  And with Kipling, as you know, 
there are reservations to be made.  And you and Barrie don't write 
enough.  I should say I also read Anstey when he is serious, and 
can almost always get a happy day out of Marion Crawford - CE N'EST 
PAS TOUJOURS LA GUERRE, but it's got life to it and guts, and it 
moves.  Did you read the WITCH OF PRAGUE?  Nobody could read it 
twice, of course; and the first time even it was necessary to skip.  
E PUR SI MUOVE.  But Barrie is a beauty, the LITTLE MINISTER and 
the WINDOW IN THRUMS, eh?  Stuff in that young man; but he must see 
and not be too funny.  Genius in him, but there's a journalist at 
his elbow - there's the risk.  Look, what a page is the glove 
business in the WINDOW! knocks a man flat; that's guts, if you 

Why have I wasted the little time that is left with a sort of naked 
review article?  I don't know, I'm sure.  I suppose a mere 
ebullition of congested literary talk I am beginning to think a 
visit from friends would be due.  Wish you could come!

Let us have your news anyway, and forgive this silly stale 
effusion. - Yours ever,


Letter:  TO J. M. BARRIE


DEAR J. M. BARRIE, - You will be sick of me soon; I cannot help it.  
I have been off my work for some time, and re-read the EDINBURGH 
ELEVEN, and had a great mind to write a parody and give you all 
your sauce back again, and see how you would like it yourself.  And 
then I read (for the first time - I know not how) the WINDOW IN 
THRUMS; I don't say that it is better than THE MINISTER; it's less 
of a tale - and there is a beauty, a material beauty, of the tale 
IPSE, which clever critics nowadays long and love to forget; it has 
more real flaws; but somehow it is - well, I read it last anyway, 
and it's by Barrie.  And he's the man for my money.  The glove is a 
great page; it is startlingly original, and as true as death and 
judgment.  Tibbie Birse in the Burial is great, but I think it was 
a journalist that got in the word 'official.'  The same character 
plainly had a word to say to Thomas Haggard.  Thomas affects me as 
a lie - I beg your pardon; doubtless he was somebody you knew, that 
leads people so far astray.  The actual is not the true.

I am proud to think you are a Scotchman - though to be sure I know 
nothing of that country, being only an English tourist, quo' Gavin 
Ogilvy.  I commend the hard case of Mr. Gavin Ogilvy to J. M. 
Barrie, whose work is to me a source of living pleasure and 
heartfelt national pride.  There are two of us now that the Shirra 
might have patted on the head.  And please do not think when I thus 
seem to bracket myself with you, that I am wholly blinded with 
vanity.  Jess is beyond my frontier line; I could not touch her 
skirt; I have no such glamour of twilight on my pen.  I am a 
capable artist; but it begins to look to me as if you were a man of 
genius.  Take care of yourself, for my sake.  It's a devilish hard 
thing for a man who writes so many novels as I do, that I should 
get so few to read.  And I can read yours, and I love them.

A pity for you that my amanuensis is not on stock to-day, and my 
own hand perceptibly worse than usual. - Yours,



P.S. - They tell me your health is not strong.  Man, come out here 
and try the Prophet's chamber.  There's only one bad point to us - 
we do rise early.  The Amanuensis states that you are a lover of 
silence - and that ours is a noisy house - and she is a chatterbox 
- I am not answerable for these statements, though I do think there 
is a touch of garrulity about my premises.  We have so little to 
talk about, you see.  The house is three miles from town, in the 
midst of great silent forests.  There is a burn close by, and when 
we are not talking you can hear the burn, and the birds, and the 
sea breaking on the coast three miles away and six hundred feet 
below us, and about three times a month a bell - I don't know where 
the bell is, nor who rings it; it may be the bell in Hans 
Andersen's story for all I know.  It is never hot here - 86 in the 
shade is about our hottest - and it is never cold except just in 
the early mornings.  Take it for all in all, I suppose this island 
climate to be by far the healthiest in the world - even the 
influenza entirely lost its sting.  Only two patients died, and one 
was a man nearly eighty, and the other a child below four months.  
I won't tell you if it is beautiful, for I want you to come here 
and see for yourself.  Everybody on the premises except my wife has 
some Scotch blood in their veins - I beg your pardon - except the 
natives - and then my wife is a Dutchwoman - and the natives are 
the next thing conceivable to Highlanders before the forty-five.  
We would have some grand cracks!

R. L. S.

COME, it will broaden your mind, and be the making of me.



[APRIL, 1893.]

. . . About THE JUSTICE-CLERK, I long to go at it, but will first 
try to get a short story done.  Since January I have had two severe 
illnesses, my boy, and some heart-breaking anxiety over Fanny; and 
am only now convalescing.  I came down to dinner last night for the 
first time, and that only because the service had broken down, and 
to relieve an inexperienced servant.  Nearly four months now I have 
rested my brains; and if it be true that rest is good for brains, I 
ought to be able to pitch in like a giant refreshed.  Before the 
autumn, I hope to send you some JUSTICE-CLERK, or WEIR OF 
HERMISTON, as Colvin seems to prefer; I own to indecision.  
Received SYNTAX, DANCE OF DEATH, and PITCAIRN, which last I have 
read from end to end since its arrival, with vast improvement.  
What a pity it stops so soon!  I wonder is there nothing that seems 
to prolong the series?  Why doesn't some young man take it up?  How 
about my old friend Fountainhall's DECISIONS?  I remember as a boy 
that there was some good reading there.  Perhaps you could borrow 
me that, and send it on loan; and perhaps Laing's MEMORIALS 
therewith; and a work I'm ashamed to say I have never read, 
BALFOUR'S LETTERS. . . . I have come by accident, through a 
correspondent, on one very curious and interesting fact - namely, 
that Stevenson was one of the names adopted by the MacGregors at 
the proscription.  The details supplied by my correspondent are 
both convincing and amusing; but it would be highly interesting to 
find out more of this.

R. L. S.



DEAR SIR, - You have taken many occasions to make yourself very 
agreeable to me, for which I might in decency have thanked you 
earlier.  It is now my turn; and I hope you will allow me to offer 
you my compliments on your very ingenious and very interesting 
adventures of Sherlock Holmes.  That is the class of literature 
that I like when I have the toothache.  As a matter of fact, it was 
a pleurisy I was enjoying when I took the volume up; and it will 
interest you as a medical man to know that the cure was for the 
moment effectual.  Only the one thing troubles me:  can this be my 
old friend Joe Bell? - I am, yours very truly,


P.S. - And lo, here is your address supplied me here in Samoa!  But 
do not take mine, O frolic fellow Spookist, from the same source; 
mine is wrong.

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO S. R. CROCKETT


DEAR MR. CROCKETT, - I do not owe you two letters, nor yet nearly 
one, sir!  The last time I heard of you, you wrote about an 
accident, and I sent you a letter to my lawyer, Charles Baxter, 
which does not seem to have been presented, as I see nothing of it 
in his accounts.  Query, was that lost?  I should not like you to 
think I had been so unmannerly and so inhuman.  If you have written 
since, your letter also has miscarried, as is much the rule in this 
part of the world, unless you register.

Your book is not yet to hand, but will probably follow next month.  
I detected you early in the BOOKMAN, which I usually see, and noted 
you in particular as displaying a monstrous ingratitude about the 
footnote.  Well, mankind is ungrateful; 'Man's ingratitude to man 
makes countless thousands mourn,' quo' Rab - or words to that 
effect.  By the way, an anecdote of a cautious sailor:  'Bill, 
Bill,' says I to him, 'OR WORDS TO THAT EFFECT.'

I shall never take that walk by the Fisher's Tryst and Glencorse.  
I shall never see Auld Reekie.  I shall never set my foot again 
upon the heather.  Here I am until I die, and here will I be 
buried.  The word is out and the doom written.  Or, if I do come, 
it will be a voyage to a further goal, and in fact a suicide; 
which, however, if I could get my family all fixed up in the money 
way, I might, perhaps, perform, or attempt.  But there is a plaguey 
risk of breaking down by the way; and I believe I shall stay here 
until the end comes like a good boy, as I am.  If I did it, I 
should put upon my trunks:  'Passenger to - Hades.'  How strangely 
wrong your information is!  In the first place, I should never 
carry a novel to Sydney; I should post it from here.  In the second 
place, WEIR OF HERMISTON is as yet scarce begun.  It's going to be 
excellent, no doubt; but it consists of about twenty pages.  I have 
a tale, a shortish tale in length, but it has proved long to do, 
THE EBB TIDE, some part of which goes home this mail.  It is by me 
and Mr. Osbourne, and is really a singular work.  There are only 
four characters, and three of them are bandits - well, two of them 
are, and the third is their comrade and accomplice.  It sounds 
cheering, doesn't it?  Barratry, and drunkenness, and vitriol, and 
I cannot tell you all what, are the beams of the roof.  And yet - I 
don't know - I sort of think there's something in it.  You'll see 
(which is more than I ever can) whether Davis and Attwater come off 
or not.

WEIR OF HERMISTON is a much greater undertaking, and the plot is 
not good, I fear; but Lord Justice-Clerk Hermiston ought to be a 
plum.  Of other schemes, more or less executed, it skills not to 

I am glad to hear so good an account of your activity and 
interests, and shall always hear from you with pleasure; though I 
am, and must continue, a mere sprite of the inkbottle, unseen in 
the flesh.  Please remember me to your wife and to the four-year-
old sweetheart, if she be not too engrossed with higher matters.  
Do you know where the road crosses the burn under Glencorse Church?  
Go there, and say a prayer for me:  MORITURUS SALUTAT.  See that 
it's a sunny day; I would like it to be a Sunday, but that's not 
possible in the premises; and stand on the right-hand bank just 
where the road goes down into the water, and shut your eyes, and if 
I don't appear to you! well, it can't be helped, and will be 
extremely funny.

I have no concern here but to work and to keep an eye on this 
distracted people.  I live just now wholly alone in an upper room 
of my house, because the whole family are down with influenza, bar 
my wife and myself.  I get my horse up sometimes in the afternoon 
and have a ride in the woods; and I sit here and smoke and write, 
and rewrite, and destroy, and rage at my own impotence, from six in 
the morning till eight at night, with trifling and not always 
agreeable intervals for meals.

I am sure you chose wisely to keep your country charge.  There a 
minister can be something, not in a town.  In a town, the most of 
them are empty houses - and public speakers.  Why should you 
suppose your book will be slated because you have no friends?  A 
new writer, if he is any good, will be acclaimed generally with 
more noise than he deserves.  But by this time you will know for 
certain. - I am, yours sincerely,


P.S. - Be it known to this fluent generation that I R. L. S., in 
the forty-third of my age and the twentieth of my professional 
life, wrote twenty-four pages in twenty-one days, working from six 
to eleven, and again in the afternoon from two to four or so, 
without fail or interruption.  Such are the gifts the gods have 
endowed us withal:  such was the facility of this prolific writer!

R. L. S.



MY DEAR GOD-LIKE SCULPTOR, - I wish in the most delicate manner in 
the world to insinuate a few commissions:-

No. 1. Is for a couple of copies of my medallion, as gilt-edged and 
high-toned as it is possible to make them.  One is for our house 
here, and should be addressed as above.  The other is for my friend 
Sidney Colvin, and should be addressed - Sidney Colvin, Esq., 
Keeper of the Print Room, British Museum, London.

No. 2. This is a rather large order, and demands some explanation.  
Our house is lined with varnished wood of a dark ruddy colour, very 
beautiful to see; at the same time, it calls very much for gold; 
there is a limit to picture frames, and really you know there has 
to be a limit to the pictures you put inside of them.  Accordingly, 
we have had an idea of a certain kind of decoration, which, I 
think, you might help us to make practical.  What we want is an 
alphabet of gilt letters (very much such as people play with), and 
all mounted on spikes like drawing-pins; say two spikes to each 
letter, one at top, and one at bottom.  Say that they were this 


and that you chose a model of some really exquisitely fine, clear 
type from some Roman monument, and that they were made either of 
metal or some composition gilt - the point is, could not you, in 
your land of wooden houses, get a manufacturer to take the idea and 
manufacture them at a venture, so that I could get two or three 
hundred pieces or so at a moderate figure?  You see, suppose you 
entertain an honoured guest, when he goes he leaves his name in 
gilt letters on your walls; an infinity of fun and decoration can 
be got out of hospitable and festive mottoes; and the doors of 
every room can be beautified by the legend of their names.  I 
really think there is something in the idea, and you might be able 
to push it with the brutal and licentious manufacturer, using my 
name if necessary, though I should think the name of the god-like 
sculptor would be more germane.  In case you should get it started, 
I should tell you that we should require commas in order to write 
the Samoan language, which is full of words written thus:  la'u, 
ti'e ti'e.  As the Samoan language uses but a very small proportion 
of the consonants, we should require a double or treble stock of 
all vowels and of F, G, L, U, N, P, S, T, and V.

The other day in Sydney, I think you might be interested to hear, I 
was sculpt a second time by a man called -, as well as I can 
remember and read.  I mustn't criticise a present, and he had very 
little time to do it in.  It is thought by my family to be an 
excellent likeness of Mark Twain.  This poor fellow, by the by, met 
with the devil of an accident.  A model of a statue which he had 
just finished with a desperate effort was smashed to smithereens on 
its way to exhibition.

Please be sure and let me know if anything is likely to come of 
this letter business, and the exact cost of each letter, so that I 
may count the cost before ordering. - Yours sincerely,



JUNE 10TH, 1893.

MY DEAR GOSSE, - My mother tells me you never received the very 
long and careful letter that I sent you more than a year ago; or is 
it two years?

I was indeed so much surprised at your silence that I wrote to 
Henry James and begged him to inquire if you had received it; his 
reply was an (if possible) higher power of the same silence; 
whereupon I bowed my head and acquiesced.  But there is no doubt 
the letter was written and sent; and I am sorry it was lost, for it 
contained, among other things, an irrecoverable criticism of your 
father's LIFE, with a number of suggestions for another edition, 
which struck me at the time as excellent.

Well, suppose we call that cried off, and begin as before?  It is 
fortunate indeed that we can do so, being both for a while longer 
in the day.  But, alas! when I see 'works of the late J. A. S.,'  I 
can see no help and no reconciliation possible.  I wrote him a 
letter, I think, three years ago, heard in some roundabout way that 
he had received it, waited in vain for an answer (which had 
probably miscarried), and in a humour between frowns and smiles 
wrote to him no more.  And now the strange, poignant, pathetic, 
brilliant creature is gone into the night, and the voice is silent 
that uttered so much excellent discourse; and I am sorry that I did 
not write to him again.  Yet I am glad for him; light lie the turf!  
The SATURDAY is the only obituary I have seen, and I thought it 
very good upon the whole.  I should be half tempted to write an IN 
MEMORIAM, but I am submerged with other work.  Are you going to do 
it?  I very much admire your efforts that way; you are our only 

So you have tried fiction?  I will tell you the truth:  when I saw 
it announced, I was so sure you would send it to me, that I did not 
order it!  But the order goes this mail, and I will give you news 
of it.  Yes, honestly, fiction is very difficult; it is a terrible 
strain to CARRY your characters all that time.  And the difficulty 
of according the narrative and the dialogue (in a work in the third 
person) is extreme.  That is one reason out of half a dozen why I 
so often prefer the first.  It is much in my mind just now, because 
of my last work, just off the stocks three days ago, THE EBB TIDE:  
a dreadful, grimy business in the third person, where the strain 
between a vilely realistic dialogue and a narrative style pitched 
about (in phrase) 'four notes higher' than it should have been, has 
sown my head with grey hairs; or I believe so - if my head escaped, 
my heart has them.

The truth is, I have a little lost my way, and stand bemused at the 
cross-roads.  A subject?  Ay, I have dozens; I have at least four 
novels begun, they are none good enough; and the mill waits, and 
I'll have to take second best.  THE EBB TIDE I make the world a 
present of; I expect, and, I suppose, deserve to be torn to pieces; 
but there was all that good work lying useless, and I had to finish 

All your news of your family is pleasant to hear.  My wife has been 
very ill, but is now better; I may say I am ditto, THE EBB TIDE 
having left me high and dry, which is a good example of the mixed 
metaphor.  Our home, and estate, and our boys, and the politics of 
the island, keep us perpetually amused and busy; and I grind away 
with an odd, dogged, down sensation - and an idea IN PETTO that the 
game is about played out.  I have got too realistic, and I must 
break the trammels - I mean I would if I could; but the yoke is 
heavy.  I saw with amusement that Zola says the same thing; and 
truly the DEBACLE was a mighty big book, I have no need for a 
bigger, though the last part is a mere mistake in my opinion.  But 
the Emperor, and Sedan, and the doctor at the ambulance, and the 
horses in the field of battle, Lord, how gripped it is!  What an 
epical performance!  According to my usual opinion, I believe I 
could go over that book and leave a masterpiece by blotting and no 
ulterior art.  But that is an old story, ever new with me.  Taine 
gone, and Renan, and Symonds, and Tennyson, and Browning; the suns 
go swiftly out, and I see no suns to follow, nothing but a 
universal twilight of the demi-divinities, with parties like you 
and me and Lang beating on toy drums and playing on penny whistles 
about glow-worms.  But Zola is big anyway; he has plenty in his 
belly; too much, that is all; he wrote the DEBACLE and he wrote LA 
BETE HUMAINE, perhaps the most excruciatingly silly book that I 
ever read to an end.  And why did I read it to an end, W. E. G.?  
Because the animal in me was interested in the lewdness.  Not 
sincerely, of course, my mind refusing to partake in it; but the 
flesh was slightly pleased.  And when it was done, I cast it from 
me with a peal of laughter, and forgot it, as I would forget a 
Montepin.  Taine is to me perhaps the chief of these losses; I did 
luxuriate in his ORIGINES; it was something beyond literature, not 
quite so good, if you please, but so much more systematic, and the 
pages that had to be 'written' always so adequate.  Robespierre, 
Napoleon, were both excellent good.

JUNE 18TH, '93

Well, I have left fiction wholly, and gone to my GRANDFATHER, and 
on the whole found peace.  By next month my GRANDFATHER will begin 
to be quite grown up.  I have already three chapters about as good 
as done; by which, of course, as you know, I mean till further 
notice or the next discovery.  I like biography far better than 
fiction myself:  fiction is too free.  In biography you have your 
little handful of facts, little bits of a puzzle, and you sit and 
think, and fit 'em together this way and that, and get up and throw 
'em down, and say damn, and go out for a walk.  And it's real 
soothing; and when done, gives an idea of finish to the writer that 
is very peaceful.  Of course, it's not really so finished as quite 
a rotten novel; it always has and always must have the incurable 
illogicalities of life about it, the fathoms of slack and the miles 
of tedium.  Still, that's where the fun comes in; and when you have 
at last managed to shut up the castle spectre (dulness), the very 
outside of his door looks beautiful by contrast.  There are pages 
in these books that may seem nothing to the reader; but you 
they seem to you witty beyond comparison.  In my GRANDFATHER I've 
had (for instance) to give up the temporal order almost entirely; 
doubtless the temporal order is the great foe of the biographer; it 
is so tempting, so easy, and lo! there you are in the bog! - Ever 


With all kind messages from self and wife to you and yours.  My 
wife is very much better, having been the early part of this year 
alarmingly ill.  She is now all right, only complaining of trifles, 
annoying to her, but happily not interesting to her friends.  I am 
in a hideous state, having stopped drink and smoking; yes, both.  
No wine, no tobacco; and the dreadful part of it is that - looking 
forward - I have - what shall I say? - nauseating intimations that 
it ought to be for ever.



MY DEAR HENRY JAMES, - I believe I have neglected a mail in 
answering yours.  You will be very sorry to hear that my wife was 
exceedingly ill, and very glad to hear that she is better.  I 
cannot say that I feel any more anxiety about her.  We shall send 
you a photograph of her taken in Sydney in her customary island 
habit as she walks and gardens and shrilly drills her brown 
assistants.  She was very ill when she sat for it, which may a 
little explain the appearance of the photograph.  It reminds me of 
a friend of my grandmother's who used to say when talking to 
younger women, 'Aweel, when I was young, I wasnae just exactly what 
ye wad call BONNY, but I was pale, penetratin', and interestin'.'  
I would not venture to hint that Fanny is 'no bonny,' but there is 
no doubt but that in this presentment she is 'pale, penetratin', 
and interesting.'

As you are aware, I have been wading deep waters and contending 
with the great ones of the earth, not wholly without success.  It 
is, you may be interested to hear, a dreary and infuriating 
business.  If you can get the fools to admit one thing, they will 
always save their face by denying another.  If you can induce them 
to take a step to the right hand, they generally indemnify 
themselves by cutting a caper to the left.  I always held (upon no 
evidence whatever, from a mere sentiment or intuition) that 
politics was the dirtiest, the most foolish, and the most random of 
human employments.  I always held, but now I know it!  Fortunately, 
you have nothing to do with anything of the kind, and I may spare 
you the horror of further details.

I received from you a book by a man by the name of Anatole France.  
Why should I disguise it?  I have no use for Anatole.  He writes 
very prettily, and then afterwards?  Baron Marbot was a different 
pair of shoes.  So likewise is the Baron de Vitrolles, whom I am 
now perusing with delight.  His escape in 1814 is one of the best 
pages I remember anywhere to have read.  But Marbot and Vitrolles 
are dead, and what has become of the living?  It seems as if 
literature were coming to a stand.  I am sure it is with me; and I 
am sure everybody will say so when they have the privilege of 
reading THE EBB TIDE.  My dear man, the grimness of that story is 
not to be depicted in words.  There are only four characters, to be 
sure, but they are such a troop of swine!  And their behaviour is 
really so deeply beneath any possible standard, that on a 
retrospect I wonder I have been able to endure them myself until 
the yarn was finished.  Well, there is always one thing; it will 
serve as a touchstone.  If the admirers of Zola admire him for his 
pertinent ugliness and pessimism, I think they should admire this; 
but if, as I have long suspected, they neither admire nor 
understand the man's art, and only wallow in his rancidness like a 
hound in offal, then they will certainly be disappointed in THE EBB 
TIDE.  ALAS! poor little tale, it is not EVEN rancid.

By way of an antidote or febrifuge, I am going on at a great rate 
with my HISTORY OF THE STEVENSONS, which I hope may prove rather 
amusing, in some parts at least.  The excess of materials weighs 
upon me.  My grandfather is a delightful comedy part; and I have to 
treat him besides as a serious and (in his way) a heroic figure, 
and at times I lose my way, and I fear in the end will blur the 
effect.  However, A LA GRACE DE DIEU!  I'll make a spoon or spoil a 
horn.  You see, I have to do the Building of the Bell Rock by 
cutting down and packing my grandsire's book, which I rather hope I 
have done, but do not know.  And it makes a huge chunk of a very 
different style and quality between Chapters II. and IV.  And it 
can't be helped!  It is just a delightful and exasperating 
necessity.  You know, the stuff is really excellent narrative:  
only, perhaps there's too much of it!  There is the rub.  Well, 
well, it will be plain to you that my mind is affected; it might be 
with less.  THE EBB TIDE and NORTHERN LIGHTS are a full meal for 
any plain man.

I have written and ordered your last book, THE REAL THING, so be 
sure and don't send it.  What else are you doing or thinking of 
doing?  News I have none, and don't want any.  I have had to stop 
all strong drink and all tobacco, and am now in a transition state 
between the two, which seems to be near madness.  You never smoked, 
I think, so you can never taste the joys of stopping it.  But at 
least you have drunk, and you can enter perhaps into my annoyance 
when I suddenly find a glass of claret or a brandy-and-water give 
me a splitting headache the next morning.  No mistake about it; 
drink anything, and there's your headache.  Tobacco just as bad for 
me.  If I live through this breach of habit, I shall be a white-
livered puppy indeed.  Actually I am so made, or so twisted, that I 
do not like to think of a life without the red wine on the table 
and the tobacco with its lovely little coal of fire.  It doesn't 
amuse me from a distance.  I may find it the Garden of Eden when I 
go in, but I don't like the colour of the gate-posts.  Suppose 
somebody said to you, you are to leave your home, and your books, 
and your clubs, and go out and camp in mid-Africa, and command an 
expedition, you would howl, and kick, and flee.  I think the same 
of a life without wine and tobacco; and if this goes on, I've got 
to go and do it, sir, in the living flesh!

I thought Bourget was a friend of yours?  And I thought the French 
were a polite race?  He has taken my dedication with a stately 
silence that has surprised me into apoplexy.  Did I go and dedicate 
my book to the nasty alien, and the 'norrid Frenchman, and the 
Bloody Furrineer?  Well, I wouldn't do it again; and unless his 
case is susceptible of explanation, you might perhaps tell him so 
over the walnuts and the wine, by way of speeding the gay hours.  
Sincerely, I thought my dedication worth a letter.

If anything be worth anything here below!  Do you know the story of 
the man who found a button in his hash, and called the waiter?  
'What do you call that?' says he.  'Well,' said the waiter, 'what 
d'you expect?  Expect to find a gold watch and chain?'  Heavenly 
apologue, is it not?  I expected (rather) to find a gold watch and 
chain; I expected to be able to smoke to excess and drink to 
comfort all the days of my life; and I am still indignantly staring 
on this button!  It's not even a button; it's a teetotal badge! - 
Ever yours,



APIA, JULY 1893.

MY DEAR HENRY JAMES, - Yes.  LES TROPHEES, on the whole, a book.  
It is excellent; but is it a life's work?  I always suspect YOU of 
a volume of sonnets up your sleeve; when is it coming down?  I am 
in one of my moods of wholesale impatience with all fiction and all 
verging on it, reading instead, with rapture, FOUNTAINHALL'S 
DECISIONS.  You never read it:  well, it hasn't much form, and is 
inexpressibly dreary, I should suppose, to others - and even to me 
for pages.  It's like walking in a mine underground, and with a 
damned bad lantern, and picking out pieces of ore.  This, and war, 
will be my excuse for not having read your (doubtless) charming 
work of fiction.  The revolving year will bring me round to it; and 
I know, when fiction shall begin to feel a little SOLID to me 
again, that I shall love it, because it's James.  Do you know, when 
I am in this mood, I would rather try to read a bad book?  It's not 
so disappointing, anyway.  And FOUNTAINHALL is prime, two big folio 
volumes, and all dreary, and all true, and all as terse as an 
obituary; and about one interesting fact on an average in twenty 
pages, and ten of them unintelligible for technicalities.  There's 
literature, if you like!  It feeds; it falls about you genuine like 
rain.  Rain:  nobody has done justice to rain in literature yet:  
surely a subject for a Scot.  But then you can't do rain in that 
ledger-book style that I am trying for - or between a ledger-book 
and an old ballad.  How to get over, how to escape from, the 
besotting PARTICULARITY of fiction.  'Roland approached the house; 
it had green doors and window blinds; and there was a scraper on 
the upper step.'  To hell with Roland and the scraper! - Yours 

R. L. S.


VAILIMA, JULY 12, 1893.

MY DEAR DR. CONAN DOYLE, - The WHITE COMPANY has not yet turned up; 
but when it does - which I suppose will be next mail - you shall 
hear news of me.  I have a great talent for compliment, accompanied 
by a hateful, even a diabolic frankness.

Delighted to hear I have a chance of seeing you and Mrs. Doyle; 
Mrs. Stevenson bids me say (what is too true) that our rations are 
often spare.  Are you Great Eaters?  Please reply.

As to ways and means, here is what you will have to do.  Leave San 
Francisco by the down mail, get off at Samoa, and twelve days or a 
fortnight later, you can continue your journey to Auckland per 
Upolu, which will give you a look at Tonga and possibly Fiji by the 
way.  Make this a FIRST PART OF YOUR PLANS.  A fortnight, even of 
Vailima diet, could kill nobody.

We are in the midst of war here; rather a nasty business, with the 
head-taking; and there seem signs of other trouble.  But I believe 
you need make no change in your design to visit us.  All should be 
well over; and if it were not, why! you need not leave the steamer. 
- Yours very truly,



19TH JULY '93.

. . . We are in the thick of war - see ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS - we 
have only two outside boys left to us.  Nothing is doing, and PER 
CONTRA little paying. . .  My life here is dear; but I can live 
within my income for a time at least - so long as my prices keep up 
- and it seems a clear duty to waste none of it on gadding about. . 
. .  My life of my family fills up intervals, and should be an 
excellent book when it is done, but big, damnably big.

My dear old man, I perceive by a thousand signs that we grow old, 
and are soon to pass away!  I hope with dignity; if not, with 
courage at least.  I am myself very ready; or would be - will be - 
when I have made a little money for my folks.  The blows that have 
fallen upon you are truly terrifying; I wish you strength to bear 
them.  It is strange, I must seem to you to blaze in a Birmingham 
prosperity and happiness; and to myself I seem a failure.  The 
truth is, I have never got over the last influenza yet, and am 
miserably out of heart and out of kilter.  Lungs pretty right, 
stomach nowhere, spirits a good deal overshadowed; but we'll come 
through it yet, and cock our bonnets.  (I confess with sorrow that 
I am not yet quite sure about the INTELLECTS; but I hope it is only 
one of my usual periods of non-work.  They are more unbearable now, 
because I cannot rest.  NO REST BUT THE GRAVE FOR SIR WALTER!  O 
the words ring in a man's head.)

R. L. S.



MY DEAR DR. CONAN DOYLE, - I am reposing after a somewhat severe 
experience upon which I think it my duty to report to you.  
Immediately after dinner this evening it occurred to me to re-
narrate to my native overseer Simele your story of THE ENGINEER'S 
THUMB.  And, sir, I have done it.  It was necessary, I need hardly 
say, to go somewhat farther afield than you have done.  To explain 
(for instance) what a railway is, what a steam hammer, what a coach 
and horse, what coining, what a criminal, and what the police.  I 
pass over other and no less necessary explanations.  But I did 
actually succeed; and if you could have seen the drawn, anxious 
features and the bright, feverish eyes of Simele, you would have 
(for the moment at least) tasted glory.  You might perhaps think 
that, were you to come to Samoa, you might be introduced as the 
Author of THE ENGINEER'S THUMB.  Disabuse yourself.  They do not 
know what it is to make up a story.  THE ENGINEER'S THUMB (God 
forgive me) was narrated as a piece of actual and factual history.  
Nay, and more, I who write to you have had the indiscretion to 
perpetrate a trifling piece of fiction entitled THE BOTTLE IMP.  
Parties who come up to visit my unpretentious mansion, after having 
admired the ceilings by Vanderputty and the tapestry by Gobbling, 
manifest towards the end a certain uneasiness which proves them to 
be fellows of an infinite delicacy.  They may be seen to shrug a 
brown shoulder, to roll up a speaking eye, and at last secret 
bursts from them:  'Where is the bottle?'  Alas, my friends (I feel 
tempted to say), you will find it by the Engineer's Thumb!  Talofa-

Oa'u, O lau no moni, O Tusitala.

More commonly known as,


Have read the REFUGEES; Conde and old P.  Murat very good; Louis 
XIV. and Louvois with the letter bag very rich.  You have reached a 
trifle wide perhaps; too MANY celebrities?  Though I was delighted 
to re-encounter my old friend Du Chaylu.  Old Murat is perhaps your 
high water mark; 'tis excellently human, cheerful and real.  Do it 
again.  Madame de Maintenon struck me as quite good.  Have you any 
document for the decapitation?  It sounds steepish.  The devil of 
all that first part is that you see old Dumas; yet your Louis XIV. 
is DISTINCTLY GOOD.  I am much interested with this book, which 
fulfils a good deal, and promises more.  Question:  How far a 
Historical Novel should be wholly episodic?  I incline to that 
view, with trembling.  I shake hands with you on old Murat.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR MEREDITH, - I have again and again taken up the pen to 
write to you, and many beginnings have gone into the waste paper 
basket (I have one now - for the second time in my life - and feel 
a big man on the strength of it).  And no doubt it requires some 
decision to break so long a silence.  My health is vastly restored, 
and I am now living patriarchally in this place six hundred feet 
above the sea on the shoulder of a mountain of 1500.  Behind me, 
the unbroken bush slopes up to the backbone of the island (3 to 
4000) without a house, with no inhabitants save a few runaway black 
boys, wild pigs and cattle, and wild doves and flying foxes, and 
many parti-coloured birds, and many black, and many white:  a very 
eerie, dim, strange place and hard to travel.  I am the head of a 
household of five whites, and of twelve Samoans, to all of whom I 
am the chief and father:  my cook comes to me and asks leave to 
marry - and his mother, a fine old chief woman, who has never lived 
here, does the same.  You may be sure I granted the petition.  It 
is a life of great interest, complicated by the Tower of Babel, 
that old enemy.  And I have all the time on my hands for literary 
work.  My house is a great place; we have a hall fifty feet long 
with a great red-wood stair ascending from it, where we dine in 
state - myself usually dressed in a singlet and a pair of trousers 
- and attended on by servants in a single garment, a kind of kilt - 
also flowers and leaves - and their hair often powdered with lime.  
The European who came upon it suddenly would think it was a dream.  
We have prayers on Sunday night - I am a perfect pariah in the 
island not to have them oftener, but the spirit is unwilling and 
the flesh proud, and I cannot go it more.  It is strange to see the 
long line of the brown folk crouched along the wall with lanterns 
at intervals before them in the big shadowy hall, with an oak 
cabinet at one end of it and a group of Rodin's (which native taste 
regards as PRODIGIEUSEMENT LESTE) presiding over all from the top - 
and to hear the long rambling Samoan hymn rolling up (God bless me, 
what style!  But I am off business to-day, and this is not meant to 
be literature.).

I have asked Colvin to send you a copy of CATRIONA, which I am 
sometimes tempted to think is about my best work.  I hear word 
occasionally of the AMAZING MARRIAGE.  It will be a brave day for 
me when I get hold of it.  Gower Woodseer is now an ancient, lean, 
grim, exiled Scot, living and labouring as for a wager in the 
tropics; still active, still with lots of fire in him, but the 
youth - ah, the youth where is it?  For years after I came here, 
the critics (those genial gentlemen) used to deplore the relaxation 
of my fibre and the idleness to which I had succumbed.  I hear less 
of this now; the next thing is they will tell me I am writing 
myself out! and that my unconscientious conduct is bringing their 
grey hairs with sorrow to the dust.  I do not know - I mean I do 
know one thing.  For fourteen years I have not had a day's real 
health; I have wakened sick and gone to bed weary; and I have done 
my work unflinchingly.  I have written in bed, and written out of 
it, written in hemorrhages, written in sickness, written torn by 
coughing, written when my head swam for weakness; and for so long, 
it seems to me I have won my wager and recovered my glove.  I am 
better now, have been rightly speaking since first I came to the 
Pacific; and still, few are the days when I am not in some physical 
distress.  And the battle goes on - ill or well, is a trifle; so as 
it goes.  I was made for a contest, and the Powers have so willed 
that my battlefield should be this dingy, inglorious one of the bed 
and the physic bottle.  At least I have not failed, but I would 
have preferred a place of trumpetings and the open air over my 

This is a devilish egotistical yarn.  Will you try to imitate me in 
that if the spirit ever moves you to reply?  And meantime be sure 
that away in the midst of the Pacific there is a house on a wooded 
island where the name of George Meredith is very dear, and his 
memory (since it must be no more) is continually honoured. - Ever 
your friend,


Remember me to Mariette, if you please; and my wife sends her most 
kind remembrances to yourself.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR ST. GAUDENS, - I had determined not to write to you till I 
had seen the medallion, but it looks as if that might mean the 
Greek Kalends or the day after to-morrow.  Reassure yourself, your 
part is done, it is ours that halts - the consideration of 
conveyance over our sweet little road on boys' backs, for we cannot 
very well apply the horses to this work; there is only one; you 
cannot put it in a panier; to put it on the horse's back we have 
not the heart.  Beneath the beauty of R. L. S., to say nothing of 
his verses, which the publishers find heavy enough, and the genius 
of the god-like sculptor, the spine would snap and the well-knit 
limbs of the (ahem) cart-horse would be loosed by death.  So you 
are to conceive me, sitting in my house, dubitative, and the 
medallion chuckling in the warehouse of the German firm, for some 
days longer; and hear me meanwhile on the golden letters.

Alas! they are all my fancy painted, but the price is prohibitive.  
I cannot do it.  It is another day-dream burst.  Another gable of 
Abbotsford has gone down, fortunately before it was builded, so 
there's nobody injured - except me.  I had a strong conviction that 
I was a great hand at writing inscriptions, and meant to exhibit 
and test my genius on the walls of my house; and now I see I can't.  
It is generally thus.  The Battle of the Golden Letters will never 
be delivered.  On making preparation to open the campaign, the King 
found himself face to face with invincible difficulties, in which 
the rapacity of a mercenary soldiery and the complaints of an 
impoverished treasury played an equal part. - Ever yours,


I enclose a bill for the medallion; have been trying to find your 
letter, quite in vain, and therefore must request you to pay for 
the bronze letters yourself and let me know the damage.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR STEVENSON, - A thousand thanks for your voluminous and 
delightful collections.  Baxter - so soon as it is ready - will let 
you see a proof of my introduction, which is only sent out as a 
sprat to catch whales.  And you will find I have a good deal of 
what you have, only mine in a perfectly desultory manner, as is 
necessary to an exile.  My uncle's pedigree is wrong; there was 
never a Stevenson of Caldwell, of course, but they were tenants of 
the Muirs; the farm held by them is in my introduction; and I have 
already written to Charles Baxter to have a search made in the 
Register House.  I hope he will have had the inspiration to put it 
under your surveillance.  Your information as to your own family is 
intensely interesting, and I should not wonder but what you and we 
and old John Stevenson, 'land labourer in the parish of Dailly,' 
came all of the same stock.  Ayrshire - and probably Cunningham - 
seems to be the home of the race - our part of it.  From the 
distribution of the name - which your collections have so much 
extended without essentially changing my knowledge of - we seem 
rather pointed to a British origin.  What you say of the Engineers 
is fresh to me, and must be well thrashed out.  This introduction 
of it will take a long while to walk about! - as perhaps I may be 
tempted to let it become long; after all, I am writing THIS for my 
own pleasure solely.  Greetings to you and other Speculatives of 
our date, long bygone, alas! - Yours very sincerely,


P.S. - I have a different version of my grandfather's arms - or my 
father had if I could find it.

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO JOHN P-N


DEAR JOHNNIE, - Well, I must say you seem to be a tremendous 
fellow!  Before I was eight I used to write stories - or dictate 
them at least - and I had produced an excellent history of Moses, 
for which I got 1 pound from an uncle; but I had never gone the 
length of a play, so you have beaten me fairly on my own ground.  I 
hope you may continue to do so, and thanking you heartily for your 
nice letter, I shall beg you to believe me yours truly,




DEAR RUSSELL, - I have to thank you very much for your capital 
letter, which came to hand here in Samoa along with your mother's.  
When you 'grow up and write stories like me,' you will be able to 
understand that there is scarce anything more painful than for an 
author to hold a pen; he has to do it so much that his heart 
sickens and his fingers ache at the sight or touch of it; so that 
you will excuse me if I do not write much, but remain (with 
compliments and greetings from one Scot to another - though I was 
not born in Ceylon - you're ahead of me there). - Yours very truly,




MY DEAREST CUMMY, - This goes to you with a Merry Christmas and a 
Happy New Year.  The Happy New Year anyway, for I think it should 
reach you about NOOR'S DAY.  I dare say it may be cold and frosty.  
Do you remember when you used to take me out of bed in the early 
morning, carry me to the back windows, show me the hills of Fife, 
and quote to me.

'A' the hills are covered wi' snaw,
An' winter's noo come fairly'?

There is not much chance of that here!  I wonder how my mother is 
going to stand the winter.  If she can, it will be a very good 
thing for her.  We are in that part of the year which I like the 
best - the Rainy or Hurricane Season.  'When it is good, it is 
very, very good; and when it is bad, it is horrid,' and our fine 
days are certainly fine like heaven; such a blue of the sea, such 
green of the trees, and such crimson of the hibiscus flowers, you 
never saw; and the air as mild and gentle as a baby's breath, and 
yet not hot!

The mail is on the move, and I must let up. - With much love, I am, 
your laddie,

R. L. S.



'OCTOBER 25, 1685. - At Privy Council, George Murray, Lieutenant of 
the King's Guard, and others, did, on the 21st of September last, 
obtain a clandestine order of Privy Council to apprehend the person 
of Janet Pringle, daughter to the late Clifton, and she having 
retired out of the way upon information, he got an order against 
Andrew Pringle, her uncle, to produce her. . . . But she having 
married Andrew Pringle, her uncle's son (to disappoint all their 
designs of selling her), a boy of thirteen years old.'  But my boy 
is to be fourteen, so I extract no further. - FOUNTAINHALL, i. 320.

'MAY 6, 1685. - Wappus Pringle of Clifton was still alive after 
all, and in prison for debt, and transacts with Lieutenant Murray, 
giving security for 7000 marks.' - i. 372.

No, it seems to have been HER brother who had succeeded.

MY DEAR CHARLES, - The above is my story, and I wonder if any light 
can be thrown on it.  I prefer the girl's father dead; and the 
question is, How in that case could Lieutenant George Murray get 
his order to 'apprehend' and his power to 'sell' her in marriage?

Or - might Lieutenant G. be her tutor, and she fugitive to the 
Pringles, and on the discovery of her whereabouts hastily married?

A good legal note on these points is very ardently desired by me; 
it will be the corner-stone of my novel.

This is for - I am quite wrong to tell you - for you will tell 
others - and nothing will teach you that all my schemes are in the 
air, and vanish and reappear again like shapes in the clouds - it 
is for HEATHERCAT:  whereof the first volume will be called THE 
KILLING TIME, and I believe I have authorities ample for that.  But 
the second volume is to be called (I believe) DARIEN, and for that 
I want, I fear, a good deal of truck:-


I hope may do me.  Some sort of general history of the Darien 
affair (if there is a decent one, which I misdoubt), it would also 
be well to have - the one with most details, if possible.  It is 
singular how obscure to me this decade of Scots history remains, 
1690-1700 - a deuce of a want of light and grouping to it!  
However, I believe I shall be mostly out of Scotland in my tale; 
first in Carolina, next in Darien.  I want also - I am the daughter 
of the horse-leech truly - 'Black's new large map of Scotland,' 
sheets 3, 4, and 5, a 7s. 6d. touch.  I believe, if you can get the


they had better come also; and if there be any reasonable work - 
but no, I must call a halt. . . .

I fear the song looks doubtful, but I'll consider of it, and I can 
promise you some reminiscences which it will amuse me to write, 
whether or not it will amuse the public to read of them.  But it's 
an unco business to SUPPLY deid-heid coapy.

Letter:  TO J. M. BARRIE


MY DEAR BARRIE, - I have received duly the MAGNUM OPUS, and it 
really is a MAGNUM OPUS.  It is a beautiful specimen of Clark's 
printing, paper sufficient, and the illustrations all my fancy 
painted.  But the particular flower of the flock to whom I have 
hopelessly lost my heart is Tibby Birse.  I must have known Tibby 
Birse when she was a servant's mantua-maker in Edinburgh and 
answered to the name of Miss BRODDIE.  She used to come and sew 
with my nurse, sitting with her legs crossed in a masculine manner; 
and swinging her foot emphatically, she used to pour forth a 
perfectly unbroken stream of gossip.  I didn't hear it, I was 
immersed in far more important business with a box of bricks, but 
the recollection of that thin, perpetual, shrill sound of a voice 
has echoed in my ears sinsyne.  I am bound to say she was younger 
than Tibbie, but there is no mistaking that and the indescribable 
and eminently Scottish expression.

I have been very much prevented of late, having carried out 
thoroughly to my own satisfaction two considerable illnesses, had a 
birthday, and visited Honolulu, where politics are (if possible) a 
shade more exasperating than they are with us.  I am told that it 
was just when I was on the point of leaving that I received your 
superlative epistle about the cricket eleven.  In that case it is 
impossible I should have answered it, which is inconsistent with my 
own recollection of the fact.  What I remember is, that I sat down 
under your immediate inspiration and wrote an answer in every way 
worthy.  If I didn't, as it seems proved that I couldn't, it will 
never be done now.  However, I did the next best thing, I equipped 
my cousin Graham Balfour with a letter of introduction, and from 
him, if you know how - for he is rather of the Scottish character - 
you may elicit all the information you can possibly wish to have as 
to us and ours.  Do not be bluffed off by the somewhat stern and 
monumental first impression that he may make upon you.  He is one 
of the best fellows in the world, and the same sort of fool that we 
are, only better-looking, with all the faults of Vailimans and some 
of his own - I say nothing about virtues.

I have lately been returning to my wallowing in the mire.  When I 
was a child, and indeed until I was nearly a man, I consistently 
read Covenanting books.  Now that I am a grey-beard - or would be, 
if I could raise the beard - I have returned, and for weeks back 
have read little else but Wodrow, Walker, Shields, etc.  Of course 
this is with an idea of a novel, but in the course of it I made a 
very curious discovery.  I have been accustomed to hear refined and 
intelligent critics - those who know so much better what we are 
than we do ourselves, - trace down my literary descent from all 
sorts of people, including Addison, of whom I could never read a 
word.  Well, laigh i' your lug, sir - the clue was found.  My style 
is from the Covenanting writers.  Take a particular case - the 
fondness for rhymes.  I don't know of any English prose-writer who 
rhymes except by accident, and then a stone had better be tied 
around his neck and himself cast into the sea.  But my Covenanting 
buckies rhyme all the time - a beautiful example of the unconscious 
rhyme above referred to.

Do you know, and have you really tasted, these delightful works?  
If not, it should be remedied; there is enough of the Auld Licht in 
you to be ravished.

I suppose you know that success has so far attended my banners - my 
political banners I mean, and not my literary.  In conjunction with 
the Three Great Powers I have succeeded in getting rid of My 
President and My Chief-Justice.  They've gone home, the one to 
Germany, the other to Souwegia.  I hear little echoes of footfalls 
of their departing footsteps through the medium of the newspapers. 
. . .

Whereupon I make you my salute with the firm remark that it is time 
to be done with trifling and give us a great book, and my ladies 
fall into line with me to pay you a most respectful courtesy, and 
we all join in the cry, 'Come to Vailima!'

My dear sir, your soul's health is in it - you will never do the 
great book, you will never cease to work in L., etc., till you come 
to Vailima.




DEAR MR. LE GALLIENNE, - I have received some time ago, through our 
friend Miss Taylor, a book of yours.  But that was by no means my 
first introduction to your name.  The same book had stood already 
on my shelves; I had read articles of yours in the ACADEMY; and by 
a piece of constructive criticism (which I trust was sound) had 
arrived at the conclusion that you were 'Log-roller.'  Since then I 
have seen your beautiful verses to your wife.  You are to conceive 
me, then, as only too ready to make the acquaintance of a man who 
loved good literature and could make it.  I had to thank you, 
besides, for a triumphant exposure of a paradox of my own:  the 
literary-prostitute disappeared from view at a phrase of yours - 
'The essence is not in the pleasure but the sale.'  True:  you are 
right, I was wrong; the author is not the whore, but the libertine; 
and yet I shall let the passage stand.  It is an error, but it 
illustrated the truth for which I was contending, that literature - 
painting - all art, are no other than pleasures, which we turn into 

And more than all this, I had, and I have to thank you for the 
intimate loyalty you have shown to myself; for the eager welcome 
you give to what is good - for the courtly tenderness with which 
you touch on my defects.  I begin to grow old; I have given my top 
note, I fancy; - and I have written too many books.  The world 
begins to be weary of the old booth; and if not weary, familiar 
with the familiarity that breeds contempt.  I do not know that I am 
sensitive to criticism, if it be hostile; I am sensitive indeed, 
when it is friendly; and when I read such criticism as yours, I am 
emboldened to go on and praise God.

You are still young, and you may live to do much.  The little, 
artificial popularity of style in England tends, I think, to die 
out; the British pig returns to his true love, the love of the 
styleless, of the shapeless, of the slapdash and the disorderly.  
There is trouble coming, I think; and you may have to hold the fort 
for us in evil days.

Lastly, let me apologise for the crucifixion that I am inflicting 
on you (BIEN A CONTRE-COEUR) by my bad writing.  I was once the 
best of writers; landladies, puzzled as to my 'trade,' used to have 
their honest bosoms set at rest by a sight of a page of manuscript. 
- 'Ah,' they would say, 'no wonder they pay you for that'; - and 
when I sent it in to the printers, it was given to the boys!  I was 
about thirty-nine, I think, when I had a turn of scrivener's palsy; 
my hand got worse; and for the first time, I received clean proofs.  
But it has gone beyond that now, I know I am like my old friend 
James Payn, a terror to correspondents; and you would not believe 
the care with which this has been written. - Believe me to be, very 
sincerely yours,


Letter:  TO MRS. A. BAKER


DEAR MADAM, - There is no trouble, and I wish I could help instead.  
As it is, I fear I am only going to put you to trouble and 
vexation.  This Braille writing is a kind of consecration, and I 
would like if I could to have your copy perfect.  The two volumes 
are to be published as Vols. I. and II. of THE ADVENTURES OF DAVID 
BALFOUR.  1st, KIDNAPPED; 2nd, CATRIONA.  I am just sending home a 
corrected KIDNAPPED for this purpose to Messrs. Cassell, and in 
order that I may if possible be in time, I send it to you first of 
all.  Please, as soon as you have noted the changes, forward the 
same to Cassell and Co., La Belle Sauvage Yard, Ludgate Hill.

I am writing to them by this mail to send you CATRIONA.

You say, dear madam, you are good enough to say, it is 'a keen 
pleasure' to you to bring my book within the reach of the blind.

Conceive then what it is to me! and believe me, sincerely yours,


I was a barren tree before,
I blew a quenched coal,
I could not, on their midnight shore,
The lonely blind console.

A moment, lend your hand, I bring
My sheaf for you to bind,
And you can teach my words to sing
In the darkness of the blind.

R. L. S.



MY DEAR HENRY JAMES, - The mail has come upon me like an armed man 
three days earlier than was expected; and the Lord help me!  It is 
impossible I should answer anybody the way they should be.  Your 
jubilation over CATRIONA did me good, and still more the subtlety 
and truth of your remark on the starving of the visual sense in 
that book.  'Tis true, and unless I make the greater effort - and 
am, as a step to that, convinced of its necessity - it will be more 
true I fear in the future.  I HEAR people talking, and I FEEL them 
acting, and that seems to me to be fiction.  My two aims may be 
described as -

1ST.  War to the adjective.
2ND.  Death to the optic nerve.

Admitted we live in an age of the optic nerve in literature.  For 
how many centuries did literature get along without a sign of it?  
However, I'll consider your letter.

How exquisite is your character of the critic in ESSAYS IN LONDON!  
I doubt if you have done any single thing so satisfying as a piece 
of style and of insight. - Yours ever,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR CHARLES, - I am delighted with your idea, and first, I will 
here give an amended plan and afterwards give you a note of some of 
the difficulties.

[Plan of the Edinburgh edition - 14 vols.]

. . . It may be a question whether my TIMES letters might not be 
appended to the 'Footnote' with a note of the dates of discharge of 
Cedercrantz and Pilsach.

I am particularly pleased with this idea of yours, because I am 
come to a dead stop.  I never can remember how bad I have been 
before, but at any rate I am bad enough just now, I mean as to 
literature; in health I am well and strong.  I take it I shall be 
six months before I'm heard of again, and this time I could put in 
to some advantage in revising the text and (if it were thought 
desirable) writing prefaces.  I do not know how many of them might 
be thought desirable.  I have written a paper on TREASURE ISLAND, 
which is to appear shortly.  MASTER OF BALLANTRAE - I have one 
drafted.  THE WRECKER is quite sufficiently done already with the 
last chapter, but I suppose an historic introduction to DAVID 
BALFOUR is quite unavoidable.  PRINCE OTTO I don't think I could 
say anything about, and BLACK ARROW don't want to.  But it is 
probable I could say something to the volume of TRAVELS.  In the 
verse business I can do just what I like better than anything else, 
and extend UNDERWOODS with a lot of unpublished stuff.  APROPOS, if 
I were to get printed off a very few poems which are somewhat too 
intimate for the public, could you get them run up in some luxuous 
manner, so that fools might be induced to buy them in just a 
sufficient quantity to pay expenses and the thing remain still in a 
manner private?  We could supply photographs of the illustrations - 
and the poems are of Vailima and the family - I should much like to 
get this done as a surprise for Fanny.

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO H. B. BAILDON


MY DEAR BAILDON, - Last mail brought your book and its Dedication.  
'Frederick Street and the gardens, and the short-lived Jack o' 
Lantern,' are again with me - and the note of the east wind, and 
Froebel's voice, and the smell of soup in Thomson's stair.  Truly, 
you had no need to put yourself under the protection of any other 
saint, were that saint our Tamate himself!  Yourself were enough, 
and yourself coming with so rich a sheaf.

For what is this that you say about the Muses?  They have certainly 
never better inspired you than in 'Jael and Sisera,' and 'Herodias 
and John the Baptist,' good stout poems, fiery and sound.  ''Tis 
but a mask and behind it chuckles the God of the Garden,' I shall 
never forget.  By the by, an error of the press, page 49, line 4, 
'No infant's lesson are the ways of God.'  THE is dropped.

And this reminds me you have a bad habit which is to be comminated 
in my theory of letters.  Same page, two lines lower:  'But the 
vulture's track' is surely as fine to the ear as 'But vulture's 
track,' and this latter version has a dreadful baldness.  The 
reader goes on with a sense of impoverishment, of unnecessary 
sacrifice; he has been robbed by footpads, and goes scouting for 
his lost article!  Again, in the second Epode, these fine verses 
would surely sound much finer if they began, 'As a hardy climber 
who has set his heart,' than with the jejune 'As hardy climber.'  I 
do not know why you permit yourself this license with grammar; you 
show, in so many pages, that you are superior to the paltry sense 
of rhythm which usually dictates it - as though some poetaster had 
been suffered to correct the poet's text.  By the way, I confess to 
a heartfelt weakness for AURICULAS. - Believe me the very grateful 
and characteristic pick-thank, but still sincere and affectionate,


Letter:  TO W. H. LOW.

VAILIMA, JANUARY 15th, 1894.

MY DEAR LOW, - . . . Pray you, stoop your proud head, and sell 
yourself to some Jew magazine, and make the visit out.  I assure 
you, this is the spot for a sculptor or painter.  This, and no 
other - I don't say to stay there, but to come once and get the 
living colour into them.  I am used to it; I do not notice it; 
rather prefer my grey, freezing recollections of Scotland; but 
there it is, and every morning is a thing to give thanks for, and 
every night another - bar when it rains, of course.

About THE WRECKER - rather late days, and I still suspect I had 
somehow offended you; however, all's well that ends well, and I am 
glad I am forgiven - did you not fail to appreciate the attitude of 
Dodd?  He was a fizzle and a stick, he knew it, he knew nothing 
else, and there is an undercurrent of bitterness in him.  And then 
the problem that Pinkerton laid down:  why the artist can DO 
NOTHING ELSE? is one that continually exercises myself.  He cannot:  
granted.  But Scott could.  And Montaigne.  And Julius Caesar.  And 
many more.  And why can't R. L. S.?  Does it not amaze you?  It 
does me.  I think of the Renaissance fellows, and their all-round 
human sufficiency, and compare it with the ineffable smallness of 
the field in which we labour and in which we do so little.  I think 
DAVID BALFOUR a nice little book, and very artistic, and just the 
thing to occupy the leisure of a busy man; but for the top flower 
of a man's life it seems to me inadequate.  Small is the word; it 
is a small age, and I am of it.  I could have wished to be 
otherwise busy in this world.  I ought to have been able to build 
lighthouses and write DAVID BALFOURS too.  HINC ILLAE LACRYMAE.  I 
take my own case as most handy, but it is as illustrative of my 
quarrel with the age.  We take all these pains, and we don't do as 
well as Michael Angelo or Leonardo, or even Fielding, who was an 
active magistrate, or Richardson, who was a busy bookseller.  J'AI 
HONTE POUR NOUS; my ears burn.

I am amazed at the effect which this Chicago exhibition has 
produced upon you and others.  It set Mrs. Fairchild literally mad 
- to judge by her letters.  And I wish I had seen anything so 
influential.  I suppose there was an aura, a halo, some sort of 
effulgency about the place; for here I find you louder than the 
rest.  Well, it may be there is a time coming; and I wonder, when 
it comes, whether it will be a time of little, exclusive, one-eyed 
rascals like you and me, or parties of the old stamp who can paint 
and fight, and write and keep books of double entry, and sculp, and 
scalp.  It might be.  You have a lot of stuff in the kettle, and a 
great deal of it Celtic.  I have changed my mind progressively 
about England, practically the whole of Scotland is Celtic, and the 
western half of England, and all Ireland, and the Celtic blood 
makes a rare blend for art.  If it is stiffened up with Latin 
blood, you get the French.  We were less lucky:  we had only 
Scandinavians, themselves decidedly artistic, and the Low-German 
lot.  However, that is a good starting-point, and with all the 
other elements in your crucible, it may come to something great 
very easily.  I wish you would hurry up and let me see it.  Here is 
a long while I have been waiting for something GOOD in art; and 
what have I seen?  Zola's DEBACLE and a few of Kipling's tales.  
Are you a reader of Barbey d'Aurevilly?  He is a never-failing 
source of pleasure to me, for my sins, I suppose.  What a work is 

This is degenerating into mere twaddle.  So please remember us all 
most kindly to Mrs. Low, and believe me ever yours,


P.S. - Were all your privateers voiceless in the war of 1812?  Did 
NO ONE of them write memoirs?  I shall have to do my privateer from 
chic, if you can't help me.  My application to Scribner has been 
quite in vain.  See if you can get hold of some historic sharp in 
the club, and tap him; they must some of them have written memoirs 
or notes of some sort; perhaps still unprinted; if that be so, get 
them copied for me.

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO H. B. BAILDON


MY DEAR BAILDON, - 'Call not blessed.' - Yes, if I could die just 
now, or say in half a year, I should have had a splendid time of it 
on the whole.  But it gets a little stale, and my work will begin 
to senesce; and parties to shy bricks at me; and now it begins to 
look as if I should survive to see myself impotent and forgotten.  
It's a pity suicide is not thought the ticket in the best circles.

But your letter goes on to congratulate me on having done the one 
thing I am a little sorry for; a little - not much - for my father 
himself lived to think that I had been wiser than he.  But the 
cream of the jest is that I have lived to change my mind; and think 
that he was wiser than I.  Had I been an engineer, and literature 
my amusement, it would have been better perhaps.  I pulled it off, 
of course, I won the wager, and it is pleasant while it lasts; but 
how long will it last?  I don't know, say the Bells of Old Bow.

All of which goes to show that nobody is quite sane in judging 
himself.  Truly, had I given way and gone in for engineering, I 
should be dead by now.  Well, the gods know best.

I hope you got my letter about the RESCUE. - Adieu,

R. L. S.

True for you about the benefit:  except by kisses, jests, song, ET 
HOC GENUS OMNE, man CANNOT convey benefit to another.  The 
universal benefactor has been there before him.

Letter:  TO J. H. BATES


MY DEAR MR. JOE H. BATES, - I shall have the greatest pleasure in 
acceding to your complimentary request.  I shall think it an honour 
to be associated with your chapter, and I need not remind you (for 
you have said it yourself) how much depends upon your own exertions 
whether to make it to me a real honour or only a derision.  This is 
to let you know that I accept the position that you have seriously 
offered to me in a quite serious spirit.  I need scarce tell you 
that I shall always be pleased to receive reports of your 
proceedings; and if I do not always acknowledge them, you are to 
remember that I am a man very much occupied otherwise, and not at 
all to suppose that I have lost interest in my chapter.

In this world, which (as you justly say) is so full of sorrow and 
suffering, it will always please me to remember that my name is 
connected with some efforts after alleviation, nor less so with 
purposes of innocent recreation which, after all, are the only 
certain means at our disposal for bettering human life.

With kind regards, to yourself, to Mr. L. C. Congdon, to E. M. G. 
Bates, and to Mr. Edward Hugh Higlee Bates, and the heartiest 
wishes for the future success of the chapter, believe me, yours 




MY DEAR ARCHER, - Many thanks for your THEATRICAL WORLD.  Do you 
know, it strikes me as being really very good?  I have not yet read 
much of it, but so far as I have looked, there is not a dull and 
not an empty page in it.  Hazlitt, whom you must often have thought 
of, would have been pleased.  Come to think of it, I shall put this 
book upon the Hazlitt shelf.  You have acquired a manner that I can 
only call august; otherwise, I should have to call it such amazing 
impudence.  The BAUBLE SHOP and BECKET are examples of what I mean.  
But it 'sets you weel.'

Marjorie Fleming I have known, as you surmise, for long.  She was 
possibly - no, I take back possibly - she was one of the greatest 
works of God.  Your note about the resemblance of her verses to 
mine gave me great joy, though it only proved me a plagiarist.  By 
the by, was it not over THE CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES that we first 
scraped acquaintance?  I am sorry indeed to hear that my esteemed 
correspondent Tomarcher has such poor taste in literature.  I fear 
he cannot have inherited this trait from his dear papa.  Indeed, I 
may say I know it, for I remember the energy of papa's disapproval 
when the work passed through his hands on its way to a second 
birth, which none regrets more than myself.  It is an odd fact, or 
perhaps a very natural one; I find few greater pleasures than 
reading my own works, but I never, O I never read THE BLACK ARROW.  
In that country Tomarcher reigns supreme.  Well, and after all, if 
Tomarcher likes it, it has not been written in vain.

We have just now a curious breath from Europe.  A young fellow just 
beginning letters, and no fool, turned up here with a letter of 
introduction in the well-known blue ink and decorative hieroglyphs 
of George Meredith.  His name may be known to you.  It is Sidney 
Lysaght.  He is staying with us but a day or two, and it is strange 
to me and not unpleasant to hear all the names, old and new, come 
up again.  But oddly the new are so much more in number.  If I 
revisited the glimpses of the moon on your side of the ocean, I 
should know comparatively few of them.

My amanuensis deserts me - I should have said you, for yours is the 
loss, my script having lost all bond with humanity.  One touch of 
nature makes the whole world kin:  that nobody can read my hand.  
It is a humiliating circumstance that thus evens us with printers!

You must sometimes think it strange - or perhaps it is only I that 
should so think it - to be following the old round, in the gas 
lamps and the crowded theatres, when I am away here in the tropical 
forest and the vast silences!

My dear Archer, my wife joins me in the best wishes to yourself and 
Mrs. Archer, not forgetting Tom; and I am yours very cordially,


Letter:  TO W. B. YEATS


DEAR SIR, - Long since when I was a boy I remember the emotions 
with which I repeated Swinburne's poems and ballads.  Some ten 
years ago, a similar spell was cast upon me by Meredith's LOVE IN 
THE VALLEY; the stanzas beginning 'When her mother tends her' 
haunted me and made me drunk like wine; and I remember waking with 
them all the echoes of the hills about Hyeres.  It may interest you 
to hear that I have a third time fallen in slavery:  this is to 
your poem called the LAKE ISLE OF INNISFRAE.  It is so quaint and 
airy, simple, artful, and eloquent to the heart - but I seek words 
in vain.  Enough that 'always night and day I hear lake water 
lapping with low sounds on the shore,' and am, yours gratefully,




MY DEAR MEREDITH, - Many good things have the gods sent to me of 
late.  First of all there was a letter from you by the kind hand of 
Mariette, if she is not too great a lady to be remembered in such a 
style; and then there came one Lysaght with a charming note of 
introduction in the well-known hand itself.  We had but a few days 
of him, and liked him well.  There was a sort of geniality and 
inward fire about him at which I warmed my hands.  It is long since 
I have seen a young man who has left in me such a favourable 
impression; and I find myself telling myself, 'O, I must tell this 
to Lysaght,' or, 'This will interest him,' in a manner very unusual 
after so brief an acquaintance.  The whole of my family shared in 
this favourable impression, and my halls have re-echoed ever since, 
I am sure he will be amused to know, with WIDDICOMBE FAIR.

He will have told you doubtless more of my news than I could tell 
you myself; he has your European perspective, a thing long lost to 
me.  I heard with a great deal of interest the news of Box Hill.  
And so I understand it is to be enclosed!  Allow me to remark, that 
seems a far more barbaric trait of manners than the most barbarous 
of ours.  We content ourselves with cutting off an occasional head.

I hear we may soon expect the AMAZING MARRIAGE.  You know how long, 
and with how much curiosity, I have looked forward to the book.  
Now, in so far as you have adhered to your intention, Gower 
Woodsere will be a family portrait, age twenty-five, of the highly 
respectable and slightly influential and fairly aged TUSITALA.  You 
have not known that gentleman; console yourself, he is not worth 
knowing.  At the same time, my dear Meredith, he is very sincerely 
yours - for what he is worth, for the memories of old times, and in 
the expectation of many pleasures still to come.  I suppose we 
shall never see each other again; flitting youths of the Lysaght 
species may occasionally cover these unconscionable leagues and 
bear greetings to and fro.  But we ourselves must be content to 
converse on an occasional sheet of notepaper, and I shall never see 
whether you have grown older, and you shall never deplore that 
Gower Woodsere should have declined into the pantaloon TUSITALA.  
It is perhaps better so.  Let us continue to see each other as we 
were, and accept, my dear Meredith, my love and respect.


P.S. - My wife joins me in the kindest messages to yourself and 


[VAILIMA], APRIL 17, '94.

MY DEAR CHARLES, - ST. IVES is now well on its way into the second 
volume.  There remains no mortal doubt that it will reach the three 
volume standard.

I am very anxious that you should send me -

1ST.  TOM AND JERRY, a cheap edition.

2nd.  The book by Ashton - the DAWN OF THE CENTURY, I think it was 
called - which Colvin sent me, and which has miscarried, and

3rd.  If it is possible, a file of the EDINBURGH COURANT for the 
years 1811, 1812, 1813, or 1814.  I should not care for a whole 
year.  If it were possible to find me three months, winter months 
by preference, it would do my business not only for ST. IVES, but 
for the JUSTICE-CLERK as well.  Suppose this to be impossible, 
perhaps I could get the loan of it from somebody; or perhaps it 
would be possible to have some one read a file for me and make 
notes.  This would be extremely bad, as unhappily one man's food is 
another man's poison, and the reader would probably leave out 
everything I should choose.  But if you are reduced to that, you 
might mention to the man who is to read for me that balloon 
ascensions are in the order of the day.

4th.  It might be as well to get a book on balloon ascension, 
particularly in the early part of the century.

. . . . .

III.  At last this book has come from Scribner, and, alas!  I have 
the first six or seven chapters of ST. IVES to recast entirely.  
Who could foresee that they clothed the French prisoners in yellow?  
But that one fatal fact - and also that they shaved them twice a 
week - damns the whole beginning.  If it had been sent in time, it 
would have saved me a deal of trouble. . . .

I have had a long letter from Dr. Scott Dalgleish, 25 Mayfield 
Terrace, asking me to put my name down to the Ballantyne Memorial 
Committee.  I have sent him a pretty sharp answer in favour of 
cutting down the memorial and giving more to the widow and 
children.  If there is to be any foolery in the way of statues or 
other trash, please send them a guinea; but if they are going to 
take my advice and put up a simple tablet with a few heartfelt 
words, and really devote the bulk of the subscriptions to the wife 
and family, I will go to the length of twenty pounds, if you will 
allow me (and if the case of the family be at all urgent), and at 
least I direct you to send ten pounds.  I suppose you had better 
see Scott Dalgleish himself on the matter.  I take the opportunity 
here to warn you that my head is simply spinning with a multitude 
of affairs, and I shall probably forget a half of my business at 

R. L. S.



MY DEAR FRIEND, - I have at last got some photographs, and hasten 
to send you, as you asked, a portrait of Tusitala.  He is a strange 
person; not so lean, say experts, but infinitely battered; mighty 
active again on the whole; going up and down our break-neck road at 
all hours of the day and night on horseback; holding meetings with 
all manner of chiefs; quite a political personage - God save the 
mark! - in a small way, but at heart very conscious of the 
inevitable flat failure that awaits every one.  I shall never do a 
better book than CATRIONA, that is my high-water mark, and the 
trouble of production increases on me at a great rate - and mighty 
anxious about how I am to leave my family:  an elderly man, with 
elderly preoccupations, whom I should be ashamed to show you for 
your old friend; but not a hope of my dying soon and cleanly, and 
'winning off the stage.'  Rather I am daily better in physical 
health.  I shall have to see this business out, after all; and I 
think, in that case, they should have - they might have - spared me 
all my ill-health this decade past, if it were not to unbar the 
doors.  I have no taste for old age, and my nose is to be rubbed in 
it in spite of my face.  I was meant to die young, and the gods do 
not love me.

This is very like an epitaph, bar the handwriting, which is 
anything but monumental, and I dare say I had better stop.  Fanny 
is down at her own cottage planting or deplanting or replanting, I 
know not which, and she will not be home till dinner, by which time 
the mail will be all closed, else she would join me in all good 
messages and remembrances of love.  I hope you will congratulate 
Burne Jones from me on his baronetcy.  I cannot make out to be 
anything but raspingly, harrowingly sad; so I will close, and not 
affect levity which I cannot feel.  Do not altogether forget me; 
keep a corner of your memory for the exile



[VAILIMA, MAY 1894.]

MY DEAR CHARLES, - My dear fellow, I wish to assure you of the 
greatness of the pleasure that this Edinburgh Edition gives me.  I 
suppose it was your idea to give it that name.  No other would have 
affected me in the same manner.  Do you remember, how many years 
ago - I would be afraid to hazard a guess - one night when I 
communicated to you certain intimations of early death and 
aspirations after fame?  I was particularly maudlin; and my remorse 
the next morning on a review of my folly has written the matter 
very deeply in my mind; from yours it may easily have fled.  If any 
one at that moment could have shown me the Edinburgh Edition, I 
suppose I should have died.  It is with gratitude and wonder that I 
consider 'the way in which I have been led.'  Could a more 
preposterous idea have occurred to us in those days when we used to 
search our pockets for coppers, too often in vain, and combine 
forces to produce the threepence necessary for two glasses of beer, 
or wander down the Lothian Road without any, than that I should be 
strong and well at the age of forty-three in the island of Upolu, 
and that you should be at home bringing out the Edinburgh Edition?  
If it had been possible, I should almost have preferred the Lothian 
Road Edition, say, with a picture of the old Dutch smuggler on the 
covers.  I have now something heavy on my mind.  I had always a 
great sense of kinship with poor Robert Fergusson - so clever a 
boy, so wild, of such a mixed strain, so unfortunate, born in the 
same town with me, and, as I always felt, rather by express 
intimation than from evidence, so like myself.  Now the injustice 
with which the one Robert is rewarded and the other left out in the 
cold sits heavy on me, and I wish you could think of some way in 
which I could do honour to my unfortunate namesake.  Do you think 
it would look like affectation to dedicate the whole edition to his 
memory?  I think it would.  The sentiment which would dictate it to 
me is too abstruse; and besides, I think my wife is the proper 
person to receive the dedication of my life's work.  At the same 
time, it is very odd - it really looks like the transmigration of 
souls - I feel that I must do something for Fergusson; Burns has 
been before me with the gravestone.  It occurs to me you might take 
a walk down the Canongate and see in what condition the stone is.  
If it be at all uncared for, we might repair it, and perhaps add a 
few words of inscription.

I must tell you, what I just remembered in a flash as I was walking 
about dictating this letter - there was in the original plan of the 
MASTER OF BALLANTRAE a sort of introduction describing my arrival 
in Edinburgh on a visit to yourself and your placing in my hands 
the papers of the story.  I actually wrote it, and then condemned 
the idea - as being a little too like Scott, I suppose.  Now I must 
really find the MS. and try to finish it for the E. E.  It will 
give you, what I should so much like you to have, another corner of 
your own in that lofty monument.

Suppose we do what I have proposed about Fergusson's monument, I 
wonder if an inscription like this would look arrogant -

This stone originally erected
by Robert Burns has been
repaired at the
charges of Robert Louis Stevenson,
and is by him re-dedicated to
the memory of Robert Fergusson,
as the gift of one Edinburgh
lad to another.

In spacing this inscription I would detach the names of Fergusson 
and Burns, but leave mine in the text.

Or would that look like sham modesty, and is it better to bring out 
the three Roberts?

Letter:  TO R. A. M. STEVENSON


MY DEAR BOB, - I must make out a letter this mail or perish in the 
attempt.  All the same, I am deeply stupid, in bed with a cold, 
deprived of my amanuensis, and conscious of the wish but not the 
furnished will.  You may be interested to hear how the family 
inquiries go.  It is now quite certain that we are a second-rate 
lot, and came out of Cunningham or Clydesdale, therefore BRITISH 
folk; so that you are Cymry on both sides, and I Cymry and Pict.  
We may have fought with King Arthur and known Merlin.  The first of 
the family, Stevenson of Stevenson, was quite a great party, and 
dates back to the wars of Edward First.  The last male heir of 
Stevenson of Stevenson died 1670, 220 pounds, 10s. to the bad, from 
drink.  About the same time the Stevensons, who were mostly in 
Cunningham before, crop up suddenly in the parish of Neilston, over 
the border in Renfrewshire.  Of course, they may have been there 
before, but there is no word of them in that parish till 1675 in 
any extracts I have.  Our first traceable ancestor was a tenant 
farmer of Muir of Cauldwells - James in Nether-Carsewell.  
Presently two families of maltmen are found in Glasgow, both, by 
re-duplicated proofs, related to James (the son of James) in Nether 
Carsewell.  We descend by his second marriage from Robert; one of 
these died 1733.  It is not very romantic up to now, but has 
interested me surprisingly to fish out, always hoping for more - 
and occasionally getting at least a little clearness and 
confirmation.  But the earliest date, 1655, apparently the marriage 
of James in Nether Carsewell, cannot as yet be pushed back.  From 
which of any number of dozen little families in Cunningham we 
should derive, God knows!  Of course, it doesn't matter a hundred 
years hence, an argument fatal to all human enterprise, industry, 
or pleasure.  And to me it will be a deadly disappointment if I 
cannot roll this stone away!  One generation further might be 
nothing, but it is my present object of desire, and we are so near 
it!  There is a man in the same parish called Constantine; if I 
could only trace to him, I could take you far afield by that one 
talisman of the strange Christian name of Constantine.  But no such 
luck!  And I kind of fear we shall stick at James.

So much, though all inchoate, I trouble you with, knowing that you, 
at least, must take an interest in it.  So much is certain of that 
strange Celtic descent, that the past has an interest for it 
apparently gratuitous, but fiercely strong.  I wish to trace my 
ancestors a thousand years, if I trace them by gallowses.  It is 
not love, not pride, not admiration; it is an expansion of the 
identity, intimately pleasing, and wholly uncritical; I can expend 
myself in the person of an inglorious ancestor with perfect 
comfort; or a disgraced, if I could find one.  I suppose, perhaps, 
it is more to me who am childless, and refrain with a certain shock 
from looking forwards.  But, I am sure, in the solid grounds of 
race, that you have it also in some degree.

I. JAMES, a tenant of the Muirs, in Nether-Carsewell,
                 Neilston, married (1665?) Jean Keir.
     ||                                        |
     ||                                        |
     ||                                        |
       II.  ROBERT (Maltman in Glasgow), died 1733,
              |    married 1st;     married second,
              |    Elizabeth Cumming.
              |            ||
              |            ||
    William (Maltman in    ||
        Glasgow).          +--------------+
              |                           |
              |                           |
+-------------+--------------+         III. ROBERT (Maltman
ROBERT,     MARION,      ELIZABETH.      in Glasgow), married
                                         Margaret Fulton (had
NOTE. - Between 1730-1766 flourished     a large family).
in Glasgow Alan the Coppersmith, who      ||
acts as a kind of a pin to the whole      ||
Stevenson system there.  He was caution   IV. ALAN, West India
to Robert the Second's will, and to          merchant, married
William's will, and to the will of a         Jean Lillie.
John, another maltman.                       ||
                                         V. ROBERT, married
                                            Jean Smith.
                                         VI. ALAN. - Margaret
                                         VII. R. A. M. S.

Enough genealogy.  I do not know if you will be able to read my 
hand.  Unhappily, Belle, who is my amanuensis, is out of the way on 
other affairs, and I have to make the unwelcome effort.  (O this is 
beautiful, I am quite pleased with myself.)  Graham has just 
arrived last night (my mother is coming by the other steamer in 
three days), and has told me of your meeting, and he said you 
looked a little older than I did; so that I suppose we keep step 
fairly on the downward side of the hill.  He thought you looked 
harassed, and I could imagine that too.  I sometimes feel harassed.  
I have a great family here about me, a great anxiety.  The loss (to 
use my grandfather's expression), the 'loss' of our family is that 
we are disbelievers in the morrow - perhaps I should say, rather, 
in next year.  The future is ALWAYS black to us; it was to Robert 
Stevenson; to Thomas; I suspect to Alan; to R. A. M. S. it was so 
almost to his ruin in youth; to R. L. S., who had a hard hopeful 
strain in him from his mother, it was not so much so once, but 
becomes daily more so.  Daily so much more so, that I have a 
painful difficulty in believing I can ever finish another book, or 
that the public will ever read it.

I have so huge a desire to know exactly what you are doing, that I 
suppose I should tell you what I am doing by way of an example.  I 
have a room now, a part of the twelve-foot verandah sparred in, at 
the most inaccessible end of the house.  Daily I see the sunrise 
out of my bed, which I still value as a tonic, a perpetual tuning 
fork, a look of God's face once in the day.  At six my breakfast 
comes up to me here, and I work till eleven.  If I am quite well, I 
sometimes go out and bathe in the river before lunch, twelve.  In 
the afternoon I generally work again, now alone drafting, now with 
Belle dictating.  Dinner is at six, and I am often in bed by eight.  
This is supposing me to stay at home.  But I must often be away, 
sometimes all day long, sometimes till twelve, one, or two at 
night, when you might see me coming home to the sleeping house, 
sometimes in a trackless darkness, sometimes with a glorious tropic 
moon, everything drenched with dew - unsaddling and creeping to 
bed; and you would no longer be surprised that I live out in this 
country, and not in Bournemouth - in bed.

My great recent interruptions have (as you know) come from 
politics; not much in my line, you will say.  But it is impossible 
to live here and not feel very sorely the consequences of the 
horrid white mismanagement.  I tried standing by and looking on, 
and it became too much for me.  They are such illogical fools; a 
logical fool in an office, with a lot of red tape, is conceivable.  
Furthermore, he is as much as we have any reason to expect of 
officials - a thoroughly common-place, unintellectual lot.  But 
these people are wholly on wires; laying their ears down, skimming 
away, pausing as though shot, and presto! full spread on the other 
tack.  I observe in the official class mostly an insane jealousy of 
the smallest kind, as compared to which the artist's is of a grave, 
modest character - the actor's, even; a desire to extend his little 
authority, and to relish it like a glass of wine, that is 
IMPAYABLE.  Sometimes, when I see one of these little kings 
strutting over one of his victories - wholly illegal, perhaps, and 
certain to be reversed to his shame if his superiors ever heard of 
it - I could weep.  The strange thing is that they HAVE NOTHING 
ELSE.  I auscultate them in vain; no real sense of duty, no real 
comprehension, no real attempt to comprehend, no wish for 
information - you cannot offend one of them more bitterly than by 
offering information, though it is certain that you have MORE, and 
obvious that you have OTHER, information than they have; and 
talking of policy, they could not play a better stroke than by 
listening to you, and it need by no means influence their action.  
TENEZ, you know what a French post office or railway official is?  
That is the diplomatic card to the life.  Dickens is not in it; 
caricature fails.

All this keeps me from my work, and gives me the unpleasant side of 
the world.  When your letters are disbelieved it makes you angry, 
and that is rot; and I wish I could keep out of it with all my 
soul.  But I have just got into it again, and farewell peace!

My work goes along but slowly.  I have got to a crossing place, I 
suppose; the present book, SAINT IVES, is nothing; it is in no 
style in particular, a tissue of adventures, the central character 
not very well done, no philosophic pith under the yarn; and, in 
short, if people will read it, that's all I ask; and if they won't, 
damn them!  I like doing it though; and if you ask me why! - after 
that I am on WEIR OF HERMISTON and HEATHERCAT, two Scotch stories, 
which will either be something different, or I shall have failed.  
The first is generally designed, and is a private story of two or 
three characters in a very grim vein.  The second - alas! the 
thought - is an attempt at a real historical novel, to present a 
whole field of time; the race - our own race - the west land and 
Clydesdale blue bonnets, under the influence of their last trial, 
when they got to a pitch of organisation in madness that no other 
peasantry has ever made an offer at.  I was going to call it THE 
KILLING TIME, but this man Crockett has forestalled me in that.  
Well, it'll be a big smash if I fail in it; but a gallant attempt.  
All my weary reading as a boy, which you remember well enough, will 
come to bear on it; and if my mind will keep up to the point it was 
in a while back, perhaps I can pull it through.

For two months past, Fanny, Belle, Austin (her child), and I have 
been alone; but yesterday, as I mentioned, Graham Balfour arrived, 
and on Wednesday my mother and Lloyd will make up the party to its 
full strength.  I wish you could drop in for a month or a week, or 
two hours.  That is my chief want.  On the whole, it is an 
unexpectedly pleasant corner I have dropped into for an end of it, 
which I could scarcely have foreseen from Wilson's shop, or the 
Princes Street Gardens, or the Portobello Road.  Still, I would 
like to hear what my ALTER EGO thought of it; and I would sometimes 
like to have my old MAITRE ES ARTS express an opinion on what I do.  
I put this very tamely, being on the whole a quiet elderly man; but 
it is a strong passion with me, though intermittent.  Now, try to 
follow my example and tell me something about yourself, Louisa, the 
Bab, and your work; and kindly send me some specimens of what 
you're about.  I have only seen one thing by you, about Notre Dame 
in the WESTMINSTER or ST. JAMES'S, since I left England, now I 
suppose six years ago.

I have looked this trash over, and it is not at all the letter I 
wanted to write - not truck about officials, ancestors, and the 
like rancidness - but you have to let your pen go in its own 
broken-down gait, like an old butcher's pony, stop when it pleases, 
and go on again as it will. - Ever, my dear Bob, your affectionate 




DEAR HENRY JAMES, - I am going to try and dictate to you a letter 
or a note, and begin the same without any spark of hope, my mind 
being entirely in abeyance.  This malady is very bitter on the 
literary man.  I have had it now coming on for a month, and it 
seems to get worse instead of better.  If it should prove to be 
softening of the brain, a melancholy interest will attach to the 
present document.  I heard a great deal about you from my mother 
and Graham Balfour; the latter declares that you could take a First 
in any Samoan subject.  If that be so, I should like to hear you on 
the theory of the constitution.  Also to consult you on the force 
of the particles O LO 'O and UA, which are the subject of a dispute 
among local pundits.  You might, if you ever answer this, give me 
your opinion on the origin of the Samoan race, just to complete the 

They both say that you are looking well, and I suppose I may 
conclude from that that you are feeling passably.  I wish I was.  
Do not suppose from this that I am ill in body; it is the numskull 
that I complain of.  And when that is wrong, as you must be very 
keenly aware, you begin every day with a smarting disappointment, 
which is not good for the temper.  I am in one of the humours when 
a man wonders how any one can be such an ass as to embrace the 
profession of letters, and not get apprenticed to a barber or keep 
a baked-potato stall.  But I have no doubt in the course of a week, 
or perhaps to-morrow, things will look better.

We have at present in port the model warship of Great Britain.  She 
is called the CURACOA, and has the nicest set of officers and men 
conceivable.  They, the officers, are all very intimate with us, 
and the front verandah is known as the Curacoa Club, and the road 
up to Vailima is known as the Curacoa Track.  It was rather a 
surprise to me; many naval officers have I known, and somehow had 
not learned to think entirely well of them, and perhaps sometimes 
ask myself a little uneasily how that kind of men could do great 
actions? and behold! the answer comes to me, and I see a ship that 
I would guarantee to go anywhere it was possible for men to go, and 
accomplish anything it was permitted man to attempt.  I had a 
cruise on board of her not long ago to Manu'a, and was delighted.  
The goodwill of all on board; the grim playfulness of - quarters, 
with the wounded falling down at the word; the ambulances hastening 
up and carrying them away; the Captain suddenly crying, 'Fire in 
the ward-room!' and the squad hastening forward with the hose; and, 
last and most curious spectacle of all, all the men in their dust-
coloured fatigue clothes, at a note of the bugle, falling 
simultaneously flat on deck, and the ship proceeding with its 
prostrate crew - QUASI to ram an enemy; our dinner at night in a 
wild open anchorage, the ship rolling almost to her gunwales, and 
showing us alternately her bulwarks up in the sky, and then the 
wild broken cliffy palm-crested shores of the island with the surf 
thundering and leaping close aboard.  We had the ward-room mess on 
deck, lit by pink wax tapers, everybody, of course, in uniform but 
myself, and the first lieutenant (who is a rheumaticky body) 
wrapped in a boat cloak.  Gradually the sunset faded out, the 
island disappeared from the eye, though it remained menacingly 
present to the ear with the voice of the surf; and then the captain 
turned on the searchlight and gave us the coast, the beach, the 
trees, the native houses, and the cliffs by glimpses of daylight, a 
kind of deliberate lightning.  About which time, I suppose, we must 
have come as far as the dessert, and were probably drinking our 
first glass of port to Her Majesty.  We stayed two days at the 
island, and had, in addition, a very picturesque snapshot at the 
native life.  The three islands of Manu'a are independent, and are 
ruled over by a little slip of a half-caste girl about twenty, who 
sits all day in a pink gown, in a little white European house with 
about a quarter of an acre of roses in front of it, looking at the 
palm-trees on the village street, and listening to the surf.  This, 
so far as I could discover, was all she had to do.  'This is a very 
dull place,' she said.  It appears she could go to no other village 
for fear of raising the jealousy of her own people in the capital.  
And as for going about 'tafatafaoing,' as we say here, its cost was 
too enormous.  A strong able-bodied native must walk in front of 
her and blow the conch shell continuously from the moment she 
leaves one house until the moment she enters another.  Did you ever 
blow the conch shell?  I presume not; but the sweat literally 
hailed off that man, and I expected every moment to see him burst a 
blood-vessel.  We were entertained to kava in the guest-house with 
some very original features.  The young men who run for the KAVA 
have a right to misconduct themselves AD LIBITUM on the way back; 
and though they were told to restrain themselves on the occasion of 
our visit, there was a strange hurly-burly at their return, when 
they came beating the trees and the posts of the houses, leaping, 
shouting, and yelling like Bacchants.

I tasted on that occasion what it is to be great.  My name was 
called next after the captain's, and several chiefs (a thing quite 
new to me, and not at all Samoan practice) drank to me by name.

And now, if you are not sick of the CURACOA and Manu'a, I am, at 
least on paper.  And I decline any longer to give you examples of 
how not to write.

By the by, you sent me long ago a work by Anatole France, which I 
confess I did not TASTE.  Since then I have made the acquaintance 
of the ABBE COIGNARD, and have become a faithful adorer.  I don't 
think a better book was ever written.

And I have no idea what I have said, and I have no idea what I 
ought to have said, and I am a total ass, but my heart is in the 
right place, and I am, my dear Henry James, yours,

R. L. S.



DEAR MR. MARCEL SCHWOB, - Thank you for having remembered me in my 
exile.  I have read MIMES twice as a whole; and now, as I write, I 
am reading it again as it were by accident, and a piece at a time, 
my eye catching a word and travelling obediently on through the 
whole number.  It is a graceful book, essentially graceful, with 
its haunting agreeable melancholy, its pleasing savour of 
antiquity.  At the same time, by its merits, it shows itself rather 
as the promise of something else to come than a thing final in 
itself.  You have yet to give us - and I am expecting it with 
impatience - something of a larger gait; something daylit, not 
twilit; something with the colours of life, not the flat tints of a 
temple illumination; something that shall be SAID with all the 
clearnesses and the trivialities of speech, not SUNG like a semi-
articulate lullaby.  It will not please yourself as well, when you 
come to give it us, but it will please others better.  It will be 
more of a whole, more worldly, more nourished, more commonplace - 
and not so pretty, perhaps not even so beautiful.  No man knows 
better than I that, as we go on in life, we must part from 
prettiness and the graces.  We but attain qualities to lose them; 
life is a series of farewells, even in art; even our proficiencies 
are deciduous and evanescent.  So here with these exquisite pieces 
the XVIIth, XVIIIth, and IVth of the present collection.  You will 
perhaps never excel them; I should think the 'Hermes,' never.  
Well, you will do something else, and of that I am in expectation. 
- Yours cordially,


Letter:  TO A. ST. GAUDENS


MY DEAR ST. GAUDENS, - This is to tell you that the medallion has 
been at last triumphantly transported up the hill and placed over 
my smoking-room mantelpiece.  It is considered by everybody a 
first-rate but flattering portrait.  We have it in a very good 
light, which brings out the artistic merits of the god-like 
sculptor to great advantage.  As for my own opinion, I believe it 
to be a speaking likeness, and not flattered at all; possibly a 
little the reverse.  The verses (curse the rhyme) look remarkably 

Please do not longer delay, but send me an account for the expense 
of the gilt letters.  I was sorry indeed that they proved beyond 
the means of a small farmer. - Yours very sincerely,



VAILIMA, JULY 14, 1894.

MY DEAR ADELAIDE, - . . . So, at last, you are going into mission 
work? where I think your heart always was.  You will like it in a 
way, but remember it is dreary long.  Do you know the story of the 
American tramp who was offered meals and a day's wage to chop with 
the back of an axe on a fallen trunk.  'Damned if I can go on 
chopping when I can't see the chips fly!'  You will never see the 
chips fly in mission work, never; and be sure you know it 
beforehand.  The work is one long dull disappointment, varied by 
acute revulsions; and those who are by nature courageous and 
cheerful and have grown old in experience, learn to rub their hands 
over infinitesimal successes.  However, as I really believe there 
is some good done in the long run - GUTTA CAVAT LAPIDEM NON VI in 
this business - it is a useful and honourable career in which no 
one should be ashamed to embark.  Always remember the fable of the 
sun, the storm, and the traveller's cloak.  Forget wholly and for 
ever all small pruderies, and remember that YOU CANNOT CHANGE 
SOUL-MURDER.  Barbarous as the customs may seem, always hear them 
with patience, always judge them with gentleness, always find in 
them some seed of good; see that you always develop them; remember 
that all you can do is to civilise the man in the line of his own 
civilisation, such as it is.  And never expect, never believe in, 
thaumaturgic conversions.  They may do very well for St. Paul; in 
the case of an Andaman islander they mean less than nothing.  In 
fact, what you have to do is to teach the parents in the interests 
of their great-grandchildren.

Now, my dear Adelaide, dismiss from your mind the least idea of 
fault upon your side; nothing is further from the fact.  I cannot 
forgive you, for I do not know your fault.  My own is plain enough, 
and the name of it is cold-hearted neglect; and you may busy 
yourself more usefully in trying to forgive me.  But ugly as my 
fault is, you must not suppose it to mean more than it does; it 
does not mean that we have at all forgotten you, that we have 
become at all indifferent to the thought of you.  See, in my life 
of Jenkin, a remark of his, very well expressed, on the friendships 
of men who do not write to each other.  I can honestly say that I 
have not changed to you in any way; though I have behaved thus ill, 
thus cruelly.  Evil is done by want of - well, principally by want 
of industry.  You can imagine what I would say (in a novel) of any 
one who had behaved as I have done, DETERIORA SEQUOR.  And you must 
somehow manage to forgive your old friend; and if you will be so 
very good, continue to give us news of you, and let us share the 
knowledge of your adventures, sure that it will be always followed 
with interest - even if it is answered with the silence of 
ingratitude.  For I am not a fool; I know my faults, I know they 
are ineluctable, I know they are growing on me.  I know I may 
offend again, and I warn you of it.  But the next time I offend, 
tell me so plainly and frankly like a lady, and don't lacerate my 
heart and bludgeon my vanity with imaginary faults of your own and 
purely gratuitous penitence.  I might suspect you of irony!

We are all fairly well, though I have been off work and off - as 
you know very well - letter-writing.  Yet I have sometimes more 
than twenty letters, and sometimes more than thirty, going out each 
mail.  And Fanny has had a most distressing bronchitis for some 
time, which she is only now beginning to get over.  I have just 
been to see her; she is lying - though she had breakfast an hour 
ago, about seven - in her big cool, mosquito-proof room, 
ingloriously asleep.  As for me, you see that a doom has come upon 
me:  I cannot make marks with a pen - witness 'ingloriously' above; 
and my amanuensis not appearing so early in the day, for she is 
then immersed in household affairs, and I can hear her 'steering 
the boys' up and down the verandahs - you must decipher this 
unhappy letter for yourself and, I fully admit, with everything 
against you.  A letter should be always well written; how much more 
a letter of apology!  Legibility is the politeness of men of 
letters, as punctuality of kings and beggars.  By the punctuality 
of my replies, and the beauty of my hand-writing, judge what a fine 
conscience I must have!

Now, my dear gamekeeper, I must really draw to a close.  For I have 
much else to write before the mail goes out three days hence.  
Fanny being asleep, it would not be conscientious to invent a 
message from her, so you must just imagine her sentiments.  I find 
I have not the heart to speak of your recent loss.  You remember 
perhaps, when my father died, you told me those ugly images of 
sickness, decline, and impaired reason, which then haunted me day 
and night, would pass away and be succeeded by things more happily 
characteristic.  I have found it so.  He now haunts me, strangely 
enough, in two guises; as a man of fifty, lying on a hillside and 
carving mottoes on a stick, strong and well; and as a younger man, 
running down the sands into the sea near North Berwick, myself - 
AETAT. II - somewhat horrified at finding him so beautiful when 
stripped!  I hand on your own advice to you in case you have 
forgotten it, as I know one is apt to do in seasons of bereavement. 
- Ever yours, with much love and sympathy,


Letter:  TO MRS. BAKER


DEAR MRS. BAKER, - I am very much obliged to you for your letter 
and the enclosure from Mr. Skinner.  Mr. Skinner says he 'thinks 
Mr. Stevenson must be a very kind man'; he little knows me.  But I 
am very sure of one thing, that you are a very kind woman.  I envy 
you - my amanuensis being called away, I continue in my own hand, 
or what is left of it - unusually legible, I am thankful to see - I 
envy you your beautiful choice of an employment.  There must be no 
regrets at least for a day so spent; and when the night falls you 
need ask no blessing on your work.

'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of these.' - Yours truly,


Letter:  TO J. M. BARRIE

VAILIMA, JULY 13, 1894.

MY DEAR BARRIE, - This is the last effort of an ulcerated 
conscience.  I have been so long owing you a letter, I have heard 
so much of you, fresh from the press, from my mother and Graham 
Balfour, that I have to write a letter no later than to-day, or 
perish in my shame.  But the deuce of it is, my dear fellow, that 
you write such a very good letter that I am ashamed to exhibit 
myself before my junior (which you are, after all) in the light of 
the dreary idiot I feel.  Understand that there will be nothing 
funny in the following pages.  If I can manage to be rationally 
coherent, I shall be more than satisfied.

In the first place, I have had the extreme satisfaction to be shown 
that photograph of your mother.  It bears evident traces of the 
hand of an amateur.  How is it that amateurs invariably take better 
photographs than professionals?  I must qualify invariably.  My own 
negatives have always represented a province of chaos and old night 
in which you might dimly perceive fleecy spots of twilight, 
representing nothing; so that, if I am right in supposing the 
portrait of your mother to be yours, I must salute you as my 
superior.  Is that your mother's breakfast?  Or is it only 
afternoon tea?  If the first, do let me recommend to Mrs. Barrie to 
add an egg to her ordinary.  Which, if you please, I will ask her 
to eat to the honour of her son, and I am sure she will live much 
longer for it, to enjoy his fresh successes.  I never in my life 
saw anything more deliciously characteristic.  I declare I can hear 
her speak.  I wonder my mother could resist the temptation of your 
proposed visit to Kirriemuir, which it was like your kindness to 
propose.  By the way, I was twice in Kirriemuir, I believe in the 
year '71, when I was going on a visit to Glenogil.  It was 
Kirriemuir, was it not?  I have a distinct recollection of an inn 
at the end - I think the upper end - of an irregular open place or 
square, in which I always see your characters evolve.  But, indeed, 
I did not pay much attention; being all bent upon my visit to a 
shooting-box, where I should fish a real trout-stream, and I 
believe preserved.  I did, too, and it was a charming stream, clear 
as crystal, without a trace of peat - a strange thing in Scotland - 
and alive with trout; the name of it I cannot remember, it was 
something like the Queen's River, and in some hazy way connected 
with memories of Mary Queen of Scots.  It formed an epoch in my 
life, being the end of all my trout-fishing.  I had always been 
accustomed to pause and very laboriously to kill every fish as I 
took it.  But in the Queen's River I took so good a basket that I 
forgot these niceties; and when I sat down, in a hard rain shower, 
under a bank, to take my sandwiches and sherry, lo! and behold, 
there was the basketful of trouts still kicking in their agony.  I 
had a very unpleasant conversation with my conscience.  All that 
afternoon I persevered in fishing, brought home my basket in 
triumph, and sometime that night, 'in the wee sma' hours ayont the 
twal,' I finally forswore the gentle craft of fishing.  I dare say 
your local knowledge may identify this historic river; I wish it 
could go farther and identify also that particular Free kirk in 
which I sat and groaned on Sunday.  While my hand is in I must tell 
you a story.  At that antique epoch you must not fall into the 
vulgar error that I was myself ancient.  I was, on the contrary, 
very young, very green, and (what you will appreciate, Mr. Barrie) 
very shy.  There came one day to lunch at the house two very 
formidable old ladies - or one very formidable, and the other what 
you please - answering to the honoured and historic name of the 
Miss C- A-'s of Balnamoon.  At table I was exceedingly funny, and 
entertained the company with tales of geese and bubbly-jocks.  I 
was great in the expression of my terror for these bipeds, and 
suddenly this horrid, severe, and eminently matronly old lady put 
up a pair of gold eye-glasses, looked at me awhile in silence, and 
pronounced in a clangorous voice her verdict.  'You give me very 
much the effect of a coward, Mr. Stevenson!'  I had very nearly 
left two vices behind me at Glenogil - fishing and jesting at 
table.  And of one thing you may be very sure, my lips were no more 
opened at that meal.


No, Barrie, 'tis in vain they try to alarm me with their bulletins.  
No doubt, you're ill, and unco ill, I believe; but I have been so 
often in the same case that I know pleurisy and pneumonia are in 
vain against Scotsmen who can write, (I once could.)  You cannot 
imagine probably how near me this common calamity brings you.  CE 
QUE J'AI TOUSSE DANS MA VIE!  How often and how long have I been on 
the rack at night and learned to appreciate that noble passage in 
the Psalms when somebody or other is said to be more set on 
something than they 'who dig for hid treasures - yea, than those 
who long for the morning' - for all the world, as you have been 
racked and you have longed.  Keep your heart up, and you'll do.  
Tell that to your mother, if you are still in any danger or 
suffering.  And by the way, if you are at all like me - and I tell 
myself you are very like me - be sure there is only one thing good 
for you, and that is the sea in hot climates.  Mount, sir, into 'a 
little frigot' of 5000 tons or so, and steer peremptorily for the 
tropics; and what if the ancient mariner, who guides your frigot, 
should startle the silence of the ocean with the cry of land ho! - 
say, when the day is dawning - and you should see the turquoise 
mountain tops of Upolu coming hand over fist above the horizon?  
Mr. Barrie, sir, 'tis then there would be larks!  And though I 
cannot be certain that our climate would suit you (for it does not 
suit some), I am sure as death the voyage would do you good - would 
do you BEST - and if Samoa didn't do, you needn't stay beyond the 
month, and I should have had another pleasure in my life, which is 
a serious consideration for me.  I take this as the hand of the 
Lord preparing your way to Vailima - in the desert, certainly - in 
the desert of Cough and by the ghoul-haunted woodland of Fever - 
but whither that way points there can be no question - and there 
will be a meeting of the twa Hoasting Scots Makers in spite of 
fate, fortune, and the Devil.  ABSIT OMEN!

My dear Barrie, I am a little in the dark about this new work of 
yours:  what is to become of me afterwards?  You say carefully - 
methought anxiously - that I was no longer me when I grew up?  I 
cannot bear this suspense:  what is it?  It's no forgery?  And AM I 
HANGIT?  These are the elements of a very pretty lawsuit which you 
had better come to Samoa to compromise.  I am enjoying a great 
pleasure that I had long looked forward to, reading Orme's HISTORY 
OF INDOSTAN; I had been looking out for it everywhere; but at last, 
in four volumes, large quarto, beautiful type and page, and with a 
delectable set of maps and plans, and all the names of the places 
wrongly spelled - it came to Samoa, little Barrie.  I tell you 
frankly, you had better come soon.  I am sair failed a'ready; and 
what I may be if you continue to dally, I dread to conceive.  I may 
be speechless; already, or at least for a month or so, I'm little 
better than a teetoller - I beg pardon, a teetotaller.  It is not 
exactly physical, for I am in good health, working four or five 
hours a day in my plantation, and intending to ride a paper-chase 
next Sunday - ay, man, that's a fact, and I havena had the hert to 
breathe it to my mother yet - the obligation's poleetical, for I am 
trying every means to live well with my German neighbours - and, O 
Barrie, but it's no easy!  To be sure, there are many exceptions.  
And the whole of the above must be regarded as private - strictly 
private.  Breathe it not in Kirriemuir:  tell it not to the 
daughters of Dundee!  What a nice extract this would make for the 
daily papers! and how it would facilitate my position here! . . .


This is Sunday, the Lord's Day.  'The hour of attack approaches.'  
And it is a singular consideration what I risk; I may yet be the 
subject of a tract, and a good tract too - such as one which I 
remember reading with recreant awe and rising hair in my youth, of 
a boy who was a very good boy, and went to Sunday Schule, and one 
day kipped from it, and went and actually bathed, and was dashed 
over a waterfall, and he was the only son of his mother, and she 
was a widow.  A dangerous trade, that, and one that I have to 
practise.  I'll put in a word when I get home again, to tell you 
whether I'm killed or not.  'Accident in the (Paper) Hunting Field:  
death of a notorious author.  We deeply regret to announce the 
death of the most unpopular man in Samoa, who broke his neck at the 
descent of Magagi, from the misconduct of his little raving lunatic 
of an old beast of a pony.  It is proposed to commemorate the 
incident by the erection of a suitable pile.  The design (by our 
local architect, Mr. Walker) is highly artificial, with a rich and 
voluminous Crockett at each corner, a small but impervious Barrieer 
at the entrance, an arch at the top, an Archer of a pleasing but 
solid character at the bottom; the colour will be genuine William-
Black; and Lang, lang may the ladies sit wi' their fans in their 
hands.'  Well, well, they may sit as they sat for me, and little 
they'll reck, the ungrateful jauds!  Muckle they cared about 
Tusitala when they had him!  But now ye can see the difference; 
now, leddies, ye can repent, when ower late, o' your former 
cauldness and what ye'll perhaps allow me to ca' your TEPEEDITY!  
He was beautiful as the day, but his day is done!  And perhaps, as 
he was maybe gettin' a wee thing fly-blawn, it's nane too shune.


Well, sir, I have escaped the dangerous conjunction of the widow's 
only son and the Sabbath Day.  We had a most enjoyable time, and 
Lloyd and I were 3 and 4 to arrive; I will not tell here what 
interval had elapsed between our arrival and the arrival of 1 and 
2; the question, sir, is otiose and malign; it deserves, it shall 
have no answer.  And now without further delay to the main purpose 
of this hasty note.  We received and we have already in fact 
distributed the gorgeous fahbrics of Kirriemuir.  Whether from the 
splendour of the robes themselves, or from the direct nature of the 
compliments with which you had directed us to accompany the 
presentations, one young lady blushed as she received the proofs of 
your munificence. . . . Bad ink, and the dregs of it at that, but 
the heart in the right place.  Still very cordially interested in 
my Barrie and wishing him well through his sickness, which is of 
the body, and long defended from mine, which is of the head, and by 
the impolite might be described as idiocy.  The whole head is 
useless, and the whole sitting part painful:  reason, the recent 
Paper Chase.

There was racing and chasing in Vailile plantation,
And vastly we enjoyed it,
But, alas! for the state of my foundation,
For it wholly has destroyed it.

Come, my mind is looking up.  The above is wholly impromptu. - On 


AUGUST 12, 1894

And here, Mr. Barrie, is news with a vengeance.  Mother Hubbard's 
dog is well again - what did I tell you?  Pleurisy, pneumonia, and 
all that kind of truck is quite unavailing against a Scotchman who 
can write - and not only that, but it appears the perfidious dog is 
married.  This incident, so far as I remember, is omitted from the 
original epic -

She went to the graveyard
To see him get him buried,
And when she came back
The Deil had got merried.

It now remains to inform you that I have taken what we call here 
'German offence' at not receiving cards, and that the only 
reparation I will accept is that Mrs. Barrie shall incontinently 
upon the receipt of this Take and Bring you to Vailima in order to 
apologise and be pardoned for this offence.  The commentary of 
Tamaitai upon the event was brief but pregnant:  'Well, it's a 
comfort our guest-room is furnished for two.'

This letter, about nothing, has already endured too long.  I shall 
just present the family to Mrs. Barrie - Tamaitai, Tamaitai Matua, 
Teuila, Palema, Loia, and with an extra low bow, Yours,




DEAR DR. BAKEWELL, - I am not more than human.  I am more human 
than is wholly convenient, and your anecdote was welcome.  What you 
say about UNWILLING WORK, my dear sir, is a consideration always 
present with me, and yet not easy to give its due weight to.  You 
grow gradually into a certain income; without spending a penny 
more, with the same sense of restriction as before when you 
painfully scraped two hundred a year together, you find you have 
spent, and you cannot well stop spending, a far larger sum; and 
this expense can only be supported by a certain production.  
However, I am off work this month, and occupy myself instead in 
weeding my cacao, paper chases, and the like.  I may tell you, my 
average of work in favourable circumstances is far greater than you 
suppose:  from six o'clock till eleven at latest, and often till 
twelve, and again in the afternoon from two to four.  My hand is 
quite destroyed, as you may perceive, to-day to a really unusual 
extent.  I can sometimes write a decent fist still; but I have just 
returned with my arms all stung from three hours' work in the 
cacao. - Yours, etc.,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR JAMES PAYN, - I hear from Lang that you are unwell, and it 
reminds me of two circumstances:  First, that it is a very long 
time since you had the exquisite pleasure of hearing from me; and 
second, that I have been very often unwell myself, and sometimes 
had to thank you for a grateful anodyne.

They are not good, the circumstances, to write an anodyne letter.  
The hills and my house at less than (boom) a minute's interval 
quake with thunder; and though I cannot hear that part of it, 
shells are falling thick into the fort of Luatuanu'u (boom).  It is 
my friends of the CURACOA, the FALKE, and the BUSSARD bombarding 
(after all these - boom - months) the rebels of Atua.  (Boom-boom.)  
It is most distracting in itself; and the thought of the poor 
devils in their fort (boom) with their bits of rifles far from 
pleasant.  (Boom-boom.)  You can see how quick it goes, and I'll 
say no more about Mr. Bow-wow, only you must understand the 
perpetual accompaniment of this discomfortable sound, and make 
allowances for the value of my copy.  It is odd, though, I can well 
remember, when the Franco-Prussian war began, and I was in Eilean 
Earraid, far enough from the sound of the loudest cannonade, I 
could HEAR the shots fired, and I felt the pang in my breast of a 
man struck.  It was sometimes so distressing, so instant, that I 
lay in the heather on the top of the island, with my face hid, 
kicking my heels for agony.  And now, when I can hear the actual 
concussion of the air and hills, when I KNOW personally the people 
who stand exposed to it, I am able to go on TANT BIEN QUE MAL with 
a letter to James Payn!  The blessings of age, though mighty small, 
are tangible.  I have heard a great deal of them since I came into 
the world, and now that I begin to taste of them - Well!  But this 
is one, that people do get cured of the excess of sensibility; and 
I had as lief these people were shot at as myself - or almost, for 
then I should have some of the fun, such as it is.

You are to conceive me, then, sitting in my little gallery room, 
shaken by these continual spasms of cannon, and with my eye more or 
less singly fixed on the imaginary figure of my dear James Payn.  I 
try to see him in bed; no go.  I see him instead jumping up in his 
room in Waterloo Place (where EX HYPOTHESI he is not), sitting on 
the table, drawing out a very black briar-root pipe, and beginning 
to talk to a slim and ill-dressed visitor in a voice that is good 
to hear and with a smile that is pleasant to see.  (After a little 
more than half an hour, the voice that was ill to hear has ceased, 
the cannonade is over.)  And I am thinking how I can get an 
answering smile wafted over so many leagues of land and water, and 
can find no way.

I have always been a great visitor of the sick; and one of the sick 
I visited was W. E. Henley, which did not make very tedious visits, 
so I'll not get off much purgatory for them.  That was in the 
Edinburgh Infirmary, the old one, the true one, with Georgius 
Secundus standing and pointing his toe in a niche of the facade; 
and a mighty fine building it was!  And I remember one winter's 
afternoon, in that place of misery, that Henley and I chanced to 
fall in talk about James Payn himself.  I am wishing you could have 
heard that talk!  I think that would make you smile.  We had mixed 
you up with John Payne, for one thing, and stood amazed at your 
extraordinary, even painful, versatility; and for another, we found 
ourselves each students so well prepared for examinations on the 
novels of the real Mackay.  Perhaps, after all, this is worth 
something in life - to have given so much pleasure to a pair so 
different in every way as were Henley and I, and to be talked of 
with so much interest by two such (beg pardon) clever lads!

The cheerful Lang has neglected to tell me what is the matter with 
you; so, I'm sorry to say, I am cut off from all the customary 
consolations.  I can't say, 'Think how much worse it would be if 
you had a broken leg!' when you may have the crushing repartee up 
your sleeve, 'But it is my leg that is broken.'  This is a pity.  
But there are consolations.  You are an Englishman (I believe); you 
are a man of letters; you have never been made C.B.; your hair was 
not red; you have played cribbage and whist; you did not play 
either the fiddle or the banjo; you were never an aesthete; you 
never contributed to -'S JOURNAL; your name is not Jabez Balfour; 
you are totally unconnected with the Army and Navy departments; I 
understand you to have lived within your income - why, cheer up! 
here are many legitimate causes of congratulation.  I seem to be 
writing an obituary notice.  ABSIT OMEN!  But I feel very sure that 
these considerations will have done you more good than medicine.

By the by, did you ever play piquet?  I have fallen a victim to 
this debilitating game.  It is supposed to be scientific; God save 
the mark, what self-deceivers men are!  It is distinctly less so 
than cribbage.  But how fascinating!  There is such material 
opulence about it, such vast ambitions may be realised - and are 
not; it may be called the Monte Cristo of games.  And the thrill 
with which you take five cards partakes of the nature of lust - and 
you draw four sevens and a nine, and the seven and nine of a suit 
that you discarded, and O! but the world is a desert!  You may see 
traces of discouragement in my letter:  all due to piquet!  There 
has been a disastrous turn of the luck against me; a month or two 
ago I was two thousand ahead; now, and for a week back, I have been 
anything from four thousand eight hundred to five thousand two 
hundred astern.  If I have a sixieme, my beast of a partner has a 
septieme; and if I have three aces, three kings, three queens, and 
three knaves (excuse the slight exaggeration), the devil holds 
quatorze of tens! - I remain, my dear James Payn, your sincere and 
obliged friend - old friend let me say,




DEAR MISS MIDDLETON, - Your letter has been like the drawing up of 
a curtain.  Of course I remember you very well, and the Skye 
terrier to which you refer - a heavy, dull, fatted, graceless 
creature he grew up to be - was my own particular pet.  It may 
amuse you, perhaps, as much as 'The Inn' amused me, if I tell you 
what made this dog particularly mine.  My father was the natural 
god of all the dogs in our house, and poor Jura took to him of 
course.  Jura was stolen, and kept in prison somewhere for more 
than a week, as I remember.  When he came back Smeoroch had come 
and taken my father's heart from him.  He took his stand like a 
man, and positively never spoke to my father again from that day 
until the day of his death.  It was the only sign of character he 
ever showed.  I took him up to my room and to be my dog in 
consequence, partly because I was sorry for him, and partly because 
I admired his dignity in misfortune.

With best regards and thanks for having reminded me of so many 
pleasant days, old acquaintances, dead friends, and - what is 
perhaps as pathetic as any of them - dead dogs, I remain, yours 




MY DEAR CONAN DOYLE, - If you found anything to entertain you in my 
TREASURE ISLAND article, it may amuse you to know that you owe it 
entirely to yourself.  YOUR 'First Book' was by some accident read 
aloud one night in my Baronial 'All.  I was consumedly amused by 
it, so was the whole family, and we proceeded to hunt up back 
IDLERS and read the whole series.  It is a rattling good series, 
even people whom you would not expect came in quite the proper tone 
- Miss Braddon, for instance, who was really one of the best where 
all are good - or all but one! ...  In short, I fell in love with 
'The First Book' series, and determined that it should be all our 
first books, and that I could not hold back where the white plume 
of Conan Doyle waved gallantly in the front.  I hope they will 
republish them, though it's a grievous thought to me that that 
effigy in the German cap - likewise the other effigy of the noisome 
old man with the long hair, telling indelicate stories to a couple 
of deformed negresses in a rancid shanty full of wreckage - should 
be perpetuated.  I may seem to speak in pleasantry - it is only a 
seeming - that German cap, sir, would be found, when I come to die, 
imprinted on my heart.  Enough - my heart is too full.  Adieu. - 
Yours very truly,


(in a German cap, damn 'em!)



MY DEAR CHARLES, - . . . Well, there is no more Edmund Baxter now; 
and I think I may say I know how you feel.  He was one of the best, 
the kindest, and the most genial men I ever knew.  I shall always 
remember his brisk, cordial ways and the essential goodness which 
he showed me whenever we met with gratitude.  And the always is 
such a little while now!  He is another of the landmarks gone; when 
it comes to my own turn to lay my weapons down, I shall do so with 
thankfulness and fatigue; and whatever be my destiny afterward, I 
shall be glad to lie down with my fathers in honour.  It is human 
at least, if not divine.  And these deaths make me think of it with 
an ever greater readiness.  Strange that you should be beginning a 
new life, when I, who am a little your junior, am thinking of the 
end of mine.  But I have had hard lines; I have been so long 
waiting for death, I have unwrapped my thoughts from about life so 
long, that I have not a filament left to hold by; I have done my 
fiddling so long under Vesuvius, that I have almost forgotten to 
play, and can only wait for the eruption, and think it long of 
coming.  Literally, no man has more wholly outlived life than I.  
And still it's good fun.

R. L. S.

Letter:  TO R. A. M. STEVENSON


DEAR BOB, - You are in error about the Picts.  They were a Gaelic 
race, spoke a Celtic tongue, and we have no evidence that I know of 
that they were blacker than other Celts.  The Balfours, I take it, 
were plainly Celts; their name shows it - the 'cold croft,' it 
means; so does their country.  Where the BLACK Scotch come from 
nobody knows; but I recognise with you the fact that the whole of 
Britain is rapidly and progressively becoming more pigmented; 
already in one man's life I can decidedly trace a difference in the 
children about a school door.  But colour is not an essential part 
of a man or a race.  Take my Polynesians, an Asiatic people 
probably from the neighbourhood of the Persian gulf.  They range 
through any amount of shades, from the burnt hue of the Low 
Archipelago islander, which seems half negro, to the 'bleached' 
pretty women of the Marquesas (close by on the map), who come out 
for a festival no darker than an Italian; their colour seems to 
vary directly with the degree of exposure to the sun.  And, as with 
negroes, the babes are born white; only it should seem a LITTLE 
SACK of pigment at the lower part of the spine, which presently 
spreads over the whole field.  Very puzzling.  But to return.  The 
Picts furnish to-day perhaps a third of the population of Scotland, 
say another third for Scots and Britons, and the third for Norse 
and Angles is a bad third.  Edinburgh was a Pictish place.  But the 
fact is, we don't know their frontiers.  Tell some of your 
journalist friends with a good style to popularise old Skene; or 
say your prayers, and read him for yourself; he was a Great 
Historian, and I was his blessed clerk, and did not know it; and 
you will not be in a state of grace about the Picts till you have 
studied him.  J. Horne Stevenson (do you know him?) is working this 
up with me, and the fact is - it's not interesting to the public - 
but it's interesting, and very interesting, in itself, and just now 
very embarrassing - this rural parish supplied Glasgow with such a 
quantity of Stevensons in the beginning of last century!  There is 
just a link wanting; and we might be able to go back to the 
eleventh century, always undistinguished, but clearly traceable.  
When I say just a link, I guess I may be taken to mean a dozen.  
What a singular thing is this undistinguished perpetuation of a 
family throughout the centuries, and the sudden bursting forth of 
character and capacity that began with our grandfather!  But as I 
go on in life, day by day, I become more of a bewildered child; I 
cannot get used to this world, to procreation, to heredity, to 
sight, to hearing; the commonest things are a burthen.  The prim 
obliterated polite face of life, and the broad, bawdy, and 
orgiastic - or maenadic - foundations, form a spectacle to which no 
habit reconciles me; and 'I could wish my days to be bound each to 
each' by the same open-mouthed wonder.  They ARE anyway, and 
whether I wish it or not.

I remember very well your attitude to life, this conventional 
surface of it.  You had none of that curiosity for the social stage 
directions, the trivial FICELLES of the business; it is simian, but 
that is how the wild youth of man is captured; you wouldn't 
imitate, hence you kept free - a wild dog, outside the kennel - and 
came dam' near starving for your pains.  The key to the business is 
of course the belly; difficult as it is to keep that in view in the 
zone of three miraculous meals a day in which we were brought up.  
Civilisation has become reflex with us; you might think that hunger 
was the name of the best sauce; but hunger to the cold solitary 
under a bush of a rainy night is the name of something quite 
different.  I defend civilisation for the thing it is, for the 
thing it has COME to be, the standpoint of a real old Tory.  My 
ideal would be the Female Clan.  But how can you turn these 
crowding dumb multitudes BACK?  They don't do anything BECAUSE; 
they do things, write able articles, stitch shoes, dig, from the 
purely simian impulse.  Go and reason with monkeys!

No, I am right about Jean Lillie.  Jean Lillie, our double great-
grandmother, the daughter of David Lillie, sometime Deacon of the 
Wrights, married, first, Alan Stevenson, who died May 26, 1774, 'at 
Santt Kittes of a fiver,' by whom she had Robert Stevenson, born 
8th June 1772; and, second, in May or June 1787, Thomas Smith, a 
widower, and already the father of our grandmother.  This 
improbable double connection always tends to confuse a student of 
the family, Thomas Smith being doubly our great-grandfather.

I looked on the perpetuation of our honoured name with veneration.  
My mother collared one of the photos, of course; the other is stuck 
up on my wall as the chief of our sept.  Do you know any of the 
Gaelic-Celtic sharps? you might ask what the name means.  It 
puzzles me.  I find a M'STEIN and a MACSTEPHANE; and our own great-
grandfather always called himself Steenson, though he wrote it 
Stevenson.  There are at least three PLACES called Stevenson - 
STEVENSON in Cunningham, STEVENSON in Peebles, and STEVENSON in 
Haddington.  And it was not the Celtic trick, I understand, to call 
places after people.  I am going to write to Sir Herbert Maxwell 
about the name, but you might find some one.

Get the Anglo-Saxon heresy out of your head; they superimposed 
their language, they scarce modified the race; only in Berwickshire 
and Roxburgh have they very largely affected the place names.  The 
Scandinavians did much more to Scotland than the Angles.  The 
Saxons didn't come.

Enough of this sham antiquarianism.  Yes, it is in the matter of 
the book, of course, that collaboration shows; as for the manner, 
it is superficially all mine, in the sense that the last copy is 
all in my hand.  Lloyd did not even put pen to paper in the Paris 
scenes or the Barbizon scene; it was no good; he wrote and often 
rewrote all the rest; I had the best service from him on the 
character of Nares.  You see, we had been just meeting the man, and 
his memory was full of the man's words and ways.  And Lloyd is an 
impressionist, pure and simple.  The great difficulty of 
collaboration is that you can't explain what you mean.  I know what 
kind of effect I mean a character to give - what kind of TACHE he 
is to make; but how am I to tell my collaborator in words?  Hence 
it was necessary to say, 'Make him So-and-so'; and this was all 
right for Nares and Pinkerton and Loudon Dodd, whom we both knew, 
but for Bellairs, for instance - a man with whom I passed ten 
minutes fifteen years ago - what was I to say? and what could Lloyd 
do?  I, as a personal artist, can begin a character with only a 
haze in my head, but how if I have to translate the haze into words 
before I begin?  In our manner of collaboration (which I think the 
only possible - I mean that of one person being responsible, and 
giving the COUP DE POUCE to every part of the work) I was spared 
the obviously hopeless business of trying to explain to my 
collaborator what STYLE I wished a passage to be treated in.  These 
are the times that illustrate to a man the inadequacy of spoken 
language.  Now - to be just to written language - I can (or could) 
find a language for my every mood, but how could I TELL any one 
beforehand what this effect was to be, which it would take every 
art that I possessed, and hours and hours of deliberate labour and 
selection and rejection, to produce?  These are the impossibilities 
of collaboration.  Its immediate advantage is to focus two minds 
together on the stuff, and to produce in consequence an 
extraordinarily greater richness of purview, consideration, and 
invention.  The hardest chapter of all was 'Cross Questions and 
Crooked Answers.'  You would not believe what that cost us before 
it assumed the least unity and colour.  Lloyd wrote it at least 
thrice, and I at least five times - this is from memory.  And was 
that last chapter worth the trouble it cost?  Alas, that I should 
ask the question!  Two classes of men - the artist and the 
educationalist - are sworn, on soul and conscience, not to ask it.  
You get an ordinary, grinning, red-headed boy, and you have to 
educate him.  Faith supports you; you give your valuable hours, the 
boy does not seem to profit, but that way your duty lies, for which 
you are paid, and you must persevere.  Education has always seemed 
to me one of the few possible and dignified ways of life.  A 
sailor, a shepherd, a schoolmaster - to a less degree, a soldier - 
and (I don't know why, upon my soul, except as a sort of 
schoolmaster's unofficial assistant, and a kind of acrobat in 
tights) an artist, almost exhaust the category.

If I had to begin again - I know not - SI JEUNESSE SAVAIT, SI 
VIEILLESSE POUVAIT . . . I know not at all - I believe I should try 
to honour Sex more religiously.  The worst of our education is that 
Christianity does not recognise and hallow Sex.  It looks askance 
at it, over its shoulder, oppressed as it is by reminiscences of 
hermits and Asiatic self-tortures.  It is a terrible hiatus in our 
modern religions that they cannot see and make venerable that which 
they ought to see first and hallow most.  Well, it is so; I cannot 
be wiser than my generation.

But no doubt there is something great in the half-success that has 
attended the effort of turning into an emotional religion, Bald 
Conduct, without any appeal, or almost none, to the figurative, 
mysterious, and constitutive facts of life.  Not that conduct is 
not constitutive, but dear! it's dreary!  On the whole, conduct is 
better dealt with on the cast-iron 'gentleman' and duty formula, 
with as little fervour and poetry as possible; stoical and short.

. . . There is a new something or other in the wind, which 
exercises me hugely:  anarchy, - I mean, anarchism.  People who 
(for pity's sake) commit dastardly murders very basely, die like 
saints, and leave beautiful letters behind 'em (did you see 
Vaillant to his daughter? it was the New Testament over again); 
people whose conduct is inexplicable to me, and yet their spiritual 
life higher than that of most.  This is just what the early 
Christians must have seemed to the Romans.  Is this, then, a new 
DRIVE among the monkeys?  Mind you, Bob, if they go on being 
martyred a few years more, the gross, dull, not unkindly bourgeois 
may get tired or ashamed or afraid of going on martyring; and the 
anarchists come out at the top just like the early Christians.  
That is, of course, they will step into power as a PERSONNEL, but 
God knows what they may believe when they come to do so; it can't 
be stranger or more improbable than what Christianity had come to 
be by the same time.

Your letter was easily read, the pagination presented no 
difficulty, and I read it with much edification and gusto.  To look 
back, and to stereotype one bygone humour - what a hopeless thing!  
The mind runs ever in a thousand eddies like a river between 
cliffs.  You (the ego) are always spinning round in it, east, west, 
north, and south.  You are twenty years old, and forty, and five, 
and the next moment you are freezing at an imaginary eighty; you 
are never the plain forty-four that you should be by dates.  (The 
most philosophical language is the Gaelic, which has NO PRESENT 
TENSE - and the most useless.)  How, then, to choose some former 
age, and stick there?

R. L. S.



DEAR SIR HERBERT MAXWELL, - I am emboldened by reading your very 
interesting Rhind Lectures to put to you a question:  What is my 
name, Stevenson?

I find it in the forms Stevinetoun, Stevensoune, Stevensonne, 
Stenesone, Stewinsoune, M'Stein, and MacStephane.  My family, and 
(as far as I can gather) the majority of the inglorious clan, 
hailed from the borders of Cunningham and Renfrew, and the upper 
waters of the Clyde.  In the Barony of Bothwell was the seat of the 
laird Stevenson of Stevenson; but, as of course you know, there is 
a parish in Cunningham and places in Peebles and Haddington bearing 
the same name.

If you can at all help me, you will render me a real service which 
I wish I could think of some manner to repay. - Believe me, yours 


P.S. - I should have added that I have perfect evidence before me 
that (for some obscure reason) Stevenson was a favourite alias with 
the M'Gregors.



MY DEAR CUMMY, - So I hear you are ailing?  Think shame to 
yourself!  So you think there is nothing better to be done with 
time than that? and be sure we can all do much ourselves to decide 
whether we are to be ill or well! like a man on the gymnastic bars.  
We are all pretty well.  As for me, there is nothing the matter 
with me in the world, beyond the disgusting circumstance that I am 
not so young as once I was.  Lloyd has a gymnastic machine, and 
practises upon it every morning for an hour:  he is beginning to be 
a kind of young Samson.  Austin grows fat and brown, and gets on 
not so ill with his lessons, and my mother is in great price.  We 
are having knock-me-down weather for heat; I never remember it so 
hot before, and I fancy it means we are to have a hurricane again 
this year, I think; since we came here, we have not had a single 
gale of wind!  The Pacific is but a child to the North Sea; but 
when she does get excited, and gets up and girds herself, she can 
do something good.  We have had a very interesting business here.  
I helped the chiefs who were in prison; and when they were set 
free, what should they do but offer to make a part of my road for 
me out of gratitude?  Well, I was ashamed to refuse, and the trumps 
dug my road for me, and put up this inscription on a board:-

THIS ROAD THAT WE HAVE DUG!'  We had a great feast when it was 
done, and I read them a kind of lecture, which I dare say Auntie 
will have, and can let you see.  Weel, guid bye to ye, and joy be 
wi' ye!  I hae nae time to say mair.  They say I'm gettin' FAT - a 
fact! - Your laddie, with all love,




MY DEAR JAMES PAYN, - I am asked to relate to you a little incident 
of domestic life at Vailima.  I had read your GLEAMS OF MEMORY, No. 
1; it then went to my wife, to Osbourne, to the cousin that is 
within my gates, and to my respected amanuensis, Mrs. Strong.  
Sunday approached.  In the course of the afternoon I was attracted 
to the great 'all - the winders is by Vanderputty, which upon 
entering I beheld a memorable scene.  The floor was bestrewn with 
the forms of midshipmen from the CURACOA - 'boldly say a wilderness 
of gunroom' - and in the midst of this sat Mrs. Strong throned on 
the sofa and reading aloud GLEAMS OF MEMORY.  They had just come 
the length of your immortal definition of boyhood in the concrete, 
and I had the pleasure to see the whole party dissolve under its 
influence with inextinguishable laughter.  I thought this was not 
half bad for arthritic gout!  Depend upon it, sir, when I go into 
the arthritic gout business, I shall be done with literature, or at 
least with the funny business.  It is quite true I have my 
battlefields behind me.  I have done perhaps as much work as 
anybody else under the most deplorable conditions.  But two things 
fall to be noticed:  In the first place, I never was in actual 
pain; and in the second, I was never funny.  I'll tell you the 
worst day that I remember.  I had a haemorrhage, and was not 
allowed to speak; then, induced by the devil, or an errant doctor, 
I was led to partake of that bowl which neither cheers nor 
inebriates - the castor-oil bowl.  Now, when castor-oil goes right, 
it is one thing; but when it goes wrong, it is another.  And it 
went WRONG with me that day.  The waves of faintness and nausea 
succeeded each other for twelve hours, and I do feel a legitimate 
pride in thinking that I stuck to my work all through and wrote a 
good deal of Admiral Guinea (which I might just as well not have 
written for all the reward it ever brought me) in spite of the 
barbarous bad conditions.  I think that is my great boast; and it 
seems a little thing alongside of your GLEAMS OF MEMORY illustrated 
by spasms of arthritic gout.  We really should have an order of 
merit in the trade of letters.  For valour, Scott would have had 
it; Pope too; myself on the strength of that castor-oil; and James 
Payn would be a Knight Commander.  The worst of it is, though Lang 
tells me you exhibit the courage of Huish, that not even an order 
can alleviate the wretched annoyance of the business.  I have 
always said that there is nothing like pain; toothache, dumb-ague, 
arthritic gout, it does not matter what you call it, if the screw 
is put upon the nerves sufficiently strong, there is nothing left 
in heaven or in earth that can interest the sufferer.  Still, even 
to this there is the consolation that it cannot last for ever.  
Either you will be relieved and have a good hour again before the 
sun goes down, or else you will be liberated.  It is something 
after all (although not much) to think that you are leaving a brave 
example; that other literary men love to remember, as I am sure 
they will love to remember, everything about you - your sweetness, 
your brightness, your helpfulness to all of us, and in particular 
those one or two really adequate and noble papers which you have 
been privileged to write during these last years. - With the 
heartiest and kindest good-will, I remain, yours ever,

R. L. S.



MY DEAR EELES, - The hand, as you will perceive (and also the 
spelling!), is Teuila's, but the scrannel voice is what remains of 
Tusitala's.  First of all, for business.  When you go to London you 
are to charter a hansom cab and proceed to the Museum.  It is 
particular fun to do this on Sundays when the Monument is shut up.  
Your cabman expostulates with you, you persist.  The cabman drives 
up in front of the closed gates and says, 'I told you so, sir.'  
You breathe in the porter's ears the mystic name of COLVIN, and he 
immediately unfolds the iron barrier.  You drive in, and doesn't 
your cabman think you're a swell.  A lord mayor is nothing to it.  
Colvin's door is the only one in the eastern gable of the building.  
Send in your card to him with 'From R. L. S.' in the corner, and 
the machinery will do the rest.  Henry James's address is 34 De 
Vere Mansions West.  I cannot remember where the place is; I cannot 
even remember on which side of the park.  But it's one of those big 
Cromwell Road-looking deserted thoroughfares out west in Kensington 
or Bayswater, or between the two; and anyway, Colvin will be able 
to put you on the direct track for Henry James.  I do not send 
formal introductions, as I have taken the liberty to prepare both 
of them for seeing you already.

Hoskyn is staying with us.

It is raining dismally.  The Curacoa track is hardly passable, but 
it must be trod to-morrow by the degenerate feet of their successor 
the Wallaroos.  I think it a very good account of these last that 
we don't think them either deformed or habitual criminals - they 
seem to be a kindly lot.

The doctor will give you all the gossip.  I have preferred in this 
letter to stick to the strictly solid and necessary.  With kind 
messages from all in the house to all in the wardroom, all in the 
gunroom, and (may we dare to breathe it) to him who walks abaft, 
believe me, my dear Eeles, yours ever,




DEAR SIR HERBERT, - Thank you very much for your long and kind 
letter.  I shall certainly take your advice and call my cousin, the 
Lyon King, into council.  It is certainly a very interesting 
subject, though I don't suppose it can possibly lead to anything, 
this connection between the Stevensons and M'Gregors.  Alas! your 
invitation is to me a mere derision.  My chances of visiting Heaven 
are about as valid as my chances of visiting Monreith.  Though I 
should like well to see you, shrunken into a cottage, a literary 
Lord of Ravenscraig.  I suppose it is the inevitable doom of all 
those who dabble in Scotch soil; but really your fate is the more 
blessed.  I cannot conceive anything more grateful to me, or more 
amusing or more picturesque, than to live in a cottage outside your 
own park-walls. - With renewed thanks, believe me, dear Sir 
Herbert, yours very truly,




MY DEAR LANG, - For the portrait of Braxfield, much thanks!  It is 
engraved from the same Raeburn portrait that I saw in '76 or '77 
with so extreme a gusto that I have ever since been Braxfield's 
humble servant, and am now trying, as you know, to stick him into a 
novel.  Alas! one might as well try to stick in Napoleon.  The 
picture shall be framed and hung up in my study.  Not only as a 
memento of you, but as a perpetual encouragement to do better with 
his Lordship.  I have not yet received the transcripts.  They must 
be very interesting.  Do you know, I picked up the other day an old 
LONGMAN'S, where I found an article of yours that I had missed, 
about Christie's?  I read it with great delight.  The year ends 
with us pretty much as it began, among wars and rumours of wars, 
and a vast and splendid exhibition of official incompetence. - 
Yours ever,




I AM afraid, MY DEAR WEG, that this must be the result of bribery 
and corruption!  The volume to which the dedication stands as 
preface seems to me to stand alone in your work; it is so natural, 
so personal, so sincere, so articulate in substance, and what you 
always were sure of - so rich in adornment.

Let me speak first of the dedication.  I thank you for it from the 
heart.  It is beautifully said, beautifully and kindly felt; and I 
should be a churl indeed if I were not grateful, and an ass if I 
were not proud.  I remember when Symonds dedicated a book to me; I 
wrote and told him of 'the pang of gratified vanity' with which I 
had read it.  The pang was present again, but how much more sober 
and autumnal - like your volume.  Let me tell you a story, or 
remind you of a story.  In the year of grace something or other, 
anything between '76 and '78 I mentioned to you in my usual 
autobiographical and inconsiderate manner that I was hard up.  You 
said promptly that you had a balance at your banker's, and could 
make it convenient to let me have a cheque, and I accepted and got 
the money - how much was it? - twenty or perhaps thirty pounds?  I 
know not - but it was a great convenience.  The same evening, or 
the next day, I fell in conversation (in my usual autobiographical 
and . . . see above) with a denizen of the Savile Club, name now 
gone from me, only his figure and a dim three-quarter view of his 
face remaining.  To him I mentioned that you had given me a loan, 
remarking easily that of course it didn't matter to you.  Whereupon 
he read me a lecture, and told me how it really stood with you 
financially.  He was pretty serious; fearing, as I could not help 
perceiving, that I should take too light a view of the 
responsibility and the service (I was always thought too light - 
the irresponsible jester - you remember.  O, QUANTUM MUTATUS AB 
ILLO!)  If I remember rightly, the money was repaid before the end 
of the week - or, to be more exact and a trifle pedantic, the 
sennight - but the service has never been forgotten; and I send you 
back this piece of ancient history, CONSULE PLANCO, as a salute for 
your dedication, and propose that we should drink the health of the 
nameless one, who opened my eyes as to the true nature of what you 
did for me on that occasion.

But here comes my Amanuensis, so we'll get on more swimmingly now.  
You will understand perhaps that what so particularly pleased me in 
the new volume, what seems to me to have so personal and original a 
note, are the middle-aged pieces in the beginning.  The whole of 
them, I may say, though I must own an especial liking to -

'I yearn not for the fighting fate,
That holds and hath achieved;
I live to watch and meditate
And dream - and be deceived.'

You take the change gallantly.  Not I, I must confess.  It is all 
very well to talk of renunciation, and of course it has to be done.  
But, for my part, give me a roaring toothache!  I do like to be 
deceived and to dream, but I have very little use for either 
watching or meditation.  I was not born for age.  And, curiously 
enough, I seem to see a contrary drift in my work from that which 
is so remarkable in yours.  You are going on sedately travelling 
through your ages, decently changing with the years to the proper 
tune.  And here am I, quite out of my true course, and with nothing 
in my foolish elderly head but love-stories.  This must repose upon 
some curious distinction of temperaments.  I gather from a phrase, 
boldly autobiographical, that you are - well, not precisely growing 
thin.  Can that be the difference?

It is rather funny that this matter should come up just now, as I 
am at present engaged in treating a severe case of middle age in 
one of my stories - 'The Justice-Clerk.'  The case is that of a 
woman, and I think that I am doing her justice.  You will be 
interested, I believe, to see the difference in our treatments.  
SECRETA VITAE, comes nearer to the case of my poor Kirstie.  Come 
to think of it, Gosse, I believe the main distinction is that you 
have a family growing up around you, and I am a childless, rather 
bitter, very clear-eyed, blighted youth.  I have, in fact, lost the 
path that makes it easy and natural for you to descend the hill.  I 
am going at it straight.  And where I have to go down it is a 

I must not forget to give you a word of thanks for AN ENGLISH 
VILLAGE.  It reminds me strongly of Keats, which is enough to say; 
and I was particularly pleased with the petulant sincerity of the 
concluding sentiment.

Well, my dear Gosse, here's wishing you all health and prosperity, 
as well as to the mistress and the bairns.  May you live long, 
since it seems as if you would continue to enjoy life.  May you 
write many more books as good as this one - only there's one thing 
impossible, you can never write another dedication that can give 
the same pleasure to the vanished


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