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Title: The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson — Volume 1
Author: Stevenson, Robert Louis
Language: English
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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.

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Transcribed from the 1906 Methuen and Co. edition by David Price, email

                          [Picture: Book cover]

                    [Picture: Robert Louis Stevenson]

                              THE LETTERS OF
                          ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
                        TO HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS

                         SELECTED AND EDITED WITH
                        NOTES AND INTRODUCTIONS BY

                              SIDNEY COLVIN

                                 VOLUME I

                                * * * * *

                             METHUEN AND CO.
                             36 ESSEX STREET

                            _Seventh Edition_

                                * * * * *

_First Published_      _November 1899_
_Second Edition_       _November 1899_
_Third Edition_           _April 1900_
_Fourth Edition_       _November 1900_
_Fifth Edition_         _January 1901_
_Sixth Edition_         _October 1902_
_Seventh Edition_      _December 1906_

                                * * * * *

IN the present edition, several minor errors and misprints have been
corrected, and three new letters have been printed, one addressed to Mr.
Austin Dobson (vol. i. p. 340), one to Mr. Rudyard Kipling (vol. ii. p.
215), and one to Mr. George Meredith (vol. ii. p. 302).  The two former
replace other letters which seemed of less interest; the last is an
addition to the book.

                                  S. C.


INTRODUCTION                                   xv–xliv

INTRODUCTORY                                         3
   To Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                         15
   To the Same                                      17
   To the Same                                      19
   To the Same                                      20
   To Mrs. Churchill Babington                      24
   To Alison Cunningham                             26
   To Charles Baxter                                27
   To the Same                                      29
   To Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                         30
   To the Same                                      32
   To the Same                                      33
   To Thomas Stevenson                              36
   To Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                         38
   To Charles Baxter                                40

               STUDENT DAYS—_continued_
   To Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                         48
   To Mrs. Sitwell                                  49
   To the Same                                      51
   To the Same                                      53
   To the Same                                      57
   To the Same                                      61
   To Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                         62
   To Mrs. Sitwell                                  65
   To Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                         67
   To the Same                                      69
   To Mrs. Sitwell                                  71
   To the Same                                      73
   To Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                         74
   To Mrs. Sitwell                                  75
   To the Same                                      77
   To the Same                                      79
   To the Same                                      81
   To the Same                                      83
   To Sidney Colvin                                 84
   To Mrs. Sitwell                                  85
   To Sidney Colvin                                 87
   To Mrs. Sitwell                                  88
   To the Same                                      88
   To the Same                                      91
   To the Same                                      92
   To the Same                                      95
   To the Same                                      95

                 ADVOCATE AND AUTHOR
   To Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                104
   To Mrs. Sitwell                         104
   To Sidney Colvin                        106
   To Charles Baxter                       109
   To Sidney Colvin                        110
   To Mrs. Sitwell                         111
   To Mrs. de Mattos                       112
   To Mrs. Sitwell                         114
   To Sidney Colvin                        115
   To the Same                             115
   To Mrs. Sitwell                         116
   To W. E. Henley                         117
   To Mrs. Sitwell                         118
   To Sidney Colvin                        119
   To Mrs. Sitwell                         120
   To A. Patchett Martin                   121
   To the Same                             122
   To Sidney Colvin                        124
   To the Same                             125
   To Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Stevenson        126
   To Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                126
   To the Same                             127
   To W. E. Henley                         128
   To Charles Baxter.                      128
   To Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                129
   To W. E. Henley                         129
   To Edmund Gosse                         130
   To W. E. Henley                         132
   To Edmund Gosse                         134
   To Sidney Colvin                        136
   To Edmund Gosse                         136

                 THE AMATEUR EMIGRANT
   To Sidney Colvin                                144
   To the Same                                     144
   To W. E. Henley                                 146
   To Sidney Colvin                                147
   To the Same                                     148
   To the Same                                     149
   To Edmund Gosse                                 150
   To W. E. Henley                                 151
   To the Same                                     152
   To P. G. Hamerton                               155
   To Edmund Gosse                                 156
   To Sidney Colvin                                157
   To Edmund Gosse                                 158
   To Sidney Colvin                                160
   To the Same                                     162
   To Charles Baxter                               164
   To Sidney Colvin                                165
   To W. E. Henley                                 167
   To Sidney Colvin                                169
   To Edmund Gosse                                 169
   To Dr. W. Bamford                               170
   To Sidney Colvin                                171
   To the Same                                     171
   To the Same                                     172
   To C. W. Stoddard                               173
   To Sidney Colvin                                174

                    ALPINE WINTERS
                 AND HIGHLAND SUMMERS
   To A. G. Dew-Smith                              185
   To Thomas Stevenson                             187
   To Edmund Gosse                                 188
   To the Same                                     189
   To C. W. Stoddard                               191
   To Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                192
   To Sidney Colvin                                194
   To Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                        195
   To Sidney Colvin                                197
   To Horatio F. Brown                             199
   To the Same                                     200
   To the Same                                     200
   To Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                201
   To Edmund Gosse                                 202
   To Sidney Colvin                                204
   To Professor Æneas Mackay                       205
   To the Same                                     205
   To Edmund Gosse                                 206
   To the Same                                     207
   To P. G. Hamerton                               208
   To Sidney Colvin                                209
   To W. E. Henley                                 211
   To the Same                                     212
   To Sidney Colvin                                213
   To Dr. Alexander Japp                           215
   To Mrs. Sitwell                                 216
   To Edmund Gosse                                 217
   To the Same                                     218
   To the Same                                     219
   To W. E. Henley                                 219
   To Dr. Alexander Japp                           221
   To W. E. Henley                                 222
   To Thomas Stevenson                             223
   To P. G. Hamerton                               224
   To Charles Baxter                               226
   To Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                        227
   To Alison Cunningham                            228
   To Charles Baxter                               228
   To W. E. Henley                                 229
   To the Same                                     230
   To Alexander Ireland                            233
   To Edmund Gosse                                 235
   To Dr. Alexander Japp                           236
   To the Same                                     236
   To W. E. Henley                                 238
   To Mrs. T. Stevenson                            240
   To Edmund Gosse                                 241
   To the Same                                     242
   To W. E. Henley                                 242

   To the Editor of the _New York                  251
   To R. A. M. Stevenson                           252
   To Thomas Stevenson                             253
   To Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                        254
   To Charles Baxter                               254
   To Alison Cunningham                            256
   To W. E. Henley                                 257
   To Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                        261
   To Thomas Stevenson                             262
   To Mrs. Sitwell                                 263
   To Edmund Gosse                                 265
   To Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                266
   To the Same                                     267
   To Edmund Gosse                                 268
   To the Same                                     269
   To W. E. Henley                                 270
   To the Same                                     271
   To the Same                                     272
   To the Same                                     273
   To the Same                                     274
   To Alison Cunningham                            275
   To W. E. Henley                                 277
   To Edmund Gosse                                 278
   To W. E. Henley                                 279
   To Edmund Gosse                                 283
   To Sidney Colvin                                284
   To W. H. Low                                    286
   To R. A. M. Stevenson                           288
   To Thomas Stevenson                             291
   To W. H. Low                                    292
   To W. E. Henley                                 294
   To Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                        295
   To Sidney Colvin                                296
   To Mrs. Milne                                   297
   To Miss Ferrier                                 299
   To W. H. Low                                    300
   To Thomas Stevenson                             301
   To Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                302
   To Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                        303
   To Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                304
   To Sidney Colvin                                305
   To Mr. Dick                                     308
   To Cosmo Monkhouse                              310
   To Edmund Gosse                                 312
   To Miss Ferrier                                 313
   To W. H. Low                                    314
   To Thomas Stevenson                             315
   To Cosmo Monkhouse                              316
   To W. E. Henley                                 318
   To Edmund Gosse                                 319
   To Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                320
   To Sidney Colvin                                321

                 LIFE AT BOURNEMOUTH
   To Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                328
   To W. E. Henley                                 328
   To the Rev. Professor Lewis Campbell            330
   To Andrew Chatto                                331
   To W. H. Low                                    332
   To Thomas Stevenson                             334
   To W. E. Henley                                 335
   To Thomas Stevenson                             335
   To Charles Baxter                               337
   To the Same                                     337
   To Miss Ferrier                                 338
   To Edmund Gosse                                 339
   To Austin Dobson                                340
   To Henry James                                  341
   To Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Stevenson                343
   To W. E. Henley                                 344
   To the Same                                     345
   To H. A. Jones                                  346
   To Sidney Colvin                                346
   To Thomas Stevenson                             347
   To Sidney Colvin                                348
   To the Same                                     349
   To J. A. Symonds                                350
   To Edmund Gosse                                 352
   To W. H. Low                                    354
   To P. G. Hamerton                               356
   To William Archer                               358
   To Mrs. Fleeming Jenkin                         359
   To the Same                                     360
   To W. H. Low                                    361
   To W. E. Henley                                 363
   To William Archer                               364
   To Thomas Stevenson                             367
   To Henry James                                  368
   To William Archer                               369
   To the Same                                     371
   To W. H. Low                                    374

           _Frontispiece_—PORTRAIT OF R. L. STEVENSON, _æt._ 35
                _From a photograph by_ Mr. LLOYD OSBOURNE


ONE day in the autumn of 1888, in the island of Tahiti, during an illness
which he supposed might be his last, Stevenson put into the hands of his
stepson, Mr. Lloyd Osbourne, a sealed paper with the request that it
should be opened after his death.  He recovered, as every one knows, and
had strength enough to enjoy six years more of active life and work in
the Pacific Islands.  When the end came, and the paper was opened, it was
found to contain, among other things, the expression of his wish that I
should be asked to prepare for publication ‘a selection of his letters
and a sketch of his life.’  The journal letters written to myself from
his Samoan home, subsequently to the date of the request, offered the
readiest material towards fulfilling promptly a part at least of the duty
thus laid upon me; and a selection from these was accordingly published
in the autumn following his death. {xv}

The scanty leisure of an official life (chiefly employed as it was for
several years in seeing my friend’s collected and posthumous works
through the press) did not allow me to complete the remainder of my task
without considerable delay.  For one thing, the body of correspondence
which came in from various quarters turned out much larger than had been
anticipated, and the labour of sifting and arranging it much greater.
The author of _Treasure Island_ and _Across the Plains_ and _Weir of
Hermiston_ did not love writing letters, and will be found somewhere in
the following pages referring to himself as one ‘essentially and
originally incapable of the art epistolary.’  That he was a bad
correspondent had even come to be an accepted view among his friends; but
in truth it was only during one particular period of his life (see below,
vol. i. p. 103) that he at all deserved such a reproach.  At other times,
as is now apparent, he had shown a degree of industry and spirit in
letter-writing extraordinary considering his health and occupations, and
especially considering his declared aversion for the task.  His letters,
it is true, were often the most informal in the world, and he generally
neglected to date them, a habit which is the despair of editors; but
after his own whim and fashion he wrote a vast number; so that for every
one here included some half-a-dozen at least have had to be rejected.

In considering the scale and plan on which my friend’s instruction should
be carried out, it seemed necessary to take into account, not his own
always modest opinion of himself, but the place which, as time went on,
he seemed likely to take ultimately in the world’s regard.  The four or
five years following the death of a writer much applauded in his lifetime
are generally the years when the decline of his reputation begins, if it
is going to suffer decline at all.  At present, certainly, Stevenson’s
name seems in no danger of going down.  On the stream of daily literary
reference and allusion it floats more actively than ever.  In another
sense its vitality is confirmed by the material test of continued sales
and of the market.  Since we have lost him other writers, whose
beginnings he watched with sympathetic interest, have come to fill a
greater immediate place in public attention; one especially has struck
notes which appeal to dominant fibres in our Anglo-Saxon stock with
irresistible force; but none has exercised Stevenson’s peculiar and
personal power to charm, to attach, and to inspirit.  By his study of
perfection in form and style—qualities for which his countrymen in
general have been apt to care little—he might seem destined to give
pleasure chiefly to the fastidious and the artistically minded.  But as
to its matter, the main appeal of his work is not to any mental tastes
and fashions of the few; it is rather to universal, hereditary instincts,
to the primitive sources of imaginative excitement and entertainment in
the race.

By virtue, then, of this double appeal of form and matter; by his
especial hold upon the young, in whose spirit so much of his best work
was done; by his undecaying influence on other writers; by the spell
which he still exercises from the grave, and exercises most strongly on
those who are most familiar with the best company whether of the living
or the dead, Stevenson’s name and memory, so far as can be judged at
present, seem destined not to dwindle, but to grow.  The voice of the
_advocatus diaboli_ has been heard against him, as it is right and proper
that it should be heard against any man before his reputation can be held
fully established.  One such advocate in this country has thought to
dispose of him by the charge of ‘externality.’  But the reader who
remembers things like the sea-frenzy of Gordon Darnaway, or the dialogue
of Markheim with his other self in the house of murder, or the re-baptism
of the spirit of Seraphina in the forest dews, or the failure of Herrick
to find in the waters of the island lagoon a last release from dishonour,
or the death of Goguelat, or the appeal of Kirstie Elliot in the midnight
chamber—such a reader can only smile at a criticism like this and put it
by.  These and a score of other passages breathe the essential poetry and
significance of things as they reveal themselves to true masters only—are
instinct at once with the morality and the romance which lie deep
together at the soul of nature and experience.  Not in vain had Stevenson
read the lesson of the Lantern-Bearers, and hearkened to the music of the
pipes of Pan.  He was feeling his way all his life towards a fuller
mastery of his means, preferring always to leave unexpressed what he felt
that he could not express perfectly; and in much of his work was content
merely to amuse himself and others.  But even when he is playing most
fancifully with his art and his readers, as in the shudders, tempered
with laughter, of the Suicide Club, or the airy sentimental comedy of
Providence and the Guitar, or the schoolboy historical inventions of
Dickon Crookback and the old sailor Arblaster, a writer of his quality
cannot help striking notes from the heart of life and the inwardness of
things deeper than will ever be struck, or even apprehended, by another
who labours, with never a smile either of his own or of his reader’s,
upon the most solemn enterprises of realistic fiction, but is born
without the magician’s touch and insight.

Another advocate on the same side, in the United States, has made much of
the supposed dependence of this author on his models, and classed him
among writers whose inspiration is imitative and second-hand.  But this,
surely, is to be quite misled by the well-known passage of Stevenson’s
own, in which he speaks of himself as having in his prentice years played
the ‘sedulous ape’ to many writers of different styles and periods.  In
doing this he was not seeking inspiration, but simply practising the use
of the tools which were to help him to express his own inspirations.
Truly he was always much of a reader; but it was life, not books, that
always in the first degree allured and taught him.

    ‘He loved of life the myriad sides,
    Pain, prayer, or pleasure, act or sleep,
    As wallowing narwhals love the deep’—

so with just self-knowledge he wrote of himself; and the books which he
most cared for and lived with were those of which the writers seemed—to
quote again a phrase of his own—to have been ‘eavesdropping at the door
of his heart’; those which told of moods, impressions, experiences or
cravings after experience, pains, pleasures, opinions or conflicts of the
spirit, which in the eagerness of youthful living and thinking had
already been his own.  No man, in fact, was ever less inclined to take
anything at second-hand.  The root of all originality was in him, in the
shape of an extreme natural vividness of perception, imagination, and
feeling.  An instinctive and inbred unwillingness to accept the accepted
and conform to the conventional was of the essence of his character,
whether in life or art, and was a source to him both of strength and
weakness.  He would not follow a general rule—least of all if it was a
prudential rule—of conduct unless he was clear that it was right
according to his private conscience; nor would he join, in youth, in the
ordinary social amusements of his class when he had once found out that
they did not amuse _him_; nor wear their clothes if he could not feel at
ease and be himself in them; nor use, whether in speech or writing, any
trite or inanimate form of words that did not faithfully and livingly
express his thought.  A readier acceptance of current usages might have
been better for him, but was simply not in his nature.  ‘Damp gingerbread
puppets’ were to him the persons who lived and thought and felt and acted
only as was expected of them.  ‘To see people skipping all round us with
their eyes sealed up with indifference, knowing nothing of the earth or
man or woman, going automatically to offices and saying they are happy or
unhappy, out of a sense of duty I suppose, surely at least from no sense
of happiness or unhappiness, unless perhaps they have a tooth that
twinges—is it not like a bad dream?’  No reader of this book will close
it, I am sure, without feeling that he has been throughout in the company
of a spirit various indeed and many-mooded, but profoundly sincere and
real.  Ways that in another might easily have been mere signs of
affectation were in him the true expression of a nature ten times more
spontaneously itself and individually alive than that of others.
Self-consciousness, in many characters that possess it, deflects and
falsifies conduct; and so does the dramatic instinct.  Stevenson was
self-conscious in a high degree, but only as a part of his general
activity of mind; only in so far as he could not help being an extremely
intelligent spectator of his own doings and feelings; these themselves
came from springs of character and impulse much too deep and strong to be
diverted.  He loved also, with a child’s or actor’s gusto, to play a part
and make a drama out of life; {xxi} but the part was always for the
moment his very own: he had it not in him to pose for anything but what
he truly was.

When a man so constituted had once mastered his craft of letters, he
might take up whatever instrument he pleased with the instinctive and
just confidence that he would play upon it to a tune and with a manner of
his own.  This is indeed the true mark and test of his originality.  He
has no need to be, or to seem, especially original in the form and mode
of literature which he attempts.  By his choice of these he may at any
time give himself and his reader the pleasure of recalling, like a
familiar air, some strain of literary association; but in so doing he
only adds a secondary charm to his work; the vision, the temperament, the
mode of conceiving and handling, are in every case strongly personal to
himself.  He may try his hand in youth at a Sentimental Journey, but R.
L. S. cannot choose but be at the opposite pole of human character and
feeling from Laurence Sterne.  In tales of mystery, allegorical or other,
he may bear in mind the precedent of Edgar Poe, and yet there is nothing
in style and temper much wider apart than _Markheim_ and _Jekyll and
Hyde_ are from the _Murders in the Rue Morgue_ or _William Wilson_.  He
may set out to tell a pirate story for boys ‘exactly in the ancient way,’
and it will come from him not in the ancient way at all, but re-minted;
marked with a sharpness and saliency in the characters, a private stamp
of buccaneering ferocity combined with smiling humour, an energy of
vision and happy vividness of presentment, which are shiningly his own.
Another time, he may desert the paths of Kingston and Ballantyne the
brave for those of Sir Walter Scott; but literature presents few stronger
contrasts than between any scene of _Waverley_ or _Redgauntlet_ and any
scene of the _Master of Ballantrae_ or _Catriona_, whether in their
strength or weakness: and it is the most loyal lovers of the older master
who take the greatest pleasure in reading the work of the younger, so
much less opulently gifted as is probable—though we must remember that
Stevenson died at the age when Scott wrote _Waverley_—so infinitely more
careful of his gift.  Stevenson may even blow upon the pipe of Burns, and
yet his tune will be no echo, but one which utters the heart and mind of
a Scots poet who has his own outlook on life, his own special and
profitable vein of smiling or satirical contemplation.

Not by reason, then, of ‘externality,’ for sure, nor yet of
imitativeness, will this writer lose his hold on the attention and regard
of his countrymen.  The debate, before his place in literature is
settled, must rather turn on other points: as whether the genial essayist
and egoist or the romantic inventor and narrator was the stronger in
him—whether the Montaigne and Pepys elements prevailed in his literary
composition or the Scott and Dumas elements—a question indeed which among
those who care for him most has always been at issue.  Or again, what
degree of true inspiring and illuminating power belongs to the gospel, or
gospels, airily encouraging or gravely didactic, which are set forth in
the essays with so captivating a grace?  Or whether in romance and tale
he had a power of happily inventing and soundly constructing a whole
fable comparable to his unquestionable power of conceiving and presenting
single scenes and situations in a manner which stamps them indelibly on
the reader’s mind.  And whether his figures are sustained continuously by
the true, large, spontaneous breath of creation, or are but transitorily
animated at critical and happy moments by flashes of spiritual and
dramatic insight, aided by the conscious devices of his singularly adroit
and spirited art?  This is a question which no criticism but that of time
can solve; it takes the consenting instinct of generations to feel
whether the creatures of fiction, however powerfully they may strike at
first, are durably and equably, or ephemerally and fitfully, alive.  To
contend, as some do, that strong creative impulse, and so keen an
artistic self-consciousness as Stevenson’s was, cannot exist together, is
quite idle.  The truth, of course, is that the deep-seated energies of
imaginative creation are found sometimes in combination, and sometimes
not in combination, with an artistic intelligence thus keenly conscious
of its own purpose and watchful of its own working.

Once more, it may be questioned whether, among the many varieties of work
which Stevenson has left, all touched with genius, all charming and
stimulating to the literary sense, all distinguished by a grace and
precision of workmanship which are the rarest qualities in English art,
there are any which can be pointed to as absolute masterpieces, such as
the future cannot be expected to let die.  Let the future decide.  What
is certain is that posterity must either be very well, or very ill,
occupied if it can consent to give up so much sound entertainment, and
better than entertainment, as this writer afforded his contemporaries.
In the meantime, among judicious readers on both sides of the Atlantic,
Stevenson stands, I think it may safely be said, as a true master of
English prose; unsurpassed for the union of lenity and lucidity with
suggestive pregnancy and poetic animation; for harmony of cadence and the
well-knit structure of sentences; and for the art of imparting to words
the vital quality of things, and making them convey the
precise—sometimes, let it be granted, the too curiously
precise—expression of the very shade and colour of the thought, feeling,
or vision in his mind.  He stands, moreover, as the writer who, in the
last quarter of the nineteenth century, has handled with the most of
freshness and inspiriting power the widest range of established literary
forms—the moral, critical, and personal essay, travels sentimental and
other, romances and short tales both historical and modern, parables and
tales of mystery, boys’ stories of adventure, memoirs—nor let lyrical and
meditative verse both English and Scottish, and especially nursery verse,
a new vein for genius to work in, be forgotten.  To some of these forms
Stevenson gave quite new life; through all alike he expressed vividly an
extremely personal way of seeing and being, a sense of nature and
romance, of the aspects of human existence and problems of human conduct,
which was essentially his own.  And in so doing he contrived to make
friends and even lovers of his readers.  Those whom he attracts at all
(and there is no writer who attracts every one) are drawn to him over and
over again, finding familiarity not lessen but increase the charm of his
work, and desiring ever closer intimacy with the spirit and personality
which they divine behind it.

As to the fitting scale, then, on which to treat the memory of a man who
fills five years after his death such a place as this in the public
regard, the words ‘selection’ and ‘sketch’ have evidently to be given a
pretty liberal interpretation.  Readers, it must be supposed, will scarce
be content without both a fairly full biography, and the opportunity of a
fairly ample intercourse with the man as he was accustomed to reveal
himself in writing to his familiars.  As to form—Stevenson’s own words
and the nature of the material alike seem to indicate that the _Life_ and
the _Letters_ should be kept separate.  There are some kinds of
correspondence which can conveniently be woven into the body and texture
of a biography, though indeed I think it is a plan to which biographers
are much too partial.  Nothing, surely, more checks the flow of a
narrative than its interruption by stationary blocks of correspondence;
nothing more disconcerts the reader than a too frequent or too abrupt
alternation of voices between the subject of a biography speaking in his
letters and the writer of it speaking in his narrative.  At least it is
only when letters are occupied, as Macaulay’s for instance were, almost
entirely with facts and events, that they can without difficulty be
handled in this way.  But events and facts, ‘sordid facts,’ as he called
them, were not very often suffered to intrude into Stevenson’s
correspondence.  ‘I deny,’ he writes, ‘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.’  Business letters, letters of information, and letters of
courtesy he had sometimes to write: but when he wrote best was under the
influence of the affection or impression, or the mere whim or mood, of
the moment; pouring himself out in all manner of rhapsodical confessions
and speculations, grave or gay, notes of observation and criticism,
snatches of remembrance and autobiography, moralisings on matters
uppermost for the hour in his mind, comments on his own work or other
people’s, or mere idle fun and foolery.

With a letter-writer of this character, as it seems to me, a judicious
reader desires to be left as much alone as possible.  What he wants is to
relish the correspondence by itself, or with only just so much in the way
of notes and introductions as may serve to make allusions and situations
clear.  Two volumes, then, of letters so edited, to be preceded by a
separate introductory volume of narrative and critical memoir, or
_étude_—such was to be the memorial to my friend which I had planned, and
hoped by this time to have ready.  Unfortunately, the needful leisure has
hitherto failed me, and might fail me for some time yet, to complete the
separate volume of biography.  That is now, at the wish of the family, to
be undertaken by Stevenson’s cousin and my friend, Mr. Graham Balfour.
Meanwhile the _Letters_, with introductions and notes somewhat extended
from the original plan, are herewith presented as a substantive work by

The book will enable those who know and love their Stevenson already to
know him more intimately, and, as I hope, to love him more.  It contains,
certainly, much that is most essentially characteristic of the man.  To
some, perhaps, that very lack of art as a correspondent of which we have
found him above accusing himself may give the reading an added charm and
flavour.  What he could do as an artist we know—what a telling power and
heightened thrill he could give to all his effects, in so many different
modes of expression and composition, by calculated skill and the
deliberate exercise of a perfectly trained faculty.  This is the quality
which nobody denies him, and which so deeply impressed his
fellow-craftsmen of all kinds.  I remember the late Sir John Millais, a
shrewd and very independent judge of books, calling across to me at a
dinner-table, ‘You know Stevenson, don’t you?’ and then going on, ‘Well,
I wish you would tell him from me, if he cares to know, that to my mind
he is the very first of living artists.  I don’t mean writers merely, but
painters and all of us: nobody living can see with such an eye as that
fellow, and nobody is such a master of his tools.’  Now in his letters,
excepting a few written in youth, and having more or less the character
of exercises, and a few in after years which were intended for the public
eye, Stevenson the deliberate artist is scarcely forthcoming at all.  He
does not care a fig for order or logical sequence or congruity, or for
striking a key of expression and keeping it, but becomes simply the most
spontaneous and unstudied of human beings.  He will write with the most
distinguished elegance on one day, with simple good sense and good
feeling on a second, with flat triviality on another, and with the most
slashing, often ultra-colloquial, vehemence on a fourth, or will vary
through all these moods and more in one and the same letter.  He has at
his command the whole vocabularies of the English and Scottish languages,
classical and slang, with good stores of the French, and tosses and
tumbles them about irresponsibly to convey the impression or affection,
the mood or freak of the moment.  Passages or phrases of the craziest
schoolboy or seafaring slang come tumbling after and capping others of
classical cadence and purity, of poetical and heartfelt eloquence.  By
this medley of moods and manners, Stevenson’s letters at their best—the
pick, let us say, of those in the following volumes which were written
from Hyères or Bournemouth—come nearer than anything else to the
full-blooded charm and variety of his conversation.

Nearer, yet not quite near; for it was in company only that this genial
spirit rose to his very best.  Those whom his writings charm or impress,
but who never knew him, can but imagine how doubly they would have been
charmed and impressed by his presence.  Few men probably, certainly none
that I have ever seen or read of, have had about them such a richness and
variety of human nature; and few can ever have been better gifted than he
was to express the play of being that was in him by means of the apt,
expressive word and the animated look and gesture.  _Divers et ondoyant_,
in the words of Montaigne, beyond other men, he seemed to contain within
himself a whole troop of singularly assorted characters—the poet and
artist, the moralist and preacher, the humourist and jester, the man of
great heart and tender conscience, the man of eager appetite and
curiosity, the Bohemian, impatient of restraints and shams, the
adventurer and lover of travel and of action: characters, several of
them, not rare separately, especially among his Scottish
fellow-countrymen, but rare indeed to be found united, and each in such
fulness and intensity, within the bounds of a single personality.

Before all things Stevenson was a born poet, to whom the world was full
of enchantment and of latent romance, only waiting to take shape and
substance in the forms art.  It was his birthright—

                ‘to hear
    The great bell beating far and near—
    The odd, unknown, enchanted gong
    That on the road hales men along,
    That from the mountain calls afar,
    That lures the vessel from a star,
    And with a still, aerial sound
    Makes all the earth enchanted ground.’

At the same time, he was not less a born preacher and moralist after his
fashion.  A true son of the Covenanters, he had about him little spirit
of social or other conformity; but an active and searching private
conscience kept him for ever calling in question both the grounds of his
own conduct and the validity of the accepted codes and compromises of
society.  He must try to work out a scheme of morality suitable to his
own case and temperament, which found the prohibitory law of Moses chill
and uninspiring, but in the Sermon on the Mount a strong incentive to all
those impulses of pity and charity to which his heart was prone.  In
youth his sense of social injustice and the inequalities of human
opportunity made him inwardly much of a rebel, who would have embraced
and acted on theories of socialism or communism, could he have found any
that did not seem to him at variance with ineradicable instincts of human
nature. {xxx}  All his life the artist and the moralist in him alike were
in rebellion against the bourgeois spirit,—against timid, negative, and
shuffling substitutes for active and courageous well-doing,—and declined
to worship at the shrine of what he called the bestial goddesses Comfort
and Respectability.  The moralist in him helped the artist by backing
with the force of a highly sensitive conscience his instinctive love of
perfection in his work.  The poet and artist qualified the moralist by
discountenancing any preference for the harsh, the sour, or the
self-mortifying forms of virtue, and encouraging the love for all tender
or heroic, glowing, generous and cheerful forms.

In another aspect of his many-sided being Stevenson was not less a born
adventurer and practical experimentalist in life.  Many poets are content
to dream, and many, perhaps most, moralists to preach; but Stevenson must
ever be doing and undergoing.  He was no sentimentalist, to pay himself
with fine feelings whether for mean action or slack inaction.  He had an
insatiable zest for all experiences, not the pleasurable only, but
including even the more harsh and biting—those that bring home to a man
the pinch and sting of existence as it is realised by the disinherited of
the world, and excluding only what he thought the prim, the conventional,
the dead-alive, and the cut-and-dry.  On occasion the experimentalist and
man of adventure in him would enter into special partnership with the
moralist and man of conscience; he loved to find himself in difficult
social passes and ethical dilemmas for the sake of trying to behave in
them to the utmost according to his own personal sense of the obligations
of honour, duty, and kindness.  In yet another part of his being, he
cherished, as his great countryman Scott had done before him, an intense
underlying longing for the life of action, danger, and command.  ‘Action,
Colvin, action,’ I remember his crying eagerly to me with his hand on my
arm as we lay basking for his health’s sake in a boat off the scented
shores of the Cap St. Martin.  Another time—this was on his way to a
winter cure at Davos—some friend had given him General Hamley’s
_Operations of War_:—‘in which,’ he writes to his father, ‘I am drowned a
thousand fathoms deep, and O that I had been a soldier is still my cry.’
In so frail a tabernacle was it that the aspirations of the artist, the
unconventional moralist, the lover of all experience, and the lover of
daring action had to learn to reconcile themselves as best they might.
Frail as it was, it contained withal a strong animal nature, and he was
as much exposed to the storms and solicitations of sense as to the
cravings and questionings of the spirit.  Fortunately, with all these
ardent and divers instincts, there were present two invaluable gifts
besides—that of humour, which for all his stress of being and vivid
consciousness of self saved him from ever seeing himself for long
together out of a just proportion, and kept wholesome laughter always
ready at his lips; and that of a perfectly warm, loyal, and tender heart,
which through all his experiments and agitations made the law of kindness
the one ruling law of his life.  In the end, lack of health determined
his career, giving the chief part in his life to the artist and man of
imagination, and keeping the man of action a prisoner in the sickroom
until, by a singular turn of destiny, he was able to wring a real,
prolonged, and romantically successful adventure out of that voyage to
the Pacific which had been, in its origin, the last despairing resource
of the invalid.

To take this multiple personality from another point of view, it was part
of his genius that he never seemed to be cramped like the rest of us, at
any given time of life, within the limits of his proper age, but to be
child, boy, young man, and old man all at once.  There was never a time
in his life when Stevenson had to say with St. Augustine, ‘Behold! my
childhood is dead, but I am alive.’  The child, as his _Garden of Verses_
vividly attests, and as will be seen by abundant evidence in the course
of the following pages, lived on always in him, not in memory only, but
in real survival, with all its freshness of perception unimpaired, and
none of its play instincts in the least degree extinguished or made
ashamed.  As for the perennial boy in Stevenson, that is too apparent to
need remark.  It was as a boy for boys that he wrote the best known of
his books, _Treasure Island_; with all boys that he met, provided they
were really boys and not prigs nor puppies, he was instantly at home; and
the ideal of a career which he most inwardly and longingly cherished, the
ideals of practical adventure and romance, of desirable predicaments and
gratifying modes of escape from them, were from first to last those of a
boy.  At the same time, even when I first knew him, there were about him
occasional traits and glimpses of old sagacity, of premature life-wisdom
and experience, such as find expression, for instance, in the essay
_Virginibus Puerisque_, among other matter more according with his then
age of twenty-six.

Again, it is said that in every poet there must be something of the
woman—the receptivity, the emotional nature.  If to be impressionable in
the extreme, quick in sympathy and feeling, ardent in attachment, and
full of pity for the weak and suffering, is to be womanly, Stevenson was
certainly all those; he was even like a woman in being _ἀρτίδακρυς_,
easily moved to tears at the touch of pity or affection, or even at any
specially poignant impression of art or beauty.  But yet, if any one word
were to be chosen for the predominant quality of his character and
example, I suppose that word would be manly.  In all his habits and
instincts he was the least effeminate of men; and effeminacy, or aught
approaching sexlessness, was perhaps the only quality in man with which
he had no patience.  In his gentle and complying nature there were
strains of iron tenacity and will.  He had both kinds of physical
courage—the active, delighting in danger, and the passive, unshaken in
endurance.  In the moral courage of facing situations and consequences,
of cheerful self-discipline and readiness to pay for faults committed, of
outspokenness, admitting no ambiguous relations and clearing away the
clouds from human intercourse, I have not known his equal.  His great
countryman Scott, as this book will prove, was not more manfully free
from artistic jealousy or the least shade of irritability under
criticism, or more modestly and unfeignedly inclined to exaggerate the
qualities of other people’s work and to underrate those of his own.  His
severest critic was always himself; the next most severe, those of his
own household and intimacy, whose love made them jealous lest he should
fall short of his best; for he lived in an atmosphere of love, indeed,
but not of flattery.  Of the humorous and engaging parts of vanity and
egoism, which led him to make infinite talk and fun about himself, and
use his own experiences as a key for unlocking the confidences of others,
Stevenson had plenty; but of the morose and fretful parts never a shade.
‘A little Irish girl,’ he wrote once during a painful crisis of his life,
‘is now reading my book aloud to her sister at my elbow; they chuckle,
and I feel flattered.—Yours, R. L. S.  _P.S._ Now they yawn, and I am
indifferent.  Such a wisely conceived thing is vanity.’  If only vanity
so conceived were commoner!  And whatever might be the abstract and
philosophical value of that somewhat grimly stoical conception of the
universe, of conduct and duty, at which in mature years he had arrived,
want of manliness is certainly not its fault.  Nor is any such want to be
found in the practice which he founded on or combined with it; in his
invincible gaiety and sweetness under sufferings and deprivations the
most galling to him; in the temper which made his presence in health or
sickness a perpetual sunshine to those about him.  Take the kind of
maxims of life which he was accustomed to forge for himself and to act
by:—‘Acts may be forgiven; not even God can forgive the hanger-back.’
‘Choose the best, if you can; or choose the worst; that which hangs in
the wind dangles from a gibbet.’  ‘“Shall I?” said Feeble-mind; and the
echo said, “Fie!”’  ‘“Do I love?” said Loveless; and the echo laughed.’
‘A fault known is a fault cured to the strong; but to the weak it is a
fetter riveted.’  ‘The mean man doubts, the great-hearted is deceived.’
‘Great-heart was deceived.  “Very well,” said Great-heart.’  ‘“I have not
forgotten my umbrella,” said the careful man; but the lightning struck
him.’  ‘Nullity wanted nothing; so he supposed he wanted advice.’  ‘Evil
was called Youth till he was old, and then he was called Habit.’  ‘Fear
kept the house; and still he must pay taxes.’  ‘Shame had a fine bed, but
where was slumber?  Once he was in jail he slept.’  With this moralist
maxims meant actions; and where shall we easily find a much manlier
spirit of wisdom than this?

There was yet another and very different side to Stevenson which struck
others more than it struck myself, namely, that of the perfectly
freakish, not perfectly human, irresponsible madcap or jester which
sometimes appeared in him.  It is true that his demoniac quickness of wit
and intelligence suggested occasionally a ‘spirit of air and fire’ rather
than one of earth; that he was abundantly given to all kinds of quirk and
laughter; and that there was no jest (saving the unkind) he would not
make and relish.  In the streets of Edinburgh he had certainly been known
for queer pranks and mystifications in youth; and up to middle life there
seemed to some of his friends to be much, if not of the Puck, at least of
the Ariel, about him.  The late Mr. J. A. Symonds always called him
Sprite; qualifying the name, however, by the epithets ‘most fantastic,
but most human.’  To me the essential humanity was always the thing most
apparent.  In a fire well nourished of seasoned ship-timber, the flames
glance fantastically and of many colours, but the glow at heart is ever
deep and strong; it was at such a glow that the friends of Stevenson were
accustomed to warm their hands, while they admired and were entertained
by the shifting lights.

It was only in talk, as I have said, that all the many lights and colours
of this richly compounded spirit could be seen in full play.  He would
begin no matter how—in early days often with a jest at his own absurd
garments, or with the recitation, in his vibrating voice and full Scotch
accent, of some snatch of poetry that was haunting him, or with a
rhapsody of analytic delight over some minute accident of beauty or
expressiveness that had struck his observation, and would have escaped
that of everybody else, in man, woman, child, or external nature.  And
forthwith the floodgates would be opened, and the talk would stream on in
endless, never importunate, flood and variety.  A hundred fictitious
characters would be invented, differentiated, and launched on their
imaginary careers; a hundred ingenious problems of conduct and cases of
honour would be set and solved, in a manner often quite opposed to
conventional precept; romantic voyages would be planned and followed out
in vision, with a thousand incidents, to all the corners of our own
planet and of others; the possibilities of life and art would be
illuminated with glancing search-lights of bewildering range and
penetration, the most sober argument alternating with the maddest freaks
of fancy, high poetic eloquence with coruscations of insanely apposite
slang—the earthiest jape anon shooting up into the empyrean and changing
into the most ethereal fantasy—the stalest and most vulgarised forms of
speech gaining brilliancy and illuminating power from some hitherto
undreamt-of application—and all the while an atmosphere of goodwill
diffusing itself from the speaker, a glow of eager benignity and
affectionate laughter emanating from his presence, till every one about
him seemed to catch something of his own gift and inspiration.  This
sympathetic power of inspiring others was the special and distinguishing
note of Stevenson’s conversation.  He would keep a houseful or a single
companion entertained all day, and day after day and half the nights, yet
never seemed to dominate the talk or absorb it; rather he helped every
one about him to discover and to exercise unexpected powers of their own.
The point could hardly be better brought out than it is in a fragment
which I borrow from Mr. Henley of an unpublished character-sketch of his
friend: ‘I leave his praise in this direction (the telling of Scottish
vernacular stories) to others.  It is more to my purpose to note that he
will discourse with you of morals, music, marbles, men, manners,
metaphysics, medicine, mangold-wurzel—_que scays-je_?—with equal insight
into essentials and equal pregnancy and felicity of utterance; and that
he will stop with you to make mud pies in the first gutter, range in your
company whatever heights of thought and feeling you have found
accessible, and end by guiding you to altitudes far nearer the stars than
you have ever dreamed of footing it; and that at the last he makes you
wonder which to admire the more—his easy familiarity with the Eternal
Veracities or the brilliant flashes of imbecility with which his
excursions into the Infinite are sometimes diversified.  He radiates
talk, as the sun does light and heat; and after an evening—or a week—with
him, you come forth with a sense of satisfaction in your own capacity
which somehow proves superior even to the inevitable conclusion that your
brilliance was but the reflection of his own, and that all the while you
were only playing the part of Rubinstein’s piano or Sarasate’s violin.’

All this the reader should imagine as helped by the most speaking of
presences: a steady, penetrating fire in the wide-set eyes, a compelling
power and sweetness in the smile; courteous, waving gestures of the arms
and long, nervous hands, a lit cigarette generally held between the
fingers; continual rapid shiftings and pacings to and fro as he
conversed: rapid, but not flurried nor awkward, for there was a grace in
his attenuated but well-carried figure, and his movements were light,
deft, and full of spring.  When I first knew him he was passing through a
period of neatness between two of Bohemian carelessness as to dress; so
that the effect of his charm was immediate.  At other times of his youth
there was something for strangers, and even for friends, to get over in
the odd garments which it was his whim to wear—the badge, as they always
seemed to me, partly of a genuine carelessness, certainly of a genuine
lack of cash (the little he had was always absolutely at the disposal of
his friends), partly of a deliberate detachment from any particular
social class or caste, partly of his love of pickles and adventures,
which he thought befel a man thus attired more readily than another.  But
this slender, slovenly, nondescript apparition, long-visaged and
long-haired, had only to speak in order to be recognised in the first
minute for a witty and charming gentleman, and within the first five for
a master spirit and man of genius.  There were, indeed, certain stolidly
conventional and superciliously official kinds of persons, both at home
and abroad, who were incapable of looking beyond the clothes, and eyed
him always with frozen suspicion.  This attitude used sometimes in youth
to drive him into fits of flaming anger, which put him helplessly at a
disadvantage unless, or until, he could call the sense of humour to his
help.  For the rest, his human charm was the same for all kinds of
people, without the least distinction of class or caste; for worldly wise
old great ladies, whom he reminded of famous poets in their youth; for
his brother artists and men of letters, perhaps, above all; for the
ordinary clubman; for his physicians, who could never do enough for him;
for domestic servants, who adored him; for the English policeman even, on
whom he often tried, quite in vain, to pass himself as one of the
criminal classes; for the common seaman, the shepherd, the street arab,
or the tramp.  Even in the imposed silence and restraint of extreme
sickness the magnetic power and attraction of the man made itself felt,
and there seemed to be more vitality and fire of the spirit in him as he
lay exhausted and speechless in bed than in an ordinary roomful of people
in health.

But I have strayed from my purpose, which is only to indicate that in the
best of these letters of Stevenson’s you have some echo, far away indeed,
but yet the nearest, of his talk—talk which could never be taken down,
and has left only an ineffaceable impression in the memory of his
friends.  The letters, it should be added, do not represent him at all
fully until about the thirtieth year of his age, the beginning of the
settled and married period of his life.  From then onwards, and
especially from the beginning of Part VI. (the Hyères period), they
present a pretty full and complete autobiography, if not of doings, at
any rate of moods and feelings.  In the earlier periods, his
correspondence for the most part expresses his real self either too
little or else one-sidedly.  I have omitted very many letters of his
boyish and student days as being too immature or uninteresting; and many
of the confidences and confessions of his later youth, though they are
those of a beautiful spirit, whether as too intimate, or as giving a
disproportionate prominence to passing troubles.  When he is found in
these days writing in a melancholy or minor key, it must be remembered
that at the same moment, in direct intercourse with any friend, his
spirits would instantly rise, and he would be found the gayest of
laughing companions.  Very many letters or snatches of letters of nearly
all dates to his familiars have also been omitted as not intelligible
without a knowledge of the current jests, codes, and catchwords of
conversation between him and them.  At one very interesting period of his
life, from about his twenty-fifth to his twenty-ninth year, he disused
the habit of letter-writing almost entirely.

In choosing from among what remained I have used the best discretion that
I could.  Stevenson’s feelings and relations throughout life were in
almost all directions so warm and kindly, that next to nothing had to be
suppressed from fear of giving pain.  On the other hand, he drew people
towards him with so much confidence and affection, and met their openness
with so much of his own, that an editor could not but feel the frequent
risk of inviting readers to trespass too far on purely private affairs
and feelings, including those of the living.  This was a point upon which
in his lifetime he felt strongly.  That excellent critic, Mr. Walter
Raleigh, has noticed, as one of the merits of Stevenson’s personal essays
and accounts of travel, that few men have written more or more
attractively of themselves without ever taking the public unduly into
familiarity or overstepping proper bounds of reticence.  Public prying
into private lives, the propagation of gossip by the press, and printing
of private letters during the writer’s lifetime, were things he hated.
Once, indeed, he very superfluously gave himself a dangerous cold by
dancing before a bonfire in his garden at the news of a ‘society’ editor
having been committed to prison; and the only approach to a difference he
ever had with one of his lifelong friends arose from the publication,
without permission, of one of his letters written on his first Pacific
voyage (see below, vol. ii. p. 121).

How far, then, must I regard his instructions about publication as
authorising me to go after his death beyond the limits which he had been
so careful in observing and desiring others to observe in life?  How much
may now fairly become public of that which had been held sacred and
hitherto private among his friends?  To cut out all that is strictly
personal and intimate were to leave his story untold and half the charm
of his character unrevealed; to put in too much were to break all bonds
of that privacy which he so carefully regarded while he lived.  I know
not if I have at all been able to hit the mean, and to succeed in making
these letters, as it has been my object to make them, present, without
offence or intrusion, a just, a living, and a proportionate picture of
the man, so far as they will yield it.  There is one respect in which his
own practice and principle has had to be in some degree violated, if the
work was to be done at all.  Except in the single case of the essay
‘Ordered South,’ he would never in writing for the public adopt the
invalid point of view, or invite any attention to his infirmities.  ‘To
me,’ he says, ‘the medicine bottles on my chimney and the blood on my
handkerchief are accidents; they do not colour my view of life; and I
should think myself a trifler and in bad taste if I introduced the world
to these unimportant privacies.’  But from his letters to his family and
friends, these matters could not possibly be quite left out.  The tale of
his life, in the years when he was most of a correspondent, was in truth
a tale of daily and nightly battle against weakness and physical distress
and danger.  To those who loved him, the incidents of this battle were
communicated, sometimes gravely, sometimes laughingly.  I have very
greatly cut down such bulletins, but could not manage to omit them
altogether.  Generally speaking, I have used the editorial privilege of
omission without scruple where I thought it desirable.  And in regard to
the text, I have not held myself bound to reproduce all the author’s
minor eccentricities of spelling and the like.  As all his friends are
aware, to spell in a quite accurate and grown-up manner was a thing which
this master of English letters was never able to learn; but to reproduce
such trivial slips in print is, I think, to distract the reader’s
attention from the main matter.  A normal orthography has therefore been
adopted throughout.

Lastly, I have to express my thanks to my friend Mr. George Smith,
proprietor of the _Dictionary of National Biography_, for permission to
reprint in this and in following sectional introductions a few paragraphs
from that work.

                                                                     S. C.

_August_ 1899.



THE following section consists chiefly of extracts from the
correspondence and journals addressed by Louis Stevenson, as a lad of
eighteen to twenty-two, to his father and mother during summer excursions
to the Scottish coast or to the continent.  There exist enough of them to
fill a volume; but it is not in letters of this kind to his family that a
young man unbosoms himself most freely, and these are perhaps not quite
devoid of the qualities of the guide-book and the descriptive exercise.
Nevertheless, they seem to me to contain enough signs of the future
master-writer, enough of character, observation, and skill in expression,
to make a few worth giving by way of an opening chapter to the present
book.  Among them are interspersed one or two of a different character
addressed to other correspondents.

But, first, it is desirable that readers not acquainted with the
circumstances and conditions of Stevenson’s parentage and early life
should be here, as briefly as possible, informed of them.  On both sides
of the house he came of capable and cultivated stock.  His grandfather
was Robert Stevenson, civil engineer, highly distinguished as the builder
of the Bell Rock lighthouse.  By this Robert Stevenson, his three sons,
and two of his grandsons now living, the business of civil engineers in
general, and of official engineers to the Commissioners of Northern
Lights in particular, has been carried on at Edinburgh with high credit
and public utility for almost a century.  Thomas Stevenson, the youngest
of the three sons of the original Robert, was Robert Louis Stevenson’s
father.  He was a man not only of mark, zeal, and inventiveness in his
profession, but of a singularly interesting personality; a staunch friend
and sagacious adviser, trenchant in judgment and demonstrative in
emotion, outspoken, dogmatic,—despotic, even, in little things, but
withal essentially chivalrous and soft-hearted; apt to pass with the
swiftest transition from moods of gloom or sternness to those of tender
or freakish gaiety, and commanding a gift of humorous and figurative
speech second only to that of his more famous son.

Thomas Stevenson was married to Margaret Isabella, youngest daughter of
the Rev. Lewis Balfour, for many years minister of the parish of Colinton
in Midlothian.  This Mr. Balfour (described by his grandson in the essay
called ‘The Manse’) was of the stock of the Balfours of Pilrig, and
grandson to that James Balfour, professor first of moral philosophy, and
afterwards of the law of nature and of nations, who was held in
particular esteem as a philosophical controversialist by David Hume.  His
wife, Henrietta Smith, a daughter of the Rev. George Smith of Galston, to
whose gift as a preacher Burns refers scoffingly in the _Holy Fair_, is
said to have been a woman of uncommon beauty and charm of manner.  Their
daughter, Mrs. Thomas Stevenson, suffered in early and middle life from
chest and nerve troubles, and her son may have inherited from her some of
his constitutional weakness as well as of his social and intellectual
vivacity and his taste for letters.  Robert Louis (baptized Robert Lewis
Balfour) Stevenson was born on November 13, 1850, at 8 Howard Place,
Edinburgh, and was the only child of his parents.  His health was infirm
from the first, and he was with difficulty kept alive by the combined
care of a capable and watchful mother and a perfectly devoted nurse,
Alison Cunningham; to whom his lifelong gratitude will be found
touchingly expressed in the course of the following letters.  In 1858 he
was near dying of a gastric fever, and was at all times subject to acute
catarrhal and bronchial affections and extreme nervous excitability.  In
January 1853 his parents moved to 1 Inverleith Terrace, and in May 1857
to 17 Heriot Row, which continued to be their Edinburgh home until the
death of Thomas Stevenson in 1887.  Much of his time was also spent in
the manse of Colinton on the Water of Leith, the home of his maternal
grandfather.  Of this place his childish recollections were happy and
idyllic, while those of city life were coloured rather by impressions of
sickness, fever, and nocturnal terrors.  If, however, he suffered much as
a child from the distresses, he also enjoyed to the full the pleasures,
of imagination.  Illness confined him much within the house, but
imagination kept him always content and busy.  In the days of the Crimean
war some one gave the child a cheap toy sword; and when his father
depreciated it, he said, ‘I tell you, the sword is of gold, and the
sheath of silver, and the boy is very well off and quite contented.’  As
disabilities closed in on him in after life, he would never grumble at
any gift, however niggardly, of fortune, and the anecdote is as
characteristic of the man as of the child.  He was eager and full of
invention in every kind of play, whether solitary or sociable, and seems
to have been treated as something of a small, sickly prince among a whole
cousinhood of playmates of both the Balfour and the Stevenson
connections.  He was also a greedy reader, or rather listener to reading;
for it was not until his eighth year that he began to read easily or
habitually to himself.  He has recorded how his first conscious
impression of pleasure from the sound and cadence of words was received
from certain passages in M‘Cheyne’s hymns as recited to him by his nurse.
Bible stories, the _Pilgrim’s Progress_, and Mayne Reid’s tales were
especially, and it would seem equally, his delight.  He began early to
take pleasure in attempts at composition of his own.  A history of Moses,
dictated in his sixth year, and an account of travels in Perth, in his
ninth, are still extant.  Ill health prevented him getting much regular
or continuous schooling.  He attended first (1858–61) a preparatory
school kept by a Mr. Henderson in India Street; and next (at intervals
for some time after the autumn of 1861) the Edinburgh Academy.  One of
his tutors at the former school writes: ‘He was the most delightful boy I
ever knew; full of fun, full of tender feeling, ready for his lessons,
ready for a story, ready for fun.’  From very early days, both as child
and boy, he must have had something of that power to charm which
distinguished him above other men in after life.  ‘I loike that
bo-o-o-o-y,’ a heavy Dutchman was heard saying to himself over and over
again, whom at the age of about thirteen he had held in amused
conversation during a whole passage from Ostend.  The same quality, with
the signs which he always showed of quick natural intelligence when he
chose to learn, must have helped to spare him many punishments from
teachers which he earned by persistent and ingenious truantry.  ‘I
think,’ remarks his mother, ‘they liked talking to him better than
teaching him.’

For a few months in the autumn of 1863, when his parents had been ordered
to winter at Mentone for the sake of his mother’s health, he was sent to
a boarding-school kept by a Mr. Wyatt at Spring Grove, near London.  It
is not my intention to treat the reader to the series of childish and
boyish letters of these days which parental fondness has preserved.  But
here is one written from his English school when he was about thirteen,
which is both amusing in itself and had a certain influence on his
destiny, inasmuch as his appeal led to his being taken out to join his
parents on the French Riviera; which from that day forward he never
ceased to love, and for which the longing, amid the gloom of Edinburgh
winters, often afterwards gripped him by the heart.

                            _Spring Grove School_, 12_th_ _November_ 1863.

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

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

Do take me with you.

                                                             R. STEVENSON.

               2 _Sulyarde Terrace_, _Torquay_, _Thursday_ (_April_ 1866).

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

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

Does not this deserve remuneration?

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

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

                                                             R. STEVENSON.


                                   _Wick_, _Friday_, _September_ 11, 1868.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


                                     _Wick_, September 5, 1868.  _Monday_.

MY DEAR MAMMA,—This morning I got a delightful haul: your letter of the
fourth (surely mis-dated); Papa’s of same day; Virgil’s _Bucolics_, very
thankfully received; and Aikman’s _Annals_, {17} a precious and most
acceptable donation, for which I tender my most ebullient thanksgivings.
I almost forgot to drink my tea and eat mine egg.

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

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

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

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

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

   ‘Is it not verse except enchanted groves
   And sudden arbours shadow coarse-spun lines?
   Must purling streams refresh a lover’s loves?
   _Must all be veiled_, _while he that reads divines_
   _Catching the sense at two removes_?’

You see, ‘except’ was used for ‘unless’ before 1630.

                                * * * * *

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

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

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

To-day I had a grouse: great glorification.

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


                            _Wick_, _September_ 1868.  _Saturday_, 10 A.M.

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


                           _Pulteney_, _Wick_, _Sunday_, _September_ 1868.

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

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

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

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

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

                                * * * * *

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

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

Dramatis personæ: père R., amusing, long-winded, in many points like
papa; mère R., nice, delicate, likes hymns, knew Aunt Margaret (’t’ould
man knew Uncle Alan); fille R., nommée Sara (no h), rather nice, lights
up well, good voice, _interested_ face; Miss L., nice also, washed out a
little, and, I think, a trifle sentimental; fils R., in a Leith office,
smart, full of happy epithet, amusing.  They are very nice and very kind,
asked me to come back—‘any night you feel dull; and any night doesn’t
mean no night: we’ll be so glad to see you.’  _Cest la mère qui parle_.

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

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

                            [Picture: Diagram]

C D is the new pier.

A the schooner ashore.  B the salmon house.

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

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

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

I am so sleepy I am writing nonsense.

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

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

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

                                * * * * *

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

How could _noster amicus Q. maximus_ appreciate a storm at Wick?  It
requires a little of the artistic temperament, of which Mr. T. S., {24}
C.E., possesses some, whatever he may say.  I can’t look at it
practically however: that will come, I suppose, like grey hair or coffin

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


                       [_Swanston Cottage_, _Lothianburn_, _Summer_ 1871.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                          LOUIS STEVENSON.



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

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



                                 _Dunblane_, _Friday_, 5_th_ _March_ 1872.

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

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

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

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


                                _Dunblane_, _Tuesday_, 9_th_ _April_ 1872.

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                 _Brussels_, _Thursday_, 25_th July_ 1872.

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

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

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.

_P.S._—The snake was about a yard long, but harmless, and now, he says,
quite tame.


             _Hotel Landsberg_, _Frankfurt_, _Monday_, 29_th_ _July_ 1872.

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

To-day I got rather a curiosity—_Lieder und Balladen von Robert Burns_,
translated by one Silbergleit, and not so ill done either.  Armed with
which, I had a swim in the Main, and then bread and cheese and Bavarian
beer in a sort of café, or at least the German substitute for a café; but
what a falling off after the heavenly forenoons in Brussels!

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

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


                       _Hotel Landsberg_, _Thursday_, 1_st_ _August_ 1872.

. . . YESTERDAY I walked to Eckenheim, a village a little way out of
Frankfurt, and turned into the alehouse.  In the room, which was just
such as it would have been in Scotland, were the landlady, two
neighbours, and an old peasant eating raw sausage at the far end.  I soon
got into conversation; and was astonished when the landlady, having asked
whether I were an Englishman, and received an answer in the affirmative,
proceeded to inquire further whether I were not also a Scotchman.  It
turned out that a Scotch doctor—a professor—a poet—who wrote books—_gross
wie das_—had come nearly every day out of Frankfurt to the _Eckenheimer
Wirthschaft_, and had left behind him a most savoury memory in the hearts
of all its customers.  One man ran out to find his name for me, and
returned with the news that it was _Cobie_ (Scobie, I suspect); and
during his absence the rest were pouring into my ears the fame and
acquirements of my countryman.  He was, in some undecipherable manner,
connected with the Queen of England and one of the Princesses.  He had
been in Turkey, and had there married a wife of immense wealth.  They
could find apparently no measure adequate to express the size of his
books.  In one way or another, he had amassed a princely fortune, and had
apparently only one sorrow, his daughter to wit, who had absconded into a
_kloster_, with a considerable slice of the mother’s _geld_.  I told them
we had no klosters in Scotland, with a certain feeling of superiority.
No more had they, I was told—‘_Hier ist unser Kloster_!’ and the speaker
motioned with both arms round the taproom.  Although the first torrent
was exhausted, yet the Doctor came up again in all sorts of ways, and
with or without occasion, throughout the whole interview; as, for
example, when one man, taking his pipe out of his mouth and shaking his
head, remarked _àpropos_ of nothing and with almost defiant conviction,
‘_Er war ein feiner Mann_, _der Herr Doctor_,’ and was answered by
another with ‘_Yaw_, _yaw_, _und trank immer rothen Wein_.’

Setting aside the Doctor, who had evidently turned the brains of the
entire village, they were intelligent people.  One thing in particular
struck me, their honesty in admitting that here they spoke bad German,
and advising me to go to Coburg or Leipsic for German.—‘_Sie sprechen da
rein_’ (clean), said one; and they all nodded their heads together like
as many mandarins, and repeated _rein_, _so rein_ in chorus.

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

   ‘_Meitz Herz ist im Hochland_, _mean Herz ist nicht hier_,
   _Mein Herz ist im Hochland im grünen Revier_.
   _Im grünen Reviere zu jagen das Reh_;
   _Mein Herz ist im Hochland_, _wo immer ich geh_.’

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

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

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

_Friday_, _August_ 2, 1872.—In the evening, at the theatre, I had a great
laugh.  Lord Allcash in _Fra Diavolo_, with his white hat, red
guide-books, and bad German, was the _pièce-de-résistance_ from a
humorous point of view; and I had the satisfaction of knowing that in my
own small way I could minister the same amusement whenever I chose to
open my mouth.

I am just going off to do some German with Simpson.—Your affectionate

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


                           _Frankfurt_, _Rosengasse_ 13, _August_ 4, 1872.

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

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

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

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


           13 _Rosengasse_, _Frankfurt_, _Tuesday Morning_, _August_ 1872.

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

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

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

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

                                                    ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON


               17 _Heriot Row_, _Edinburgh_, _Sunday_, _February_ 2, 1873.

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

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

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

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

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.

STUDENT DAYS—_Continued_


                                _Cockfield Rectory_, _Sudbury_, _Suffolk_,
                                               _Tuesday_, _July_ 28, 1873.

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                             17 _Heriot Row_, _Edinburgh_,
                                          _Saturday_, _September_ 6, 1873.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                             17 _Heriot Row_, _Edinburgh_,
                                           _Friday_, _September_ 12, 1873.

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

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


                             _Edinburgh_, _Tuesday_, _September_ 16, 1873.

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

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

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

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

                                * * * * *

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

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

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

_Saturday_.—And to-day it came—warmth, sunlight, and a strong, hearty
living wind among the trees.  I found myself a new being.  My father and
I went off a long walk, through a country most beautifully wooded and
various, under a range of hills.  You should have seen one place where
the wood suddenly fell away in front of us down a long, steep hill
between a double row of trees, with one small fair-haired child framed in
shadow in the foreground; and when we got to the foot there was the
little kirk and kirkyard of Irongray, among broken fields and woods by
the side of the bright, rapid river.  In the kirkyard there was a
wonderful congregation of tombstones, upright and recumbent on four legs
(after our Scotch fashion), and of flat-armed fir-trees.  One gravestone
was erected by Scott (at a cost, I learn, of £70) to the poor woman who
served him as heroine in the _Heart of Midlothian_, and the inscription
in its stiff, Jedediah Cleishbotham fashion is not without something
touching. {56}  We went up the stream a little further to where two
Covenanters lie buried in an oakwood; the tombstone (as the custom is)
containing the details of their grim little tragedy in funnily bad rhyme,
one verse of which sticks in my memory:—

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                             [_Edinburgh_], _Saturday_, _October_ 4, 1873.

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

                                * * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                             [_Edinburgh_], _Tuesday_, _October_ 14, 1873.

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

                                * * * * *

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

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

                                * * * * *

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

II.—I am now all right.  I do not expect any tic to-night, and shall be
at work again to-morrow.  I have had a day of open air, only a little
modified by _Le Capitaine Fracasse_ before the dining-room fire.  I must
write no more, for I am sleepy after two nights, and to quote my book,
‘_sinon blanches_, _du moins grises_’; and so I must go to bed and
faithfully, hoggishly slumber.—Your faithful

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                           _Mentone_, _November_ 13, 1873.

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

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

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

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


                                     _Mentone_, _Sunday_, _November_ 1873.

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

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

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

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

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

_Friday_.—If you knew how old I felt!  I am sure this is what age brings
with it—this carelessness, this disenchantment, this continual bodily
weariness.  I am a man of seventy: O Medea, kill me, or make me young
again! {67}

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                 _Hotel Mirabeau_, _Mentone_, _Sunday_, _January_ 4, 1874.

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

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                             _Mentone_, _January_ 7, 1874.

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

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

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

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

                                * * * * *

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                              _Mentone_, _Tuesday_, 13_th_ _January_ 1874.

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

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

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

                                * * * * *

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                              [_Mentone_, _January_ 1874.]

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

                                * * * * *

_Friday_.—You have not yet heard of my book?—_Four Great Scotsmen_—John
Knox, David Hume, Robert Burns, Walter Scott.  These, their lives, their
work, the social media in which they lived and worked, with, if I can so
make it, the strong current of the race making itself felt underneath and
throughout—this is my idea.  You must tell me what you think of it.  The
Knox will really be new matter, as his life hitherto has been
disgracefully written, and the events are romantic and rapid; the
character very strong, salient, and worthy; much interest as to the
future of Scotland, and as to that part of him which was truly modern
under his Hebrew disguise.  Hume, of course, the urbane, cheerful,
gentlemanly, letter-writing eighteenth century, full of attraction, and
much that I don’t yet know as to his work.  Burns, the sentimental side
that there is in most Scotsmen, his poor troubled existence, how far his
poems were his personally, and how far national, the question of the
framework of society in Scotland, and its fatal effect upon the finest
natures.  Scott again, the ever delightful man, sane, courageous,
admirable; the birth of Romance, in a dawn that was a sunset; snobbery,
conservatism, the wrong thread in History, and notably in that of his own
land.  _Voilà_, _madame_, _le menu_.  _Comment le trouvez-vous_?  _Il y
a_ _de la bonne viando_, _si on parvient à la cuire convenablement_.

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                            [_Mentone_, _March_ 28, 1874.]

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                       [_Swanston_], _May_ 1874, _Monday_.

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

                                * * * * *

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

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

                                * * * * *

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                      _Swanston_, _Wednesday_, _May_ 1874.

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

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

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

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

                                * * * * *

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                  _Train between Edinburgh and Chester_, _August_ 8, 1874.

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

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

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

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

                                * * * * *

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                 _Swanston_, _Wednesday_, [_Autumn_] 1874.

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

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

I say, _do_ take your maccaroni with oil: _do_, _please_.  It’s _beastly_
with butter.—Ever your faithful friend,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                       [_Edinburgh_], _December_ 23, 1874.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                           17 _Heriot Road_, _Edinburgh_ [_January_ 1875].

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

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

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

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


                                 _Edinburgh_, _Tuesday_ [_February_ 1875].

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

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                                       _February_ 8, 1875.

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

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

_J’y parviendrai_, _nom de nom de nom_!  But it’s a long look
forward.—Ever yours,

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                               [_Barbizon_, _April_ 1875.]

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                    17 _Heriot Row_, _Edinburgh_, _Sunday_ [_April_ 1875].

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

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

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

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

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

                                * * * * *

_Monday_.—I have written nothing all morning; I cannot settle to it.
Yes—I _will_ though.

                                * * * * *

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                    [_Swanston_, _Tuesday_, _April_ 1875.]

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                  [_Edinburgh_, _Saturday_, _April_ 1875.]

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

                                * * * * *

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

                                * * * * *

                                                                  R. L. S.

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

                                * * * * *

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                               [_Edinburgh_, _June_ 1875.]

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

                                                                  R. L. S.

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                         _Swanston_.  _End of June_, 1875.

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

                                * * * * *

_Saturday_—_no_, _Sunday_, 12.45.—Just been—not grinding, alas!—I
couldn’t—but doing a bit of Fontainebleau.  I don’t think I’ll be
plucked.  I am not sure though—I am so busy, what with this d-d law, and
this Fontainebleau always at my elbow, and three plays (three, think of
that!) and a story, all crying out to me, ‘Finish, finish, make an entire
end, make us strong, shapely, viable creatures!’  It’s enough to put a
man crazy.  Moreover, I have my thesis given out now, which is a fifth
(is it fifth? I can’t count) incumbrance.

                                * * * * *

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

                                                                  R. L. S.

JULY 1875-JULY 1879


              [_Chez Siron_, _Barbizon_, _Seine et Marne_, _August_ 1875.]

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                _Château Renard_, _Loiret_, _August_ 1875.

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

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

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

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

                       _Nous n’irons plus au bois_.

   We’ll walk the woods no more,
   But stay beside the fire,
   To weep for old desire
   And things that are no more.
         The woods are spoiled and hoar,
   The ways are full of mire;
   We’ll walk the woods no more,
   But stay beside the fire.
         We loved, in days of yore,
   Love, laughter, and the lyre.
   Ah God, but death is dire,
   And death is at the door—
   We’ll walk the woods no more.

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                             _Edinburgh_, [_Autumn_] 1875.

MY DEAR COLVIN,—Thanks for your letter and news.  No—my _Burns_ is not
done yet, it has led me so far afield that I cannot finish it; every time
I think I see my way to an end, some new game (or perhaps wild goose)
starts up, and away I go.  And then, again, to be plain, I shirk the work
of the critical part, shirk it as a man shirks a long jump.  It is awful
to have to express and differentiate _Burns_ in a column or two.  O
golly, I say, you know, it _can’t_ be done at the money.  All the more as
I’m going to write a book about it.  _Ramsay_, _Fergusson_, _and Burns_:
_an Essay_ (or _a critical essay_? but then I’m going to give lives of
the three gentlemen, only the gist of the book is the criticism) _by
Robert Louis Stevenson_, _Advocate_.  How’s that for cut and dry?  And I
_could_ write this book.  Unless I deceive myself, I could even write it
pretty adequately.  I feel as if I was really in it, and knew the game
thoroughly.  You see what comes of trying to write an essay on _Burns_ in
ten columns.

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                            [_Edinburgh_, _October_ 1875.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                                             [_Edinburgh_, _Autumn_ 1875.]

MY DEAR COLVIN,—_Fous ne me gombrennez pas_.  Angry with you?  No.  Is
the thing lost?  Well, so be it.  There is one masterpiece fewer in the
world.  The world can ill spare it, but I, sir, I (and here I strike my
hollow bosom so that it resounds) I am full of this sort of bauble; I am
made of it; it comes to me, sir, as the desire to sneeze comes upon poor
ordinary devils on cold days, when they should be getting out of bed and
into their horrid cold tubs by the light of a seven o’clock candle, with
the dismal seven o’clock frost-flowers all over the window.

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

                                                                  R. L. S.

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                       [_Edinburgh_, _November_ 12, 1875.]

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                              _Edinburgh_, _January_ 1876.

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

   _Grossir la pâte universelle_
   _Faite des formes que Dieu fond_.

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.

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

                                                                   R. L S.


                                            [_Edinburgh_, _January_ 1876.]

. . . OUR weather continues as it was, bitterly cold, and raining often.
There is not much pleasure in life certainly as it stands at present.
_Nous n’irons plus au boss_, _hélas_!

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                           [_Edinburgh_, _February_ 1876.]

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

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

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

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

                                                                   R. L S.


                         [_Swanston Cottage_, _Lothianburn_, _July_ 1876.]

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                         [_Swanston Cottage_, _Lothianburn_, _July_ 1876.]

. . . I HAVE the strangest repugnance for writing; indeed, I have nearly
got myself persuaded into the notion that letters don’t arrive, in order
to salve my conscience for never sending them off.  I’m reading a great
deal of fifteenth century: _Trial of Joan of Arc_, _Paston Letters_,
_Basin_, etc., also _Boswell_ daily by way of a Bible; I mean to read
_Boswell_ now until the day I die.  And now and again a bit of _Pilgrim’s
Progress_.  Is that all?  Yes, I think that’s all.  I have a thing in
proof for the _Cornhill_ called _Virginibus Puerisque_.  ‘Charles of
Orleans’ is again laid aside, but in a good state of furtherance this
time.  A paper called ‘A Defence of Idlers’ (which is really a defence of
R. L. S.) is in a good way.  So, you see, I am busy in a tumultuous,
knotless sort of fashion; and as I say, I take lots of exercise, and I’m
as brown a berry.

This is the first letter I’ve written for—O I don’t know how long.

                                * * * * *

_July_ 30_th_.—This is, I suppose, three weeks after I began.  Do,
please, forgive me.

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

God bless you.

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

_P.S._—_Virginibus Puerisque_ is in August _Cornhill_.  ‘Charles of
Orleans’ is finished, and sent to Stephen; ‘Idlers’ ditto, and sent to
Grove; but I’ve no word of either.  So I’ve not been idle.

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                     _Chauny_, _Aisne_ [_September_ 1876].

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                 17 _Heriot Row_, _Edinburgh_, _May_ 1877.

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                             [_Edinburgh_, _August_ 1877.]

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

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

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

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

                                                          LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                              [_Penzance_, _August_ 1877.]

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.



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

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

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

                                                                   R. L S.


                           17 _Heriot Row_, _Edinburgh_ [_December_ 1877].

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

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

Of your poems I have myself a kindness for ‘Noll and Nell,’ although I
don’t think you have made it as good as you ought: verse five is surely
not _quite melodious_.  I confess I like the Sonnet in the last number of
the _Review_—the Sonnet to England.

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                       _Hôtel des Etrangers_, _Dieppe_, _January_ 1, 1878.

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                    [_Paris_, _January or February_ 1878.]

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


               _Paris_, 44 _Bd. Haussmann_, _Friday_, _February_ 21, 1878.

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                               _Hotel du Val de Grâce_, _Rue St. Jacques_,
                                          _Paris_, _Sunday_ [_June_ 1878].

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                            _Monastier_, _September_ 1878.

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

                                                                  R. L. S.

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


                                          [_Monastier_, _September_ 1878.]

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                             _Monastier_, _at Morel’s_ [_September_ 1878].
                                    Lud knows about date, _vide_ postmark.

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

                                                                   R. L S.


                                                           _October_ 1878.

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                          [_Trinity College_, _Cambridge_, _Autumn_ 1878.]

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                         [17 _Heriot Row_, _Edinburgh_, _April_ 16, 1879].
                                         _Pool of Siloam_, _by El Dorado_,
                                         _Delectable Mountains_, _Arcadia_

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

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

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


                              17 _Heriot Row_, _Edinburgh_ [_April_ 1879].

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

I’ll try to improve it, but I shan’t be able to—O go to the devil.

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

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

Impromptu poem.

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

I see I must write some more to you about my Monastery.  I am a weak
brother in verse.  You ask me to re-write things that I have already
managed just to write with the skin of my teeth.  If I don’t re-write
them, it’s because I don’t see how to write them better, not because I
don’t think they should be.  But, curiously enough, you condemn two of my
favourite passages, one of which is J. W. Ferrier’s favourite of the
whole.  Here I shall think it’s you who are wrong.  You see, I did not
try to make good verse, but to say what I wanted as well as verse would
let me.  I don’t like the rhyme ‘ear’ and ‘hear.’  But the couplet, ‘My
undissuaded heart I hear Whisper courage in my ear,’ is exactly what I
want for the thought, and to me seems very energetic as speech, if not as
verse.  Would ‘daring’ be better than ‘courage’?  _Je me le demande_.
No, it would be ambiguous, as though I had used it licentiously for
‘daringly,’ and that would cloak the sense.

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

                                                                   R. L S.


                  _Swanston_, _Lothianburn_, _Edinburgh_, _July_ 24, 1879.

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

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

‘_English_, _The_:—a dull people, incapable of comprehending the Scottish
tongue.  Their history is so intimately connected with that of Scotland,
that we must refer our readers to that heading.  Their literature is
principally the work of venal Scots.’—Stevenson’s _Handy Cyclopædia_.
Glescow: Blaikie & Bannock.

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                           17 _Heriot Row_, _Edinburgh_ [_July_ 28, 1879].

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                           17 _Heriot Row_, _Edinburgh_ [_July_ 29, 1879].

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.

JULY 1879-JULY 1880


              _On board ss._ ‘_Devonia_,’ _an hour or two out of New York_
                                                          [_August_ 1879].

MY DEAR COLVIN,—I have finished my story. {144}  The handwriting is not
good because of the ship’s misconduct: thirty-one pages in ten days at
sea is not bad.

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.

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


                  [_In the Emigrant Train from New York to San Francisco_,
                                                           _August_ 1879.]

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

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

   Of where or how, I nothing know;
         And why, I do not care;
         Enough if, even so,
   My travelling eyes, my travelling mind can go
   By flood and field and hill, by wood and meadow fair,
   Beside the Susquehannah and along the Delaware.

   I think, I hope, I dream no more
         The dreams of otherwhere,
   The cherished thoughts of yore;
   I have been changed from what I was before;
   And drunk too deep perchance the lotus of the air
   Beside the Susquehannah and along the Delaware.

   Unweary God me yet shall bring
         To lands of brighter air,
         Where I, now half a king,
   Shall with enfranchised spirit loudlier sing,
   And wear a bolder front than that which now I wear
   Beside the Susquehannah and along the Delaware.

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                      _Crossing Nebraska_ [_Saturday_, _August_ 23, 1879].

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

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

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

                                                                   R. L S.


                 [_Coast Line Mountains_, _California_, _September_ 1879.]

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


           _Monterey_, _Ditto Co._, _California_, 21_st_ _October_ [1879].

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                               _Monterey_, _California_, _September_ 1879.

MY DEAR COLVIN,—I received your letter with delight; it was the first
word that reached me from the old country.  I am in good health now; I
have been pretty seedy, for I was exhausted by the journey and anxiety
below even my point of keeping up; I am still a little weak, but that is
all; I begin to ingrease, {149} it seems already.  My book is about half
drafted: the _Amateur Emigrant_, that is.  Can you find a better name?  I
believe it will be more popular than any of my others; the canvas is so
much more popular and larger too.  Fancy, it is my fourth.  That
voluminous writer.  I was vexed to hear about the last chapter of ‘The
Lie,’ and pleased to hear about the rest; it would have been odd if it
had no birthmark, born where and how it was.  It should by rights have
been called the _Devonia_, for that is the habit with all children born
in a steerage.

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


           _Monterey_, _Monterey Co._, _California_, 8_th_ _October_ 1879.

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

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

My new book, _The Amateur Emigrant_, is about half drafted.  I don’t know
if it will be good, but I think it ought to sell in spite of the deil and
the publishers; for it tells an odd enough experience, and one, I think,
never yet told before.  Look for my ‘Burns’ in the _Cornhill_, and for my
‘Story of a Lie’ in Paul’s withered babe, the _New Quarterly_.  You may
have seen the latter ere this reaches you: tell me if it has any
interest, like a good boy, and remember that it was written at sea in
great anxiety of mind.  What is your news?  Send me your works, like an
angel, _au fur et à mesure_ of their apparition, for I am naturally short
of literature, and I do not wish to rust.

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

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

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

                                                                    R L S.


                               [_Monterey_, _California_, _October_ 1879.]

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                               [_Monterey_, _California_, _October_ 1879.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                               _Monterey_, _California_ [_November_ 1879].

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

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

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

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

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


                         _Monterey_, _California_, 15_th_ _November_ 1879.

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

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

                                                                   R. L S.

I try it again by daylight.  Once more in bed however; for to-day it is
_mucho frio_, as we Spaniards say; and I had no other means of keeping
warm for my work.  I have done a good spell, 9½ foolscap pages; at least
8 of _Cornhill_; ah, if I thought that I could get eight guineas for it.
My trouble is that I am all too ambitious just now.  A book whereof 70
out of 120 are scrolled.  A novel whereof 85 out of, say, 140 are pretty
well nigh done.  A short story of 50 pp., which shall be finished
to-morrow, or I’ll know the reason why.  This may bring in a lot of
money: but I dread to think that it is all on three chances.  If the
three were to fail, I am in a bog.  The novel is called _A Vendetta in
the West_.  I see I am in a grasping, dismal humour, and should, as we
Americans put it, quit writing.  In truth, I am so haunted by anxieties
that one or other is sure to come up in all that I write.

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                            [_Monterey_, _December_ 1879.]

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

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                 _Monterey_, _Monterey Co._, _California_, _Dec._ 8, 1879.

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.

‘Too young to be our child’: blooming good.


                 608 _Bush Street_, _San Francisco_ [_December_ 26, 1879].

MY DEAR COLVIN,—I am now writing to you in a café waiting for some music
to begin.  For four days I have spoken to no one but to my landlady or
landlord or to restaurant waiters.  This is not a gay way to pass
Christmas, is it? and I must own the guts are a little knocked out of me.
If I could work, I could worry through better.  But I have no style at
command for the moment, with the second part of the _Emigrant_, the last
of the novel, the essay on Thoreau, and God knows all, waiting for me.
But I trust something can be done with the first part, or, by God, I’ll
starve here . . . . {161}

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                  608 _Bush Street_, _San Francisco_ [_January_ 10, 1880].

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                        608 _Bush Street_, _San Francisco_, _Jan._ 26, ’80

MY DEAR CHARLES,—I have to drop from a 50 cent. to a 25 cent. dinner;
to-day begins my fall.  That brings down my outlay in food and drink to
45 cents., or 1s. 10½d. per day.  How are the mighty fallen!  Luckily,
this is such a cheap place for food; I used to pay as much as that for my
first breakfast in the Savile in the grand old palmy days of yore.  I
regret nothing, and do not even dislike these straits, though the flesh
will rebel on occasion.  It is to-day bitter cold, after weeks of lovely
warm weather, and I am all in a chitter.  I am about to issue for my
little shilling and halfpenny meal, taken in the middle of the day, the
poor man’s hour; and I shall eat and drink to your prosperity.—Ever

                                                                  R. L. S.


        608 _Bush Street_, _San Francisco_, _California_ [_January_ 1880].

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

The _Vendetta_ you will not much like, I dare say: and that must be
finished next; but I’ll knock you with _The Forest State_: _A Romance_.

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


              608 _Bush Street_, _San Francisco_, _Cal._, _February_ 1880.

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                       608 _Bush Street_, _San Francisco_, [_March_ 1880].

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                               _San Francisco_, _Cal._, _April_ 16 [1880].

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                          [_San Francisco_, _April_ 1880.]

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                          [_San Francisco_, _April_ 1880.]

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                          [_San Francisco_, _April_ 1880.]

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                            [_San Francisco_, _May_ 1880.]

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

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

I to the hills.—Yours ever,

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                       _East Oakland_, _Cal._, _May_ 1880.

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                            [_San Francisco_, _May_ 1880.]

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

                                 _Calistoga_, _Napa County_, _California_.

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

Received James’s _Hawthorne_, on which I meditate a blast, Miss Bird,
Dixon’s _Penn_, a _wrong Cornhill_ (like my luck) and _Coquelin_: for all
which, and especially the last, I tender my best thanks.  I have opened
only James; it is very clever, very well written, and out of sight the
most inside-out thing in the world; I have dug up the hatchet; a scalp
shall flutter at my belt ere long.  I think my new book should be good;
it will contain our adventures for the summer, so far as these are worth
narrating; and I have already a few pages of diary which should make up
bright.  I am going to repeat my old experiment, after buckling-to a
while to write more correctly, lie down and have a wallow.  Whether I
shall get any of my novels done this summer I do not know; I wish to
finish the _Vendetta_ first, for it really could not come after _Prince
Otto_.  Lewis Campbell has made some noble work in that Agamemnon; it
surprised me.  We hope to get a house at Silverado, a deserted
mining-camp eight miles up the mountain, now solely inhabited by a mighty
hunter answering to the name of Rufe Hansome, who slew last year a
hundred and fifty deer.  This is the motto I propose for the new volume:
‘_Vixerunt nonnulli in agris_, _delectati re sua familiari_.  _His idem
propositum fuit quod regibus_, _ut ne qua re egerent_, _ne cui parerent_,
_libertate uterentur_; _cujus proprium est sic vivere ut velis_.’  I
always have a terror lest the wish should have been father to the
translation, when I come to quote; but that seems too plain sailing.  I
should put _regibus_ in capitals for the pleasantry’s sake.  We are in
the Coast Range, that being so much cheaper to reach; the family, I hope,
will soon follow.—Love to all, ever yours,

                                                                  R. L. S.



                            [_Hotel Belvedere_, _Davos_, _November_ 1880.]

   Figure me to yourself, I pray—
      A man of my peculiar cut—
   Apart from dancing and deray, {185}
      Into an Alpine valley shut;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   Here should I gallop down the race,
      Here charge the sterling {186} like a bull;
   There, as a man might wipe his face,
      Lie, pleased and panting, in a pool.

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                       [_Hotel Belvedere_], _Davos_, _December_ 12 [1880].

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

                        I. THIRTY YEARS’ INTERVAL

  (1) Rob Roy.

  (2) The Independent Companies: the Watches.

  (3) Story of Lady Grange.

  (4) The Military Roads, and Disarmament: Wade and

  (5) Burt.

                            II. THE HEROIC AGE

  (1) Duncan Forbes of Culloden.

  (2) Flora Macdonald.

  (3) The Forfeited Estates; including Hereditary Jurisdictions; and the
  admirable conduct of the tenants.


  (1) The Ossianic Controversy.

  (2) Boswell and Johnson.

  (3) Mrs. Grant of Laggan.

                               IV. ECONOMY

  (1) Highland Economics.

  (2) The Reinstatement of the Proprietors.

  (3) The Evictions.

  (4) Emigration.

  (5) Present State.

                               V. RELIGION

  (1) The Catholics, Episcopals, and Kirk, and Soc. Prop. Christ.

  (2) The Men.

  (3) The Disruption.

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                        _Hotel Belvedere_, _Davos Platz_ [_Dec._ 6, 1880].

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                            [_Hotel Belvedere_], _Davos_, _Dec._ 19, 1880.

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

Its results are unhesitatingly shot at your head.

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

  (2) Byron: if anything: _Prometheus_.

  (3) Shelley (1) _The world’s great age_ from Hellas; we are both dead
  on.  After that you have, of course, _The West Wind_ thing.  But we
  think (1) would maybe be enough; no more than two any way.

  (4) Herrick.  _Meddowes_ and _Come_, _my Corinna_.  After that _Mr.
  Wickes_: two any way.

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

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

  (7) Is the _Royal George_ an ode, or only an elegy?  It’s so good.

  (8) We leave Campbell to you.

  (9) If you take anything from Clough, but we don’t either of us fancy
  you will, let it be _Come back_.

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

  (11) Right with Collins.

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

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


        _Hotel Belvedere_, _Davos Platz_, _Switzerland_ [_December_ 1880].

DEAR CHARLES WARREN STODDARD,—Many thanks to you for the letter and the
photograph.  Will you think it mean if I ask you to wait till there
appears a promised cheap edition?  Possibly the canny Scot does feel
pleasure in the superior cheapness; but the true reason is this, that I
think to put a few words, by way of notes, to each book in its new form,
because that will be the Standard Edition, without which no g.’s l. {191}
will be complete.  The edition, briefly, _sine qua non_.  Before that, I
shall hope to send you my essays, which are in the printer’s hands.  I
look to get yours soon.  I am sorry to hear that the Custom House has
proved fallible, like all other human houses and customs.  Life consists
of that sort of business, and I fear that there is a class of man, of
which you offer no inapt type, doomed to a kind of mild, general
disappointment through life.  I do not believe that a man is the more
unhappy for that.  Disappointment, except with one’s self, is not a very
capital affair; and the sham beatitude, ‘Blessed is he that expecteth
little,’ one of the truest, and in a sense, the most Christlike things in

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

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

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


                                            _December_ 21, 1880.  _Davos_.

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

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

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

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

                                                                   R. L S.


                             [_Hotel Belvedere_, _Davos_, Christmas 1880.]

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                           _Christmas Sermon_.

                        [_Hotel Belvedere_, _Davos_, _December_ 26, 1880.]

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                              [_Hotel Belvedere_, _Davos_, _Spring_ 1881.]

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.

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

Woggin sends his love.


                                                            _Davos_, 1881.

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


                                                            _Davos_, 1881.

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                _Hotel Belvedere_, _Davos_, _Spring_ 1881.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

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


                                            _Hotel du Pavillon Henry IV._,
                       _St. Germain-en-Laye_, _Sunday_, _May_ 1_st_, 1881.

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                _Pitlochry_, _Perthshire_, _June_ 6, 1881.

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


               _Kinnaird Cottage_, _Pitlochry_, _Perthshire_, _June_ 1881.

MY DEAR COLVIN,—_The Black Man and Other Tales_.

  The Black Man:

  I. Thrawn Janet.

  II. The Devil on Cramond Sands.

  The Shadow on the Bed.

  The Body Snatchers.

  The Case Bottle.

  The King’s Horn.

  The Actor’s Wife.

  The Wreck of the _Susanna_.

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


            _Kinnaird Cottage_, _Pitlochry_, _Wednesday_, _June_ 21, 1881.

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


              _Kinnaird Cottage_, _Pitlochry_, _Perthshire_ [_June_ 1881].

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                         _Kinnaird Cottage_, _Pitlochry_, _June_ 24, 1881.

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

Heavens!  _Je me sauve_, I have something else to say to you, but after
that (which is not a joke) I shall keep it for another shoot.—Yours

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

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


                            _Kinnaird Cottage_, _Pitlochry_ [_July_ 1881].

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                            _Kinnaird Cottage_, _Pitlochry_ [_July_ 1881].

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

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

I had a fair experience of that kind of illness when all the women (God
bless them!) turn round upon the streets and look after you with a look
that is only too kind not to be cruel.  I have had nearly two years of
more or less prostration.  I have done no work whatever since the
February before last until quite of late.  To be precise, until the
beginning of last month, exactly two essays.  All last winter I was at
Davos; and indeed I am home here just now against the doctor’s orders,
and must soon be back again to that unkindly haunt ‘upon the mountains
visitant’—there goes no angel there but the angel of death. {209}  The
deaths of last winter are still sore spots to me. . . . So, you see, I am
not very likely to go on a ‘wild expedition,’ cis-Stygian at least.  The
truth is, I am scarce justified in standing for the chair, though I hope
you will not mention this; and yet my health is one of my reasons, for
the class is in summer.

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                           _Kinnaird Cottage_, _Pitlochry_, [_July_ 1881].

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

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

_Tales for Winter Nights_.  Yes, that, I think, we will call the lot of
them when republished.

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

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

It looks as if we should take Cater’s chalet {210} after all; but O! to
go back to that place, it seems cruel.  I have not yet received the
Landor; but it may be at home, detained by my mother, who returns

Believe me, dear Colvin, ever yours,

                                                                  R. L. S.

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

‘The Merry Men’

    Chap. I.  Eilean Aros.                          Tip


         II.  What the Wreck had brought to Aros.
        III.  Past and Present in Sandag Bay.
         IV.  The Gale.
          V.  A Man out of the Sea.


                             _Kinnaird Cottage_, _Pitlochry_, _July_ 1881.

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

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

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

1830: _A Chapter of Artistic History_, by William Ernest Henley (or _of
Social and Artistic History_, as the thing might grow to you).  Sir, you
might be in the Athenæum yet with that; and, believe me, you might and
would be far better, the author of a readable book.—Yours ever,

                                                                  R. L. S.

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

Grunty-pig (when he is scratched),

Rose-mouth (when he comes flying up with his rose-leaf tongue depending),

Hoofen-boots (when he has had his foots wet).

How would _Tales for Winter Nights_ do?


                            _Pitlochry_, _if you please_, [_August_] 1881.

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                               _Pitlochry_, _August_ 1881.

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

                                * * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Thrawn Janet (with Stephen), proof to-day.

  The Shadow on the Bed (Fanny’s copying).

  The Merry Men (scrolled).

  The Body Snatchers (scrolled).

_In germis_

  The Travelling Companion.

  The Torn Surplice (_not final title_).

Yours ever,

                                                                  R. L. S.


           _The Cottage_, _Castleton of Braemar_, _Sunday_, _August_ 1881.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                     _The Cottage_, _Castleton of Braemar_, _August_ 1881.

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

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                          _The Cottage_ (_late the late Miss M’Gregor’s_),
                                _Castleton of Braemar_, _August_ 10, 1881.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

_N.B._—Each of these clauses has to be read with extreme glibness, coming
down whack upon the ‘Sir.’  This is very important.  The fine stylistic
inspiration will else be lost.

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

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


                 _The Cottage_, _Castleton of Braemar_, _August_ 19, 1881.

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


                                           [_Braemar_], _August_ 19, 1881.

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

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

The sooner the better after Tuesday.—Yours ever,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                            _Braemar_ [_August_ 25, 1881].

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

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.
                                                Author of _Boys’ Stories_.


                                                          _Braemar_, 1881.

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

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

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


                                              _Braemar_, _September_ 1881.

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

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

Japp is a good soul.  The poet was very gay and pleasant.  He told me
much: he is simply the most active young man in England, and one of the
most intelligent.  ‘He shall o’er Europe, shall o’er earth extend.’ {223}
He is now extending over adjacent parts of Scotland.

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

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

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

Since this was written ‘The Cook’ is in his nineteenth chapter.  Yo-heave

                                                                  R. L. S.


                              [_Chalet am Stein_, _Davos_, _Autumn_ 1881.]

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

                          The Murder of Red Colin,

                     A Story of the Forfeited Estates.

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

_Trials of the Sons of Roy Rob with Anecdotes_: Edinburgh, 1818, and

The second volume of _Blackwood’s Magazine_.

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                              _Châlet am Stein_, _Davos_, _Autumn_ [1881].

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                         [_Chalet am Stein_], _Davos_, _December_ 5, 1881.

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

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

                     I swear it by the eternal sky
   Johnson—nor Thomson—ne’er shall die!

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                        _Chalet Buol_, _Davos-Platz_, _December_ 26, 1881.

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                      [_Chalet am Stein_, _Davos-Platz_, _February_ 1882.]

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                      [_Chalet am Stein_, _Davos_], 22_nd_ _February_ ’82.

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                      [_Chalet am Stein_, _Davos-Platz_, _February_ 1882.]

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                               [_Chalet am Stein_, _Davos_, _March_ 1882.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Eight books of an unfinished novel, _Solomon Crabb_.  By Henry

5. Stevenson’s Moral Emblems.

You also neglected to mention, as _per contra_, that they had during the
same time accepted and triumphantly published Brown’s _Handbook to
Cricket_, Jones’s _First_ _French Reader_, and Robinson’s _Picturesque
Cheshire_, uniform with the same author’s _Stately Homes of Salop_.

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

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

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

—Ever yours,

                                                                  R. L. S.


                               [_Chalet am Stein_, _Davos_, _March_ 1882.]

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

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                                _Davos_, _March_ 23, 1882.

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

I now send (for Mrs. Gosse).

                              BLACK CANYON.

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                               [_Chalet am Stein_, _Davos_, _March_ 1882.]

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                  _Châlet Buol_, _Davos_, _April_ 1, 1882.

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

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

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

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

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

Lloyd and my wife both beg to be remembered; and Lloyd sends as a present
a work of his own.  I hope you feel flattered; for this is _simply the
first time he has ever given one away_.  I have to buy my own works, I
can tell you.—Yours very sincerely,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                               [_Chalet am Stein_, _Davos_, _April_ 1882.]

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

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

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

  S. C. [Sidney Colvin].

  T. S. [Thomas Stevenson].

  Simp. [Sir Walter Simpson].

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

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

Talking of which, Heywood, as a small immortal, an immortalet, claims
some attention.  _The Woman killed with Kindness_ is one of the most
striking novels—not plays, though it’s more of a play than anything else
of his—I ever read.  He had such a sweet, sound soul, the old boy.  The
death of the two pirates in _Fortune by Sea and_ _Land_ is a document.
He had obviously been present, and heard Purser and Clinton take death by
the beard with similar braggadocios.  Purser and Clinton, names of
pirates; Scarlet and Bobbington, names of highwaymen.  He had the touch
of names, I think.  No man I ever knew had such a sense, such a tact, for
English nomenclature: Rainsforth, Lacy, Audley, Forrest, Acton, Spencer,
Frankford—so his names run.

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.

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


                            [_Chalet am Stein_, _Davos_, _April_ 9, 1882.]

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

Cockshot = Jenkin.        But





Jack = Bob.
Burly = Henley.
Athelred = Simpson.
Opalstein = Symonds.
Purcel = Gosse.

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

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

I have this winter finished _Treasure Island_, written the preface to the
_Studies_, a small book about the _Inland __Voyage_ size, _The Silverado
Squatters_, and over and above that upwards of ninety (90) _Cornhill_
pages of magazine work.  No man can say I have been idle.—Your
affectionate son,

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


                                     [_Edinburgh_] _Sunday_ [_June_ 1882].

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

I have been very tired and seedy, or I should have written before, _inter
alia_, to tell you that I had visited my murder place and found _living
traditions_ not yet in any printed book; most startling.  I also got
photographs taken, but the negatives have not yet turned up.  I lie on
the sofa to write this, whence the pencil; having slept yesterdays—1 + 4
+ 7½ = 12½ hours and being (9 A.M.) very anxious to sleep again.  The
arms of Porpus, quoi!  A poppy gules, etc.

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

                                                                  R. L. S.

—Did I say I had seen a verse on two of the Buccaneers?  I did, and


                              _Stobo Manse_, _Peeblesshire_ [_July_ 1882].

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

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

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

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

                                                                   R. L S.


                                             [_Stobo Manse_, _July_ 1882.]

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                   R. L S.



                       _Terminus Hotel_, _Marseilles_, _October_ 16, 1882.

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

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

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

Indeed, sir, I am doubly surprised at your correspondent’s error.  That
James Payn should have borrowed from me is already a strange conception.
The author of _Lost Sir Massingberd_ and _By Proxy_ may be trusted to
invent his own stories.  The author of _A Grape from a Thorn_ knows
enough, in his own right, of the humorous and pathetic sides of human

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


               _Terminus Hotel_, _Marseille_, _Saturday_ (_October_ 1882).

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

                              £48 per annum.

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                _Terminus Hotel_, _Marseille_, _le_ 17_th_ _October_ 1882.

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

I have had to write a letter to the _New York Tribune_ and the
_Athenæum_.  Payn was accused of stealing my stories!  I think I have put
things handsomely for him.

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.

Our servant is a Muckle Hash of a Weedy!


                                           _Campagne Defli_, _St. Marcel_,
                             _Banlieue de Marseille_, _November_ 13, 1882.

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

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

Love to you and to my father and to Cummy.

                       From me and Fanny and Wogg.

                                                                  R. L. S.


                              _Grand Hotel_, _Nice_, 12_th_ _January_ ’83.

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

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



                                                [_Nice_, _February_ 1883.]

MY DEAR CUMMY,—You must think, and quite justly, that I am one of the
meanest rogues in creation.  But though I do not write (which is a thing
I hate), it by no means follows that people are out of my mind.  It is
natural that I should always think more or less about you, and still more
natural that I should think of you when I went back to Nice.  But the
real reason why you have been more in my mind than usual is because of
some little verses that I have been writing, and that I mean to make a
book of; and the real reason of this letter (although I ought to have
written to you anyway) is that I have just seen that the book in question
must be dedicated to

                            ALISON CUNNINGHAM,

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                                   [_Nice_, _March_ 1883.]

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

But here is my notion to make all clear.

I do not want a big ugly quarto; my soul sickens at the look of a quarto.
I want a refined octavo, not large—not _larger_ than the _Donkey Book_,
at any price.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                            THE PENNY WHISTLE:
                              NURSERY VERSES
                         ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
                           ILLUSTRATED BY — — —

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

                            THE PENNY WHISTLE
                           is the name for me.

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

                              PENNY WHISTLES
                           FOR SMALL WHISTLERS.

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

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

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


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

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

X. _Windy Nights_.—The child in bed listening—the horseman galloping.

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

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

XXXI. _The Wind_.—I sent you my notion of already.

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

XXXIX.  Dear artist, can you do me that?

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                _Hotel des Iles d’Or_, _Hyères_, _Var_, _March_ 2, [1883].

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


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


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

    La Solitude,

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


       _Hotel des Iles d’Or_, _but my address will be Chalet la Solitude_,
                  _Hyères-le-Palmiers_, _Var_, _France_, _March_ 17, 1883.

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

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

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

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

The £50 has just arrived; many thanks; I am now at ease.—Ever your
affectionate son, _pro_ Cassandra, Wogg and Co.,

                                                                  R. L. S.


                           _Chalet la Solitude_, _Hyères_, [_April_ 1883].

MY DEAR FRIEND,—I am one of the lowest of the—but that’s understood.  I
received the copy, {263} excellently written, with I think only one slip
from first to last.  I have struck out two, and added five or six; so
they now number forty-five; when they are fifty, they shall out on the
world.  I have not written a letter for a cruel time; I have been, and
am, so busy, drafting a long story (for me, I mean), about a hundred
_Cornhill_ pages, or say about as long as the Donkey book: _Prince Otto_
it is called, and is, at the present hour, a sore burthen but a hopeful.
If I had him all drafted, I should whistle and sing.  But no: then I’ll
have to rewrite him; and then there will be the publishers, alas!  But
some time or other, I shall whistle and sing, I make no doubt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                           _Chalet la Solitude_, _Hyères_, [_April_ 1883].

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

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.

_P.S._—I see I have led you to conceive the _Squatters_ are fiction.
They are not, alas!


                                       _Chalet Solitude_, _May_ 5, [1883].

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

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

O that this may last!

I have to-day paid my rent for the half year, till the middle of
September, and got my lease: why they have been so long, I know not.

I wish you all sorts of good things.

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

                                                          TREESURE EILAAN,

It has been for me a Treasure Island verily.


                                   _La Solitude_, _Hyères_, _May_ 8, 1883.

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                              _La Solitude_, _Hyères-les-Palmiers_, _Var_,
                                                         [_May_ 20, 1883].

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  ‘I dwell already the next door to Heaven!’

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

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

This to catch the post.—Yours affectionately,

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


                    _La Solitude_, _Hyères-les-Palmiers_, _Var_, _France_,
                                                           _May_ 21, 1883.

MY DEAR GOSSE,—The night giveth advice, generally bad advice; but I have
taken it.  And I have written direct to Gilder to tell him to keep the
book {269} back and go on with it in November at his leisure.  I do not
know if this will come in time; if it doesn’t, of course things will go
on in the way proposed.  The £40, or, as I prefer to put it, the 1000
francs, has been such a piercing sun-ray as my whole grey life is gilt
withal.  On the back of it I can endure.  If these good days of _Longman_
and the _Century_ only last, it will be a very green world, this that we
dwell in and that philosophers miscall.  I have no taste for that
philosophy; give me large sums paid on the receipt of the MS. and
copyright reserved, and what do I care about the non-bëent?  Only I know
it can’t last.  The devil always has an imp or two in every house, and my
imps are getting lively.  The good lady, the dear, kind lady, the sweet,
excellent lady, Nemesis, whom alone I adore, has fixed her wooden eye
upon me.  I fall prone; spare me, Mother Nemesis!  But catch her!

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                                   [_Hyères_, _May_ 1883.]

. . . THE influenza has busted me a good deal; I have no spring, and am
headachy.  So, as my good Red Lion Counter begged me for another
Butcher’s Boy—I turned me to—what thinkest ’ou?—to Tushery, by the mass!
Ay, friend, a whole tale of tushery.  And every tusher tushes me so free,
that may I be tushed if the whole thing is worth a tush.  _The Black
Arrow_: _A Tale of Tunstall Forest_ is his name: tush! a poor thing!

Will _Treasure Island_ proofs be coming soon, think you?

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

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

                                                              PRETTY SICK.


                         _La Solitude_, _Hyères-les-Palmiers_, _May_ 1883.

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

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

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

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

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

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


                        A lytle Jape of TUSHERIE.

                                                             By A. Tusher.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                             [_Chalet La Solitude_, _Hyères_, _May_ 1883.]

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                                   _Hyères_ [_June_ 1883].

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Sursum Corda:

  Heave ahead:

  Here’s luck.

  Art and Blue Heaven,

  April and God’s Larks.

  Green reeds and the sky-scattering river.

  A stately music.

  Enter God!

                                                                  R. L. S.

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


                                  _La Solitude_, _Hyères_ [_Summer_ 1883].

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

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

And even as you read, you say, ‘Of course, _quelle rengaîne_!’

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                  _La Solitude_, _Hyères_ [_Summer_ 1883].

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                   _La Solitude_, _Hyères_, _Summer_ 1883.

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

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

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

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

                                                                  Q. E. F.

I thus render honour to your _flair_; it came on me of a clap; I do not
see it yet beyond a kind of sunset glory.  But it’s there: passion,
romance, the picturesque, involved: startling, simple, horrid: a sea-pink
in sea-froth!  _S’agit de la désenterrer_.  ‘Help!’ cries a buried

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                  _La Solitude_, _Hyères_ [_Summer_ 1883].

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                     _La Solitude_, _Hyères-les-Palmiers_,
                                              _Var_, _September_ 19, 1883.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, first his mother, then himself, they are gone: ‘in their resting

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

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

—Ever yours, dear boy,

                                                                  R. L. S.

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

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                     _La Solitude_, _Hyères-les-Palmiers_,
                                                  26_th_ _September_ 1883.

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


             _La Solitude_, _Hyères-les-Palmiers_, _Var_ [_October_ 1883].

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


                                _La Solitude_, _Hyères_, _October_ [1883].

MY DEAR LOW,—. . . Some day or other, in Cassell’s _Magazine of Art_, you
will see a paper which will interest you, and where your name appears.
It is called ‘Fontainebleau: Village Communities of Artists,’ and the
signature of R. L. Stevenson will be found annexed.

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

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

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

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

If you were privileged to give some happiness to your parents, I know
your art will gain by it.  _By God_, _it will_!  _Sic subscribitur_,

                                                                  R. L. S.


                    _La Solitude_, _Hyères-les-Palmiers_ [_October_ 1883].

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

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

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

Your definition of seeing is quite right.  It is the first part of
omission to be partly blind.  Artistic sight is judicious blindness.  Sam
Bough {289} must have been a jolly blind old boy.  He would turn a
corner, look for one-half or quarter minute, and then say, ‘This’ll do,
lad.’  Down he sat, there and then, with whole artistic plan, scheme of
colour, and the like, and begin by laying a foundation of powerful and
seemingly incongruous colour on the block.  He saw, not the scene, but
the water-colour sketch.  Every artist by sixty should so behold nature.
Where does he learn that?  In the studio, I swear.  He goes to nature for
facts, relations, values—material; as a man, before writing a historical
novel, reads up memoirs.  But it is not by reading memoirs that he has
learned the selective criterion.  He has learned that in the practice of
his art; and he will never learn it well, but when disengaged from the
ardent struggle of immediate representation, of realistic and _ex facto_
art.  He learns it in the crystallisation of day-dreams; in changing, not
in copying, fact; in the pursuit of the ideal, not in the study of
nature.  These temples of art are, as you say, inaccessible to the
realistic climber.  It is not by looking at the sea that you get

                    ‘The multitudinous seas incarnadine,’

nor by looking at Mont Blanc that you find

                 ‘And visited all night by troops of stars.’

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

The painter must study more from nature than the man of words.  But why?
Because literature deals with men’s business and passions which, in the
game of life, we are irresistibly obliged to study; but painting with
relations of light, and colour, and significances, and form, which, from
the immemorial habit of the race, we pass over with an unregardful eye.
Hence this crouching upon camp-stools, and these crusts. {290}  But
neither one nor other is a part of art, only preliminary studies.

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


       _La Solitude_, _Hyères-les-Palmiers_, _Var_, 12_th_ _October_ 1883.

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                        [_Chalet la Solitude_, _Hyères_, _Oct._ 23, 1883.]

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

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

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

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

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.

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


                                              [_Hyères_, _November_ 1883.]

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                               _La Solitude_, _Hyères_, [_November_ 1883].

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

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


           _La Solitude_, _Hyères-les-Palmiers_, _Var_, [_November_ 1883].

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

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

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

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

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

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

I must write more solemn letters.  Adieu.  Write.

                                                                  R. L. S.


                               _La Solitude_, _Hyères_, [_November_ 1883].

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

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                      _La Solitude_, _Hyères_, _Var_, _November_ 22, 1883.

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

I was inexpressibly touched to get a letter from some lawyers as to some
money.  I have never had any account with my friends; some have gained
and some lost; and I should feel there was something dishonest in a
partial liquidation even if I could recollect the facts, _which I
cannot_.  But the fact of his having put aside this memorandum touched me

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

All these things return now.

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

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

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                   _La Solitude_, _Hyères_, _Var_, 13_th_ _December_ 1883.

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

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                       _La Solitude_, _December_ 20, 1883.

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

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                       _La Solitude_, _December_ 25, 1883.

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


                          [_La Solitude_, _Hyères_], _last Sunday of_ ’83.

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

Here am I on the threshold of another year, when, according to all human
foresight, I should long ago have been resolved into my elements; here am
I, who you were persuaded was born to disgrace you—and, I will do you the
justice to add, on no such insufficient grounds—no very burning discredit
when all is done; here am I married, and the marriage recognised to be a
blessing of the first order, A1 at Lloyd’s.  There is he, at his not
first youth, able to take more exercise than I at thirty-three, and
gaining a stone’s weight, a thing of which I am incapable.  There are
you; has the man no gratitude?  There is Smeoroch {303}: is he blind?
Tell him from me that all this is

                            NOT THE TRUE BLUE!

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

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

                                                                  R. L. S.


          _La Solitude_, _Hyères-les-Palmiers_, _Var_, _January_ 1 (1884).

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

And yet I am not happy!

Yet I beg!  Here is my beggary:—

  1. Sellar’s Trial.

  2. George Borrow’s Book about Wales.

  3. My Grandfather’s Trip to Holland.

  4. And (but this is, I fear, impossible) the Bell Rock Book.

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

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

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

                                                              JNO. BUNYAN.


          _La Solitude_, _Hyères-les-Palmiers_, _Var_, 9_th_ _March_ 1884.

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

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

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

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

Did you ever read St. Augustine?  The first chapters of the _Confessions_
are marked by a commanding genius.  Shakespearian in depth.  I was struck
dumb, but, alas! when you begin to wander into controversy, the poet
drops out.  His description of infancy is most seizing.  And how is this:
‘Sed majorum nugae negotia vocantur; puerorum autem talia cum sint
puniuntur a majoribus.’  Which is quite after the heart of R. L. S.  See
also his splendid passage about the ‘luminosus limes amicitiae’ and the
‘nebulae de limosa concupiscentia carnis’; going on ‘_Utrumque_ in
confuso aestuabat et rapiebat imbecillam aetatem per abrupta
cupiditatum.’  That ‘Utrumque’ is a real contribution to life’s science.
Lust _alone_ is but a pigmy; but it never, or rarely, attacks us

Do you ever read (to go miles off, indeed) the incredible Barbey
d’Aurevilly?  A psychological Poe—to be for a moment Henley.  I own with
pleasure I prefer him with all his folly, rot, sentiment, and mixed
metaphors, to the whole modern school in France.  It makes me laugh when
it’s nonsense; and when he gets an effect (though it’s still nonsense and
mere Poëry, not poesy) it wakens me.  _Ce qui ne meurt pas_ nearly killed
me with laughing, and left me—well, it left me very nearly admiring the
old ass.  At least, it’s the kind of thing one feels one couldn’t do.
The dreadful moonlight, when they all three sit silent in the room—by
George, sir, it’s imagined—and the brief scene between the husband and
wife is all there.  _Quant au fond_, the whole thing, of course, is a
fever dream, and worthy of eternal laughter.  Had the young man broken
stones, and the two women been hard-working honest prostitutes, there had
been an end of the whole immoral and baseless business: you could at
least have respected them in that case.

I also read _Petronius Arbiter_, which is a rum work, not so immoral as
most modern works, but singularly silly.  I tackled some Tacitus too.  I
got them with a dreadful French crib on the same page with the text,
which helps me along and drives me mad.  The French do not even try to
translate.  They try to be much more classical than the classics, with
astounding results of barrenness and tedium.  Tacitus, I fear, was too
solid for me.  I liked the war part; but the dreary intriguing at Rome
was too much.

                                                                  R. L. S.


                      _La Solitude_, _Hyères_, _Var_, 12_th_ _March_ 1884.

MY DEAR MR. DICK,—I have been a great while owing you a letter; but I am
not without excuses, as you have heard.  I overworked to get a piece of
work finished before I had my holiday, thinking to enjoy it more; and
instead of that, the machinery near hand came sundry in my hands! like
Murdie’s uniform.  However, I am now, I think, in a fair way of recovery;
I think I was made, what there is of me, of whipcord and thorn-switches;
surely I am tough!  But I fancy I shall not overdrive again, or not so
long.  It is my theory that work is highly beneficial, but that it
should, if possible, and certainly for such partially broken-down
instruments as the thing I call my body, be taken in batches, with a
clear break and breathing space between.  I always do vary my work,
laying one thing aside to take up another, not merely because I believe
it rests the brain, but because I have found it most beneficial to the
result.  Reading, Bacon says, makes a full man, but what makes me full on
any subject is to banish it for a time from all my thoughts.  However,
what I now propose is, out of every quarter, to work two months’ and rest
the third.  I believe I shall get more done, as I generally manage, on my
present scheme, to have four months’ impotent illness and two of
imperfect health—one before, one after, I break down.  This, at least, is
not an economical division of the year.

I re-read the other day that heartbreaking book, the _Life of Scott_.
One should read such works now and then, but O, not often.  As I live, I
feel more and more that literature should be cheerful and brave-spirited,
even if it cannot be made beautiful and pious and heroic.  We wish it to
be a green place; the _Waverley Novels_ are better to re-read than the
over-true life, fine as dear Sir Walter was.  The Bible, in most parts,
is a cheerful book; it is our little piping theologies, tracts, and
sermons that are dull and dowie; and even the Shorter Catechism, which is
scarcely a work of consolation, opens with the best and shortest and
completest sermon ever written—upon Man’s chief end.—Believe me, my dear
Mr. Dick, very sincerely yours,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

_P.S._—You see I have changed my hand.  I was threatened apparently with
scrivener’s cramp, and at any rate had got to write so small, that the
revisal of my MS. tried my eyes, hence my signature alone remains upon
the old model; for it appears that if I changed that, I should be cut off
from my ‘vivers.’

                                                                  R. L. S.


            _La Solitude_, _Hyères-les-Palmiers_, _Var_, _March_ 16, 1884.

MY DEAR MONKHOUSE,—You see with what promptitude I plunge into
correspondence; but the truth is, I am condemned to a complete inaction,
stagnate dismally, and love a letter.  Yours, which would have been
welcome at any time, was thus doubly precious.

Dover sounds somewhat shiveringly in my ears.  You should see the weather
_I_ have—cloudless, clear as crystal, with just a punkah-draft of the
most aromatic air, all pine and gum tree.  You would be ashamed of Dover;
you would scruple to refer, sir, to a spot so paltry.  To be idle at
Dover is a strange pretension; pray, how do you warm yourself?  If I were
there I should grind knives or write blank verse, or—  But at least you
do not bathe?  It is idle to deny it: I have—I may say I nourish—a
growing jealousy of the robust, large-legged, healthy Britain-dwellers,
patient of grog, scorners of the timid umbrella, innocuously breathing
fog: all which I once was, and I am ashamed to say liked it.  How
ignorant is youth! grossly rolling among unselected pleasures; and how
nobler, purer, sweeter, and lighter, to sip the choice tonic, to recline
in the luxurious invalid chair, and to tread, well-shawled, the little
round of the constitutional.  Seriously, do you like to repose?  Ye gods,
I hate it.  I never rest with any acceptation; I do not know what people
mean who say they like sleep and that damned bedtime which, since long
ere I was breeched, has rung a knell to all my day’s doings and beings.
And when a man, seemingly sane, tells me he has ‘fallen in love with
stagnation,’ I can only say to him, ‘You will never be a Pirate!’  This
may not cause any regret to Mrs. Monkhouse; but in your own soul it will
clang hollow—think of it!  Never!  After all boyhood’s aspirations and
youth’s immoral day-dreams, you are condemned to sit down, grossly draw
in your chair to the fat board, and be a beastly Burgess till you die.
Can it be?  Is there not some escape, some furlough from the Moral Law,
some holiday jaunt contrivable into a Better Land?  Shall we never shed
blood?  This prospect is too grey.

   ‘Here lies a man who never did
   Anything but what he was bid;
   Who lived his life in paltry ease,
   And died of commonplace disease.’

To confess plainly, I had intended to spend my life (or any leisure I
might have from Piracy upon the high seas) as the leader of a great horde
of irregular cavalry, devastating whole valleys.  I can still, looking
back, see myself in many favourite attitudes; signalling for a boat from
my pirate ship with a pocket-handkerchief, I at the jetty end, and one or
two of my bold blades keeping the crowd at bay; or else turning in the
saddle to look back at my whole command (some five thousand strong)
following me at the hand-gallop up the road out of the burning valley:
this last by moonlight.

_Et point du tout_.  I am a poor scribe, and have scarce broken a
commandment to mention, and have recently dined upon cold veal!  As for
you (who probably had some ambitions), I hear of you living at Dover, in
lodgings, like the beasts of the field.  But in heaven, when we get
there, we shall have a good time, and see some real carnage.  For heaven
is—must be—that great Kingdom of Antinomia, which Lamb saw dimly
adumbrated in the _Country Wife_, where the worm which never dies (the
conscience) peacefully expires, and the sinner lies down beside the Ten
Commandments.  Till then, here a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Bowling, with
neither health nor vice for anything more spirited than procrastination,
which I may well call the Consolation Stakes of Wickedness; and by whose
diligent practice, without the least amusement to ourselves, we can rob
the orphan and bring down grey hairs with sorrow to the dust.

This astonishing gush of nonsense I now hasten to close, envelope, and
expedite to Shakespeare’s Cliff.  Remember me to Shakespeare, and believe
me, yours very sincerely,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


            _La Solitude_, _Hyères-les-Palmiers_, _Var_, _March_ 17, 1884.

MY DEAR GOSSE,—Your office—office is profanely said—your bower upon the
leads is divine.  Have you, like Pepys, ‘the right to fiddle’ there?  I
see you mount the companion, barbiton in hand, and, fluttered about by
city sparrows, pour forth your spirit in a voluntary.  Now when the
spring begins, you must lay in your flowers: how do you say about a
potted hawthorn?  Would it bloom?  Wallflower is a choice pot-herb;
lily-of-the-valley, too, and carnation, and Indian cress trailed about
the window, is not only beautiful by colour, but the leaves are good to
eat.  I recommend thyme and rosemary for the aroma, which should not be
left upon one side; they are good quiet growths.

On one of your tables keep a great map spread out; a chart is still
better—it takes one further—the havens with their little anchors, the
rocks, banks, and soundings, are adorably marine; and such furniture will
suit your ship-shape habitation.  I wish I could see those cabins; they
smile upon me with the most intimate charm.  From your leads, do you
behold St. Paul’s?  I always like to see the Foolscap; it is London _per
se_ and no spot from which it is visible is without romance.  Then it is
good company for the man of letters, whose veritable nursing Pater-Noster
is so near at hand.

I am all at a standstill; as idle as a painted ship, but not so pretty.
My romance, which has so nearly butchered me in the writing, not even
finished; though so near, thank God, that a few days of tolerable
strength will see the roof upon that structure.  I have worked very hard
at it, and so do not expect any great public favour.  _In moments of
effort_, _one learns to do the easy things that people like_.  There is
the golden maxim; thus one should strain and then play, strain again and
play again.  The strain is for us, it educates; the play is for the
reader, and pleases.  Do you not feel so?  We are ever threatened by two
contrary faults: both deadly.  To sink into what my forefathers would
have called ‘rank conformity,’ and to pour forth cheap replicas, upon the
one hand; upon the other, and still more insidiously present, to forget
that art is a diversion and a decoration, that no triumph or effort is of
value, nor anything worth reaching except charm.—Yours affectionately,

                                                                  R. L. S.


          _La Solitude_, _Hyères-les-Palmiers_, _Var_, [_March_ 22, 1884].

MY DEAR MISS FERRIER,—Are you really going to fall us?  This seems a
dreadful thing.  My poor wife, who is not well off for friends on this
bare coast, has been promising herself, and I have been promising her, a
rare acquisition.  And now Miss Burn has failed, and you utter a very
doubtful note.  You do not know how delightful this place is, nor how
anxious we are for a visit.  Look at the names: ‘The Solitude’—is that
romantic?  The palm-trees?—how is that for the gorgeous East?  ‘Var’? the
name of a river—‘the quiet waters by’!  ’Tis true, they are in another
department, and consist of stones and a biennial spate; but what a music,
what a plash of brooks, for the imagination!  We have hills; we have
skies; the roses are putting forth, as yet sparsely; the meadows by the
sea are one sheet of jonquils; the birds sing as in an English May—for,
considering we are in France and serve up our song-birds, I am ashamed to
say, on a little field of toast and with a sprig of thyme (my own
receipt) in their most innocent and now unvocal bellies—considering all
this, we have a wonderfully fair wood-music round this Solitude of ours.
What can I say more?—All this awaits you.  _Kennst du das Land_, in
short.—Your sincere friend,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


              _La Solitude_, _Hyères-les-Palmiers_, _Var_, [_April_ 1884].

MY DEAR LOW,—The blind man in these sprawled lines sends greeting.  I
have been ill, as perhaps the papers told you.  The news—‘great
news—glorious news—sec-ond ed-ition!’—went the round in England.

Anyway, I now thank you for your pictures, which, particularly the
Arcadian one, we all (Bob included, he was here sick-nursing me) much

Herewith are a set of verses which I thought pretty enough to send to
press.  Then I thought of the _Manhattan_, towards whom I have guilty and
compunctious feelings.  Last, I had the best thought of all—to send them
to you in case you might think them suitable for illustration.  It seemed
to me quite in your vein.  If so, good; if not, hand them on to
_Manhattan_, _Century_, or _Lippincott_, at your pleasure, as all three
desire my work or pretend to.  But I trust the lines will not go
unattended.  Some riverside will haunt you; and O! be tender to my
bathing girls.  The lines are copied in my wife’s hand, as I cannot see
to write otherwise than with the pen of Cormoran, Gargantua, or Nimrod.
Love to your wife.—Yours ever,

                                                                  R. L. S.

Copied it myself.


                                          _La Solitude_, _April_ 19, 1884.

MY DEAR FATHER,—Yesterday I very powerfully stated the _Heresis
Stevensoniana_, or the complete body of divinity of the family
theologian, to Miss Ferrier.  She was much impressed; so was I.  You are
a great heresiarch; and I know no better.  Whaur the devil did ye get
thon about the soap?  Is it altogether your own?  I never heard it
elsewhere; and yet I suspect it must have been held at some time or
other, and if you were to look up you would probably find yourself
condemned by some Council.

I am glad to hear you are so well.  The hear is excellent.  The
_Cornhills_ came; I made Miss Ferrier read us ‘Thrawn Janet,’ and was
quite bowled over by my own works.  The ‘Merry Men’ I mean to make much
longer, with a whole new denouement, not yet quite clear to me.  ‘The
Story of a Lie,’ I must rewrite entirely also, as it is too weak and
ragged, yet is worth saving for the Admiral.  Did I ever tell you that
the Admiral was recognised in America?

When they are all on their legs this will make an excellent collection.

Has Davie never read _Guy Mannering_, _Rob Roy_, or _The Antiquary_?  All
of which are worth three _Waverleys_.  I think _Kenilworth_ better than
_Waverley_; _Nigel_, too; and _Quentin Durward_ about as good.  But it
shows a true piece of insight to prefer _Waverley_, for it _is_
different; and though not quite coherent, better worked in parts than
almost any other: surely more carefully.  It is undeniable that the love
of the slap-dash and the shoddy grew upon Scott with success.  Perhaps it
does on many of us, which may be the granite on which D.’s opinion
stands.  However, I hold it, in Patrick Walker’s phrase, for an ‘old,
condemned, damnable error.’  Dr. Simson was condemned by P. W. as being
‘a bagful of’ such.  One of Patrick’s amenities!

Another ground there may be to D.’s opinion; those who avoid (or seek to
avoid) Scott’s facility are apt to be continually straining and torturing
their style to get in more of life.  And to many the extra significance
does not redeem the strain.

                                                         DOCTOR STEVENSON.


                              _La Solitude_, _Hyères_, [_April_ 24, 1884].

DEAR MONKHOUSE,—If you are in love with repose, here is your occasion:
change with me.  I am too blind to read, hence no reading; I am too weak
to walk, hence no walking; I am not allowed to speak, hence no talking;
but the great simplification has yet to be named; for, if this goes on, I
shall soon have nothing to eat—and hence, O Hallelujah! hence no eating.
The offer is a fair one: I have not sold myself to the devil, for I could
never find him.  I am married, but so are you.  I sometimes write verses,
but so do you.  Come!  _Hic quies_!  As for the commandments, I have
broken them so small that they are the dust of my chambers; you walk upon
them, triturate and toothless; and with the Golosh of Philosophy, they
shall not bite your heel.  True, the tenement is falling.  Ay, friend,
but yours also.  Take a larger view; what is a year or two? dust in the
balance!  ’Tis done, behold you Cosmo Stevenson, and me R. L. Monkhouse;
you at Hyères, I in London; you rejoicing in the clammiest repose, me
proceeding to tear your tabernacle into rags, as I have already so
admirably torn my own.

My place to which I now introduce you—it is yours—is like a London house,
high and very narrow; upon the lungs I will not linger; the heart is
large enough for a ballroom; the belly greedy and inefficient; the brain
stocked with the most damnable explosives, like a dynamiter’s den.  The
whole place is well furnished, though not in a very pure taste;
Corinthian much of it; showy and not strong.

About your place I shall try to find my way alone, an interesting
exploration.  Imagine me, as I go to bed, falling over a blood-stained
remorse; opening that cupboard in the cerebellum and being welcomed by
the spirit of your murdered uncle.  I should probably not like your
remorses; I wonder if you will like mine; I have a spirited assortment;
they whistle in my ear o’ nights like a north-easter.  I trust yours
don’t dine with the family; mine are better mannered; you will hear
nought of them till, 2 A.M., except one, to be sure, that I have made a
pet of, but he is small; I keep him in buttons, so as to avoid
commentaries; you will like him much—if you like what is genuine.

Must we likewise change religions?  Mine is a good article, with a trick
of stopping; cathedral bell note; ornamental dial; supported by Venus and
the Graces; quite a summer-parlour piety.  Of yours, since your last, I
fear there is little to be said.

There is one article I wish to take away with me: my spirits.  They suit
me.  I don’t want yours; I like my own; I have had them a long while in
bottle.  It is my only reservation.—Yours (as you decide),

                                                          R. L. MONKHOUSE.


                                                     _Hyères_, _May_ 1884.

DEAR BOY,—_Old Mortality_ {318} is out, and I am glad to say Coggie likes
it.  We like her immensely.

I keep better, but no great shakes yet; cannot work—cannot: that is flat,
not even verses: as for prose, that more active place is shut on me long

My view of life is essentially the comic; and the romantically comic.
_As you Like It_ is to me the most bird-haunted spot in letters;
_Tempest_ and _Twelfth Night_ follow.  These are what I mean by poetry
and nature.  I make an effort of my mind to be quite one with Molière,
except upon the stage, where his inimitable _jeux de scène_ beggar
belief; but you will observe they are stage-plays—things _ad hoc_; not
great Olympian debauches of the heart and fancy; hence more perfect, and
not so great.  Then I come, after great wanderings, to Carmosine and to
Fantasio; to one part of La Dernière Aldini (which, by the by, we might
dramatise in a week), to the notes that Meredith has found, Evan and the
postillion, Evan and Rose, Harry in Germany.  And to me these things are
the good; beauty, touched with sex and laughter; beauty with God’s earth
for the background.  Tragedy does not seem to me to come off; and when it
does, it does so by the heroic illusion; the anti-masque has been
omitted; laughter, which attends on all our steps in life, and sits by
the deathbed, and certainly redacts the epitaph, laughter has been lost
from these great-hearted lies.  But the comedy which keeps the beauty and
touches the terrors of our life (laughter and tragedy-in-a-good-humour
having kissed), that is the last word of moved representation; embracing
the greatest number of elements of fate and character; and telling its
story, not with the one eye of pity, but with the two of pity and mirth.

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                            _From my Bed_, _May_ 29, 1884.

DEAR GOSSE,—The news of the Professorate found me in the article of—well,
of heads or tails; I am still in bed, and a very poor person.  You must
thus excuse my damned delay; but, I assure you, I was delighted.  You
will believe me the more, if I confess to you that my first sentiment was
envy; yes, sir, on my blood-boltered couch I envied the professor.
However, it was not of long duration; the double thought that you
deserved and that you would thoroughly enjoy your success fell like
balsam on my wounds.  How came it that you never communicated my
rejection of Gilder’s offer for the Rhone?  But it matters not.  Such
earthly vanities are over for the present.  This has been a fine
well-conducted illness.  A month in bed; a month of silence; a fortnight
of not stirring my right hand; a month of not moving without being
lifted.  Come!  _Ça y est_: devilish like being dead.—Yours, dear
Professor, academically,

                                                                  R. L. S.

I am soon to be moved to Royat; an invalid valet goes with me!  I got him

In turning over my late friend Ferrier’s commonplace book, I find three
poems from _Viol and Flute_ copied out in his hand: ‘When Flower-time,’
‘Love in Winter,’ and ‘Mistrust.’  They are capital too.  But I thought
the fact would interest you.  He was no poetist either; so it means the
more.  ‘Love in W.!’ I like the best.


                              _Hotel Chabassière_, _Royat_, [_July_ 1884].

MY DEAR PEOPLE,—The weather has been demoniac; I have had a skiff of
cold, and was finally obliged to take to bed entirely; to-day, however,
it has cleared, the sun shines, and I begin to

                                                   (_Several days after_.)

I have been out once, but now am back in bed.  I am better, and keep
better, but the weather is a mere injustice.  The imitation of Edinburgh
is, at times, deceptive; there is a note among the chimney pots that
suggests Howe Street; though I think the shrillest spot in Christendom
was not upon the Howe Street side, but in front, just under the Miss
Graemes’ big chimney stack.  It had a fine alto character—a sort of bleat
that used to divide the marrow in my joints—say in the wee, slack hours.
That music is now lost to us by rebuilding; another air that I remember,
not regret, was the solo of the gas-burner in the little front room; a
knickering, flighty, fleering, and yet spectral cackle.  I mind it above
all on winter afternoons, late, when the window was blue and spotted with
rare rain-drops, and, looking out, the cold evening was seen blue all
over, with the lamps of Queen’s and Frederick’s Street dotting it with
yellow, and flaring east-ward in the squalls.  Heavens, how unhappy I
have been in such circumstances—I, who have now positively forgotten the
colour of unhappiness; who am full like a fed ox, and dull like a fresh
turf, and have no more spiritual life, for good or evil, than a French

We are at Chabassière’s, for of course it was nonsense to go up the hill
when we could not walk.

The child’s poems in a far extended form are likely soon to be heard
of—which Cummy I dare say will be glad to know.  They will make a book of
about one hundred pages.—Ever your affectionate,

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                                   [_Royat_, _July_ 1884.]

. . . HERE is a quaint thing, I have read _Robinson_, _Colonel Jack_,
_Moll Flanders_, _Memoirs of a Cavalier_, _History of the Plague_,
_History of the Great Storm_, _Scotch Church and Union_.  And there my
knowledge of Defoe ends—except a book, the name of which I forget, about
Peterborough in Spain, which Defoe obviously did not write, and could not
have written if he wanted.  To which of these does B. J. refer?  I guess
it must be the history of the Scottish Church.  I jest; for, of course, I
_know_ it must be a book I have never read, and which this makes me keen
to read—I mean _Captain Singleton_.  Can it be got and sent to me?  If
_Treasure Island_ is at all like it, it will be delightful.  I was just
the other day wondering at my folly in not remembering it, when I was
writing _T. I._, as a mine for pirate tips.  _T. I._ came out of
Kingsley’s _At Last_, where I got the Dead Man’s Chest—and that was the
seed—and out of the great Captain Johnson’s _History of Notorious_
_Pirates_.  The scenery is Californian in part, and in part _chic._

I was downstairs to-day!  So now I am a made man—till the next time.

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.

If it was _Captain Singleton_, send it to me, won’t you?

_Later_.—My life dwindles into a kind of valley of the shadow picnic.  I
cannot read; so much of the time (as to-day) I must not speak above my
breath, that to play patience, or to see my wife play it, is become the
be-all and the end-all of my dim career.  To add to my gaiety, I may
write letters, but there are few to answer.  Patience and Poesy are thus
my rod and staff; with these I not unpleasantly support my days.

I am very dim, dumb, dowie, and damnable.  I hate to be silenced; and if
to talk by signs is my forte (as I contend), to understand them cannot be
my wife’s.  Do not think me unhappy; I have not been so for years; but I
am blurred, inhabit the debatable frontier of sleep, and have but dim
designs upon activity.  All is at a standstill; books closed, paper put
aside, the voice, the eternal voice of R. L. S., well silenced.  Hence
this plaint reaches you with no very great meaning, no very great
purpose, and written part in slumber by a heavy, dull, somnolent,
superannuated son of a bedpost.



          _Wensleydale_, _Bournemouth_, _Sunday_, 28_th_ _September_ 1884.

MY DEAR PEOPLE,—I keep better, and am to-day downstairs for the first
time.  I find the lockers entirely empty; not a cent to the front.  Will
you pray send us some?  It blows an equinoctial gale, and has blown for
nearly a week.  Nimbus Britannicus; piping wind, lashing rain; the sea is
a fine colour, and wind-bound ships lie at anchor under the Old Harry
rocks, to make one glad to be ashore.

The Henleys are gone, and two plays practically done.  I hope they may
produce some of the ready.—I am, ever affectionate son,

                                                                  R. L. S.


                           [_Wensleydale_, _Bournemouth_, _October_ 1884?]

DEAR BOY,—I trust this finds you well; it leaves me so-so.  The weather
is so cold that I must stick to bed, which is rotten and tedious, but
can’t be helped.

I find in the blotting book the enclosed, which I wrote to you the eve of
my blood.  Is it not strange?  That night, when I naturally thought I was
coopered, the thought of it was much in my mind; I thought it had gone;
and I thought what a strange prophecy I had made in jest, and how it was
indeed like to be the end of many letters.  But I have written a good few
since, and the spell is broken.  I am just as pleased, for I earnestly
desire to live.  This pleasant middle age into whose port we are steering
is quite to my fancy.  I would cast anchor here, and go ashore for twenty
years, and see the manners of the place.  Youth was a great time, but
somewhat fussy.  Now in middle age (bar lucre) all seems mighty placid.
It likes me; I spy a little bright café in one corner of the port, in
front of which I now propose we should sit down.  There is just enough of
the bustle of the harbour and no more; and the ships are close in,
regarding us with stern-windows—the ships that bring deals from Norway
and parrots from the Indies.  Let us sit down here for twenty years, with
a packet of tobacco and a drink, and talk of art and women.  By-and-by,
the whole city will sink, and the ships too, and the table, and we also;
but we shall have sat for twenty years and had a fine talk; and by that
time, who knows? exhausted the subject.

I send you a book which (or I am mistook) will please you; it pleased me.
But I do desire a book of adventure—a romance—and no man will get or
write me one.  Dumas I have read and re-read too often; Scott, too, and I
am short.  I want to hear swords clash.  I want a book to begin in a good
way; a book, I guess, like _Treasure Island_, alas! which I have never
read, and cannot though I live to ninety.  I would God that some one else
had written it!  By all that I can learn, it is the very book for my
complaint.  I like the way I hear it opens; and they tell me John Silver
is good fun.  And to me it is, and must ever be, a dream unrealised, a
book unwritten.  O my sighings after romance, or even Skeltery, and O!
the weary age which will produce me neither!

                                 CHAPTER I

  The night was damp and cloudy, the ways foul.  The single horseman,
  cloaked and booted, who pursued his way across Willesden Common, had
  not met a traveller, when the sound of wheels—

                                 CHAPTER I

  ‘Yes, sir,’ said the old pilot, ‘she must have dropped into the bay a
  little afore dawn.  A queer craft she looks.’

  ‘She shows no colours,’ returned the young gentleman musingly.

  ‘They’re a-lowering of a quarter-boat, Mr. Mark,’ resumed the old salt.
  ‘We shall soon know more of her.’

  ‘Ay,’ replied the young gentleman called Mark, ‘and here, Mr. Seadrift,
  comes your sweet daughter Nancy tripping down the cliff.’

  ‘God bless her kind heart, sir,’ ejaculated old Seadrift.

                                 CHAPTER I

  The notary, Jean Rossignol, had been summoned to the top of a great
  house in the Isle St. Louis to make a will; and now, his duties
  finished, wrapped in a warm roquelaure and with a lantern swinging from
  one hand, he issued from the mansion on his homeward way.  Little did
  he think what strange adventures were to befall him!—

That is how stories should begin.  And I am offered HUSKS instead.

      What should be:                What is:
The Filibuster’s Cache.      Aunt Anne’s Tea Cosy.
Jerry Abershaw.              Mrs. Brierly’s Niece.
Blood Money: A Tale.         Society: A Novel

                                                                  R. L. S.


                          [_Wensleydale_, _Bournemouth_, _November_ 1884.]

MY DEAR CAMPBELL,—The books came duly to hand.  My wife has occupied the
translation {330} ever since, nor have I yet been able to dislodge her.
As for the primer, I have read it with a very strange result: that I find
no fault.  If you knew how, dogmatic and pugnacious, I stand warden on
the literary art, you would the more appreciate your success and my—well,
I will own it—disappointment.  For I love to put people right (or wrong)
about the arts.  But what you say of Tragedy and of Sophocles very amply
satisfies me; it is well felt and well said; a little less technically
than it is my weakness to desire to see it put, but clear and adequate.
You are very right to express your admiration for the resource displayed
in Œdipus King; it is a miracle.  Would it not have been well to mention
Voltaire’s interesting onslaught, a thing which gives the best lesson of
the difference of neighbour arts?—since all his criticisms, which had
been fatal to a narrative, do not amount among them to exhibit one flaw
in this masterpiece of drama.  For the drama, it is perfect; though such
a fable in a romance might make the reader crack his sides, so imperfect,
so ethereally slight is the verisimilitude required of these
conventional, rigid, and egg-dancing arts.

I was sorry to see no more of you; but shall conclude by hoping for
better luck next time.  My wife begs to be remembered to both of
you.—Yours sincerely,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                          _Wensleydale_, _Bournemouth_, _October_ 3, 1884.

DEAR MR. CHATTO,—I have an offer of £25 for _Otto_ from America.  I do
not know if you mean to have the American rights; from the nature of the
contract, I think not; but if you understood that you were to sell the
sheets, I will either hand over the bargain to you, or finish it myself
and hand you over the money if you are pleased with the amount.  You see,
I leave this quite in your hands.  To parody an old Scotch story of
servant and master: if you don’t know that you have a good author, I know
that I have a good publisher.  Your fair, open, and handsome dealings are
a good point in my life, and do more for my crazy health than has yet
been done by any doctor.—Very truly yours,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


              _Bonallie Towers_, _Branksome Park_, _Bournemouth_, _Hants_,
                     _England_, _First week in November_, _I guess_, 1884.

MY DEAR LOW,—Now, look here, the above is my address for three months, I
hope; continue, on your part, if you please, to write to Edinburgh, which
is safe; but if Mrs. Low thinks of coming to England, she might take a
run down from London (four hours from Waterloo, main line) and stay a day
or two with us among the pines.  If not, I hope it will be only a
pleasure deferred till you can join her.

My Children’s Verses will be published here in a volume called _A Child’s
Garden_.  The sheets are in hand; I will see if I cannot send you the
lot, so that you might have a bit of a start.  In that case I would do
nothing to publish in the States, and you might try an illustrated
edition there; which, if the book went fairly over here, might, when
ready, be imported.  But of this more fully ere long.  You will see some
verses of mine in the last _Magazine of Art_, with pictures by a young
lady; rather pretty, I think.  If we find a market for _Phasellulus
loquitur_, we can try another.  I hope it isn’t necessary to put the
verse into that rustic printing.  I am Philistine enough to prefer clean
printer’s type; indeed, I can form no idea of the verses thus transcribed
by the incult and tottering hand of the draughtsman, nor gather any
impression beyond one of weariness to the eyes.  Yet the other day, in
the _Century_, I saw it imputed as a crime to Vedder that he had not thus
travestied Omar Khayyàm.  We live in a rum age of music without airs,
stories without incident, pictures without beauty, American wood
engravings that should have been etchings, and dry-point etchings that
ought to have been mezzo-tints.  I think of giving ’em literature without
words; and I believe if you were to try invisible illustration, it would
enjoy a considerable vogue.  So long as an artist is on his head, is
painting with a flute, or writes with an etcher’s needle, or conducts the
orchestra with a meat-axe, all is well; and plaudits shower along with
roses.  But any plain man who tries to follow the obtrusive canons of his
art, is but a commonplace figure.  To hell with him is the motto, or at
least not that; for he will have his reward, but he will never be thought
a person of parts.

                                                        _January_ 3, 1885.

And here has this been lying near two months.  I have failed to get
together a preliminary copy of the Child’s Verses for you, in spite of
doughty efforts; but yesterday I sent you the first sheet of the
definitive edition, and shall continue to send the others as they come.
If you can, and care to, work them—why so, well.  If not, I send you
fodder.  But the time presses; for though I will delay a little over the
proofs, and though—it is even possible they may delay the English issue
until Easter, it will certainly not be later.  Therefore perpend, and do
not get caught out.  Of course, if you can do pictures, it will be a
great pleasure to me to see our names joined; and more than that, a great
advantage, as I daresay you may be able to make a bargain for some share
a little less spectral than the common for the poor author.  But this is
all as you shall choose; I give you _carte blanche_ to do or not to
do.—Yours most sincerely,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

O, Sargent has been and painted my portrait; a very nice fellow he is,
and is supposed to have done well; it is a poetical but very
chicken-boned figure-head, as thus represented.

                                                          R. L. S.  Go on.

_P.P.S._—Your picture came; and let me thank you for it very much.  I am
so hunted I had near forgotten.  I find it very graceful; and I mean to
have it framed.


                        _Bonallie Towers_, _Bournemouth_, _November_ 1884.

MY DEAR FATHER,—I have no hesitation in recommending you to let your name
go up; please yourself about an address; though I think, if we could
meet, we could arrange something suitable.  What you propose would be
well enough in a way, but so modest as to suggest a whine.  From that
point of view it would be better to change a little; but this, whether we
meet or not, we must discuss.  Tait, Chrystal, the Royal Society, and I,
all think you amply deserve this honour and far more; it is not the True
Blue to call this serious compliment a ‘trial’; you should be glad of
this recognition.  As for resigning, that is easy enough if found
necessary; but to refuse would be husky and unsatisfactory.  _Sic subs._

                                                                  R. L. S.

My cold is still very heavy; but I carry it well.  Fanny is very very
much out of sorts, principally through perpetual misery with me.  I fear
I have been a little in the dumps, which, _as you know_, _sir_, is a very
great sin.  I must try to be more cheerful; but my cough is so severe
that I have sometimes most exhausting nights and very peevish wakenings.
However, this shall be remedied, and last night I was distinctly better
than the night before.  There is, my dear Mr. Stevenson (so I moralise
blandly as we sit together on the devil’s garden-wall), no more
abominable sin than this gloom, this plaguey peevishness; why (say I)
what matters it if we be a little uncomfortable—that is no reason for
mangling our unhappy wives.  And then I turn and _girn_ on the
unfortunate Cassandra.—Your fellow culprit,

                                                                  R. L. S.


                            _Wensleydale_, _Bournemouth_, _November_ 1884.

DEAR HENLEY,—We are all to pieces in health, and heavily handicapped with
Arabs.  I have a dreadful cough, whose attacks leave me _ætat._ 90.  I
never let up on the Arabs, all the same, and rarely get less than eight
pages out of hand, though hardly able to come downstairs for twittering

I shall put in —’s letter.  He says so little of his circumstances that I
am in an impossibility to give him advice more specific than a copybook.
Give him my love, however, and tell him it is the mark of the parochial
gentleman who has never travelled to find all wrong in a foreign land.
Let him hold on, and he will find one country as good as another; and in
the meanwhile let him resist the fatal British tendency to communicate
his dissatisfaction with a country to its inhabitants.  ’Tis a good idea,
but it somehow fails to please.  In a fortnight, if I can keep my spirit
in the box at all, I should be nearly through this Arabian desert; so can
tackle something fresh.—Yours ever,

                                                                  R. L. S.


                        _Bonallie Towers_, _Branksome Park_, _Bournemouth_
                                   (_The three B’s_) [_November_ 5, 1884].

MY DEAR FATHER,—Allow me to say, in a strictly Pickwickian sense, that
you are a silly fellow.  I am pained indeed, but how should I be
offended?  I think you exaggerate; I cannot forget that you had the same
impression of the _Deacon_; and yet, when you saw it played, were less
revolted than you looked for; and I will still hope that the _Admiral_
also is not so bad as you suppose.  There is one point, however, where I
differ from you very frankly.  Religion is in the world; I do not think
you are the man to deny the importance of its rôle; and I have long
decided not to leave it on one side in art.  The opposition of the
Admiral and Mr. Pew is not, to my eyes, either horrible or irreverent;
but it may be, and it probably is, very ill done: what then?  This is a
failure; better luck next time; more power to the elbow, more discretion,
more wisdom in the design, and the old defeat becomes the scene of the
new victory.  Concern yourself about no failure; they do not cost lives,
as in engineering; they are the _pierres perdues_ of successes.  Fame is
(truly) a vapour; do not think of it; if the writer means well and tries
hard, no failure will injure him, whether with God or man.

I wish I could hear a brighter account of yourself; but I am inclined to
acquit the _Admiral_ of having a share in the responsibility.  My very
heavy cold is, I hope, drawing off; and the change to this charming house
in the forest will, I hope, complete my re-establishment.—With love to
all, believe me, your ever affectionate,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                       _Bonallie Towers_, _Branksome Park_, _Bournemouth_,
                                                    _November_ 11, [1884].

MY DEAR CHARLES,—I am in my new house, thus proudly styled, as you
perceive; but the deevil a tower ava’ can be perceived (except out of
window); this is not as it should be; one might have hoped, at least, a
turret.  We are all vilely unwell.  I put in the dark watches imitating a
donkey with some success, but little pleasure; and in the afternoon I
indulge in a smart fever, accompanied by aches and shivers.  There is
thus little monotony to be deplored.  I at least am a _regular_ invalid;
I would scorn to bray in the afternoon; I would indignantly refuse the
proposal to fever in the night.  What is bred in the bone will come out,
sir, in the flesh; and the same spirit that prompted me to date my letter
regulates the hour and character of my attacks.—I am, sir, yours,



                        _Postmark_, _Bournemouth_, 13_th_ _November_ 1884.

MY DEAR THOMSON,—It’s a maist remarkable fac’, but nae shüner had I
written yon braggin’, blawin’ letter aboot ma business habits, when bang!
that very day, ma hoast {337} begude in the aifternune.  It is really
remaurkable; it’s providenshle, I believe.  The ink wasnae fair dry, the
words werenae weel ooten ma mouth, when bang, I got the lee.  The mair ye
think o’t, Thomson, the less ye’ll like the looks o’t.  Proavidence (I’m
no’ sayin’) is all verra weel _in its place_; but if Proavidence has nae
mainners, wha’s to learn’t?  Proavidence is a fine thing, but hoo would
you like Proavidence to keep your till for ye?  The richt place for
Proavidence is in the kirk; it has naething to do wi’ private
correspondence between twa gentlemen, nor freendly cracks, nor a wee bit
word of sculduddery {338} ahint the door, nor, in shoart, wi’ ony
_hole-and-corner wark_, what I would call.  I’m pairfec’ly willin’ to
meet in wi’ Proavidence, I’ll be prood to meet in wi’ him, when my time’s
come and I cannae dae nae better; but if he’s to come skinking aboot my
stair-fit, damned, I micht as weel be deid for a’ the comfort I’ll can
get in life.  Cannae he no be made to understand that it’s beneath him?
Gosh, if I was in his business, I wouldnae steir my heid for a plain,
auld ex-elder that, tak him the way he taks himsel,’ ‘s just aboot as
honest as he can weel afford, an’ but for a wheen auld scandals, near
forgotten noo, is a pairfec’ly respectable and thoroughly decent man.  Or
if I fashed wi’ him ava’, it wad be kind o’ handsome like; a pun’-note
under his stair door, or a bottle o’ auld, blended malt to his bit
marnin’, as a teshtymonial like yon ye ken sae weel aboot, but mair

Dear Thomson, have I ony money?  If I have, _send it_, for the loard’s



                    _Bonallie Towers_, _Bournemouth_, _November_ 12, 1884.

MY DEAR COGGIE,—Many thanks for the two photos which now decorate my
room.  I was particularly glad to have the Bell Rock.  I wonder if you
saw me plunge, lance in rest, into a controversy thereanent?  It was a
very one-sided affair.  I slept upon the field of battle, paraded, sang
Te Deum, and came home after a review rather than a campaign.

Please tell Campbell I got his letter.  The Wild Woman of the West has
been much amiss and complaining sorely.  I hope nothing more serious is
wrong with her than just my ill-health, and consequent anxiety and
labour; but the deuce of it is, that the cause continues.  I am about
knocked out of time now: a miserable, snuffling, shivering,
fever-stricken, nightmare-ridden, knee-jottering, hoast-hoast-hoasting
shadow and remains of man.  But we’ll no gie ower jist yet a bittie.
We’ve seen waur; and dod, mem, it’s my belief that we’ll see better.  I
dinna ken ‘at I’ve muckle mair to say to ye, or, indeed, onything; but
jist here’s guid-fallowship, guid health, and the wale o’ guid fortune to
your bonny sel’; and my respecs to the Perfessor and his wife, and the
Prinshiple, an’ the Bell Rock, an’ ony ither public chara’ters that I’m
acquaunt wi’.

                                                                  R. L. S.


      _Bonallie Towers_, _Branksome Park_, _Bournemouth_, _Nov._ 15, 1884.

MY DEAR GOSSE,—This Mr. Morley {339} of yours is a most desperate fellow.
He has sent me (for my opinion) the most truculent advertisement I ever
saw, in which the white hairs of Gladstone are dragged round Troy behind
my chariot wheels.  What can I say?  I say nothing to him; and to you, I
content myself with remarking that he seems a desperate fellow.

All luck to you on your American adventure; may you find health, wealth,
and entertainment!  If you see, as you likely will, Frank R. Stockton,
pray greet him from me in words to this effect:—

   My Stockton if I failed to like,
      It were a sheer depravity,
   For I went down with the _Thomas Hyke_
      And up with the _Negative Gravity_!

I adore these tales.

I hear flourishing accounts of your success at Cambridge, so you leave
with a good omen.  Remember me to _green corn_ if it is in season; if
not, you had better hang yourself on a sour apple tree, for your voyage
has been lost.—Yours affectionately,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                      _Bonallie Towers_, _Bournemouth_ [_December_ 1884?].

DEAR DOBSON,—Set down my delay to your own fault; I wished to acknowledge
such a gift from you in some of my inapt and slovenly rhymes; but you
should have sent me your pen and not your desk.  The verses stand up to
the axles in a miry cross-road, whence the coursers of the sun shall
never draw them; hence I am constrained to this uncourtliness, that I
must appear before one of the kings of that country of rhyme without my
singing robes.  For less than this, if we may trust the book of Esther,
favourites have tasted death; but I conceive the kingdom of the Muses
mildlier mannered; and in particular that county which you administer and
which I seem to see as a half-suburban land; a land of holly-hocks and
country houses; a land where at night, in thorny and sequestered bypaths,
you will meet masqueraders going to a ball in their sedans, and the
rector steering homeward by the light of his lantern; a land of the
windmill, and the west wind, and the flowering hawthorn with a little
scented letter in the hollow of its trunk, and the kites flying over all
in the season of kites, and the far away blue spires of a cathedral city.

Will you forgive me, then, for my delay and accept my thanks not only for
your present, but for the letter which followed it, and which perhaps I
more particularly value, and believe me to be, with much admiration,
yours very truly,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                       _Bonallie Towers_, _Branksome Park_, _Bournemouth_,
                                                       _December_ 8, 1884.

MY DEAR HENRY JAMES,—This is a very brave hearing from more points than
one.  The first point is that there is a hope of a sequel.  For this I
laboured.  Seriously, from the dearth of information and thoughtful
interest in the art of literature, those who try to practise it with any
deliberate purpose run the risk of finding no fit audience.  People
suppose it is ‘the stuff’ that interests them; they think, for instance,
that the prodigious fine thoughts and sentiments in Shakespeare impress
by their own weight, not understanding that the unpolished diamond is but
a stone.  They think that striking situations, or good dialogue, are got
by studying life; they will not rise to understand that they are prepared
by deliberate artifice and set off by painful suppressions.  Now, I want
the whole thing well ventilated, for my own education and the public’s;
and I beg you to look as quick as you can, to follow me up with every
circumstance of defeat where we differ, and (to prevent the flouting of
the laity) to emphasise the points where we agree.  I trust your paper
will show me the way to a rejoinder; and that rejoinder I shall hope to
make with so much art as to woo or drive you from your threatened
silence.  I would not ask better than to pass my life in beating out this
quarter of corn with such a seconder as yourself.

Point the second—I am rejoiced indeed to hear you speak so kindly of my
work; rejoiced and surprised.  I seem to myself a very rude, left-handed
countryman; not fit to be read, far less complimented, by a man so
accomplished, so adroit, so craftsmanlike as you.  You will happily never
have cause to understand the despair with which a writer like myself
considers (say) the park scene in Lady Barberina.  Every touch surprises
me by its intangible precision; and the effect when done, as light as
syllabub, as distinct as a picture, fills me with envy.  Each man among
us prefers his own aim, and I prefer mine; but when we come to speak of
performance, I recognise myself, compared with you, to be a lout and
slouch of the first water.

Where we differ, both as to the design of stories and the delineation of
character, I begin to lament.  Of course, I am not so dull as to ask you
to desert your walk; but could you not, in one novel, to oblige a sincere
admirer, and to enrich his shelves with a beloved volume, could you not,
and might you not, cast your characters in a mould a little more abstract
and academic (dear Mrs. Pennyman had already, among your other work, a
taste of what I mean), and pitch the incidents, I do not say in any
stronger, but in a slightly more emphatic key—as it were an episode from
one of the old (so-called) novels of adventure?  I fear you will not; and
I suppose I must sighingly admit you to be right.  And yet, when I see,
as it were, a book of Tom Jones handled with your exquisite precision and
shot through with those side-lights of reflection in which you excel, I
relinquish the dear vision with regret.  Think upon it.

As you know, I belong to that besotted class of man, the invalid: this
puts me to a stand in the way of visits.  But it is possible that some
day you may feel that a day near the sea and among pinewoods would be a
pleasant change from town.  If so, please let us know; and my wife and I
will be delighted to put you up, and give you what we can to eat and
drink (I have a fair bottle of claret).—On the back of which, believe me,
yours sincerely,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

_P.S._—I reopen this to say that I have re-read my paper, and cannot
think I have at all succeeded in being either veracious or polite.  I
knew, of course, that I took your paper merely as a pin to hang my own
remarks upon; but, alas! what a thing is any paper!  What fine remarks
can you not hang on mine!  How I have sinned against proportion, and with
every effort to the contrary, against the merest rudiments of courtesy to
you!  You are indeed a very acute reader to have divined the real
attitude of my mind; and I can only conclude, not without closed eyes and
shrinking shoulders, in the well-worn words

                                                          Lay on, Macduff!


                     _Bonallie Towers_, _Bournemouth_, _December_ 9, 1884.

MY DEAR PEOPLE,—The dreadful tragedy of the _Pall Mall_ has come to a
happy but ludicrous ending: I am to keep the money, the tale writ for
them is to be buried certain fathoms deep, and they are to flash out
before the world with our old friend of Kinnaird, ‘The Body Snatcher.’
When you come, please to bring—

  (1) My _Montaigne_, or, at least, the two last volumes.

  (2) My _Milton_ in the three vols. in green.

  (3) The _Shakespeare_ that Babington sent me for a wedding-gift.

  (4) Hazlitt’s _Table Talk and Plain Speaker_.

If you care to get a box of books from Douglas and Foulis, let them be
_solid_.  _Croker Papers_, _Correspondence of Napoleon_, _History of
Henry IV._, Lang’s _Folk Lore_, would be my desires.

I had a charming letter from Henry James about my _Longman_ paper.  I did
not understand queries about the verses; the pictures to the Seagull I
thought charming; those to the second have left me with a pain in my poor
belly and a swimming in the head.

About money, I am afloat and no more, and I warn you, unless I have great
luck, I shall have to fall upon you at the New Year like a hundredweight
of bricks.  Doctor, rent, chemist, are all threatening; sickness has
bitterly delayed my work; and unless, as I say, I have the mischief’s
luck, I shall completely break down.  _Verbum sapientibus_.  I do not
live cheaply, and I question if I ever shall; but if only I had a
halfpenny worth of health, I could now easily suffice.  The last
breakdown of my head is what makes this bankruptcy probable.

Fanny is still out of sorts; Bogue better; self fair, but a stranger to
the blessings of sleep.—Ever affectionate son,

                                                                  R. L. S.


                      _Bonallie Towers_, _Bournemouth_, [_December_ 1884].

DEAR LAD,—I have made up my mind about the P. M. G., and send you a copy,
which please keep or return.  As for not giving a reduction, what are we?
Are we artists or city men?  Why do we sneer at stock-brokers?  O nary; I
will not take the £40.  I took that as a fair price for my best work; I
was not able to produce my best; and I will be damned if I steal with my
eyes open.  _Sufficit_.  This is my lookout.  As for the paper being
rich, certainly it is; but I am honourable.  It is no more above me in
money than the poor slaveys and cads from whom I look for honesty are
below me.  Am I Pepys, that because I can find the countenance of ‘some
of our ablest merchants,’ that because—and—pour forth languid twaddle and
get paid for it, I, too, should ‘cheerfully continue to steal’?  I am not
Pepys.  I do not live much to God and honour; but I will not wilfully
turn my back on both.  I am, like all the rest of us, falling ever lower
from the bright ideas I began with, falling into greed, into idleness,
into middle-aged and slippered fireside cowardice; but is it you, my bold
blade, that I hear crying this sordid and rank twaddle in my ear?
Preaching the dankest Grundyism and upholding the rank customs of our
trade—you, who are so cruel hard upon the customs of the publishers?  O
man, look at the Beam in our own Eyes; and whatever else you do, do not
plead Satan’s cause, or plead it for all; either embrace the bad, or
respect the good when you see a poor devil trying for it.  If this is the
honesty of authors—to take what you can get and console yourself because
publishers are rich—take my name from the rolls of that association.
’Tis a caucus of weaker thieves, jealous of the stronger.—Ever yours,

                                                      THE ROARING R. L. S.

You will see from the enclosed that I have stuck to what I think my dues
pretty tightly in spite of this flourish: these are my words for a poor
ten-pound note!


                       _Bonallie Towers_, _Bournemouth_, [_Winter_, 1884].

MY DEAR LAD,—Here was I in bed; not writing, not hearing, and finding
myself gently and agreeably ill used; and behold I learn you are bad
yourself.  Get your wife to send us a word how you are.  I am better
decidedly.  Bogue got his Christmas card, and behaved well for three days
after.  It may interest the cynical to learn that I started my last
hæmorrhage by too sedulous attentions to my dear Bogue.  The stick was
broken; and that night Bogue, who was attracted by the extraordinary
aching of his bones, and is always inclined to a serious view of his own
ailments, announced with his customary pomp that he was dying.  In this
case, however, it was not the dog that died.  (He had tried to bite his
mother’s ankles.)  I have written a long and peculiarly solemn paper on
the technical elements of style.  It is path-breaking and epoch-making;
but I do not think the public will be readily convoked to its perusal.
Did I tell you that S. C. had risen to the paper on James?  At last!  O
but I was pleased; he’s (like Johnnie) been lang, lang o’ comin’, but
here he is.  He will not object to my future manœuvres in the same field,
as he has to my former.  All the family are here; my father better than I
have seen him these two years; my mother the same as ever.  I do trust
you are better, and I am yours ever,

                                                                  R. L. S.


                                      _Bonallie Towers_, _Branksome Park_,
                                           _Bournemouth_, _Dec._ 30, 1884.

DEAR SIR,—I am so accustomed to hear nonsense spoken about all the arts,
and the drama in particular, that I cannot refrain from saying ‘Thank
you,’ for your paper.  In my answer to Mr. James, in the December
_Longman_, you may see that I have merely touched, I think in a
parenthesis, on the drama; but I believe enough was said to indicate our
agreement in essentials.

Wishing you power and health to further enunciate and to act upon these
principles, believe me, dear sir, yours truly,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


       _Bonallie Towers_, _Branksome Park_, _Bournemouth_, _Jan._ 4, 1885.

DEAR S. C.,—I am on my feet again, and getting on my boots to do the
_Iron Duke_.  Conceive my glee: I have refused the £100, and am to get
some sort of royalty, not yet decided, instead.  ’Tis for Longman’s
_English Worthies_, edited by A. Lang.  Aw haw, haw!

Now, look here, could you get me a loan of the Despatches, or is that a
dream?  I should have to mark passages I fear, and certainly note pages
on the fly.  If you think it a dream, will Bain get me a second-hand
copy, or who would?  The sooner, and cheaper, I can get it the better.
If there is anything in your weird library that bears on either the man
or the period, put it in a mortar and fire it here instanter; I shall
catch.  I shall want, of course, an infinity of books: among which, any
lives there may be; a life of the Marquis Marmont (the Maréchal),
_Marmont’s Memoirs_, _Grevillè’s Memoirs_, _Peel’s Memoirs_, _Napier_,
that blind man’s history of England you once lent me, Hamley’s
_Waterloo_; can you get me any of these?  Thiers, idle Thiers also.  Can
you help a man getting into his boots for such a huge campaign?  How are
you?  A Good New Year to you.  I mean to have a good one, but on whose
funds I cannot fancy: not mine leastways, as I am a mere derelict and
drift beam-on to bankruptcy.

For God’s sake, remember the man who set out for to conquer Arthur
Wellesley, with a broken bellows and an empty pocket.—Yours ever,

                                                          R. L. STEVENSON.


                [_Bonallie Towers_, _Bournemouth_,] 14_th_ _January_ 1885.

MY DEAR FATHER,—I am glad you like the changes.  I own I was pleased with
my hand’s darg; you may observe, I have corrected several errors which
(you may tell Mr. Dick) he had allowed to pass his eagle eye; I wish
there may be none in mine; at least, the order is better.  The second
title, ‘Some new Engineering Questions involved in the M. S. C. Scheme of
last Session of P.’, likes me the best.  I think it a very good paper;
and I am vain enough to think I have materially helped to polish the
diamond.  I ended by feeling quite proud of the paper, as if it had been
mine; the next time you have as good a one, I will overhaul it for the
wages of feeling as clever as I did when I had managed to understand and
helped to set it clear.  I wonder if I anywhere misapprehended you?  I
rather think not at the last; at the first shot I know I missed a point
or two.  Some of what may appear to you to be wanton changes, a little
study will show to be necessary.

Yes, Carlyle was ashamed of himself as few men have been; and let all
carpers look at what he did.  He prepared all these papers for
publication with his own hand; all his wife’s complaints, all the
evidence of his own misconduct: who else would have done so much?  Is
repentance, which God accepts, to have no avail with men? nor even with
the dead?  I have heard too much against the thrawn, discomfortable dog:
dead he is, and we may be glad of it; but he was a better man than most
of us, no less patently than he was a worse.  To fill the world with
whining is against all my views: I do not like impiety.  But—but—there
are two sides to all things, and the old scalded baby had his noble
side.—Ever affectionate son,

                                                                  R. L. S.


                         _Bonallie Towers_, _Bournemouth_, _January_ 1885.

DEAR S. C.,—I have addressed a letter to the G. O. M., _à propos_ of
Wellington; and I became aware, you will be interested to hear, of an
overwhelming respect for the old gentleman.  I can _blaguer_ his
failures; but when you actually address him, and bring the two statures
and records to confrontation, dismay is the result.  By mere continuance
of years, he must impose; the man who helped to rule England before I was
conceived, strikes me with a new sense of greatness and antiquity, when I
must actually beard him with the cold forms of correspondence.  I shied
at the necessity of calling him plain ‘Sir’!  Had he been ‘My lord,’ I
had been happier; no, I am no equalitarian.  Honour to whom honour is
due; and if to none, why, then, honour to the old!

These, O Slade Professor, are my unvarnished sentiments: I was a little
surprised to find them so extreme, and therefore I communicate the fact.

Belabour thy brains, as to whom it would be well to question.  I have a
small space; I wish to make a popular book, nowhere obscure, nowhere, if
it can be helped, unhuman.  It seems to me the most hopeful plan to tell
the tale, so far as may be, by anecdote.  He did not die till so
recently, there must be hundreds who remember him, and thousands who have
still ungarnered stories.  Dear man, to the breach!  Up, soldier of the
iron dook, up, Slades, and at ’em! (which, conclusively, he did not say:
the at ’em-ic theory is to be dismissed).  You know piles of fellows who
must reek with matter; help! help!—Yours ever,

                                                                  R. L. S.


                        _Bonallie Towers_, _Bournemouth_, _February_ 1885.

MY DEAR COLVIN,—You are indeed a backward correspondent, and much may be
said against you.  But in this weather, and O dear! in this political
scene of degradation, much must be forgiven.  I fear England is dead of
Burgessry, and only walks about galvanised.  I do not love to think of my
countrymen these days; nor to remember myself.  Why was I silent?  I feel
I have no right to blame any one; but I won’t write to the G. O. M.  I do
really not see my way to any form of signature, unless ‘your fellow
criminal in the eyes of God,’ which might disquiet the proprieties.

About your book, I have always said: go on.  The drawing of character is
a different thing from publishing the details of a private career.  No
one objects to the first, or should object, if his name be not put upon
it; at the other, I draw the line.  In a preface, if you chose, you might
distinguish; it is, besides, a thing for which you are eminently well
equipped, and which you would do with taste and incision.  I long to see
the book.  People like themselves (to explain a little more); no one
likes his life, which is a misbegotten issue, and a tale of failure.  To
see these failures either touched upon, or _coasted_, to get the idea of
a spying eye and blabbing tongue about the house, is to lose all privacy
in life.  To see that thing, which we do love, our character, set forth,
is ever gratifying.  See how my _Talk and Talkers_ went; every one liked
his own portrait, and shrieked about other people’s; so it will be with
yours.  If you are the least true to the essential, the sitter will be
pleased; very likely not his friends, and that from _various motives_.

                                                                  R. L. S.

When will your holiday be?  I sent your letter to my wife, and forget.
Keep us in mind, and I hope we shall he able to receive you.


                                           _Bournemouth_, _February_ 1885.

MY DEAR SYMONDS,—Yes, we have both been very neglectful.  I had horrid
luck, catching two thundering influenzas in August and November.  I
recovered from the last with difficulty, but have come through this
blustering winter with some general success; in the house, up and down.
My wife, however, has been painfully upset by my health.  Last year, of
course, was cruelly trying to her nerves; Nice and Hyères are bad
experiences; and though she is not ill, the doctor tells me that
prolonged anxiety may do her a real mischief.

I feel a little old and fagged, and chary of speech, and not very sure of
spirit in my work; but considering what a year I have passed, and how I
have twice sat on Charon’s pierhead, I am surprising.

My father has presented us with a very pretty home in this place, into
which we hope to move by May.  My _Child’s Verses_ come out next week.
_Otto_ begins to appear in April; _More New Arabian Nights_ as soon as
possible.  Moreover, I am neck deep in Wellington; also a story on the
stocks, _Great North Road_.  O, I am busy! Lloyd is at college in
Edinburgh.  That is, I think, all that can be said by way of news.

Have you read _Huckleberry Finn_?  It contains many excellent things;
above all, the whole story of a healthy boy’s dealings with his
conscience, incredibly well done.

My own conscience is badly seared; a want of piety; yet I pray for it,
tacitly, every day; believing it, after courage, the only gift worth
having; and its want, in a man of any claims to honour, quite
unpardonable.  The tone of your letter seemed to me very sound.  In these
dark days of public dishonour, I do not know that one can do better than
carry our private trials piously.  What a picture is this of a nation!
No man that I can see, on any side or party, seems to have the least
sense of our ineffable shame: the desertion of the garrisons.  I tell my
little parable that Germany took England, and then there was an Indian
Mutiny, and Bismarck said: ‘Quite right: let Delhi and Calcutta and
Bombay fall; and let the women and children be treated Sepoy fashion,’
and people say, ‘O, but that is very different!’  And then I wish I were
dead.  Millais (I hear) was painting Gladstone when the news came of
Gordon’s death; Millais was much affected, and Gladstone said, ‘Why?  _It
is the man’s own temerity_!’  Voilà le Bourgeois! le voilà nu!  But why
should I blame Gladstone, when I too am a Bourgeois? when I have held my
peace?  Why did I hold my peace?  Because I am a sceptic: _i.e._ a
Bourgeois.  We believe in nothing, Symonds; you don’t, and I don’t; and
these are two reasons, out of a handful of millions, why England stands
before the world dripping with blood and daubed with dishonour.  I will
first try to take the beam out of my own eye, trusting that even private
effort somehow betters and braces the general atmosphere.  See, for
example, if England has shown (I put it hypothetically) one spark of
manly sensibility, they have been shamed into it by the spectacle of
Gordon.  Police-Officer Cole is the only man that I see to admire.  I
dedicate my _New Arabs_ to him and Cox, in default of other great public
characters.—Yours ever most affectionately,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                       _Bonallie Towers_, _Bournemouth_, _March_ 12, 1885.

MY DEAR GOSSE,—I was indeed much exercised how I could be worked into
Gray; and lo! when I saw it, the passage seemed to have been written with
a single eye to elucidate the—worst?—well, not a very good poem of
Gray’s.  Your little life is excellent, clean, neat, efficient.  I have
read many of your notes, too, with pleasure.  Your connection with Gray
was a happy circumstance; it was a suitable conjunction.

I did not answer your letter from the States, for what was I to say?  I
liked getting it and reading it; I was rather flattered that you wrote it
to me; and then I’ll tell you what I did—I put it in the fire.  Why?
Well, just because it was very natural and expansive; and thinks I to
myself, if I die one of these fine nights, this is just the letter that
Gosse would not wish to go into the hands of third parties.  Was I well
inspired?  And I did not answer it because you were in your high places,
sailing with supreme dominion, and seeing life in a particular glory; and
I was peddling in a corner, confined to the house, overwhelmed with
necessary work, which I was not always doing well, and, in the very mild
form in which the disease approaches me, touched with a sort of bustling
cynicism.  Why throw cold water?  How ape your agreeable frame of mind?
In short, I held my tongue.

I have now published on 101 small pages _The Complete Proof of Mr. R. L.
Stevenson’s Incapacity to Write Verse_, in a series of graduated examples
with table of contents.  I think I shall issue a companion volume of
exercises: ‘Analyse this poem.  Collect and comminate the ugly words.
Distinguish and condemn the _chevilles_.  State Mr. Stevenson’s faults of
taste in regard to the measure.  What reasons can you gather from this
example for your belief that Mr. S. is unable to write any other

They look ghastly in the cold light of print; but there is something nice
in the little ragged regiment for all; the blackguards seem to me to
smile, to have a kind of childish treble note that sounds in my ears
freshly; not song, if you will, but a child’s voice.

I was glad you enjoyed your visit to the States.  Most Englishmen go
there with a confirmed design of patronage, as they go to France for that
matter; and patronage will not pay.  Besides, in this year of—grace, said
I?—of disgrace, who should creep so low as an Englishman?  ‘It is not to
be thought of that the flood’—ah, Wordsworth, you would change your note
were you alive to-day!

I am now a beastly householder, but have not yet entered on my domain.
When I do, the social revolution will probably cast me back upon my dung
heap.  There is a person called Hyndman whose eye is on me; his step is
beHynd me as I go.  I shall call my house Skerryvore when I get it:
SKERRYVORE: _c’est bon pour la poéshie_.  I will conclude with my
favourite sentiment: ‘The world is too much with me.’

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON,
                                               _The Hermit of Skerryvore_.

Author of ‘John Vane Tempest: a Romance,’ ‘Herbert and Henrietta: or the
Nemesis of Sentiment,’ ‘The Life and Adventures of Colonel Bludyer
Fortescue,’ ‘Happy Homes and Hairy Faces,’ ‘A Pound of Feathers and a
Pound of Lead,’ part author of ‘Minn’s Complete Capricious Correspondent:
a Manual of Natty, Natural, and Knowing Letters,’ and editor of the
‘Poetical Remains of Samuel Burt Crabbe, known as the melodious

                         Uniform with the above:

‘The Life and Remains of the Reverend Jacob Degray Squah,’ author of
‘Heave-yo for the New Jerusalem.’  ‘A Box of Candles; or the Patent
Spiritual Safety Match,’ and ‘A Day with the Heavenly Harriers.’


                       _Bonallie Towers_, _Bournemouth_, _March_ 13, 1885.

MY DEAR LOW,—Your success has been immense.  I wish your letter had come
two days ago: _Otto_, alas! has been disposed of a good while ago; but it
was only day before yesterday that I settled the new volume of Arabs.
However, for the future, you and the sons of the deified Scribner are the
men for me.  Really they have behaved most handsomely.  I cannot lay my
hand on the papers, or I would tell you exactly how it compares with my
English bargain; but it compares well.  Ah, if we had that copyright, I
do believe it would go far to make me solvent, ill-health and all.

I wrote you a letter to the Rembrandt, in which I stated my views about
the dedication in a very brief form.  It will give me sincere pleasure,
and will make the second dedication I have received, the other being from
John Addington Symonds.  It is a compliment I value much; I don’t know
any that I should prefer.

I am glad to hear you have windows to do; that is a fine business, I
think; but, alas! the glass is so bad nowadays; realism invading even
that, as well as the huge inferiority of our technical resource
corrupting every tint.  Still, anything that keeps a man to decoration
is, in this age, good for the artist’s spirit.

By the way, have you seen James and me on the novel?  James, I think in
the August or September—R. L. S. in the December _Longman_.  I own I
think the _école bête_, of which I am the champion, has the whip hand of
the argument; but as James is to make a rejoinder, I must not boast.
Anyway the controversy is amusing to see.  I was terribly tied down to
space, which has made the end congested and dull.  I shall see if I can
afford to send you the April _Contemporary_—but I dare say you see it
anyway—as it will contain a paper of mine on style, a sort of
continuation of old arguments on art in which you have wagged a most
effective tongue.  It is a sort of start upon my Treatise on the Art of
Literature: a small, arid book that shall some day appear.

With every good wish from me and mine (should I not say ‘she and hers’?)
to you and yours, believe me yours ever,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                          _Bournemouth_, _March_ 16, 1885.

MY DEAR HAMERTON,—Various things have been reminding me of my misconduct:
First, Swan’s application for your address; second, a sight of the sheets
of your _Landscape_ book; and last, your note to Swan, which he was so
kind as to forward.  I trust you will never suppose me to be guilty of
anything more serious than an idleness, partially excusable.  My
ill-health makes my rate of life heavier than I can well meet, and yet
stops me from earning more.  My conscience, sometimes perhaps too easily
stifled, but still (for my time of life and the public manners of the
age) fairly well alive, forces me to perpetual and almost endless
transcriptions.  On the back of all this, my correspondence hangs like a
thundercloud; and just when I think I am getting through my troubles,
crack, down goes my health, I have a long, costly sickness, and begin the
world again.  It is fortunate for me I have a father, or I should long
ago have died; but the opportunity of the aid makes the necessity none
the more welcome.  My father has presented me with a beautiful house
here—or so I believe, for I have not yet seen it, being a cage bird but
for nocturnal sorties in the garden.  I hope we shall soon move into it,
and I tell myself that some day perhaps we may have the pleasure of
seeing you as our guest.  I trust at least that you will take me as I am,
a thoroughly bad correspondent, and a man, a hater, indeed, of rudeness
in others, but too often rude in all unconsciousness himself; and that
you will never cease to believe the sincere sympathy and admiration that
I feel for you and for your work.

About the _Landscape_, which I had a glimpse of while a friend of mine
was preparing a review, I was greatly interested, and could write and
wrangle for a year on every page; one passage particularly delighted me,
the part about Ulysses—jolly.  Then, you know, that is just what I fear I
have come to think landscape ought to be in literature; so there we
should be at odds.  Or perhaps not so much as I suppose, as Montaigne
says it is a pot with two handles, and I own I am wedded to the technical
handle, which (I likewise own and freely) you do well to keep for a
mistress.  I should much like to talk with you about some other points;
it is only in talk that one gets to understand.  Your delightful
Wordsworth trap I have tried on two hardened Wordsworthians, not that I
am not one myself.  By covering up the context, and asking them to guess
what the passage was, both (and both are very clever people, one a
writer, one a painter) pronounced it a guide-book.  ‘Do you think it an
unusually good guide-book?’ I asked, and both said, ‘No, not at all!’
Their grimace was a picture when I showed the original.

I trust your health and that of Mrs. Hamerton keep better; your last
account was a poor one.  I was unable to make out the visit I had hoped,
as (I do not know if you heard of it) I had a very violent and dangerous
hæmorrhage last spring.  I am almost glad to have seen death so close
with all my wits about me, and not in the customary lassitude and
disenchantment of disease.  Even thus clearly beheld I find him not so
terrible as we suppose.  But, indeed, with the passing of years, the
decay of strength, the loss of all my old active and pleasant habits,
there grows more and more upon me that belief in the kindness of this
scheme of things, and the goodness of our veiled God, which is an
excellent and pacifying compensation.  I trust, if your health continues
to trouble you, you may find some of the same belief.  But perhaps my
fine discovery is a piece of art, and belongs to a character cowardly,
intolerant of certain feelings, and apt to self-deception.  I don’t think
so, however; and when I feel what a weak and fallible vessel I was thrust
into this hurly-burly, and with what marvellous kindness the wind has
been tempered to my frailties, I think I should be a strange kind of ass
to feel anything but gratitude.

I do not know why I should inflict this talk upon you; but when I summon
the rebellous pen, he must go his own way; I am no Michael Scott, to rule
the fiend of correspondence.  Most days he will none of me; and when he
comes, it is to rape me where he will.—Yours very sincerely,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                                          _Bournemouth_, _March_ 29, 1885.

DEAR MR. ARCHER,—Yes, I have heard of you and read some of your work; but
I am bound in particular to thank you for the notice of my verses.
‘There,’ I said, throwing it over to the friend who was staying with me,
‘it’s worth writing a book to draw an article like that.’  Had you been
as hard upon me as you were amiable, I try to tell myself I should have
been no blinder to the merits of your notice.  For I saw there, to admire
and to be very grateful for, a most sober, agile pen; an enviable touch;
the marks of a reader, such as one imagines for one’s self in dreams,
thoughtful, critical, and kind; and to put the top on this memorial
column, a greater readiness to describe the author criticised than to
display the talents of his censor.

I am a man _blasé_ to injudicious praise (though I hope some of it may be
judicious too), but I have to thank you for THE BEST CRITICISM I EVER
HAD; and am therefore, dear Mr. Archer, the most grateful critickee now

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

_P.S._—I congratulate you on living in the corner of all London that I
like best.  _À propos_, you are very right about my voluntary aversion
from the painful sides of life.  My childhood was in reality a very mixed
experience, full of fever, nightmare, insomnia, painful days and
interminable nights; and I can speak with less authority of gardens than
of that other ‘land of counterpane.’  But to what end should we renew
these sorrows?  The sufferings of life may be handled by the very
greatest in their hours of insight; it is of its pleasures that our
common poems should be formed; these are the experiences that we should
seek to recall or to provoke; and I say with Thoreau, ‘What right have I
to complain, who have not ceased to wonder?’ and, to add a rider of my
own, who have no remedy to offer.

                                                                  R. L. S.


                               [_Skerryvore_, _Bournemouth_, _June_ 1885.]

MY DEAR MRS. JENKIN,—You know how much and for how long I have loved,
respected, and admired him; I am only able to feel a little with you.
But I know how he would have wished us to feel.  I never knew a better
man, nor one to me more lovable; we shall all feel the loss more greatly
as time goes on.  It scarce seems life to me; what must it be to you?
Yet one of the last things that he said to me was, that from all these
sad bereavements of yours he had learned only more than ever to feel the
goodness and what we, in our feebleness, call the support of God; he had
been ripening so much—to other eyes than ours, we must suppose he was
ripe, and try to feel it.  I feel it is better not to say much more.  It
will be to me a great pride to write a notice of him: the last I can now
do.  What more in any way I can do for you, please to think and let me
know.  For his sake and for your own, I would not be a useless friend: I
know, you know me a most warm one; please command me or my wife, in any
way.  Do not trouble to write to me; Austin, I have no doubt, will do so,
if you are, as I fear you will be, unfit.

My heart is sore for you.  At least you know what you have been to him;
how he cherished and admired you; how he was never so pleased as when he
spoke of you; with what a boy’s love, up to the last, he loved you.  This
surely is a consolation.  Yours is the cruel part—to survive; you must
try and not grudge to him his better fortune, to go first.  It is the sad
part of such relations that one must remain and suffer; I cannot see my
poor Jenkin without you.  Nor you indeed without him; but you may try to
rejoice that he is spared that extremity.  Perhaps I (as I was so much
his confidant) know even better than you can do what your loss would have
been to him; he never spoke of you but his face changed; it was—you
were—his religion.

I write by this post to Austin and to the _Academy_.—Yours most

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON,


                               [_Skerryvore_, _Bournemouth_, _June_ 1885.]

MY DEAR MRS. JENKIN,—I should have written sooner, but we are in a
bustle, and I have been very tired, though still well.  Your very kind
note was most welcome to me.  I shall be very much pleased to have you
call me Louis, as he has now done for so many years.  Sixteen, you say?
is it so long?  It seems too short now; but of that we cannot judge, and
must not complain.

I wish that either I or my wife could do anything for you; when we can,
you will, I am sure, command us.

I trust that my notice gave you as little pain as was possible.  I found
I had so much to say, that I preferred to keep it for another place and
make but a note in the _Academy_.  To try to draw my friend at greater
length, and say what he was to me and his intimates, what a good
influence in life and what an example, is a desire that grows upon me.
It was strange, as I wrote the note, how his old tests and criticisms
haunted me; and it reminded me afresh with every few words how much I owe
to him.

I had a note from Henley, very brief and very sad.  We none of us yet
feel the loss; but we know what he would have said and wished.

Do you know that Dew Smith has two photographs of him, neither very bad?
and one giving a lively, though not flattering air of him in
conversation?  If you have not got them, would you like me to write to
Dew and ask him to give you proofs?

I was so pleased that he and my wife made friends; that is a great
pleasure.  We found and have preserved one fragment (the head) of the
drawing he made and tore up when he was last here.  He had promised to
come and stay with us this summer.  May we not hope, at least, some time
soon to have one from you?—Believe me, my dear Mrs. Jenkin, with the most
real sympathy, your sincere friend,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

Dear me, what happiness I owe to both of you!


                          _Skerryvore_, _Bournemouth_, _October_ 22, 1885.

MY DEAR LOW,—I trust you are not annoyed with me beyond forgiveness; for
indeed my silence has been devilish prolonged.  I can only tell you that
I have been nearly six months (more than six) in a strange condition of
collapse, when it was impossible to do any work, and difficult (more
difficult than you would suppose) to write the merest note.  I am now
better, but not yet my own man in the way of brains, and in health only
so-so.  I suppose I shall learn (I begin to think I am learning) to fight
this vast, vague feather-bed of an obsession that now overlies and
smothers me; but in the beginnings of these conflicts, the inexperienced
wrestler is always worsted, and I own I have been quite extinct.  I wish
you to know, though it can be no excuse, that you are not the only one of
my friends by many whom I have thus neglected; and even now, having come
so very late into the possession of myself, with a substantial capital of
debts, and my work still moving with a desperate slowness—as a child
might fill a sandbag with its little handfuls—and my future deeply
pledged, there is almost a touch of virtue in my borrowing these hours to
write to you.  Why I said ‘hours’ I know not; it would look blue for both
of us if I made good the word.

I was writing your address the other day, ordering a copy of my next,
_Prince Otto_, to go your way.  I hope you have not seen it in parts; it
was not meant to be so read; and only my poverty (dishonourably)
consented to the serial evolution.

I will send you with this a copy of the English edition of the _Child’s
Garden_.  I have heard there is some vile rule of the post-office in the
States against inscriptions; so I send herewith a piece of doggerel which
Mr. Bunner may, if he thinks fit, copy off the fly leaf.

Sargent was down again and painted a portrait of me walking about in my
own dining-room, in my own velveteen jacket, and twisting as I go my own
moustache; at one corner a glimpse of my wife, in an Indian dress, and
seated in a chair that was once my grandfather’s; but since some months
goes by the name of Henry James’s, for it was there the novelist loved to
sit—adds a touch of poesy and comicality.  It is, I think, excellent, but
is too eccentric to be exhibited.  I am at one extreme corner; my wife,
in this wild dress, and looking like a ghost, is at the extreme other
end; between us an open door exhibits my palatial entrance hall and a
part of my respected staircase.  All this is touched in lovely, with that
witty touch of Sargent’s; but, of course, it looks dam queer as a whole.

Pray let me hear from you, and give me good news of yourself and your
wife, to whom please remember me.—Yours most sincerely, my dear Low,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                             [_Skerryvore_, _Bournemouth_, _Autumn_ 1885.]

DEAR LAD,—If there was any more praise in what you wrote, I think [the
editor] has done us both a service; some of it stops my throat.  What, it
would not have been the same if Dumas or Musset had done it, would it
not?  Well, no, I do not think it would, do you know, now; I am really of
opinion it would not; and a dam good job too.  Why, think what Musset
would have made of Otto!  Think how gallantly Dumas would have carried
his crowd through!  And whatever you do, don’t quarrel with —.  It gives
me much pleasure to see your work there; I think you do yourself great
justice in that field; and I would let no annoyance, petty or
justifiable, debar me from such a market.  I think you do good there.
Whether (considering our intimate relations) you would not do better to
refrain from reviewing me, I will leave to yourself: were it all on my
side, you could foresee my answer; but there is your side also, where you
must be the judge.

As for the _Saturday_.  Otto is no ‘fool,’ the reader is left in no doubt
as to whether or not Seraphina was a Messalina (though much it would
matter, if you come to that); and therefore on both these points the
reviewer has been unjust.  Secondly, the romance lies precisely in the
freeing of two spirits from these court intrigues; and here I think the
reviewer showed himself dull.  Lastly, if Otto’s speech is offensive to
him, he is one of the large class of unmanly and ungenerous dogs who
arrogate and defile the name of manly.  As for the passages quoted, I do
confess that some of them reek Gongorically; they are excessive, but they
are not inelegant after all.  However, had he attacked me only there, he
would have scored.

Your criticism on Gondremark is, I fancy, right.  I thought all your
criticisms were indeed; only your praise—chokes me.—Yours ever,

                                                                  R. L. S.


                          _Skerryvore_, _Bournemouth_, _October_ 28, 1885.

DEAR MR. ARCHER,—I have read your paper with my customary admiration; it
is very witty, very adroit; it contains a great deal that is excellently
true (particularly the parts about my stories and the description of me
as an artist in life); but you will not be surprised if I do not think it
altogether just.  It seems to me, in particular, that you have wilfully
read all my works in terms of my earliest; my aim, even in style, has
quite changed in the last six or seven years; and this I should have
thought you would have noticed.  Again, your first remark upon the
affectation of the italic names; a practice only followed in my two
affected little books of travel, where a typographical _minauderie_ of
the sort appeared to me in character; and what you say of it, then, is
quite just.  But why should you forget yourself and use these same
italics as an index to my theology some pages further on?  This is
lightness of touch indeed; may I say, it is almost sharpness of practice?

Excuse these remarks.  I have been on the whole much interested, and
sometimes amused.  Are you aware that the praiser of this ‘brave
gymnasium’ has not seen a canoe nor taken a long walk since ’79? that he
is rarely out of the house nowadays, and carries his arm in a sling?  Can
you imagine that he is a backslidden communist, and is sure he will go to
hell (if there be such an excellent institution) for the luxury in which
he lives?  And can you believe that, though it is gaily expressed, the
thought is hag and skeleton in every moment of vacuity or depression?
Can you conceive how profoundly I am irritated by the opposite
affectation to my own, when I see strong men and rich men bleating about
their sorrows and the burthen of life, in a world full of ‘cancerous
paupers,’ and poor sick children, and the fatally bereaved, ay, and down
even to such happy creatures as myself, who has yet been obliged to strip
himself, one after another, of all the pleasures that he had chosen
except smoking (and the days of that I know in my heart ought to be
over), I forgot eating, which I still enjoy, and who sees the circle of
impotence closing very slowly but quite steadily around him?  In my view,
one dank, dispirited word is harmful, a crime of _lèse-humanité_, a piece
of acquired evil; every gay, every bright word or picture, like every
pleasant air of music, is a piece of pleasure set afloat; the reader
catches it, and, if he be healthy, goes on his way rejoicing; and it is
the business of art so to send him, as often as possible.

For what you say, so kindly, so prettily, so precisely, of my style, I
must in particular thank you; though even here, I am vexed you should not
have remarked on my attempted change of manner: seemingly this attempt is
still quite unsuccessful!  Well, we shall fight it out on this line if it
takes all summer.

And now for my last word: Mrs. Stevenson is very anxious that you should
see me, and that she should see you, in the flesh.  If you at all share
in these views, I am a fixture.  Write or telegraph (giving us time,
however, to telegraph in reply, lest the day be impossible), and come
down here to a bed and a dinner.  What do you say, my dear critic?  I
shall be truly pleased to see you; and to explain at greater length what
I meant by saying narrative was the most characteristic mood of
literature, on which point I have great hopes I shall persuade you.—Yours

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

_P.S._—My opinion about Thoreau, and the passage in _The Week_, is
perhaps a fad, but it is sincere and stable.  I am still of the same mind
five years later; did you observe that I had said ‘modern’ authors? and
will you observe again that this passage touches the very joint of our
division?  It is one that appeals to me, deals with that part of life
that I think the most important, and you, if I gather rightly, so much
less so?  You believe in the extreme moment of the facts that humanity
has acquired and is acquiring; I think them of moment, but still or much
less than those inherent or inherited brute principles and laws that sit
upon us (in the character of conscience) as heavy as a shirt of mail, and
that (in the character of the affections and the airy spirit of pleasure)
make all the light of our lives.  The house is, indeed, a great thing,
and should be rearranged on sanitary principles; but my heart and all my
interest are with the dweller, that ancient of days and day-old infant

                                                                  R. L. S.

An excellent touch is p. 584.  ‘By instinct or design he eschews what
demands constructive patience.’  I believe it is both; my theory is that
literature must always be most at home in treating movement and change;
hence I look for them.


                        [_Skerryvore_, _Bournemouth_,] _October_ 28, 1885.

MY DEAREST FATHER,—Get the November number of _Time_, and you will see a
review of me by a very clever fellow, who is quite furious at bottom
because I am too orthodox, just as Purcell was savage because I am not
orthodox enough.  I fall between two stools.  It is odd, too, to see how
this man thinks me a full-blooded fox-hunter, and tells me my philosophy
would fail if I lost my health or had to give up exercise!

An illustrated _Treasure Island_ will be out next month.  I have had an
early copy, and the French pictures are admirable.  The artist has got
his types up in Hogarth; he is full of fire and spirit, can draw and can
compose, and has understood the book as I meant it, all but one or two
little accidents, such as making the _Hispaniola_ a brig.  I would send
you my copy, _but I cannot_; it is my new toy, and I cannot divorce
myself from this enjoyment.

I am keeping really better, and have been out about every second day,
though the weather is cold and very wild.

I was delighted to hear you were keeping better; you and Archer would
agree, more shame to you!  (Archer is my pessimist critic.)  Good-bye to
all of you, with my best love.  We had a dreadful overhauling of my
conduct as a son the other night; and my wife stripped me of my illusions
and made me admit I had been a detestable bad one.  Of one thing in
particular she convicted me in my own eyes: I mean, a most unkind
reticence, which hung on me then, and I confess still hangs on me now,
when I try to assure you that I do love you.—Ever your bad son,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                          _Skerryvore_, _Bournemouth_, _October_ 28, 1885.

MY DEAR HENRY JAMES,—At last, my wife being at a concert, and a story
being done, I am at some liberty to write and give you of my views.  And
first, many thanks for the works that came to my sickbed.  And second,
and more important, as to the _Princess_. {368}  Well, I think you are
going to do it this time; I cannot, of course, foresee, but these two
first numbers seem to me picturesque and sound and full of lineament, and
very much a new departure.  As for your young lady, she is all there;
yes, sir, you can do low life, I believe.  The prison was excellent; it
was of that nature of touch that I sometimes achingly miss from your
former work; with some of the grime, that is, and some of the emphasis of
skeleton there is in nature.  I pray you to take grime in a good sense;
it need not be ignoble: dirt may have dignity; in nature it usually has;
and your prison was imposing.

And now to the main point: why do we not see you?  Do not fail us.  Make
an alarming sacrifice, and let us see ‘Henry James’s chair’ properly
occupied.  I never sit in it myself (though it was my grandfather’s); it
has been consecrated to guests by your approval, and now stands at my
elbow gaping.  We have a new room, too, to introduce to you—our last
baby, the drawing-room; it never cries, and has cut its teeth.  Likewise,
there is a cat now.  It promises to be a monster of laziness and

Pray see, in the November _Time_ (a dread name for a magazine of light
reading), a very clever fellow, W. Archer, stating his views of me; the
rosy-gilled ‘athletico-æsthete’; and warning me, in a fatherly manner,
that a rheumatic fever would try my philosophy (as indeed it would), and
that my gospel would not do for ‘those who are shut out from the exercise
of any manly virtue save renunciation.’  To those who know that rickety
and cloistered spectre, the real R. L. S., the paper, besides being
clever in itself, presents rare elements of sport.  The critical parts
are in particular very bright and neat, and often excellently true.  Get
it by all manner of means.

I hear on all sides I am to be attacked as an immoral writer; this is
painful.  Have I at last got, like you, to the pitch of being attacked?
’Tis the consecration I lack—and could do without.  Not that Archer’s
paper is an attack, or what either he or I, I believe, would call one;
’tis the attacks on my morality (which I had thought a gem of the first
water) I referred to.

Now, my dear James, come—come—come.  The spirit (that is me) says, Come;
and the bride (and that is my wife) says, Come; and the best thing you
can do for us and yourself and your work is to get up and do so right
away,—Yours affectionately,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


                        [_Skerryvore_, _Bournemouth_,] _October_ 30, 1885.

DEAR MR. ARCHER.—It is possible my father may be soon down with me; he is
an old man and in bad health and spirits; and I could neither leave him
alone, nor could we talk freely before him.  If he should be here when
you offer your visit, you will understand if I have to say no, and put
you off.

I quite understand your not caring to refer to things of private
knowledge.  What still puzzles me is how you (‘in the witness box’—ha!  I
like the phrase) should have made your argument actually hinge on a
contention which the facts answered.

I am pleased to hear of the correctness of my guess.  It is then as I
supposed; you are of the school of the generous and not the sullen
pessimists; and I can feel with you.  I used myself to rage when I saw
sick folk going by in their Bath-chairs; since I have been sick myself
(and always when I was sick myself), I found life, even in its rough
places, to have a property of easiness.  That which we suffer ourselves
has no longer the same air of monstrous injustice and wanton cruelty that
suffering wears when we see it in the case of others.  So we begin
gradually to see that things are not black, but have their strange
compensations; and when they draw towards their worst, the idea of death
is like a bed to lie on.  I should bear false witness if I did not
declare life happy.  And your wonderful statement that happiness tends to
die out and misery to continue, which was what put me on the track of
your frame of mind, is diagnostic of the happy man raging over the misery
of others; it could never be written by the man who had tried what
unhappiness was like.  And at any rate, it was a slip of the pen: the
ugliest word that science has to declare is a reserved indifference to
happiness and misery in the individual; it declares no leaning toward the
black, no iniquity on the large scale in fate’s doings, rather a marble
equality, dread not cruel, giving and taking away and reconciling.

Why have I not written my _Timon_?  Well, here is my worst quarrel with
you.  You take my young books as my last word.  The tendency to try to
say more has passed unperceived (my fault, that).  And you make no
allowance for the slowness with which a man finds and tries to learn his
tools.  I began with a neat brisk little style, and a sharp little knack
of partial observation; I have tried to expand my means, but still I can
only utter a part of what I wish to say, and am bound to feel; and much
of it will die unspoken.  But if I had the pen of Shakespeare, I have no
_Timon_ to give forth.  I feel kindly to the powers that be; I marvel
they should use me so well; and when I think of the case of others, I
wonder too, but in another vein, whether they may not, whether they must
not, be like me, still with some compensation, some delight.  To have
suffered, nay, to suffer, sets a keen edge on what remains of the
agreeable.  This is a great truth, and has to be learned in the
fire.—Yours very truly,

                                                   ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

We expect you, remember that.


                          _Skerryvore_, _Bournemouth_, _November_ 1, 1885.

DEAR MR. ARCHER,—You will see that I had already had a sight of your
article and what were my thoughts.

One thing in your letter puzzles me.  Are you, too, not in the
witness-box?  And if you are, why take a wilfully false hypothesis?  If
you knew I was a chronic invalid, why say that my philosophy was
unsuitable to such a case?  My call for facts is not so general as yours,
but an essential fact should not be put the other way about.

The fact is, consciously or not, you doubt my honesty; you think I am
making faces, and at heart disbelieve my utterances.  And this I am
disposed to think must spring from your not having had enough of pain,
sorrow, and trouble in your existence.  It is easy to have too much; easy
also or possible to have too little; enough is required that a man may
appreciate what elements of consolation and joy there are in everything
but absolutely over-powering physical pain or disgrace, and how in almost
all circumstances the human soul can play a fair part.  You fear life, I
fancy, on the principle of the hand of little employment.  But perhaps my
hypothesis is as unlike the truth as the one you chose.  Well, if it be
so, if you have had trials, sickness, the approach of death, the
alienation of friends, poverty at the heels, and have not felt your soul
turn round upon these things and spurn them under—you must be very
differently made from me, and I earnestly believe from the majority of
men.  But at least you are in the right to wonder and complain.

To ‘say all’?  Stay here.  All at once?  That would require a word from
the pen of Gargantua.  We say each particular thing as it comes up, and
‘with that sort of emphasis that for the time there seems to be no
other.’  Words will not otherwise serve us; no, nor even Shakespeare, who
could not have put _As You Like It_ and _Timon_ into one without ruinous
loss both of emphasis and substance.  Is it quite fair then to keep your
face so steadily on my most light-hearted works, and then say I recognise
no evil?  Yet in the paper on Burns, for instance, I show myself alive to
some sorts of evil.  But then, perhaps, they are not your sorts.

And again: ‘to say all’?  All: yes.  Everything: no.  The task were
endless, the effect nil.  But my all, in such a vast field as this of
life, is what interests me, what stands out, what takes on itself a
presence for my imagination or makes a figure in that little tricky
abbreviation which is the best that my reason can conceive.  That I must
treat, or I shall be fooling with my readers.  That, and not the all of
some one else.

And here we come to the division: not only do I believe that literature
should give joy, but I see a universe, I suppose, eternally different
from yours; a solemn, a terrible, but a very joyous and noble universe,
where suffering is not at least wantonly inflicted, though it falls with
dispassionate partiality, but where it may be and generally is nobly
borne; where, above all (this I believe; probably you don’t: I think he
may, with cancer), _any brave man may make_ out a life which shall be
happy for himself, and, by so being, beneficent to those about him.  And
if he fails, why should I hear him weeping?  I mean if I fail, why should
I weep?  Why should _you_ hear _me_?  Then to me morals, the conscience,
the affections, and the passions are, I will own frankly and sweepingly,
so infinitely more important than the other parts of life, that I
conceive men rather triflers who become immersed in the latter; and I
will always think the man who keeps his lip stiff, and makes ‘a happy
fireside clime,’ and carries a pleasant face about to friends and
neighbours, infinitely greater (in the abstract) than an atrabilious
Shakespeare or a backbiting Kant or Darwin.  No offence to any of these
gentlemen, two of whom probably (one for certain) came up to my standard.

And now enough said; it were hard if a poor man could not criticise
another without having so much ink shed against him.  But I shall still
regret you should have written on an hypothesis you knew to be untenable,
and that you should thus have made your paper, for those who do not know
me, essentially unfair.  The rich, fox-hunting squire speaks with one
voice; the sick man of letters with another.—Yours very truly,

                                                    ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
                                          (_Prometheus-Heine in minimis_).

_P.S._—Here I go again.  To me, the medicine bottles on my chimney and
the blood on my handkerchief are accidents; they do not colour my view of
life, as you would know, I think, if you had experience of sickness; they
do not exist in my prospect; I would as soon drag them under the eyes of
my readers as I would mention a pimple I might chance to have (saving
your presence) on my posteriors.  What does it prove? what does it
change? it has not hurt, it has not changed me in any essential part; and
I should think myself a trifler and in bad taste if I introduced the
world to these unimportant privacies.

But, again, there is this mountain-range between us—_that you do not
believe me_.  It is not flattering, but the fault is probably in my
literary art.


                         _Skerryvore_, _Bournemouth_, _December_ 26, 1885.

MY DEAR LOW,—_Lamia_ has not yet turned up, but your letter came to me
this evening with a scent of the Boulevard Montparnasse that was
irresistible.  The sand of Lavenue’s crumbled under my heel; and the
bouquet of the old Fleury came back to me, and I remembered the day when
I found a twenty franc piece under my fetish.  Have you that fetish
still? and has it brought you luck?  I remembered, too, my first sight of
you in a frock coat and a smoking-cap, when we passed the evening at the
Café de Medicis; and my last when we sat and talked in the Parc Monceau;
and all these things made me feel a little young again, which, to one who
has been mostly in bed for a month, was a vivifying change.

Yes, you are lucky to have a bag that holds you comfortably.  Mine is a
strange contrivance; I don’t die, damme, and I can’t get along on both
feet to save my soul; I am a chronic sickist; and my work cripples along
between bed and the parlour, between the medicine bottle and the cupping
glass.  Well, I like my life all the same; and should like it none the
worse if I could have another talk with you, though even my talks now are
measured out to me by the minute hand like poisons in a minim glass.

A photograph will be taken of my ugly mug and sent to you for ulterior
purposes: I have another thing coming out, which I did not put in the way
of the Scribners, I can scarce tell how; but I was sick and penniless and
rather back on the world, and mismanaged it.  I trust they will forgive

I am sorry to hear of Mrs. Low’s illness, and glad to hear of her
recovery.  I will announce the coming _Lamia_ to Bob: he steams away at
literature like smoke.  I have a beautiful Bob on my walls, and a good
Sargent, and a delightful Lemon; and your etching now hangs framed in the
dining-room.  So the arts surround me.—Yours,

                                                                  R. L. S.


{xv}  _Vailima Letters_: Methuen and Co., 1895.

{xxi}  Compare _Virginibus Puerisque_: the essay on ‘The English

{xxx}  The fragment called _Lay Morals_, at present only printed in the
Edinburgh edition (_Miscellanies_, vol. iv.), contains the pith of his
mental history on these subjects.

{17}  Aikman’s _Annals of the Persecution in Scotland_.

{24}  Thomas Stevenson.

{56}  See Scott himself in the preface to the Author’s edition.

{67}  Compare the paragraph in ‘Ordered South’ describing the state of
mind of the invalid doubtful of recovery, and ending: ‘He will pray for
Medea; when she comes, let here either rejuvenate or slay.’

{144}  ‘The Story of a Lie.’

{149}  Engraisser, grow fat.

{161}  Here follows a long calculation of ways and means.

{185}  ‘The whole front of the house was lighted, and there were pipes
and fiddles, and as much dancing and deray within as used to be in Sir
Robert’s house at Pace and Yule, and such high seasons.’—See ‘Wandering
Willie’s Tale’ in _Redgauntlet_, borrowed perhaps from _Christ’s Kirk of
the Green_.

{186}  In architecture, a series of piles to defend the pier of a bridge.

{191}  Gentleman’s library.

{209}  The reference is of course to Wordsworth’s _Song at the Feast of
Brougham Castle_.

{210}  At Davos-Platz.

{223}  From Landor’s _Gebir_: the line refers to Napoleon Bonaparte.

{263}  Fair copy of some of the _Child’s Garden_ verses.

{269}  _Silverado Squatters_.

{289}  The well-known Scottish landscape painter, who had been a friend
of Stevenson’s in youth.

{290}  _Croûtes_: crude studies or daubs from nature.

{303}  A favourite Skye terrier.  Mr. Stevenson was a great lover of

{318}  The essay so called.  See _Memories and Portraits_.

{330}  Of Sophocles.

{337}  Cough.

{338}  Loose talk.

{339}  Mr. Charles Morley, at this time manager or assistant-manager of
the _Pall Mall Gazette_.

{368}  _Princess Casamassina_.

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