R. L. S.
Letter: TO E. L. BURLINGAME
SS. LUBECK, [BETWEEN APIA AND SYDNEY, FEBRUARY] 1890.
MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - I desire nothing better than to continue my relation with the Magazine, to which it pleases me to hear I have been useful. The only thing I have ready is the enclosed barbaric piece. As soon as I have arrived in Sydney I shall send you some photographs, a portrait of Tembinoka, perhaps a view of the palace or of the 'matted men' at their singing; also T.'s flag, which my wife designed for him: in a word, what I can do best for you. It will be thus a foretaste of my book of travels. I shall ask you to let me have, if I wish it, the use of the plates made, and to make up a little tract of the verses and illustrations, of which you might send six copies to H. M. Tembinoka, King of Apemama VIA Butaritari, Gilbert Islands. It might be best to send it by Crawford and Co., S. F. There is no postal service; and schooners must take it, how they may and when. Perhaps some such note as this might be prefixed:
AT MY DEPARTURE FROM THE ISLAND OF APEMAMA, FOR WHICH YOU WILL LOOK IN VAIN IN MOST ATLASES, THE KING AND I AGREED, SINCE WE BOTH SET UP TO BE IN THE POETICAL WAY, THAT WE SHOULD CELEBRATE OUR SEPARATION IN VERSE. WHETHER OR NOT HIS MAJESTY HAS BEEN TRUE TO HIS BARGAIN, THE LAGGARD POSTS OF THE PACIFIC MAY PERHAPS INFORM ME IN SIX MONTHS, PERHAPS NOT BEFORE A YEAR. THE FOLLOWING LINES REPRESENT MY PART OF THE CONTRACT, AND IT IS HOPED, BY THEIR PICTURES OF STRANGE MANNERS, THEY MAY ENTERTAIN A CIVILISED AUDIENCE. NOTHING THROUGHOUT HAS BEEN INVENTED OR EXAGGERATED; THE LADY HEREIN REFERRED TO AS THE AUTHOR'S MUSE, HAS CONFINED HERSELF TO STRINGING INTO RHYME FACTS AND LEGENDS THAT I SAW OR HEARD DURING TWO MONTHS' RESIDENCE UPON THE ISLAND.
R. L. S.
You will have received from me a letter about THE WRECKER. No doubt it is a new experiment for me, being disguised so much as a study of manners, and the interest turning on a mystery of the detective sort, I think there need be no hesitation about beginning it in the fall of the year. Lloyd has nearly finished his part, and I shall hope to send you very soon the MS. of about the first four-sevenths. At the same time, I have been employing myself in Samoa, collecting facts about the recent war; and I propose to write almost at once and to publish shortly a small volume, called I know not what - the War In Samoa, the Samoa Trouble, an Island War, the War of the Three Consuls, I know not - perhaps you can suggest. It was meant to be a part of my travel book; but material has accumulated on my hands until I see myself forced into volume form, and I hope it may be of use, if it come soon. I have a few photographs of the war, which will do for illustrations. It is conceivable you might wish to handle this in the Magazine, although I am inclined to think you won't, and to agree with you. But if you think otherwise, there it is. The travel letters (fifty of them) are already contracted for in papers; these I was quite bound to let M'Clure handle, as the idea was of his suggestion, and I always felt a little sore as to one trick I played him in the matter of the end-papers. The war-volume will contain some very interesting and picturesque details: more I can't promise for it. Of course the fifty newspaper letters will be simply patches chosen from the travel volume (or volumes) as it gets written.
But you see I have in hand:-
Say half done. 1. THE WRECKER.
Lloyd's copy half done, mine not touched. 2. THE PEARL FISHER (a novel promised to the LEDGER, and which will form, when it comes in book form, No. 2 of our SOUTH SEA YARNS).
Not begun, but all material ready. 3. THE WAR VOLUME.
Ditto. 4. THE BIG TRAVEL BOOK, which includes the letters.
You know how they stand. 5. THE BALLADS.
EXCUSEZ DU PEU! And you see what madness it would be to make any fresh engagement. At the same time, you have THE WRECKER and the WAR VOLUME, if you like either - or both - to keep my name in the Magazine.
It begins to look as if I should not be able to get any more ballads done this somewhile. I know the book would sell better if it were all ballads; and yet I am growing half tempted to fill up with some other verses. A good few are connected with my voyage, such as the 'Home of Tembinoka' sent herewith, and would have a sort of slight affinity to the SOUTH SEA BALLADS. You might tell me how that strikes a stranger.
In all this, my real interest is with the travel volume, which ought to be of a really extraordinary interest
I am sending you 'Tembinoka' as he stands; but there are parts of him that I hope to better, particularly in stanzas III. and II. I scarce feel intelligent enough to try just now; and I thought at any rate you had better see it, set it up if you think well, and let me have a proof; so, at least, we shall get the bulk of it straight. I have spared you Tenkoruti, Tenbaitake, Tembinatake, and other barbarous names, because I thought the dentists in the States had work enough without my assistance; but my chiefs name is TEMBINOKA, pronounced, according to the present quite modern habit in the Gilberts, Tembinok'. Compare in the margin Tengkorootch; a singular new trick, setting at defiance all South Sea analogy, for nowhere else do they show even the ability, far less the will, to end a word upon a consonant. Loia is Lloyd's name, ship becomes shipe, teapot, tipote, etc. Our admirable friend Herman Melville, of whom, since I could judge, I have thought more than ever, had no ear for languages whatever: his Hapar tribe should be Hapaa, etc.
But this is of no interest to you: suffice it, you see how I am as usual up to the neck in projects, and really all likely bairns this time. When will this activity cease? Too soon for me, I dare to say.
R. L. S.
Letter: TO JAMES PAYN
FEBRUARY 4TH, 1890, SS. 'LUBECK.'
MY DEAR JAMES PAYN, - In virtue of confessions in your last, you would at the present moment, if you were along of me, be sick; and I will ask you to receive that as an excuse for my hand of write. Excuse a plain seaman if he regards with scorn the likes of you pore land-lubbers ashore now. (Reference to nautical ditty.) Which I may however be allowed to add that when eight months' mail was laid by my side one evening in Apia, and my wife and I sat up the most of the night to peruse the same - (precious indisposed we were next day in consequence) - no letter, out of so many, more appealed to our hearts than one from the pore, stick-in-the-mud, land-lubbering, common (or garden) Londoner, James Payn. Thank you for it; my wife says, 'Can't I see him when we get back to London?' I have told her the thing appeared to me within the spear of practical politix. (Why can't I spell and write like an honest, sober, god-fearing litry gent? I think it's the motion of the ship.) Here I was interrupted to play chess with the chief engineer; as I grow old, I prefer the 'athletic sport of cribbage,' of which (I am sure I misquote) I have just been reading in your delightful LITERARY RECOLLECTIONS. How you skim along, you and Andrew Lang (different as you are), and yet the only two who can keep a fellow smiling every page, and ever and again laughing out loud. I joke wi' deeficulty, I believe; I am not funny; and when I am, Mrs. Oliphant says I'm vulgar, and somebody else says (in Latin) that I'm a whore, which seems harsh and even uncalled for: I shall stick to weepers; a 5s. weeper, 2s. 6d. laugher, 1s. shocker.
My dear sir, I grow more and more idiotic; I cannot even feign sanity. Sometime in the month of June a stalwart weather-beaten man, evidently of seafaring antecedents, shall be observed wending his way between the Athenaeum Club and Waterloo Place. Arrived off No. 17, he shall be observed to bring his head sharply to the wind, and tack into the outer haven. 'Captain Payn in the harbour?' - 'Ay, ay, sir. What ship?' - 'Barquentin R. L. S., nine hundred and odd days out from the port of Bournemouth, homeward bound, with yarns and curiosities.'
Who was it said, 'For God's sake, don't speak of it!' about Scott and his tears? He knew what he was saying. The fear of that hour is the skeleton in all our cupboards; that hour when the pastime and the livelihood go together; and - I am getting hard of hearing myself; a pore young child of forty, but new come frae my Mammy, O!
Excuse these follies, and accept the expression of all my regards. - Yours affectionately,
R. L. STEVENSON.
Letter: TO CHARLES BAXTER
UNION CLUB, SYDNEY, MARCH 7TH, 1890.
MY DEAR CHARLES, - I did not send off the enclosed before from laziness; having gone quite sick, and being a blooming prisoner here in the club, and indeed in my bedroom. I was in receipt of your letters and your ornamental photo, and was delighted to see how well you looked, and how reasonably well I stood. . . . I am sure I shall never come back home except to die; I may do it, but shall always think of the move as suicidal, unless a great change comes over me, of which as yet I see no symptom. This visit to Sydney has smashed me handsomely; and yet I made myself a prisoner here in the club upon my first arrival. This is not encouraging for further ventures; Sydney winter - or, I might almost say, Sydney spring, for I came when the worst was over - is so small an affair, comparable to our June depression at home in Scotland. . . . The pipe is right again; it was the springs that had rusted, and ought to have been oiled. Its voice is now that of an angel; but, Lord! here in the club I dare not wake it! Conceive my impatience to be in my own backwoods and raise the sound of minstrelsy. What pleasures are to be compared with those of the Unvirtuous Virtuoso. - Yours ever affectionately, the Unvirtuous Virtuoso,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN
SS. 'JANET NICOLL,' OFF UPOLU [SPRING 1890].
MY DEAREST COLVIN, - I was sharply ill at Sydney, cut off, right out of bed, in this steamer on a fresh island cruise, and have already reaped the benefit. We are excellently found this time, on a spacious vessel, with an excellent table; the captain, supercargo, our one fellow-passenger, etc., very nice; and the charterer, Mr. Henderson, the very man I could have chosen. The truth is, I fear, this life is the only one that suits me; so long as I cruise in the South Seas, I shall be well and happy - alas, no, I do not mean that, and ABSIT OMEN! - I mean that, so soon as I cease from cruising, the nerves are strained, the decline commences, and I steer slowly but surely back to bedward. We left Sydney, had a cruel rough passage to Auckland, for the JANET is the worst roller I was ever aboard of. I was confined to my cabin, ports closed, self shied out of the berth, stomach (pampered till the day I left on a diet of perpetual egg-nogg) revolted at ship's food and ship eating, in a frowsy bunk, clinging with one hand to the plate, with the other to the glass, and using the knife and fork (except at intervals) with the eyelid. No matter: I picked up hand over hand. After a day in Auckland, we set sail again; were blown up in the main cabin with calcium fires, as we left the bay. Let no man say I am unscientific: when I ran, on the alert, out of my stateroom, and found the main cabin incarnadined with the glow of the last scene of a pantomime, I stopped dead: 'What is this?' said I. 'This ship is on fire, I see that; but why a pantomime?' And I stood and reasoned the point, until my head was so muddled with the fumes that I could not find the companion. A few seconds later, the captain had to enter crawling on his belly, and took days to recover (if he has recovered) from the fumes. By singular good fortune, we got the hose down in time and saved the ship, but Lloyd lost most of his clothes and a great part of our photographs was destroyed. Fanny saw the native sailors tossing overboard a blazing trunk; she stopped them in time, and behold, it contained my manuscripts. Thereafter we had three (or two) days fine weather: then got into a gale of wind, with rain and a vexatious sea. As we drew into our anchorage in a bight of Savage Island, a man ashore told me afterwards the sight of the JANET NICOLL made him sick; and indeed it was rough play, though nothing to the night before. All through this gale I worked four to six hours per diem, spearing the ink-bottle like a flying fish, and holding my papers together as I might. For, of all things, what I was at was history - the Samoan business - and I had to turn from one to another of these piles of manuscript notes, and from one page to another in each, until I should have found employment for the hands of Briareus. All the same, this history is a godsend for a voyage; I can put in time, getting events co-ordinated and the narrative distributed, when my much-heaving numskull would be incapable of finish or fine style. At Savage we met the missionary barque JOHN WILLIAMS. I tell you it was a great day for Savage Island: the path up the cliffs was crowded with gay islandresses (I like that feminine plural) who wrapped me in their embraces, and picked my pockets of all my tobacco, with a manner which a touch would have made revolting, but as it was, was simply charming, like the Golden Age. One pretty, little, stalwart minx, with a red flower behind her ear, had searched me with extraordinary zeal; and when, soon after, I missed my matches, I accused her (she still following us) of being the thief. After some delay, and with a subtle smile, she produced the box, gave me ONE MATCH, and put the rest away again. Too tired to add more. - Your most affectionate,
R. L. S.
Letter: TO E. L. BURLINGAME
S.S. 'JANET NICOLL,' OFF PERU ISLAND, KINGSMILLS GROUP, JULY 13th, '90.
MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - I am moved to write to you in the matter of the end papers. I am somewhat tempted to begin them again. Follow the reasons PRO and CON:-
1st. I must say I feel as if something in the nature of the end paper were a desirable finish to the number, and that the substitutes of occasional essays by occasional contributors somehow fail to fill the bill. Should you differ with me on this point, no more is to be said. And what follows must be regarded as lost words.
2nd. I am rather taken with the idea of continuing the work. For instance, should you have no distaste for papers of the class called RANDOM MEMORIES, I should enjoy continuing them (of course at intervals), and when they were done I have an idea they might make a readable book. On the other hand, I believe a greater freedom of choice might be taken, the subjects more varied and more briefly treated, in somewhat approaching the manner of Andrew Lang in the SIGN OF THE SHIP; it being well understood that the broken sticks method is one not very suitable (as Colonel Burke would say) to my genius, and not very likely to be pushed far in my practice. Upon this point I wish you to condense your massive brain. In the last lot I was promised, and I fondly expected to receive, a vast amount of assistance from intelligent and genial correspondents. I assure you, I never had a scratch of a pen from any one above the level of a village idiot, except once, when a lady sowed my head full of grey hairs by announcing that she was going to direct her life in future by my counsels. Will the correspondents be more copious and less irrelevant in the future? Suppose that to be the case, will they be of any use to me in my place of exile? Is it possible for a man in Samoa to be in touch with the great heart of the People? And is it not perhaps a mere folly to attempt, from so hopeless a distance, anything so delicate as a series of papers? Upon these points, perpend, and give me the results of your perpensions.
3rd. The emolument would be agreeable to your humble servant.
I have now stated all the PROS, and the most of the CONS are come in by the way. There follows, however, one immense Con (with a capital 'C'), which I beg you to consider particularly. I fear that, to be of any use for your magazine, these papers should begin with the beginning of a volume. Even supposing my hands were free, this would be now impossible for next year. You have to consider whether, supposing you have no other objection, it would be worth while to begin the series in the middle of a volume, or desirable to delay the whole matter until the beginning of another year.
Now supposing that the CONS have it, and you refuse my offer, let me make another proposal, which you will be very inclined to refuse at the first off-go, but which I really believe might in time come to something. You know how the penny papers have their answers to correspondents. Why not do something of the same kind for the 'culchawed'? Why not get men like Stimson, Brownell, Professor James, Goldwin Smith, and others who will occur to you more readily than to me, to put and to answer a series of questions of intellectual and general interest, until at last you should have established a certain standard of matter to be discussed in this part of the Magazine?
I want you to get me bound volumes of the Magazine from its start. The Lord knows I have had enough copies; where they are I know not. A wandering author gathers no magazines.
THE WRECKER is in no forrader state than in last reports. I have indeed got to a period when I cannot well go on until I can refresh myself on the proofs of the beginning. My respected collaborator, who handles the machine which is now addressing you, has indeed carried his labours farther, but not, I am led to understand, with what we used to call a blessing; at least, I have been refused a sight of his latest labours. However, there is plenty of time ahead, and I feel no anxiety about the tale, except that it may meet with your approval.
All this voyage I have been busy over my TRAVELS, which, given a very high temperature and the saloon of a steamer usually going before the wind, and with the cabins in front of the engines, has come very near to prostrating me altogether. You will therefore understand that there are no more poems. I wonder whether there are already enough, and whether you think that such a volume would be worth the publishing? I shall hope to find in Sydney some expression of your opinion on this point. Living as I do among - not the most cultured of mankind ('splendidly educated and perfect gentlemen when sober') - I attach a growing importance to friendly criticisms from yourself.
I believe that this is the most of our business. As for my health, I got over my cold in a fine style, but have not been very well of late. To my unaffected annoyance, the blood-spitting has started again. I find the heat of a steamer decidedly wearing and trying in these latitudes, and I am inclined to think the superior expedition rather dearly paid for. Still, the fact that one does not even remark the coming of a squall, nor feel relief on its departure, is a mercy not to be acknowledged without gratitude. The rest of the family seem to be doing fairly well; both seem less run down than they were on the EQUATOR, and Mrs. Stevenson very much less so. We have now been three months away, have visited about thirty-five islands, many of which were novel to us, and some extremely entertaining; some also were old acquaintances, and pleasant to revisit. In the meantime, we have really a capital time aboard ship, in the most pleasant and interesting society, and with (considering the length and nature of the voyage) an excellent table. Please remember us all to Mr. Scribner, the young chieftain of the house, and the lady, whose health I trust is better. To Mrs. Burlingame we all desire to be remembered, and I hope you will give our news to Low, St. Gaudens, Faxon, and others of the faithful in the city. I shall probably return to Samoa direct, having given up all idea of returning to civilisation in the meanwhile. There, on my ancestral acres, which I purchased six months ago from a blind Scots blacksmith, you will please address me until further notice. The name of the ancestral acres is going to be Vailima; but as at the present moment nobody else knows the name, except myself and the co-patentees, it will be safer, if less ambitious, to address R. L. S., Apia, Samoa. The ancestral acres run to upwards of three hundred; they enjoy the ministrations of five streams, whence the name. They are all at the present moment under a trackless covering of magnificent forest, which would be worth a great deal if it grew beside a railway terminus. To me, as it stands, it represents a handsome deficit. Obliging natives from the Cannibal Islands are now cutting it down at my expense. You would be able to run your magazine to much greater advantage if the terms of authors were on the same scale with those of my cannibals. We have also a house about the size of a manufacturer's lodge. 'Tis but the egg of the future palace, over the details of which on paper Mrs. Stevenson and I have already shed real tears; what it will be when it comes to paying for it, I leave you to imagine. But if it can only be built as now intended, it will be with genuine satisfaction and a growunded pride that I shall welcome you at the steps of my Old Colonial Home, when you land from the steamer on a long-merited holiday. I speak much at my ease; yet I do not know, I may be now an outlaw, a bankrupt, the abhorred of all good men. I do not know, you probably do. Has Hyde turned upon me? Have I fallen, like Danvers Carew?
It is suggested to me that you might like to know what will be my future society. Three consuls, all at logger-heads with one another, or at the best in a clique of two against one; three different sects of missionaries, not upon the best of terms; and the Catholics and Protestants in a condition of unhealable ill- feeling as to whether a wooden drum ought or ought not to be beaten to announce the time of school. The native population, very genteel, very songful, very agreeable, very good-looking, chronically spoiling for a fight (a circumstance not to be entirely neglected in the design of the palace). As for the white population of (technically, 'The Beach'), I don't suppose it is possible for any person not thoroughly conversant with the South Seas to form the smallest conception of such a society, with its grog-shops, its apparently unemployed hangers-on, its merchants of all degrees of respectability and the reverse. The paper, of which I must really send you a copy - if yours were really a live magazine, you would have an exchange with the editor: I assure you, it has of late contained a great deal of matter about one of your contributors - rejoices in the name of SAMOA TIMES AND SOUTH SEA ADVERTISER. The advertisements in the ADVERTISER are permanent, being simply subsidies for its existence. A dashing warfare of newspaper correspondence goes on between the various residents, who are rather fond of recurring to one another's antecedents. But when all is said, there are a lot of very nice, pleasant people, and I don't know that Apia is very much worse than half a hundred towns that I could name.
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Letter: TO CHARLES BAXTER
HOTEL SEBASTOPOL, NOUMEA, AUGUST 1890.
MY DEAR CHARLES, - I have stayed here a week while Lloyd and my wife continue to voyage in the JANET NICOLL; this I did, partly to see the convict system, partly to shorten my stay in the extreme cold - hear me with my extreme! MOI QUI SUIS ORIGINAIRE D'EDINBOURG - of Sydney at this season. I am feeling very seedy, utterly fatigued, and overborne with sleep. I have a fine old gentleman of a doctor, who attends and cheers and entertains, if he does not cure me; but even with his ministrations I am almost incapable of the exertion sufficient for this letter; and I am really, as I write, falling down with sleep. What is necessary to say, I must try to say shortly. Lloyd goes to clear out our establishments: pray keep him in funds, if I have any; if I have not, pray try to raise them. Here is the idea: to install ourselves, at the risk of bankruptcy, in Samoa. It is not the least likely it will pay (although it may); but it is almost certain it will support life, with very few external expenses. If I die, it will be an endowment for the survivors, at least for my wife and Lloyd; and my mother, who might prefer to go home, has her own. Hence I believe I shall do well to hurry my installation. The letters are already in part done; in part done is a novel for Scribner; in the course of the next twelve months I should receive a considerable amount of money. I am aware I had intended to pay back to my capital some of this. I am now of opinion I should act foolishly. Better to build the house and have a roof and farm of my own; and thereafter, with a livelihood assured, save and repay . . . There is my livelihood, all but books and wine, ready in a nutshell; and it ought to be more easy to save and to repay afterwards. Excellent, say you, but will you save and will you repay? I do not know, said the Bell of Old Bow. . . . It seems clear to me. . . . The deuce of the affair is that I do not know when I shall see you and Colvin. I guess you will have to come and see me: many a time already we have arranged the details of your visit in the yet unbuilt house on the mountain. I shall be able to get decent wine from Noumea. We shall be able to give you a decent welcome, and talk of old days. APROPOS of old days, do you remember still the phrase we heard in Waterloo Place? I believe you made a piece for the piano on that phrase. Pray, if you remember it, send it me in your next. If you find it impossible to write correctly, send it me A LA RECITATIVE, and indicate the accents. Do you feel (you must) how strangely heavy and stupid I am? I must at last give up and go sleep; I am simply a rag.
The morrow: I feel better, but still dim and groggy. To-night I go to the governor's; such a lark - no dress clothes - twenty-four hours' notice - able-bodied Polish tailor - suit made for a man with the figure of a puncheon - same hastily altered for self with the figure of a bodkin - sight inconceivable. Never mind; dress clothes, 'which nobody can deny'; and the officials have been all so civil that I liked neither to refuse nor to appear in mufti. Bad dress clothes only prove you are a grisly ass; no dress clothes, even when explained, indicate a want of respect. I wish you were here with me to help me dress in this wild raiment, and to accompany me to M. Noel-Pardon's. I cannot say what I would give if there came a knock now at the door and you came in. I guess Noel-Pardon would go begging, and we might burn the fr. 200 dress clothes in the back garden for a bonfire; or what would be yet more expensive and more humorous, get them once more expanded to fit you, and when that was done, a second time cut down for my gossamer dimensions.
I hope you never forget to remember me to your father, who has always a place in my heart, as I hope I have a little in his. His kindness helped me infinitely when you and I were young; I recall it with gratitude and affection in this town of convicts at the world's end. There are very few things, my dear Charles, worth mention: on a retrospect of life, the day's flash and colour, one day with another, flames, dazzles, and puts to sleep; and when the days are gone, like a fast-flying thaumatrope, they make but a single pattern. Only a few things stand out; and among these - most plainly to me - Rutland Square, - Ever, my dear Charles, your affectionate friend,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
P.S. - Just returned from trying on the dress clo'. Lord, you should see the coat! It stands out at the waist like a bustle, the flaps cross in front, the sleeves are like bags.
Letter: TO E. L. BURLINGAME
UNION CLUB, SYDNEY [AUGUST 1890].
MY DEAR BURLINGAME
The deuce is in this volume. It has cost me more botheration and dubiety than any other I ever took in hand. On one thing my mind is made up: the verses at the end have no business there, and throw them down. Many of them are bad, many of the rest want nine years' keeping, and the remainder are not relevant - throw them down; some I never want to hear of more, others will grow in time towards decent items in a second UNDERWOODS - and in the meanwhile, down with them! At the same time, I have a sneaking idea the ballads are not altogether without merit - I don't know if they're poetry, but they're good narrative, or I'm deceived. (You've never said one word about them, from which I astutely gather you are dead set against: 'he was a diplomatic man' - extract from epitaph of E. L. B. - 'and remained on good terms with Minor Poets.') You will have to judge: one of the Gladstonian trinity of paths must be chosen. (1st) Either publish the five ballads, such as they are, in a volume called BALLADS; in which case pray send sheets at once to Chatto and Windus. Or (2nd) write and tell me you think the book too small, and I'll try and get into the mood to do some more. Or (3rd) write and tell me the whole thing is a blooming illusion; in which case draw off some twenty copies for my private entertainment, and charge me with the expense of the whole dream.
In the matter of rhyme no man can judge himself; I am at the world's end, have no one to consult, and my publisher holds his tongue. I call it unfair and almost unmanly. I do indeed begin to be filled with animosity; Lord, wait till you see the continuation of THE WRECKER, when I introduce some New York publishers. . . It's a good scene; the quantities you drink and the really hideous language you are represented as employing may perhaps cause you one tithe of the pain you have inflicted by your silence on, sir, The Poetaster,
R. L. S.
Lloyd is off home; my wife and I dwell sundered: she in lodgings, preparing for the move; I here in the club, and at my old trade - bedridden. Naturally, the visit home is given up; we only wait our opportunity to get to Samoa, where, please, address me.
Have I yet asked you to despatch the books and papers left in your care to me at Apia, Samoa? I wish you would, QUAM PRIMUM.
R. L. S.
Letter: TO HENRY JAMES
UNION CLUB, SYDNEY, AUGUST 1890.
MY DEAR HENRY JAMES, - Kipling is too clever to live. The BETE HUMAINE I had already perused in Noumea, listening the while to the strains of the convict band. He a Beast; but not human, and, to be frank, not very interesting. 'Nervous maladies: the homicidal ward,' would be the better name: O, this game gets very tedious.
Your two long and kind letters have helped to entertain the old familiar sickbed. So has a book called THE BONDMAN, by Hall Caine; I wish you would look at it. I am not half-way through yet. Read the book, and communicate your views. Hall Caine, by the way, appears to take Hugo's view of History and Chronology. (LATER; the book doesn't keep up; it gets very wild.)
I must tell you plainly - I can't tell Colvin - I do not think I shall come to England more than once, and then it'll be to die. Health I enjoy in the tropics; even here, which they call sub- or semi-tropical, I come only to catch cold. I have not been out since my arrival; live here in a nice bedroom by the fireside, and read books and letters from Henry James, and send out to get his TRAGIC MUSE, only to be told they can't be had as yet in Sydney, and have altogether a placid time. But I can't go out! The thermometer was nearly down to 50 degrees the other day - no temperature for me, Mr. James: how should I do in England? I fear not at all. Am I very sorry? I am sorry about seven or eight people in England, and one or two in the States. And outside of that, I simply prefer Samoa. These are the words of honesty and soberness. (I am fasting from all but sin, coughing, THE BONDMAN, a couple of eggs and a cup of tea.) I was never fond of towns, houses, society, or (it seems) civilisation. Nor yet it seems was I ever very fond of (what is technically called) God's green earth. The sea, islands, the islanders, the island life and climate, make and keep me truly happier. These last two years I have been much at sea, and I have NEVER WEARIED; sometimes I have indeed grown impatient for some destination; more often I was sorry that the voyage drew so early to an end; and never once did I lose my fidelity to blue water and a ship. It is plain, then, that for me my exile to the place of schooners and islands can be in no sense regarded as a calamity.
Good-bye just now: I must take a turn at my proofs.
N.B. - Even my wife has weakened about the sea. She wearied, the last time we were ashore, to get afloat again. - Yours ever,
R. L. S.
Letter: TO MARCEL SCHWOB
UNION CLUB, SYDNEY, AUGUST 19TH, 1890.
MY DEAR MR. SCHWOB, - MAIS, ALORS, VOUS AVEZ TOUS LES BONHEURS, VOUS! More about Villon; it seems incredible: when it is put in order, pray send it me.
You wish to translate the BLACK ARROW: dear sir, you are hereby authorised; but I warn you, I do not like the work. Ah, if you, who know so well both tongues, and have taste and instruction - if you would but take a fancy to translate a book of mine that I myself admired - for we sometimes admire our own - or I do - with what satisfaction would the authority be granted! But these things are too much to expect. VOUS NE DETESTEZ PAS ALORS MES BONNES FEMMES? MOI, JE LES DETESTE. I have never pleased myself with any women of mine save two character parts, one of only a few lines - the Countess of Rosen, and Madame Desprez in the TREASURE OF FRANCHARD.
I had indeed one moment of pride about my poor BLACK ARROW: Dickon Crookback I did, and I do, think is a spirited and possible figure. Shakespeare's - O, if we can call that cocoon Shakespeare! - Shakespeare's is spirited - one likes to see the untaught athlete butting against the adamantine ramparts of human nature, head down, breach up; it reminds us how trivial we are to-day, and what safety resides in our triviality. For spirited it may be, but O, sure not possible! I love Dumas and I love Shakespeare: you will not mistake me when I say that the Richard of the one reminds me of the Porthos of the other; and if by any sacrifice of my own literary baggage I could clear the VICOMTE DE BRAGELONNE of Porthos, JEKYLL might go, and the MASTER, and the BLACK ARROW, you may be sure, and I should think my life not lost for mankind if half a dozen more of my volumes must be thrown in.
The tone of your pleasant letters makes me egotistical; you make me take myself too gravely. Comprehend how I have lived much of my time in France, and loved your country, and many of its people, and all the time was learning that which your country has to teach - breathing in rather that atmosphere of art which can only there be breathed; and all the time knew - and raged to know - that I might write with the pen of angels or of heroes, and no Frenchman be the least the wiser! And now steps in M. Marcel Schwob, writes me the most kind encouragement, and reads and understands, and is kind enough to like my work.
I am just now overloaded with work. I have two huge novels on hand - THE WRECKER and the PEARL FISHER, in collaboration with my stepson: the latter, the PEARL FISHER, I think highly of, for a black, ugly, trampling, violent story, full of strange scenes and striking characters. And then I am about waist-deep in my big book on the South Seas: THE big book on the South Seas it ought to be, and shall. And besides, I have some verses in the press, which, however, I hesitate to publish. For I am no judge of my own verse; self-deception is there so facile. All this and the cares of an impending settlement in Samoa keep me very busy, and a cold (as usual) keeps me in bed.
Alas, I shall not have the pleasure to see you yet awhile, if ever. You must be content to take me as a wandering voice, and in the form of occasional letters from recondite islands; and address me, if you will be good enough to write, to Apia, Samoa. My stepson, Mr. Osbourne, goes home meanwhile to arrange some affairs; it is not unlikely he may go to Paris to arrange about the illustrations to my South Seas; in which case I shall ask him to call upon you, and give you some word of our outlandish destinies. You will find him intelligent, I think; and I am sure, if (PAR HASARD) you should take any interest in the islands, he will have much to tell you. - Herewith I conclude, and am your obliged and interested correspondent,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
P.S. - The story you refer to has got lost in the post.
Letter: TO ANDREW LANG
UNION CLUB, SYDNEY [AUGUST 1890].
MY DEAR LANG, - I observed with a great deal of surprise and interest that a controversy in which you have been taking sides at home, in yellow London, hinges in part at least on the Gilbert Islanders and their customs in burial. Nearly six months of my life has been passed in the group: I have revisited it but the other day; and I make haste to tell you what I know. The upright stones - I enclose you a photograph of one on Apemama - are certainly connected with religion; I do not think they are adored. They stand usually on the windward shore of the islands, that is to say, apart from habitation (on ENCLOSED ISLANDS, where the people live on the sea side, I do not know how it is, never having lived on one). I gathered from Tembinoka, Rex Apemamae, that the pillars were supposed to fortify the island from invasion: spiritual martellos. I think he indicated they were connected with the cult of Tenti - pronounce almost as chintz in English, the T being explosive; but you must take this with a grain of salt, for I knew no word of Gilbert Island; and the King's English, although creditable, is rather vigorous than exact. Now, here follows the point of interest to you: such pillars, or standing stones, have no connection with graves. The most elaborate grave that I have ever seen in the group - to be certain - is in the form of a RAISED BORDER of gravel, usually strewn with broken glass. One, of which I cannot be sure that it was a grave, for I was told by one that it was, and by another that it was not - consisted of a mound about breast high in an excavated taro swamp, on the top of which was a child's house, or rather MANIAPA - that is to say, shed, or open house, such as is used in the group for social or political gatherings - so small that only a child could creep under its eaves. I have heard of another great tomb on Apemama, which I did not see; but here again, by all accounts, no sign of a standing stone. My report would be - no connection between standing stones and sepulture. I shall, however, send on the terms of the problem to a highly intelligent resident trader, who knows more than perhaps any one living, white or native, of the Gilbert group; and you shall have the result. In Samoa, whither I return for good, I shall myself make inquiries; up to now, I have neither seen nor heard of any standing stones in that group. - Yours,
R. L. STEVENSON.
Letter: TO MRS. CHARLES FAIRCHILD
UNION CLUB, SYDNEY [SEPTEMBER 1890].
MY DEAR MRS. FAIRCHILD, - I began a letter to you on board the JANET NICOLL on my last cruise, wrote, I believe, two sheets, and ruthlessly destroyed the flippant trash. Your last has given me great pleasure and some pain, for it increased the consciousness of my neglect. Now, this must go to you, whatever it is like.
. . . You are quite right; our civilisation is a hollow fraud, all the fun of life is lost by it; all it gains is that a larger number of persons can continue to be contemporaneously unhappy on the surface of the globe. O, unhappy! - there is a big word and a false - continue to be not nearly - by about twenty per cent. - so happy as they might be: that would be nearer the mark.
When - observe that word, which I will write again and larger - WHEN you come to see us in Samoa, you will see for yourself a healthy and happy people.
You see, you are one of the very few of our friends rich enough to come and see us; and when my house is built, and the road is made, and we have enough fruit planted and poultry and pigs raised, it is undeniable that you must come - must is the word; that is the way in which I speak to ladies. You and Fairchild, anyway - perhaps my friend Blair - we'll arrange details in good time. It will be the salvation of your souls, and make you willing to die.
Let me tell you this: In '74 or 5 there came to stay with my father and mother a certain Mr. Seed, a prime minister or something of New Zealand. He spotted what my complaint was; told me that I had no business to stay in Europe; that I should find all I cared for, and all that was good for me, in the Navigator Islands; sat up till four in the morning persuading me, demolishing my scruples. And I resisted: I refused to go so far from my father and mother. O, it was virtuous, and O, wasn't it silly! But my father, who was always my dearest, got to his grave without that pang; and now in 1890, I (or what is left of me) go at last to the Navigator Islands. God go with us! It is but a Pisgah sight when all is said; I go there only to grow old and die; but when you come, you will see it is a fair place for the purpose.
Flaubert has not turned up; I hope he will soon; I knew of him only through Maxime Descamps. - With kindest messages to yourself and all of yours, I remain,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
CHAPTER XI - LIFE IN SAMOA, NOVEMBER 1890-DECEMBER 1892
Letter: TO E. L BURLINGAME
VAILIMA, APIA, SAMOA, NOV. 7, 1890.
I WISH you to add to the words at the end of the prologue; they run, I think, thus, 'And this is the yarn of Loudon Dodd'; add, 'not as he told, but as he wrote it afterwards for his diversion.' This becomes the more needful, because, when all is done, I shall probably revert to Tai-o-hae, and give final details about the characters in the way of a conversation between Dodd and Havers. These little snippets of information and FAITS-DIVERS have always a disjointed, broken-backed appearance; yet, readers like them. In this book we have introduced so many characters, that this kind of epilogue will be looked for; and I rather hope, looking far ahead, that I can lighten it in dialogue.
We are well past the middle now. How does it strike you? and can you guess my mystery? It will make a fattish volume!
I say, have you ever read the HIGHLAND WIDOW? I never had till yesterday: I am half inclined, bar a trip or two, to think it Scott's masterpiece; and it has the name of a failure! Strange things are readers.
I expect proofs and revises in duplicate.
We have now got into a small barrack at our place. We see the sea six hundred feet below filling the end of two vales of forest. On one hand the mountain runs above us some thousand feet higher; great trees stand round us in our clearing; there is an endless voice of birds; I have never lived in such a heaven; just now, I have fever, which mitigates but not destroys my gusto in my circumstances. - You may envy
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
. . . O, I don't know if I mentioned that having seen your new tail to the magazine, I cried off interference, at least for this trip. Did I ask you to send me my books and papers, and all the bound volumes of the mag.? QUORUM PARS. I might add that were there a good book or so - new - I don't believe there is - such would be welcome.
I desire - I positively begin to awake - to be remembered to Scribner, Low, St. Gaudens, Russell Sullivan. Well, well, you fellows have the feast of reason and the flow of soul; I have a better-looking place and climate: you should hear the birds on the hill now! The day has just wound up with a shower; it is still light without, though I write within here at the cheek of a lamp; my wife and an invaluable German are wrestling about bread on the back verandah; and how the birds and the frogs are rattling, and piping, and hailing from the woods! Here and there a throaty chuckle; here and there, cries like those of jolly children who have lost their way; here and there, the ringing sleigh-bell of the tree frog. Out and away down below me on the sea it is still raining; it will be wet under foot on schooners, and the house will leak; how well I know that! Here the showers only patter on the iron roof, and sometimes roar; and within, the lamp burns steady on the tafa-covered walls, with their dusky tartan patterns, and the book-shelves with their thin array of books; and no squall can rout my house or bring my heart into my mouth. - The well-pleased South Sea Islander,
R. L. S.
Letter: TO E. L. BURLINGAME
[VAILIMA, DECEMBER 1890.]
MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - By some diabolical accident, I have mislaid your last. What was in it? I know not, and here I am caught unexpectedly by the American mail, a week earlier than by computation. The computation, not the mail, is supposed to be in error. The vols. of SCRIBNER'S have arrived, and present a noble appearance in my house, which is not a noble structure at present. But by autumn we hope to be sprawling in our verandah, twelve feet, sir, by eighty-eight in front, and seventy-two on the flank; view of the sea and mountains, sunrise, moonrise, and the German fleet at anchor three miles away in Apia harbour. I hope some day to offer you a bowl of kava there, or a slice of a pineapple, or some lemonade from my own hedge. 'I know a hedge where the lemons grow' - SHAKESPEARE. My house at this moment smells of them strong; and the rain, which a while ago roared there, now rings in minute drops upon the iron roof. I have no WRECKER for you this mail, other things having engaged me. I was on the whole rather relieved you did not vote for regular papers, as I feared the traces. It is my design from time to time to write a paper of a reminiscential (beastly word) description; some of them I could scarce publish from different considerations; but some of them - for instance, my long experience of gambling places - Homburg, Wiesbaden, Baden- Baden, old Monaco, and new Monte Carlo - would make good magazine padding, if I got the stuff handled the right way. I never could fathom why verse was put in magazines; it has something to do with the making-up, has it not? I am scribbling a lot just now; if you are taken badly that way, apply to the South Seas. I could send you some, I believe, anyway, only none of it is thoroughly ripe. If kept back the volume of ballads, I'll soon make it a respectable size if this fit continue. By the next mail you may expect some more WRECKER, or I shall be displeased. Probably no more than a chapter, however, for it is a hard one, and I am denuded of my proofs, my collaborator having walked away with them to England; hence some trouble in catching the just note.
I am a mere farmer: my talk, which would scarce interest you on Broadway, is all of fuafua and tuitui, and black boys, and planting and weeding, and axes and cutlasses; my hands are covered with blisters and full of thorns; letters are, doubtless, a fine thing, so are beer and skittles, but give me farmering in the tropics for real interest. Life goes in enchantment; I come home to find I am late for dinner; and when I go to bed at night, I could cry for the weariness of my loins and thighs. Do not speak to me of vexation, the life brims with it, but with living interest fairly.
Christmas I go to Auckland, to meet Tamate, the New Guinea missionary, a man I love. The rest of my life is a prospect of much rain, much weeding and making of paths, a little letters, and devilish little to eat. - I am, my dear Burlingame, with messages to all whom it may concern, very sincerely yours,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Letter: TO HENRY JAMES
VAILIMA, APIA, SAMOA, DECEMBER 29TH, 1890.
MY DEAR HENRY JAMES, - It is terrible how little everybody writes, and how much of that little disappears in the capacious maw of the Post Office. Many letters, both from and to me, I now know to have been lost in transit: my eye is on the Sydney Post Office, a large ungainly structure with a tower, as being not a hundred miles from the scene of disappearance; but then I have no proof. THE TRAGIC MUSE you announced to me as coming; I had already ordered it from a Sydney bookseller: about two months ago he advised me that his copy was in the post; and I am still tragically museless.
News, news, news. What do we know of yours? What do you care for ours? We are in the midst of the rainy season, and dwell among alarms of hurricanes, in a very unsafe little two-storied wooden box 650 feet above and about three miles from the sea-beach. Behind us, till the other slope of the island, desert forest, peaks, and loud torrents; in front green slopes to the sea, some fifty miles of which we dominate. We see the ships as they go out and in to the dangerous roadstead of Apia; and if they lie far out, we can even see their topmasts while they are at anchor. Of sounds of men, beyond those of our own labourers, there reach us, at very long intervals, salutes from the warships in harbour, the bell of the cathedral church, and the low of the conch-shell calling the labour boys on the German plantations. Yesterday, which was Sunday - the QUANTIEME is most likely erroneous; you can now correct it - we had a visitor - Baker of Tonga. Heard you ever of him? He is a great man here: he is accused of theft, rape, judicial murder, private poisoning, abortion, misappropriation of public moneys - oddly enough, not forgery, nor arson: you would be amused if you knew how thick the accusations fly in this South Sea world. I make no doubt my own character is something illustrious; or if not yet, there is a good time coming.
But all our resources have not of late been Pacific. We have had enlightened society: La Farge the painter, and your friend Henry Adams: a great privilege - would it might endure. I would go oftener to see them, but the place is awkward to reach on horseback. I had to swim my horse the last time I went to dinner; and as I have not yet returned the clothes I had to borrow, I dare not return in the same plight: it seems inevitable - as soon as the wash comes in, I plump straight into the American consul's shirt or trousers! They, I believe, would come oftener to see me but for the horrid doubt that weighs upon our commissariat department; we have OFTEN almost nothing to eat; a guest would simply break the bank; my wife and I have dined on one avocado pear; I have several times dined on hard bread and onions. What would you do with a guest at such narrow seasons? - eat him? or serve up a labour boy fricasseed?
Work? work is now arrested, but I have written, I should think, about thirty chapters of the South Sea book; they will all want rehandling, I dare say. Gracious, what a strain is a long book! The time it took me to design this volume, before I could dream of putting pen to paper, was excessive; and then think of writing a book of travels on the spot, when I am continually extending my information, revising my opinions, and seeing the most finely finished portions of my work come part by part in pieces. Very soon I shall have no opinions left. And without an opinion, how to string artistically vast accumulations of fact? Darwin said no one could observe without a theory; I suppose he was right; 'tis a fine point of metaphysic; but I will take my oath, no man can write without one - at least the way he would like to, and my theories melt, melt, melt, and as they melt the thaw-waters wash down my writing, and leave unideal tracts - wastes instead of cultivated farms.
Kipling is by far the most promising young man who has appeared since - ahem - I appeared. He amazes me by his precocity and various endowment. But he alarms me by his copiousness and haste. He should shield his fire with both hands 'and draw up all his strength and sweetness in one ball.' ('Draw all his strength and all His sweetness up into one ball'? I cannot remember Marvell's words.) So the critics have been saying to me; but I was never capable of - and surely never guilty of - such a debauch of production. At this rate his works will soon fill the habitable globe; and surely he was armed for better conflicts than these succinct sketches and flying leaves of verse? I look on, I admire, I rejoice for myself; but in a kind of ambition we all have for our tongue and literature I am wounded. If I had this man's fertility and courage, it seems to me I could heave a pyramid.
Well, we begin to be the old fogies now; and it was high time SOMETHING rose to take our places. Certainly Kipling has the gifts; the fairy godmothers were all tipsy at his christening: what will he do with them?
Goodbye, my dear James; find an hour to write to us, and register your letter. - Yours affectionately,
R. L. S.
Letter: TO RUDYARD KIPLING
SIR, - I cannot call to mind having written you, but I am so throng with occupation this may have fallen aside. I never heard tell I had any friends in Ireland, and I am led to understand you are come of no considerable family. The gentleman I now serve with assures me, however, you are a very pretty fellow and your letter deserves to be remarked. It's true he is himself a man of a very low descent upon the one side; though upon the other he counts cousinship with a gentleman, my very good friend, the late Mr. Balfour of the Shaws, in the Lothian; which I should be wanting in good fellowship to forget. He tells me besides you are a man of your hands; I am not informed of your weapon; but if all be true it sticks in my mind I would be ready to make exception in your favour, and meet you like one gentleman with another. I suppose this'll be your purpose in your favour, which I could very ill make out; it's one I would be sweir to baulk you of. It seems, Mr. McIlvaine, which I take to be your name, you are in the household of a gentleman of the name of Coupling: for whom my friend is very much engaged. The distances being very uncommodious, I think it will be maybe better if we leave it to these two to settle all that's necessary to honour. I would have you to take heed it's a very unusual condescension on my part, that bear a King's name; and for the matter of that I think shame to be mingled with a person of the name of Coupling, which is doubtless a very good house but one I never heard tell of, any more than Stevenson. But your purpose being laudable, I would be sorry (as the word goes) to cut off my nose to spite my face. - I am, Sir, your humble servant,
A. STEWART, CHEVALIER DE ST. LOUIS.
TO MR. M'ILVAINE, GENTLEMAN PRIVATE IN A FOOT REGIMENT, UNDER COVER TO MR. COUPLING.
He has read me some of your Barrack Room Ballants, which are not of so noble a strain as some of mine in the Gaelic, but I could set some of them to the pipes if this rencounter goes as it's to be desired. Let's first, as I understand you to move, do each other this rational courtesys; and if either will survive, we may grow better acquaint. For your tastes for what's martial and for poetry agree with mine.
Letter: TO MARCEL SCHWOB
SYDNEY, JANUARY 19th, 1891.
MY DEAR SIR, - SAPRISTI, COMME VOUS Y ALLEZ! Richard III. and Dumas, with all my heart; but not Hamlet. Hamlet is great literature; Richard III. a big, black, gross, sprawling melodrama, writ with infinite spirit but with no refinement or philosophy by a man who had the world, himself, mankind, and his trade still to learn. I prefer the Vicomte de Bragelonne to Richard III.; it is better done of its kind: I simply do not mention the Vicomte in the same part of the building with Hamlet, or Lear, or Othello, or any of those masterpieces that Shakespeare survived to give us.
Also, COMME VOUS Y ALLEZ in my commendation! I fear my SOLIDE EDUCATION CLASSIQUE had best be described, like Shakespeare's, as 'little Latin and no Greek,' and I was educated, let me inform you, for an engineer. I shall tell my bookseller to send you a copy of MEMORIES AND PORTRAITS, where you will see something of my descent and education, as it was, and hear me at length on my dear Vicomte. I give you permission gladly to take your choice out of my works, and translate what you shall prefer, too much honoured that so clever a young man should think it worth the pains. My own choice would lie between KIDNAPPED and the MASTER OF BALLANTRAE. Should you choose the latter, pray do not let Mrs. Henry thrust the sword up to the hilt in the frozen ground - one of my inconceivable blunders, an exaggeration to stagger Hugo. Say 'she sought to thrust it in the ground.' In both these works you should be prepared for Scotticisms used deliberately.
I fear my stepson will not have found time to get to Paris; he was overwhelmed with occupation, and is already on his voyage back. We live here in a beautiful land, amid a beautiful and interesting people. The life is still very hard: my wife and I live in a two- roomed cottage, about three miles and six hundred and fifty feet above the sea; we have had to make the road to it; our supplies are very imperfect; in the wild weather of this (the hurricane) season we have much discomfort: one night the wind blew in our house so outrageously that we must sit in the dark; and as the sound of the rain on the roof made speech inaudible, you may imagine we found the evening long. All these things, however, are pleasant to me. You say L'ARTISTE INCONSCIENT set off to travel: you do not divide me right. 0.6 of me is artist; 0.4, adventurer. First, I suppose, come letters; then adventure; and since I have indulged the second part, I think the formula begins to change: 0.55 of an artist, 0.45 of the adventurer were nearer true. And if it had not been for my small strength, I might have been a different man in all things,
Whatever you do, do not neglect to send me what you publish on Villon: I look forward to that with lively interest. I have no photograph at hand, but I will send one when I can. It would be kind if you would do the like, for I do not see much chance of our meeting in the flesh: and a name, and a handwriting, and an address, and even a style? I know about as much of Tacitus, and more of Horace; it is not enough between contemporaries, such as we still are. I have just remembered another of my books, which I re- read the other day, and thought in places good - PRINCE OTTO. It is not as good as either of the others; but it has one recommendation - it has female parts, so it might perhaps please better in France.
I will ask Chatto to send you, then - PRINCE OTTO, MEMORIES AND PORTRAITS, UNDERWOODS, and BALLADS, none of which you seem to have seen. They will be too late for the New Year: let them be an Easter present.
You must translate me soon; you will soon have better to do than to transverse the work of others. - Yours very truly,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON,
With the worst pen in the South Pacific.
Letter: TO CHARLES BAXTER
SS. 'LUBECK,' AT SEA [ON THE RETURN VOYAGE FROM SYDNEY, MARCH 1891].
MY DEAR CHARLES, - Perhaps in my old days I do grow irascible; 'the old man virulent' has long been my pet name for myself. Well, the temper is at least all gone now; time is good at lowering these distemperatures; far better is a sharp sickness, and I am just (and scarce) afoot again after a smoking hot little malady at Sydney. And the temper being gone, I still think the same. . . . We have not our parents for ever; we are never very good to them; when they go and we have lost our front-file man, we begin to feel all our neglects mighty sensibly. I propose a proposal. My mother is here on board with me; to-day for once I mean to make her as happy as I am able, and to do that which I know she likes. You, on the other hand, go and see your father, and do ditto, and give him a real good hour or two. We shall both be glad hereafter. - Yours ever,
R. L. S.
Letter: TO H. B. BAILDON
VAILIMA, UPOLU [UNDATED, BUT WRITTEN IN 1891].
MY DEAR BAILDON, - This is a real disappointment. It was so long since we had met, I was anxious to see where time had carried and stranded us. Last time we saw each other - it must have been all ten years ago, as we were new to the thirties - it was only for a moment, and now we're in the forties, and before very long we shall be in our graves. Sick and well, I have had a splendid life of it, grudge nothing, regret very little - and then only some little corners of misconduct for which I deserve hanging, and must infallibly be damned - and, take it all over, damnation and all, would hardly change with any man of my time, unless perhaps it were Gordon or our friend Chalmers: a man I admire for his virtues, love for his faults, and envy for the really A1 life he has, with everything heart - my heart, I mean - could wish. It is curious to think you will read this in the grey metropolis; go the first grey, east-windy day into the Caledonian Station, if it looks at all as it did of yore: I met Satan there. And then go and stand by the cross, and remember the other one - him that went down - my brother, Robert Fergusson. It is a pity you had not made me out, and seen me as patriarch and planter. I shall look forward to some record of your time with Chalmers: you can't weary me of that fellow, he is as big as a house and far bigger than any church, where no man warms his hands. Do you know anything of Thomson? Of A-, B-, C-, D-, E-, F-, at all? As I write C.'s name mustard rises my nose; I have never forgiven that weak, amiable boy a little trick he played me when I could ill afford it: I mean that whenever I think of it, some of the old wrath kindles, not that I would hurt the poor soul, if I got the world with it. And Old X-? Is he still afloat? Harmless bark! I gather you ain't married yet, since your sister, to whom I ask to be remembered, goes with you. Did you see a silly tale, JOHN NICHOLSON'S PREDICAMENT, or some such name, in which I made free with your home at Murrayfield? There is precious little sense in it, but it might amuse. Cassell's published it in a thing called YULE-TIDE years ago, and nobody that ever I heard of read or has ever seen YULE-TIDE. It is addressed to a class we never met - readers of Cassell's series and that class of conscientious chaff, and my tale was dull, though I don't recall that it was conscientious. Only, there's the house at Murrayfield and a dead body in it. Glad the BALLADS amused you. They failed to entertain a coy public, at which I wondered, not that I set much account by my verses, which are the verses of Prosator; but I do know how to tell a yarn, and two of the yarns are great. RAHERO is for its length a perfect folk-tale: savage and yet fine, full of tailforemost morality, ancient as the granite rocks; if the historian, not to say the politician, could get that yarn into his head, he would have learned some of his A B C. But the average man at home cannot understand antiquity; he is sunk over the ears in Roman civilisation; and a tale like that of RAHERO falls on his ears inarticulate. The SPECTATOR said there was no psychology in it; that interested me much: my grandmother (as I used to call that able paper, and an able paper it is, and a fair one) cannot so much as observe the existence of savage psychology when it is put before it. I am at bottom a psychologist and ashamed of it; the tale seized me one-third because of its picturesque features, two-thirds because of its astonishing psychology, and the SPECTATOR says there's none. I am going on with a lot of island work, exulting in the knowledge of a new world, 'a new created world' and new men; and I am sure my income will DECLINE and FALL off; for the effort of comprehension is death to the intelligent public, and sickness to the dull.
I do not know why I pester you with all this trash, above all as you deserve nothing. I give you my warm TALOFA ('my love to you,' Samoan salutation). Write me again when the spirit moves you. And some day, if I still live, make out the trip again and let us hob- a-nob with our grey pows on my verandah. - Yours sincerely,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Letter: TO W. CRAIBE ANGUS
VAILIMA, SAMOA, APRIL 1891.
DEAR MR. ANGUS, - Surely I remember you! It was W. C. Murray who made us acquainted, and we had a pleasant crack. I see your poet is not yet dead. I remember even our talk - or you would not think of trusting that invaluable JOLLY BEGGARS to the treacherous posts, and the perils of the sea, and the carelessness of authors. I love the idea, but I could not bear the risk. However -
'Hale be your heart, hale be your fiddle - '
it was kindly thought upon.
My interest in Burns is, as you suppose, perennial. I would I could be present at the exhibition, with the purpose of which I heartily sympathise; but the NANCY has not waited in vain for me, I have followed my chest, the anchor is weighed long ago, I have said my last farewell to the hills and the heather and the lynns: like Leyden, I have gone into far lands to die, not stayed like Burns to mingle in the end with Scottish soil. I shall not even return like Scott for the last scene. Burns Exhibitions are all over. 'Tis a far cry to Lochow from tropical Vailima.
'But still our hearts are true, our hearts are Highland, And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.'
When your hand is in, will you remember our poor Edinburgh Robin? Burns alone has been just to his promise; follow Burns, he knew best, he knew whence he drew fire - from the poor, white-faced, drunken, vicious boy that raved himself to death in the Edinburgh madhouse. Surely there is more to be gleaned about Fergusson, and surely it is high time the task was set about. I way tell you (because your poet is not dead) something of how I feel: we are three Robins who have touched the Scots lyre this last century. Well, the one is the world's, he did it, he came off, he is for ever; but I and the other - ah! what bonds we have - born in the same city; both sickly, both pestered, one nearly to madness, one to the madhouse, with a damnatory creed; both seeing the stars and the dawn, and wearing shoe-leather on the same ancient stones, under the same pends, down the same closes, where our common ancestors clashed in their armour, rusty or bright. And the old Robin, who was before Burns and the flood, died in his acute, painful youth, and left the models of the great things that were to come; and the new, who came after, outlived his greensickness, and has faintly tried to parody the finished work. If you will collect the strays of Robin Fergusson, fish for material, collect any last re-echoing of gossip, command me to do what you prefer - to write the preface - to write the whole if you prefer: anything, so that another monument (after Burns's) be set up to my unhappy predecessor on the causey of Auld Reekie. You will never know, nor will any man, how deep this feeling is: I believe Fergusson lives in me. I do, but tell it not in Gath; every man has these fanciful superstitions, coming, going, but yet enduring; only most men are so wise (or the poet in them so dead) that they keep their follies for themselves. - I am, yours very truly,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Letter: TO EDMUND GOSSE
VAILIMA, APRIL 1891.
MY DEAR GOSSE, - I have to thank you and Mrs. Gosse for many mementoes, chiefly for your LIFE of your father. There is a very delicate task, very delicately done. I noted one or two carelessnesses, which I meant to point out to you for another edition; but I find I lack the time, and you will remark them for yourself against a new edition. They were two, or perhaps three, flabbinesses of style which (in your work) amazed me. Am I right in thinking you were a shade bored over the last chapters? or was it my own fault that made me think them susceptible of a more athletic compression? (The flabbinesses were not there, I think, but in the more admirable part, where they showed the bigger.) Take it all together, the book struck me as if you had been hurried at the last, but particularly hurried over the proofs, and could still spend a very profitable fortnight in earnest revision and (towards the end) heroic compression. The book, in design, subject, and general execution, is well worth the extra trouble. And even if I were wrong in thinking it specially wanted, it will not be lost; for do we not know, in Flaubert's dread confession, that 'prose is never done'? What a medium to work in, for a man tired, perplexed among different aims and subjects, and spurred by the immediate need of 'siller'! However, it's mine for what it's worth; and it's one of yours, the devil take it; and you know, as well as Flaubert, and as well as me, that it is NEVER DONE; in other words, it is a torment of the pit, usually neglected by the bards who (lucky beggars!) approached the Styx in measure. I speak bitterly at the moment, having just detected in myself the last fatal symptom, three blank verses in succession - and I believe, God help me, a hemistich at the tail of them; hence I have deposed the labourer, come out of hell by my private trap, and now write to you from my little place in purgatory. But I prefer hell: would I could always dig in those red coals - or else be at sea in a schooner, bound for isles unvisited: to be on shore and not to work is emptiness - suicidal vacancy.
I was the more interested in your LIFE of your father, because I meditate one of mine, or rather of my family. I have no such materials as you, and (our objections already made) your attack fills me with despair; it is direct and elegant, and your style is always admirable to me - lenity, lucidity, usually a high strain of breeding, an elegance that has a pleasant air of the accidental. But beware of purple passages. I wonder if you think as well of your purple passages as I do of mine? I wonder if you think as ill of mine as I do of yours? I wonder; I can tell you at least what is wrong with yours - they are treated in the spirit of verse. The spirit - I don't mean the measure, I don't mean you fall into bastard cadences; what I mean is that they seem vacant and smoothed out, ironed, if you like. And in a style which (like yours) aims more and more successfully at the academic, one purple word is already much; three - a whole phrase - is inadmissible. Wed yourself to a clean austerity: that is your force. Wear a linen ephod, splendidly candid. Arrange its folds, but do not fasten it with any brooch. I swear to you, in your talking robes, there should be no patch of adornment; and where the subject forces, let it force you no further than it must; and be ready with a twinkle of your pleasantry. Yours is a fine tool, and I see so well how to hold it; I wonder if you see how to hold mine? But then I am to the neck in prose, and just now in the 'dark INTERSTYLAR cave,' all methods and effects wooing me, myself in the midst impotent to follow any. I look for dawn presently, and a full flowing river of expression, running whither it wills. But these useless seasons, above all, when a man MUST continue to spoil paper, are infinitely weary.
We are in our house after a fashion; without furniture, 'tis true, camping there, like the family after a sale. But the bailiff has not yet appeared; he will probably come after. The place is beautiful beyond dreams; some fifty miles of the Pacific spread in front; deep woods all round; a mountain making in the sky a profile of huge trees upon our left; about us, the little island of our clearing, studded with brave old gentlemen (or ladies, or 'the twa o' them') whom we have spared. It is a good place to be in; night and morning, we have Theodore Rousseaus (always a new one) hung to amuse us on the walls of the world; and the moon - this is our good season, we have a moon just now - makes the night a piece of heaven. It amazes me how people can live on in the dirty north; yet if you saw our rainy season (which is really a caulker for wind, wet, and darkness - howling showers, roaring winds, pit- blackness at noon) you might marvel how we could endure that. And we can't. But there's a winter everywhere; only ours is in the summer. Mark my words: there will be a winter in heaven - and in hell. CELA RENTRE DANS LES PROCEDES DU BON DIEU; ET VOUS VERREZ! There's another very good thing about Vailima, I am away from the little bubble of the literary life. It is not all beer and skittles, is it? By the by, my BALLADS seem to have been dam bad; all the crickets sing so in their crickety papers; and I have no ghost of an idea on the point myself: verse is always to me the unknowable. You might tell me how it strikes a professional bard: not that it really matters, for, of course, good or bad, I don't think I shall get into THAT galley any more. But I should like to know if you join the shrill chorus of the crickets. The crickets are the devil in all to you: 'tis a strange thing, they seem to rejoice like a strong man in their injustice. I trust you got my letter about your Browning book. In case it missed, I wish to say again that your publication of Browning's kind letter, as an illustration of HIS character, was modest, proper, and in radiant good taste. - In Witness whereof, etc., etc.,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Letter: TO MISS RAWLINSON
VAILIMA, APIA, SAMOA, APRIL 1891.
MY DEAR MAY, - I never think of you by any more ceremonial name, so I will not pretend. There is not much chance that I shall forget you until the time comes for me to forget all this little turmoil in a corner (though indeed I have been in several corners) of an inconsiderable planet. You remain in my mind for a good reason, having given me (in so short a time) the most delightful pleasure. I shall remember, and you must still be beautiful. The truth is, you must grow more so, or you will soon be less. It is not so easy to be a flower, even when you bear a flower's name. And if I admired you so much, and still remember you, it is not because of your face, but because you were then worthy of it, as you must still continue.
Will you give my heartiest congratulations to Mr. S.? He has my admiration; he is a brave man; when I was young, I should have run away from the sight of you, pierced with the sense of my unfitness. He is more wise and manly. What a good husband he will have to be! And you - what a good wife! Carry your love tenderly. I will never forgive him - or you - it is in both your hands - if the face that once gladdened my heart should be changed into one sour or sorrowful.
What a person you are to give flowers! It was so I first heard of you; and now you are giving the May flower!
Yes, Skerryvore has passed; it was, for us. But I wish you could see us in our new home on the mountain, in the middle of great woods, and looking far out over the Pacific. When Mr. S. is very rich, he must bring you round the world and let you see it, and see the old gentleman and the old lady. I mean to live quite a long while yet, and my wife must do the same, or else I couldn't manage it; so, you see, you will have plenty of time; and it's a pity not to see the most beautiful places, and the most beautiful people moving there, and the real stars and moon overhead, instead of the tin imitations that preside over London. I do not think my wife very well; but I am in hopes she will now have a little rest. It has been a hard business, above all for her; we lived four months in the hurricane season in a miserable house, overborne with work, ill-fed, continually worried, drowned in perpetual rain, beaten upon by wind, so that we must sit in the dark in the evenings; and then I ran away, and she had a month of it alone. Things go better now; the back of the work is broken; and we are still foolish enough to look forward to a little peace. I am a very different person from the prisoner of Skerryvore. The other day I was three- and-twenty hours in an open boat; it made me pretty ill; but fancy its not killing me half-way! It is like a fairy story that I should have recovered liberty and strength, and should go round again among my fellow-men, boating, riding, bathing, toiling hard with a wood-knife in the forest. I can wish you nothing more delightful than my fortune in life; I wish it you; and better, if the thing be possible.
Lloyd is tinkling below me on the typewriter; my wife has just left the room; she asks me to say she would have written had she been well enough, and hopes to do it still. - Accept the best wishes of your admirer,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Letter: TO MISS ADELAIDE BOODLE
[VAILIMA, MAY 1891.]
MY DEAR ADELAIDE, - I will own you just did manage to tread on my gouty toe; and I beg to assure you with most people I should simply have turned away and said no more. My cudgelling was therefore in the nature of a caress or testimonial.
God forbid, I should seem to judge for you on such a point; it was what you seemed to set forth as your reasons that fluttered my old Presbyterian spirit - for, mind you, I am a child of the Covenanters - whom I do not love, but they are mine after all, my father's and my mother's - and they had their merits too, and their ugly beauties, and grotesque heroisms, that I love them for, the while I laugh at them; but in their name and mine do what you think right, and let the world fall. That is the privilege and the duty of private persons; and I shall think the more of you at the greater distance, because you keep a promise to your fellow-man, your helper and creditor in life, by just so much as I was tempted to think the less of you (O not much, or I would never have been angry) when I thought you were the swallower of a (tinfoil) formula.
I must say I was uneasy about my letter, not because it was too strong as an expression of my unregenerate sentiments, but because I knew full well it should be followed by something kinder. And the mischief has been in my health. I fell sharply sick in Sydney, was put aboard the LUBECK pretty bad, got to Vailima, hung on a month there, and didn't pick up as well as my work needed; set off on a journey, gained a great deal, lost it again; and am back at Vailima, still no good at my necessary work. I tell you this for my imperfect excuse that I should not have written you again sooner to remove the bad taste of my last.
A road has been called Adelaide Road; it leads from the back of our house to the bridge, and thence to the garden, and by a bifurcation to the pig pen. It is thus much traversed, particularly by Fanny. An oleander, the only one of your seeds that prospered in this climate, grows there; and the name is now some week or ten days applied and published. ADELAIDE ROAD leads also into the bush, to the banana patch, and by a second bifurcation over the left branch of the stream to the plateau and the right hand of the gorges. In short, it leads to all sorts of good, and is, besides, in itself a pretty winding path, bound downhill among big woods to the margin of the stream.
What a strange idea, to think me a Jew-hater! Isaiah and David and Heine are good enough for me; and I leave more unsaid. Were I of Jew blood, I do not think I could ever forgive the Christians; the ghettos would get in my nostrils like mustard or lit gunpowder. Just so you as being a child of the Presbytery, I retain - I need not dwell on that. The ascendant hand is what I feel most strongly; I am bound in and in with my forbears; were he one of mine, I should not be struck at all by Mr. Moss of Bevis Marks, I should still see behind him Moses of the Mount and the Tables and the shining face. We are all nobly born; fortunate those who know it; blessed those who remember.
I am, my dear Adelaide, most genuinely yours,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Write by return to say you are better, and I will try to do the same.
Letter: TO CHARLES BAXTER
[VAILIMA], TUESDAY, 19TH MAY '91.
MY DEAR CHARLES, - I don't know what you think of me, not having written to you at all during your illness. I find two sheets begun with your name, but that is no excuse. . . . I am keeping bravely; getting about better, every day, and hope soon to be in my usual fettle. My books begin to come; and I fell once more on the Old Bailey session papers. I have 1778, 1784, and 1786. Should you be able to lay hands on any other volumes, above all a little later, I should be very glad you should buy them for me. I particularly want ONE or TWO during the course of the Peninsular War. Come to think, I ought rather to have communicated this want to Bain. Would it bore you to communicate to that effect with the great man? The sooner I have them, the better for me. 'Tis for Henry Shovel. But Henry Shovel has now turned into a work called 'The Shovels of Newton French: Including Memoirs of Henry Shovel, a Private in the Peninsular War,' which work is to begin in 1664 with the marriage of Skipper, afterwards Alderman Shovel of Bristol, Henry's great- great-grandfather, and end about 1832 with his own second marriage to the daughter of his runaway aunt. Will the public ever stand such an opus? Gude kens, but it tickles me. Two or three historical personages will just appear: Judge Jeffreys, Wellington, Colquhoun, Grant, and I think Townsend the runner. I know the public won't like it; let 'em lump it then; I mean to make it good; it will be more like a saga. - Adieu, yours ever affectionately,
R. L. STEVENSON.
Letter: TO E. L. BURLINGAME
VAILIMA [SUMMER 1891].
MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - I find among my grandfather's papers his own reminiscences of his voyage round the north with Sir Walter, eighty years ago, LABUNTUR ANNI! They are not remarkably good, but he was not a bad observer, and several touches seem to me speaking. It has occurred to me you might like them to appear in the MAGAZINE. If you would, kindly let me know, and tell me how you would like it handled. My grandad's MS. runs to between six and seven thousand words, which I could abbreviate of anecdotes that scarce touch Sir W. Would you like this done? Would you like me to introduce the old gentleman? I had something of the sort in my mind, and could fill a few columns rather A PROPOS. I give you the first offer of this, according to your request; for though it may forestall one of the interests of my biography, the thing seems to me particularly suited for prior appearance in a magazine.
I see the first number of the WRECKER; I thought it went lively enough; and by a singular accident, the picture is not unlike Tai- o-hae!
Thus we see the age of miracles, etc. - Yours very sincerely,
R. L. S.
Proofs for next mail.
Letter: TO W. CRAIBE ANGUS
DEAR MR. ANGUS, - You can use my letter as you will. The parcel has not come; pray Heaven the next post bring it safe. Is it possible for me to write a preface here? I will try if you like, if you think I must: though surely there are Rivers in Assyria. Of course you will send me sheets of the catalogue; I suppose it (the preface) need not be long; perhaps it should be rather very short? Be sure you give me your views upon these points. Also tell me what names to mention among those of your helpers, and do remember to register everything, else it is not safe.
The true place (in my view) for a monument to Fergusson were the churchyard of Haddington. But as that would perhaps not carry many votes, I should say one of the two following sites:- First, either as near the site of the old Bedlam as we could get, or, second, beside the Cross, the heart of his city. Upon this I would have a fluttering butterfly, and, I suggest, the citation,
Poor butterfly, thy case I mourn.
For the case of Fergusson is not one to pretend about. A more miserable tragedy the sun never shone upon, or (in consideration of our climate) I should rather say refused to brighten. - Yours truly,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Where Burns goes will not matter. He is no local poet, like your Robin the First; he is general as the casing air. Glasgow, as the chief city of Scottish men, would do well; but for God's sake, don't let it be like the Glasgow memorial to Knox: I remember, when I first saw this, laughing for an hour by Shrewsbury clock.
R. L. S.
Letter: TO H. C. IDE
[VAILIMA, JUNE 19, 1891.]
DEAR MR. IDE, - Herewith please find the DOCUMENT, which I trust will prove sufficient in law. It seems to me very attractive in its eclecticism; Scots, English, and Roman law phrases are all indifferently introduced, and a quotation from the works of Haynes Bayly can hardly fail to attract the indulgence of the Bench. - Yours very truly,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
I, Robert Louis Stevenson, Advocate of the Scots Bar, author of THE MASTER OF BALLANTRAE and MORAL EMBLEMS, stuck civil engineer, sole owner and patentee of the Palace and Plantation known as Vailima in the island of Upolu, Samoa, a British Subject, being in sound mind, and pretty well, I thank you, in body:
In consideration that Miss Annie H. Ide, daughter of H. C. Ide, in the town of Saint Johnsbury, in the county of Caledonia, in the state of Vermont, United States of America, was born, out of all reason, upon Christmas Day, and is therefore out of all justice denied the consolation and profit of a proper birthday;
And considering that I, the said Robert Louis Stevenson, have attained an age when O, we never mention it, and that I have now no further use for a birthday of any description;
And in consideration that I have met H. C. Ide, the father of the said Annie H. Ide, and found him about as white a land commissioner as I require:
HAVE TRANSFERRED, and DO HEREBY TRANSFER, to the said Annie H. Ide, ALL AND WHOLE my rights and priviledges in the thirteenth day of November, formerly my birthday, now, hereby, and henceforth, the birthday of the said Annie H. Ide, to have, hold, exercise, and enjoy the same in the customary manner, by the sporting of fine raiment, eating of rich meats, and receipt of gifts, compliments, and copies of verse, according to the manner of our ancestors;
AND I DIRECT the said Annie H. Ide to add to the said name of Annie H. Ide the name Louisa - at least in private; and I charge her to use my said birthday with moderation and humanity, ET TAMQUAM BONA FILIA FAMILIAE, the said birthday not being so young as it once was, and having carried me in a very satisfactory manner since I can remember;
And in case the said Annie H. Ide shall neglect or contravene either of the above conditions, I hereby revoke the donation and transfer my rights in the said birthday to the President of the United States of America for the time being:
In witness whereof I have hereto set my hand and seal this nineteenth day of June in the year of grace eighteen hundred and ninety-one.
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
WITNESS, LLOYD OSBOURNE, WITNESS, HAROLD WATTS.
Letter: TO HENRY JAMES
[VAILIMA, OCTOBER 1891.]
MY DEAR HENRY JAMES, - From this perturbed and hunted being expect but a line, and that line shall be but a whoop for Adela. O she's delicious, delicious; I could live and die with Adela - die, rather the better of the two; you never did a straighter thing, and never will.
DAVID BALFOUR, second part of KIDNAPPED, is on the stocks at last; and is not bad, I think. As for THE WRECKER, it's a machine, you know - don't expect aught else - a machine, and a police machine; but I believe the end is one of the most genuine butcheries in literature; and we point to our machine with a modest pride, as the only police machine without a villain. Our criminals are a most pleasing crew, and leave the dock with scarce a stain upon their character.
What a different line of country to be trying to draw Adela, and trying to write the last four chapters of THE WRECKER! Heavens, it's like two centuries; and ours is such rude, transpontine business, aiming only at a certain fervour of conviction and sense of energy and violence in the men; and yours is so neat and bright and of so exquisite a surface! Seems dreadful to send such a book to such an author; but your name is on the list. And we do modestly ask you to consider the chapters on the NORAH CREINA with the study of Captain Nares, and the forementioned last four, with their brutality of substance and the curious (and perhaps unsound) technical manoeuvre of running the story together to a point as we go along, the narrative becoming more succinct and the details fining off with every page. - Sworn affidavit of
R. L. S.
NO PERSON NOW ALIVE HAS BEATEN ADELA: I ADORE ADELA AND HER MAKER. SIC SUBSCRIB.
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
A Sublime Poem to follow.
Adela, Adela, Adela Chart, What have you done to my elderly heart? Of all the ladies of paper and ink I count you the paragon, call you the pink. The word of your brother depicts you in part: 'You raving maniac!' Adela Chart; But in all the asylums that cumber the ground, So delightful a maniac was ne'er to be found.
I pore on you, dote on you, clasp you to heart, I laud, love, and laugh at you, Adela Chart, And thank my dear maker the while I admire That I can be neither your husband nor sire.
Your husband's, your sire's were a difficult part; You're a byway to suicide, Adela Chart; But to read of, depicted by exquisite James, O, sure you're the flower and quintessence of dames.
R. L. S.
ERUCTAVIT COR MEUM.
My heart was inditing a goodly matter about Adela Chart. Though oft I've been touched by the volatile dart, To none have I grovelled but Adela Chart, There are passable ladies, no question, in art - But where is the marrow of Adela Chart? I dreamed that to Tyburn I passed in the cart - I dreamed I was married to Adela Chart: From the first I awoke with a palpable start, The second dumfoundered me, Adela Chart!
Another verse bursts from me, you see; no end to the violence of the Muse.
Letter: TO E. L. BURLINGAME
OCTOBER 8TH, 1891.
MY DEAR BURLINGAME, - All right, you shall have the TALES OF MY GRANDFATHER soon, but I guess we'll try and finish off THE WRECKER first. A PROPOS of whom, please send some advanced sheets to Cassell's - away ahead of you - so that they may get a dummy out.
Do you wish to illustrate MY GRANDFATHER? He mentions as excellent a portrait of Scott by Basil Hall's brother. I don't think I ever saw this engraved; would it not, if you could get track of it, prove a taking embellishment? I suggest this for your consideration and inquiry. A new portrait of Scott strikes me as good. There is a hard, tough, constipated old portrait of my grandfather hanging in my aunt's house, Mrs. Alan Stevenson, 16 St. Leonard's Terrace, Chelsea, which has never been engraved - the better portrait, Joseph's bust has been reproduced, I believe, twice - and which, I am sure, my aunt would let you have a copy of. The plate could be of use for the book when we get so far, and thus to place it in the MAGAZINE might be an actual saving.