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The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson - Volume 1
by Robert Louis Stevenson
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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.



Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN



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.



Letter: TO PROFESSOR AENEAS MACKAY



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 sincerely,

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.



Letter: TO PROFESSOR AENEAS MACKAY



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

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

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

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.



Letter: TO EDMUND GOSSE



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 testimonially,

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.



Letter: TO EDMUND GOSSE



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? VIENS. - Yours,

R. L. S.



Letter: TO P. G. HAMERTON



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 bridegroom.

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

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

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

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

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

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.



Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN



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 believe.

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

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

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

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

Believe me, dear Colvin, ever yours,

R. L. S.

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

'The Merry Men'

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



Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY



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 Athenaeum yet with that; and, believe me, you might and would be far better, the author of a readable book. - Yours ever,

R. L. S.

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

Grunty-pig (when he is scratched), Rose-mouth (when he comes flying up with his rose-leaf tongue depending), and Hoofen-boots (when he has had his foots wet). How would TALES FOR WINTER NIGHTS do?



Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY



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 glory.

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

R. L. S.



Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN



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



Letter: TO DR. ALEXANDER JAPP



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) morning.

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



Letter: TO MRS. SITWELL



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.



Letter: TO EDMUND GOSSE



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.



Letter: TO EDMUND GOSSE



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.



Letter: TO EDMUND GOSSE



[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.



Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY



BRAEMAR [AUGUST 25, 1881].

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

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

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

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

R. L. S.

Author of BOYS' STORIES.



Letter: TO DR. ALEXANDER JAPP



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.



Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY



BRAEMAR, SEPTEMBER 1881.

MY DEAR HENLEY, - Thanks for your last. The 100 pounds fell through, or dwindled at least into somewhere about 30 pounds. However, that I've taken as a mouthful, so you may look out for 'The Sea Cook, or Treasure Island: A Tale of the Buccaneers,' in YOUNG FOLKS. (The terms are 2 pounds, 10s. a page of 4500 words; that's not noble, is it? But I have my copyright safe. I don't get illustrated - a blessing; that's the price I have to pay for my 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.' (13) 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 pounds, 10s. So we've 12 pounds, 10s. already.

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

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

R. L. S.



Letter: TO THOMAS STEVENSON



[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.



Letter: TO P. G. HAMERTON



CHALET 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 CONFRERES at the bar.

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

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

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

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.



Letter: TO CHARLES BAXTER



[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.



Letter: TO MRS. THOMAS STEVENSON



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 Prattigau. I kept up as long as I could in an imitation of a street singer:-

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

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

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

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

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

R. L. S.



Letter: TO ALISON CUNNINGHAM



[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.



Letter: TO CHARLES BAXTER



[CHALET AM STEIN, DAVOS], 22ND 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.



Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY



[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 know.

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

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

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

R. L. S.



Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY



[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'OEIL! but was it not over-done, even for a coronation - almost a vulgar luxury? And eleven is certainly too late to begin dinner. (It was really 6.30 instead of 5.30.)

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

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

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.



Letter: TO ALEXANDER IRELAND



[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 me.

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

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

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.



Letter: TO EDMUND GOSSE.



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 Osbourne.

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

R. L. S.



Letter: TO DR. ALEXANDER JAPP



[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.



Letter: TO DR. ALEXANDER JAPP



CHALET 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.



Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY



[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 MONSTRUOSITES. Vernon's conduct makes a wonderful odd contrast with Daniel Deronda's. I see more and more that Meredith is built for immortality.

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

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

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

R. L. S.

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



Letter: TO MRS. T. STEVENSON



[CHALET AM STEIN, DAVOS, APRIL 9, 1882.]

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

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

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

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

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

R. L. STEVENSON.



Letter: TO EDMUND GOSSE



[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+7.5 = 12.5 hours and being (9 A.M.) very anxious to sleep again. The arms of Porpus, quoi! A poppy gules, etc.

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

R. L. S.

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



Letter: TO EDMUND GOSSE



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.



Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY



[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 riddle.

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

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

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

R. L S.



CHAPTER VI - MARSEILLES AND HYERES, OCTOBER 1882-AUGUST 1884



Letter: TO THE EDITOR OF THE 'NEW YORK TRIBUNE'



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 borrowing.

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

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

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

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.



Letter: TO R. A. M. 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 pounds per annum.

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

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

R. L. S.



Letter: TO THOMAS STEVENSON



TERMINUS HOTEL, MARSEILLE, LE 17TH 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 ATHENAEUM. 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!



Letter: TO MRS. THOMAS STEVENSON



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.



Letter: TO CHARLES BAXTER



GRAND HOTEL, NICE, 12TH JANUARY '83.

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

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

THOMSON.



Letter: TO ALISON CUNNINGHAM



[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.



Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY



[NICE, MARCH 1883.]

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

But here is my notion to make all clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE PENNY WHISTLE: NURSERY VERSES BY 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 WHISTLES.

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.

SUGGESTIONS.

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.



Letter: TO MRS. THOMAS STEVENSON



HOTEL DES ILES D'OR, HYERES, 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.

HEALTH.

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.

LODGING.

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, Hyeres-les-Palmiers, Var.

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.



Letter: TO THOMAS STEVENSON



HOTEL DES ILES D'OR, BUT MY ADDRESS WILL BE CHALET LA SOLITUDE, HYERES-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 pounds has just arrived; many thanks; I am now at ease. - Ever your affectionate son, PRO Cassandra, Wogg and Co.,

R. L. S.



Letter: TO MRS. SITWELL



CHALET LA SOLITUDE, HYERES, [APRIL 1883].

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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