Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson

Part 2 out of 7

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

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

R. L S.



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

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

A thousand thanks for your grand letter, ever yours,

R. L. S.

Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY


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

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

Love to all. - Yours affectionately,

R. L. S.


Letter: To R. A. M. STEVENSON


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

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

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

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

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

Love to you all. - Ever your afft.,




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

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

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

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

R. L. S.

Letter: TO W. H. LOW


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




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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

R. L. S.



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

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

R. L. S.

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

R. L. S.


[SARANAC, NOVEMBER 20 OR 21, 1887.]

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

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

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

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




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

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

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




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


Letter: TO J. A. SYMONDS


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


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

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

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

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

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


Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY


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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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


Could it be Warminster?



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

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




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

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

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

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


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

R. L. S.

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



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

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

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

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




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


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

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

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

R. L. S.



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

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

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


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

R. L. S.



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

R. L S.

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



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

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

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

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


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

R. L. S.



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

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

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

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

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




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

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

I would rise from the dead to preach!

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

R. L. S.

Tell Shaw to hurry up: I want another.



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




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


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

R. L. S.



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

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

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


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



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

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

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

R. L. S.



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




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

R. L. S.

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

R. L. S.



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

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

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




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

That fact is an adminicle of excuse for my delay.

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


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


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

R. L. S.



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

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

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

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




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

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

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




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

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




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




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




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

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

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

R. L. S.




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

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

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

R. L. S.



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

R. L. S.



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

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



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




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

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

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




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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

R. L. S.



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


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