The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson Volume 1/Chapter IV

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson Volume 1 by Robert Louis Stevenson
Chapter IV: The Amateur Emigrant, Monterey and San Francisco, July 1879-July 1880


Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN


ON BOARD SS. 'DEVONIA,' AN HOUR OR TWO OUT OF NEW YORK [AUGUST 1879].

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

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

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

R. L. S.

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


Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN


[IN THE EMIGRANT TRAIN FROM NEW YORK TO SAN FRANCISCO, AUGUST 1879.]

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

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


Of where or how, I nothing know; And why, I do not care; Enough if, even so, My travelling eyes, my travelling mind can go By flood and field and hill, by wood and meadow fair, Beside the Susquehannah and along the Delaware. I think, I hope, I dream no more The dreams of otherwhere, The cherished thoughts of yore; I have been changed from what I was before; And drunk too deep perchance the lotus of the air Beside the Susquehannah and along the Delaware. Unweary God me yet shall bring To lands of brighter air, Where I, now half a king, Shall with enfranchised spirit loudlier sing, And wear a bolder front than that which now I wear Beside the Susquehannah and along the Delaware.


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

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

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

R. L. S.


Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY


CROSSING NEBRASKA [SATURDAY, AUGUST 23, 1879].

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

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

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

R. L S.


Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN


[COAST LINE MOUNTAINS, CALIFORNIA, SEPTEMBER 1879.]

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

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

R. L. S.


Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN


MONTEREY, DITTO CO., CALIFORNIA, 21ST OCTOBER [1879].

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

R. L. S.


Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN


MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA, SEPTEMBER 1879.

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

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

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

R. L. S.


Letter: TO EDMUND GOSSE


MONTEREY, MONTEREY CO., CALIFORNIA, 8TH OCTOBER 1879.

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

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

My new book, THE AMATEUR EMIGRANT, is about half drafted. I don't know if it will be good, but I think it ought to sell in spite of the deil and the publishers; for it tells an odd enough experience, and one, I think, never yet told before. Look for my 'Burns' in the CORNHILL, and for my 'Story of a Lie' in Paul's withered babe, the NEW QUARTERLY. You may have seen the latter ere this reaches you: tell me if it has any interest, like a good boy, and remember that it was written at sea in great anxiety of mind. What is your news? Send me your works, like an angel, AU FUR ET A MESURE of their apparition, for I am naturally short of literature, and I do not wish to rust.

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

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

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

R L S.


Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY


[MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA, OCTOBER 1879.]

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

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

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

R. L. S.


Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY


[MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA, OCTOBER 1879.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


Letter: TO P. G. HAMERTON


MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA [NOVEMBER 1879].

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

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

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

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

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


Letter: TO EDMUND GOSSE


MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA, 15TH NOVEMBER 1879.

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

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

R. L S.

I try it again by daylight. Once more in bed however; for to-day it is MUCHO FRIO, as we Spaniards say; and I had no other means of keeping warm for my work. I have done a good spell, 9 and a half foolscap pages; at least 8 of CORNHILL; ah, if I thought that I could get eight guineas for it. My trouble is that I am all too ambitious just now. A book whereof 70 out of 120 are scrolled. A novel whereof 85 out of, say, 140 are pretty well nigh done. A short story of 50 pp., which shall be finished to-morrow, or I'll know the reason why. This may bring in a lot of money: but I dread to think that it is all on three chances. If the three were to fail, I am in a bog. The novel is called A VENDETTA IN THE WEST. I see I am in a grasping, dismal humour, and should, as we Americans put it, quit writing. In truth, I am so haunted by anxieties that one or other is sure to come up in all that I write.

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

R. L. S.


Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN


[MONTEREY, DECEMBER 1879.]

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

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

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

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

R. L. S.


Letter: To EDMUND GOSSE


MONTEREY, MONTEREY CO., CALIFORNIA, DEC. 8, 1879.

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

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

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

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

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

R. L. S.

'Too young to be our child': blooming good.


Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN


608 BUSH STREET, SAN FRANCISCO [DECEMBER 26, 1879].

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

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

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

R. L. S.


Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN


608 BUSH STREET, SAN FRANCISCO [JANUARY 10, 1880].

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

R. L. S.


Letter: TO CHARLES BAXTER


608 BUSH STREET, SAN FRANCISCO, JAN. 26, '80

MY DEAR CHARLES, - I have to drop from a 50 cent. to a 25 cent. dinner; to-day begins my fall. That brings down my outlay in food and drink to 45 cents., or 1s. 10 and a half d. per day. How are the mighty fallen! Luckily, this is such a cheap place for food; I used to pay as much as that for my first breakfast in the Savile in the grand old palmy days of yore. I regret nothing, and do not even dislike these straits, though the flesh will rebel on occasion. It is to-day bitter cold, after weeks of lovely warm weather, and I am all in a chitter. I am about to issue for my little shilling and halfpenny meal, taken in the middle of the day, the poor man's hour; and I shall eat and drink to your prosperity. - Ever yours,

R. L. S.


Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN


608 BUSH STREET, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA [JANUARY 1880].

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

The VENDETTA you will not much like, I dare say: and that must be finished next; but I'll knock you with THE FOREST STATE: A ROMANCE.

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

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

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

R. L. S.


Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY


608 BUSH STREET, SAN FRANCISCO, CAL., FEBRUARY 1880.

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

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

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

R. L. S.


Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN


608 BUSH STREET, SAN FRANCISCO, [MARCH 1880].

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

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

R. L. S.


Letter: TO EDMUND GOSSE


SAN FRANCISCO, CAL., APRIL 16 [1880].

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

R. L. S.


Letter: TO DR. W. BAMFORD


[SAN FRANCISCO, APRIL 1880.]

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

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

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN


[SAN FRANCISCO, APRIL 1880.]

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

R. L. S.


Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN


[SAN FRANCISCO, APRIL 1880.]

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

R. L. S.


Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN


[SAN FRANCISCO, MAY 1880.]

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

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

I to the hills. - Yours ever,

R. L. S.


Letter: TO C. W. STODDARD


EAST OAKLAND, CAL., MAY 1880.

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

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

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

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

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN


[SAN FRANCISCO, MAY 1880.]

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

CALISTOGA, NAPA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA.

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

Received James's HAWTHORNE, on which I meditate a blast, Miss Bird, Dixon's PENN, a WRONG CORNHILL (like my luck) and COQUELIN: for all which, and especially the last, I tender my best thanks. I have opened only James; it is very clever, very well written, and out of sight the most inside-out thing in the world; I have dug up the hatchet; a scalp shall flutter at my belt ere long. I think my new book should be good; it will contain our adventures for the summer, so far as these are worth narrating; and I have already a few pages of diary which should make up bright. I am going to repeat my old experiment, after buckling-to a while to write more correctly, lie down and have a wallow. Whether I shall get any of my novels done this summer I do not know; I wish to finish the VENDETTA first, for it really could not come after PRINCE OTTO. Lewis Campbell has made some noble work in that Agamemnon; it surprised me. We hope to get a house at Silverado, a deserted mining-camp eight miles up the mountain, now solely inhabited by a mighty hunter answering to the name of Rufe Hansome, who slew last year a hundred and fifty deer. This is the motto I propose for the new volume: 'VIXERUNT NONNULLI IN AGRIS, DELECTATI RE SUA FAMILIARI. HIS IDEM PROPOSITUM FUIT QUOD REGIBUS, UT NE QUA RE EGERENT, NE CUI PARERENT, LIBERTATE UTERENTUR; CUJUS PROPRIUM EST SIC VIVERE UT VELIS.' I always have a terror lest the wish should have been father to the translation, when I come to quote; but that seems too plain sailing. I should put REGIBUS in capitals for the pleasantry's sake. We are in the Coast Range, that being so much cheaper to reach; the family, I hope, will soon follow. - Love to all, ever yours,

R. L. S.