As if people don't get lost in love, too, and die of devotion to art; as if everything worth were not an occasion to some people's end.
What a wintry letter this is! Only I think it is winter seen from the inside of a warm greatcoat. And there is, at least, a warm heart about it somewhere. Do you know, what they say in Xmas stories is true? I think one loves their friends more dearly at this season. - Ever your faithful friend,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN
17 HERIOT ROAD, EDINBURGH [JANUARY 1875].
MY DEAR COLVIN, - I have worked too hard; I have given myself one day of rest, and that was not enough; I am giving myself another. I shall go to bed again likewise so soon as this is done, and slumber most potently.
9 P.M., slept all afternoon like a lamb.
About my coming south, I think the still small unanswerable voice of coins will make it impossible until the session is over (end of March); but for all that, I think I shall hold out jolly. I do not want you to come and bother yourself; indeed, it is still not quite certain whether my father will be quite fit for you, although I have now no fear of that really. Now don't take up this wrongly; I wish you could come; and I do not know anything that would make me happier, but I see that it is wrong to expect it, and so I resign myself: some time after. I offered Appleton a series of papers on the modern French school - the Parnassiens, I think they call them - de Banville, Coppee, Soulary, and Sully Prudhomme. But he has not deigned to answer my letter.
I shall have another Portfolio paper so soon as I am done with this story, that has played me out; the story is to be called WHEN THE DEVIL WAS WELL: scene, Italy, Renaissance; colour, purely imaginary of course, my own unregenerate idea of what Italy then was. O, when shall I find the story of my dreams, that shall never halt nor wander nor step aside, but go ever before its face, and ever swifter and louder, until the pit receives it, roaring? The Portfolio paper will be about Scotland and England. - Ever yours,
R. L. STEVENSON.
Letter: TO MRS. SITWELL
EDINBURGH, TUESDAY [FEBRUARY 1875].
I GOT your nice long gossiping letter to-day - I mean by that that there was more news in it than usual - and so, of course, I am pretty jolly. I am in the house, however, with such a beastly cold in the head. Our east winds begin already to be very cold.
O, I have such a longing for children of my own; and yet I do not think I could bear it if I had one. I fancy I must feel more like a woman than like a man about that. I sometimes hate the children I see on the street - you know what I mean by hate - wish they were somewhere else, and not there to mock me; and sometimes, again, I don't know how to go by them for the love of them, especially the very wee ones.
THURSDAY. - I have been still in the house since I wrote, and I HAVE worked. I finished the Italian story; not well, but as well as I can just now; I must go all over it again, some time soon, when I feel in the humour to better and perfect it. And now I have taken up an old story, begun years ago; and I have now re-written all I had written of it then, and mean to finish it. What I have lost and gained is odd. As far as regards simple writing, of course, I am in another world now; but in some things, though more clumsy, I seem to have been freer and more plucky: this is a lesson I have taken to heart. I have got a jolly new name for my old story. I am going to call it A COUNTRY DANCE; the two heroes keep changing places, you know; and the chapter where the most of this changing goes on is to be called 'Up the middle, down the middle.' It will be in six, or (perhaps) seven chapters. I have never worked harder in my life than these last four days. If I can only keep it up.
SATURDAY. - Yesterday, Leslie Stephen, who was down here to lecture, called on me and took me up to see a poor fellow, a poet who writes for him, and who has been eighteen months in our infirmary, and may be, for all I know, eighteen months more.