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.

The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson - Volume 1 Page 60

Robert Louis Stevenson

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book