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
AN OLD, OLD MAN.
I say, Taine's ORIGINES DE LA FRANCE CONTEMPORAINE is no end; it would turn the dead body of Charles Fox into a living Tory.
Letter: TO MRS. FLEEMING JENKIN
[SARANAC LAKE, DECEMBER 1887.]
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,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Letter: TO MISS ADELAIDE BOODLE
[SARANAC LAKE, DECEMBER 1887.]
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.