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,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Letter: TO HENRY JAMES
SARANAC LAKE, WINTER 1887-8.
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 you.
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,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
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.
Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN
SARANAC LAKE [DECEMBER 1887].
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.