It is HORRID FUN. All I ask is more of it. Thank you for the pleasure you gave us, and tell me more of the inimitable author.

(I say, Archer, my God, what women!) - Yours very truly,

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

Letter: TO WILLIAM ARCHER

SARANAC, FEBRUARY 1888.

MY DEAR ARCHER, - Pretty sick in bed; but necessary to protest and continue your education.

Why was Jenkin an amateur in my eyes? You think because not amusing (I think he often was amusing). The reason is this: I never, or almost never, saw two pages of his work that I could not have put in one without the smallest loss of material. That is the only test I know of writing. If there is anywhere a thing said in two sentences that could have been as clearly and as engagingly and as forcibly said in one, then it's amateur work. Then you will bring me up with old Dumas. Nay, the object of a story is to be long, to fill up hours; the story-teller's art of writing is to water out by continual invention, historical and technical, and yet not seem to water; seem on the other hand to practise that same wit of conspicuous and declaratory condensation which is the proper art of writing. That is one thing in which my stories fail: I am always cutting the flesh off their bones.

I would rise from the dead to preach!

Hope all well. I think my wife better, but she's not allowed to write; and this (only wrung from me by desire to Boss and Parsonise and Dominate, strong in sickness) is my first letter for days, and will likely be my last for many more. Not blame my wife for her silence: doctor's orders. All much interested by your last, and fragment from brother, and anecdotes of Tomarcher. - The sick but still Moral

R. L. S.

Tell Shaw to hurry up: I want another.

Letter: TO WILLIAM ARCHER

[SARANAC, SPRING 1888?]

MY DEAR ARCHER, - It happened thus. I came forth from that performance in a breathing heat of indignation. (Mind, at this distance of time and with my increased knowledge, I admit there is a problem in the piece; but I saw none then, except a problem in brutality; and I still consider the problem in that case not established.) On my way down the FRANCAIS stairs, I trod on an old gentleman's toes, whereupon with that suavity that so well becomes me, I turned about to apologise, and on the instant, repenting me of that intention, stopped the apology midway, and added something in French to this effect: No, you are one of the LACHES who have been applauding that piece. I retract my apology. Said the old Frenchman, laying his hand on my arm, and with a smile that was truly heavenly in temperance, irony, good-nature, and knowledge of the world, 'Ah, monsieur, vous etes bien jeune!' - Yours very truly,

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

Letter: TO E. L. BURLINGAME

SARANAC [FEBRUARY 1888].

DEAR MR. BURLINGAME, - Will you send me (from the library) some of the works of my dear old G. P. R. James. With the following especially I desire to make or to renew acquaintance: THE SONGSTER, THE GIPSY, THE CONVICT, THE STEPMOTHER, THE GENTLEMAN OF THE OLD SCHOOL, THE ROBBER.

EXCUSEZ DU PEU.

This sudden return to an ancient favourite hangs upon an accident. The 'Franklin County Library' contains two works of his, THE CAVALIER and MORLEY ERNSTEIN. I read the first with indescribable amusement - it was worse than I had feared, and yet somehow engaging; the second (to my surprise) was better than I had dared to hope: a good honest, dull, interesting tale, with a genuine old-fashioned talent in the invention when not strained; and a genuine old-fashioned feeling for the English language. This experience awoke appetite, and you see I have taken steps to stay it.

R. L. S.

Letter: TO E. L. BURLINGAME

[SARANAC, FEBRUARY 1888.]

DEAR MR. BURLINGAME, - 1. Of course then don't use it. Dear Man, I write these to please you, not myself, and you know a main sight better than I do what is good. In that case, however, I enclose another paper, and return the corrected proof of PULVIS ET UMBRA, so that we may be afloat.

The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson - Volume 2 Page 35

Robert Louis Stevenson

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