This is the first letter I've written for - O I don't know how long.
JULY 30TH. - This is, I suppose, three weeks after I began. Do, please, forgive me.
To the Highlands, first, to the Jenkins', then to Antwerp; thence, by canoe with Simpson, to Paris and Grez (on the Loing, and an old acquaintance of mine on the skirts of Fontainebleau) to complete our cruise next spring (if we're all alive and jolly) by Loing and Loire, Saone and Rhone to the Mediterranean. It should make a jolly book of gossip, I imagine.
God bless you.
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
P.S. - VIRGINIBUS PUERISQUE is in August CORNHILL. 'Charles of Orleans' is finished, and sent to Stephen; 'Idlers' ditto, and sent to Grove; but I've no word of either. So I've not been idle.
R. L. S.
Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY
CHAUNY, AISNE [SEPTEMBER 1876].
MY DEAR HENLEY, - Here I am, you see; and if you will take to a map, you will observe I am already more than two doors from Antwerp, whence I started. I have fought it through under the worst weather I ever saw in France; I have been wet through nearly every day of travel since the second (inclusive); besides this, I have had to fight against pretty mouldy health; so that, on the whole, the essayist and reviewer has shown, I think, some pluck. Four days ago I was not a hundred miles from being miserably drowned, to the immense regret of a large circle of friends and the permanent impoverishment of British Essayism and Reviewery. My boat culbutted me under a fallen tree in a very rapid current; and I was a good while before I got on to the outside of that fallen tree; rather a better while than I cared about. When I got up, I lay some time on my belly, panting, and exuded fluid. All my symptoms JUSQU' ICI are trifling. But I've a damned sore throat. - Yours ever,
R. L. S.
Letter: TO MRS. SITWELL
17 HERIOT ROW, EDINBURGH, MAY 1877.
. . . A PERFECT chorus of repudiation is sounding in my ears; and although you say nothing, I know you must be repudiating me, all the same. Write I cannot - there's no good mincing matters, a letter frightens me worse than the devil; and I am just as unfit for correspondence as if I had never learned the three R.'s.
Let me give my news quickly before I relapse into my usual idleness. I have a terror lest I should relapse before I get this finished. Courage, R. L. S.! On Leslie Stephen's advice, I gave up the idea of a book of essays. He said he didn't imagine I was rich enough for such an amusement; and moreover, whatever was worth publication was worth republication. So the best of those I had ready: 'An Apology for Idlers' is in proof for the CORNHILL. I have 'Villon' to do for the same magazine, but God knows when I'll get it done, for drums, trumpets - I'm engaged upon - trumpets, drums - a novel! 'THE HAIR TRUNK; OR, THE IDEAL COMMONWEALTH.' It is a most absurd story of a lot of young Cambridge fellows who are going to found a new society, with no ideas on the subject, and nothing but Bohemian tastes in the place of ideas; and who are - well, I can't explain about the trunk - it would take too long - but the trunk is the fun of it - everybody steals it; burglary, marine fight, life on desert island on west coast of Scotland, sloops, etc. The first scene where they make their grand schemes and get drunk is supposed to be very funny, by Henley. I really saw him laugh over it until he cried.
Please write to me, although I deserve it so little, and show a Christian spirit. - Ever your faithful friend,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN
[EDINBURGH, AUGUST 1877.]
MY DEAR COLVIN, - I'm to be whipped away to-morrow to Penzance, where at the post-office a letter will find me glad and grateful. I am well, but somewhat tired out with overwork. I have only been home a fortnight this morning, and I have already written to the tune of forty-five CORNHILL pages and upwards. The most of it was only very laborious re-casting and re-modelling, it is true; but it took it out of me famously, all the same.