The last weight on me has been trying to keep notes for this purpose. Indeed, I have worked like a horse, and am now as tired as a donkey. If I should have to push on far by rail, I shall bring nothing but my fine bones to port.
Good-bye to you all. I suppose it is now late afternoon with you and all across the seas. What shall I find over there? I dare not wonder. - Ever yours,
R. L. S.
P.S. - I go on my way to-night, if I can; if not, tomorrow: emigrant train ten to fourteen days' journey; warranted extreme discomfort. The only American institution which has yet won my respect is the rain. One sees it is a new country, they are so free with their water. I have been steadily drenched for twenty- four hours; water-proof wet through; immortal spirit fitfully blinking up in spite. Bought a copy of my own work, and the man said 'by Stevenson.' - 'Indeed,' says I. - 'Yes, sir,' says he. - Scene closes.
Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN
[IN THE EMIGRANT TRAIN FROM NEW YORK TO SAN FRANCISCO, AUGUST 1879.]
DEAR COLVIN, - I am in the cars between Pittsburgh and Chicago, just now bowling through Ohio. I am taking charge of a kid, whose mother is asleep, with one eye, while I write you this with the other. I reached N.Y. Sunday night; and by five o'clock Monday was under way for the West. It is now about ten on Wednesday morning, so I have already been about forty hours in the cars. It is impossible to lie down in them, which must end by being very wearying.
I had no idea how easy it was to commit suicide. There seems nothing left of me; I died a while ago; I do not know who it is that is travelling.
Of where or how, I nothing know; And why, I do not care; Enough if, even so, My travelling eyes, my travelling mind can go By flood and field and hill, by wood and meadow fair, Beside the Susquehannah and along the Delaware. I think, I hope, I dream no more The dreams of otherwhere, The cherished thoughts of yore; I have been changed from what I was before; And drunk too deep perchance the lotus of the air Beside the Susquehannah and along the Delaware. Unweary God me yet shall bring To lands of brighter air, Where I, now half a king, Shall with enfranchised spirit loudlier sing, And wear a bolder front than that which now I wear Beside the Susquehannah and along the Delaware.
Exit Muse, hurried by child's games. . . .
Have at you again, being now well through Indiana. In America you eat better than anywhere else: fact. The food is heavenly.
No man is any use until he has dared everything; I feel just now as if I had, and so might become a man. 'If ye have faith like a grain of mustard seed.' That is so true! just now I have faith as big as a cigar-case; I will not say die, and do not fear man nor fortune.
R. L. S.
Letter: TO W. E. HENLEY
CROSSING NEBRASKA [SATURDAY, AUGUST 23, 1879].
MY DEAR HENLEY, - I am sitting on the top of the cars with a mill party from Missouri going west for his health. Desolate flat prairie upon all hands. Here and there a herd of cattle, a yellow butterfly or two; a patch of wild sunflowers; a wooden house or two; then a wooden church alone in miles of waste; then a windmill to pump water. When we stop, which we do often, for emigrants and freight travel together, the kine first, the men after, the whole plain is heard singing with cicadae. This is a pause, as you may see from the writing. What happened to the old pedestrian emigrants, what was the tedium suffered by the Indians and trappers of our youth, the imagination trembles to conceive. This is now Saturday, 23rd, and I have been steadily travelling since I parted from you at St. Pancras. It is a strange vicissitude from the Savile Club to this; I sleep with a man from Pennsylvania who has been in the States Navy, and mess with him and the Missouri bird already alluded to. We have a tin wash-bowl among four. I wear nothing but a shirt and a pair of trousers, and never button my shirt. When I land for a meal, I pass my coat and feel dressed. This life is to last till Friday, Saturday, or Sunday next.