I have been since pretty ill, but pick up, though still somewhat of a mossy ruin. If you would view my countenance aright, come - view it by the pale moonlight. But that is on the mend. I believe I have now a distant claim to tan.
A letter will be more than welcome in this distant clime where I have a box at the post-office - generally, I regret to say, empty. Could your recommendation introduce me to an American publisher? My next book I should really try to get hold of here, as its interest is international, and the more I am in this country the more I understand the weight of your influence. It is pleasant to be thus most at home abroad, above all, when the prophet is still not without honour in his own land. . . .
Letter: TO EDMUND GOSSE
MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA, 15TH NOVEMBER 1879.
MY DEAR GOSSE, - Your letter was to me such a bright spot that I answer it right away to the prejudice of other correspondents or - dants (don't know how to spell it) who have prior claims. . . . It is the history of our kindnesses that alone makes this world tolerable. If it were not for that, for the effect of kind words, kind looks, kind letters, multiplying, spreading, making one happy through another and bringing forth benefits, some thirty, some fifty, some a thousandfold, I should be tempted to think our life a practical jest in the worst possible spirit. So your four pages have confirmed my philosophy as well as consoled my heart in these ill hours.
Yes, you are right; Monterey is a pleasant place; but I see I can write no more to-night. I am tired and sad, and being already in bed, have no more to do but turn out the light. - Your affectionate friend,
R. L S.
I try it again by daylight. Once more in bed however; for to-day it is MUCHO FRIO, as we Spaniards say; and I had no other means of keeping warm for my work. I have done a good spell, 9 and a half foolscap pages; at least 8 of CORNHILL; ah, if I thought that I could get eight guineas for it. My trouble is that I am all too ambitious just now. A book whereof 70 out of 120 are scrolled. A novel whereof 85 out of, say, 140 are pretty well nigh done. A short story of 50 pp., which shall be finished to-morrow, or I'll know the reason why. This may bring in a lot of money: but I dread to think that it is all on three chances. If the three were to fail, I am in a bog. The novel is called A VENDETTA IN THE WEST. I see I am in a grasping, dismal humour, and should, as we Americans put it, quit writing. In truth, I am so haunted by anxieties that one or other is sure to come up in all that I write.
I will send you herewith a Monterey paper where the works of R. L. S. appear, nor only that, but all my life on studying the advertisements will become clear. I lodge with Dr. Heintz; take my meals with Simoneau; have been only two days ago shaved by the tonsorial artist Michaels; drink daily at the Bohemia saloon; get my daily paper from Hadsel's; was stood a drink to-day by Albano Rodriguez; in short, there is scarce a person advertised in that paper but I know him, and I may add scarce a person in Monterey but is there advertised. The paper is the marrow of the place. Its bones - pooh, I am tired of writing so sillily.
R. L. S.
Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN
[MONTEREY, DECEMBER 1879.]
TO-DAY, my dear Colvin, I send you the first part of the AMATEUR EMIGRANT, 71 pp., by far the longest and the best of the whole. It is not a monument of eloquence; indeed, I have sought to be prosaic in view of the nature of the subject; but I almost think it is interesting.
Whatever is done about any book publication, two things remember: I must keep a royalty; and, second, I must have all my books advertised, in the French manner, on the leaf opposite the title. I know from my own experience how much good this does an author with book BUYERS.
The entire A. E. will be a little longer than the two others, but not very much. Here and there, I fancy, you will laugh as you read it; but it seems to me rather a CLEVER book than anything else: the book of a man, that is, who has paid a great deal of attention to contemporary life, and not through the newspapers.