It is a pity in one sense, for I believe the class of work I MIGHT yet give out is better and more real and solid than people fancy. But death is no bad friend; a few aches and gasps, and we are done; like the truant child, I am beginning to grow weary and timid in this big jostling city, and could run to my nurse, even although she should have to whip me before putting me to bed.
Will you kiss your little daughter from me, and tell her that her father has written a delightful poem about her? Remember me, please, to Mrs. Gosse, to Middlemore, to whom some of these days I will write, to -, to -, yes, to -, and to -. I know you will gnash your teeth at some of these; wicked, grim, catlike old poet. If I were God, I would sort you - as we say in Scotland. - Your sincere friend,
R. L. S.
'Too young to be our child': blooming good.
Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN
608 BUSH STREET, SAN FRANCISCO [DECEMBER 26, 1879].
MY DEAR COLVIN, - I am now writing to you in a cafe waiting for some music to begin. For four days I have spoken to no one but to my landlady or landlord or to restaurant waiters. This is not a gay way to pass Christmas, is it? and I must own the guts are a little knocked out of me. If I could work, I could worry through better. But I have no style at command for the moment, with the second part of the EMIGRANT, the last of the novel, the essay on Thoreau, and God knows all, waiting for me. But I trust something can be done with the first part, or, by God, I'll starve here . . . .
O Colvin, you don't know how much good I have done myself. I feared to think this out by myself. I have made a base use of you, and it comes out so much better than I had dreamed. But I have to stick to work now; and here's December gone pretty near useless. But, Lord love you, October and November saw a great harvest. It might have affected the price of paper on the Pacific coast. As for ink, they haven't any, not what I call ink; only stuff to write cookery-books with, or the works of Hayley, or the pallid perambulations of the - I can find nobody to beat Hayley. I like good, knock-me-down black-strap to write with; that makes a mark and done with it. - By the way, I have tried to read the SPECTATOR, which they all say I imitate, and - it's very wrong of me, I know - but I can't. It's all very fine, you know, and all that, but it's vapid. They have just played the overture to NORMA, and I know it's a good one, for I bitterly wanted the opera to go on; I had just got thoroughly interested - and then no curtain to rise.
I have written myself into a kind of spirits, bless your dear heart, by your leave. But this is wild work for me, nearly nine and me not back! What will Mrs. Carson think of me! Quite a night-hawk, I do declare. You are the worst correspondent in the world - no, not that, Henley is that - well, I don't know, I leave the pair of you to Him that made you - surely with small attention. But here's my service, and I'll away home to my den O! much the better for this crack, Professor Colvin.
R. L. S.
Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN
608 BUSH STREET, SAN FRANCISCO [JANUARY 10, 1880].
MY DEAR COLVIN, - This is a circular letter to tell my estate fully. You have no right to it, being the worst of correspondents; but I wish to efface the impression of my last, so to you it goes.
Any time between eight and half-past nine in the morning, a slender gentleman in an ulster, with a volume buttoned into the breast of it, may be observed leaving No. 608 Bush and descending Powell with an active step. The gentleman is R. L. S.; the volume relates to Benjamin Franklin, on whom he meditates one of his charming essays. He descends Powell, crosses Market, and descends in Sixth on a branch of the original Pine Street Coffee House, no less; I believe he would be capable of going to the original itself, if he could only find it. In the branch he seats himself at a table covered with waxcloth, and a pampered menial, of High-Dutch extraction and, indeed, as yet only partially extracted, lays before him a cup of coffee, a roll and a pat of butter, all, to quote the deity, very good.