I am afraid I bore you sadly with this perpetual talk about my affairs; I will try and stow it; but you see, it touches me nearly. I'm the miser in earnest now: last night, when I felt so ill, the supposed ague chill, it seemed strange not to be able to afford a drink. I would have walked half a mile, tired as I felt, for a brandy and soda. - Ever yours,
R. L. S.
Letter: TO CHARLES BAXTER
608 BUSH STREET, SAN FRANCISCO, JAN. 26, '80
MY DEAR CHARLES, - I have to drop from a 50 cent. to a 25 cent. dinner; to-day begins my fall. That brings down my outlay in food and drink to 45 cents., or 1s. 10 and a half d. per day. How are the mighty fallen! Luckily, this is such a cheap place for food; I used to pay as much as that for my first breakfast in the Savile in the grand old palmy days of yore. I regret nothing, and do not even dislike these straits, though the flesh will rebel on occasion. It is to-day bitter cold, after weeks of lovely warm weather, and I am all in a chitter. I am about to issue for my little shilling and halfpenny meal, taken in the middle of the day, the poor man's hour; and I shall eat and drink to your prosperity. - Ever yours,
R. L. S.
Letter: TO SIDNEY COLVIN
608 BUSH STREET, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA [JANUARY 1880].
MY DEAR COLVIN, - I received this morning your long letter from Paris. Well, God's will be done; if it's dull, it's dull; it was a fair fight, and it's lost, and there's an end. But, fortunately, dulness is not a fault the public hates; perhaps they may like this vein of dulness. If they don't, damn them, we'll try them with another. I sat down on the back of your letter, and wrote twelve Cornhill pages this day as ever was of that same despised EMIGRANT; so you see my moral courage has not gone down with my intellect. Only, frankly, Colvin, do you think it a good plan to be so eminently descriptive, and even eloquent in dispraise? You rolled such a lot of polysyllables over me that a better man than I might have been disheartened. - However, I was not, as you see, and am not. The EMIGRANT shall be finished and leave in the course of next week. And then, I'll stick to stories. I am not frightened. I know my mind is changing; I have been telling you so for long; and I suppose I am fumbling for the new vein. Well, I'll find it.
The VENDETTA you will not much like, I dare say: and that must be finished next; but I'll knock you with THE FOREST STATE: A ROMANCE.
I'm vexed about my letters; I know it is painful to get these unsatisfactory things; but at least I have written often enough. And not one soul ever gives me any NEWS, about people or things; everybody writes me sermons; it's good for me, but hardly the food necessary for a man who lives all alone on forty-five cents. a day, and sometimes less, with quantities of hard work and many heavy thoughts. If one of you could write me a letter with a jest in it, a letter like what is written to real people in this world - I am still flesh and blood - I should enjoy it. Simpson did, the other day, and it did me as much good as a bottle of wine. A lonely man gets to feel like a pariah after awhile - or no, not that, but like a saint and martyr, or a kind of macerated clergyman with pebbles in his boots, a pillared Simeon, I'm damned if I know what, but, man alive, I want gossip.
My health is better, my spirits steadier, I am not the least cast down. If THE EMIGRANT was a failure, the PAVILION, by your leave, was not: it was a story quite adequately and rightly done, I contend; and when I find Stephen, for whom certainly I did not mean it, taking it in, I am better pleased with it than before. I know I shall do better work than ever I have done before; but, mind you, it will not be like it. My sympathies and interests are changed. There shall be no more books of travel for me. I care for nothing but the moral and the dramatic, not a jot for the picturesque or the beautiful other than about people. It bored me hellishly to write the EMIGRANT; well, it's going to bore others to read it; that's only fair.