Put yourself in my place, and you will call this pardonable. Even as it is, even putting forth a flattered presentment, I am a little pained; and very glad it is a photograph and not myself that has to go; for in this case, if it please you, you can tell yourself it is my image - and if it displeased you, you can lay the blame on the photographer; but in that, there were no help, and the poor author might belie his labours.
KIDNAPPED should soon appear; I am afraid you may not like it, as it is very unlike PRINCE OTTO in every way; but I am myself a great admirer of the two chief characters, Alan and David. VIRGINIBUS PUERISQUE has never been issued in the States. I do not think it is a book that has much charm for publishers in any land; but I am to bring out a new edition in England shortly, a copy of which I must try to remember to send you. I say try to remember, because I have some superficial acquaintance with myself: and I have determined, after a galling discipline, to promise nothing more until the day of my death: at least, in this way, I shall no more break my word, and I must now try being churlish instead of being false.
I do not believe you to be the least like Seraphina. Your photograph has no trace of her, which somewhat relieves me, as I am a good deal afraid of Seraphinas - they do not always go into the woods and see the sunrise, and some are so well-mailed that even that experience would leave them unaffected and unsoftened. The 'hair and eyes of several complexions' was a trait taken from myself; and I do not bind myself to the opinions of Sir John. In this case, perhaps - but no, if the peculiarity is shared by two such pleasant persons as you and I (as you and me - the grammatical nut is hard), it must be a very good thing indeed, and Sir John must be an ass.
The BOOK READER notice was a strange jumble of fact and fancy. I wish you could have seen my father's old assistant and present partner when he heard my father described as an 'inspector of lighthouses,' for we are all very proud of the family achievements, and the name of my house here in Bournemouth is stolen from one of the sea-towers of the Hebrides which are our pyramids and monuments. I was never at Cambridge, again; but neglected a considerable succession of classes at Edinburgh. But to correct that friendly blunderer were to write an autobiography. - And so now, with many thanks, believe me yours sincerely,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Letter: TO R. A. M. STEVENSON
SKERRYVORE, BOURNEMOUTH, JULY 1886.
SIR, - Your foolish letter was unduly received. There may be hidden fifths, and if there are, it shows how dam spontaneous the thing was. I could tinker and tic-tac-toe on a piece of paper, but scorned the act with a Threnody, which was poured forth like blood and water on the groaning organ. If your heart (which was what I addressed) remained unmoved, let us refer to the affair no more: crystallised emotion, the statement and the reconciliation of the sorrows of the race and the individual, is obviously no more to you than supping sawdust. Well, well. If ever I write another Threnody! My next op. will probably be a Passepied and fugue in G (or D).
The mind is in my case shrunk to the size and sp. gr. of an aged Spanish filbert. O, I am so jolly silly. I now pickle with some freedom (1) the refrain of MARTINI'S MOUTONS; (2) SUL MARGINE D'UN RIO, arranged for the infant school by the Aged Statesman; (3) the first phrase of Bach's musette (Sweet Englishwoman, No. 3), the rest of the musette being one prolonged cropper, which I take daily for the benefit of my health. All my other works (of which there are many) are either arranged (by R. L. Stevenson) for the manly and melodious forefinger, or else prolonged and melancholy croppers. . . . I find one can get a notion of music very nicely. I have been pickling deeply in the Magic Flute; and have arranged LA DOVE PRENDE, almost to the end, for two melodious forefingers. I am next going to score the really nobler COLOMBA O TORTORELLA for the same instruments.