- I am, dear Mr. Watts, your very sincere admirer,




NOT roses to the rose, I trow, The thistle sends, nor to the bee Do wasps bring honey. Wherefore now Should Locker ask a verse from me?

Martial, perchance, - but he is dead, And Herrick now must rhyme no more; Still burning with the muse, they tread (And arm in arm) the shadowy shore.

They, if they lived, with dainty hand, To music as of mountain brooks, Might bring you worthy words to stand Unshamed, dear Locker, in your books.

But tho' these fathers of your race Be gone before, yourself a sire, To-day you see before your face Your stalwart youngsters touch the lyre -

On these - on Lang, or Dobson - call, Long leaders of the songful feast. They lend a verse your laughing fall - A verse they owe you at the least.



DEAR LOCKER, - You take my verses too kindly, but you will admit, for such a bluebottle of a versifier to enter the house of Gertrude, where her necklace hangs, was not a little brave. Your kind invitation, I fear, must remain unaccented; and yet - if I am very well - perhaps next spring - (for I mean to be very well) - my wife might.... But all that is in the clouds with my better health. And now look here: you are a rich man and know many people, therefore perhaps some of the Governors of Christ's Hospital. If you do, I know a most deserving case, in which I would (if I could) do anything. To approach you, in this way, is not decent; and you may therefore judge by my doing it, how near this matter lies to my heart. I enclose you a list of the Governors, which I beg you to return, whether or not you shall be able to do anything to help me.

The boy's name is -; he and his mother are very poor. It may interest you in her cause if I tell you this: that when I was dangerously ill at Hyeres, this brave lady, who had then a sick husband of her own (since dead) and a house to keep and a family of four to cook for, all with her own hands, for they could afford no servant, yet took watch-about with my wife, and contributed not only to my comfort, but to my recovery in a degree that I am not able to limit. You can conceive how much I suffer from my impotence to help her, and indeed I have already shown myself a thankless friend. Let not my cry go up before you in vain! - Yours in hope,




MY DEAR LOCKER, - That I should call myself a man of letters, and land myself in such unfathomable ambiguities! No, my dear Locker, I did not want a cheque; and in my ignorance of business, which is greater even than my ignorance of literature, I have taken the liberty of drawing a pen through the document and returning it; should this be against the laws of God or man, forgive me. All that I meant by my excessively disgusting reference to your material well-being was the vague notion that a man who is well off was sure to know a Governor of Christ's Hospital; though how I quite arrived at this conclusion I do not see. A man with a cold in the head does not necessarily know a ratcatcher; and the connection is equally close - as it now appears to my awakened and somewhat humbled spirit. For all that, let me thank you in the warmest manner for your friendly readiness to contribute. You say you have hopes of becoming a miser: I wish I had; but indeed I believe you deceive yourself, and are as far from it as ever. I wish I had any excuse to keep your cheque, for it is much more elegant to receive than to return; but I have my way of making it up to you, and I do sincerely beg you to write to the two Governors. This extraordinary outpouring of correspondence would (if you knew my habits) convince you of my great eagerness in this matter. I would promise gratitude; but I have made a promise to myself to make no more promises to anybody else, having broken such a host already, and come near breaking my heart in consequence; and as for gratitude, I am by nature a thankless dog, and was spoiled from a child up.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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