Thursday, August 30, 2007

Stevenson Quite Unfit, for Exercise or Wit

[R. L. Stevenson to Henry James]

February 1887.

My Dear James,

My health has played me it in once more in the absurdest fashion, and the creature who now addresses you is but a stringy and white-faced bouilli out of the pot of fever, with the devil to pay in every corner of his economy. I suppose (to judge by your letter) I need not send you these sheets, which came during my collapse by the rush. I am on the start with three volumes, one of tales, a second one of essays, and one of - ahem - verse. This is a great order, is it not? After that I shall have empty lockers. All new work stands still; I was getting on well with Jenkin when this blessed malady unhorsed me, and sent me back to the dung-collecting trade of the republisher. I shall re-issue VIRG. PUER. as Vol. I. of ESSAYS, and the new vol. as Vol. II. of ditto; to be sold, however, separately. This is but a dry maundering; however, I am quite unfit - 'I am for action quite unfit Either of exercise or wit.' My father is in a variable state; many sorrows and perplexities environ the house of Stevenson; my mother shoots north at this hour on business of a distinctly rancid character; my father (under my wife's tutorage) proceeds to-morrow to Salisbury; I remain here in my bed and whistle; in no quarter of heaven is anything encouraging apparent, except that the good Colvin comes to the hotel here on a visit. This dreary view of life is somewhat blackened by the fact that my head aches, which I always regard as a liberty on the part of the powers that be. This is also my first letter since my recovery. God speed your laudatory pen!

My wife joins in all warm messages.

R. L. S.

-from The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson Vol. 2.

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