Written in Paris on his way home to Edinburgh. Some of the talk with Sidney Colvin at Mentone run on the scheme of a spectacle play on the story of the burning of the temple of Diana at Ephesus by Herostratus, the type of insane vanity in excelsis.
[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sir Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 1, 263].
To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1912, p. 67-68]
[Hotel St. Romain, Paris, end of April, 1874.]
My dear Colvin,
I am a great deal better, but still have to take care.
I have got quite a lot of Victor Hugo done; and not I think so badly: pitching into this work has straightened me up a good deal. It is the devil’s own weather but that is a trifle. I must know when Cornhill must see it. I can send some of it […] in a week easily, […] but I still have to read the […] Laughing Man, and I mean to wait until I get to London and have the loan of that from you. If I buy anything more this production will not pay itself. […] The first part is not too well written, though it has good stuff in it. […]
My people have made no objection to my going to Göttingen; but my body has made I think very strong objections. And you know if it is cold here, it must be colder there. It is a sore pity; that was a great chance for me, and it is gone. I know very well that between Galitzin and this swell professor I should have become a good specialist in law and how that would have changed and bettered all my work it is easy to see; however I must just be content to live as I have begun, an ignorant, chic-y penny-a-liner. May the Lord have mercy on my soul!
Going home not very well is an astonishing good hold for me. I shall simply be a prince.
Have you had any thought about Diana of the Ephesians? I will straighten up a play for you, but it may take years. A play is a thing just like a story, it begins to disengage itself and then unrolls gradually in block. It will disengage itself some day for me and then I will send you the nugget and you will see if you can make anything out of it. – Ever yours,
Robert Louis Stevenson