O, when shall I find the story of my dreams?

Ch.E. C.B. Appleton was the editor of the literary journal Academy,1869-79.

The Portfolio paper about Scotland and England: project never carried out; thoughts on the subject ultimately appeared in ‘The Foreigner at home’, CornhillMagazine, 1882.

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 2, 353].

To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1911, pp. 202-203]

17 Heriot Row, Edinburgh [14 January 1875].

My dear Colvin,

[…] I have worked too hard; I have given myself one day of rest, and that was not enough; so I am giving myself another. I shall go to bed again likewise so soon as this is done, and slumber most potently. […]

9 p.m. – Slept all afternoon like a lamb.

About my coming south, I think the still small unanswerable voice of coins will make it impossible until the session is over (end of March); but for all that, I think I shall hold out jolly. I do not want you to come and bother yourself; indeed, it is still not quite certain whether my father will be quite fit for you, although I have now no fear of that really. Now don’t take up this wrongly; I wish you could come; and I do not know anything that would make me happier, but I see that it is wrong to expect it, and so I resign myself: some time after. […]

[…] I offered Appleton a series of papers on the modern French school – the Parnassiens, I think they call them – de Banville, Coppée, […], Soulary, and Sully Prudhomme. But he has not deigned to answer my letter. […]

‘L’art ppur l’art’: Théodore de Banville (1823-1891) [http://www.larousse.fr/]

‘Le crépuscule est triste et doux’: François Coppée (1842-1908), phot. Nadar, c. 1876 [http://www.sfmoma.org/]

‘Tout bonheur que la main n’atteint pas n’est qu’un rêve’: Joseph-Marie Soulary (1815-1891) [http://blogimages.seniorennet.be/]

‘O volupté calme et profonde / Des amours qui sont nés san pleurs’: Sully Prudhomme (1839-1907) [http://www.zeno.org/]

I shall have another Portfolio paper so soon as I am done with this story, that has played me out; the story is to be called When the Devil was well: scene, Italy, Renaissance; colour, purely imaginary of course, my own unregenerate idea of what Italy then was. […] O, when shall I find the story of my dreams, that shall never halt nor wander nor step aside, but go ever before its face, and ever swifter and louder, until the pit receives it, roaring? The Portfolio paper will be about Scotland and England.

[…] – Ever yours,

R.L. Stevenson

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