Sidney Colvin had had business in Edinburgh, and had stayed with RLS’s parents in his absence (he was staying in Paris with Fanny Osbourne).
RLS’s Inland Voyage was at this time just put into the publisher’s hands. The ‘Crane sketch’ was the well-known frontispiece to that book on which Walter Crane, book-illustrator for children, was then at work.
The essay Pan’s Pipes, written about this time, will be printed in London, May 1878, with another frontispice by Crane, and reprinted in Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.
[For correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 2, 518.]
To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1911, 1, p. 258]
[Paris, ? 27 February 1878.]
My dear Colvin,
Many thanks for your letter. I was much interested by all the Edinburgh gossip. Most likely I shall arrive in London next week. I think you know all about the Crane sketch; but it should be a river, not a canal, you know, and the look should be ‘cruel, lewd, and kindly,’ all at once.
There is more sense in that Greek myth of Pan than in any other that I recollect except the luminous Hebrew one of the Fall: one of the biggest things done.
If people would remember that all religions are no more than representations of life, they would find them, as they are, the best representations, licking Shakespeare.
What an inconceivable cheese is Alfred de Musset! His comedies are, to my view, the best work of France this century: a large order. Did you ever read them? They are real, clear, living work.– Ever yours,