The Athæneum of 27 September 1879 announced that RLS intended to publish a volume containing his essays from the Cornhill and London. The book finally would be published as Virginibus Puerisque by Kegan Paul in 1881.
Henley was reviewing (The Athæneum, 21 February 1880) the first ten volumes of the Théâtre Complet de Eugène Labiche.
The story spoken of as A Vendetta in the West was then given up and destroyed.
The “slanging review” of Travels with a Donkey was published in the Spectator of 27 September 1879 (you may read it at: http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/27th-september-1879/20/–travels-with-a-donkey-in-the-cevennes-it-is).
RLS described the incident of the fire in his essay on Monterey (The Old Pacific Capital, 1880): he was experimenting to see if it was the moss in the tree which caught fire first.
Judge Charles Lynch (1736-1796) headed an irregular court in Virginia during tha American Revolutionary War: the term “lynching” and “Lynch’s Law”, referring to organized but unauthorized punishment of criminals, became a common phrase.
Mahomet’s coffin refers to a medieval legend, that the Prophet’s coffin was suspended without visible supports, but by magnets or lodestones, from the ceiling of his tomb.
Manuel Wolter was proprietor of the livery stables in Alvarado Street, Monterey.
Adolpho Sanchez’s held the Bohemia Saloon near Bonifacio House.
Dr James Rice Hadsell was a druggist and stationer who opened the first apothecary on Alvarado Street in Monterey in 1869.
Crevole Bronson was proprietor and editor of the Monterey Californian.
John Miller Dow Meiklejohn was professor of Education at St Andrews, and translator of Emmanuel Kant’s works: we know from Colvin that RLS heard Meiklejohn’s laughter at the Savile Club and insisted on meeting the owner of such a laugh.
Find old pictures of Monterey at http://mhod.weebly.com/vistas-and-street-scenes.html
[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 3, 660.]
To W.E. Henley [Colvin 1911, 1, 291-294]
[Monterey, California, late October/early November 1879.]
My dear Henley,
Many thanks for your good letter, which is the best way to forgive you for your previous silence. I hope Colvin or somebody has sent me the Cornhill and the New Quarterly, though I am trying to get them in San Francisco.
I think you might have sent me (1) some of your articles in the P[all] M[all] G[azette]; (2) a paper with the announcement of second edition; and (3) the announcement of the essays in Athenæum. This to prick you in the future.
[…] Again, choose, in your head, the best volume of Labiche there is, and post it to Jules Simoneau, Monterey, Monterey Co., California: do this at once, as he is my restaurant man, a most pleasant old boy with whom I discuss the universe and play chess daily. He has been out of France for thirty-five years, and never heard of Labiche.
I have eighty-three pages written of a story called A Vendetta in the West, and about sixty pages of the first draft of the Amateur Emigrant. They should each cover from 130 to 150 pages when done. […] That is all my literary news. Do keep me posted, won’t you? our letter and Bob’s made the fifth and sixth I have had from Europe in three months.
At times I get terribly frightened about my work, which seems to advance too slowly. I hope soon to have a greater burthen to support, and must make money a great deal quicker than I used. I may get nothing for the Vendetta; I may only get some forty quid for the Emigrant; I cannot hope to have them both done much before the end of November. […]
O, and look here, why did you not send me the Spectator which slanged me? Rogues and rascals, is that all you are worth?
[…] Yesterday I set fire to the forest, for which, had I been caught, I should have been hung out of hand to the nearest tree, Judge Lynch being an active person hereaway.
You should have seen my retreat (which was entirely for strategical purposes). I ran like hell. It was a fine sight. At night I went out again to see it; it was a good fire, though I say it that should not. I had a near escape for my life with a revolver: I fired six charges, and the six bullets all remained in the barrel, which was choked from end to end, from muzzle to breach, with solid lead; it took a man three hours to drill them out. Another shot, and I’d have gone to kingdom come.
This is a lovely place, which I am growing to love. The Pacific licks all other oceans out of hand; there is no place but the Pacific Coast to hear eternal roaring surf. When I get to the top of the woods behind Monterey, I can hear the seas breaking all round over ten or twelve miles of coast from near Carmel on my left, out to Point Pinos in front, and away to the right along the sands of Monterey to Castroville and the mouth of the Salinas.
I was wishing yesterday that the world could get – no, what I mean was that you should be kept in suspense like Mahomet’s coffin until the world had made half a revolution, then dropped here at the station as though you had stepped from the cars;
you would then comfortably enter Wolter’s waggon (the sun has just gone down, the moon beginning to throw shadows, you hear the surf rolling, and smell the sea and the pines).That shall deposit you at Sanchez’s saloon, where we take a drink; you are introduced to Bronson, the local editor (‘I have no brain music,’ he says; ‘I’m a mechanic, you see,’ but he’s a nice fellow); to Adolpho Sanchez, who is delightful […].
Meantime I go to the P. O. for my mail;
thence we walk up Alvarado Street together, you now floundering in the sand, now merrily stumping on the wooden side-walks;I call at Hadsell’s for my paper;
at length behold us installed in Simoneau’s little white-washed back-room, round a dirty tablecloth, with François the baker, perhaps an Italian fisherman, perhaps Augustin Dutra, and Simoneau himself. Simoneau, François, and I are the three sure cards; the others mere waifs.
Then home to my great airy rooms with five windows opening on a balcony; I sleep on the floor in my camp blankets; you instal yourself abed; in the morning coffee with the little doctor and his little wife;we hire a waggon and make a day of it;
and by night, I should let you up again into the air, to be returned to Mrs. Henley in the forenoon following. By God, you would enjoy yourself. So should I. I have tales enough to keep you going till five in the morning, and then they would not be at an end. I forget if you asked me any questions, and I sent your letter up to the city to one who will like to read it. I expect other letters now steadily. If I have to wait another two months, I shall begin to be happy. Will you remember me most affectionately to your wife? […] Shake hands with Anthony from me; and God bless your mother. […]
God bless Stephen! Does he not know that I am a man, and cannot live by bread alone, but must have guineas into the bargain.
Burns, I believe, in my own mind, is one of my high-water marks; […] Meiklejohn flames me a letter about it, which is so complimentary that I must keep it or get it published in the Monterey Californian. Some of these days I shall send an exemplaire of that paper; it is huge.– Ever your affectionate friend,
Robert Louis Stevenson