By mid-March 1880 RLS had moved to East Oakland, CA, at first at the Tubbs Hotel, on (East) 12th Street, between 4th and 5th Avenues. It was apparently there that he had a relapse and a first hemorrhage. Fanny moved him to her house nearby, 554 East 18th Street, and nursed him herself.
RLS’s essay, Henry David Thoreau: his Character and Opinions was then in proof for Cornhill Magazine. The Amateur Emigrant, an account of his journey to California, was still in draft.
[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 3, 693.]
To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1911, 1, pp. 333-334]
[East Oakland, late March / early April 1880.]
My dear Colvin,
You must be sick indeed of my demand for books, for you have seemingly not yet sent me one. Still, I live on promises: waiting for Penn, for H. James’s Hawthorne, for my Burns, etc.;
and now, to make matters worse, pending your centuries, etc., I do earnestly desire the best book about mythology (if it be German, so much the worse; send a bunctionary along with it, and pray […] for me). This is why. If I recover, I feel called on to write a volume of gods and demi-gods in exile: Pan, Jove, Cybele, Venus, Charon, etc.; and though I should like to take them very free, I should like to know a little about ‘em to begin with.
For two days, till last night, I had no night sweats, and my cough is almost gone, and I digest well; so all looks hopeful. However, I was near the other side of Jordan. I send the proof of Thoreau to you, so that you may correct and fill up the quotation from Goethe. It is a pity I was ill, as, for matter, I think I prefer that to any of my essays except Burns; but the style, though quite manly, never attains any melody or lenity. So much for consumption: I begin to appreciate what the Emigrant must be. As soon as I have done the last few pages of the Emigrant they shall go to you. But when will that be? I know not quite yet – I have to be so careful. Ever yours,