In the early months of the year 1882 RLS was kept indoors at Davos by a “knee tied up”, with a “slight displacement”, and “chronic inflammation”.
His essay ‘A Gossip on Romance’ was published in the first number of Longman’s Magazine (Nov 1882).
A fragmentary, unfinished MS essay ‘On the Ary of Literature’ is in RLS Museum at Silverado, St. Helena, California.
[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 3, 913.]
To W.E. Henley [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 78-79]
[Chalet am Stein, Davos-Platz, ? 16 February 1882]
My dear Henley,
Here comes the letter as promised last night. And first two requests: Pray send the enclosed to c/o Blackmore’s publisher, ’tis from Fanny;
second, pray send us Routledge’s shillingbook, Edward Mayhew’s Dogs, by return if it can be managed.
Our dog is very ill again, poor fellow, looks very ill too, only sleeps at night because of morphine; and we do not know what ails him, only fear it to be canker of the ear. He makes a bad, black spot in our life, poor, selfish, silly, little tangle; and my wife is wretched. Otherwise she is better, steadily and slowly moving up through all her relapses.
My knee never gets the least better; it hurts tonight, which it has not done for long. I do not suppose my doctor knows any least thing about it. He says it is a nerve that I struck, but I assure you he does not know.
I have just finished a paper, A Gossip on Romance, in which I have tried to do, very popularly, about one-half of the matter you wanted me to try. In a way, I have found an answer to the question. But the subject was hardly fit for so chatty a paper, and it is all loose ends. If ever I do my book on the Art of Literature, I shall gather them together and be clear.
Tomorrow, having once finished off the touches still due on this, I shall tackle San Francisco for you.
Then the tide of work will fairly bury me, lost to view and hope. You have no idea what it costs me to wring out my work now. I have certainly been a fortnight over this Romance, sometimes five hours a day; and yet it is about my usual length eight pages or so, and would be a d—d sight the better for another curry. But I do not think I can honestly re-write it all; so I call it done, and shall only straighten words in a revision currently.
I had meant to go on for a great while, and say all manner of entertaining things. But […] all’s gone. I am now an idiot. – Yours ever,