Sursum corda; faint heart never writ romance

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 4, 1178.]

To W.E. Henley [Colvin 1912, pp. 182-183]

La Solitude, Hyères [? 15 November 1883]

My dear excellent, admired, volcanic angel of a lad,

angelburne-jones

E. Burne-Jones, Angel Playing a Flageolet, 1878 [www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk]

trusty as a dog,

briton_rivic3a8re_-_requiescat_-_google_art_project

Briton Rivière, Requiescat, 1888 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

eruptive as Vesuvius,

joseph_wright_of_derby_-_vesuvius_from_portici

Joseph Wright of Derby, Vesuvius from Portici, 1774-1776 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

in all things great, in all the soul of loyalty: greeting.

portrait_of_william_ernest_henley

William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) [https://s.yimg.com/]

That you are better spirits me up good. I have had no colour of a Mag. of Art.

the_magazine_of_art_-_cover

The Magazine of Art was an illustrated monthly British journal devoted to the visual arts, published from 1878 to 1904 in London and New York by Cassell & Co. Henley was its editor from 1881 to 1886 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

From here, here in Highairs the Palm-trees, I have heard your conversation. It came here in the form of a Mistral, and I said to myself, Damme, there is some Henley at the foot of this!

hyeres-avenue-beauregard-1889-photo

Hyères-Les-Palmiers, 1889 [www.listephoenix.com]

windystaygufn

Winter Mistral wind, Var, France [www.fchatzigianis.com]

 

I shall try to do the Whistle as suggested; but I can usually do whistles only by giving my whole mind to it: to produce even such limping verse demanding the whole forces of my untuneful soul. I have other two anyway: better or worse.

15051665694

‘Whistles’ or ‘Penny Whistles’ was the original name for A Child’s Garden of Verses, here in its first book edition, 1885 [http://pictures.abebook.com]

I am now deep, deep, ocean deep in Otto: a letter is a curst distraction. About 100 pp. are near fit for publication; I am either making a spoon or spoiling the horn of a Caledonian bull, with that airy potentate. God help me, I bury a lot of labour in that principality; and if I am not greatly a gainer, I am a great loser and a great fool. However, sursum corda; faint heart never writ romance.

277403072

Prince Otto, first English edition, 1885 [http://pictures.abebooks.com]

57

Heracles and the Caledonian bull, Meissen porcelain, 18th century [http://i.ebayimg.com]

 

Your ‘Dumas’ I think exquisite; it might even have been stronglier said: the brave old godly pagan, I adore his big footprints on the earth.

http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/61000/

Have you read Meredith’s Love in the Valley? It got me, I wept; I remembered that poetry existed.

‘When her mother tends her before the laughing mirror.’

portrait_of_george_meredith

George Meredith (1828–1909) [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

I propose if they (Lippincotts) will let me wait till next Autumn, and go when it is safest, to accept £450 with £100 down; but it is now too late to go this year.

800px-portrait_of_joshua_ballinger_lippincott_g268

Joshua Ballinger Lippincott (1813-1886), founder of a publishing house in Philadelphia [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

north-aegean-map-2

The proposal referred to was one which had reached RLS from the Lippincotts, the American publisher, for a sailing trip to be taken among the Greek Islands and made the subject of a book [http://www.my-favourite-planet.de]

November and December are the months when it is safest; and the back of the season is broken. I shall gain much knowledge by the trip; this I look upon as one of the main inducements.

R.L.S.

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