[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,
trusty as a dog,
eruptive as Vesuvius,
in all things great, in all the soul of loyalty: greeting.
That you are better spirits me up good. I have had no colour of a Mag. of Art.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.