[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 4, 1184.]
To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1912, pp. 171-172]
[Chalet la Solitude, Hyères, Late November 1883]
The attempt to correspond with you is vain. Well, well, then so be it. I will from time to time write you an insulting letter, brief but monstrous harsh. I regard you in the light of a genteel impostor. Your name figures in the papers but never to a piece of letter-paper: well, well.
News. I am well: Fanny been ill but better: […] Otto about three-quarters done; Silverado proofs a terrible job – it is a most unequal work – new wine in old bottles – large rats, small bottles:
as usual, penniless – O but penniless: still, with four articles in hand (say £35) and the £100 for Silverado imminent, not hopeless.
Why am I so penniless, ever, ever penniless, ever, ever
penny-penny-penniless and dry?
The birds upon the thorn,
The poppies in the corn,
They surely are more fortunate or prudenter than I!
In Arabia, everybody is called the Father of something or other for convenience or insult’s sake. Thus you are “the Father of Prints,” or of “Bummkopferies,” or “Father of Unanswered Correspondence.”
They would instantly dub Henley “the Father of Wooden Legs”;
me they would denominate the “Father of Bones,”
and Matthew Arnold “the Father of Eyeglasses.”
I have accepted most of the excisions. […] Proposed titles –
The Innocent Muse.
A Child’s Garden of Rhymes.
Songs of the Playroom.
I like the first?