[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 4, 1193.]
To Will H. Low [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 190-191]
La Solitude, Hyères, Var, 13th December 1883
My dear Low,
I was much pleased with what you said about my work.
Ill-health is a great handicapper in the race. I have never at command that press of spirits that are necessary to strike out a thing red-hot. Silverado is an example of stuff worried and pawed about, God knows how often, in poor health, and you can see for yourself the result: good pages, an imperfect fusion, a certain languor of the whole. Not, in short, art. I have told Roberts to send you a copy of the book when it appears, where there are some fair passages that will be new to you.
My brief romance, Prince Otto – far my most difficult adventure up to now – is near an end. I have still one chapter to write de fond en comble, and three or four to strengthen or recast. The rest is done. I do not know if I have made a spoon, or only spoiled a horn; but I am tempted to hope the first. If the present bargain hold, it will not see the light of day for some thirteen months. Then I shall be glad to know how it strikes you. There is a good deal of stuff in it, both dramatic and, I think, poetic; and the story is not like these purposeless fables of today, but is, at least, intended to stand firm upon a base of philosophy – or morals – as you please. It has been long gestated, and is wrought with care. Enfin, nous verrons.
My labours have this year for the first time been rewarded with upwards of £350; that of itself, so base we are! encourages me; and the better tenor of my health yet more.
Remember me to Mrs. Low, and believe me, yours most sincerely,
Robert Louis Stevenson