This friend of old Savile Club days was an assistant secretary to the finance department, art-critic, and versifier.
[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 4, 1258.]
To Cosmo Monkhouse [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 216-217]
La Solitude, Hyères [April 24, 1884]
If you are in love with repose, here is your occasion: change with me. I am too blind to read, hence no reading; I am too weak to walk, hence no walking; I am not allowed to speak, hence no talking; but the great simplification has yet to be named; for, if this goes on, I shall soon have nothing to eat – and hence, O Hallelujah! hence no eating. The offer is a fair one: I have not sold myself to the devil, for I could never find him.
I am married, but so are you.
I sometimes write verses, but so do you.
Come! Hic quies! As for the commandments, I have broken them so small that they are the dust of my chambers; you walk upon them, triturate and toothless; and with the Golosh of Philosophy, they shall not bite your heel.
True, the tenement is falling. Ay, friend, but yours also. Take a larger view; what is a year or two? dust in the balance! ‘Tis done, behold you Cosmo Stevenson, and me R.L. Monkhouse; you at Hyères, I in London; you rejoicing in the clammiest repose, me proceeding to tear your tabernacle into rags, as I have already so admirably torn my own.
My place to which I now introduce you – it is yours – is like a London house, high and very narrow;
upon the lungs I will not linger;
the heart is large enough for a ballroom;
the belly greedy and inefficient;
the brain stocked with the most damnable explosives, like a dynamiter’s den.
The whole place is well furnished, though not in a very pure taste; Corinthian much of it; showy and not strong.
About your place I shall try to find my way alone, an interesting exploration. Imagine me, as I go to bed, falling over a blood-stained remorse; opening that cupboard in the cerebellum and being welcomed by the spirit of your murdered uncle.
I should probably not like your remorses; I wonder if you will like mine; I have a spirited assortment; they whistle in my ear o’ nights like a north-easter.
I trust yours don’t dine with the family; mine are better mannered; you will hear nought of them till 2 A.M., except one, to be sure, that I have made a pet of, but he is small; I keep him in buttons, so as to avoid commentaries; you will like him much – if you like what is genuine. Must we likewise change religions? Mine is a good article, with a trick of stopping; cathedral bell note;
ornamental dial;supported by Venus and the Graces;
quite a summer-parlour piety.
Of yours, since your last, I fear there is little to be said. There is one article I wish to take away with me: my spirits. They suit me. I don’t want yours; I like my own; I have had them a long while in bottle. It is my only reservation. – Yours (as you decide),