The play of Deacon Brodie, the joint work of RLS and W.E. Henley, was to be performed in London early in July 1884.
[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 4, 1288.]
To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1912, p. 193]
[Hotel Chabassière, Royat, June 1884.]
Dear S. C.,
Books received with great thanks. Very nice books, though I see you underrate my cecity: I could no more read their beautiful Bible than I could sail in heaven.
A 19th century book illustration, showing grossly misleading fictional versions of superior mirages [https://upload.wikimedia.org]
However, I have sent for another and can read the rest for patience.
I quite understand your feelings about the Deacon, which is a far way behind; but I get miserable when I think of Henley cutting this splash and standing, I fear, to lose a great deal of money. It is about Henley, not Brodie, that I care. […] I fear my affections are not strong to my past works; they are blotted out by others; and anyhow the Deacon is damn bad.
I am half asleep and can no more discourse. Say to your friends, “Look here, some friends of mine are bringing out a play; it has some stuff; suppose you go and see it.”
William Brodie (1741-88) was a skilful cabinet-maker and a member of Edinburgh Town Council as well as deacon (head) of the Incorporation of Wrights and Masons. However, he had a secret night-time occupation as the leader of a gang of burglars. An extra-curricular activity that was necessary to support his extravagant lifestyle which included two mistresses, numerous children and a gambling habit. Brodie was hanged at the Tolbooth with his accomplice George Smith. It is said that Brodie’s bizarre double-life inspired RLS [www.lloydsbankinggroup.com]
Brodie advertising figure on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile [https://upload.wikimedia.org]
Wardrobe made by Deacon Brodie and owned by the Stevensons. Writers’ Museum, Edinburgh [www.simonseeks.com]
Cabinet made by Deacon Brodie [https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com]
Three Plays by Henley and RLS, first edition 1892 [https://ia800204.us.archive.org]
The play of Deacon Brodie, the joint work of RLS and W.E. Henley, was to be performed in London on 2 July 1884. Henley’s brother played the part of the Deacon Brodie.
[…] But I know I am a cold, unbelieving fellow, incapable of those hot claps that honour you and Henley and therefore — I am asleep. Child’s Garden (first instalment) come.
A Child’s Garden of Verses will be published only next year, 1885 [http://lot-images.atgmedia.com]
Fanny ill; self asleep.
Carolus-Duran, Sleeping Man, 1861 [www.the-athenaeum.org]