It is the mark of the parochial gentleman who has never travelled to find all wrong in a foreign land

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1320.]

To W.E. Henley [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 239-240]

Bournemouth, [c. 10] November 1884

Dear Henley,

[…]

We are all to pieces in health, and heavily handicapped with Arabs.

immagine

The Arabs just mentioned are the stories comprised in the volume ‘More New Arabian Nights: The Dynamiter’, written by RLS and his wife in collaboration, and published in 1885 [https://ia800302.us.archive.org]

I have a dreadful cough, whose attacks leave me ætat. 90. […] I never let up on the Arabs, all the same, and rarely get less than eight pages out of hand, though hardly able to come downstairs for twittering knees.

I shall put in [Ted]’s letter.

2008bv3520_jpg_l

William Ernest Henley (1849-1903). He had sent RLS a letter from his brother asking RLS ‘to write, and cheer him up a bit’. The play of Deacon Brodie, the joint work of RLS and W.E. Henley, had been performed in London on 2 July 1884 and Henley’s brother Edward (Ted) played the part of the Deacon Brodie [http://media.vam.ac.uk]

He says so little of his circumstances that I am in an impossibility to give him advice more specific than a copybook. Give him my love, however, and tell him it is the mark of the parochial gentleman who has never travelled to find all wrong in a foreign land. Let him hold on, and he will find one country as good as another; and in the meanwhile let him resist the fatal British tendency to communicate his dissatisfaction with a country to its inhabitants. ‘Tis a good idea, but it somehow fails to please.

immagine

immagine

Actor Edward J. Henley will andon the American stage in 1897 [www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.org]

[…] In a fortnight, if I can keep my spirit in the box at all, I should be nearly through this Arabian desert; so can tackle something fresh.

immagine

 

[…] – Yours ever,

R.L.S.

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