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.


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 []

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.


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 []

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.



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

[…] 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.



[…] – Yours ever,


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