RLS had been unable to finish for the Pall Mall Christmas number the tale he had first intended; had tried the publishers with Markheim (afterwards printed in the collection called Merry Men), which proved too short; had then furbished up as well as he could a tale drafted in the Pitlochry days, The Body Snatcher, which was advertised in the streets of London by sandwich-men carrying posters so horrific that they were suppressed, if Colvin remembered right, by the police. Stevenson rightly thought the tale not up to his best mark, and would not take the full payment which had been bargained for.
[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and criticaledition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1332.]
To Edmund Gosse [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 251-252]
Bonallie Towers, Bournemouth, Nov. 15, 1884
My dear Gosse,
This Mr. Morley of yours is a most desperate fellow.
He has sent me (for my opinion) the most truculent advertisement I ever saw, in which the white hairs of Gladstone are dragged round Troy behind my chariot wheels.
What can I say? I say nothing to him; and to you, I content myself with remarking that he seems a desperate fellow.
All luck to you on your American adventure; may you find health, wealth, and entertainment!
If you see, as you likely will, Frank R. Stockton, pray greet him from me in words to this effect: –
My Stockton if I failed to like,
It were a sheer depravity,
For I went down with the Thomas Hyke
And up with the Negative Gravity!
I adore these tales.
I hear flourishing accounts of your success at Cambridge, so you leave with a good omen.
Remember me to green corn if it is in season;
if not, you had better hang yourself on a sour apple tree, for your voyage has been lost.
[…] Yours affectionately,
Robert Louis Stevenson