RLS and his wife were still busy on More New Arabian Nights (the romance of the Great North Road having been begun and postponed). The question here touched is, to what publishers should they be offered.
[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and criticaledition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1351.]
To W.E. Henley [Colvin 1912, pp. 199-200]
Bonallie Towers, Bournemouth, [?11] December, 1884.
For Cassell, I thought the G[reat] N[orth] R[oad] (not railway this time) was the motto.
What are Cassells to do with this eccentric mass of blague and seriousness? Their poor auld pows will a’ turn white as snaw, man. They would skriegh with horror.
You see, the lot of tales is now coming to a kind of bearing. They are being quite rehandled; all the three intercalary narratives have been condemned and are being replaced — two by picturesque and highly romantic adventures; one by a comic tale of character; and the thing as it goes together so far, is, I do think, singularly varied and vivid, coming near to laughter and touching tears.
Will Cassell stand it? No.
I vote for the syndicate, and to give Cassell the North Road when done. Et sic subscr.
My health is better. I never sleep, to be sure; Cawdor hath butchered sleep;
and I am twinged a bit by aches and rheumatism; but I get my five to seven hours of work; and if that is not health, it is the nearest I am like to have.