And if that is not health, it is the nearest I am like to have

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.

Dear lad,


For Cassell, I thought the G[reat] N[orth] R[oad] (not railway this time) was the motto.

Illustration for The Great North Road, by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Great North Road (unfinished, 8 chap.), written in 1884-5, was published posthumous in the Illustrated London News, Christmas Supplement 1895 []


Illustrated London News, Christmas Supplement 1895 []


Great Northern Railway Stirling “Single” 4-2-2 express locomotive at Peterborough North railway station. At their introduction in 1876, these were the fastest steam locomotives in the world. The Great Northern Railway (GNR) was established in 1846. []


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.


Treasure Island, 1st edition by Cassell & Co., 1883. The British book publishing house was founded in 1848 by John Cassell, and became in the 1890s an international publishing group company []

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;


Cawdor Castle, Nairnshire. RLS quotes ‘Macbeth’ II, 2, 36: after killing Duncan, Macbeth is both the Thane of Glamis and the Earl of Cawdor, and tells his wife he heard a voice call out that he had murdered sleep and will never sleep again []

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.


This entry was posted in Letters, Robert Louis Stevenson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.