Written in acknowledgment of the gift of a desk, used for writing in bed.
[For correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1396.]
Bonallie Towers, Bournemouth [Postmark 26 February 1885]
To Austin Dobson [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 252-253]
Set down my delay to your own fault; I wished to acknowledge such a gift from you in some of my inapt and slovenly rhymes; but you should have sent me your pen and not your desk.
The verses stand up to the axles in a miry cross-road, whence the coursers of the sun shall never draw them;
hence I am constrained to this uncourtliness, that I must appear before one of the kings of that country of rhyme without my singing robes. For less than this, if we may trust the book of Esther, favourites have tasted death;
but I conceive the kingdom of the Muses mildlier mannered;
and in particular that county which you administer and which I seem to see as a half-suburban land; a land of hollyhocks and country houses;
a land where at night, in thorny and sequestered bypaths, you will meet masqueraders going to a ball in their sedans,
and the rector steering homeward by the light of his lantern;
a land of the windmill, and the west wind,
and the flowering hawthorn with a little scented letter in the hollow of its trunk,
and the kites flying over all in the season of kites, and the far away blue spires of a cathedral city.
Will you forgive me, then, for my delay and accept my thanks not only for your present, but for the letter which followed it, and which perhaps I more particularly value, and believe me to be, with much admiration, yours very truly,
Robert Louis Stevenson