[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 1901.]
To W.E. Henley [Colvin 1912, pp. 234-236]
[Saranac Lake, c. 8 October 1887]
My dear lad,
I hear some vague reports of a success at Montreal.
My news is not much, my mother is away to Niagara and Fanny to Indiana; the Port Admiral and I and Valentine keep house together in our verandahed cottage near a wood.
I am writing, and have got into the vein. When I got to N.Y. a paper offered me £2000 a year to do critical weekly articles for them; the sum was so enormous that I tottered; however, Scribner at once offered me the same scale to give him a monthly paper in his magazine; indeed it is rather higher, £720 for the twelve papers.
This I could not decently refuse; and I am now a yoked man, and after a fit of my usual impotence under bondage, seem to have got into the swing. I suppose I shall scarce manage to do much else; but there is the fixed sum, which shines like a sun in the firmament. A prophet has certainly a devil of a lot of honour (and much coins) in another country, whatever he has in his own.
I got Gleeson White;
your best work and either the best or second best in the book is the Ballade in Hot Weather; that is really a masterpiece of melody and fancy.
Damn your Villanelles – and everybody’s.
G. Macdonald comes out strong in his two pious rondels;
Fons Bandusiæ seems as exquisite as ever.
[…] To my surprise, I liked two of the Pantoums, the blue-bottle,
and the still better after-death one from “Love in Idleness”.
Lang cuts a poor figure, except in the Cricket one;
your patter ballade is a great tour de force, but spoiled by similar cæsuras.
[…] On the whole ‘t is a ridiculous volume, and I had more pleasure out of it than I expected. I forgot to praise Grant Allen’s excellent ballade, which is the one that runs with yours,
– and here, to the point, a note from you at Margate – among East Winds and Plain Women, damn them!
Well, what can we do or say? We are only at Saranac for the winter;
and if this Deacon comes off, why you may join us there in glory;
I would I had some news of it. Saranac is not quite so dear, in some ways, as the rest of this land, where it costs you a pound to sneeze,
and fifty to blow your nose;
but even here it costs $2.50 to get a box from the station!
Think of it! Lift it up tenderly! They had need to pay well! but how poor devils live, and how it can pay to take a theatre company over to such a land, is more than I can fancy. The devil of the States for you is the conveyances, they are so dear – but O, what is not!
[…] I have thrown off my cold in excellent style, though still very groggy about the knees, so that when I climb a paling, of which we have many, I feel as precarious and nutatory as a man of ninety. Under this I grind; but I believe the place will suit me. Must stop. – Ever affectionately,