[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 1994.]
To Edward L. Burlingame [Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 46-48]
Saranac Lake, [6 January 1888]
Dear Mr. Burlingame,
[…] I am keeping the sermon to see if I can’t add another. Meanwhile, I will send you very soon a different paper which may take its place. Possibly some of these days soon I may get together a talk on things current, which should go in (if possible) earlier than either.
I am now less nervous about these papers; I believe I can do the trick without great strain, though the terror that breathed on my back in the beginning is not yet forgotten.
The Master of Ballantrae I have had to leave aside, as I was quite worked out. But in about a week I hope to try back and send you the first four numbers: these are all drafted, it is only the revision that has broken me down, as it is often the hardest work. These four I propose you should set up for me at once, and we’ll copyright ’em in a pamphlet. I will tell you the names of the bona fide purchasers in England. The numbers will run from twenty to thirty pages of my manuscript. You can give me that much, can you not ? It is a howling good tale − at least these first four numbers are; the end is a trifle more fantastic, but ’tis all picturesque.
Don’t trouble about any more French books; I am on another scent, you see, just now. Only the French in Hindustan I await with impatience, as that is for Ballantrae.
The scene of that romance is Scotland − the States − Scotland − India − Scotland − and the States again; so it jumps like a flea.
I have enough about the States now, and very much obliged I am; yet if Drake’s Tragedies of the Wilderness is (as I gather) a collection of originals, I should like to purchase it. If it is a picturesque vulgarisation, I do not wish to look it in the face.
Purchase, I say; for I think it would be well to have some such collection by me with a view to fresh works. − Yours very sincerely,
Robert Louis Stevenson
P.S. − If you think of having the Master illustrated, I suggest that Hole would be very well up to the Scottish, which is the larger, part. If you have it done here, tell your artist to look at the hall of Craigievar in Billing’s Baronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities, and he will get a broad hint for the hall at Durrisdeer;
it is, I think, the chimney of Craigievar and the roof of Pinkie, and perhaps a little more of Pinkie altogether; but I should have to see the book myself to be sure.
Hole would be invaluable for this.
I dare say if you had it illustrated, you could let me have one or two for the English edition.