“This experience awoke appetite”

Letter to the editor of Scribner’s Magazine.

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 2022.]

To Edward L. Burlingame [Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 52-53]

[Saranac Lake, 26 February 1888]


Dear Mr Burlingame,


Will you send me (from the library) some of the works of my dear old G.P.R. James?


George Payne Rainsford James (1799-1860), English novelist and historical writer [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

With the following especially I desire to make or to renew acquaintance: The Smuggler,



The Gipsy,



The Convict,



The Stepmother,



The Gentleman of the Old School,



The Robber.



Excusez du peu.

This sudden return to an ancient favourite hangs upon an accident. The ‘Franklin County Library’ contains two works of his, The Cavalier and Morley Ernstein.






I read the first with indescribable amusement – it was worse than I had feared, and yet somehow engaging; the second (to my surprise) was better than I had dared to hope: a good, honest, dull, interesting tale, with a genuine old-fashioned talent in the invention – when not strained; and a genuine old-fashioned feeling for the English language. This experience awoke appetite, and you see I have taken steps to stay it.



in ‘The Penny Piper of Saranac’, Boston 1916, Stephen Chalmers will write that the novel ‘Morley Ernstein’ at that time still survived in the village library, ‘yellowed and falling to pieces with age’.

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