[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 2051.]
To Adelaide Boodle [Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 65-66]
Address, c/o Messrs. Scribner’s Sons,
743 Broadway, N. Y.
[c. 9 April 1888]
My dear Gamekeeper,
Your p.c. (proving you a good student of Micawber) has just arrived, and it paves the way to something I am anxious to say.
I wrote a paper the other day – Pulvis et Umbra;
I wrote it with great feeling and conviction: to me it seemed bracing and healthful, it is in such a world (so seen by me), that I am very glad to fight out my battle, and see some fine sunsets
and hear some excellent jests between whiles round the camp fire.
But I find that to some people this vision of mine is a nightmare, and extinguishes all ground of faith in God or pleasure in man. Truth I think not so much of; for I do not know it. And I could wish in my heart that I had not published this paper, if it troubles folk too much: all have not the same digestion, nor the same sight of things. And it came over me with special pain that perhaps this article (which I was at the pains to send to her) might give dismalness to my Gamekeeper at Home.
Well, I cannot take back what I have said; but yet I may add this. If my view be everything but the nonsense that it may be – to me it seems self-evident and blinding truth surely of all things it makes this world holier. There is nothing in it but the moral side – but the great battle and the breathing times with their refreshments. I see no more and no less. And if you look again, it is not ugly, and it is filled with promise.
Pray excuse a desponding author for this apology. My wife is away off to the uttermost parts of the States, all by herself. I shall be off, I hope, in a week; but where? Ah! that I know not.
I keep wonderful, and my wife a little better, and the lad flourishing. We now perform duets on two D tin whistles;
it is no joke to make the bass; I think I must really send you one, which I wish you would correct. […]
I may be said to live for these instrumental labours now, but I have always some childishness on hand. – I am, dear Gamekeeper, your indulgent but intemperate Squire,
Robert Louis Stevenson