“I think niether I nor my wife have been kindly used”

[For correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 2063.]

To Charles Baxter [Baxter Letters, 1956, p. 208, at www.hathitrust.org]

[Saranac Lake, 12 April 1888]

My dear Charles,

I write mainly to inform you that as Henley has not written to me, I have written to him:

W.E. Henley (1849-1903). RLS’s letter to him does not seem to have been preserved [https://upload.wikimedia.org

whether well or ill I know not, but putting the grounds of my annoyance honestly before him, which seemed to me (upon the whole) the best. I am in a frame of mind highly human: I wish I were dead and have no mind to die. The bottom wish of my heart is that I had died at Hyères: the happy part of my life ended there;

Chalet La Solitude, where RLS and his wife had lived from March 1883 to July 1884 [www.robert-louis-stevenson.org]
Hyères, Var, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur [www.francethisway.com]

since then I have never been well enough really to enjoy life, except for a day or two at a time, and I fear my character has suffered and I know that troubles have grown upon me. Poor Henley! – well, and poor me!

It occurs to me that you may be puzzled (knowing my opinions) at my eagerness about having the verses destroyed.

RLS had asked Henley to destroy some “Sculduddry [= Bawdy] Sangs” in his hands [http://s3.amazonaws.com]

One word will explain it: the lad has had scandals enough about his own father;

Lloyd Osbourne (1868-1947), Fanny’s son from her first marriage with Samuel C. osbourne [https://upload.wikimedia.org]
Samuel C. Osbourne (1837-87), Fanny’s first husband 1857-80. They had a turbulent married life, and three children: Isobel (1858-1953), Lloyd (1868-1947), and Hervey (1871-76). Sam was often unfaithful and in 1875 Fanny left him [www.stevensonmuseum.org]

it would be too bad if there followed one about me.

Yours affectionately,

R.L.S.

Charles, God knows I don’t want to be hard, but in my heart I think niether I nor my wife have been kindly used;

‘RLS and His Wife’ by John Singer Sargent, 1885 [https://adoxoblog.files.wordpress.com]

and to wholesale concession there appears no end. If I could trace one step of my own that had a share in it, I would write and ask pardon; but I had done literally nothing when this shell burst suddently upon my peace. Living in hope still, only wishing I had died before many things, I am

Yours perturbed,

R.L.S.

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