“So swiftly do great minds jump!”

[As usual, for correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 2080.]

To Charles Baxter

[Baxter Letters, 1956, p. 218, at www.hathitrust.org]

[Envelope marked ‘Private’]

[Manasquan, New Jersey, 9 May 1888]

My dear Charles,

This word to acknowledge your last, though I had pratically answered it before it came, so swiftly do great minds jump! My dear friend, your letters have really carried me through this miserable passage; so do not think you can do nothing, when you have dove all. – I had read Besant’s article in Longman’s Mag (“The Endowment of the Daughter”)

Walter Besant (1836-1901) was a novelist and historian. His paper was published in Longman’s Magazine for April 1888 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

and meant to endow Katharine’s daughter in this way, advancing her the capital against her ultimate share in my estate;

Katharine Elizabeth Alan Stevenson (1851-1939), RLS’s cousin. RLS dedicated ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ to her. In 1874 she married William Sydney de Mattos whose constant infidelities led to their separation in 1881. Katharine moved to London with her two children and supported herself by journalism. In March 1888, she and RLS quarreled after Fanny published the short story “The Nixie”. W.E. Henley accused Fanny of plagiarizing the story from Katharine’s own. RLS took his wife’s side, hurting Katharine’s feelings and alienating himself from Henley [www.cityofliterature.com]

then, when I got to New York and found her letters, I shied, fearing chiefly misapprehension; but the other day, thinking after all the child had done no ill, whether I or its mother had, I wrote and proposed it to K. If she should agree, I shall get you to look into it. I fear the child is already 12, and so the premium will be grown greater or the period of payment must be delayed proportionally. It would possibly save time if you glanced into it (a chance arising) in the meanwhile.

Yours ever affectionately,


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