“This, dear James, is a valedictory”

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 2098.]

To Henry James [Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 70-7]

Manasquan (ahem!), New Jersey [28 May 1888]

My dear James,

With what a torrent it has come at last! Up to now, what I like best is the first number of a London Life. You have never done anything better, and I don’t know if perhaps you have ever done anything so good as the girl’s outburst: tip-top.

In 1888 a number of stories by James had been eventually published in magazines. Among them, ‘A London Life’, in Scribner’s Magazine (May-September) [https://babel.hathitrust.org]

I have been preaching your later works in your native land. I had to present the Beltraffio volume to Low, and it has brought him to his knees; he was amazed at the first part of Georgina’s Reasons, although (like me) not so well satisfied with Part II.

‘The Author of Beltraffio’ and ‘Georgina’s Reasons’ were among James’s stories collected in book form in America, 1885.
Beginning of James’s story, ‘The Author of Beltraffio’, 1885.

Beginning of James’s story, ‘Georgina’s Reasons’, 1885.
Self-portrait of Will Hicock Low (1853-1932), American painter and RLS’s friend [http://3.bp.blogspot.com]

It is annoying to find the American public as stupid as the English, but they will waken up in time: I wonder what they will think of Two Nations? […]

James’s story, originally called ‘Two Countries’ was published later as ‘The Modern Warning’.


This, dear James, is a valedictory. On June 15th the schooner yacht Casco will (weather and a jealous providence permitting) steam

The schooner Casco [https://search-bcarchives.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca]

through the Golden Gates

The Golden Gates, San Francisco, 19th century [www.unmuseum.org]

for Honolulu,

Honolulu harbor, 19th century [https://cdn3.volusion.com]


Harbour of Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia. French educational card, late 19th century [www.lookandlearn.com]

the Galapagos,

Giant Galapagos tortoises, 1896 engraving [www.sciencephoto.com]


Guayaquil, Ecuador, 19th century [https://static.greatbigcanvas.com]

and – I hope not the bottom of the Pacific.


It will contain your obedient ’umble servant and party.

RLS on the schooner Casco.

It seems too good to be true, and is a very good way of getting through the green-sickness of maturity which, with all its accompanying ills, is now declaring itself in my mind and life. They tell me it is not so severe as that of youth: if I (and the Casco) are spared, I shall tell you more exactly, as I am one of the few people in the world who do not forget their own lives.

Good-bye, then, my dear fellow, and please write us a word; we expect to have three mails in the next two months: Honolulu,




and Guayaquil.


But letters will be forwarded from Scribner’s,

Scribner’s, 743-745 Broadway, N.Y. [http://library.princeton.edu]

if you hear nothing more definite directly. In 3 (three) days I leave for San Francisco.

San Francisco harbor, 1851 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

Ever yours most cordially,


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