Stevenson’s last letter to Colvin (Oct-Nov 1894)
The present contribution has been kindly provided by Roger G. Swearingen
[In my previous post I wrote by distraction that Stevenson’s letter with parts cut out was from 1887, this has now been corrected to November 1894, thanks to the comment below sent by Roger Swearingen, who adds a following interesting observation.]
There is only one letter from which lines on editorial matters were physically cut: RLS to Colvin, ca. 15 October, 4 and 6 November 1894, Letter 2797 [Letters 8: 382-4]. In note 2 it is remarked that the portion dictated to Belle on editorial matters (November 4 and 6) was masked out and the top quarter of the last sheet was cut away, affecting text on both sides of the page.
Bradford A. Booth, ‘The Vailima Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson’, Harvard Library Bulletin, 15:2 (April 1967), 117-128. Booth comments on this letter, 127-128, noting only that Colvin omitted the literary comments (except on St. Ives) from his publication of this letter and that when he sold the letter he ‘masked out key passages’. (Booth does not mention the cutting away of the top quarter.)
There is nothing in the previous post that you mention – ‘Colvin steps in with vim’, 24 May 2013 – about any letter in 1887 that was (also) cut. There, you refer correctly to the cuts made in the 1894 letter.
Colvin’s Version of RLS’s Letter
October and November 1894, Letter 2797
This letter was not published at all in the previously published Vailima Letters (1896) or Letters . . . to His Family and Friends (1899).
It is intriguing that this version has a short paragraph at the end that does not appear in the Yale Letters:
Things are going on here in their usual disheartening gait. The Treaty Officials are both good fellows whom I can’t help liking, but who will never make a hand of Samoa.
Possibly this paragraph was in the portion of this letter that was physically cut away but was included for its interest by Colvin in his expanded edition of the letters. I have not examined the letter itself (at Harvard) but cannot imagine that if this paragraph was (is) present Ernest Mehew could have overlooked it creating the (complete) text in the Yale Letters.