"... such a likeable old scamp." A fine, effusive letter to Bruce Porter, an amateur of the arts whom James had first met in San Francisco during his lecture tour of 1904–05. After James's death, Porter married William James's daughter Margaret.
In this letter, James goes on at length about the good impression Porter has made on various people in Rye. Of his neighbor Mrs. Smith, he writes, "... it's hardly too much to say that when the summer comes I almost never see her without her breaking into an unassuaged wail for you. 'Will he never then come again, & are we really to go on without him?' I groan back at her: 'Oh, California, you know, on the other side of the globe ...'"
Of great interest is James's description of a visit from Robert Louis Stevenson's widow: "I had a visit from Fanny Stevenson of exactly a quarter of an hour. It must have been 2 summers ago—toward the autumn: she had had that year a house somewhere in Surrey—for a few weeks; & she suddenly turned up in a motor after luncheon, with Lloyd O[sbourne] & the remarkable young Field, just for a momentary halt on their way to Dover & to France—fleeing from this unhappy clime on acct. of a cold & wet summer .... It was a queer little flurried self-conscious moment, somehow, on the part of the trio—though young Field, to me, is oddly sympathetic—he seems intended for civilization; but Fanny S. is always, for me, such a likeable old scamp, in spite of her primitive passions, that my heart weakly warmed to her & I wd. fain have seen her more. However, since that day no echo of them has returned to me, & I know nothing of their whereabouts." James had the distinction of being the only one of Robert Louis Stevenson's friends with whom Fanny did not quarrel. This letter records their last meeting.
Not in vol. IV of Leon Edel's Letters of Henry James.
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