Dear HPL, Cordially REH
by Bobby Derie
The following letter, apparently Robert E. Howard’s answer to H. P. Lovecraft’s meandering missive rescued from Derleth’s typewriter ribbon, was finally pieced together from several fragments and scraps sold by a particularly shrewd and mercenary dealer in California, who rightly reasoned that he could fetch a better price for the whole if they were sold piecemeal. Now, thanks to the generosity of individual purchasers of various fragments, this lost piece of correspondence may be presented whole for the edification of fans and scholars of REH and HPL.
I have finally found time to answer your (as always) interesting letter. Recalling off-hand the charges you have made against me, I remember that at various times you have accused me of being: Exalter-of-the-Physical-Above-the-Mental; Enemy of Humanity; Foe of Mankind; Apostle of Prejudice; Distorter of Fact; Repudiator of Evolutionary Standards; Over-Emphasizer of Ethics; Sympathizer of Criminals (that one broke all altitude records); Egotist; Poseur; Emotionalist; Defender of Ignorance; Sentimentalist; Romanticist. Memory of my heresy is mingled in every attack you make on me and my ideas. Concerning the clippings about the police, etc., I didn’t present them in an effort to show these things were typical. I’m afraid a written statement of affairs wouldn’t do much good, unless signed by some one in authority; even if I dared to publish such a paper.
One market I tried was Spicy Adventure, a sex magazine to which Ed is the star contributor. He’s a good deal bigger than I am—taller and heavier—and only a few months older, but I am beginning to fear that he doesn’t have the stamina and endurance that a man of his age ought to have. They say that the aforesaid giant and I, after the smoke cleared away, sallied forth to visit a young lady, that we got into the wrong front yard, and that I got sick.
I’ve also taken a short run into Central East Texas (to talk to the surgeon who operated [on] my mother last spring) and one into South Texas (to buy some German wine for my mother from Ludwig Borauer who makes the best in the world); I’ve learned to mix a dozen or so new drinks, have renewed an old love affair and broken it off again, developed a new set of exercises with sledge-hammers, read some new books, made some more enemies, learned how to take care of milch goats, so altogether the year that brings me into middle age has been a rather stormy one. That was four days ago, and still the water is gushing over the spillway, in spite of the fact that all flood-gates are being kept wide open, to take care of the surplus.
We are not farmers. Water, brought from dams built on the Pecos, is the reason for the town’s existence. It doesn’t have, for instance, or at least we didn’t see any of those dives so popular in Mexican border towns, where naked prostitutes of both sexes and various Latin races first dance before the customers, then copulate with each other, and then indulge in various revolting perversions for the entertainment of the crowd, which is generally made up of tourists.
I like your “Festival” reprint in the current Weird Tales. I hope you decide to collaborate on the proposed musical drama.
Typical letter from the postoak country.