[trading in the Solomons] One page, on "Harbor Rest" stationery, dated by ink-stamp July 9, 1911. With London's name and address ("Glen Ellen, Calif.") in holograph, plus his signature at the end of the letter.
The text of this letter (we apologize for repeating Jack's language!) is:
In reply to yours of recent date. Please don't forget that if tobacco was dreadfully wanted, was rarely brought, was quickly used and gone, etc., that not only pennies, but sovereigns, and any and all other purchasing mediums, would be sedulously accumulated against the day when more tobacco was purchasable.
You speak of logic. Nevertheless, logically, when you grant the cheapness of sovereigns compared with pennies during the course of the first trading, then you must grant that in the course of the second trading between the coast niggers and the interior tribes, the same ratio will obtain. The interior tribes will hold on to the pennies and dispose of the sovereigns just as the coast niggers did with the white men in the first instance. There are several more ways of looking at it, but I shall not burden you.
Thank you for your good letter. I love to receive criticisms -- especially when I think I can get back at the other fellow!
[signed] Jack London
Jack wrote this letter during the time in 1911 when he and Charmian were moored, in Humboldt Bay, on the "Harbor Rest," the house-boat belonging to the former mayor of Eureka, H.L. Ricks. They would leave Humboldt Bay four days after Jack wrote this letter, heading for Hoopa and the Klamath River, ultimately north to Crescent City. (There is a great photo, at the Huntington, of Jack and Charmian posing on board the "Harbor Rest," complete with the boat's name-plate.)
The recipient was a Boston doctor, whose office was on Tremont Row there. We do not know exactly what Dr. Brittain wrote Jack about, but it was most likely a "criticism" he had after reading Jack's new book that had just come out the preceding month, THE CRUISE OF THE SNARK. This book was the account of Jack and Charmian's voyage aboard their boat The Snark, begun in 1907 and planned to last seven years (around the world) -- but Jack's medical and financial problems cut it short in 1909, after cruising to Hawaii, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tahiti and (winding up in a hospital in) Sydney. Specifically, in that book Jack wrote about using the tobacco they had brought to barter for goods on some of the islands (see page 289 for an example in the Solomons).
Jack's use of "the n-word" was unfortunately not unusual at the time, and was especially used by explorers of the South Pacific and of Australia. Our favorite line of the letter is the final one -- revealing Jack's irritation that some doctor in Boston considers himself able to criticize something he knows little about.
Like this letter, the majority of Jack London's letters were typed. The letter is in very good condition -- with faint evidence (at the edges) of it having being mounted, and with a 1.5-inch tear along an original fold, right between "Jack" and "London." Item #14681