“I almost begin to feel as if I should care to live”

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1860.]

To W.E. Henley [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 379-380]

[Skerryvore, Bournemouth, ? 2] August 1887

Dear lad,

[…]

I write to inform you […] that Mr. Stevenson’s well-known work, Virginibus Puerisque, is about to be reprinted.

First edition of RLS’s ‘Virginibus Puerisque’, 1881.

Second edition if RLS’s ‘Virginibus Puerisque’, 1887.

  

At the same time a second volume called Memories and Portraits will issue from the roaring loom.

First edition of RLS’s ‘Memories and Portraits’, 1887.

 

Its interest will be largely autobiographical, Mr. S. having sketched there the lineaments of many departed friends, and dwelt fondly, and with a m’istened eye, upon by-gone pleasures.

‘Memories and Portraits’, Contents.

 

The two will be issued under the common title of Familiar Essays, but the volumes will be vended separately to those who are mean enough not to hawk at both.

The blood is at last stopped: only yesterday. I began to think I should not get away.

RLS and his family were deciding to go to the US.

 

However, I hope ― I hope ― remark the word ― no boasting ― I hope I may luff up a bit now. Dobell, whom I saw, gave as usual a good account of my lungs, and expressed himself, like his neighbours, hopefully about the trip. He says,

 

Dr Horace Benge Dobell (1828-1917), brother of the poet Sidney Dobell, was Physician to the Royal Hospital for Deseases of the Chest, and had moved from London to Bournemouth in 1882. RLS dedicated him Underwoods [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

H.B. Dobell, ‘On Loss of Weight, Blood-spitting and Lung Disease’, 2nd ed., 1880. RLS received the book from Dobell in 1884.

 

my uncle says,

https://holeousia.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/george-w-balfour.jpg?w=474&h=676

RLS’s uncle, Dr George William Balfour (1823–1903), Scottish physician, known as a heart specialist, from 1867 was physician to the Royal Infirmary, being appointed consulting physician in 1882. He will become appointed physician in ordinary to Queen Victoria in 1900 and honorary physician to King Edward VII in 1901 [https://holeousia.files.wordpress.comg]

Scott says,

https://s3.amazonaws.com/photos.geni.com/3d/50/95/7a/323423770540006391/wid32zes/3d50957a1ae32959_medium.jpg

Dr Thomas Bodley Scott (1851-192), at Bournemouth since 1876. In his dedication of Underwoods to many doctors, RLS paid a special tribute to ‘one name I have kept on purpose to the last, because it is a household word with me…’ [https://s3.amazonaws.com]

Brown says ― they all say ― You ought not to be in such a state of health; you should recover. Well, then, I mean to. My spirits are rising again after three months of black depression: I almost begin to feel as if I should care to live: I would, by God! And so I believe I shall. ― Yours,

Bulletin M’Gurder

[…]

 

 

 

 

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

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“I shall have it on my tomb ― ‘He ran a butler'”

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1830.]

To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 332-333]

[Skerryvore, Bournemouth, ? 3 June 1887]

My dear Colvin,

This is to announce to you, what I believe should have been done sooner, that we are at Skerryvore.

https://www.awesomestories.com/images/user/bba0f82506f30e77d19e3bc74381cdc6.jpg

Skerryvore Cottage, Bournemouth [www.awesomestories.com]

We were both tired, and I was fighting my second cold, so we came straight through by the west.

We have a butler […]!

https://i.pinimg.com/236x/5b/a6/13/5ba613d5d2c60228c7beb26d95ec05b0.jpg

We know from the diary of RLS’s mother that he and Fanny, accompanied by Thomas Stevenson’s valet, John, had left Edinburgh on 31 May [https://i.pinimg.com]

He doesn’t buttle, but the point of the thing is the style. When Fanny gardens, he stands over her and looks genteel.

https://i2.wp.com/www.dorsetlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/316EdWestbourneSkerryvoreCREDITAlwynLadell_8589360137_fbdee27948_o.jpg

[www.dorsetlife.co.uk]

He opens the door, and I am told waits at table. Well, what’s the odds; I shall have it on my tomb ― ‘He ran a butler.’

He may have been this and that,

A drunkard or a guttler;

He may have been bald and fat ―

At least he kept a butler.

He may have sprung from ill or well,

From Emperor or sutler;

He may be burning now in Hell ―

On earth he kept a butler.

I want to tell you also that I have suppressed your poem. I shall send it you for yourself, and I hope you will agree with me that it was not good enough in point of view of merit, and a little too intimate as between you and me.

The poem ‘To ―’ beginning ‘I knew thee strong and quiet like the hills’ describing Colvin as ‘the perfect friend’ was eventually published posthumous as Songs of Travel XX, 1895.

 

I would not say less of you, my friend, but I scarce care to say so much in public while we live. A man may stand on his own head; it is not fair to set his friend on a pedestal.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/35/Portrait_of_Sidney_Colvin.jpg

Sidney Colvin (1845-1927) [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

  

The verses are now at press; I have written a damn fine ballad.

RLS’s book of verses, ‘Underwoods’ was to be published next August, 1887.

 

― And I am, dear S.C., ever yours,

Tomnoddy

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Posted in Letters, Robert Louis Stevenson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The funeral… would have pleased him”

Within a fortnight after the date of the previous letter RLS went himself, and for the last time, to Scotland; not, indeed, to visit his old haunts among the Pentlands, but to be present, too late for recognition, at the death of his father (May 8, 1887). Business detained him for some weeks, and the following was written just before his return to Bournemouth.

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1820.]

To Sidney Colvin

[Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 378-379]

[Edinburgh, Late May 1887]

My dear S.C.,

At last I can write a word to you. Your little note in the P[all] M[all] G[azette], was charming.

https://i1.wp.com/www.ourtownstories.co.uk/media/images/21073.jpg.1000x1000_q85.jpg

RLS, aged 9, and his father, 1859. In his letter of condolence of 10 May Sidney Colvin mentioned the paragraph he had written in memory of Thomas Stevenson for the Pall Mall Gazette of that date [www.ourtownstories.co.uk]

  

I have written four pages in the Contemporary, which Bunting found room for:

Obituary of Thomas Stevenson, by RLS, in Contemporary Review, June 1887, editedby Percy Willian Bunting.

they are not very good, but I shall do more for his memory in time.

About the death, I have long hesitated, I was long before I could tell my mind; and now I know it, and can but say that I am glad.

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/ce/95/5d/ce955d5607f1ac8306e8817c065de7fd.jpg

Thomas Stevenson with family and dog Coolin, at Callendar, Stirling [Thanks to Neil Macara Brown for the right information], 1866 [https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com]

If we could have had my father, that would have been a different thing.

https://i.pinimg.com/236x/d8/f5/8a/d8f58ab2f42a836d281aece90989c8a1--robert-louis-stevenson-scottish-people.jpg

RLS with his father at Callendar, Stirling [Thanks to Neil Macara Brown for the right information], 1866 [https://i.pinimg.com]

But to keep that changeling − suffering changeling − any longer, could better none and nothing.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0f/F%C3%BCssli_-_Der_Wechselbalg_-_1780.jpeg/1024px-F%C3%BCssli_-_Der_Wechselbalg_-_1780.jpeg

H. Füssli, The Changeling (Der Wechselbalg), 1781 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

   

Now he rests; it is more significant, it is more like himself. He will begin to return to us in the course of time, as he was and as we loved him.

https://i0.wp.com/stevensonmuseum.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/1970-040-0086.jpg

Thomas Stevenson with family and dog Bogue, Royat, France, 1883 c. [http://stevensonmuseum.org]

My favourite words in literature, my favourite scene − ‘O let him pass,’ Kent and Lear − was played for me here in the first moment of my return. I believe Shakespeare saw it with his own father.

 

I had no words; but it was shocking to see. He died on his feet, you know; was on his feet the last day, knowing nobody − still he would be up. This was his constant wish; also that he might smoke a pipe on his last day […]. The funeral […] would have pleased him; it was the largest private funeral in man’s memory here.

Sir George Reid, Thomas Stevenson, 1818 - 1887. Lighthouse and harbour engineer

RLS’s mother recorded in her diary that there were more than one hundred people at the funeral and 40 to 50 carriages [www.nationalgalleries.org]

We have no plans, and it is possible we may go home without going through town. I do not know; have no views yet whatever; nor can have any at this stage of my cold and my business. − Ever yours

R.L.S

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

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“I do not write possibly with all the really somewhat sickened gravity I feel”

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1798.]

To Anne Jenkin [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 375-377]

[Skerryvore, Bournemouth, Late April 1887]

My dear Mrs. Jenkin,

The Book. It is all drafted:

Anne Austin had married Henry Charles Fleeming Jenkin in 1859.

The ‘Book’ is RLS’s ‘Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin, published in 1887 with jenkin’s Papers.

 

I hope soon to send you for comments Chapters III, IV, and V.

 

Chapter VII is roughly but satisfactorily drafted: a very little work should put that to rights.

 

But Chapter VI is no joke;

 

it is a mare magnum: I swim and drown and come up again; and it is all broken ends and mystification: moreover, I perceive I am in want of more matter. I must have, first of all, a little letter from Mr. Ewing about the phonograph work:

https://lettersofrobertlouisstevenson.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/68fba-c002-001-035-fragment.jpg?w=243&h=314

James Alfred Ewing (1855-1935), Scottish engineer; pupil and friend of Fleeming Jenkin and co-editor (with Sidney Colvin) of the Papers to which RLS’s Memoir was prefixed [http://2.bp.blogspot.com]

https://lettersofrobertlouisstevenson.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/216c2-c002-001-035.jpg?w=599&h=413

James Alfred Ewing, third from left [http://3.bp.blogdpot.com]

In Ch. VI of his Memoir, RLS quotes Ewing’s description of how he and Jenkin constructed (from a description of Edison’s invention) the first phonograph to be seen in Britain and exhibited it at a Bazaar in Edinburgh in 1878.

 

https://lettersofrobertlouisstevenson.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/45fef-6a00d83542d51e69e201b8d27c73e4970c-500wi.jpg?w=500&h=383

Fleeming Jenkin and Ewing. “The Phonograph and Vowel Sounds”, in Nature 1878 [http://longstreet.typepad.com]

https://i2.wp.com/www.capsnews.org/2005-03d.gif

[www.capsnews.org]

 

If you think he would understand it is quite a matter of chance whether I use a word or a fact out of it. If you think he would not: I will go without. Also, could I have a look at Ewing’s précis? And lastly, I perceive I must interview you again about a few points; they are very few, and might come to little; and I propose to go on getting things as well together as I can in the meanwhile, and rather have a final time when all is ready and only to be criticised. I do still think it will be good. I wonder if Trélat would let me cut? But no, I think I wouldn’t after all; ’tis so quaint and pretty and clever and simple and French, and gives such a good sight of Fleeming: the plum of the book, I think.

At the end of Ch. VI of his Memoir, RLS prints a long letter from Emile Trélat, whose friendship with Jenkin began when they were fellow-members of the jury of the International Exhibition at Paris in 1878.

 

[…]

You misunderstood me in one point: I always hoped to found such a society; that was the outside of my dream, and would mean entire success. But − I cannot play Peter the Hermit.

https://i1.wp.com/www.artnet.com/WebServices/images/ll00167lldVkOGFgKkECfDrCWvaHBOcV2DC/james-archer-peter-the-hermit-preaching-the-first-crusade.jpg

Peter the Hermit preaching the first crusade, by J. Archer, 1897.RLA refers to a remark of Mrs Jenkin that a task such as he had proposed to himself in Ireland (his scheme of going to make a stand in his own person against agrarian outrage there) should be undertaken by a society rather than an individual [www.artnet.com]

  

In these days of the Fleet Street journalist,

Fleet Street, London, c. 1890. It became known for printing and publishing at the start of the 16th century and it became the dominant trade. The term Fleet Street remains a metonym for the British national press [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

https://i2.wp.com/lowres-picturecabinet.com.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/29/main/4/68215.jpg

Fleet Street, London, late 19th century [http://lowres-picturecabinet.com.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com]

Fleet Street, London [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

 

I cannot send out better men than myself, with wives or mothers just as good as mine, and sisters (I may at least say) better, to a danger and a long-drawn dreariness that I do not share. My wife says it’s cowardice; what brave men are the leader-writers! Call it cowardice; it is mine. Mind you, I may end by trying to do it by the pen only: I shall not love myself if I do; and is it ever a good thing to do a thing for which you despise yourself? − even in the doing? And if the thing you do is to call upon others to do the thing you neglect? I have never dared to say what I feel about men’s lives, because my own was in the wrong: shall I dare to send them to death? The physician must heal himself; he must honestly try the path he recommends: if he does not even try, should he not be silent?

Actor Richard Mansfield in his dual role depicted in this double exposure: he starred in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in both New York and London. The stage adaptation opened in New York in 1887 and London in 1888 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

I thank you very heartily for your letter, and for the seriousness you brought to it. You know, I think when a serious thing is your own, you keep a saner man by laughing at it and yourself as you go. So I do not write possibly with all the really somewhat sickened gravity I feel. And indeed, what with the book, and this business to which I referred, and Ireland, I am scarcely in an enviable state. Well, I ought to be glad, after ten years of the worse training on earth − valetudinarianism − that I can still be troubled by a duty. You shall hear more in time; so far, I am at least decided: I will go and see Balfour when I get to London.

https://i2.wp.com/www.emmasekhon.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/savile-club-london-wedding-photography-emma-sekhon52.jpg

Eustace James Anthony Balfour (1854-1911), architect and surveyor to the Duke of Westminster, was a member of the Savile Club, London. His brother Arthur, the Conservative politician, was then Chief Secretary for Ireland [www.emmasekhon.com]

We have all had a great pleasure: a Mrs. Rawlinson came and brought with her a nineteen-year-old daughter, simple, human, as beautiful as − herself; I never admired a girl before, you know it was my weakness: we are all three dead in love with her.

Mary Margherita Cridland had married in 1867 William George Rawlinson, art collector and writer on Turner. After their visit RLS sent their eldest daughter Mary (May) the poem: ‘Of the many flowers you brought me’ [https://images.findagrave.com]

 

How nice to be able to do so much good to harassed people by − yourself! Ever yours,

R.L.S.

 

 

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Posted in Letters, Robert Louis Stevenson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some day climb as high as Halkerside for me, and sprinkle some of the well water on the turf

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1795.]

To Alison Cunningham [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 368-370]

Skerryvore, April 16th, 1887

My dearest Cummy,

As usual, I have been a dreary bad fellow and not written for ages; but you must just try to forgive me, to believe (what is the truth) that the number of my letters is no measure of the number of times I think of you, and to remember how much writing I have to do.

https://i0.wp.com/freeread.com.au/@rglibrary/GKChesterton/Biography/Images/Stevenson-15.jpg

  

The weather is bright, but still cold;

 

 

https://i1.wp.com/www.cheriewheatcroft.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Sunset-over-Bournemouth-Pier.jpg

Sunset over Bournemouth Pier [www.cheriewheatcroft.co.uk]

[https://s-ec.bstatic.com]

 

and my father, I’m afraid, feels it sharply. He has had − still has, rather − a most obstinate jaundice, which has reduced him cruelly in strength, and really upset him altogether. I hope, or think, he is perhaps a little better; but he suffers much, cannot sleep at night, and gives John and my mother a severe life of it to wait upon him.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/ba/ThomasStevenson.jpg

Thomas Stevenson (1818-1887) [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

undefined

Margaret Isabella Balfour Stevenson (1829-1897) [http://robert-louis-stevenson.org]

 

My wife is, I think, a little better, but no great shakes.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4f/Fanny_Stevenson.jpg

Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson (1840-1914) [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

[…] I keep mightily respectable myself. […]

https://uploads8.wikiart.org/images/john-singer-sargent/robert-louis-stevenson-1887.jpg

RLS by John Singer Sargent, Bournemouth, April 1887 [www.wikiart.org]

Coolin’s Tombstone is now built into the front wall of Skerryvore,

https://i2.wp.com/www.free-online-veterinarian-advice.com/images/xskye-terrier-dog-breed-profile-21395708.jpg.pagespeed.ic.hOYTsr3ntn.jpg

‘Coolin’ had been a favourite Skye terrier of Heriot Row days. He was killed in 1869. His tombstone, complete with Latin epitaph by RLS, had been moved from Swanston cottage to Skerryvore [www.free-online-veterinarian-advice.com]

https://i2.wp.com/www.dorsetlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/316EdWestbourneSkerryvoreCREDITAlwynLadell_8589360137_fbdee27948_o.jpg

[www.dorsetlife.co.uk]

https://i0.wp.com/robert-louis-stevenson.org/wp-content/uploads/skerryvore.jpg

Skerryvore cottage at RLS’s time [http://robert-louis-stevenson.org]

https://i2.wp.com/www.dorsetlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/316EdWestbourneSkerryvoreCREDITAlwynLadell_8589370801_d33ac27170_o.jpg

[www.dorsetlife.co.uk]

 

and poor Bogie’s (with a Latin inscription also) is set just above it. Poor, unhappy wee man, he died, as you must have heard, in fight, which was what he would have chosen; for military glory was more in his line than the domestic virtues.

1883 - with family and Wogg

RLS with his family and dog Bogie (aka Woggs), 1883. ‘Bogie’ was the final transformation of Wogg’s name: In French “Bogue” means chesnut-burr.

 

I believe this is about all my news, except that, as I write, there is a blackbird singing in our garden trees, as it were at Swanston.

https://i1.wp.com/freeread.com.au/@rglibrary/GKChesterton/Biography/Images/Stevenson-10.jpg

RLS spent several summers in Swanston in the 1870s, as a result of his father taking out a lease for Swanston Cottage (on a spur road to the NW of the village) from 1867 to 1880. Cummy lived in the small house on the left hand side of the lane leading to Swanston Cottage, from 1880 to 1893 (having lived in the Cottage with them whilst they lived there) [http://freeread.com.au]

   

I would like fine to go up the burnside a bit, and sit by the pool and be young again –

RLS’s bedroom, Swanston cottage, 1867.

RLS as a Student

RLS, as a student, 1872 [http://robert-louis-stevenson.org]

− or no, be what I am still, only there instead of here, for just a little. Did you see that I had written about John Todd? In this month’s Longman it was; if you have not seen it, I will try and send it you.

 

 

immagine 1

The shepherd John Todd’s cottage at Swanston.

 

Some day climb as high as Halkerside for me (I am never likely to do it for myself), and sprinkle some ofthe well water on the turf. I am afraid it is a pagan rite, but quite harmless, and ye can sain it wi’ a bit prayer.

The name ‘Halkerside’ is not found on maps. RLS says in ‘Pastoral’: ‘that nameless trickle that springs in the green bosom of Allermuir, and is fed from Halkerside with a perennial teacupful, and threads the moss under the Shearer’s Knowe, and makes one pool there, overhung by a rock, where I loved to sit and make bad verses …’ From E.B. Simpson: ‘R. L. Stevenson Originals’ (1912). So Halkerside was the source of the Hare Burn on the slopes of Allermuir, Pentlands, SW of Swanston village. For Allermuir, see http://maps.nls.uk

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/Pentland_Hills_from_Allermuir.jpg

The Pentland Hills from Allermuir [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

Tell the Peewies that I mind their forbears well.

 

My heart is sometimes heavy and sometimes glad to mind it all. But for what we have received, the Lord make us truly thankful. Don’t forget to sprinkle the water, and do it in my name; I feel a childish eagerness in this.

Remember me most kindly to James, and with all sorts of love to yourself, believe me, your laddie,

Robert Louis Stevenson

P.S. − I suppose Mrs. Todd ought to see the paper about her man; judge of that, and if you think she would not dislike it, buy her one from me, and let me know. The article is called ‘Pastoral’, in Longman’s Magazine for April. I will send you the money; I would today, but it’s the Sabbie day, and I cannae.

R.L.S.

Remembrances from all here.

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Posted in Letters, Robert Louis Stevenson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Home Rule, if you like”

The following sets forth the pros and cons which were balancing each other in RLS’s mind in regard to his scheme of going to make a stand in his own person against agrarian outrage in Ireland, under the Conservative Government of Lord Salisbury.

[As usual, for correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1794.]

To Anne Jenkin [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 370-375]

[Skerryvore, Bournemouth]

April 15 or 16 (the hour not being known), 1887

My dear Mrs. Jenkin,

It is I know not what hour of the night; but I cannot sleep, have lit the gas, and here goes.

 

TECHNOLOGY: The benefit of gas lighting over traditional oil lamps was dramatic. With a candlepower output of 6 to 7 times over standard oil lamps the overall level of illumination in a space was greatly enhanced. When multiple gasoliers were used in a single space the distribution of light became more even and the light level brighter. But it created a number of challenges as well.

[https://it.pinterest.com]

First, all your packet arrived: I have dipped into the Schumann already with great pleasure.

Risultati immagini per schumann Klavierstücke für die Jugend old edition

RLS might be referring to Robert Schumann’s ‘Album für die Jugend’.

 

RLS’s transcription of Schumann’s ‘Matrosenlied’ [https://sites.google.com]

https://doc-0k-3s-docs.googleusercontent.com/docs/securesc/2t2nkb2tjf6ih0bil464epft512ddb7l/ojhnkfo9mb4061uns7g75b05e0vv9vju/1514037600000/18015561823774250343/10695368456467695039/0B6ePJYEEMsOqenEwdnFPRWxaajg?e=download&nonce=pnftdm00fbje8&user=10695368456467695039&hash=bk2gm3g0pvtr5qp90q0gpq55ntancu4s

 

Surely, in what concerns us there is a sweet little chirrup; the Good Words arrived in the morning just when I needed it, and the famous notes that I had lost were recovered also in the nick of time.

Good Words (May 1886) contained ‘Reminescences of My Later Life’ by Mary Howitt, recording a visit to the Jenkins; it is quoted in ch. IV of RLS’s ‘Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin’.

 

And now I am going to bother you with my affairs: premising, first, that this is private; second, that whatever I do the Life shall be done first, and I am getting on with it well;

RLS’s Life of Fleeming Jenkin was to be published that same 1887.

 

and third, that I do not quite know why I consult you, but something tells me you will hear with fairness.

Here is my problem. The Curtin women are still miserable prisoners;

On 13 Nov 1885 a gang who promoted agrarianism in Ireland during the Land War had attacked the farm of John Curtin in County Kerry demanding arms. During the fighting Curtin was mortally wounded but succeeded in shooting one of the gang. In retaliation, the Curtin family were boycotted and subjected to harassment and persecution [https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com]

https://i2.wp.com/www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/coclare/songs/cmc/images/agrarian_strife_eviction.jpg

Scene at an Irish eviction in County Kerry, ‘Illustrated London News’, 15 January 1887 [www.clarelibrary.ie]

 

no one dare buy their farm of them, all the manhood of England and the world stands aghast before a threat of murder.

https://d2e1bqvws99ptg.cloudfront.net/user_image_upload/436/insert-eviction-vtls000043129_001.jpg

Tenant farmer and family left homeless after eviction in Gweedore, Donegal, c. 1880-1900. Photo by Robert French from the Lawrence Collection, National Library of Ireland [https://d2e1bqvws99ptg.cloudfront.net]

[www.maggieblanck.com]

F. Goodall, “An Irish Eviction’, 1850 [www.maggieblanck.com]

 

(1) Now, my work can be done anywhere; hence I can take up without loss a backgoing Irish farm, and live on, though not (as I had originally written) in it: First Reason. (2) If I should be killed, there are a good many who would feel it: writers are so much in the public eye, that a writer being murdered would attract attention, throw a bull’s-eye light upon this cowardly business: Second Reason. (3) I am not unknown in the States, from which the funds come that pay for these brutalities: to some faint extent my death (if I should be killed) would tell there: Third Reason. (4) Nobody else is taking up this obvious and crying duty: Fourth Reason. (5) I have a crazy health and may die at any moment, my life is of no purchase in an insurance office, it is the less account to husband it, and the business of husbanding a life is dreary and demoralising: Fifth Reason.

https://i1.wp.com/blistar.net/images/photos/6be63e476be597797ec761672ca53498.jpg

RLS, Bournemouth, April 1887 [http://blistar.net]

I state these in no order, but as they occur to me. And I shall do the like with the objections.

First Objection: It will do no good; you have seen Gordon die, and nobody minded; nobody will  mind if you die. This is plainly of the devil.

death_of_general_gordon_at_khartoum2c_by_j-l-g-_ferris

J.L.G. Ferris, death of General Gordon at Khartoum, 1885. Gordon (1833-85) was sent to evacuate British citizens from a troubled region and to otherwise abandon Sudan. Once arrived, he decided it was best to crush the Muslim uprising for fear that it would eventually spread to Egypt as well. He began a defense of Khartoum, with 6,000 men. “Under pressure from the public” a relief expedition force was sent, but failed to arrive in time to save Gordon and his men [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

Second Objection: You will not even be murdered, the climate will miserably kill you, you will strangle out in a rotten damp heat, in congestion, etc.

Irish Landscapes Slideshow

[www.irishlandscapes.ie]

Well, what then? It changes nothing: the purpose is to brave crime; let me brave it, for such time and to such an extent as God allows. Third Objection: The Curtin women are probably highly uninteresting females. I haven’t a doubt of it. But the Government cannot, men will not, protect them. If I am the only one to see this public duty, it is to the public and the Right I should perform it − not to Mesdames Curtin. Fourth Objection: I am married. ‘I have married a wife!’ I seem to have heard it before. It smells ancient! what was the context?

[http://biblepic.com]

Fifth Objection: My wife has had a mean life (1), loves me (2), could not bear to lose me (3).

https://i1.wp.com/historicindianapolis.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/1880.Fanny_.Stevenson.jpg

Fanny Stevenson [http://historicindianapolis.com]

(1) I admit: I am sorry. (2) But what does she love me for? and (3) she must lose me soon or late.

The body of RLS laying at rest, Vailima, Samoa, 1894 [http://www.janesoceania.com]

And after all, because we run this risk, it does not follow we should fail. Sixth Objection: My wife wouldn’t like it. No, she wouldn’t. Who would? But the Curtins don’t like it. And all those who are to suffer if this goes on, won’t like it. And if there is a great wrong, somebody must suffer. Seventh Objection: I won’t like it. No, I will not; I have thought it through, and I will not. But what of that? And both she and I may like it more than we suppose. We shall lose friends, all comforts, all society: so has everybody who has ever done anything; but we shall have some excitement, and that’s a fine thing; and we shall be trying to do the right, and that’s not to be despised. Eighth Objection: I am an author with my work before me. See Second Reason. Ninth Objection: But am I not taken with the hope of excitement? I was at first. I am not much now. I see what a dreary, friendless, miserable, God-forgotten business it will be.

https://i2.wp.com/www.maggieblanck.com/Mayopages/ImagesM08/Oct313.jpg

Eviction of Thomas Considine, Tullycrine, July 1888 [www.maggieblanck.com]


And anyway, is not excitement the proper reward of doing anything both right and a little dangerous? Tenth Objection: But am I not taken with a notion of glory? I dare say I am. Yet I see quite clearly how all points to nothing coming, to a quite inglorious death by disease and from the lack of attendance; or even if I should be knocked on the head, as these poor Irish promise, how little any one will care. It will be a smile at a thousand breakfast-tables. I am nearly forty now; I have not many illusions. And if I had? I do not love this healthtending, housekeeping life of mine.

RLS and Fanny, Bournemouth, August 1885 [www.jssgallery.org]

I have a taste for danger, which is human, like the fear of it. Here is a fair cause; a just cause; no knight ever set lance in rest for a juster. Yet it needs not the strength I have not, only the passive courage that I hope I could muster, and the watchfulness that I am sure I could learn.

Here is a long midnight dissertation; with myself; with you. Please let me hear. But I charge you this: if you see in this idea of mine the finger of duty, do not dissuade me. I am nearing forty, I begin to love my ease and my home and my habits, I never knew how much till this arose; do not falsely counsel me to put my head under the bed-clothes. And I will say this to you: my wife, who hates the idea, does not refuse. ‘It is nonsense,’ says she, ‘but if you go, I will go.’ Poor girl, and her home and her garden that she was so proud of! I feel her garden most of all, because it is a pleasure (I suppose) that I do not feel myself to share.

https://i2.wp.com/www.dorsetlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/316EdWestbourneSkerryvoreCREDITAlwynLadell_8589360137_fbdee27948_o.jpg

[www.dorsetlife.co.uk]

  1. Here is a great wrong.
  2. ” a growing wrong.
  3. ”   a wrong founded on crime.
  4. ” crime that the Government cannot prevent.
  5. ” is crime that it occurs to no man to defy.
  6. But it has occurred to me.
  7. Being a known person, some will notice my defiance.
  8. Being a writer, I can make people notice it.
  9. And, I think, make people imitate me.
  10. Which would destroy in time this whole scaffolding of oppression.
  11. And if I fail, however ignominiously, that is not my concern. It is, with an odd mixture of reverence and humorous remembrances of Dickens, be it said − it is A-nother’s.

In Dickens’s ’Martin Chuzzlewit’, Augustus Noddle constantly refers to Mercy Pecksniff (with whom he is in love) as ‘another’s’.

 

And here, at I cannot think what hour of the morning, I shall dry up, and remain − Yours, really in want of a little help.

R.L.S.

Sleepless at midnight’s dewy hour.

”                                   ”        witching    ”

”                                   ”        maudlin     ”

            etc.

Next morning. − Eleventh Objection: I have a father and mother. And who has not? Macduff’s was a rare case; if we must wait for a Macduff.

Risultati immagini per macduff kills macbeth

[http://slideplayer.com]

Besides, my father will not perhaps be long here.

Thomas Stevenson will die a few weeks after [https://en.wikipedia.org]

Twelfth Objection: The cause of England in Ireland is not worth supporting. À qui le dites-vous? And I am not supporting that. Home Rule, if you like.

https://stairnaheireann.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/5u.jpg?w=571&h=353

[https://stairnaheireann.files.wordpress.com]

   

Weekly Freeman’s Journal cartoon depicting Erin waiting outside the House of Commons, june 1886   [http://centenariestimeline.com]

Cause of decency, the idea that populations should not be taught to gain public ends by private crime, the idea that for all men to bow before a threat of crime is to loosen and degrade beyond redemption the whole fabric of man’s decency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Posted in Letters, Robert Louis Stevenson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“… staccato, I think. Then you sail into the musette”

 

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1789.]

To Anne Jenkin [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 329-331]

 [Skerryvore, Bournemouth, ? 7 April 1887]

My dear Mrs. Jenkin,

I try to tell myself it is good nature, but I know it is vanity that makes me write.

I have drafted the first part of Chapter VI, Fleeming and his friends,

RLS’s ‘Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin’, a tribute to his professor of engineering at Edinburgh University, was to be published that same year.

 

  

his influence on me, his views on religion and literature, his part at the Savile;

The members’ bar at the Savile Club, London [http://upload.wikimedia.org/]

it should boil down to about ten pages, and I really do think it admirably good. It has so much evoked Fleeming for myself that I found my conscience stirred just as it used to be after a serious talk with him: surely that means it is good?

https://ia800300.us.archive.org/BookReader/BookReaderImages.php?zip=/9/items/papersliterarysc01jenk/papersliterarysc01jenk_jp2.zip&file=papersliterarysc01jenk_jp2/papersliterarysc01jenk_0008.jp2&scale=5.724820143884892&rotate=0

Anne Jenkin’s husband, H.C. Fleeming Jenkin (1833-1885),  famous electrical engineer working on submarine telegraph cables, and RLS’s professor of Engineering at Edinburgh University in 1868.

 

I had to write and tell you, being alone.

I have excellent news of Fanny, who is much better for the change […].

Fanny was in London, consulting doctors. F wrote to RLS: ‘He says that my nerves are entirely ruined, and always will be, and that I am full of rheumatism, but that he hopes to more or less cure’ [www.elespanol.com]

My father is still very yellow, and very old, and very weak, but yesterday he seemed happier, and smiled, and followed what was said; even laughed, I think. When he came away, he said to me, ‘Take care of yourself, my dearie,’ which had a strange sound of childish days, and will not leave my mind.

Thomas Stevenson will die that year, May 8th [www.nationalgalleries.org]

[…]

You must get Litolf’s Gavottes Célèbres:

 

 

Risultati immagini per gavottes celebres

 

I have made another trover there: a musette of Lully’s. The second part of it I have not yet got the hang of; but the first − only a few bars! The gavotte is beautiful and pretty hard, I think, and very much of the period;

 

and at the end of it, this musette enters with the most really thrilling effect of simple beauty. O − it’s first-rate. I am quite mad over it.

If you find other books containing Lully,

lully

Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632–1687) [https://deamoregallico.com]

 

Rameau,

File:Attribué à Joseph Aved, Portrait de Jean-Philippe Rameau (vers 1728) - 001.jpg

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683–1764) [https://en.wikipedia.org]

Martini,

File:Padre Martini 1.jpg

Giovanni Battista Martini (1706–1784) [https://it.wikipedia.org]

 

please let me know; also you might tell me, you who know Bach, where the easiest is to be found.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) [https://it.wikipedia.org]

I write all morning, come down, and never leave the piano till about five; write letters, dine, get down again about eight, and never leave the piano till I go to bed.

004937-450x399.jpg

RLS’s piano, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Sydney [https://maas.museum]

This is a fine life. − Yours most sincerely,

R.L.S.

If you get the musette (Lully’s), please tell me if I am right, and it was probably written for strings. Anyway, it is as neat as − as neat as Bach − on the piano; or seems so to my ignorance.

I play much of the Rigadoon; but it’s strange, it don’t come off quite so well with me!

There is the first part of the musette copied (from memory, so I hope there’s nothing wrong). Is it not angelic? But it ought, of course, to have the gavotte before. The gavotte is in G, and ends on the keynote thus (I if remember) : −

 

staccato, I think. Then you sail into the musette.

N.B. − Where I have put an ‘A’, is that a dominant eleventh, or what? or just a seventh on the D? and if the latter, is that allowed? It sounds very funny. Never mind all my questions; if I begin about music (which is my leading ignorance and curiosity), I have always to babble questions: all my friends know me now, and take no notice whatever. The whole piece is marked allegro; but surely could easily be played too fast? The dignity must not be lost; the periwig feeling.

 

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Posted in Letters, Robert Louis Stevenson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment