The moral of Berecchino


For Stevenson’s description of ‘A Night in France’ with a piano playing ‘Dunbarton Drums’ (clearly being played by Mme. Zassetsky), see [thanks to Richard Dury for his link!].

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sir Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 1, 245].

To his mother [Colvin 1912, p. 63]

[Menton], March 1st, 1874.

My dear Mother,

The weather is again beautiful, soft, warm, cloudy and soft again, in provincial sense. Very interesting, I find Robertson; and Dugald Stewart’s life of him a source of unquenchable laughter. Dugald Stewart is not much better than McCrie, and puts me much in mind of him.

D. Steward, ‘Account of the Life and Writings of William Robertson’, 1802 []

William Robertson (1721-1793) , Scottish historian, minister in the Church of Scotland, and Principal of the University of Edinburgh []

Dugald Stewart (1753-1828) , Scottish philosopher and mathematician []

Thomas McCrie the Elder (1772-1835), Scottish historian, writer, and preacher, Seceding Divine and Ecclesiastical Historian []

By the way, I want my father to find out whether any more of Knox’s Works was ever issued than the five volumes, as I have them. There are some letters that I am very anxious to see, not printed in any of the five, and perhaps still in MS.

I suppose you are now home again in Auld Reekie: that abode of bliss does not much attract me yet a bit.

Colvin leaves at the end of this week, I fancy.

How badly yours sincerely writes. O! Madame Zassetsky has a theory that Dumbarton Drums is an epitome of my character and talents. She plays it, and goes into ecstasies over it, taking everybody to witness that each note, as she plays it, is the moral of Berecchino. Berecchino is my stereotype name in the world now. I am announced as M. Berecchino; a German hand-maiden came to the hotel, the other night, asking for M. Berecchino; said hand-maiden supposing in good faith that sich was my name.

Your letter come. O, I am all right now about the parting, because it will not be death, as we are to write. Of course the correspondence will drop off: but that’s no odds, it breaks the back of the trouble. – Ever your affectionate son,

Robert Louis Stevenson

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4 Responses to The moral of Berecchino

  1. Maria Finzi says:


    Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2014 16:35:46 +0000 To:


  2. mafalda says:

    Sì, Nelitchka (2 anni e mezzo) parlava tra le varie lingue anche l’italiano, soprattutto per prendere in giro RLS!


  3. rdury says:

    For Stevenson’s description of ‘A Night in France’ with a piano playing ‘Dunbarton Drums’ (clearly being played by Mme. Zassetsky), see


  4. mafalda says:

    Thank you, Richard! I just added your link at the top of the post.


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