If only we could find one of those photographes taken at Menton in February-March 1874…
The paper on Roads, RLS’s first paid publication, has been printed under the name L.S. Stoneven in Portfolio, Dec. 1873.
Prince Lev Sergeyevich Golitzin (1845-1915) will be one of the founders of champagne wines in Crimea, attaining the Grand Prix at the Exposition Universelle of 1889, in Paris.
John Underwood Hillhouse, M.A., was the assistant to the Professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh University whose lectures RLS attended in 1870.
[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, 253].
To his mother [Colvin 1912, pp. 64-66]
[Menton], March 20, 1874.
I. My Cloak. – An exception occurs to me to the frugality described a letter (or may be two) ago; my cloak; it would certainly have been possible to have got something less expensive; still it is a fine thought for absent parents that their son possesses simply THE GREATEST vestment in Mentone. It is great in size, and unspeakably great in design; quâ raiment, it has not its equal.
III. About Spain. – Well, I don’t know about me and Spain. I am certainly in no humour and in no state of health for voyages and travels. Towards the end of May (see end), up to which time I seem to see my plans, I might be up to it, or I might not; I think not myself. I have given up all idea of going on to Italy, though it seems a pity when one is so near; and Spain seems to me in the same category. But for all that, it need not interfere with your voyage thither: I would not lose the chance, if I wanted.
IV. Money. – I am much obliged. That makes £180 now. This money irks me, one feels it more than when living at home. However, if I have health, I am in a fair way to make a bit of a livelihood for myself. Now please don’t take this up wrong; don’t suppose I am thinking of the transaction between you and me; I think of the transaction between me and mankind. I think of all this money wasted in keeping up a structure that may never be worth it – all this good money sent after bad. I shall be seriously angry if you take me up wrong.
V. ‘Roads’. – The familiar false concord is not certainly a form of colloquialism that I should feel inclined to encourage. It is very odd; I wrote it very carefully, and you seem to have read it very carefully, and yet none of us found it out. The Deuce is in it.
VI. Russian Prince. – A cousin of these ladies is come to stay with them – Prince Léon Galitzin. He is the image of – whom? – guess now – do you give it up? – Hillhouse.
VII. Miscellaneous. – I send you a pikter of me in the cloak. I think it is like a hunchback. The moustache is clearly visible to the naked eye – O diable! what do I hear in my lug? A mosquito – the first of the season. Bad luck to him!
[…] Goodnicht and joy be wi’ you a’. I am going to bed. — Ever your affectionate son,
Robert Louis Stevenson
Note to III. – I had counted on being back at Embro’ by the last week or so of May.