“When we go to the olivses it allways rememberse us you”

RLS’s Russian friend, Mme. Garshine, and her (adopted) daughter Pella, are leaving Menton to go to Franzensbad, Poland (now Czechoslovakia).

RLS is writing, for the Fortnightly Review, about Lord Lytton’s newly published volume, Fables in Song.

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sir Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 2, 272, dated May 13].

To Fanny Sitwell [Colvin 1912, pp. 69-70]

Swanston, Friday, May, 1874.


“My dear Stevenson how do you do? do you annoying yourself or no? when we go to the olivses it allways rememberse us you. Nelly and my aunt went away. And when the organ come and play the Soldaten it mak us think of Nelly. It is so sad! allmoste went away. I make my baths; and then we go to Franzensbad; will you come to see us?”

There is Pella’s letter fac-simile, punctuation, spelling and all. Mme. Garschine’s was rather sad and gave me the blues a bit; I think it very likely I may run over to Franzensbad for a week or so this autumn, if I am wanted that is to say: I shall be able to afford it easily.

Franzensbad [http://www.franzensbad.cz/]

Pretty woman in Franzensbad, Czechoslovakia, latter half of the 19th century [https://cabinetcardgallery.files.wordpress.com/]


I have got on rather better with Fables; perhaps it won’t be a failure, though I fear. To-day the sun shone brightly although the wind was cold: I was up the hill a good time. It is very solemn to see the top of one hill stead-fastly regarding you over the shoulder of another: I never before to-day fully realised the haunting of such a gigantic face, as it peers over into a valley and seems to command all corners.

Edinburgh, as seen from Swanston [http://www.edinburghspotlight.com/]

I had a long talk with the shepherd about foreign lands, and sheep. A Russian had once been on the farm as a pupil; he told me that he had the utmost pity for the Russian’s capacities, since (dictionary and all) he had never managed to understand him; it must be remembered that my friend the shepherd spoke Scotch of the broadest and often enough employs words which I do not understand myself. […]

Robert Louis Stevenson

W. McTaggart (1835-1910), Old Scottish Shepherd [http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/]

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2 Responses to “When we go to the olivses it allways rememberse us you”

  1. rdury says:

    Mme Garschine’s reply that made RLS feel blue is probably the letter of 7 May 1874 from Menton and now in the Beinecke Library (B 4473), The Mckay catalgue quotes the beginning of all letters, so it seems she starts in this abrupt way:
    Quoioqu’on sache depuis longtemps que vous aviez les changements et les surprises, mon cher Stevenson,—je vous avoue que celle de vous savoir déjà à Edinbourg, m’a fort désagréablement surpris.’ It is a letter of 7 pages, which Mckay sumarizes tus, ‘[she] writes of life in Menton, of mutual acquaintances and of Stevenson’s prospects as a writer’.


  2. mafalda says:

    I was just writing you asking for that letter of 7 pages: is Mme Garshine’s letter in the Beinecke? do we have the full ms?


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