On a railway journey through England and Wales with his parents, RLS arrives at Barmouth, and stays at the Cors y Gedol Arms Hotel.
The Portfolio paper here mentioned is that entitled On the Enjoyment of Unpleasant Places.
The essay on John Knox will be published on Macmillan’s Magazine in 1875.
Mme Garshine is the Russian lady, met at Mentone, RLS is planning to visit at Franzensbad, Poland.
[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sir Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 2, 312, dated Sept. 8 ff.]
To Fanny Sitwell [Colvin 1912, pp. 86-88]
[Barmouth] Friday [August 10, 1874].
Yesterday received the letter you know of. I have finished my Portfolio paper, not very good but with things in it: I don’t know if they will take it; and I have got a good start made with my John Knox articles. The weather here is rainy and miserable and windy: […] it is warm and not over-boisterous for a certain sort of pleasure. This place, as I have made my first real inquisition into it tonight, is curious enough; all the days I have been here, I have been at work, and so I was quite new to it.
Saturday. – A most beautiful day. We took a most beautiful drive, also up the banks of the river.
The heather and furze are in flower at once and make up a splendid richness of colour on the hills; the trees were beautiful; there was a bit of winding road with larches on one hand and oaks on the other; the oaks were in shadow and printed themselves off at every corner on the sunlit background of the larches.
We passed a little family of children by the roadside. The youngest of all sat a good way apart from the others on the summit of a knoll; it was ensconced in an old tea-box, out of which issued its head and shoulders in a blue cloak and scarlet hat. O if you could have seen its dignity! It was deliciously humorous: and this little piece of comic self-satisfaction was framed in wonderfully by the hills and the sunlit estuary.
We saw another child in a cottage garden. She had been sick, it seemed, and was taking the air quietly for health’s sake. Over her pale face, she had decorated herself with all available flowers and weeds; and she was driving one chair as a horse, sitting in another by way of carriage. We cheered her as we passed, and she acknowledged the compliment like a queen. I like children better every day, I think, and most other things less. John Knox goes on, and a horrible story of a nurse which I think almost too cruel to go on with: I wonder why my stories are always so nasty. I am still well, and in good spirits. I say, by the way, have you any means of finding Madame Garschine’s address? If you have, communicate with me. I fear my last letter has been too late to catch her at Franzensbad; and so I shall have to go without my visit altogether, which would vex me.
Robert Louis Stevenson