RLS’s examination for the Bar at Edinburgh was approaching.
His formal thesis in Latin, on a title of the Padects (‘Pro Dote’) is in the National Library of Scotland.
Fontainebleau is the paper called Forest Notes, afterwards printed in the Cornhill Magazine.
The church is Glencorse Church, in the Pentlands, to the thoughts of which Stevenson reverted in his last days with so much emotion (see Weir of Hermiston, chap. V). Alexander Torrence (1789-1877) was minister at Glencorse from 1837. The gravestones are still there.
[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 2, 399].
To Fanny Sitwell [Colvin 1911, 1, pp. 219-220]
[Swanston, 1 July, 1875] Thursday.
This day fortnight I shall fall or conquer. Outside the rain still soaks; but now and again the hilltop looks through the mist vaguely.
I am very comfortable, very sleepy, and very much satisfied with the arrangements of Providence.
Saturday – no, Sunday [4 July], 12.45. – Just been – not grinding, alas! – I couldn’t – but doing a bit of Fontainebleau. I don’t think I’ll be plucked. I am not sure though – I am so busy, what with this d-d law, and this Fontainebleau always at my elbow, and three plays (three, think of that!) and a story, all crying out to me, ‘Finish, finish, make an entire end, make us strong, shapely, viable creatures!’ It’s enough to put a man crazy. Moreover, I have my thesis given out now, which is a fifth (is it fifth? I can’t count) incumbrance. […]
Sunday. – […] I’ve been to church, and am not depressed – a great step. I was at that beautiful church my petit poëme en prose was about. It is a little cruciform place, with heavy cornices and string course to match, and a steep slate roof.
The small kirkyard is full of old grave-stones. One of a Frenchman from Dunkerque – I suppose he died prisoner in the military prison hard by – and one, the most pathetic memorial I ever saw, a poor school-slate, in a wooden frame, with the inscription cut into it evidently by the father’s own hand.
In church, old Mr. Torrence preached – over eighty, and a relic of times forgotten, with his black thread gloves and mild old foolish face.One of the nicest parts of it was to see John Inglis, the greatest man in Scotland, our Justice-General, and the only born lawyer I ever heard, listening to the piping old body, as though it had all been a revelation, grave and respectful […]. – Ever your faithful
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