I was very glad to be back again in this dear place, and smell the wet forest in the morning

Having on the 14th of July 1875 passed with credit his examination for the Bar at Edinburgh, RLS thenceforth enjoyed whatever status and consideration attaches to the title of Advocate. But he made no serious attempt to practise, and by the 25th of the same month had started with his friend Sir Walter Simpson for France. Here he lived and tramped for several weeks among the artist haunts of Fontainebleau and the neighbourhood, occupying himself chiefly with studies of the French poets and poetry of the fifteenth century, which afterwards bore fruit in his papers on Charles of Orleans and Francois Villon. The life, atmosphere, and scenery of these forest haunts had charmed him since he was first introduced to them by his cousin, Bob (R.A.M.) Stevenson, in the spring of 1875.

RLS will describe his visit to Grez-sur-Loing in ‘Forest Notes’.

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 2, 411.]

To his mother [Colvin 1911, 1, pp. 227-228]

[August 1975] Chez Siron, Barbizon.

My dear mother,

I have been three days at a place called Grez, a pretty and very melancholy village on the plain. A low bridge of many arches choked with sedge; great fields of white and yellow water-lilies; poplars and willows innumerable; and about it all such an atmosphere of sadness and slackness, one could do nothing but get into the boat and out of it again, and yawn for bedtime.

Carl Olof Larsson, L´Etang de Grez-sur-Loing, 1883 [http://reproarte.com/]

J.-B. C. Corot, Le pont de Grez-sur-Loing, c. 1860 [http://www.apophtegme.com/]


Fanny Vandergrift Osbourne [not yet RLS’s wife], The Bridge at Grez, 1875 [http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/]

Grez-sur-Loing, 1900s [http://www.artistes-grezsurloing.fr/]



R. Vonnoh, Lady on the bank of the Loing, c. 1888 [http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/]

Theodore Robinson, Water Lilies, Grez-sur-Loing, 1878 [http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/]

Theodore Robinson (1852-1896), Barbizon [http://www.theodorerobinson.org/]



Yesterday Bob and I walked home; it came on a very creditable thunderstorm; we were soon wet through; sometimes the rain was so heavy that one could only see by holding the hand over the eyes; and to crown all, we lost our way and wandered all over the place, and into the artillery range, among broken trees, with big shot lying about among the rocks. It was near dinner-time when we got to Barbizon; and it is supposed that we walked from twenty-three to twenty-five miles, which is not bad for the Advocate, who is not tired this morning. I was very glad to be back again in this dear place, and smell the wet forest in the morning.

Simpson and the rest drove back in a carriage, and got about as wet as we did.

Barbizon, La Grande Rue, 1907 [http://3.bp.blogspot.com/]

Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Pena, The storm, 1872 [http://37.media.tumblr.com/]

J.-B. C. Corot, Fontainebleau, Storm over the Plains, 1822 [http://www.chinaoilpaintinggallery.com/]


Why don’t you write? I have no more to say. – Ever your affectionate son,

Robert Louis Stevenson

Hôtel-restaurant du Bas-Bréau, once Hôtel Siron, Barbizon [https://farm9.staticflickr.com/]

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