The French verse is from a poem by the French poet and writer Théodore de Banville (see previous post).
[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 2, 421].
To Fanny Sitwell [Colvin 1911, 1, pp. 243-244]
[9 October 1875, Edinburgh, 17 Heriot Row.]
Our weather continues as it was, bitterly cold, and raining often. There is not much pleasure in life certainly as it stands at present. Nous n’irons plus au bois, hélas!
I meant to write some more last night, but my father was ill and it put it out of my way. He is better this morning.
If I had written last night, I should have written a lot. But this morning I am so dreadfully tired and stupid that I can say nothing. I was down at Leith in the afternoon. God bless me, what horrid women I saw; I never knew what a plain-looking race it was before. I was sick at heart with the looks of them. And the children, filthy and ragged! And the smells! And the fat black mud!
My soul was full of disgust ere I got back.
And yet the ships were beautiful to see, as they are always; and on the pier there was a clean cold wind that smelt a little of the sea, though it came down the Firth, and the sunset had a certain éclat and warmth. Perhaps if I could get more work done, I should be in a better trim to enjoy filthy streets and people and cold grim weather; but I don’t much feel as if it was what I would have chosen.
[…] I am tempted every day of my life to go off on another walking tour. I like that better than anything else that I know. – Ever your faithful friend,
Robert Louis Stevenson