Yesterday I was twenty-five

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 2, 425.]

To Fanny Sitwell [Colvin 1911, 1, pp. 239-240]

[Edinburgh, 17 Heriot Row, 14 November 1875.]

My dear friend,


Since I got your letter I have been able to do a little more work, and I have been much better contented with myself; but I can’t get away, that is absolutely prevented by the state of my purse and my debts, which, I may say, are red like crimson. I don’t know how I am to clear my hands of them, nor when, not before Christmas anyway. Yesterday I was twenty-five; so please wish me many happy returns – directly. This one was not unhappy anyway. I have got back a good deal into my old random, little-thought way of life, and do not care whether I read, write, speak, or walk, so long as I do something. […] I have a great delight in this wheel-skating; I have made great advance in it of late, can do a good many amusing things (I mean amusing in my sense – amusing to do) […].

17 Heriot Row, Edinburgh []

The Stevensons’ drawing room at 17 Heriot Row, Edinburgh  []

You know, I lose all my forenoons at Court! So it is, but the time passes; it is a great pleasure to sit and hear cases argued or advised.

Edinburgh Court of Session, the supreme civil court, based at Parliament House []

Edinburgh Court of Session []

This is quite autobiographical, but I feel as if it was some time since we met, and I can tell you, I am glad to meet you again. In every way, you see, but that of work the world goes well with me. My health is better than ever it was before; I get on without any jar, nay, as if there never had been a jar, with my parents. If it weren’t about that work, I’d be happy. But the fact is, I don’t think – the fact is, I’m going to trust in Providence about work. If I could get one or two pieces I hate out of my way all would be well, I think; but these obstacles disgust me, and as I know I ought to do them first, I don’t do anything. I must finish this off, or I’ll just lose another day.

I’ll try to write again soon. […]. Ever your faithful friend,



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