A darling, mouse-colour, … costing 65 francs and a glass of brandy

Getting ready for his journey through the Cévennes (22 September – 3 October, 1878), during which … he will write no letter!

The engineer is an acquaintance made in Monastier: according to RLS’s notebook, his name was Charles Goguelat (1822-1879, Légion d’honneur Jul. 1878), conducteur des Ponts-et-Chaussées, ‘a kind agreeable man with a high taste in eating, whom I used to accompany on his professional rounds’.

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 2, 566.]

To Charles Baxter [Colvin 1, pp. 264-265]

Monastier, at Morel’s [19 September 1878]

Lud knows about date, vide postmark

My dear Charles,

Yours (with enclosures) of the 16th to hand. All work done. I go to Le Puy tomorrow to dispatch baggage, get cash, stand lunch to engineer, who has been very jolly and useful to me, and hope by five o’clock on Saturday morning to be driving Modestine towards the Gévaudan. Modestine is my ânesse; a darling, mouse-colour, about the size of a Newfoundland dog (bigger, between you and me), the colour of a mouse, costing 65 francs and a glass of brandy.


A donkey ‘about the size of a Newfoundland dog’ [http://u.jimdo.com/]


Bouchet St-Nicolas, memory of RLS’s (and Modestine’s) stage [http://2.bp.blogspot.com/]

Le Puy-en-Velay [http://upload.wikimedia.org/]

Gévaudan, Col de l’Aigle sur le mont Lozère, alt. 1605m [http://www.lozere-online.com/]

Glad you sent on all the coin; […] was half afraid I might come to a stick in the mountains, donkey and all, which would have been the devil. Have finished Arabian Nights and Edinburgh book, and am a free man.

RLS, New Arabian Nights, first edition, 1882 [http://www.maggs.com/]

Notes for ‘The Pentland Hills’ and ‘The Parliament Close’ (Edinburgh Picturesque Notes), RLS’s MS at Yale, 1878 [https://edrls.files.wordpress.com/]

Next address, Poste Restante, Alais, Gard. Give my servilities to the family. Health bad; spirits, I think, looking up. – Ever yours,




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