You must not expect to hear much from me for the next two weeks

This letter tells of the progress of the Portfolio papers called Picturesque Notes on Edinburgh; and of preparations for the walking tour narrated in Travels with a Donkey. Philip Gilbert Hamerton, editor of the Portfolio and author of many well-known works on art, landscape, and French social life, was at this time living at a small chateau near Autun; and the visit here proposed was actually paid and gave great pleasure alike to host and guest.

The September instalment was ‘New Town: Town and Country’. ‘The Parliament Close’, ‘The Villa Quarters’ and ‘To the Penland Hills’ appeared in the book but not in the Portfolio.

The engineer is an acquaintance made in Monastier, Charles Goguelat, conducteur des Ponts-et-Chaussées (see previous post).

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 2, 567.]

 To his mother [Colvin 1911, 1, pp. 262-263]

[Le Monastier-sur-Gazeille, 19 September 1878.]

My dear mother,

You must not expect to hear much from me for the next two weeks; for I am near starting. Donkey purchased – a love – price, 65 francs and a glass of brandy.

Le Monastier-sur-Gazeille []

Le Monastier-sur-Gazeille, today []


My route is all pretty well laid out; I shall go near no town till I get to Alais. Remember, Poste Restante, Alais, Gard.

Alais (Alès), c. 1789 []





‘Greyfriars’ will be in October. You did not say whether you liked September; you might tell me that at Alais.

The Portfolio, vol. 9, 1878 []

The Portfolio, vol. 9, 1878 []

Beginning of RLS’s ‘Notes on Edinburgh’, in The Portfolio 1878 []

‘New Town: Town and Country’, The Portfolio 1878, p. 132 []

[…] The other No.’s of Edinburgh are: ‘Parliament Close’, ‘Villa Quarters’ (which perhaps may not appear), ‘Calton Hill’, ‘Winter and New Year’, and ‘To the Pentland Hills’.

‘Calton Hill’, The Portfolio 1878, p. 91 []

Picture from ‘Winter and New Year’, The Portfolio 1878 []

’Tis a kind of book nobody would ever care to read; but none of the young men […] could have done it better than I have, which is always a consolation. I read Inland Voyage the other day: what rubbish these reviewers did talk! It is not badly written, thin, mildly cheery, and strained. Selon moi.

RLS’s ‘An Inland Voyage’, first edition, 1878 []

I mean to visit Hamerton on my return journey; otherwise, I should come by sea from Marseilles.

P.G. Hamerton (1834-1894), editor of the Portfolio []

I am very well known here now; indeed, quite a feature of the place. – Your affectionate son,


The Engineer is the Conductor of Roads and Bridges; then I have the Receiver of Registrations, the First Clerk of Excise, and the Perceiver of the Impost. That is our dinner party. I am a sort of hovering government official, as you see. But away – away from these great companions!

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