[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 3, 763.]
To his parents [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 21-23]
Hôtel Bélvèdere, Davos, December 21, 1880.
My dear People,
I do not understand these reproaches. The letters come between seven and nine in the evening; and every one about the books was answered that same night, and the answer left Davos by seven o’clock next morning. Perhaps the snow delayed them; if so, ‘tis a good hint to you not to be uneasy at apparent silences.
There is no hurry about my father’s notes; I shall not be writing anything till I get home again, I believe. Only I want to be able to keep reading ad hoc all winter, as it seems about all I shall be fit for. About John Brown, I have been breaking my heart to finish a Scotch poem to him. Some of it is not really bad, but the rest will not come, and I mean to get it right before I do anything else.
The bazaar is over, 160 pounds gained, and everybody’s health lost: altogether, I never had a more uncomfortable time; apply to Fanny for further details of the discomfort.We have our Wogg in somewhat better trim now, and vastly better spirits.
The weather has been bad – for Davos, but indeed it is a wonderful climate. It never feels cold; yesterday, with a little, chill, small, northerly draught, for the first time, it was pinching. Usually, it may freeze, or snow, or do what it pleases, you feel it not, or hardly any.
Thanks for your notes; that fishery question will come in, as you notice, in the Highland Book, as well as under the Union; it is very important. I hear no word of Hugh Miller’s Evictions; I count on that.What you say about the Old and New Statistical is odd.
It seems to me very much as if I were gingerly embarking on a History of Modern Scotland. Probably Tulloch will never carry it out.
And, you see, once I have studied and written these two vols., The Transformation of the Scottish Highlands and Scotland and the Union, I shall have a good ground to go upon. The effect on my mind of what I have read has been to awaken a livelier sympathy for the Irish; although they never had the remarkable virtues, I fear they have suffered many of the injustices, of the Scottish Highlanders.
Ruedi has seen me this morning; he says the disease is at a standstill, and I am to profit by it to take more exercise. Altogether, he seemed quite hopeful and pleased.– I am your ever affectionate son,