The letters come between seven and nine in the evening

[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.

Davos in winter []

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.

Dr. John Brown (1810-1882), the Scottish admired author of the dog story ‘Rab and His Friends’ []

Dr. John Brown’s story about a doctor friend of his ,and the sheep dog Rab, 1859 []

The Scottish verses to Dr. Brown were RLS’s reply to a letter of congratulation on the ‘Inland Voyage’ received from RLS the year before: they were printed in ‘Underwoods’, 1887 []





Monument to Rab and his Friends, St Mungo’s Churchyard, Penicuik []

 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.

‘Davos as health-resort, a handbook, 1907: since 1874 charity bazars were held to support those invalid visitors who lacked means to complete their cure []

We have our Wogg in somewhat better trim now, and vastly better spirits.

RLS with his black Skye terrier Wogg and (left to right) Fanny, Thomas Stevenson, Lloyd (Fanny’s son) and Margaret Stevenson, 1883.

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.

Hugh Miller was the author, among other works, of ‘Sutherland as it was and is, or How a Country May Be Ruined, 1843, an account of the Sutherland clearances []

Hugh Miller (1802-1856) was a self-taught Scottish geologist and writer, folklorist, and an evangelical Christian []

Hugh Miller []

Hugh Miller (left) []

What you say about the Old and New Statistical is odd.

‘The Statistical Account of Scotland’, 1791-9, aka as the Old one, contained an account of every parish in Scotland by its minister []

'The New Statistical Account of Scotland', 1834-45

‘The New Statistical Account of Scotland’, 1834-45.

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.

John Tulloch (1823–1886), Scottish theologian who engaged his leisure for years in preparation for a history of modern Scotland, which was never completed []

 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.

An Irish family evicted during the great famine, 1850s []

Irish family evicted at Moyasta, County Clare during Land War, c. 1879 []

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.

Dr. Carl Rüedi (1848-1901), Swiss pulmonologist and RLS’s doctor in Davos []

– I am your ever affectionate son,



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