Even bordering on history

Some letters refer to the candidature of RLS for the Edinburgh History Chair: Aeneas James George Mackay (1839-1911), Scottish lawyer and Professor of History and Constitutional Law, retired from that chair in 1881, and became Advocate-Depute (Scottish law officer with the functions of public prosecutor), and finally Sheriff of Fife and Kinross.

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 3, 810.]

To Aeneas Mackay [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 37-38]

Kinnaird Cottage, Pitlochry, Wednesday, June 22, 1881.

My dear Mackay,

What is this I hear? – that you are retiring from your chair. It is not, I hope, from ill-health?

A study in the history of Scotland and Scotch Law during the 17th century, by Professor Mackay, 1873 [https://ia700407.us.archive.org/]

But if you are retiring, may I ask if you have promised your support to any successor? I have a great mind to try. The summer session would suit me; the chair would suit me – if only I would suit it; I certainly should work it hard: that I can promise. I only wish it were a few years from now, when I hope to have something more substantial to show for myself. Up to the present time, all that I have published, even bordering on history, has been in an occasional form, and I fear this is much against me.

The Old College of Edinburgh University [http://upload.wikimedia.org/]

Please let me hear a word in answer, and believe me, yours very sincerely,

Robert Louis Stevenson


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