RLS’s had asked his friend Gosse to write a testimonial in support of his candidature for the Edinburgh History Chair.
[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 3, 819.]
To Edmund Gosse [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 43-44]
Kinnaird Cottage, Pirlochry [July 1881].
My dear Weg,
Many thanks for the testimonial; many thanks for your blind, wondering letter; many wishes, lastly, for your swift recovery.
Insomnia is the opposite pole from my complaint; which brings with it a nervous lethargy, an unkind, unwholesome, and ungentle somnolence, fruitful in heavy heads and heavy eyes at morning. You cannot sleep; well, I can best explain my state thus: I cannot wake. Sleep, like the lees of a posset, lingers all day, lead-heavy, in my knees and ankles. Weight on the shoulders, torpor on the brain.
And there is more than too much of that from an ungrateful hound who is now enjoying his first decently competent and peaceful weeks for close upon two years; happy in a big brown moor behind him, and an incomparable burn by his side; happy, above all, in some work – for at last I am at work with that appetite and confidence that alone makes work supportable.
I told you I had something else to say. I am very tedious – it is another request. In August and a good part of September we shall be in Braemar, in a house with some accommodation. Now Braemar is a place patronised by the royalty of the Sister Kingdoms – Victoria and the Cairngorms, sir, honouring that countryside by their conjunct presence. This seems to me the spot for A Bard.
Now […] can you come to see us for a little while? I can promise you, you must like my father, because you are a human being;you ought to like Braemar, because of your avocation; and you ought to like me, because I like you;
and again, you must like my wife, because she likes cats;
and as for my mother – well, come and see, what do you think? that is best.
Mrs. Gosse, my wife tells me, will have other fish to fry; and to be plain, I should not like to ask her till I had seen the house. But a lone man I know we shall be equal to. Qu’en dis tu? Viens. – Yours,