A piece of work that both sits upon me like a stone and attracts me like a piece of travel

Charles John Guthrie, old friend and fellow-member of the Speculative Society, had passed Advocate six years before, as RLS himself. After RLS’s death, he became Lord Guthrie, a Senator of the Scottish Courts of Justice, and got Swanston Cottage, sacred to the memory of RLS, for his summer home.

The nomination to the Edinburgh History Chair belonged to the Faculty of Advocates (the “electors”). The final choice was the responsibility of the University Patrons (the “curators”).

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 3, 820.]

To Charles J. Guthrie [Colvin 1912, pp. 151-152]

Kinnaird Cottage, Pitlochry, July 2nd, [1881].

My dear Guthrie,

Many thanks for your support, and many more for the kindness and thoughtfulness of your letter. I shall take your advice in both directions; presuming that by “electors” you mean the curators. I must see to this soon; and I feel it would also do no harm to look in at the P[arliament] H[ouse].

Charles John Guthrie (1849-1920) [http://upload.wikimedia.org/]

Hall of Parliament House, Edinburgh, 1858 [www.antiquaprintgallery.com/]

Hall of Parliament House, Edinburgh [www.scottish-places.info/]

Parliament Square, Edinburgh, showing the Signet Library behind the statue of Charles II. The entrance to Parliament House is in the corner to the left of the library [http://upload.wikimedia.org/w]

As soon then as I get through with a piece of work that both sits upon me like a stone and attracts me like a piece of travel, I shall come to town and go a-visiting. Testimonial-hunting is a queer form of sport – but has its pleasures.

If I got that chair, the Spec[ulative Society] would have a warm defender near at hand! The sight of your fist made me Speculative on the past. – Yours most sincerely,

Robert Louis Stevenson

Room of the Speculative Society in the Old College, Edinburgh. The Spec is a Scottish Enlightenment society dedicated to public speaking and literary composition, founded in 1764, and mainly an University student organisation [www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/]

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