I kept up as long as I could in an imitation of a street singer

RLS left Davos on December 18th, 1881, and went after Fanny to Berne, where she had consulted a doctor for her own illness. The next is after going down to meet his wife and stepson, when the former had left the doctor’s hands at Berne.

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 3, 893.]

To his mother [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 74-75]

Hôtel & Pension Buol, Davos-Platz, December 26 [1881].

My dear mother,

Yesterday, Sunday and Christmas, we finished this eventful journey by a drive in an open sleigh – none others were to be had – seven hours on end through whole forests of Christmas trees. The cold was beyond belief. I have often suffered less at a dentist’s. It was a clear, sunny day, but the sun even at noon falls, at this season, only here and there into the Prättigau.

Open sleighs, 19th century [http://2.bp.blogspot.com/]

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Forest in Winter - Davos-Frauenkirch, 1926 at Museum Ludwig Cologne Germany

E.L. Kirchner, Forest in Winter, Davos, Frauenkirch, 1926

The Prättigau Valley, in the canton of Graubünden (Grisons), Switzerland [https://s.yimg.com/]

E. Hodel, Winter Forschau [www.kunstverkauf.ch/]

The Prättigau [www.praettigau.info/]

The Prättigau Valley [www.graubuenden.ch/]

The Prättigau Valley [https://ctzan.files.wordpress.com/]


Mezza Selva, in the Prättigau Valley [http://ferienwohnung-flumserberg.info/]

The Silvretta Glacier [https://lukasgold.files.wordpress.com/]


The Silvretta Glacier [http://lukasgold.files.wordpress.com/]

View to the Silvretta Horn from the Schneeglocke [https://lukasgold.files.wordpress.com/]

[…] I kept up as long as I could in an imitation of a street singer: –

‘Away, ye gay landscapes, ye gardens of roses,’ etc.



At last Lloyd remarked, a blue mouth speaking from a corpse-coloured face, ‘You seem to be the only one with any courage left?’ And, do you know, with that word my courage disappeared, and I made the rest of the stage in the same dumb wretchedness as the others. My only terror was lest Fanny should ask for brandy, or laudanum, or something. So awful was the idea of putting my hands out, that I half thought I would refuse.




Well, none of us are a penny the worse, Lloyd’s cold better; I, with a twinge of the rheumatiz; and Fanny better than her ordinary.

General conclusion between Lloyd and me as to the journey: A prolonged visit to the dentist’s, complicated with the fear of death.

Never, O never, do you get me there again.


[…] Ever affectionate son,



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