I vote for separations

As the ways and restrictions of a settled invalid were repugnant to RLS’s character and instincts, so were the life and society of a regular invalid station depressing and uncongenial to him. He determined, accordingly, to avoid settling in one of these, and hoped to find a suitable climate and habitation that should be near, though not in, some centre of the active and ordinary life of man, with accessible markets, libraries, and other resources. In September 1882 he started with his cousin Bob Stevenson in search of a new home, and thought first of Western Provence, a region new to him. Arriving at Montpellier, he was laid up again with a bad bout of his lung troubles; and the doctor not recommending him to stay, returned to Marseilles. Here he was rejoined by his wife.

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 4, 998.]

To Bob Stevenson [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 108-109]

Terminus Hotel, Marseille, Saturday [14 October 1882]

My dear Bob,

We have found a house! – at Saint Marcel, Banlieue de Marseille. In a lovely valley between hills part wooded, part white cliffs;

Saint-Marcel, Marseille [www.marseilleforum.com/]

Saint-Marcel, Marseille [www.marseilleforum.com/]

Saint-Marcel, Marseille [http://mw2.google.com/]

Saint-Marcel, Marseille [www.provence7.com/]

The Baou de Saint-Marcel, a fortified village, 6th-2nd century BC [www.paca.culture.gouv.fr/]


View from the Baou de Saint-Marcel [http://mw2.google.com/]

View from the Baou de Saint-Marcel [http://mw2.google.com/]

View from Saint-Marcel [http://mw2.google.com/]

The Baou de Saint-Marcel [www.marseilleforum.com/]

The river Huveaune, Saint-Marcel [www.cparama.com/]




The Hotel Terminus, Marseille [http://cartespostales.eu/]

Hotel Terminus, Marseille [www.hotelterminusmarseille.fr/]


a house of a dining-room, of a fine salon – one side lined with a long divan […] – three good bedrooms (two of them with dressing-rooms), three small rooms (chambers of bonne and sich), a large kitchen, a lumber room, many cupboards, a back court, a large, large olive yard, cultivated by a resident paysan, a well, a berceau, a good deal of rockery, a little pine shrubbery, a railway station in front, two lines of omnibus to Marseille.

£48 per annum.


Saint-Marcel Station [http://www.marseilleforum.com/]

Marseille Station [http://1.bp.blogspot.com/]

The last omnibus, Marseille [http://perso.numericable.fr/]

It is called Campagne Defli! query Campagne Debug? The Campagne Demosquito goes on here nightly, and is very deadly…

[…] Ere we can get installed, we shall be beggared to the door, I see.

I vote for separations; F[anny]’s arrival here, after our separation, was better fun to me than being married was by far. […] A separation completed is a most valuable property; worth piles. – Ever your affectionate cousin,



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2 Responses to I vote for separations

  1. rdury says:

    Many thanks for the interesting pictures of St.-Marcel. It is a few kilometres east of Marseille (now part of the 11th arrondisement), but the ‘Campagne Defli’ has never been identified to my knowledge in any of the ‘in the footsteps’ books (and searches on internet do not turn up any information not already in this letter). It looks a bit run down now in Google street views—the river valley is followed by railway, autoroute and other roads, and one internet guide refers to ‘un habitat déstructuré’.


  2. mafalda says:

    I wonder whether Defli is a surname, or he might have misunderstood some French expression beginning with “des f…”. Cf. Letter 1108, where he transliterated ‘Hyères’, according to an English pronunciation, ‘Highairs’.


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