I took up the wondrous tale and steered the ship through

RLS here narrates in his own fashion by what generalship he at last got rid of the house at Campagne Defli (Saint-Marcel, Marseille) without having to pay compensation as his wife expected.

‘If it had not been the agent, may Israel now say, etc.’ is a quote of ‘Had not the Lord been on our side, may Israel now say’, Psalm 124: 1 of the Metrical version.

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 4, 1059.]

To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1912, pp. 169-170]

Hôtel du Petit Louvre, Marseille, 15 Feb. 1883.

Dear Sir,

This is to intimate to you that

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson

were yesterday safely delivered

of a


The parents are both doing much better than could be expected; particularly the dear papa. […]

Hôtel du Petit Louvre, Marseille [www.vieux-marseille.com/]

Saint-Marcel, Marseille [www.toutsurmarseille.fr/]

There, Colvin, I did it this time. Huge success. The proprietaires were scattered like chaff. If it had not been the agent, may Israel now say, if it had not been the agent who was on our side! But I made the agent march! I threatened law; I was IMMENSE – what do I say? – IMMEASURABLE. The agent, however, behaved well and is a fairly honest little one-eared, white-eyed tom-cat of an opera-going gold-hunter. The propriétaire non est inventa; we countermarched her, got in valuators; and in place of a hundred francs in her pocket, she got nothing, and I paid one silver biscuit! It might go further but I am convinced will not, and anyway, I fear not the consequences. […]

One ‘silver biscuit’ = 5 francs, 1868 [www.numisbids.com/]

The weather is incredible; my heart sings; my health satisfies even my wife. I did jolly well right to come after all and she now admits it. For she broke down as I knew she would, and I from here, without passing a night at the Defli, though with a cruel effusion of coach hires, took up the wondrous tale and steered the ship through. I now sit crowned with laurel and literally exulting in kudos. The affair has been better managed than our last two winterings, – I am yours,

Brabazon Drum

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