Written part in slumber by a heavy, dull, somnolent, superannuated son of a bedpost

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 4, 1256.]

To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 223-225]

[Hyères, c. 20 April 1884]

[…] My life dwindles into a kind of valley of the shadow picnic.

Frederic Edwin Church, “Christian on the Borders of the ‘Valley of the Shadow of Death’,” 1847 [www.antipasministries.com]


I cannot read; so much of the time (as today) I must not speak above my breath, that to play patience, or to see my wife play it, is become the be-all and the end-all of my dim career.


To add to my gaiety, I may write letters, but there are few to answer. […]

RLS’s calligraphy at Hyères, 1884 [https://edrls.files.wordpress.com]

Patience and Poesy are thus my rod and staff; with these I not unpleasantly support my days.



I am very dim, dumb, dowie, and damnable. I hate to be silenced; and if to talk by signs is my forte (as I contend), to understand them cannot be my wife’s.

RLS and Fanny in 1885 [www.jssgallery.org]

Do not think me unhappy; I have not been so for years; but I am blurred, inhabit the debatable frontier of sleep, and have but dim designs upon activity. All is at a standstill: books closed, paper put aside, the voice, the eternal voice of R.L.S., well silenced. Hence this plaint reaches you with no very great meaning, no very great purpose, and written part in slumber by a heavy, dull, somnolent, superannuated son of a bedpost […].





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