On winter afternoons, late, when the window was blue and spotted with rare rain drops

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 4, 1285.]

To his parents [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 222-223]

Hotel Chabassière, Royat [June 1884]

My dear people,

The weather has been demoniac; I have had a skiff of cold, and was finally obliged to take to bed entirely; today, however, it has cleared, the sun shines, and I begin to


Several days after. – I have been out once, but now am back in bed. […] I am better, and keep better, but the weather is a mere injustice. The imitation of Edinburgh is, at times, deceptive; there is a note among the chimney pots that suggests Howe Street; though I think the shrillest spot in Christendom was not upon the Howe Street side, but in front, just under the Miss Graemes’ big chimney stack. It had a fine alto character – a sort of bleat – that used to divide the marrow in my joints – say in the wee, slack hours. That music is now lost to us by rebuilding;


Howe Street, Edinburgh [www.google.com]


Miss Elizabeth Graeme (who died in 1872 aged 86) lived at the corner of Howe Street, 18 Heriot Row [www.google.com]


Chimney pots at the corner between Howe Street and Heriot Row [www.google.com]



Roofs of Royat, Puy de Dôme [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

another air that I remember, not regret, was the solo of the gas-burner in the little front room; a knickering, flighty, fleering, and yet spectral cackle.


Stevenson House, 17 Heriot Row, Edinburgh [http://library.sc.edu]

I mind it above all on winter afternoons, late, when the window was blue and spotted with rare rain drops, and, looking out, the cold evening was seen blue all over, with the lamps of Queen’s and Frederick’s Street dotting it with yellow, and flaring eastward in the squalls.


My beautiful picture






Edinburgh at night





Heavens, how unhappy I have been in such circumstances – I, who have now positively forgotten the colour of unhappiness; who am full like a fed ox,




 and dull like a fresh turf,



and have no more spiritual life, for good or evil, than a French bagman. […]


W.D. Sadler (1854-1923), The bagmen’s toast [http://lh4.ggpht.com]

We are at Chabassière’s, for of course it was nonsense to go up the hill when we could not walk.


The Stevensons had stayed at this hotel in 1883.


The child’s poems in a far extended form are likely soon to be heard of – which Cummy I dare say will be glad to know.


RLS’s dedication to his nurse ‘Cummy’ of ‘A Chid’s Garden of Verses’, 1885 [https://ia802604.us.archive.org]

They will make a book of about one hundred pages.


[…] – Ever your affectionate,


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