What is bred in the bone will come out, sir, in the flesh

The next letter is written in the styles and characters of the two Edinburgh ex-elders, Johnstone (or Johnson) and Thomson alternately, the joke characters created by RLS and Baxter when they they were students at the university.

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1323.]

To Charles Baxter [Colvin 1911, 2, p. 246]

Bonallie Towers, Branksome Park, Bournemouth, November 11 [1884]

My dear Charles,

[…] I am in my new house, thus proudly styled, as you perceive; but the deevil a tower ava’ [= at all] can be perceived (except out of window); this is not as it should be; one might have hoped, at least, a turret […].


Satellite view of Branksome Park, Bournemouth W.


We are all vilely unwell. I put in the dark watches imitating a donkey with some success, but little pleasure;

and in the afternoon I indulge in a smart fever, accompanied by aches and shivers. There is thus little monotony to be deplored […]. I at least am a regular invalid; I would scorn to bray in the afternoon; I would indignantly refuse the proposal to fever in the night. What is bred in the bone will come out, sir, in the flesh; and the same spirit that prompted me to date my letter regulates the hour and character of my attacks. – I am, sir, yours,


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1 Response to What is bred in the bone will come out, sir, in the flesh

  1. rdury says:

    ‘a furnished house named “Bonallie Towers,” in Burton Road, Branksome Park’ (David S. Young, The Story of Bournemouth (1957), p. 216): so parallel with The Avenue in the Google image and a little to the North: it starts at the end of Forest Road (the street with Nemo’s Nursery).

    Liked by 1 person

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