Elizabeth Anne Ferrier (“Coggie”) was the sister of one of RLS’s oldest and most intimate friends of Edinburgh days, Walter, who had died of alcoholism the previous year. The “Perfessor and his wife, and the Prinshiple” (at the end of this letter) is probably Elizabeth’s other brother, John, with his family.
[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1324.]
To Elizabeth Anne Ferrier [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 247-248]
Bonallie Towers, Bournemouth, Nov. 12, 1884
My dear Coggie,
Many thanks for the two photos which now decorate my room. I was particularly glad to have the Bell Rock.
I wonder if you saw me plunge, lance in rest, into a controversy thereanent? It was a very one-sided affair. The man I attacked cried ‘Boo-hoo!’ and referred me to his big brother. And the big brother refused to move. […] So I slept upon the field of battle, paraded, sang Te Deum, and came home after a review rather than a campaign.
Please tell Campbell I got his letter.
The Wild Woman of the West […] has been much amiss and complaining sorely. I hope nothing more serious is wrong with her than just my ill-health, and consequent anxiety and labour; but the deuce of it is, that the cause continues. I am about knocked out of time now: a miserable, snuffling, shivering, fever-stricken, nightmare-ridden, knee-jottering, hoast-hoast-hoasting [= coughing] shadow and remains of man.
But we’ll no gie ower jist yet a bittie. We’ve seen waur; and dod, mem, it’s my belief that we’ll see better. I dinna ken ‘at I’ve muckle mair to say to ye, or, indeed, onything; but jist here’s guid-fallowship, guid health, and the wale o’ guid fortune to your bonny sel’; and my respecs to the Perfessor and his wife, and the Prinshiple, an’ the Bell Rock, an’ ony ither public chara’ters that I’m acquaunt wi’.