I’ll be proud to meet in wi’ him, when my time’s come and I cannae dae nae better… Cannae he no be made to understand that it’s beneath him?

Thomson and Johnson were joke characters created by RLS and Baxter when they they were students at the university of Edinburgh.

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1329.]

To Charles Baxter [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 248-249]

[Bournemouth, November 13, 1884]

My dear Thomson,

It’s a maist remarkable fac’, but nae shüner had I written yon braggin’, blawin’ letter aboot ma business habits, when bang! that very day, my hoast begude [= cough began] in the aifternune. It is really remaurkable; it’s providenshle, I believe. The ink wasnae fair dry, the words werenae weel ooten ma mouth, when bang, I got the lee. The mair ye think o’t, Thomson, the less ye’ll like the looks o’t. Proavidence (I’m no’ sayin’) is all verra weel in its place; but if Proavidence has nae mainners, wha’s to learn’t? Proavidence is a fine thing, but hoo would you like Proavidence to keep your till for ye? The richt place for Proavidence is in the kirk; it has naething to do wi’ private correspondence between twa gentlemen, nor freendly cracks, nor a wee bit word of sculduddery [= loose talk] ahint the door, nor, in shoart, wi’ ony hole-and-corner wark, what I would call.

The Angel of Death

Evelyn de Morgan, The Angel of Death, 1881 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

I’m pairfec’ly willin’ to meet in wi’ Proavidence, I’ll be proud to meet in wi’ him, when my time’s come and I cannae dae nae better; but if he’s to come skinking aboot my stair-fit, damned, I micht as weel be deid for a’ the comfort I’ll can get in life.


I. Bergman, The Seventh Seal, 1957 [https://i.kinja-img.com]

Cannae he no be made to understand that it’s beneath him? Gosh, if I was in his business, I wouldnae steir my held for a plain, auld ex-elder that, tak him the way he taks himsel’, ‘s just aboot as honest as he can weel afford, an’ but for a wheen auld scandals, near forgotten noo, is a pairfec’ly respectable and thoroughly decent man. Or if I fashed wi’ him ava’, it wad be kind o’ handsome like; a pun’-note under his stair door, or a bottle o’ auld, blended malt to his bit marnin’, as a teshtymonial like yon ye ken sae weel aboot, but mair successfu’.

Dear Thomson, have I ony money? If I have, send it, for the loard’s sake.




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