But all this is nothing to the survivors

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and criticaledition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1341.]

To Elizabeth Ann Ferrier [Colvin 1912, pp. 200-201]

[Bonaille Towers, Bournemouth, Early December, 1884.]

My dear Coggie,

We are very much distressed to hear of this which has befallen your family. As for Sir Alexander, I can but speak from my own feelings: he survived to finish his book and to conduct, with such a great success, the tercentenary.


Sir Alexander Grant, distinguished Aristotelian scholar and Principal of Edinburgh University, had died suddenly on 30 Nov. 1884. He had married Elizabeth Ferrier’s sister, Susan [http://clangrant-us.org]


Invitation to Reception marking the Tercentenary of the University of Edinburgh, 15 April 1884: a week-long festival organized by Principal Sir Alexander Grant (1826-1884). Distinguished guests included Louis Pasteur and Robert Browning. In that year Grat also published The Story of the University of Edinburgh [http://ourhistory.is.ed.ac.uk]


Ah, how many die just upon the threshold! Had he died a year ago, how great a disappointment! But all this is nothing to the survivors. Do please, as soon as you are able, let us know how it goes and how it is likely to go with the family; and believe that both my wife and I are most anxious to have good news, or the best possible. My poor Coggie, I know very well how you must feel; you are passing a bad time.

Our news must seem very impertinent. We have both been ill; I, pretty bad, my wife, pretty well down; but I, at least, am better. The Bogue, who is let out every night for half an hour’s yapping, is anchored in the moonlight just before the door, and, under the belief that he is watchdog at a lone farm beleaguered by moss-troopers, is simply raising Cain.


RLS in 1883, with his dog Bogue, final transformation of Wogg’s name: in French it means chesnut-burr.


Samuel Bough, ‘Moss troopers in olden times’, 1865 [www.the-athenaeum.org]

I can add nothing more, but just that we wish to hear as soon as you have nothing else to do — not to hurry, of course, — if it takes three months, no matter — but bear us in mind.



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