I should have to mark passages I fear, and certainly note pages on the fly

RLS had begun with great eagerness to prepare material for a volume on the Duke of Wellington for the series of English Worthies published by Longman and edited by his frined Andrew Lang, but beyond preparation the scheme never went.

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and criticaledition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1372.]

To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 262-263]

Bonallie Towers, Bournemouth, Jan. 4, 1885

Dear S.C.,

I am on my feet again, and getting on my boots to do the Iron Duke.


Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769–1852). His defeat of Napoléon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 put him in the top rank of Britain’s military heroes [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

Conceive my glee: I have refused the £100, and am to get some sort of royalty, not yet decided, instead. ‘Tis for Longman’s English Worthies, edited by A[w] Lang. Aw haw, haw!


One volume of Longman’s series of ‘English Worthies’, 1888 [http://i.ebayimg.com]


Andrew Lang (1844-1912,) Scottish poet, novelist, literary critic, and contributor to the field of anthropology, is best known as a collector of folk and fairy tales. For many years he was literary editor of Longman’s Magazine [www.nationalgalleries.org]


Now, look here, could you get me a loan of the Despatches, or is that a dream?


Lt. Col. Gurwood’s edition of Wellington’s Despatches (1834-9) [www.bhandl.co.uk]


Supplementary Despatches of the Duke of Wellington, edited by his son, 1852-72 [https://ia902707.us.archive.org]

I should have to mark passages I fear, and certainly note pages on the fly. If you think it a dream, will Bain get me a second-hand copy, or who would?


J.C. Nimmo and Bain publishers, London [https://ia800402.us.archive.org]

The sooner, and cheaper, I can get it the better. If there is anything in your weird library that bears on either the man or the period, put it in a mortar and fire it here instanter; I shall catch. I shall want, of course, an infinity of books: among which, any lives there may be; a life of the Marquis Marmont (the Maréshal), Marmont’s Memoirs,


Auguste Frédéric Louis Viesse de Marmont (1774–1852), French general and nobleman who rose to the rank of Marshal of France during the Napoleonic Wars [https://upload.wikimedia.org]


Memoires du Maréchal Marmont, 9 vols, 1857 [https://ia902708.us.archive.org]


Greville’s Memoirs,


The Greville Memoirs (1817-37) edited by H. Reeeves, 3 vols, 1875 [https://ebth-com-production.imgix.net]



Charles Cavendish Fulke Greville (1794–1865), English diarist [https://upload.wikimedia.org]


Peel’s Memoirs,



Sir Robert Peel (1788–1850), British statesman and member of the Conservative Party, twice Prime Minister (1834–1835 and 1841–1846) [https://upload.wikimedia.org]




Sir William Napier, History of the War in the Peninsula, 6 vols, 1828-40 [https://ia800306.us.archive.org]

General Sir William Francis Patrick Napier (1785–1860), Irish soldier in the British Army and military historian [www.artwarefineart.com]


that blind man’s history of England you once lent me, Hamley’s Waterloo;




Hamley also wrote an article, ‘Thiers on Waterloo’, in Blackwood’s for Nov 1862 [https://ia902205.us.archive.org]

Sir Edward Bruce Hamley (1824–1893), British general and military writer and Conservative politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1885 to 1892 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]



can you get me any of these? Thiers, idle Thiers also.

Louis Adolphe Thiers, Histoire du Consulat et de l’Empire, 1845-69 [www.oudeprenten.com]

Marie Joseph Louis Adolphe Thiers (1797–1877), French statesman and historian. He was the second elected President of France, and the first President of the French Third Republic [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

Can you help a man getting into his boots for such a huge campaign? How are you? […] A Good New Year to you. I mean to have a good one, but on whose funds I cannot fancy: not mine leastways, as I am a mere derelict and drift beam-on to bankruptcy.

For God’s sake, remember the man who set out for to conquer Arthur Wellesley, with a broken bellows  and an empty pocket. — Yours ever,

R.L. Stevenson

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