[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1569.]
To Will H. Low [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 326-328]
[Skerryvore, Bournemouth, 5 March 1886]
My dear Low,
This is the most enchanting picture.
Now understand my state: I am really an invalid, but of a mysterious order. I might be a malade imaginaire, but for one too tangible symptom, my tendency to bleed from the lungs.
If we could go (1st) We must have money enough to travel with leisure and comfort – especially the first. (2nd) You must be prepared for a comrade who would go to bed some part of every day and often stay silent. (3rd) You would have to play the part of a thoughtful courier, sparing me fatigue, looking out that my bed was warmed, etc. (4th) If you are very nervous, you must recollect a bad hemorrhage is always on the cards, with its concomitants of anxiety and horror for those who are beside me.
Do you blench? If so, let us say no more about it. If you are still unafraid, and the money were forth-coming, I believe the trip might do me good, and I feel sure that, working together, we might produce a fine book.
The Rhône is the river of Angels.
I adore it: have adored it since I was twelve, and first saw it from the train.
Lastly, it would depend on how I keep from now on. I have stood the winter hitherto with some credit, but the dreadful weather still continues, and I cannot holloa till I am through the wood. Subject to these numerous and gloomy provisos, I embrace the prospect with glorious feelings. I write this from bed, snow pouring without, and no circumstance of pleasure except your letter.
That, however, counts for much. I am glad you liked the doggerel:
I have already had a liberal cheque, over which I licked my fingers with a sound conscience. I had not meant to make money by these stumbling feet, but if it comes, it is only too welcome in my handsome but impecunious house.
Let me know soon what is to be expected – as far as it does not hang by that inconstant quantity, my want of health. Remember me to Madame with the best thanks and wishes;
and believe me your friend,
Robert Louis Stevenson