“How am I to vote?”

Written after his return from a visit to London, and after the decision of PM Gladstone to dissolve Parliament on the defeat of the Home Rule Bill (June 8, 1886).

As to the tale entitled The Travelling Companion, it was thought two years before at Hyères (the scene laid in North Italy but, according to a publisher to whom it was shown, indecent), but was abandoned.

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1641.]

To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1912, p. 205-206]

[Skerryvore, Bournemouth, ? 28 June, 1886]

My dear Colvin,

I am in bed again – bloodie jackery and be damned to it. Lloyd is better, I think; and money matters better; only my rascal carcase, and the muddy and oily lees of what was once my immortal soul, are in a poor and pitiful condition.

RLS in bed, 1887 [http://freeread.com.au]

[…]

LITANY

[…]

Damn the political situation

Damn you

Damn me

[…]

and

Damn Gladstone.

Gladstone debating on Irish Home Rule, April 8, 1886. The Liberal Government was defeated on the Irish Home Rule Bill, Parliament was dissolved, a General Election followed, and the Conservatives, under Lord Salisbury, took office [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

Pro-Home Rule postcard [https://stairnaheireann.files.wordpress.com]

 

I am a kind of a dam home ruler, worse luck to it. I would support almost anything but that bill. How am I to vote? Great Caesar’s Ghost!

“Great Caesar’s Ghost!” was the oath used by Tom Sawyer entering the haunted room in ch. 29 of M. Twain’s novel, 1876 [http://catalog.lambertvillelibrary.org]

– Ever yours,

R.L.S.

O! The Travelling Companion won’t do; I am back on it entirely: it is a foul, gross, bitter, ugly daub, with lots of stuff in it, and no urbanity and no glee and no true tragedy – to the crows with it, a carrion tale! I will do no more carrion, I have done too much in this carrion epoch; I will now be clean; and by clean, I don’t mean any folly about purity, but such things as a healthy man shall find fit to see and speak about without a pang of nausea. – I am, yours,

A Repentant Dankist.

The lakeists, the drainists, the brookists, and the riverites; let me be a brookist, faute de mieux,

I did enjoy myself in town, and was a thousandfold the better of it.

[…]

 

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