“I am weary of England; like Alan, ‘I weary for the heather,’ if not for the deer”

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1667.]

To his Father [Colvin 1911, 2, p. 345]

[Skerryvore, Bournemouth] July 28, 1886

My dear Father,

We have decided not to come to Scotland, but just to do as Dobell wished, and take an outing.

Horace Benge Dobell (1828-1917), English doctor and medical writer, consulting doctor to the Royal Hospital for Diseases of the Chest, London, and then at the Mont Dore sanitorium for patients with chest diseases, Bournemouth [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

I believe this is wiser in all ways; but I own it is a disappointment. I am weary of England; like Alan, ‘I weary for the heather,’ 

[www.transformedbylight.com]

if not for the deer.

[www.wildlifeonline.me.uk]

In ch. 12 of ‘Kidnapped’, Alan Breck tells David Balfour: ‘France is a braw place, nae doubt; but I weary for the heather and the deer’.

 

Lloyd has gone to Scilly with Katharine and C., where and with whom he should have a good time.

RLS’s stepson LLoyd (1868-1947), 1880.

The Isles of Scilly are an archipelago off the south western tip of the Cornish peninsula of Great Britain. It is the southernmost location in the United Kingdom [www.scillywalks.co.uk]

Packing flowers in the Scillies, 19th century [www.cornwalls.co.uk]

Katharine Elizabeth Alan Stevenson De Mattos (1851-1939) was RLS’s cousin and Bob's sister. They played together when they were children. RLS dedicated 'Jekyll & Hyde' to her. In June 1874 she married, against the wishes of her family, William Sydney de Mattos, known as a "Cambridge atheist". His constant infidelities led to their separation in 1881. At the age of 30, Katharine moved to London with her two children and, with help from RLS and Henley, supported herself by journalism [www.cityofliterature.com]

Katharine Elizabeth Alan Stevenson (1851-1939), RLS’s cousin and Bob’s sister. They played together when they were children. RLS dedicated ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ to her. In June 1874 she married, against the wishes of her family, William Sydney de Mattos, known as a “Cambridge atheist”. His constant infidelities led to their separation in 1881. At the age of 30, Katharine moved to London with her two children and, with help from RLS and Henley, supported herself by journalism [www.cityofliterature.com]

 

David seems really to be going to succeed, which is a pleasant prospect on all sides. I am, I believe, floated financially; a book that sells will be a pleasant novelty. I enclose another review; mighty complimentary, and calculated to sell the book too.

Coolin’s tombstone has been got out, honest man! and it is to be polished, for it has got scratched, and have a touch of gilding in the letters, and be sunk in the front of the house.

Skye Terrier Dog

‘Coolin’ had been a favourite Skye terrier of Heriot Row days. He was killed in 1869. His tombstone, complete with Latin epitaph by RLS, was being moved from Swanston cotage to Skerryvore [www.free-online-veterinarian-advice.com]

Worthy man, he, too, will maybe weary for the heather, and the bents of Gullane, where (as I dare say you remember) he gaed clean gyte [= went completely mad], and jumped on to his crown from a gig, in hot and hopeless chase of many thousand rabbits.

 

I can still hear the little cries of the honest fellow as he disappeared; and my mother will correct me, but I believe it was two days before he turned up again at North Berwick: to judge by his belly, he had caught not one out of these thousands, but he had had some exercise.

[…] I keep well. – Ever your affectionate son,

R.L.S.

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