– Ah, monsieur, vous êtes bien jeune! –

In his recent days in Paris, RLS’s chivalrous feelings had been shocked by the scene in the Demi-Monde of Dumas fils, where Suzanne d’Ange is trapped by Olivier de Jalin. William Archer, the Scottish critic and writer, had asked RLS what exactly took place; then he included the anecdote in his article in The Critic of 5 Nov 1887.

[For correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1687.]

To William Archer [Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 51-52]

[Skerryvore, Bournemouth, late August – early September 1886]

My dear Archer,

It happened thus. I came forth from that performance in a breathing heat of indignation. (Mind, at this distance of time and with my increased knowledge, I admit there is a problem in the piece; but I saw none then, except a problem in brutality; and I still consider the problem in that case not established.)

A. Dumas, Le Demi-monde, 1855.


On my way down the Français stairs,

E.-J. Dantan, First Night at the Comedie Francaise, 1885. Since 1799, the Comédie-Française has been housed in the salle Richelieu at 2, rue de Richelieu. This theatre was enlarged and modified in the 1800s, then rebuilt in 1900 after a severe fire [https://image.pbs.org]

I trod on an old gentleman’s toes, whereupon with that suavity that so well becomes me, I turned about to apologise, and on the instant, repenting me of that intention, stopped the apology midway, and added something in French to this effect: No, you are one of the lâches who have been applauding that piece. I retract my apology. Said the old Frenchman, laying his hand on my arm, and with a smile that was truly heavenly in ternperance, irony, good-nature, and knowledge of the world, ‘Ah, monsieur, vous êtes bien jeune!’ – Yours very truly,

Robert Louis Stevenson








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One Response to – Ah, monsieur, vous êtes bien jeune! –

  1. rdury says:

    This is a wonderful story, and it’s great to read it again. Some time ago I started a document that was to include RLS’s anecdotes from various sources—to try and get an idea of the wonderful conversation everyone praised. So far I’ve got one (I haven’t been very active with this project); so now I’ll add this to make two.

    Liked by 1 person

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