“When I was dangerously ill at Hyères …”

To Locker’s acknowledgment of his verses (see previous post, Letter 1692), RLS replied asking his correspondent’s interest on behalf of a friend who had been kind to him at Hyères, in procuring a nomination for her son to the Blue-Coat School, at Christ’s Hospital.

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1698.]

To Frederick Locker-Lampson [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 350-351]

Skerryvore, Bournemouth, [? 14 September 1886]

Dear Locker,

You take my verses too kindly, but you will admit, for such a bluebottle of a versifier to enter the house of Gertrude, where her necklace hangs, was not a little brave.

A reference to Locker’s poem ‘Gertrude’s Necklace’ in ‘London Lyrics’.

Frederick Locker-Lampson (1821-1895), Civil Servant, poet, anthologist and collector, added his second wife’s surname to his own in 1885.


Your kind invitation, I fear, must remain unaccepted; and yet if I am very well – perhaps next spring – (for I mean to be very well) – my wife might. . . . But all that is in the clouds with my better health. And now look here: you are a rich man and know many people, therefore perhaps some of the Governors of Christ’s Hospital.

Christ’s Hospital, aka the Bluecoat School, is an English co-educational independent day and boarding school located in Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex. It is a charity school whose fees are calculated on a means test .[www.christs-hospital.org.uk]

If you do, I know a most deserving case, in which I would (if I could) do anything. To approach you, in this way, is not decent; and you may therefore judge by my doing it, how near this matter lies to my heart. I enclose you a list of the Governors which I beg you to return, whether or not you shall be able to do anything to help me.

The composer Constant Lambert (1905-1951) as a pupil of Christ’s Hospital, wearing the traditional uniform [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

The boy’s name is [Burgess]; he and his mother are very poor. It may interest you in her cause if I tell you this: that when I was dangerously ill at Hyères, this brave lady, who had then a sick husband of her own (since dead) and a house to keep and a family of four to cook for, all with her own hands, for they could afford no servant, yet took watch-about with my wife, and contributed not only to my comfort, but to my recovery in a degree that I am not able to limit.

RLS and Fanny stayed at the Chalet La Solitude, Hyères, 1883-1884 [http://c7.alamy.com]

You can conceive how much I suffer from my impotence to help her, and indeed I have already shown myself a thankless friend. Let not my cry go up before you in vain!


Yours in hope,

Robert Louis Stevenson



This entry was posted in Letters, Robert Louis Stevenson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to “When I was dangerously ill at Hyères …”

  1. rdury says:

    Christ’s Hospital School at this time was still for boys only and in the buildings of the former Christ Church Priory next to St Paul’s Cathedral in the city of London. It moved to Horsham in 1902. Here’s a picture of the old building: http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Biographies/Literary/Portraits/Christ%27sHospital.htm

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.