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]
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.
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.
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 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.
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