[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1795.]
To Alison Cunningham [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 368-370]
Skerryvore, April 16th, 1887
My dearest Cummy,
As usual, I have been a dreary bad fellow and not written for ages; but you must just try to forgive me, to believe (what is the truth) that the number of my letters is no measure of the number of times I think of you, and to remember how much writing I have to do.
The weather is bright, but still cold;
and my father, I’m afraid, feels it sharply. He has had − still has, rather − a most obstinate jaundice, which has reduced him cruelly in strength, and really upset him altogether. I hope, or think, he is perhaps a little better; but he suffers much, cannot sleep at night, and gives John and my mother a severe life of it to wait upon him.
My wife is, I think, a little better, but no great shakes.
[…] I keep mightily respectable myself. […]
Coolin’s Tombstone is now built into the front wall of Skerryvore,
and poor Bogie’s (with a Latin inscription also) is set just above it. Poor, unhappy wee man, he died, as you must have heard, in fight, which was what he would have chosen; for military glory was more in his line than the domestic virtues.
I believe this is about all my news, except that, as I write, there is a blackbird singing in our garden trees, as it were at Swanston.
I would like fine to go up the burnside a bit, and sit by the pool and be young again –
− or no, be what I am still, only there instead of here, for just a little. Did you see that I had written about John Todd? In this month’s Longman it was; if you have not seen it, I will try and send it you.
Some day climb as high as Halkerside for me (I am never likely to do it for myself), and sprinkle some ofthe well water on the turf. I am afraid it is a pagan rite, but quite harmless, and ye can sain it wi’ a bit prayer.
Tell the Peewies that I mind their forbears well.
My heart is sometimes heavy and sometimes glad to mind it all. But for what we have received, the Lord make us truly thankful. Don’t forget to sprinkle the water, and do it in my name; I feel a childish eagerness in this.
Remember me most kindly to James, and with all sorts of love to yourself, believe me, your laddie,
Robert Louis Stevenson
P.S. − I suppose Mrs. Todd ought to see the paper about her man; judge of that, and if you think she would not dislike it, buy her one from me, and let me know. The article is called ‘Pastoral’, in Longman’s Magazine for April. I will send you the money; I would today, but it’s the Sabbie day, and I cannae.
Remembrances from all here.