“I almost begin to feel as if I should care to live”

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1860.]

To W.E. Henley [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 379-380]

[Skerryvore, Bournemouth, ? 2] August 1887

Dear lad,


I write to inform you […] that Mr. Stevenson’s well-known work, Virginibus Puerisque, is about to be reprinted.

First edition of RLS’s ‘Virginibus Puerisque’, 1881.

Second edition if RLS’s ‘Virginibus Puerisque’, 1887.


At the same time a second volume called Memories and Portraits will issue from the roaring loom.

First edition of RLS’s ‘Memories and Portraits’, 1887.


Its interest will be largely autobiographical, Mr. S. having sketched there the lineaments of many departed friends, and dwelt fondly, and with a m’istened eye, upon by-gone pleasures.

‘Memories and Portraits’, Contents.


The two will be issued under the common title of Familiar Essays, but the volumes will be vended separately to those who are mean enough not to hawk at both.

The blood is at last stopped: only yesterday. I began to think I should not get away.

RLS and his family were deciding to go to the US.


However, I hope ― I hope ― remark the word ― no boasting ― I hope I may luff up a bit now. Dobell, whom I saw, gave as usual a good account of my lungs, and expressed himself, like his neighbours, hopefully about the trip. He says,


Dr Horace Benge Dobell (1828-1917), brother of the poet Sidney Dobell, was Physician to the Royal Hospital for Deseases of the Chest, and had moved from London to Bournemouth in 1882. RLS dedicated him Underwoods [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

H.B. Dobell, ‘On Loss of Weight, Blood-spitting and Lung Disease’, 2nd ed., 1880. RLS received the book from Dobell in 1884.


my uncle says,


RLS’s uncle, Dr George William Balfour (1823–1903), Scottish physician, known as a heart specialist, from 1867 was physician to the Royal Infirmary, being appointed consulting physician in 1882. He will become appointed physician in ordinary to Queen Victoria in 1900 and honorary physician to King Edward VII in 1901 [https://holeousia.files.wordpress.comg]

Scott says,


Dr Thomas Bodley Scott (1851-192), at Bournemouth since 1876. In his dedication of Underwoods to many doctors, RLS paid a special tribute to ‘one name I have kept on purpose to the last, because it is a household word with me…’ [https://s3.amazonaws.com]

Brown says ― they all say ― You ought not to be in such a state of health; you should recover. Well, then, I mean to. My spirits are rising again after three months of black depression: I almost begin to feel as if I should care to live: I would, by God! And so I believe I shall. ― Yours,

Bulletin M’Gurder












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1 Response to “I almost begin to feel as if I should care to live”

  1. rdury says:

    luff up: sail close to the wind; here (I think) have the confidence to make a risky move

    Liked by 1 person

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