“We shall steal incognito into la bonne ville”

[As usual, for correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1863.]

To Will H. Low [Colvin 1911, 2, p. 380]

[Skerryvore, Bournemouth, August 6th, 1887]

My dear Low,

We ― my mother,


Margaret Isabella Balfour Stevenson (1829-1997) [https://upload.wikimedia.org]


my wife,


Fanny Van De Grift Stevenson (1840-1914), 1880 [http://historicindianapolis.com])

my stepson,


Samuel Lloyd Osbourne (1868-1947), RLS’s stepson [http://robert-louis-stevenson.org]

my maidservant,

The French-Swisse maid Valentine Roch had been following the Stevensons since 1883 at Hyères [http://robert-louis-stevenson.org/]

and myself,


five souls ― leave, if all is well, Aug. 20th, per Wilson line S.S. Ludgate Hill.

Screw Steamer ‘Ludgate Hill’, built in 1882, tonnage 4063 gr t/ 2703 nrt /, /length 420.3 ft, in use until 1914 [www.clydeships.co.uk]

Shall probably evade N.Y. at first, cutting straight to a watering-place: Newport, I believe, its name.


Map of Newport, Rhode Island, 1777 [/www.loc.gov]

Afterwards we shall steal incognito into la bonne ville,



and see no one but you


Will H. Low, self-portrait at Montigny, 1876 [https://nicholshousemuseum.files.wordpress.com]

and the Scribners, if it may be so managed.

Ernest Flagg, Scribner Building 597 5th Ave., New York, New York, 1912-1913.

Ernest Flagg, Scribner Building, 597 5th Ave, New York, 1912-1913. [https://mathewse.wordpress.com]


The interior of Scribner’s bookstore, 1913 [http://art-nerd.com]


You must understand I have been very seedy indeed, quite a dead body; and unless the voyage does miracles, I shall have to draw it dam fine. Alas, ‘The Canoe Speaks’ is now out of date; it will figure in my volume of verses now imminent.

RLS’s poem ‘The Canoe Speaks’ was being published in ‘Underwoods’, 1887.



However, I may find some inspiration some day. ― Till very soon, yours ever,











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2 Responses to “We shall steal incognito into la bonne ville”

  1. rdury says:

    The picture of the Scribner’s shop is that built in 1913 at 597-599 Fifth Avenue; from 1874 to 1892 it was at 743 & 745 Broadway (see http://library.princeton.edu/libraries/firestone/rbsc/aids/scribner/)


  2. mafalda says:

    True! Thanks, Richard: I was wrong indeed! I corrected my error in the following posts.


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