“Why have I allowed myself to rot so long on land?”

The moment of RLS’s arrival at New York was that when his reputation had first reached its height in the United States, owing to the popularity both of Treasure Island and Kidnapped, but more especially to the immense impression made by the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He experienced consequently for the first time the pleasures and inconveniences of celebrity.

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 1880.]

To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 5-6]

Newport, R.I., U.S.A. [c. 18 September 1887]

My dear Colvin,

So long it went excellent well, and I had a time I am glad to have had; really enjoying my life.

RLS and Fanny found the most hospitable of refuges in the house their friends, the Fairchilds, at 94 Washington Street, Newport, while RLS’s mother and stepson in a neighbouring Quaker boarding house [cf. Mehew 6, 1880].

https://i2.wp.com/www.jssgallery.org/Paintings/Mrs_Charles_Fairchild.jpg

Elizabeth Nelson Fairchild (1845–1924), by J. Singer Sargent, c. 1887 [www.jssgallery.org]

https://idscache.harvardartmuseums.org/ids/view/18785585?width=3000&height=3000

Charles Fairchild (1838-1910) was a Boston banke, friend and patron of Sargent [www.harvardartmuseums.org]

https://i2.wp.com/www.jssgallery.org/Paintings/10208.jpg

Sally Fairchild, daughter of Charles and Elizabeth, by J. Singer Sargent, c. 1887 [www.jssgallery.org]

 

There is nothing like being at sea, after all. And O, why have I allowed myself to rot so long on land? But on the Banks I caught a cold, and I have not yet got over it.

https://media1.britannica.com/eb-media/38/159938-004-CC29B547.jpg

[https://media1.britannica.com]

https://i0.wp.com/www.maritimeheritage.org/seaports/images/Map-British-Isles-1912.jpg

[www.maritimeheritage.org]

  

My reception here was idiotic to the last degree […]. It is very silly, and not pleasant, except where humour enters; and I confess the poor interviewer lads pleased me. They are too good for their trade; avoided anything I asked them to avoid, and were no more vulgar in their reports than they could help. I liked the lads.

https://d1u4oo4rb13yy8.cloudfront.net/article/52089-qekozuzrzy-1487842406.jpg

Detail from The Fin de Siècle Newspaper Proprietor, an illustration featured in an 1894 issue of Puck magazine [https://d1u4oo4rb13yy8.cloudfront.net]

https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2314/32988835176_b9231af675_b.jpg

The “New Journalism” Beats Him, 1897 [https://c1.staticflickr.com]

This portrait of RLS by Sargent was commissioned by the Boston banker Charles Fairchild as a gift for his wife Elizabeth [www.jssgallery.org]

 

[…]

O, it was lovely on our stable-ship, chock full of stallions.

https://lettersofrobertlouisstevenson.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/15145-loading-for-india-compressor.jpg

‘The new mode of shipping horses to India’, 1880 [https://2.bp.blogspot.com]

She rolled heartily, rolled some of the fittings out of our state-room, and I think a more dangerous cruise (except that it was summer) it would be hard to imagine.

https://i0.wp.com/www.norwayheritage.com/gallery/gallery/Steamship_Companies/Cunard_Line/saxonia-ivernia-steerage-4berth.jpg

4 berth stateroom for steerage passengers (3rd class) [www.norwayheritage.com]

But we enjoyed it to the masthead, all but Fanny; and even she perhaps a little. When we got in, we had run out of beer,

https://craft-beer-brewing.cdn.prismic.io/craft-beer-brewing/66447576fd736de7791de08a4b6eb97b29e15f1a_2015-03-30-bass-corkers.jpg

[https://craft-beer-brewing.cdn.prismic.io]

stout,

https://lettersofrobertlouisstevenson.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/9d199-whitbread_stout_poster.jpg

[http://1.bp.blogspot.com]

cocoa,

https://chocolateclass.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/cadbury-drinking-chocolate.jpg

[https://chocolateclass.files.wordpress.com]

soda-water,

https://i0.wp.com/www.blightyantiques.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/46D581B4-65AB-4A53-82BD-AD4A62176BBB_2_large.jpg

Glass soda bottles, Dobell & Co, Cheltenham, 19th century [www.blightyantiques.com]

water,

https://dropmeanywhere.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/germany-bremerhaven-emigrant-museum-ship-cabin.jpg

[https://dropmeanywhere.files.wordpress.com]

fresh meat,

https://uncoveringhiddenlives.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/naval-scenes-steward-and-cook-copy.jpg

[https://uncoveringhiddenlives.files.wordpress.com]

and (almost) of biscuit.

https://i0.wp.com/blog.tepapa.govt.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/biscuit-1-450x464.jpg

Ship’s biscuit, 1869 [http://blog.tepapa.govt.nz]

But it was a thousandfold pleasanter than a great big Birmingham liner like a new hotel;

https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/images/1893Ad.jpg

Breeder’s Gazette, 1893[www.encyclopedia-titanica.org]

and we liked the officers,

https://i0.wp.com/c8.alamy.com/comp/D85WMD/19th-century-naval-officers-D85WMD.jpg

 

and made friends with the quartermasters,

https://lettersofrobertlouisstevenson.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/d80d2-a2bcaptain252c2bquartermaster2band2bnavigating2bofficer2bon2bthe2bbridge2bof2ba2bminne2bclass2bship252c2bfrom2ba2bbrochure2bof2bc-19002b2528kinghorn2529.png

A captain, quartermaster and navigating officer on the bridge of a Class ship, c. 1900 [https://4.bp.blogspot.com]

and I (at least) made a friend of a baboon (for we carried a cargo of apes),

https://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large-5/smiling-baboon-don-johnson.jpg

[https://images.fineartamerica.com]

whose embraces have pretty near cost me a coat. The passengers improved, and were a very good specimen lot, with no drunkard, no gambling that I saw, and less grumbling and backbiting than one would have asked of poor human nature.

https://blogs.slv.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/emigration-to-sydney5.png

[https://blogs.slv.vic.gov.au]

Apes,

https://listverse.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/10-Feeding-Zoo-e1414079250995.jpg

[https://listverse.com]

stallions,

https://i0.wp.com/www.thinklikeahorse.org/images/boathorse.jpg

[www.thinklikeahorse.org]

cows,

https://lettersofrobertlouisstevenson.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/8e309-this2bimage2bof2ba2bcattle2bboat2bpublished2bby2bscribner2527s2bmagazine2bin2b18912blooks2bmuch2blike2batlantic2btransport2bline2bsteamers2bof2bthe2bday.png

Cattle boat, Scribner’s Magazine 1891, probably Atlantic Transport Line steamer [https://1.bp.blogspot.com]

matches,

https://i.pinimg.com/236x/1a/23/a8/1a23a8e0fa9165ac1832aab58cc7ea61--th-century.jpg

Wooden match boxes from Steamboat Arabia cargo, 19th century [https://i.pinimg.com]

hay,

Contented Cattle

[www.encyclopedia-titanica.org]

 

and poor men-folk,

Risultati immagini per immigrants on ship 19th century

[https://fineartamerica.com]

all, or almost all, came successfully to land. Yours ever,

R.L.S.

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

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