“Lord, what a silly thing is popularity!”

[For correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 1881.]

To Henry James [Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 6-7]

[Newport, 18 September 1887]

My dear James,

Here we are at Newport in the house of the good Fairchilds; and a sad burthen we have laid upon their shoulders.

https://i0.wp.com/www.jssgallery.org/Paintings/Mrs_Charles_Fairchild.jpg

Elizabeth Nelson Fairchild (1845–1924) c. 1887, by J. Singer Sargent. RLS and Fanny found the most hospitable of refuges in the Fairchilds’ house [www.jssgallery.org]

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

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

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/proxy/Mv254xWCLETRS_cgD31xEdSS2zQ2rWr8Ejghjmw8BDCcp5vpF65J_y4OIQt6M5M-Z3kkL-NFNZTncuHTHf5srwDnbAfLiwKb=s16383

The area where the Fairchilds’ holyday house was standing, at 94 Washington Street, Newport, R.I. [https://lh5.googleusercontent.com]

I have been in bed practically ever since I came. I caught a cold on the Banks after having had the finest time conceivable, and enjoyed myself more than I could have hoped on board our strange floating menagerie: stallions

Black-and-white illustration from Harper's Weekly magazine showing horses being loaded onto a ship.

Shipping horses, Harper’s Weekly, November 2, 1861 [www.nysl.nysed.gov]

and monkeys

https://acb0a5d73b67fccd4bbe-c2d8138f0ea10a18dd4c43ec3aa4240a.ssl.cf5.rackcdn.com/10003/VIV+Monkeys+Cage+NC+PO+VS.jpg?v=1499481987000

[https://acb0a5d73b67fccd4bbe-c2d8138f0ea10a18dd4c43ec3aa4240a.ssl.cf5.rackcdn.com]

and matches

https://www.antiquesnavigator.com/archive/2013/07/21/161064572772.jpg

[www.antiquesnavigator.com]

made our cargo; and the vast continent of these incongruities rolled the while like a haystack;

 

and the stallions stood hypnotised by the motion, looking through the ports at our dinner-table, and winked when the crockery was broken;

Steerage dining room of an ocean liner in the late 19th century.

Steerage dining room of an ocean liner in the late 19th century [www.printsoldandrare.com]

https://i.pinimg.com/564x/22/33/a8/2233a80512043ad04eac25affcdd81a1.jpg

[https://i.pinimg.com]

 

and the little monkeys stared at each other in their cages, and were thrown overboard like little bluish babies;

https://i2-prod.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article408854.ece/ALTERNATES/s615b/monkey-factory-pic-sinopix-409696013.jpg

[https://i2-prod.mirror.co.uk]

and the big monkey, Jacko, scoured about the ship and rested willingly in my arms, to the ruin of my clothing;

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9a/Olive_baboon1.jpg/800px-Olive_baboon1.jpg

[https://upload.wikimedia.org]

and the man of the stallions made a bower of the black tarpaulin,

https://i1.wp.com/www.nysl.nysed.gov/mssc/ballsbluff/images/horses2.jpg

Harper’s Weekly, November 2, 1861 [www.nysl.nysed.gov]

and sat therein at the feet of a raddled divinity, like a picture on a box of chocolates;

https://cdn0.rubylane.com/shops/885272/543.1L.jpg

French Chocolate Box, 19th century [https://cdn0.rubylane.com]

and the other passengers, when they were not sick, looked on and laughed.

https://immigrationpasttopresent.weebly.com/uploads/1/3/9/9/13992562/7248032_orig.jpg?0

[https://immigrationpasttopresent.weebly.com]

Take all this picture, and make it roll till the bell shall sound unexpected notes

  

and the fittings shall break loose in our state-room, and you have the voyage of the Ludgate Hill.

https://media.mutualart.com/Images/2017_09/22/17/175718321/877513c6-292f-401f-a758-117d64805607.Jpeg

Antonio Jacobsen (manner), The Steamship Ludgate Hill in Choppy Water [https://media.mutualart.com]

She arrived in the port of New York,

New York, drawing by Berteault, based on a lithograph by Currier and Yves. early 1890s [http://3.bp.blogspot.com]

without beer, porter, soda-water, curaçoa, fresh meat, or fresh water; and yet we lived, and we regret her.

My wife is a good deal run down, and I am no great shakes.         

America is, as I remarked, a fine place to eat in, and a great place for kindness; but, Lord, what a silly thing is popularity! I envy the cool obscurity of Skerryvore.

Skerryvore Cottage, Bournemouth [www.awesomestories.com]

If it even paid, said Meanness! and was abashed at himself. – Yours most sincerely,

Robert Louis Stevenson

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

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