“Fame is nothing to a yacht; experto crede”

[As usual, for correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 1892.]

To Sir Walter Simpson [Colvin 1912, pp. 231-233]

[Saranac Lake, Early October, 1887.l

My dear Simpson,

the address is c/o Charles Scribner’s Sons, 743 Broadway, N.Y., where I wish you would write and tell us you are better.


Charles Scribner’s Sons, 743 Broadway, N.Y. [http://library.princeton.edu]

But the place of our abode is Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks; it is a mighty good place too, and I mean it shall do me good.


RLS Cottage at Saranac Lake as it was during RLS’s visit, postcard from 1907 [www.saranaclake.com]

Indeed the dreadful depression and collapse of last summer has quite passed away; it was a thorough change I wanted;

RLS at Bournemouth, December 1885 [https://i.pinimg.com]

I wonder perhaps if it wouldn’t pick you up – if you are not picked up already; you have been a long time in Great Britain; and that is a slow poison, very slow for the strong, but certain for all. Old Dr. Chepmell told Lloyd: any one can stay a year in England and be the better for it, but no one can stay there steadily and not be the worse.

Dr Isaac Dobrée Chepmell, a native of Guernsey, was a physician in Paris for 20 years, and one of the doctors at Bournemouth during the winter. In his dedication to ‘Underwoods’ RLS said that his visits made it ‘a pleasure to be ill’.


Sir Walter Grindlay Simpson (1843-1898) [http://robert-louis-stevenson.org]

I have had a very curious experience here; being very much made of, and called upon, and all that; quite the famous party in fact: it is not so nice as people try to make out, when you are young, and don’t want to bother working. Fame is nothing to a yacht; experto crede.


Guercino, Allegory of Fame, 1621 [https://i.pinimg.com]


The schooner Casco (1878-1919): RLS will charter Dr. Merritt’s yacht at the end of June 1888, sailing from San Francisco and visiting the Eastern Islands, arriving at Honolulu at the beginning of 1889 [http://robert-louis-stevenson.org]


There are nice bits of course; for you meet very pleasant and interesting people; but the thing at large is a bore and a fraud; and I am much happier up here, where I see no one and live my own life. One thing is they do not stick for money to the Famed One; I was offered £2000 a year for a weekly article; and I accepted (and now enjoy) £720 a year for a monthly one: 720/12 (whatever that may be) for each article, as long or as short as I please, and on any mortal subject.


RLS, Bournemouth 1885 [https://interestingliterature.files.wordpress.com]

I am sure it will do me harm to do it; but the sum was irresistible. See calculations on verso of last page, and observe, sir, the accuracy of my methods.

Hulloh, I must get up, as I can’t lose any time. Goodbye, remember me to her ladyship and salute the Kids. — Ever your friend,


12 : 10 :: 72 : x, and this results in the same problem. Well – tackle it.



Is it possible?


Let us cheque it by trying it in dollars, $3500 per an.






Well: $291.80

then divide by 5 for a rough test

5)291(58. 4. 4

25                    add 80 cents = 40d. =3. 4d

3. 4

£58. 7. 8

Well, call it


and be done with it!









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