“A rank Saranacker and wild man of the woods”

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 1895.]

To W. H. Low [Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 16-17]

[Saranac Lake, c. 8 October 1887]


I have to trouble you with the following paroles bien senties. We are here at a first-rate place. ‘Baker’s’ is the name of our house, but we don’t address there;

Baker’s cottage, Saranac Lake [www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com]

Baker’s cottage, Saranac Lake, now RLS Museum since 1915 [www.nymews.com]


we prefer the tender care of the Post-Office, as more aristocratic (it is no use to telegraph even to the care of the Post-Office, who does not give a single damn).

Marjorie Fleming (1803-1811), a Scottish child writer and poet. RLS is quoting two verses of her poem ‘Three Turkeys Fair [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

Marjorie Fleming’s poem ‘Three Turkeys Fair’, quoted above by RLS. From the book by J. Brown, Marjorie Fleming, 1864.


Baker’s has a prophet’s chamber, which the hypercritical might describe as a garret with a hole in the floor: in that garret, sir, I have to trouble you and your wife to come and slumber.


On the upper floor of Baker’s cottage were Lloyd’s bedroom and the garret [https://noveldestinations.files.wordpress.com]

Not now, however: with manly hospitality, I choke off any sudden impulse. Because first, my wife and my mother are gone (a note for the latter, strongly suspected to be in the hand of your talented wife, now sits silent on the mantel shelf),


The hearth at Baker’s cottage, now RLS Museum at Saranac Lake [https://noveldestinations.files.wordpress.com]

one to Niagara


William Morris Hunt, Niagara, 1879 [http://mfas3.s3.amazonaws.com]

and t’other to Indianapolis.


Indianapolis, SE Corner of Ohio Street and Capitol Avenue, 1890 [https://i.pinimg.com]

Because, second, we are not yet installed. And because, third, I won’t have you till I have a buffalo robe and leggings, lest you should want to paint me as a plain man, which I am not, but a rank Saranacker and wild man of the woods.

RLS in a diorama on Baker’s veranda with a cigarette and skates [www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com]

[…] Yours,

Robert Louis Stevenson




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