“… but if a tin of Margarita and a mass of cigarette papers came by post…”

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Will H. Low. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 1922.]

To Will H. Low [Low, A Chronicle of friendship, 1908, pp. 398-9]

[Saranac Lake, 24 October 1887]


Sir, since 2 p.m. yesterday, a period of nearly eighteen hours, the wretched man who now addresses you has not smoked.


RLS rolling a cigrette 1885 [https://edrls.files.wordpress.com]

The same length of time has elapsed since the high-bred Lloyd Osbourne has Broken Tobacco.


Lloyd Osbourne (1868-1947), RLS’s stepson [http://stevensonmuseum.org]

The famine has passed through all the usual stages; tissue paper from between visiting cards



and ’baccy from the bottom of pockets having been consumed;



but now, sir, the last […] ’ope has waltzed into space, and neither Osbourne nor myself can longer blink the conviction that

               H’all is over,


When our memorial notices are written, this will be a shrewd cut at the States, under whose banner we perish.


The 38-Star United States of America Flag of 1887 (adopted 1877) [www.nlm.nih.gov]

Well, I am now done with the passions of mortality — Farewell! but if a tin of Margarita

In ‘Stevenson and Margarita’ (1922) Low will explain that this was RLS’s favourite tobacco, blended by John Blakely, a NY tobacconist – ‘a mixture of good Virginia, a little Turkish, and a trace of Perique [a strong tobacco from Louisiana]’.

and a mass of cigarette papers came by post, without prejudice to another tin in the general packet, it would not find me alive, of course, no, but it might be handy for my executors. Sir, Yours,


I pray God all is well with the Talented. ‘La vie sans Tabac’ (good name for a book) smiles on me but little. Good heavens, Low, what a melancholy fate is mine — still so young, and had I strength left, I might flee from this horrible place; there is help at Plattsburg — the mail goes.

The area of Pittsburg, Missouri, had been a leading producer of tobacco [www.plattsburgmo.com]



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