“I thocht I was sae dam patriotic j’inin'”

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 1964.]

To Charles Baxter [Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 35-36]

Saranac Lake, 12th December ’87

My dear Charles,

Will you please send £20 to [Aunt Alan] for a Christmas from [my mother]?


‘Aunt Alan’ was RLS’s aunt, Margaret Scott Jones (aka ‘Gatchie’, 1812-95). New Calton Cemetery, Edinburgh [https://images.findagrave.com]

Moreover, I cannot remember what I told you to send to [Katharine];


Katharine Elizabeth Alan Stevenson (1851-1939), RLS’s cousin and Bob’s sister. They played together when they were children. RLS dedicated ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ to her. In June 1874 she married, against the wishes of her family, William Sydney de Mattos, known as a “Cambridge atheist”. His constant infidelities led to their separation in 1881. At the age of 30, Katharine moved to London with her two children and, with help from RLS and Henley, supported herself by journalism [www.cityofliterature.com]

but as God has dealt so providentially with me this year, I now propose to make it £20. […]

I beg of you also to consider my strange position. I joined a club which it was said was to defend the Union; and I had a letter from the secretary, which his name I believe was Lord Warmingpan (or words to that effect), to say I am elected, and had better pay up a certain sum of money, I forget what.


The supposed Lord Warmingpan was really John Horace Savile, Viscount Pollington, later the Earl of Mexborough (1843-1916). Cimitero evangelico degli allori, Florence [https://images.findagrave.com]


RLS’s essay, ‘Confession of a Unionist’ seems to be the ‘talk on things current’ of which RLS wrote to the editor of Scribner’s Magazine from Saranac Lake in the early winter of 1887-88. This must have been intended for one of the early numbers of that magazine. Proof of the articlewhere sold by Isobel Strong and are now at Harvard [https://babel.hathitrust.org]


Now I cannae verra weel draw a blank cheque and send to −

LORD WARMINGPAN (or words to that effect),

London, England.

And, man, if it was possible, I would be dooms glad to be out of this bit scrapie. Mebbe the club was ca’d ‘The Union,’ but I wouldnae like to sweir; and mebbe it was nae, or mebbe only words to that effec’ but I wouldnae care just exac’ly about sweirin’. Do ye no think Henley, or Pollick, or some o’ they London fellies, micht mebbe perhaps find out for me?


William Ernest Henley (1849- 1903) [https://upload.wikimedia.org]


Walter Herries Pollock (1850-1926), editor of the Saturday Review and member of the ‘Athenaeum’, 1892 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]


and just what the soom was? And that you would aiblins pay for me? For I thocht I was sae dam patriotic j’inin’, and it would be a kind o’ a comedoun to be turned out again. Mebbe Lang would ken;

Andrew Lang, (1844- 1912) [www.mainlesson.com]

or mebbe Rider Haggyard:


Henry Rider Haggard (1856-1825), English writer of adventure novels set in exotic locations [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

they’re kind o’ Union folks. But it’s my belief his name was Warmingpan whatever. Yours,


alias Robert Louis Stevenson

Could it be Warminster?

Give us news of all your folk. A Merry Christmas from all of us.

File:A merry Christmas to you. (To) George Shaw, Xmas 87 (1887) (21658288342).jpg

George Shaw, Christmas postcard, Xmas 1887 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]




This entry was posted in Letters, Robert Louis Stevenson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.