“Will my doer collaborate thus much in my new novel?”

In Scotland the term “doer” is used for the law-agent or man of business of any person.

RLS invited his friend and lawyer Charles Baxter (1848-1919) to allow himself (under the alias of Mr. Johnstone Thomson) and his office in Edinburgh to figure in a preface to his new story, The Master of Ballantrae. Such a preface was drafted accordingly, but on second thoughts suppressed; to be, on renewed consideration, reinstated in the final editions.

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 1992.]

To Charles Baxter [Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 45-46]

Saranac Lake, [2] January ’88

Dear Charles,

[…] You are the flower of Doers.

[…]

Will my doer collaborate thus much in my new novel? In the year 1794 or 5, Mr. Ephraim Mackellar, A.M., late steward on the Durrisdeer estates, completed a set of memoranda (as long as a novel) with regard to the death of the (then) late Lord Durrisdeer, and as to that of his attainted elder brother, […] called by the family courtesy title the Master of Ballantrae.

https://i0.wp.com/digital.nls.uk/rlstevenson/img/picture-i2.jpg

Illustration for the 1911 edition of ‘The Master of Ballantrae’ by Walter Paget [https://i0.wp.com]

Artwork by Sir William George Gillies, "Near Durrisdeer", Made of oil on canvas

Sir William George Gillies (1898-1973), “Near Durrisdeer” [https://media.mutualart.com]

[https://i.ebayimg.com]

https://www.scottish-country-dancing-dictionary.com/images/durisdeer.jpg

Durrisdeer village, Dumfriesshire, Scotland [www.scottish-country-dancing-dictionary.com]

 

These he placed in the hand of John Macbrair, W.S., the family agent, on the understanding they were to be sealed until 1862, when a century would have elapsed since the affair in the wilderness (my lord’s death). You succeeded Mr. Macbrair’s firm; the Durrisdeers are extinct; and last year, in an old green box, you found these papers with Macbrair’s indorsation. It is that indorsation of which I want a copy; you may remember, when you gave me the papers, I neglected to take that, and I am sure you are a man too careful of antiquities to have let it fall aside. I shall have a little introduction descriptive of my visit to Edinburgh, arrival there, denner with yoursel’, and first reading of the papers in your smoking-room: all of which, of course, you well remember.

Baxter sent the requested document but RLS didn’t use it. It was posthumously published in 1925 preface of The Master of Ballantrae.

− Ever yours affectionately.

R.L.S.

Your name is my friend Mr. Johnstone Thomson, W.S.!!!

[…]

 

Salva

Salva

Salva

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1 Response to “Will my doer collaborate thus much in my new novel?”

  1. rdury says:

    Thanks for the pictures of Durrisdeer.

    Liked by 1 person

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