Moreover, I have my thesis given out now, which is a fifth (is it fifth? I can't count) incumbrance.
SUNDAY. - I've been to church, and am not depressed - a great step. I was at that beautiful church my PETIT POEME EN PROSE was about. It is a little cruciform place, with heavy cornices and string course to match, and a steep slate roof. The small kirkyard is full of old grave-stones. One of a Frenchman from Dunkerque - I suppose he died prisoner in the military prison hard by - and one, the most pathetic memorial I ever saw, a poor school-slate, in a wooden frame, with the inscription cut into it evidently by the father's own hand. In church, old Mr. Torrence preached - over eighty, and a relic of times forgotten, with his black thread gloves and mild old foolish face. One of the nicest parts of it was to see John Inglis, the greatest man in Scotland, our Justice- General, and the only born lawyer I ever heard, listening to the piping old body, as though it had all been a revelation, grave and respectful. - Ever your faithful
R. L. S.
CHAPTER III - ADVOCATE AND AUTHOR, EDINBURGH - PARIS - FONTAINEBLEAU, JULY 1875-JULY 1879
Letter: TO MRS. THOMAS STEVENSON
[CHEZ SIRON, BARBIZON, SEINE ET MARNE, AUGUST 1875.]
MY DEAR MOTHER, - I have been three days at a place called Grez, a pretty and very melancholy village on the plain. A low bridge of many arches choked with sedge; great fields of white and yellow water-lilies; poplars and willows innumerable; and about it all such an atmosphere of sadness and slackness, one could do nothing but get into the boat and out of it again, and yawn for bedtime.
Yesterday Bob and I walked home; it came on a very creditable thunderstorm; we were soon wet through; sometimes the rain was so heavy that one could only see by holding the hand over the eyes; and to crown all, we lost our way and wandered all over the place, and into the artillery range, among broken trees, with big shot lying about among the rocks. It was near dinner-time when we got to Barbizon; and it is supposed that we walked from twenty-three to twenty-five miles, which is not bad for the Advocate, who is not tired this morning. I was very glad to be back again in this dear place, and smell the wet forest in the morning.
Simpson and the rest drove back in a carriage, and got about as wet as we did.
Why don't you write? I have no more to say. - Ever your affectionate son,
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
Letter: TO MRS. SITWELL
CHATEAU RENARD, LOIRET, AUGUST 1875.
. . . I HAVE been walking these last days from place to place; and it does make it hot for walking with a sack in this weather. I am burned in horrid patches of red; my nose, I fear, is going to take the lead in colour; Simpson is all flushed, as if he were seen by a sunset. I send you here two rondeaux; I don't suppose they will amuse anybody but me; but this measure, short and yet intricate, is just what I desire; and I have had some good times walking along the glaring roads, or down the poplar alley of the great canal, pitting my own humour to this old verse.
Far have you come, my lady, from the town, And far from all your sorrows, if you please, To smell the good sea-winds and hear the seas, And in green meadows lay your body down.
To find your pale face grow from pale to brown, Your sad eyes growing brighter by degrees; Far have you come, my lady, from the town, And far from all your sorrows, if you please.
Here in this seaboard land of old renown, In meadow grass go wading to the knees; Bathe your whole soul a while in simple ease; There is no sorrow but the sea can drown; Far have you come, my lady, from the town.
NOUS N'IRONS PLUS AU BOIS.
We'll walk the woods no more, But stay beside the fire, To weep for old desire And things that are no more.
The woods are spoiled and hoar, The ways are full of mire; We'll walk the woods no more, But stay beside the fire. We loved, in days of yore, Love, laughter, and the lyre. Ah God, but death is dire, And death is at the door - We'll walk the woods no more.