I don't know how I am to clear my hands of them, nor when, not before Christmas anyway. Yesterday I was twenty-five; so please wish me many happy returns - directly. This one was not UNhappy anyway. I have got back a good deal into my old random, little-thought way of life, and do not care whether I read, write, speak, or walk, so long as I do something. I have a great delight in this wheel-skating; I have made great advance in it of late, can do a good many amusing things (I mean amusing in MY sense - amusing to do). You know, I lose all my forenoons at Court! So it is, but the time passes; it is a great pleasure to sit and hear cases argued or advised. This is quite autobiographical, but I feel as if it was some time since we met, and I can tell you, I am glad to meet you again. In every way, you see, but that of work the world goes well with me. My health is better than ever it was before; I get on without any jar, nay, as if there never had been a jar, with my parents. If it weren't about that work, I'd be happy. But the fact is, I don't think - the fact is, I'm going to trust in Providence about work. If I could get one or two pieces I hate out of my way all would be well, I think; but these obstacles disgust me, and as I know I ought to do them first, I don't do anything. I must finish this off, or I'll just lose another day. I'll try to write again soon. - Ever your faithful friend,
R. L. S.
Letter: TO MRS. DE MATTOS
EDINBURGH, JANUARY 1876.
MY DEAR KATHARINE, - The prisoner reserved his defence. He has been seedy, however; principally sick of the family evil, despondency; the sun is gone out utterly; and the breath of the people of this city lies about as a sort of damp, unwholesome fog, in which we go walking with bowed hearts. If I understand what is a contrite spirit, I have one; it is to feel that you are a small jar, or rather, as I feel myself, a very large jar, of pottery work rather MAL REUSSI, and to make every allowance for the potter (I beg pardon; Potter with a capital P.) on his ill-success, and rather wish he would reduce you as soon as possible to potsherds. However, there are many things to do yet before we go
GROSSIR LA PATE UNIVERSELLE FAITE DES FORMES QUE DIEU FOND.
For instance, I have never been in a revolution yet. I pray God I may be in one at the end, if I am to make a mucker. The best way to make a mucker is to have your back set against a wall and a few lead pellets whiffed into you in a moment, while yet you are all in a heat and a fury of combat, with drums sounding on all sides, and people crying, and a general smash like the infernal orchestration at the end of the HUGUENOTS. . . .
Please pardon me for having been so long of writing, and show your pardon by writing soon to me; it will be a kindness, for I am sometimes very dull. Edinburgh is much changed for the worse by the absence of Bob; and this damned weather weighs on me like a curse. Yesterday, or the day before, there came so black a rain squall that I was frightened - what a child would call frightened, you know, for want of a better word - although in reality it has nothing to do with fright. I lit the gas and sat cowering in my chair until it went away again. - Ever yours,
R. L. S.
O I am trying my hand at a novel just now; it may interest you to know, I am bound to say I do not think it will be a success. However, it's an amusement for the moment, and work, work is your only ally against the 'bearded people' that squat upon their hams in the dark places of life and embrace people horribly as they go by. God save us from the bearded people! to think that the sun is still shining in some happy places!
R. L S.
Letter: TO MRS SITWELL
[EDINBURGH, JANUARY 1876.]
. . . OUR weather continues as it was, bitterly cold, and raining often. There is not much pleasure in life certainly as it stands at present. NOUS N'IRONS PLUS AU BOSS, HELAS!
I meant to write some more last night, but my father was ill and it put it out of my way.