STEVENSON Robert Louis - Autograph Letter Signed from Vailima to a doctor and member of the London Missionary Society
Robert Louis STEVENSON (1850-1894)Autograph Letter Signed (“Robert Louis Stevenson”) to “Dear Dr. Davies”, thanking him for a medical pamphlet, and hoping that “we shall still be spared that spectacle of tragic folly, another war”.
1 page 8vo with integral blank leaf, n.p. [but Vailima], n.d. [c.1890].
“The pamphlets [arrived] with many thanks. I have read them – we have all read them – with vivid interest. Filaria Sanguinis Hominis is truly a broth of a boy! Trusting you are being speeded in your different duties – and that, in spite of all signs and many rumours we shall still be spared that spectacle of tragic folly, another war.”
After travelling extensively throughout the South Pacific, Stevenson and his wife settled in the village of Vailima in Samoa in 1890. Stevenson was sympathetic to the Samoans, to the extent of becoming embroiled in a dispute with officialdom over the incompetence of some of the European officials.
His time there was happy and brought renewed energy to the writer whose health had been undermined in his youth by the less congenial climate of his native Edinburgh. He maintained a regular correspondence with friends in England and Scotland, including Sidney Colvin, a close friend, literary advisor, and eventually editor of Stevenson’s letters.
Writing to Colvin in November 1890, Stevenson told him that “I met Dr. Davis from Savaii, and had an age-long talk about Edinburgh folk; it was very pleasant. He has been studying in Edinburgh . . . He told me he knew nobody but college people . . . He seems full of cheerfulness and thick-set energy. I feel as if I could put him in a novel with effect . . .”
It would appear that Dr. Davies had trained as a doctor in Edinburgh late in life, with a view to returning to the South Sea Islands, where he had already served as a member of the London Missionary Society. Upon his return to Samoa in 1890, Davies found himself dealing with cases of elephantiasis, a disease caused by the Filaria Sanguinis Hominis parasite mentioned in this letter.
Together with three photos of the Davies family, a postcard of Samoa and a folding set of postcards marked “Samoa?” one depicting a hut, the others showing islanders.
The letter has very light foxing, but is otherwise in very good condition.
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