We should all hurry up and praise the living

RLS’s London friend, Edmund Gosse, married Ellen (Nellie) Epps (1850-1929), daughter of George Napoleon Epps, a homeopathic doctor, in 1875. She had sent RLS a miniature Bible illustrated with rude cuts, picked up at an outdoor stall.

[For correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 3, 927.]

To Nellie Gosse [Colvin 1912, pp. 158-159]

[Chalet am Stein, Davos, March 16, 1882.]

Dear Mrs. Gosse,

Thank you heartily for the Bible, which is exquisite. I thoroughly appreciate the whole; but have you done justice to the third lion in Daniel (like the third murderer in Macbeth) — a singular animal — study him well.

Daniel in the Lions Den, Victorian needlework [https://shard1.1stdibs.us.com/]


The soldier in the fiery furnace beats me.

The fiery furnace, English engraving, 19th century [https://sp.yimg.com/]

 I enclose a programme of Lloyd’s new work. The work I shall send tomorrow, for the publisher is out and I dare not touch his ‘plant’: il m’en cuirait. The work in question I think a huge lark, but still droller is the author’s attitude. Not one incident holds with another from beginning to end; and whenever I discover a new inconsistency, Sam is the first to laugh — with a kind of humorous pride at the thing being so silly.

Lloyd Osbourne (RLS’s stepson) in 1880. He used a toy press, just then set up fot him in the chalet at Davos [http://upload.wikimedia.org/]

I saw the note, and I was so sorry my article had not come in time for the old lady. We should all hurry up and praise the living.

RLS’s essay on ‘Bagster’s Pilgrim’s Progress’, in The Magazine of Art, Feb 1882: the ‘old lady’ was Eunice Bagster, the illustrator praised by RLS [https://ia600408.us.archive.org/]


I must praise Tupper. À propos, did you ever read him? — or know any one who had? That is very droll; but the truth is we all live in a clique, buy each other’s books and like each other’s books; and the great, gaunt, grey, gaping public snaps its big fingers and reads Talmage and Tupper — and Black Canyon.

Martin Farquhar Tupper (1810-89): his ‘Proverbial Philosophy’ was immensely popular in its day, but was later ridiculed for its commonplace moralising [http://upload.wikimedia.org/]

Thomas de Witt Talmage (1832-1902), popular American preacher [https://sp.yimg.com/]

My wife is better; I, for the moment, am but so-so myself; but the printer is in very — how shall we say? — large type at this present, and the sound of the press never ceases. Remember me to Weg.

The Gosses: Edmund (Weg), Ellen (Nellie) and their daughters.

— Yours very truly,

(signed) Robert Louis Stevenson




Today is published by S.L. Osbourne & Co.






Instructive and amusing TALE written by

Samuel Lloyd Osbourne

Price 6d,


Although Black Canyon is rather shorter than ordinary for that kind of story, it is an excellent work. We cordially recommend it to our readers. — Weekly Messenger.

S.L. Osbourne’s new work (Black Canyon) is splendidly illustrated. In the story, the characters are bold and striking. It reflects the highest honour on its writer. — Morning Call.

A very remarkable work. Every page produces an effect. The end is as singular as the beginning. I never saw such a work before. — R.L. Stevenson.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado [http://3.bp.blogspot.com/]

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