The Hero and the Eagle

‘Paul’ is Ch. Kegan Paul & Co., the London editor who had refused RLS’s Studies ‘writing an insolent letter… in answer to one of my father’s’. He also refused to part with the copyrights of ‘Travels with a Donkey’ and ‘An Inland Voyage’, then put into an half-crown series.

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 3, 936.]

To Edmund Gosse [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 88-89]

[Chalet am Stein, Davos, March 28, 1882]

My dear Weg,

And I had just written the best note to Mrs. Gosse that was in my power. Most blameable.

 

His friend Gosse had written to RLS: ‘My wife has divulged, with sobs and cries, concealing her crimson face in the hollows of her chair, that she wrote you a little timid letter than was meant to be funny, and that you have withered her with well-deserved sarcastic silence.’

I now send (for Mrs. Gosse)

BLACK CANYON

At Davos, RLS and his stepson Lloyd were using a toy press and editing their own booklets: one of  these was ‘Black Canyon, or Wild Adventures in the Far West’, a short tale by Lloyd.

At Davos, RLS and his stepson Lloyd were using a toy press and editing their own booklets: one of these was ‘Black Canyon, or Wild Adventures in the Far West’, a short tale by Lloyd.

Lloyd’s short tale, ‘Black Canyon’, pp. 4-5 [http://3.bp.blogspot.com/]

Also an advertisement of my new appearance as poet (bard, rather) and hartis on wood. The cut represents the Hero and the Eagle, and is emblematic of Cortez first viewing the Pacific Ocean, which (according to the bard Keats) it took place in Darien. The cut is much admired for the sentiment of discovery, the manly proportions of the voyager, and the fine impression of tropical scenes and the untrodden WASTE, so aptly rendered by the hartis.

RLS made the wood cuts for his booklet of poems, ‘Moral Emblems’, 1882 [https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/]

RLS made the wood cuts for his booklet of poems, ‘Moral Emblems’: here is the Hero and the Eagle .

The Hero and the Eagle, wood cut by RLS for his poem ‘A Peak in Darien’ (‘Moral Emblems’), 1882 [www.luminarium.org/]

 

I would send you the book; but I declare I’m ruined. I got a penny a cut and a halfpenny a set of verses from the flint-hearted publisher, and only one specimen copy, as I’m a sinner. [Paul] was apostolic alongside of Osbourne.

S.L. Osbourne & Co. advertisement, 1881-1882 [https://upload.wikimedia.org/]

[…]

I hope you will be able to decipher this, written at steam speed with a breaking pen, the hotfast postman at my heels.

Swiss alpine post in winter, 19th century [http://chestofbooks.com/]

No excuse, says you. None, sir, says I, and touches my ‘at most civil. (extraordinary evolution of pen, now quite doomed — to resume —) I have not put pen to the Bloody Murder yet. But it is early on my list; and when once I get to it, three weeks should see the last bloodstain — maybe a fortnight. For I am beginning to combine an extraordinary laborious slowness while at work, with the most surprisingly quick results in the way of finished manuscripts.

‘Bloody Murder’ refers to the fact that Gosse and RLS were still meditating a volume in which some of the famous historical murder cases (Elstree Murder first of all) should be retold. The Elstree murder was a murder in Radlett, Hertfordshire, England, in 1823 (see my previous post, May 30, 2015): the victim was W. Weare, a solicitor of Lyon’s Inn and a gambler; his killer, John Thurtell and accomplices [http://upload.wikimedia.org/]

How goes Gray? Colvin is to do Keats.

E.W. Gosse, ‘Gray’, ‘English Men of Letters’, 1882 [http://pictures.abebooks.com/]

 

S. Colvin, ‘Keats’, ‘English Men of Letters’, 1887 [https://ia601900.us.archive.org/]

My wife is still not well. — Yours ever

R.L.S.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Letters, Robert Louis Stevenson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s