One folly I have not – I am not touchy under criticism

The references in the first paragraph are to the volume Familiar Studies of Men and Books.

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 3, 940.]

To Alexander H. Japp [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 89-91]

Chalet am Stein, Davos, April 1, 1882.

My dear Dr. Japp,

A good day to date this letter, which is in fact a confession of incapacity.

April Fools’ Day, 19th century []

During my wife’s […] illness […] I somewhat lost my head, and entirely lost a great quire of corrected proofs. This is one of the results; I hope there are none more serious. I was never so sick of any volume as I was of that; I was continually receiving fresh proofs with fresh infinitesimal difficulties. I was ill – I did really fear my wife was worse than ill. Well, it’s out now; and though I have observed several carelessnesses myself, and now here’s another of your finding – of which, indeed, I ought to be ashamed – it will only justify the sweeping humility of the Preface.


Alexander Hay Japp (1837-1905), Scottish author and publisher, was known for some time under his pseudonym H.A. Page. In 1905 he wrote a book about his friendship and correspondence with RLS []

Familiar studies of men and books (Preface): MS by RLS, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin []


Symonds was actually dining with us when your letter came, and I communicated your remarks. […] He is a far better and more interesting thing than any of his books.

John Addington Symonds []

The elephant was my wife’s; so she is proportionately elate you should have picked it out for praise – from a collection, let me add, so replete with the highest qualities of art.

‘Trumpeting Jumbo’, woodcut by Fanny for RLS’s ‘Moral Emblems’, 1882 []

My wicked carcase, as John Knox calls it, holds together wonderfully.

John Knox (1514-1572), Scottish clergyman and writer, leader of the Protestant Reformation []

In addition to many other things, and a volume of travel, I find I have written, since December, 90 Cornhill pages of magazine work – essays and stories: 40,000 words, and I am none the worse – I am the better.

The Cornhill Magazine, London, 1882 []

I begin to hope I may, if not outlive this wolverine upon my shoulders, at least carry him bravely like Symonds and Alexander Pope. I begin to take a pride in that hope.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744), best known for his satirical verse, as well as for his translation of Homer, is the second-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare []

I shall be much interested to see your criticisms; you might perhaps send them to me. I believe you know that is not dangerous; one folly I have not – I am not touchy under criticism.

Lloyd and my wife both beg to be remembered; and Lloyd sends as a present a work of his own. I hope you feel flattered; for this is simply the first time he has ever given one away. I have to buy my own works, I can tell you. – Yours very sincerely,

Robert Louis Stevenson



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