A phrase of three members is the outside of my syntax

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 4, 1079.]

To Edmund Gosse [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 131-132]

Chalet la Solitude, Hyères [? March 1883]

My dear Gosse,

I am very guilty; I should have written to you long ago; and now, though it must be done, I am so stupid that I can only boldly recapitulate. A phrase of three members is the outside of my syntax.

Edmund Gosse (1849-1928), English poet, author and critic [http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/]

First, I liked the Rover better than any of your other verse. I believe you are right, and can make stories in verse. The last two stanzas and one or two in the beginning – but the two last above all – I thought excellent.

Gosse’s poem, ‘The Cruise of the Rover’, was bublished in the December 1882 Magazine of Art [https://ia600302.us.archive.org/]

E. Gosse, ‘The Cruise of the Rover’ (beginning of) [https://ia600302.us.archive.org/]





I suggest a pursuit of the vein. If you want a good story to treat, get the Memoirs of the Chevalier Johnstone, and do his passage of the Tay; it would be excellent: the dinner in the field, the woman he has to follow, the dragoons, the timid boatmen, the brave lasses. It would go like a charm; look at it, and you will say you owe me one.

‘Memoirs of the Rebellion in 1745 and 1746 by the Chevalier de Johnstone, aid-de-camp to Lord George Murray, general of the rebel army, assistant sid-de-csmp to Prince Charles Edward, captain in the Duke of Perth’s regiment, and afterwards an officer in the French Service. Containing a narrative of the progress of the rebellion, from its commencement to the battle of Culloden’, 1820. RLS sayd that it was one of the source books for his ‘Master of Ballantrae’. The episode about the passage of the Tay may have been the source of his account of David and Alan crossing the Forth in ‘Kidnapped’ [https://ia601409.us.archive.org/]

 Second, Gilder asking me for fiction, I suddenly took a great resolve, and have packed off to him my new work, The Silverado Squatters. I do not for a moment suppose he will take it; but pray say all the good words you can for it. I should be awfully glad to get it taken. But if it does not mean dibbs at once, I shall be ruined for life. Pray write soon and beg Gilder your prettiest for a poor gentleman in pecuniary sloughs.

Richard Watson Gilder (1844-1909), American poet and for many years the editor of the Century Magazine, NY [www.indiana.edu/]

A first incomplete version of ‘The Silverado Squatters’, RLS’s travel memory of his two-month honeymoon trip with Fanny and her son Lloyd to Napa Valley, California, in 1880, was published in the Century Magazine for Nov. and Dec, 1883 [http://babel.hathitrust.org/]

Beginning of the first edition of RLS’s ‘Silverado Squatters’, in yhe Century Magazine, Nov-Dec 1883 [http://babel.hathitrust.org/]


Fourth, next time I am supposed to be at death’s door, write to me like a Christian, and let not your correspondence attend on business. – Yours ever,


P. S. – I see I have led you to conceive the Squatters are fiction. They are not, alas!

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1 Response to A phrase of three members is the outside of my syntax

  1. Maria Finzi says:

    funny! Gosse means little boy in french!

    Date: Sun, 4 Oct 2015 08:29:10 +0000 To: maria.finzi32@hotmail.it


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