I have had to go full-tilt at tushery for a while

‘Tushery’ had been a name in use between RLS and Henley for romances of the Ivanhoe type. He now applies it to his own tale of the Wars of the Roses, The Black Arrow, written for Young Folks. RLS began writing it on May 26th, 1883.

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 4, 1112.]

To William Ernest Henley [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 138-140]

La Solitude, Hyères-les-Palmiers [June 1883]

My dear lad,

The books came some time since, but I have not had the pluck to answer: a shower of small troubles having fallen in, or troubles that may be very large. I have had to incur a huge vague debt for cleaning sewers; our house was (of course) riddled with hidden cesspools, but that was infallible.

Paris sewer workers, 19th century [http://assets.atlasobscura.com/]

19th century cesspool [www.allegiantinspections.com/]


I have the fever, […] and feel the duty to work very heavy on me at times […]; yet go it must. I have had to leave Fontainebleau, when three hours would finish it, and go full-tilt at tushery for a while. But it will come soon.

‘Fontainebleau: Village Communities of Painters’ appeared in the Magazine of Art for May and June 1884 [https://ia600400.us.archive.org/]

‘The Black Arrow’, 1st book edition, 1888. Its previous serialisation was published on 23 June 1883 and ran until 20 October [https://ia902607.us.archive.org/]



I think I can give you a good article on Hokusai; but that is for afterwards; Fontainebleau is first in hand.

‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’, woodblock print by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai, 1830-1833. Cassel’s advertisement leaflet for the Magazine of Art beginning November 1883 listed a forthcoming article on Hokusai by RLS. This never materialised [https://upload.wikimedia.org/]

By the way, my view is to give the Penny Whistles to Crane or Greenaway. But Crane, I think, is likeliest; he is a fellow who, at least, always does his best.

Walter Crane illustrator (1845-1915), English artist and book illustrator [http://cdn2.hubspot.net/]

Walter Crane as Cimabue, 1897 [http://www.fabulantes.com/]

Toy book by W. Crane, 1874 [https://upload.wikimedia.org/]

Kate Greenaway (1846-1901), English children’s book illustrator and writer [http://www.victorianweb.org/]

K. Greenaway, ‘Under the Window’, 1878 [www.antiquarianchildrensbooks.the-first-edition.com/]


K. Greenaway, ‘A Day in a Child’s Life’, 1882.


Shall I ever have money enough to write a play?

O dire necessity!

Three plays were co-written by RLS and W.E. Henley, and published together in 1892. Of these, ‘Deacon Brodie’ had been privately printed in 1880 and first performed in 1882 [https://ia802606.us.archive.org/]

A word in your ear: I don’t like trying to support myself. I hate the strain and the anxiety; and when unexpected expenses are foisted on me, I feel the world is playing with false dice. — Now I must Tush, adieu.

An Aching, Fevered, Penny-Journalist


A lytle Jape of TUSHERIE.

By A Tusher.

The pleasant river gushes

Among the meadows green;

At home the author tushes;

For him it flows unseen.


The Birds among the Bǔshes

May wanton on the spray;

But vain for him who tushes

The brightness of the day!


The frog among the rushes

Sits singing in the blue.

By’r la’kin! but these tushes

Are wearisome to do!


The task entirely crushes

The spirit of the bard:

God pity him who tushes —

His task is very hard.

The filthy gutter slushes,

The clouds are full of rain,

But doomed is he who tushes

To tush and tush again.



At morn with his hair-brushes,

Still ‘tush’ he says, and weeps;

At night again he tushes,

And tushes till he sleeps.

1882 advertisement [http://baldingblog.com/]

And when at length he pŭshes

Beyond the river dark —

‘Las, to the man who tushes,

Tush’ shall be God’s remark!


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