Sidney Colvin had reported to RLS a remark made by one of his greatest admirers, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, on some particular analogy, Colvin forgot what, between a passage of Defoe and one in Treasure Island.
[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 4, 1278.]
To Sidney Colvin [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 223-225]
[Hotel Chabassière, Royat, July 1884]
[…] Here is a quaint thing, I have read Robinson,
Memoirs of a Cavalier,
History of the Plague,
History of the Great Storm,
And there my knowledge of Defoe ends – except a book, the name of which I forget, about Peterborough in Spain – which Defoe obviously did not write, and could not have written if he wanted.
To which of these does B[urne] J[ones] refer?
I guess it must be the history of the Scottish Church. I jest: for, of course, I know it must be a book I have never read, and which this makes me keen to read – I mean Captain Singleton.
Can it be got and sent to me? If Treasure Island is at all like it, it will be delightful. I was just the other day wondering at my folly in not remembering it, when I was writing T. I., as a mine for pirate tips. T. I. came out of Kingsley’s At Last, where I got the Dead Man’s Chest – and that was the seed and out of the great Captain Johnson’s History of Notorious Pirates.
The scenery is Californian in part, and in part chic […]. I was downstairs to-day! So now I am a made man – till the next time.
If it was Captain Singleton, send it to me, won’t you?