Where I got the Dead Man’s Chest

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]


Hotel Chabassière, Royat, Puy de Dôme [http://images-02.delcampe-static.net]


Public auction of the furniture of the Chabassière hotel, Royat, in May 1887 [www.google.it]


[…] Here is a quaint thing, I have read Robinson,


D. Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, 1851 ed. [http://robinsoncrusoe.jamesmckane.com]

Colonel Jack, 


D. Defoe, Colonel Jack, 3st edition, 1724 [http://4.bp.blogspot.com]

Moll Flanders,


D. Defoe, Moll Flanders, 1770 ed. [https://ia601000.us.archive.org]

Memoirs of a Cavalier,


D. Defoe, Memoirs of a Cavalier, 1750 ed. [https://ia902609.us.archive.org]

History of the Plague,


D. Defoe, The History of the Great Plague in London, 1754 ed. [https://ia600703.us.archive.org]

History of the Great Storm,


D. Defoe, The Storm, 1st ed., 1704[https://upload.wikimedia.org]

Scotch Church,


D. Defoe, Memoirs of the Church of Scotland, [https://ia902607.us.archive.org]

and Union.


D. Defoe, The History of the Union of Great Britain, 1st ed., 1709 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]

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.


The Memoirs of Captain Carleton, 1728, dealing with Lord Peterborourgh’s expedition to Spain (1705) is now generally accepted as being by Defoe [https://ia802701.us.archive.org]

To which of these does B[urne] J[ones] refer?


Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898), Enlish painter, illustrator and designer [https://i.guim.co.uk]

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.


D. Defoe, Captain Singleton, [https://ia902609.us.archive.org]

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.


Ch. Kingsley, At Last, 1871. In Chapter 1 of his travel book about the West Indies, Kingsley refers briefly to the Deat Man’s Chest as the name given by buccaneers to one of the islets in the Virgin Islands (now Dead Chest Island)[https://ia801408.us.archive.org]




Dead Chest Island, British Virgin Islands [www.bareboatsbvi.com]


Captain Johnson’s History of the Pyrates, 1st ed., 1724 [https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com]

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.


R.L. Stevenson

If it was Captain Singleton, send it to me, won’t you?



Royat, Puy de Dôme [www.mistercard.net]


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