It is a compliment I value much; I don’t know any that I should prefer

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1406.]

To W.H. Low [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 272-273]

Bonallie Towers, Bournemouth, March 13, 1885

My dear Low,

Your success has been immense. I wish your letter had come two days ago: Otto, alas! has been disposed of a good while ago;


RLS’s sory ‘Prince Otto’, first issued in Longman’s Magazine, Apr-Oct 1885 []


First book edition of ‘Prince Otto’, London 1885[]


but it was only day before yesterday that I settled the new volumes of Arabs.


‘More New Arabian Nights: The Dynamiter’, written in collaboration with his wife and published by Longman’s in 1885, returns to the adventures of Prince Florizel, who was first introduced in RLS’s story “New Arabian Nights” (1878).[]

However, for the future, you and the sons of the deified Scribner are the men for me.


Charles Scribner I (1821–71) founder of the NY publishing company that would eventually become Charles Scribner’s Sons []


John Blair Scribner (1850-79) []


Charles Scribner II (1854-1930) []


Arthur Hawley Scribner (1859-1932) []


Scribner’s edition of RLS’s ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’, 16 Apr 1885 []


Really they have behaved most handsomely. I cannot lay my hand on the papers, or I would tell you exactly how it compares with my English bargain; but it compares well.


Longmans edition of RLS’s ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’, 1885 []

Ah, if we had that copyright, I do believe it would go far to make me solvent, ill-health and all. I wrote you a letter to the Rembrandt, in which I stated my views about the dedication in a very brief form.


The ‘dedication’ referred to was that of a forthcoming illustrated edition of Keats’s ‘Lamia’ (1888) []


Low’s dedication to RLS of Keat’s ‘Lamia’.



It will give me sincere pleasure, and will make the second dedication I have received, the other being from John Addington Symonds. It is a compliment I value much; I don’t know any that I should prefer.


Symonds dedicated Wine Women and Song to RLS in 1884 []




I am glad to hear you have windows to do; that is a fine business, I think; but, alas! the glass is so bad nowadays; realism invading even that, as well as the huge inferiority of our technical resource corrupting every tint. Still, anything that keeps a man to decoration is, in this age, good for the artist’s spirit.


John La Farge, stained glass lunette from the Cornelius Vanderbilt II House, New York c. 1880-82. In 1881 Low assisted La Farge in decoraing the Vanderbilt houses []


La Farge, Peacocks and Peonies, 1882. His work added new resources by his use of opalescent glass and by his original methods of layering and welding the glass. Opalescent glass had been used for centuries in tableware, but it had never before been formed into flat sheets for use in stained-glass windows and other decorative objects. For his early experiments, La Farge had had to custom-order flat sheets of opalescent glass from a Brooklyn glass manufacturer. La Farge apparently introduced Tiffany to the new use of opalescent glass sometime in the mid 1870s, showing him his experiments. Sometime in the late 1870s or early 1880s, however, relations between the artists soured, probably due to a lawsuit between the two men []

By the way, have you seen James and me on the novel? James, I think in the August or September –  R.L.S. in the December Longman.


Henry James, 1889. The paper referred to (‘The Art of Fiction’) was published in Longman’s Magazine for August 1884 []


RLS’s essay in Longman’s Magazine for December 1884 []


I own I think the école bête, of which I am the champion, has the whip hand of the argument; but as James is to make a rejoinder, I must not boast. Anyway the controversy is amusing to see. I was terribly tied down to space, which has made the end congested and dull. I shall see if I can afford to send you the April Contemporary – but I dare say you see it anyway – as it will contain a paper of mine on style, a sort of continuation of old arguments on art in which you have wagged a most effective tongue. It is a sort of start upon my Treatise on the Art of Literature: a small, arid book that shall some day appear.

With every good wish from me and mine (should I not say ‘she and hers’?) to you and yours, believe me yours ever,

Robert Louis Stevenson


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