“To impress that obdurate dog, your reader”

[For correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 1938.]

To Edward L. Burlingame [Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 27-28]

[Saranac Lake, c. 15 November 1887]

Dear Mr. Burlingame,

The revise seemed all right, so I did not trouble you with it; indeed, my demand for one was theatrical, to impress that obdurate dog, your reader.

RLS’s first monthly essay for Scribner’s Magazine, ‘A Chapter on Dreams’, was to be published for January 1888 [www.bl.uk]

E.L. Bulingame (1848-1922), a journalist and editor, joined Scribner’s firm as a literary adviser in 1879. In 1886 he had become first editor of Scribner’s Magazine, where he served until his resignation in 1914 [http://library.princeton.edu]


Herewith a third paper: it has been a cruel long time upon the road, but here it is, and not bad at last, I fondly hope.

RLS’s third monthly essay for Scribner’s Magazine, ‘Beggars’, was to be published for March 1888.


I was glad you liked the Lantern Bearers; I did, too. I thought it was a good paper, really contained some excellent sense, and was ingeniously put together.

RLS’s secondmonthly essay for Scribner’s Magazine, ‘The Lantern-Bearers’, was to be published for February 1888.

“The essence of this bliss was to walk by yourself in the black night; the slide shut, the top-coat buttoned; not a ray escaping, whether to conduct your footsteps or to make your glory public: a mere pillar of darkness in the dark; and all the while, deep down in the privacy of your fool’s heart, to know you had a bull’s-eye at your belt, and to exult and sing over the knowledge” (RLS, ‘The Lantern-Bearers’) [https://content.artofmanliness.com]

I have not often had more trouble than I have with these papers; thirty or forty pages of foul copy, twenty is the very least I have had. Well, you pay high; it is fit that I should have to work hard, it somewhat quiets my conscience. Yours very truly,

Robert Louis Stevenson





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