Robert Louis Stevenson: A Memorial HTML version

Mr Gosse And Ms. Of Treasure Island
MR EDMUND GOSSE has been so good as to set down, with rather an air of too much
authority, that both R. L. Stevenson and I deceived ourselves completely in the matter of
my little share in the TREASURE ISLAND business, and that too much credit was
sought by me or given to me, for the little service I rendered to R. L. Stevenson, and to
the world, say, in helping to secure for it an element of pleasure through many
generations. I have not SOUGHT any recognition from the world in this matter, and even
the mention of it became so intolerable to me that I eschewed all writing about it, in the
face of the most stupid and misleading statements, till Mr Sidney Colvin wrote and asked
me to set down my account of the matter in my own words. This I did, as it would have
been really rude to refuse a request so graciously made, and the reader has it in the
ACADEMY of 10th March 1900. Nevertheless, Mr Gosse's statements were revived and
quoted, and the thing seemed ever to revolve again in a round of controversy.
Now, with regard to the reliability in this matter of Mr Edmund Gosse, let me copy here a
little note made at request some time ago, dealing with two points. The first is this:
1. MOST ASSUREDLY I carried away from Braemar in my portmanteau, as R. L.
Stevenson says in IDLER'S article and in chapter of MY FIRST BOOK reprinted in
EDINBURGH EDITION, several chapters of TREASURE ISLAND. On that point R. L.
Stevenson, myself, and Mr James Henderson, to whom I took these, could not all be
wrong and co- operating to mislead the public. These chapters, at least vii. or viii., as Mr
Henderson remembers, would include the FIRST THREE, that is, FINALLY REVISED
and I am positively certain that with some of the later chapters R. L. Stevenson wrote
them off-hand, and with great ease, and did not revise them to the extent of at all needing
to re-write them, as I remember he was proud to tell me, being then fully in the vein, as
he put it, and pleased to credit me with a share in this good result, and saying "my
enthusiasm over it had set him up steep." There was then, in my idea, a necessity that
Stevenson should fill up a gap by verbal summary to Mr Gosse (which Mr Gosse has
forgotten), bringing the incident up to a further point than Mr Gosse now thinks. I am
certain of my facts under this head; and as Mr Gosse clearly fancies he heard R. L.
Stevenson read all from final versions and is mistaken - COMPLETELY mistaken there -
he may be just as wrong and the victim of error or bad memory elsewhere after the lapse
of more than twenty years.
2. I gave the pencilled outline of incident and plot to Mr Henderson - a fact he distinctly
remembers. This fact completely meets and disposes of Mr Robert Leighton's quite
imaginative BILLY BO'SUN notion, and is absolute as to R. L. Stevenson before he left
Braemar on the 21st September 1881, or even before I left it on 26th August 1881, having
clear in his mind the whole scheme of the work, though we know very well that the
absolute re-writing out finally for press of the concluding part of the book was done at
Davos. Mr Henderson has always made it the strictest rule in his editorship that the