This stands for Mr. Edmund Gosse (born 1849), a poet and critic of some note, who writes pleasantly on many topics. Many of Stevenson's letters were addressed to him. The two friends first met in London in 1877, and the impression made by the novelist on the critic may be seen in Mr. Gosse's book of essays, _Critical Kitcats_ (1896).]

[Note 26: _I know another person_. This is undoubtedly Stevenson's friend Charles Baxter. See the quotation from a letter to him in our introductory note to this essay. Compare what Stevenson elsewhere said of him: "I cannot characterise a personality so unusual in the little space that I can here afford. I have never known one of so mingled a strain.... He is the only man I ever heard of who could give and take in conversation with the wit and polish of style that we find in Congreve's comedies." (Balfour's _Life of Stevenson_, I, 105.)]

[Note 27: _Restoration comedy ... Congreve_. Restoration comedy is a general name applied to the plays acted in England between 1660, the year of the restoration of Charles II to the throne, and 1700, the year of the death of Dryden. This comedy is as remarkable for the brilliant wit of its dialogue as for its gross licentiousness. Perhaps the wittiest dramatist of the whole group was William Congreve (1670-1729).]

[Note 28: _Falstaff ... Mercutio ... Sir Toby ... Cordelia ... Protean_. Sir John Falstaff, who appears in Shakspere's _King Henry IV_, and again in the _Merry Wives of Windsor_, is generally regarded as the greatest comic character in literature.... _Mercutio_, the friend of Romeo; one of the most marvellous of all Shakspere's gentlemen. He is the Hotspur of comedy, and his taking off by Tybalt "eclipsed the gaiety of nations."... _Sir Toby Belch_ is the genial character in _Twelfth Night_, fond of singing and drinking, but no fool withal. A conversation between Falstaff, Mercutio, and Sir Toby would have taxed even the resources of a Shakspere, and would have been intolerably excellent.... _Cordelia_, the daughter of King Lear, whose sincerity and tenderness combined make her one of the greatest women in the history of poetry.... _Protean_, something that constantly assumes different forms. In mythology, Proteus was the son of Oceanus and Tethys, whose special power was his faculty for lightning changes.

"Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea."--Wordsworth.]

[Note 29: This sequel was called forth by an excellent article in _The Spectator_, for 1 April 1882, and bore the title, _The Restfulness of Talk_. The opening words of this article were as follows:--"The fine paper on 'Talk,' by 'R.L.S.,' in the _Cornhill_ for April, a paper which a century since would, by itself, have made a literary reputation, does not cover the whole field."]

[Note 30: _Valhalla_. In Scandinavian mythology, this was the heaven for the brave who fell in battle. Here they had an eternity of fighting and drinking.]

[Note 31: _Meticulous_. Timid. From the Latin, _meticulosus_.]

[Note 32: _Kindly_. Here used in the old sense of "natural." Compare the Litany, "the kindly fruits of the earth."]

[Note 33: "_The real long-lived things_." For Whitman, see our Note 12 of Chapter III above.]

[Note 34: _Robert Hunter, Sheriff of Dumbarton_. Hunter recognised the genius in Stevenson long before the latter became known to the world, and gave him much friendly encouragement. Dumbarton is a town about 16 miles north-west of Glasgow, in Scotland. It contains a castle famous in history and in literature.]

[Note 35: _A novel by Miss Mather_. The name should be "Mathers." Helen Mathers (Mrs. Henry Reeves), born in 1853, has written a long series of novels, of which _My Lady Greensleeves, The Sin of Hagar_ and _Venus Victrix_ are perhaps as well-known as they deserve to be.]

[Note 36: _Chelsea_. Formerly a suburb, now a part of London, to the S.W. It is famous for its literary associations. Swift, Thomas Carlyle, Leigh Hunt, George Eliot, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and many other distinguished writers lived in Chelsea at various times.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book