A strain of anxiety has given a shake to Stevenson’s own health, and it is agreed that he shall go for a yachting tour in the Inner Hebrides with Sir Walter Grindlay Simpson (1843–1898), 2nd baronet of Strathavon and the City of Edinburgh, one of his close friends.
[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sir Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 2, 294, dated July 14 ff.]
To Fanny Sitwell [Colvin 1912, p. 81]
[Edinburgh, June 1874], Thursday.
[…] I have been made so miserable by Chopin’s Marche funèbre!
Try two of Schubert’s songs, ‘Ich unglückselige Atlas’ and ‘Du schönes Fischermädchen’ – they are very jolly.
I have read aloud my death-cycle from Walt Whitman this evening. I was very much affected myself, never so much before, and it fetched the auditory considerable. Reading these things that I like aloud when I am painfully excited is the keenest artistic pleasure I know, it does seem strange that these dependent arts – singing, acting, and in its small way reading aloud – seem the best rewarded of all arts. I am sure it is more exciting for me to read than it was for W[alt]W[hitman] to write; and how much more must this be so with singing.[…]
Friday. – I am going in the yacht on Wednesday. I am not right yet, and I hope the yacht will set me up. I am too tired tonight to make more of it. Good-bye. – Ever your faithful friend,
Robert Louis Stevenson