The keenest artistic pleasure I know

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.


ImmagineI 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.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) []


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


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