And yet the ships were beautiful to see, as they are always

The French verse is from a poem by the French poet and writer Théodore de Banville (see previous post).

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 2, 421].

To Fanny Sitwell [Colvin 1911, 1, pp. 243-244]

[9 October 1875, Edinburgh, 17 Heriot Row.]


Our weather continues as it was, bitterly cold, and raining often. There is not much pleasure in life certainly as it stands at present. Nous n’irons plus au bois, hélas!



I meant to write some more last night, but my father was ill and it put it out of my way. He is better this morning.

Thomas Stevenson []

If I had written last night, I should have written a lot. But this morning I am so dreadfully tired and stupid that I can say nothing. I was down at Leith in the afternoon. God bless me, what horrid women I saw; I never knew what a plain-looking race it was before. I was sick at heart with the looks of them. And the children, filthy and ragged! And the smells! And the fat black mud!

My soul was full of disgust ere I got back.

immagine 1immagine 2

Ragged boy and girl, West Lothian[]

And yet the ships were beautiful to see, as they are always; and on the pier there was a clean cold wind that smelt a little of the sea, though it came down the Firth, and the sunset had a certain éclat and warmth. Perhaps if I could get more work done, I should be in a better trim to enjoy filthy streets and people and cold grim weather; but I don’t much feel as if it was what I would have chosen.

Across Leith towards the Forth estuary []

A. Mitchell, A view of the Port of Leith with Arthur’s Seat in the distance, 1880 []

A. Mitchell, The Port of Leith, c. 1880 []

D.O. Hill (1802-1870), On the quay at Leith []

J.W. Carmichael, Leith and Edinburgh from the Firth of Forth, 1847 []

S. Bough (1822-1878), Leith harbour at sunset []

[…] I am tempted every day of my life to go off on another walking tour. I like that better than anything else that I know. – Ever your faithful friend,

Robert Louis Stevenson

This entry was posted in Letters, Robert Louis Stevenson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to And yet the ships were beautiful to see, as they are always

  1. Maria Finzi says:

    Welcome back Robert! Date: Sun, 17 Aug 2014 17:31:42 +0000 To:


  2. mafalda says:

    His friends and relatives called him LOUIS.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.