“… staccato, I think. Then you sail into the musette”


[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1789.]

To Anne Jenkin [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 329-331]

 [Skerryvore, Bournemouth, ? 7 April 1887]

My dear Mrs. Jenkin,

I try to tell myself it is good nature, but I know it is vanity that makes me write.

I have drafted the first part of Chapter VI, Fleeming and his friends,

RLS’s ‘Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin’, a tribute to his professor of engineering at Edinburgh University, was to be published that same year.



his influence on me, his views on religion and literature, his part at the Savile;

The members’ bar at the Savile Club, London [http://upload.wikimedia.org/]

it should boil down to about ten pages, and I really do think it admirably good. It has so much evoked Fleeming for myself that I found my conscience stirred just as it used to be after a serious talk with him: surely that means it is good?


Anne Jenkin’s husband, H.C. Fleeming Jenkin (1833-1885),  famous electrical engineer working on submarine telegraph cables, and RLS’s professor of Engineering at Edinburgh University in 1868.


I had to write and tell you, being alone.

I have excellent news of Fanny, who is much better for the change […].

Fanny was in London, consulting doctors. F wrote to RLS: ‘He says that my nerves are entirely ruined, and always will be, and that I am full of rheumatism, but that he hopes to more or less cure’ [www.elespanol.com]

My father is still very yellow, and very old, and very weak, but yesterday he seemed happier, and smiled, and followed what was said; even laughed, I think. When he came away, he said to me, ‘Take care of yourself, my dearie,’ which had a strange sound of childish days, and will not leave my mind.

Thomas Stevenson will die that year, May 8th [www.nationalgalleries.org]


You must get Litolf’s Gavottes Célèbres:



Risultati immagini per gavottes celebres


I have made another trover there: a musette of Lully’s. The second part of it I have not yet got the hang of; but the first − only a few bars! The gavotte is beautiful and pretty hard, I think, and very much of the period;


and at the end of it, this musette enters with the most really thrilling effect of simple beauty. O − it’s first-rate. I am quite mad over it.

If you find other books containing Lully,


Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632–1687) [https://deamoregallico.com]



File:Attribué à Joseph Aved, Portrait de Jean-Philippe Rameau (vers 1728) - 001.jpg

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683–1764) [https://en.wikipedia.org]


File:Padre Martini 1.jpg

Giovanni Battista Martini (1706–1784) [https://it.wikipedia.org]


please let me know; also you might tell me, you who know Bach, where the easiest is to be found.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) [https://it.wikipedia.org]

I write all morning, come down, and never leave the piano till about five; write letters, dine, get down again about eight, and never leave the piano till I go to bed.


RLS’s piano, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Sydney [https://maas.museum]

This is a fine life. − Yours most sincerely,


If you get the musette (Lully’s), please tell me if I am right, and it was probably written for strings. Anyway, it is as neat as − as neat as Bach − on the piano; or seems so to my ignorance.

I play much of the Rigadoon; but it’s strange, it don’t come off quite so well with me!

There is the first part of the musette copied (from memory, so I hope there’s nothing wrong). Is it not angelic? But it ought, of course, to have the gavotte before. The gavotte is in G, and ends on the keynote thus (I if remember) : −


staccato, I think. Then you sail into the musette.

N.B. − Where I have put an ‘A’, is that a dominant eleventh, or what? or just a seventh on the D? and if the latter, is that allowed? It sounds very funny. Never mind all my questions; if I begin about music (which is my leading ignorance and curiosity), I have always to babble questions: all my friends know me now, and take no notice whatever. The whole piece is marked allegro; but surely could easily be played too fast? The dignity must not be lost; the periwig feeling.










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