The New Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Robert Louis Stevenson

Winters Walk Notebook/2

with 4 comments

Setting out from Ayr

Here are RLS’s notes for Sunday 9 January 1876, the first morning of his Winter’s Walk. The mark [?] in the transcription refers to uncertain preceding word(s). Any help on these would be most gratefully received.

click image for larger image


[p. 6]

[written with notebook turned 90°]

Ward Beecher.[1] large. c de v.[2] fullface & bust

Warren’s Portraits[3]

289 Washington St



William. M. Everts.[4]

Rockwood. 839 Broadway N. Y[5]

large. c. d. v. profile


[p. 7]

Ayr.[6] Intense cold, ten o’ clock,[7] dry snow. dark in streets with little irruptions of sun, last churchgoers. As you got:[8] out spun ice[9] low lemon sun in a gray smoke, cocks crowing birds twittering, cloudless sky. deserted houses. two dogs. The cocks, seem deep and rich and hoarse, some clear, high, glad and distant, as if they had to; dogs barking mingled with it, and then a clock striking the hours; some grele[10] and crazy, some tremulously emphatic, some chorus [?] three near at hand in harmony, and then the faraway clear one in a dying fall

The meadows were all orange[11] and white, a few swells of wood lay across the way. [?] Behind them Brown Carrick,[12] daubed in the outline with two shocks of firs; and way down to Ayr heads[13] & castle. Firs, some fields shining green. The freezing snow brushed away like meal and glittered in the sun like quartz, or as if it was powdered with sprinkled diamond dust.[14] The hill out of the woods. [?]

[cont. on p. 9]

[1] Henry Ward Beecher (1813–1887), prominent Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, and abolitionist. An advocate of Women’s suffrage, temperance and Darwin’s theory of evolution, and a foe of slavery and bigotry of all kinds (religious, racial and social), Beecher held that Christianity should adapt itself to the changing culture of the times. An 1875 adultery trial in which he was accused of having an affair with a married woman was one of the most notorious American trials of the 19th century (Wikipedia). This looks like details in order purchase; and being in RLS’s notebook he would be the presumed intending purchaser, but why we do not know.

[2] carte de visite; in 1859 Parisian photographer Disdéri published Emperor Napoleon III’s photos in this format and ‘This made the format an overnight success, and the new invention was so popular it was known as “cardomania” and eventually spread throughout the world… Albums for the collection and display of cards became a common fixture in Victorian parlors’ (Wikipedia).

[3] George Kendall Warren (1824-1884), American daguerreotypist and photographer.

[4] Untraced reference; it could be US politician and orator William M. Evarts (1818-1901), though why anyone (presumably RLS) would want a portrait of him is not clear.

[5] George Gardner Rockwood, photographer (1832-1911).

[6] Start of RLS’s notes made while on his ‘winter’s walk’; McKay: ‘A Winter’s Walk in Carrick and Galloway,’ notes (7174).

[7] 10 a.m. on Sunday 9 January, after arriving from Edinburgh the day before.

[8] misplaced colon or just a mark on the page.

[9] curious hoar frost effect resembling spiders’ webs.

[10] French ‘grêle’: ‘high-pitched (voice)’.

[11] conjectural reading; cf. ‘An effusion of coppery light on the summit of Brown Carrick showed where the sun was trying to look through’ (‘Winter’s Walk’).

[12] : ‘This hill is known as the Brown Hill of Carrick, or, more shortly, Brown Carrick’ (‘Winter’s Walk’).

[13] headlands south of Ayr.

[14] ‘and glittering… diamond dust’ added at bottom of a page and insertion point indicated by an asterisk.


Written by rdury

19/06/2012 at 8:33 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Now think ‘as if they had to’ could be ‘as if they [were] bad to’, i.e. archaic for ‘were bidden to do’. His ‘b’ and ‘h’ are often difficult to distinguish between, but here – when compared with word ‘high’ in previous line – I think ‘bad’ is able to be seen as different. Nature working its force upon the cockerels … making them do what comes naturally … ‘Bad’ as alternative for ‘bade’ in Oxford, of course.

    Neil Brown

    19/06/2012 at 9:50 pm

    • Yes, it does look more like a b than an h, but the meaning is very similar: some cocks were crowing away desperately as if from duty/by request. For the moment I’ll keep ‘had’ because it doesn’t need a supplied word and makes sense – and will keep my eyes open for examples of ‘ha’ that look like ‘ba’: if we find none then we can come back to this. Any other opinions on this?


      20/06/2012 at 6:20 am

  2. George C. Rockwood (1832-1911), a major New York photographer, who claimed to have introduced the carte-de-visite to the States from France; his gallery stood on the corner of Broadway and Union Square.

    Neil Brown

    20/06/2012 at 10:02 am

  3. Becheer’s c.d.v. by Warren: image 1image 2

    Evarts’s c.d.v. by Rockwood: image

    Could they be samples, models, on which RLS laid out his own c.d.v.?


    21/06/2012 at 1:51 pm

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