Manuscript puzzle: Notes for Edinburgh Picturesque Notes
The helpful comments from our readers were so many that I thought it would be interesting to present here cleaned-up versions of the two sets of notes referred to in the previous post. First of all the EPN jottings.
Notes for ‘The Pentland Hills’ and ‘The Parliament Close’ (Edinburgh Picturesque Notes), 1878.
[Yale, GEN MSS 664 box 38 folder 830 (RLS/F, Notebook F/Inland Voyage Notebook), spread 2, recto page]
[RLS had published seven monthly ‘Notes on Edinburgh’ in the Portfolio, June-Dec 1878 and towards the end of that period wrote three additional essays for the book edition; this notebook seems to be the first notes for an eighth and ninth chapter (which became chapters X and III) with no mention here of the third addition, ‘The Villa Quarters’. There is another draft to ‘The Pentland Hills’ in the 1878 ‘Travels with a Donkey’ notebook in the Huntington Library. These first notes, though apparently just a quick jottings of ideas, are remarkably close to the sequence of the finished essays, showing RLS’s ability to conceive and rapidly sketch out the basic structure of an essay.]
8 Golf . gibbet . Fairmilehead . Curlews. B. Bridge . Gauger . Clerk’s stone,
Comiston . H. Tryst . Peddie . devil . The cottage, the farm. Conventicle . P. Charlie .
The hills . The view . Wind up to the tune of over the hills .
9. Crowded street. Bishops open , signs on pavement . J. K. H of Midlothian . St Giles . Stork
Gaille [?] . Robertson & Wilson . P. Ho . Courts . Scott . gray bar . the cellars.
 Golf is not mentioned in the the published chapter, but the other notes correspond closely to the finished essay and appear in that order, down to RLS’s note to himself to ‘Wind up [i.e. conclude] to the tune of over the hills’.
 The essay refers instead to ‘an upright stone in a field’, known as ‘General Kay’s monument’. There is a landmark in the Cairngorms called Clach a’ Cleirich (the clerk’s stone); perhaps RLS confused the names here.
 After the story of the ‘upright stone in a field’ the published essay mentions the ghost of Comiston.
 This name is not in the published essay, but from its position in the list it must be associated with the devil of Hunter’s Tryst. The essay says that ‘chosen ministers were summoned out of Edinburgh and prayed by the hour’, so it possibly refers to James Peddie, minister of Bristo Street 1782-1845.
 Possibly a note for: ‘when the Bishops were ejected from the Convention in 1688, ‘all fourteen of them gathered together with pale faces and stood in a cloud in the Parliament Close’.
 Two memorials set into the roadway or pavement near St. Giles: the ‘Heart of Midlothian’ and ‘J.K.’ commemorating John Knox.
 ‘In the Parliament Close, trodden daily underfoot by advocates, two letters and a date mark the resting-place of … John Knox.’
 A stork nested on the roof of St. Giles in 1416 – the last record of breeding by the white stork in Britain. Not mentioned in the published essay.
 This looks like ‘Jaille’ with the first letter overwritten with ‘G’: perhaps RLS was uncertain about the spelling of jail/gaol.
 Robertson & Wilson: Andrew Wilson and George Robertson were condemned to death for smuggling in April 1736. At Wilson’s execution in the Grassmarket, when his body was cut down from the gallows against the wishes of the mob, John Porteous, the Captain of the City Guard, ordered shooting into the crowd and six died. Porteous was convicted of murder, but shortly before his execution he was seized – in ‘The Porteous Riot’ – from the Old Tolbooth, next to St. Giles’ by an angry mob and hurriedly hanged in the Grassmarket. This story is not included in the finished essay.
 Perhaps ‘gray bar’ is a note for ‘Here, you may see Scott’s place within the bar, where he wrote many a page of Waverley novels to the drone of judicial proceeding’.
 The cellars are described in the last part of the published essay.