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

Posts Tagged ‘The Four Seasons

Today’s manuscript puzzle: The Four Seasons

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The Inland Voyage Notebook

The Beinecke Library has a notebook (Notebook F) including the journal RLS kept on the ‘Inland Voyage’ in September 1876. This he then took up again and used it for a series of notes and drafts that all seem to come from 1878. Two of them are a series of notes in an unusual form for RLS: words or short phrases separated by dots that seem to be placed halfway between each. Both contain some problems of decypherment for which I ask the help of anyone reading this post.

Notes for Edinburgh Picturesque Notes

In the run-up to publication of the Edinburgh essays in books form (December 1878), RLS wrote three new essays and this notebook contains preliminary ideas for two of them, ‘The Pentland Hills’ and ‘The Parliament Close’. Here is the MS followed by a transcription:

8 Golf . gibbet . Fairmilehead . Curlews. B. Bridge . Gauger . Clerk’s stone, Dearsham {?} . 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, The <d>shops</d> open , signs on pavement . J. K.  H of Midlothian . St Giles . Stook {?} xxxville {?} . Robertson & Wilson . P. Ho . Courts . Scott . young love. the cellars.

Can anyone help with the following points: (i) Dearsham, (ii) Stook xxxville, (iii) the references to ‘Peddie’ and ‘Robertson & Wilson’?

The Four Seasons

A few pages further on are the notes for what looks like an essay on ‘The Four Seasons’ (lacking ‘Autumn’ and ‘Winter’). First, here’s a transcription of the first two sections:

The Four Seasons.
Prologue. The world: what is that {?} ange {?} in {? } the purple sunset; fire, snow, tempests, habitability, ploughs going.
Spring: motto from Morte d’Arthur
The New year . wrong reckoning . Waking in the morning . so with births . Birth of all things . Births . Youth . Memory . Memory in youth and manhood . Youth of the World . Lilacs . smells . birds . Invasion of the town by the country . Love . as regards the body and the soul . Growth ; the leaves, the harvests {?} and the dollars {?} all beginning to sprout in the fields.

The problems here are (i) the decypherent of those three words in the prologue

i.e. “Prologue . The World: what is {?} {?} {?} the purple sunset”; and (ii) a better transcription or an explanation for ‘harvests’ and ‘dollars’ at the end of the notes for ‘Spring’:

Any suggestions will be most gratefuly received.