I found living traditions not yet in any printed book

Edmund Gosse wrote to RLS on 23 June 1882: “Read the little Gray opuscule and tell me truly if it bores you” (Gosse’s life of Gray in the “English Men of Letters” series).

On 8 June RLS went with his father to Lochearnhead, Ballachulish and Oban in search of local colour for his proposed article on the Appin Murder. It occured on 14 May 1752, in the tumultuous aftermath of the Jacobite Rising of 1745, near Appin in the west of Scotland, and it resulted in what is often held to be a notorious miscarriage of justice. The murder will inspire RLS’s novel Kidnapped.

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 3, 965.]

To Edmund Gosse [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 97-98]

[Edinburgh] Sunday [June 1882]


Note turned up, but no gray opuscule, which, however, will probably turn up to-morrow in time to go out with me to Stobo Manse, Peeblesshire, where, if you can make it out, you will be a good soul to pay a visit. I shall write again about the opuscule; and about Stobo, which I have not seen since I was thirteen, though my memory speaks delightfully of it.

E.W. Gosse, ‘Gray’, ‘English Men of Letters’, 1882 [http://pictures.abebooks.com/]

Stobo Castle, Peebleshire [www.thetimes.co.uk/]

The Loch at Stobo Castle, Peebleshire [http://s0.geograph.org.uk/]

Stobo kirk, Peebleshire [www.bordersjourneys.co.uk/]


I have been very tired and seedy, or I should have written before, inter alia, to tell you that I had visited my murder place and found living traditions not yet in any printed book; most startling. I also got photographs taken, but the negatives have not yet turned up.

The site of the Appin Murder [www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/]

Re-enactors at the site of James Stewart’s execution [www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/]


I lie on the sofa to write this, whence the pencil; having slept yesterday  1 + 4 + 7½ = 12½ hours and being (9 a.m.) very anxious to sleep again. The arms of Porpus, quoi! A poppy gules, etc.

RLS’s sitting room at 17 Heriot Row, Edinburgh [http://library.sc.edu/]

From Stobo you can conquer Peebles and Selkirk, or to give them their old decent names, Tweeddale and Ettrick. Think of having been called Tweeddale, and being called PEEBLES!

Peebles High Street, early 20th century. Only 23 miles south of Edinburgh, in the Scottish Borders and on the river Tweed [www.alangodfreymaps.co.uk/]

Peebles former station, 1905 [www.disused-stations.org.uk/]

A701 Tweeddale [http://s0.geograph.org.uk/]

The bridge at the entrance to the village of Ettrickbridge [http://farm6.staticflickr.com/]

Ettrick Bridge (Lindean) [www.sabre-roads.org.uk/]

Near Ettrick Bridge, Selkirkshire [www.aboutscotland.com/]

The post office, Ettrickbridge [https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/]

Looking down over Ettrickbridge [https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/]

Did I ever tell you my skit on my own travel books? We understand that Mr. Stevenson has in the press another volume of unconventional travels: Personal Adventures in Peeblesshire. Je la trouve méchante. […]

[…] Yours affectionately,


Did I say I had seen a verse on two of the Buccaneers? I did, and ça-y-est.


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