Daily Archives: August 15, 2019

Robert Louis Stevenson. New course lesson 2



One of the United Kingdom’s most popular storytellers is Robert Louis Stevenson. For the sake of brevity he shall be alluded to as Stevenson. He was a fabulous raconteur in person and even more vivid on the page.

Stevenson was born in the United Kingdom. He grew up in Edinburgh. His father and grandfather were distinguished civil engineers. There is a famous bridge in Edinburgh which was built under the superintendence of Stevenson’s grandfather. That man also built most of the lighthouses in Scotland.

Materially Stevenson wanted for nothing that a child could reasonably want. However, he was a sickly child. His fragile health meant that he but rarely attended school. When he did go to school he went to Edinburgh Academy which is one of Edinburgh’s most prestigious places of education. But his work was desultory.  He was a bookish sort. He liked to play in the garden and composed a poem on the glee of using a swing. Apart from that his nose was seldom out of a book.  Therefore he amassed a huge lexis. He was forever experimenting with phraseology. As a teenager he was allowed to travel around France on his own. He bought a donkey to ride and penned a travelogue ‘Travels on a Donkey’. 

When Stevenson grew to manhood he enrolled at Edinburgh University. He flirted with radical nostra. As he grew older he became a Tory. That is to say a supporter of the Conservative Party. He did not dislike socialists and considered a youthful dalliance with socialism to be a healthy thing. He was known for going around in a velvet coat as an undergraduate. He acquired the soubriquet velvet coat.  After graduation he spent some time in London. He was known as Robert Stevenson but decided he wished to be known by his full name. Thereafter he went by Robert Louis Stevenson. He was a lean and good looking man with dark blond hair. He cultivated a moustache which lent him a devil may care appearance.


Stevenson was a firm Unionist. The Union was at its zenith as was the British Empire. He was fascinated with the sea and travel. Pirate stories were very fashionable at the time. He chose to turn his hand to spinning a sailor’s yarn. He knew a mighty but disabled man named Mr Henley. This inspired R L Stevenson to pen a story about such a man. Stevenson invented the character Long John Silver. Long John Silver is a pirate with only one leg. He appears in the ever popular novel ‘Treasure Island’. Stevenson set it over 100 years earlier. Some of the locations mentioned are real. The Admiral Benbow Inn takes its name from a real 18th century admiral.  In Treasure Island a teenage boy has to look out for ‘a seafaring man with one leg’. Squire Trelawny is a character who helps the boy. The locale where the treasure is buried is secret. Treasure Island became a classic of the pirate genre. There have been many iterations of Treasure Island as a film.

Kidnapped is one of the Stevenson’s best known novellas of his oeuvre. This story is set in the 18th century. The action takes place on three continents: Europe, America and Asia. It has been made into a film.

One of Stevenson’s popular novellas is entitled The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. It is based on a true story from 18th century Edinburgh. Deacon William Brodie was a respectable man who prospered in his trade. Brodie was elected to the city council. However, in the dead of night he would go out in disguise and rob people. He had made copies of the keys of many houses through his work as a locksmith. This enabled him to steal valuables from the houses of many people. Eventually William Brodie was arrested and convicted for his crimes. He paid the ultimate penalty. Stevenson’s story is about a doctor who is a pillar of the community. Dr Jekyll is industrious, honest and morally upstanding. Even though he is the toast of the town Dr Jekyll has another side to his personality. By night be dons a disguise and is transformed into a completely different character. I will not spoil the ending for you. Stevenson’s mind was teeming with thought and he wrote the tale frenetically.

Stevenson married an American. This American woman was a widow and already had children. However, the couple were not blessed with children of their own. His wife was his literary partner. She read and critiqued early drafts of his work.  He moved to an island in the Pacific. The people there could not count so he had to do it for them.

He ended his days in the Pacific Ocean. There he lies buried. His epitaph is taken from one of his poems ‘Home is the sailor home from the sea/ And the hunter home from the hill.’


  1. In which city was Stevenson born?
  2. What profession did his father pursue?
  3. Why did Stevenson not go to school much?
  4. Which school did he attend?
  5.  Why did he miss a lot of school?
  6. Which sort of buildings did he grandfather put up?
  7.  Is Edinburgh in Britain?
  8. What animal did he use to travel around France?
  9.  What book did he write about it?
  10. Did he ever read?
  11. Which university did he attend?
  12. What was his political inclination in his youth?
  13. What political party did he tend to as he grew older?
  14. Did he like to travel?
  15. What did he look like?
  16. Which character did he create based on Mr Henley?
  17.  Describe Long John Silver?
  18.  What novel did Stevenson write which is of the pirate genre?
  19. Has Treasure Island been made into a film?
  20. Where does the action take place in Kidnapped?
  21. Which real person inspired The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?
  22. What was Dr Jekyll like?
  23.  What coat did Stevenson like to wear as an undergraduate?
  24. What nationality was his wife?
  25.  Did he sire children?
  26.  Where did he die?
  27.  What does his epitaph say?
  28. Is Stevenson still alive?
  29.  What was his middle name?
  30. What is your opinion of him? Five sentences.


Edinburgh. New Course lesson 1


EDINBURGH. New Course lesson 1

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland.  Scotland is part of the United Kingdom. The name of the City of Edinburgh is pronounced ‘ED in bu ru’. Edinburgh has been settled since the Iron Age. The city lies on the edge of the Firth of Forth. A firth is a bay. The Firth of Forth is part of the North Sea.

In ancient times Edinburgh was called Dunedin or Edin Law. The name means ‘hill fort’ in an ancient Brythonic language. In New Zealand a city called ‘Dunedin’ was founded in the 19th century. It takes its name from the old name for Edinburgh.

There are hills and valleys in Edinburgh. There is an extinct volcano called Edinburgh Rock. There is also a dormant volcano called Arthur’s Seat. There is a legend that says that King Arthur had his court of Camelot at Arthur’s Seat. Historians now accept that this legend is almost certainly false.

In the 8th century AD Scotland started to become united. There was a king. His title was King of Scots and not King of Scotland. At first the capital city was Dunfermline. This is pronounced ‘dun FIRM lin’. Dunfermline lies north of Edinburgh – across the Firth of Forth. Kings of Scots were crowned on the Stone of Scone at Scone Palace. Scone is closer to Dunfermline than to Edinburgh. The religious capital of Scotland was St Andrews. In those days Edinburgh was relatively unimportant.

England united around the same time. Scotland and England fought wars against each other. Strangely the Scots shifted their capital south to Edinburgh. It seems odd that they moved their capital closer to their enemy.

In the 10th century AD a castle was built on Edinburgh Rock. Edinburgh Castle is all but impregnable. It cannot be undermined. It has steep cliffs on three sides. It can only be approached from the east. The King of Scots spent most of his time there. One Queen of Scots was called Margaret. She was an Anglo-Saxon princess who married the King of Scots. She built a small chapel there. After her death she was proclaimed a saint. Saint Margaret’s Chapel still stands.

The street just east of Edinburgh Castle is called ‘The Royal Mile’. It is a mile long. Many houses were built there. They were built on a steep hill. It was hard to build at an angle. The houses are up to seven storeys high. It was very challenging to build them like that in the Middle Ages. People burnt wood and coal in their fireplaces for warmth. The city became known as ‘Auld Reekie’ which is Scots for ‘old smokie’.

There is a cathedral on the Royal Mile. It is called St Giles’ Cathedral. The Scottish Parliament was built on the Royal Mile. So were law courts.

Many churches and religious houses were built in Edinburgh. A religious house is for monks or nuns. A monk is a religious man who lives in a community of other monks. A monk is not allowed a wife or girlfriend. He devotes himself to prayer and good works. The monks live as brothers and are called ‘brother’. They wear plain robes called a habit. A habit might be brown, grey, black or white. It depends on the order of monks. Nuns are religious women who decide not to marry or have children. Nuns live in a community of nuns. The nuns live as sisters of each other and are called ‘sister’. The nuns also wear habits which can be black, brown, grey or white. It depends on the order of the nuns. Monks and nuns reject the material world and wealth. They do not try to look good. They shun all vanity.

At the bottom of the Royal Mile there was a Franciscan Friary. This was for monks of the Order of St Francis. The monks called each other ‘brother’ or ‘frere’ in French. The English word ‘friar’ comes from ‘frere’. A friary is another word for a house for monks. It was called Holyrood. A ‘rood’ is a part of the cross. It was believed that they had wood from the true cross there.

To the north of Edinburgh lay a lake. It was called the ‘Nor Loch’. This means ‘North Lake’ in the Scots language. The Scots language is similar to English.

In the Middle Ages most people believed in witches. If someone was believed to be a witch he or she was ‘swum’. This meant tied up and thrown into a lake. If the witch sank and died he or she was innocent but would go to heaven. If he or she did not sink then he or she was taken out and proven guilty. The witch was then burned. The water had been rejecting the witch for being unnatural and dirty.

Scotland suffered a major defeat at the hands of the English in 1513. It was the Battle of Flodden Field. 14 000 Scots were slain. That was 5% of the military age males in Scotland. The English could have easily annexed Scotland but did not bother. After that Edinburgh built Flodden Wall around the city. There were minor castles outside the city such as Merchiston and Craigmillar.

In 1544 the English took Edinburgh and sacked it.  The city wall was not much use. Yet Flodden Wall stood until the 1840s.

In 1583 Edinburgh University was founded. It soon became one of the most renowned centres of learning in Europe.

In the 18th century the Scottish Enlightenment began. This was when Edinburgh rose to be an intellectual powerhouse. Edinburgh University was considered much superior to English Universities. David Hume was a famous philosopher who enrolled at Edinburgh University aged 12. The city prospered through trade and industry. As it grew wealthy this enabled people to build huge neoclassical buildings. There is a facsimile of the Parthenon on Calton Hill. The large number of buildings constructed in the style of Ancient Greece together with the city’s academic glory won the city the soubriquet ‘the Athens of the North.’

The University of Edinburgh’s medical school is world renowned. Sir James Young Simpson studied there. He is the father of modern anaesthetics.

James Clerk Maxwell is a renowned physicist who studied at Edinburgh University.

The city has spawned numerous writers. Sir Walter Scott is one. He was an advocate (lawyer) and famous novelist.  Robert Louis Stevenson is an author best known for his adventure novels ‘Kidnapped’, ‘Treasure Island’ and ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’. He was from a well to do Edinburgh family. Hugh MacDiarmid, the Scottish separatist and communist, was a well known writer who spent most of his time in the city. Muriel Spark was born in the city and grew up there. As an adult she lived in Zimbabwe, London and Italy.  J K Rowling is an Englishwoman who lived in the city for several years. Ian Rankin is another widely appreciated writer who lived there.

The Lord Provost of Edinburgh is like the mayor. In Scotland they do not say ‘mayor’ of a city. The title for this person is ‘provost’.

The port of Edinburgh is called Leith. It was only amalgamated into Edinburgh in the 1920s. In 1997 the Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned. It is permanently moored at Leith.

There is an airport called Edinburgh Airport. It used to be an air force base called RAF Turnhouse.

The main railway station is called Waverley. The secondary one is Haymarket. There is a small one on the edge called Edinburgh Park. The city has one tramline.

There are many galleries and museums. There are art academies.

In the 20th century Herriot Watt University was founded as was Napier University.

The major religion of the city is Christianity. There are two main denominations: Catholic and Protestant. The Protestants are the preponderant community. The Protestants are subdivided into Church of Scotland, Episcopalian and others. The main place of worship is St Giles’ Cathedral. There is a small Catholic Cathedral too.

Edinburgh is an ethnically mixed city. 90% of the people are white. Most of those are Scots. There are other British ethnicities there like English and Irish. There are ethnic minority Britons too – black British people, Chinese British people, British Indians and suchlike. There are foreign whites such as Romanians and Poles. There has been a significant Italian minority in Edinburgh for a century. They are mostly intermarried with the indigenous population. There is a synagogue for the tiny Jewish community.

This city is the headquarters of the Bank of Scotland (BoS) and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). Note that BoS and RBS are not the same bank! Many people make this mistake and think they can add the word ‘royal’ on the front of the name of the bank or omit the word ‘royal’ from the name of RBS. No! You must be accurate.

The second biggest financial centre in the United Kingdom is Edinburgh. Scotland uses the pound sterling the same as the rest of the UK. But the banknotes in Scotland usually say ‘Bank of Scotland’ on them or ‘Royal Bank of Scotland’ or ‘Clydesdale Bank’. Banknotes that say ‘Bank of England’ are also accepted in Scotland. The trouble is that in England people sometimes look askance at Scotch banknotes even though they are pounds sterling and are legal tender in England.


  1. Is Edinburgh in Scotland?
  2. What body was water is Edinburgh by?
  3. Is Scotland in the UK?
  4. Did people live in Edinburgh in the Iron Age?
  5.  How do you pronounce Edinburgh?
  6. What does Auld Reekie mean in English?
  7. What is the Royal Mile?
  8. What was the Nor Loch?
  9. What is built on Edinburgh Rock?
  10.  What is Arthur’s Seat?
  11. What is a provost?
  12. Who was David Hume?
  13. Why is James Young Simpson famous?
  14.  Is there a university in Edinburgh?
  15. What yacht is permanently tied up at Edinburgh?
  16. What is Leith?
  17. What is the main place of worship here?
  18.  Is RBS the same as BoS?
  19. Would you like to visit Edinburgh? Five marks.



dream of Morsi and stars


I spoke to the student prince. The doctor who spent 13 years at UCC. He had been chatting to Mohammedna colleagues. They told him trimming off the prepuce was superior. Different ways to do it. They lamented that infidels did not have it done and claimed it was more hygienic. No idea why such a curious tipic came up.

Next I spike to Morsi. He was softe spoken dn we chatted a long time. why did the late president of Ehypt come up? Wlaked past a mosque yesterday. speaking to keyboard warriors about Islam yesternight too. He was personable this Morsi chap. I do not recall what I discussed with M Morsi.

Later I gaed at the stars. I saw more the longer I stared . The dommer ones became visible overtime. I made out the starry plough. Ot was the emblem of a US state – npt sure which. Is it really yhe symbile of a US state? Was speaking to americans yesterday and alluded to that massacre in the Lone Star State. I do not care for astrology or astronomy so this is most odd.

as for dreaming pf the physician. reminds me to clal Friday’s child. I fear that the physician will shuffle off this mortal coil ere long. need to spent time with him and record his voice. saw an article about good death yesrerfysa-. saying farwell tor adio rentaks.