Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Callander, Tytler and a small difficulty with News Steps

 'If you think', John Callander puffed, 'that you'd have found Mr Tytler and myself peching up these steps in eighteenth-century Edinburgh, then you can think again.  These steps weren't even here until 1869.'

'When we were both long since dead and buried', William Tytler affirmed, pausing for breath on the killer steps that lead from Market Street to St Giles Street.

Of course, I did realise that.  I have often wondered if there were other steps before these were built, but what's here is plenty bad enough, and the distance from bottom to top would have been no less!  (You can find out more about the history of this part of Edinburgh on the British Listed Buildings website, here:-

I didn't have the heart to tell Mr Callander that I was actually in Edinburgh to network with an American scholar about Alexander Campbell, and an Australian research-support specialist, purely for the joy of meeting up and catching up with each other's news, and actually I had no intention of literary ghost-hunting on this occasion at all!  Indeed, as I sat in a coffee-shop with a map of the Highlands spread out in front of me, discussing how far Fort William is from Strathspey (yes, of dance-tune fame), we barely talked about Edinburgh Enlightenment literati at all!  And while I had my tagliatelle a couple of hours later, I hardly gave my eighteenth-century musical ghosts a thought.  I hope they weren't too offended!

Mind you, I've been annotating William Tytler's Dissertation on the Scottish Music ('Musick' in some iterations), and there is the possibility I may produce something in print on this subject at some stage in the future.  It's very interesting material, first published anonymously in 1779 and then reproduced attributed to Tytler in several other publications.

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