Bill H. Jenkins

Sep 192017
 

Site of Boyd's InnBoyd’s Entry, St Mary St, Edinburgh EH8 8JW

This pub was where James Boswell, Edinburgh lawyer and biographer of Samuel Johnson, met up with Johnson before they embarked on their famous tour of the Hebrides in 1773. Boswell had first met Johnson when he was living in London in 1763 and the two had become close friends. Johnson wanted to visit the Highlands in part to try to prove that the supposed works of the ancient Gaelic poet Ossian, which were causing a literary sensation at the time, were not genuine, but had in fact been written by their supposed translator, James Macpherson. Many of the leading figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, including Hugh Blair and Adam Ferguson, energetically supported the authenticity of the work.

Caricature of Johnson and Boswell walking down the Royal Mile.

Caricature of Johnson and Boswell walking down the Royal Mile.

Plaque in Boyd's Entry.

Plaque in Boyd’s Entry.

Portrait of James Macpherson (1736–96) by George Romney.

Portrait of James Macpherson (1736–96) by George Romney.

Ossian Singing by Nicolai Abildgaard, 1787.

Ossian Singing by Nicolai Abildgaard, 1787.

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Sep 192017
 

Playhouse Close.Playhouse Close, 196 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8BN

In the seventeenth century the Church of Scotland had traditionally taken a very negative view of the theatre, which they saw as promoting immorality. The first theatre in Glasgow was burned down as late as 1752 by a mob incited by hard-line ministers. It was therefore a sign of changing times when the Canongate Theatre, the first theatre in Edinburgh, was successfully opened in 1747 near what is now Playhouse Close without major incident. There was, however, a riot in the theatre in 1749 when some English officers requested that the orchestra play a song celebrating the battle of Culloden. When instead they played ‘You’re welcome, Charlie Stuart’ the officers attacked the musicians and chaos ensued.

Plaque in Playhouse Close.

Plaque in Playhouse Close.

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Sep 192017
 

Site of the house of Lord Monboddo13 St John St, Edinburgh EH8 8DG

James Burnett, Lord Monboddo (1714–99), was a judge and pioneer of comparative linguistics. He discussed his theories at ‘learned suppers’ held in this house where he entertained many of the leading figures of the Scottish Enlightenment. As well as expounding his ideas on the origins of languages his also speculated on the relationship between apes and humans, which has led some to see him as an early evolutionary thinker. His beautiful daughter Elizabeth, who died of tuberculosis in 1790 at the tragically early age of 24, was the subject of a poem by Robert Burns, ‘Elegy on the late Miss Elizabeth Burnet of Monboddo’.

Portrait of James Burnett, Lord Monboddo (1714–99).

Portrait of James Burnett, Lord Monboddo (1714–99).

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Sep 192017
 

Adam Ferguson's House.3 Sciennes House Place, Edinburgh EH9 1NN

Adam Ferguson was professor of moral philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, and, as the author of the Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767), is often considered one of the founders of sociology. He regularly entertained many of the leadingl figures of the Scottish Enlightenment at his house in Sciennes. In Ferguson’s day the house was on the very edge of the city and, because of its remoteness, his friends jokingly referred to it as ‘Kamchatka’ after the peninsula in Siberia. In the winter of 1786/7 he hosted a dinner in here at which the two most famous Scottish writers of the period, Robert Burns and the young Walter Scott, met for the first and only time.

Portrait of Adam Ferguson (1723–1816) by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Portrait of Adam Ferguson (1723–1816) by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Plaque commemorating the meeting of Robert Burns and Walter Scott at the house of Adam Ferguson.

Plaque commemorating the meeting of Robert Burns and Walter Scott at the house of Adam Ferguson.

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National Records of Scotland – Adam Ferguson (1723-1816)

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Sep 192017
 

The MeadowsMelville Dr, Edinburgh EH9 9EX

This large public park used to be a lake inown as the South Loch until the early eighteenth century. The loch provided much of the city’s drinking water until 1621, when the first piped water supply was established. It’s draining and conversion into a park by Sir Thomas Hope in 1722 is a good example of the Enlightenment enthusiasm for ‘improvement’. Later in the century it became a favourite place for James Hutton, the geologist, Adam Smith, the economist and Joseph Black, the chemist, to take a stroll and discuss the latest ideas in science and philosophy.

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Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links – History and Archaeology

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Sep 192017
 

Grave of William Smellie,Greyfriars Kirkyard, 1 Greyfriars, Edinburgh EH1 2QQ

William Smellie was a printer, naturalist and friend of the poet Robert Burns at the height of the Scottish Enlightenment. In 1768 Smellie was hired to edit the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1768c71). It was envisaged as a more conservative answer to Denis Diderot’s Encyclopédie (1751–72), which embodied many of the more radical ideas of the French Enlightenment. He not only edited it but wrote large parts of it himself, while also borrowing liberally without acknowledgement from other great writers including Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Johnson. In 1779 he stood for the chair of natural history at the University of Edinburgh, but was beaten by John Walker.

William Smellie (1740–95), engraved by Henry Bryan Hall after George Watson (1840).

William Smellie (1740–95), engraved by Henry Bryan Hall after George Watson (1840).

Inscription on WIlliam Smellie's grave.

Inscription on WIlliam Smellie’s grave.

 

Title page for first edition (1771) of Encyclopaedia Britannica, or, A Dictionary of Arts and Sciences.

Title page for first edition (1771) of Encyclopaedia Britannica, or, A Dictionary of Arts and Sciences.

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Sep 192017
 

Statue of James Fergusson.153 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8BN

Writing in English and Scots, the poet Robert Fergusson lived in Edinburgh at the height of the Scottish Enlightenment. Although he died at the tragically early age of 24 in 1750, he nonetheless left behind an important body of work. His poetry deeply influenced the work of his younger contemporary, Robert Burns.His collection of poems Auld Reekie, a vivid portrait of his home town published in 1773, is generally considered to be his masterpiece. He died from an injury sustained in a mysterious accident. His headstone in Canongate Kirkyard was designed and paid for by Robert Burns, who also wrote the epitaph that it bears.

Portrait of Robert Fergusson (1750–74) by Alexander Runciman.

Portrait of Robert Fergusson (1750–74) by Alexander Runciman.

Grave of James Fergusson, Cannongate Kirkyard.

Grave of James Fergusson, Canongate Kirkyard.

Epitaph to James Fergusson by Robert Burns.

Epitaph to James Fergusson by Robert Burns.

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Sep 192017
 

Dugald Stewart monument.Calton Hill, Edinburgh EH1 3BJ

This striking monument, based on a circular Greek Temple, commemorates one of the last important figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, the philosopher and professor of moral philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, Dugald Stewart. It was completed in 1831, three years after Stewart’s death. He was a disciple of the Scottish Common Sense school of philosophy founded by Thomas Reid, whose lectures at the University of Glagow he had attended. Well known students of Stewart included Lord Palmerston, the future prime minister, James Mill, the philosopher, and Sir Walter Scott, the novelist and poet.

Portrait of Dugald Stewart (1753–1828) by Henry Raeburn.

Portrait of Dugald Stewart (1753–1828) by Henry Raeburn.

Inscription on the memorial to Dugald Stewart.

Inscription on the memorial to Dugald Stewart.

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The University of Edinburgh – Dugald Stewwqrt (1753-1828)

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Sep 192017
 

Statue of Adam Smith192 The Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 1RF

Adam Smith was born in Kirkcaldy in 1723. He studied moral philosophy at the University of Glasgow under Frances Hutcheson, whose chair he would later inherit. Hutcheson, a charismatic minister, had been one of Hume’s most vociferous opponents. Smith also gave public lectures in Edinburgh including one on ‘progress of opulence’, the formed the basis of his most famous work, The Wealth of Nations (1776). Influenced by an idea of Hume’s on the ‘partition of employments’ he isolated the basic principle that explains all social improvement: the division of labour. Smith is often portrayed as the prophet of neo-liberalism, but his Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) shows a deep concern for conscience and human sympathy.

Portrait of Adam Smith (1723–1790) by an unknown artist.

Portrait of Adam Smith (1723–1790) by an unknown artist.

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Sep 192017
 

Site of Edinburgh Tolbooth197 High St, Edinburgh EH1

The story of Thomas Aikenhead shows how much Scotland had changed in the 50 years between the end of the 17th century and the period of the Scottish Enlightenment. It was in the Tolbooth that stood near the spot where a heart-shaped mosaic, the Heart of Midlothian, is now to be found that Aikenhead, a 20-year-old student at the University of Edinburgh, was held before being executed for basphemy in 1697. His crime was to mock the scriptures and call Jesus ‘an imposter’. Aitkenhead was the last person executed for blasphemy in Britain. If the philosopher David Hume had lived a few decades earlier his scepticism might perhaps have had more serious consequences for him.

An engraving of the old Edinburgh Tolbooth based on an eighteenth century painting by Alexander Naysmith.

An engraving of the old Edinburgh Tolbooth based on an eighteenth century painting by Alexander Naysmith.

Heart of Midlothian mosaic.

Heart of Midlothian mosaic.

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