The unknown compiler of this volume wrote on various subjects in fields of natural history, including chemistry and geology, but also extending to history, archeology, and mythology. His interests, although wide-ranging, emphasize British and especially Scottish topics. He took notes on his reading and prepared brief papers on many of these topics.
His work was later divided into 29 sections and bound as "Philos. & Lit. Papers / Miscellanea / XXI." The volume is handwritten throughout except for a plate of architectural drawings with Section 18 and drawings of a snake with Section 22. The opening lines of each section were used in preparing a table of contents for the volume. The names "Hall" and "Hughes" were written into the volume by librarians in 1929 and 1930.