Thursday, August 12, 2010

Honoring the Fallen


Edinburgh is a great city for literary associations.  Robert Burns trod these stony streets, as did Robert Louis Stevenson.  The monument to Sir Walter Scott here is a tremendous blackened-stone spaceship.  Conan Doyle was born here and Sherlock Holmes was based on a teacher he had in college, Professor of Medicine Joseph Bell.  Daniel Defoe was posted here as an English spy.  So who did I seek out to pay honor to?  Thomas de Quincey.

The unhappy man who wrote Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, On Murder Considered as one of the Fine Arts, and many works besides is buried in the churchyard of St. Cuthbert's Church, just above Prince Street Gardens.

There were no flowers left anywhere in the churchyard for me to steal, so I plucked a small blossom from the grass and left it at de Quincey's stone.

Poor de Quincey!  His life was hard and plagued with both medical and financial troubles, to say nothing of his addiction.  But he wrote well and tirelessly.  He was one of us, and deserves whatever small honors we can offer him.



janeyolen said...

Next time I am wandering Auld Reeky, I will leave a flower for him.


Michael Swanwick said...

Bless you for that, Jane.