Sunday, July 12, 2009

An Edinburgh citizen with a gift for words.

A leather-bound volume offers this overview of Edinburgh...

"For centuries it was a capital thatched with heather, and more than once, in the evil days of English invasion, it has gone up in flame to heaven, a beacon to ships at sea. It was the jousting-ground of jealous nobles, not only on Greenside, or by the King's Stables, where set tournaments were fought to the sound of trumpets and under the authority of royal presence, but in every alley where there was room to cross swords, and in the main street, where popular tumult under the Blue Blanket alternated with the brawls of outlandish clansmen and retainers."

And of its citizens...

"To see them thronging by, in their neat clothes and conscious moral rectitude, and with a little air of possession that verges on the absurd, is not the least striking feature of the place."

The author was Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 1894) whose book, simply titled 'Edinburgh' should, in my view, be compulsory reading for every Edinburgh tour guide - and for any would-be wordsmiths tempted to write a guidebook on our capital city.

3 comments:

Le Grand Lapin said...

Sounds like Stevenson's Edinburgh is exactly the read I need this summer. Wish we were there. Also love the image of the Beauly Priory. It is a shame that we didn't get to that area last trip, especially for Frasers.

Alastair Cunningham said...

It won't take you long to read it - interesting to have his Victorian view on the Old Town as against the new. He married a Californian woman ten years his senior called fanny Osbourne and brought her back to Edinburgh to live at 17 Heriot Row.

Pierce said...

Love Stevenson...what a gift he had - you can see all he writes.