Who Said What About Edinburgh, Otherwise Known as Auld Reekie or Auld Greekie?
THE ATHENS OF THE NORTH
Pompous the boast, and yet a truth it speaks A 'modern Athens,' fit for modern Greeks.
.....James Hannay, in The Edinburgh Courant, 10 November 1860
George Street and Charlotte Street are no longer occupied by douce Edinburgh burghers trying to pretend they are ancient Roman senators.
Only the sociologically inclined should linger around the high Castle of Edinburgh or the palace known as Holyrood House at the other end of the Royal Mile...The area has been stripped and tidied and is presided over by government custodians in uniforms like cops. It has the same atmosphere as a harlot in prison clothes.
.....SCOTLAND: THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE, by Donald Cowie, 1973 by A.S. Barnes and Company, Cranbury, NJ and London: Thomas Yoseloff Ltd., London ISBN 0-498-01169-0
Most of the denizens wheeze, sniffle, and exude a sort of snozzling whnoff whnoff, apparently through a hydro-phile sponge.
.....Ezra Pound, quoted by Hugh McDiarmid (C.M. Grieve), as Epigraph to Edinburgh, Lady Poet, 1943
Who indeed, that has once seen Edinburgh, with its couchant rag-lion, but must see it again in dreams, waking or sleeping? My dear Sir, do not think I blaspheme when I tell you that your great London, as compared to Dun-Edin, 'mine own romantic town', is as prose compared to poetry, or as a great rumbling, rambling, heavy epic compared to a lyric, brief, bright, clear, and vital as a flash of lightning.
You have nothing like Scott's monument, or if you had that, and all the glories of architecture assembled together, you have nothing like Arthur's Seat, and above all you have not the Scotch national character; and it is that grand character after all which gives the land its true charm, its true greatness.
.....Charlotte Bronte, Letter to W. Smith Williams
Edinburgh had no sewage system. the method of garbage
disposal in the Old Town was to shout 'Gardy-loo' and throw
everything out the window. Gardy-loo was a warped version of gardez l'eau (approximately French for 'watch out for the water!') - except it wasn't just water the warning referred to. Effluence, sewage, dead cats, anything you didn't want in the house came out the window...
In the narrow, festering closes behind the Royal Mile raw sewage was ankle-deep in the streets and the North Loch slowly turned into a stinking, fetid sewer. Living at ground level in the back tenements was a truly harrowing experience. But, if living at ground level was wretched, living in the stinking, diseased and rat-infested underground chambers - with sewage seeping in from above - was
unbearable. Yet people did bear it as there was no other place for them to go.....
THE TOWN BELOW THE GROUND: Edinburgh's Legendary Underground City by Jan-Andrew Henderson. Mainstream
Publishing, Edinburgh and London, © Jan-Andrew Henderson,
It's hard to pick out a single characteristic shared by the people of Edinburgh. In fact it's hard to say what you even call them. Edinburghians? Edinburghers? We've settled for Edinburghers. It may sound like fast food but it's easy to spell.
.....Barry Gordon and Jan-Andrew Henderson in WHO WANTS TO BE AN EDINBURGHER? The Quiz Book for Edinburgh's Bright Sparks,© Black & White Publishing Ltd. Edinburgh 2004
The Grassmarket is a broad enclave down a hill nearby, and in the good old days it knew constant riots and public executions. Now all is swept clean and the stones no longer stink of blood.
SCOTLAND: THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE, by Donald Cowie, 1973 by A.S. Barnes and Company, Cranbury, NJ and London: Thomas Yoseloff Ltd., London ISBN 0-498-01169-0
Here we shall see much to remind us of bygone times; and as we pass the now poor-looking houses and glance at theslatternly dames and ragged, dirty children who are all about, we shall gladly go back in imagination to days when these houses were homes of lords and ladies, of scholars and divines, and when the very elite of old Scotland here made promenade.
.....Picturesque Scotland; its romantic
scenes and historical associations described in lay and legend, song and story, © Francis Watt 1849-1927
Edinburgh is a rancid stew of lawyers, bankers, politicos, journalists, arty types, friends of the English, educationalists, soft bastards and priests, lost in a private world of intrigue and futile self-advancement.
...FAINTHEART: An Englishman Ventures North of the Border
by Charles Jennings, Abacus, Time Warner Books U.K., www.TimeWarnerBooks.co.uk; © 2001 by Charles Jennings
This accursed, stinking, reeky mass of stones and lime and dung.
......Thomas Carlyle, Letter to his brother John, 10 February 1821
The Canongate is dingy and dirty, and for all our memories of
departed greatness and their fragrance, the odour of the
place is not fragrant: indeed, truth to tell, the very scum of
Edinburgh, in more senses than one, seems to find its level
amongst the remains of Scottish nobility.
.....Picturesque Scotland; its romantic scenes and historical associations described in lay and legend, song and story, © Francis Watt 1849-1927
When I lived there, very few maids had shoes and stockings, but plodded about the house with feet as big as a family Bible, and legs as large as portmanteaus.
......Sydney Smith, Letter to Lady Mary Bennet, 20 December 1820
See yon hamlet, o'ershadowed with smoke;
See yon hoary battlement throned on the rock;
Even there shall a city in splendour break forth,
The haughty Dun-Edin, the Queen of the North;
There learning shall flourish, and liberty smile,
The awe of this world, and the pride of the isle.
......James Hogg, The Queen's Wake, 1819
Nae Heathen Name shall I prefix
Frae Pindus or Parnassus;
AULD REEKIE dings them a' to sticks
For rhyme-inspiring Lasses.
......Robert Burns, To Miss Ferrier, 1787
I... am not sorry to have seen that most picturesque (at a distance) & nastiest (when near) of all capital Cities.
......Thomas Gray, Letter to Thomas Wharton, c. 30 September 1765
What a wonderful City Edinburgh is! - What alternation of Height & Depth! - a city looked at in the polish'd back of a Brobdignag Spoon, held lengthways - so enormously stretched-up are the Houses!
.....Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Letter to Robert Southey, 13 September 1803
It was a patriarchial Fife laird, Durham of Largo, who had the honour of giving to Edinburgh the sobriquet of " Auld Reekie." It appears that this old gentleman was in the habit of regulating the time of evening worship by the appearance of the smoke of Edinburgh, which he could easily see through the clear summer twilight from his own door.
When he observed the smoke increase in density, in consequence of the good folks of the capital preparing their supper, he would call all the family into the house, saying —
" It's time, noo, bairns to tak the buiks, and gang to our beds, for yonder's Auld Reekie, I see, putting on her nichtcap."
......Robert Chambers, in Scottish Treasure Trove, Edited by George Blake, John O'London's Little Books,circa 1925
Baxter made a good remark about Princes Street, that it was the most elastic street for length that he knew; sometimes it looks as it looked tonight, interminable, a way leading right into the heart of the red sundown; sometimes again, it shrinks together, as if for warmth, on one of the withering, clear, east-windy days, until it seems to lie underneath your feet.
.....Robert Louis Stevenson, Letter to Mrs Sitwell,
4 October 1873
Tho' many Cities have more People in them, yet, I believe, this may be said with Truth, that in no City in the World so many People live in so little Room as at Edinburgh.
......Daniel Defoe, A Tour through the Whole Island of Great
on Edinburgh's MONUMENT to Sir Walter Scott
Fellow citizens, this statue seems most
beautiful to the eye.
Which would cause Kings and Queens for
such a one to sigh,
And make them feel envious while passing by
In fear of not getting such a beautiful statue
after they die.
.....from The Burns Statue, poem by William Topaz
better known as Scotland's Worst
Poet, born in 1830, in Cowgate, Edinburgh