Sunday, December 18, 2011

It grows dark, boys, you may go


From Lord Henry Cockburn’s “Memorials of his time”: ‘…Two sad privations clouded the close of the year 1809. The High School lost Dr. Adam, and the College Dugald Stewart.

Adam died, after a few days illness, in December. His ruling passion, for teaching, was strong in death. It was in his bedchamber, and in the forenoon, that he died. Finding that he could not see, he uttered a few words, which have been variously given, but all the accounts of which mean—" It is getting dark, boys; we must put off the rest till to-morrow." It was the darkness of death. He was followed to the grave (in the Chapel of Ease near Windmill Street) by many eminent and grateful pupils. James Pillans, his successor, has given a good short sketch of him in the Encyclopaedia Britannica…’

Alexander Adam led the High School of Edinburgh at the time Walter Scott attended (1779 – 1783).  According to Edinburgh University’s Walter Scott archive, Adam encouraged Scott in his translations of Horace and Virgil.  A classical scholar, Adam also introduced Greek to the school’s curriculum.  Alexander Adam passed on December 18, 1809.

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