Attack of the Towhee, De Quincey on Macbeth and Murder


In my 2008 blog entry Obsessed Towhee, I reported on a little brown bird attacking our car windows here in Willow Glen. What is probably that bird’s grandson has started attacking the house windows and those of WP668, our backyard caboose. The stupid California Towhee apparently sees his reflection in the glass and feels called to defend his territory against the other bird by knocking with his beak, flinging himself at the window, and smearing it with bird dirt. Sigh.

The Towhee moves from window to window knocking. I feel like I am in a performance of Macbeth:

Whence is that knocking?
How is’t with me, when every noise appals me?

The only good side is that regular knocking lead me to read the Thomas De Quincey 1823 essay “On the Knocking at the Gate, in Macbeth”, which in turn lead me to De Quincey’s black humor essays “On Murder, as Considered One of the Fine Arts” and “Second Paper on Murder”, the source of the famous quote:

If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination. Once begin upon this downward path, you never know where you are to stop. Many a man has dated his ruin from some murder or other that perhaps he thought little of at the time.


Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

1 Comment

Filed under Home & Family

One response to “Attack of the Towhee, De Quincey on Macbeth and Murder

  1. Pingback: Local Animals | KatysBlog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s