carriage

On the evening of the 26th of April, 1853, the day that Harriet Beecher Stowe visited Abbotsford, Dryburgh and Melrose, she attended a meeting of the Scottish Temperance League. She describes her itinerary for the following day in Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands, Volume I:

The day after we returned from Melrose we spent in resting and riding about, as we had two engagements in the evening—one at a party at the house of Mr. Douglas, of Cavers, and the other at a public temperance soirée. Mr. Douglas is the author of several works which have excited attention; but perhaps you will remember him best by his treatise on the Advancement of Society in Religion and Knowledge. He is what is called here a “laird,” a man of good family, a large landed proprietor, a zealous reformer, and a very devout man.

James Douglas, Esq. of Cavers (d. 1861) was the author of The Advancement of Society in Knowledge and Religion, which had its first American edition in 1830. As a contemporary review of that volume states (The Biblical Repertory and Theological Review, Vol. III, No. 3, July, 1831):

Mr. Douglas is a writer of no common class, at a period when the minds of the learned generally, are too much occupied in attending to the thoughts of others, to give free play to their own native energies of thought, or attempt the production of works for which no model appears in their libraries. Mr. D. has evidently dared to think for himself, or what is, perhaps, equally rare, attempted the work of exploring regions of thought, where no path has been marked by his predecessors or contemporaries.

In Sunny Memories, Stowe describes her visit:

We went early to spend a short time with the family. I was a little surprised, as I entered the hall, to find myself in the midst of a large circle of well-dressed men and women, who stood apparently waiting to receive us, and who bowed, courtesied, and smiled as we came in. Mrs. D. apologized to me afterwards, saying that these were the servants of the family, that they were exceedingly anxious to see me, and so she had allowed them all to come into the hall. They were so respectable in their appearance, and so neatly dressed, that I might almost have mistaken them for visitors.

We had a very pleasant hour or two with the family, which I enjoyed exceedingly. Mr. and Mrs. Douglas were full of the most considerate kindness, and some of the daughters had intimate acquaintances in America. I enjoy these little glimpses into family circles more than any thing else; there is no warmth like fireside warmth.

At the temperance gathering:

In the evening the rooms were filled. I should think all the clergymen of Edinburgh must have been there, for I was introduced to ministers without number. The Scotch have a good many little ways that are like ours; they call their clergy ministers, as we do. There were many persons from ancient families, distinguished in Scottish history both for rank and piety; among others, Lady Carstairs, Sir Henry Moncrief and lady. There was also the Countess of Gainsborough, one of the ladies of the queen’s household, a very beautiful woman with charming manners, reminding one of the line of Pope—
“Graceful ease, and sweetness void of pride.”

I was introduced to Dr. John Brown, who is reckoned one of the best exegetial scholars in Europe. He is small of stature, sprightly, and pleasant in manners, but with a high bald forehead and snow-white hair.

Frances Noel (nee Jocelyn), Countess of Gainsborough (1814-1885) was Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Victoria. John Brown (1784-1858) was a minister and theologian whose first great Biblical commentary, Expository Discourses on the First Epistle of Peter, appeared in 1848. Before his death ten years later he produced eight further volumes and a work on Hebrews that was published posthumously.

Returning to Stowe:

The next day we had a few calls to make, and an invitation from Lady Drummond to visit “classic Hawthornden.” Accordingly, in the forenoon, Mr. S. and I called first on Lord and Lady Gainsborough; though, she is one of the queen’s household, she is staying here at Edinburgh, and the queen at Osborne. I infer therefore that the appointment includes no very onerous duties. The Earl of Gainsborough is the eldest brother of Rev. Baptist W. Noel.

Lady Gainsborough is the daughter of the Earl of Roden, who is an Irish lord of the very strictest Calvinistic persuasion: He is a devout man, and for many years, we were told, maintained a Calvinistic church of the English establishment in Paris. While Mr. S. talked with Lord Gainsborough, I talked with his lady, and Lady Roden, who was present. . . . .

The conversation generally turned upon the condition of servants in America. I said that one of the principal difficulties in American housekeeping proceeded from the fact that there were so many other openings of profit that very few were found willing to assume the position of the servant, except as a temporary expedient; in fact, that the whole idea of service was radically different, it being a mere temporary contract to render certain services, not differing essentially from the contract of the mechanic or tradesman. The ladies said they thought there could be no family feeling among servants if that was the case; and I replied that, generally speaking, there was none; that old and attached family servants in the free states were rare exceptions.

This, I know, must look, to persons in old countries, like a hard and discouraging feature of democracy. I regard it, however, as only a temporary difficulty. Many institutions among us are in a transition state. Gradually the whole subject of the relations of labor and the industrial callings will assume a new form in America, and though we shall never be able to command the kind of service secured in aristocratic countries, yet we shall have that which will be as faithful and efficient. If domestic service can be made as pleasant, profitable, and respectable as any of the industrial callings, it will soon become as permanent.

William_HamiltonSir William Hamilton

Harriet and her husband, Calvin Stowe, next called on Sir William Hamilton (1788-1856), a prominent metaphysical philosopher:

Our next visit was to Sir William Hamilton and lady. Sir William is the able successor of Dugald Stewart and Dr. Brown in the chair of intellectual philosophy. His writings have had a wide circulation in America. He is a man of noble presence, though we were sorry to see that he was suffering from ill health. It seems to me that Scotland bears that relation to England, with regard to metaphysical inquiry, that New England does to the rest of the United States. If one counts over the names of distinguished metaphysicians, the Scotch, as compared with the English, number three to one—Reid, Stewart, Brown, all Scotchmen.

Sir William still writes and lectures. He and Mr. S. were soon discoursing on German, English, Scotch, and American metaphysics, while I was talking with Lady Hamilton and her daughters. After we came away Mr. S. said, that no man living had so thoroughly understood and analyzed the German philosophy. He said that Sir William spoke of a call which he had received from Professor Park, of Andover, and expressed himself in high terms of his metaphysical powers.

Edwards Amasa Park (1808-1900) was a noted American theologian and orator. Stowe made one more call before returning home to prepare for the visit to Hawthornden. George Combe (1788-1858) was the leader of the phrenological movement. He founded the Edinburgh Phrenological Society in 1820 and wrote The Constitution of Man (1828), considered to be the classic exposition of phrenology. In 1833, Combe married (after a phrenological check for compatibility) Cecilia Siddons, daughter of the actress Sarah Siddons.

After that we went to call on George Combe, the physiologist. We found him and Mrs. Combe in a pleasant, sunny parlor, where, among other objects of artistic interest, we saw a very fine engraving of Mrs. Siddons. I was not aware until after leaving that Mrs. Combe is her daughter. Mr. Combe, though somewhat advanced, seems full of life and animation, and conversed with a great deal of warmth and interest on America, where he made a tour some years since. Like other men in Europe who sympathize in our progress, he was sanguine in the hope that the downfall of slavery must come at no distant date.