The History of Leith

August 28, 2012

Edinburgh Society-1795

” In Edinburgh there is no trade,” wrote a
German traveller—said to be M. Voght, of Hamburg,
in 1795 ; ” but from this circumstance society
is a gainer in point both of intelligence and of
eloquence It is but justice to a
place in which I have spent one of the most agreeable
winters of my life to declare, that nowhere
more completely than there have I found realised
my idea of good society, or met with a circle of men
better informed, more amicable, greater lovers of
truth, or of more unexceptionable integrity. During
six months I heard no invectives uttered, no catching
at wit practised, no malignant calumnies invented
or retailed; and- I seldom left a company
without some addition to my knowledge or new
incitements to philanthropy. To name and to
describe the persons composing this society, and
to introduce them to your readers, is a pleasure
which I cannot deny myself.”
Among those whom he met in the Edinburgh of
that day M. Voght mentions Dugald Stewart,
” the Bacon of Metaphysics ” ; Eraser Tytler, Lord
Woodhouselee; Mackenzie, ” The Man of Feeling
;” Drs. Black, Blair, Munro, and Coventry the
lecturer on agriculture; Professor Playfair, Dr.
Gregory, and the amiable Sir William Forbes;
Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, and Colonel Dirom,
the historian of Tippoo Sahib, and Sir Alexander
Mackenzie; adding:—”What makes the society
in Edinburgh particularly attractive is the crowd
of Scotsmen who have been long in the East
and West Indies, and have returned thither-»-old
officers who have served in the army and navy,
and all of whom in their youth have had the
advantage of academical instruction.”
Lady Sinclair, he tells us, ” is one of the prettiest
women in all Scotland,” and that Creech, the bookseller,
was one of his ” most valuable acquaintances.”
AfHsng others, he enumerates Sir James
Hall of Dunglass, Lords Eskgrove, Ancrum, and
Fincastle, Professor Rutherford the botanist, Lord
Monboddo, and many more, as those making up the
circle of a delightful and intellectual society

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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