About us Our Branches Edinburgh Branch Event: Sheila Szatkowski Visitors to Edinburgh in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries Perhaps the most famous visitor to Edinburgh in the late 18th/early 19th centuries was King George IV in 1822. However, many other famous people came our way to behold a city transformed by the creation of its New Town. And of course there were many celebrities of the Scottish Enlightenment waiting here to provide a hearty intellectual welcome. Travel in the days before trains, cars and planes was not for the faint-hearted, and even the fastest stagecoach could take 65 hours or more from London - while the sea alternative became less attractive after France and Britain went to war in 1793. Whereas living cheek by jowl with only the coffee house or tavern for entertainment had made the Old Town a more democratic society, life in the New Town was more structured - and that extended to dining, with music and educated conversation. Influential Russian noblewoman Princess Dashkova lived in Edinburgh from December 1776 to June 1779 at Palace of Holyrood, where she was involved and wounded in a sword duel with another lady, and donated a collection of Russian commemorative medals to the University of Edinburgh on the occasion of her son Pavel's graduation from that school. She was part of the coup d'état that placed Catherine on the throne, the first woman in the world to head a national academy of sciences, the first woman in Europe to hold a government office and the president of the Russian Academy, which she helped found. She also published prolifically, with original and translated works on many subjects, and was invited by Benjamin Franklin to become the first female member of the American Philosophical Society. In 1759 American polymath Benjamin Franklin visited Edinburgh with his son and later reported that he considered his six weeks in Scotland "six weeks of the densest happiness I have met with in any part of my life". For his hosts he offered the gift of a Franklin Stove which had a hollow baffle near the rear (to transfer more heat from the fire to a room's air) and relied on an "inverted siphon" to draw the fire's hot fumes around the baffle. It was intended to produce more heat and less smoke than an ordinary open fireplace, but it was also known as a "circulating stove" or the "Pennsylvania fireplace" When in 1773 James Boswell walked arm in arm with Dr Johnson up the High Street to his house in James Court, it was a dusky night. He could not prevent his guest from being assailed by the evening effluvia, and as they marched along Dr Johnson grumbled in his ear "I smell you in the dark". Johnson described the library of Sir David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes, at Newhailes as the “most learned room in Europe”. Captain Bligh came to Edinburgh in 1782 and dined in the company of James Boswell and others. He is best known for joining the mutinous Bounty in 1789. In the winter of 1786–87, Sciennes Hill House was the location of the only recorded meeting of Robert Burnsand Walter Scott, at a literary dinner hosted by the philosopher Professor Adam Ferguson. Thomas Blacklock was a blind poet from Annan who is chiefly remembered for having written a letter in 1789 to Robert Burns, which had the effect of dissuading him from going to the West Indies, indirectly saving his life since the ship sank on the voyage In November 1809 Thomas Carlyle walked the 80-mile journey to Edinburgh. It took him three days and he later commented that by the beginning of the second day he had travelled further from Ecclefechan than his father was ever to do in his life. Engraver and natural history author Thomas Bewick visited Edinburgh in 1823, praising how the spirit of the Enlightenment had taken root here and spread to every city in the world. In April 1827, the American naturalist and bird painter John James Audubon came to Britain to find a suitable printer for his enormous Birds of America. Bewick, still lively at age 74, showed him the woodcut he was working on, a dog afraid of tree stumps that seem in the dark to be devilish figures, and gave Audubon a copy of his Quadrupeds for his children. Audubon’s Edinburgh encounters were crucial to the production of his four-volume work which, containing more than 1,000 of his life-like paintings, created an important record of nearly 490 bird species, some of which are now extinct. Patrick Neill was a Scottish printer and horticulturalist, who was the first secretary the Caledonian Horticultural Society (1809–49), he is mainly remembered today for having endowed the Neill Medal of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His works include A Tour Through Some of the Islands of Orkney and Shetland (1806), which caused much public debate at the time, due to its descriptions of the economic misery of the islanders. When the Nor Loch was drained in 1820, Neill was commissioned to plan the scheme of planting of 5 acres of land, which is now West Princes Street Gardens which included the planting of 77,000 trees and shrubs. Founder of the British Empire in India and later acquitted of corruption, Warren Hastings had supporters from the Edinburgh East India Club who gave a reportedly "elegant entertainment" for him when he visited Edinburgh. A toast on the occasion went to the "Prosperity to our settlements in India" and wished that "the virtue and talents which preserved them be ever remembered with gratitude. Not everyone could embrace the new century, and some of dynastic physician Alexander Monro Tertius’s notes as a student survive today and are untidy and unmethodical, perhaps foreshadowing his inability to live up to his family name. By contrast Edinburgh literary critic and Scottish judge Francis Jeffrey, best known as the editor of The Edinburgh Review, a quarterly that was the pre-eminent organ of British political and literary criticism in the early 19th century, was symbolic of the new forward-looking Edinburgh. The extent of his fellow judge Cockburn's literary ability only became known after he had passed his 70th year, on the publication of his biography of Jeffrey in 1852, and from his chief literary work, the Memorials of his Time, which appeared posthumously in 1856. Prime Minister during passage of the 1832 Reform Act, Earl Grey was wined and dined in a huge marquee on receiving the Freedom of the City. An inventor remembered as the father of modern experimental optics, Sir David Brewster was a devout Presbyterian and marched arm-in-arm with his brother during the events of the Disruption of 1843, which led to the formation of the Free Church of Scotland. He helped pioneer photography along with David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, and the Disruption became the first photographed historical event in the world. Alexander Nasmyth was a Scottish portrait and landscape painter, a pupil of Allan Ramsay who also undertook several architectural commissions. In the summer of 1829, the 20-year-old Felix Mendelssohn made a three-week visit to Scotland which was to result in the writing of two of his best-loved works: the overture The Hebrides and the Symphony No 3 in A minor (Scottish). Finally in this tour of these times Rev John Thomson was a Scottish minister of the Church of Scotland and noted amateur landscape painter who served Duddingston Kirk from 1805 to 1840 and is often credited with giving rise to the famous Lowland Scots adage "We're a' Jock Tamson's bairns".