Anne Lister diary transcriptions Anne Lister's diary 1828 Anne Lister's diary May 1828

Wednesday 28 May 1828

Very quiet last night. Breakfast at 10½. Miss Sarah Riddell called for us at 11½ in a hackney coach.  Took up a friend of hers, a Miss Edmondson, & went to St. Giles church. Walked about there for some time till Sir John Hay arrived thro’ whom we all got admittance into the Lord High Commissioner’s box. The court galleried all round (an aisle of the church) very full. At 12 10, just after we entered, the business of the general assembly of the clergy began by a prayer 10 minutes long. Then were read over the different causes to call on, all which followed in the order read. The most interesting case that against Mr Gregg, minister of Delmany church in Linlithgow, for contumacy against, and disobedience to, the orders of his presbitery. He refused the singing of psalms in the church. Scandalized some lady & some gentleman very unprovokedly, & when suspended for his cure refused to submit and would not allow others to preach in his church so that all religious worship seemed to be stopt there for near 12 months. He now, however, submitted himself to the court thro’ the advice of Mr Cockbourne his counsel (not appearing himself) who merely seemed to appeal to the generosity of the court insinuating, as it seemed, that his client was in fact beside himself. The court seemed inclined to be gentle, disapproving his conduct but appointing a committee ordered to examined Mr Gregg & report to the court on Saturday, after which sentence was to be passed. This was the last cause & the court broke up at 3¼. Mrs Stuart MacKenzie & Miss Cadelle had come in with us. Both very civil. The latter pointed out Dr Chalmers, a plain heavyish eyed (they said) looking man.

On getting out of court went to see the [quadrum?] parliament house, now courts of justice. Very handsome large room. Fine oak gothic drop ceiling. Then saw the library of the writers to the signet. Handsome. Then ditto of the advocates. Very handsome Corinthian room with handsome Corinthian vestibule. Then down high street & the Canongate & along the low streets & up a wynd to the college church & thence up the first “back stair” to Carlton hill by the new high school. Walked round the hill. Viewing would have been magnificent but for the east wind & “east haw” which wraps up all in mist. The new observatory not finished. Can on no account see it without being accompanied there by Professor Wallis. The thing to be seen in the other observatory (the old one to be taken down by & by) is the camera obscura, said to be a very fine one, but on no account to be seen without a written order from some of the gentlemen concerned. Walked slowly home. Stopt at Davidson’s, St Andrew Street for each of us an ice (at 4½) & it began to rain so heavily we waited. Got rather wet after all & did not get home till after 5. Colonel & Lady Elizabeth Thackeray & the “Misses MacKenzie of Seaforth, 23 Charlotte Square” had called. Changed my dress. Dinner at 6. Sat talking till 8½. Then till 10 reading the Scottish Tourist & wrote the whole of this about today. Went to my room at 11. Leaning on the bed telling Miss MacL- the treadmill story [1], seeing the veterinary colleges in London and Paris etc etc.

[1] ‘The treadmill story’ refers to articles written in The Times and the London Courier and Evening Gazette on 27 August 1824, about Anne’s application for permission from the Hatton Garden Magistrates to visit the Cold Bath Fields prison, and in particular to view the treadmill. She visited the prison on 28 August and took a short trial on the treadmill. Later that day she was shown copies of the articles in The Times and The Courier and was initially ‘mortified and annoyed’ but ‘soon however grew reconciled as I always do,’ and told the landlord of the hotel she was staying in that she ‘could not help laughing at the thing and did not know before that I was like a foreigner – “a lady whose habiliments and address bespoke her of foreign extraction.”‘ She wrote a letter in response to the articles to The Courier stating:

‘I can’t help feeling persuaded from the case with which all the prisoners, male & female, seemed to perform the exercise of the tread-mill, as well as from the short trial I myself made of it, that the labour is not so excessive as it has been represented, nor by any means so great as that daily undergone by a large portion of the lower classes of society.’

You can see the original diary entry for 28 May 1812 here:

And for 28 August 1824 here:

One thought on “Wednesday 28 May 1828

  1. Thanks for all your work on this. I think that the word before “parliament” is “quondam” – the courts are (still) in the former/quondam Parliament House. The “east haw” is presumably a transcription of “east haar” – the haar or sea mist that creeps up the Firth of Forth from the east and often blocks the view from Edinburgh – and gives an interesting suggestion of the pronunciation of the time.

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