Letter to Francis Towne


F. Eleanora Louis, Letter to Francis Towne : Edinburgh, 25 January 1794

Drumsheugh1, 25 Jan. 1794

Dear Sir

I am much obliged to you for your letter & kind congratulations on my Sister’s marriage2 an event which cannot fail of affording me the sincerest satisfaction as she has so great a prospect of happines in her union with so worthy & excellent a man as Mr Woollcombe for whom I have the most perfect regard & respect, & I feel it an additional pleasure in the general approbation of all our friends on this occasion. - I mean’t to have thank’d you for your letter before, but I have been prevented by a variety of engagements which have occur’d since Lady Grace & Mr Douglas3 have been with us, & I am not always Mistress of my own time. I think however you will do me the justice to believe that I am never insensible to the Attentions of my friends which are always most flattering. I was highly entertained by the account you was so obliging as to give me of the several Excursions you made thro’ Kent & Devon in the course of the last Summer.4 My partiality for the latter County increases I believe in proportion as I am absent from it. I see nothing but what seems to sink in comparison with it, tho’ our last Summer Excursion presented many scenes to my view perfectly new to me & beautiful in their kind & I daresay would have been wholly gratifying to people of taste & judgement. I do not pretend to much in either in spite of what your politeness would attribute to me, & could I have supposed that my imperfect descriptions would have fallen into the hands of so Great a Connoisseur I am sure I should have felt great diffidence endeavouring to describe my tour. I feel all my obligations to your polite indulgence, & am confirm’d in my opinion that nobody can put people in better humour with themselves than Mr Towne. We are not[sic] preparing for an Excursion infinitely more interesting to my feelings & I have reason to hope that a very short time will bring me at least 400 miles nearer to my friends, & that before I return to Scotland I shall have the happiness of seeing my friends in Devonshire. I may thank the present times for this gratification for nothing else would I believe have drawn Lord Moray from home5, to which he becomes more attached every year. ‘Tis an ill wind that blows nobody good" - We have had our Share of Alarms here, & a few seditious Gentlemen have been tried & condemned to pass the next 14 years in Botany Bay,6 where I hope they will have all the amusements they can expect from the desire they have manifested to go there. - Their Adherents threaten’d loudly to pull down the Prison, & to avenge their worthy Leaders - but their attempts have been fruitless, & many of them have been doom’d to a temporary confinement. The Town is perfectly quiet & I understand the number of the Seditious are so few, & they are so despicable that there is nothing to fear. I beg to be kindly remember’d to all friends and to assure you that I am dear Sir

Your much obliged friend & faithful Servant F. Louis

Mr Towne


  1. 1 Drumsheugh House, Edinburgh. The house, demolished in 1822, stood in the middle of Randolph Crescent in New Town and was a seat of the Earls of Moray.
  2. 2 The only Louis daughter to marry was Ann, who married a Mr Woollcombe, probably a son of Dr [?Henry] Woollcombe of Plymouth. Towne bequeathed 25 stock to her in 1810 when she was "Mrs Ann Woollcombe at Alphington Cross near Exeter". National Archives PROB11/1583.
  3. 3 Lady Grace Moray (d.1846), elder daughter of Francis, 9th Earl of Moray. In 1789 she married George Douglas of Cavers, Roxburghshire.
  4. 4 No drawings survive from this excursion.
  5. 5 Francis, 9th Earl of Moray (or Murray) (1737-1810) of Drumsheugh House.
  6. 6 This letter was written during a period of nationwide revulsion at the political and social upheavals taking place in France, with whom Great Britain was at war, and concern about the future of Europe. Muir and Palmer were two gentlemen sentenced to be sent to Botany Bay for seditious practices in Scotland, evidently for holding meetings ('conventions') at which were proposed revolutionary democratic changes in emulation of the French. That educated men like Muir and Palmer could promote such thinking - and indeed could be sent to Botany Bay like common criminals - caused public shock. The Times, 16 December 1793, 3, 6 and 7 January 1794.