The Aristocratic Journey: Being the Outspoken Letters of Mrs. Basil Hall Written during a Fourteen Months' Sojourn in America, 1827-1828

The Aristocratic Journey: Being the Outspoken Letters of Mrs. Basil Hall Written during a Fourteen Months' Sojourn in America, 1827-1828

The Aristocratic Journey: Being the Outspoken Letters of Mrs. Basil Hall Written during a Fourteen Months' Sojourn in America, 1827-1828

The Aristocratic Journey: Being the Outspoken Letters of Mrs. Basil Hall Written during a Fourteen Months' Sojourn in America, 1827-1828

Excerpt

The writer of these Letters, Margaret Hunter, was born on the day of George Washington's death, and twenty-six years later married Basil Hall, grandson of the Lord Selkirk whose silver plate had been raided and rendered back by Paul Jones. Fantastic though it would be to lay hold of these family traditions as pointers of destiny their mere existence caused the girl to realize America as something actually connected with her personal life. Basil Hall, himself a sailor, talked to her frequently of his experiences in New York and Boston and of the boyhood friends he had made among officers of the United States Navy in the halcyon years when Americans were permitted to use the British fortresses of Gibraltar and Malta as bases for fighting the Bashaw of Tripoli. In this way the fame of Decatur became known to her as well as that of Somers, "whose name passed into a battle-cry in the American Marine." When, in 1827, Captain Hall suggested to his wife that they, together with their child, should make a tour through the United States, she welcomed the project. The letters printed in this volume are her running commentary on the visit. They are intimate and outspoken, for they were written to her sister Jane with whom in the past she had shared coach journeys over the Pyrenees and voyages to Corunna when as girls they had travelled to join their father, Sir John Hunter, British Consul-General in Spain.

In the year 1815 both girls had taken very kindly to life in Madrid where they made many diplomatic friends and acquired, amongst other accomplishments, the art of valsing. When they returned home to Edinburgh the dance was still unknown there, and they were requested one night to dance it together at the As-

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