Frederick Douglass to Eliza Nicholson, August 1, 1846
FREDERICK DOUGLASS TO ELIZA NICHOLSON1Elisa Nicholson was the daughter of Thomas and Elisa Nicholson of Cumberland, England. She and her sisters, Sarah Nicholson Wigham of Edinburgh and Jane D. Carr of Carlisle, were all active in the abolitionist movement, making items to sell in bazaars to raise funds for the antislavery movement. Jane Carr was the wife of Jonathan D. Carr, the recipient of a letter from Douglass that appears in this volume. Margaret Forster, Rich Desserts and Captain’s Thin: A Family and Their Times, 1831–1931 (London, 1997), 78; Merrill and Ruchames, Garrison Letters, 4:36n; Taylor, British and American Abolitionists, 315–16, 547.
Newcastle[-upon—Tyne, Eng.] 1 Aug[ust] 1846.
Miss Eliza Nicholson
I arrived here safely about 10—to night[.]2Douglass delivered the speech “Slavery, the Free Church, and British Agitation against Bondage” in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 3 August 1846. Newcastle Guardian, 8 August 1846; Douglass Papers, ser. 1, 1:316. Had a pleasant journey for the most part—the day being clear, bright and beautiful until about 4 o’ck in
afternoon—when we were plunged head and ears into a heavy mist—or what would be called in America a dense fog. It seemed to be the South wing of that I left this morning in Edinburgh. They are disagreable customer—to those accustomed to a dry climate. Our passengers seemed to be Stupid set—giving little or no Signs of life—except when the coach changed horses and then only when they stood in the inspiring presence of ‘John Barley Corn’.3Barleycorn is a reference to whiskey distilled from malted barley, popular in Scotland, and John Barleycorn is its personification. Stevenson, Book of Proverbs, 123. I felt sorry to see them tippling the whisky. But for one to lecture on such occasions is like casting ones pearl before swine.4Matt. 7:6. So I looked on in Silence—speaking only by example. I am deeply convinced that the great Sin of Scotland—is the use of ardent Spirits as a beverage. Our Gaurd—a kind hearted and well disposed person seemed quite intoxicated by the time we reached New Castle. This drinking at every stage is a dangerous practice and travellers ought to protest against it. But alas—they are often to blame—since they furnish the drink—that is pay for it.
I have just received a letter from George Thompson inviting me to make his house my home during my stay in London.5George Thompson invited William Lloyd Garrison and Henry C. Wright to stay at his home in Waterloo Place daring the World’s Temperance Convention. Thompson may have extended this invitation to Douglass. Garrison and Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison, 3:156. I shall accept his invitation[.] I write this in great haste upon my manifold6An apparatus or a book of writing paper on which copies of handwritten documents are produced at the time of writing. which will account to you for the singularity of the hand. A meeting is advertised here for me.
In haste Sincerely,
ALS: General Correspondence File, reel 1, frame 627, FD Papers, DLC. PLSr: Foner, Life and Writings, 5:47