“Just where the dividing line may safely be drawn between common sense and religious fervor it would be difficult to say," Robbins wrote. "That the two things are often unwisely separated, no one who knew Mrs. Porter can ever doubt. Living entirely sequestered from society, occupying the great house alone with her husband and one servant, until, late in life, she brought into it two adopted children, shutting out from it sun and air and even God’s beautiful light, she made it a place in which the ‘sorrowful spirit’ brooded over everything.” 
The "servant" that Robbins mentioned was Almira Quacumbush. According to her headstone -- she is buried right beside Reverend Porter's in the P.A. cemetery -- she had worked for the Porters as "a faithful domestic“ for thirty years by the time of her death on May 3, 1834. Well known to the P.A. community, she is described as “black but comely” in Sarah Loring Bailey's history of Andover.  So is Eliza in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The phrase is of course from the Bible. 
On Friday evenings, Robbins attended the weekly “Jews’ Meeting” at the Porters' house, where she and the other attendees gathered to pray for "the conversion of the despised, downtrodden Jews.”  (On Friday evenings, no less!) They were led by successive pairs of seminary students, but Mrs. Porter was the “sole originator” of these meetings," according to Robbins, who, to her credit, didn't fail to note that Christ himself was a Jew.  As for the Porters' own Sabbath, cooking was prohibited on Sunday in their household. Dinner was prepared on Saturday. They didn’t even permit themselves to take a walk for visiting or “other unnecessary purposes.” 
Reverend Porter may have not taken many walks, anyway. He was an invalid, due to weak lungs, which made preaching difficult for him. And although he is said to have sawed and split wood for exercise, he rarely left home at all, except in pursuit of better health. When he was feeling particularly bad during New England winters, he headed South. In 1815-1816, for example, he spent time in Charleston and Savannah. He passed another winter in St. Augustine. In 1821, he went to Havana and New Orleans. Inevitably he saw what the institution of slavery looked like in each of these locales, but in letters home to Mrs. Porter he referred to the enslaved people even there as “servants.”  One of them, named “Bob," who was a "waiting man," he described as "hopefully pious," and noted that Bob had learned to read the Bible that Porter had given him the previous year.  As for his treatment of his own “domestics,” his biographer took pains to write in 1837, four years after Porter's death, it was “uniformly mild and paternal.” 
1. Robbins, 113-117.
2. Bailey, 515.
3. "I am black but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon." -- Song of Solomon 1:5.
4. Robbins, 85.
5. Ibid., 83.
6. Lyman Matthews, Memoir of the Life and Character of Ebenezer Porter, D. D., late president of the Theological seminary, Andover (Boston: Perkins & Marvin, 1837), 25.
7. Ibid., 103.
9. Ibid., 306.