Item of the Day: Carr’s Travels (1805)

Full Title: A Northern Summer; or Travels round the Baltic, through Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Prussia, and Part of Germany, in the Year 1804. By John Carr, Author of The Stranger in France, &c. &c. London: Printed for Richard Phillips, No. 6, Bridge Street, Blackfriars, by T. Gillet, Salisbury-square, 1805.

CHAP. I.

TIME OF SETTING FORTH—A WESTERN TOWN—HARWICH—THE POOR NORWEGIAN’S TOMB—HELOGOLAND—FLOATING MERRY FACES—HUSUM—A STUHLWAGGON–THE FAIR–THE WONDER–NOVEL APPLICATION OF A CHURCH–WALTZES–A SHOCKING SECRET.

IT was on the 14th of May, 1804, that, impelled by an ardent desire of contemplating the great and interesting volume of man, and by the hope of ameliorating a state of health which has too often awakened the solicitude of maternal affection, and of friendly sympathy, the writer of these pages bade adieu to a spot in which the morning of life had rolled over his head, and which a thousand circumstances had endeared to him. I cannot quit England without casting a lingering look upon my favourite little town of Totnes, where, as a characteristic, family alliances are so carefully preserved that one death generally stains half the town black; and where Nature has so united the charms of enlightened society, to those of romantic scenery, that had a certain with but tasted of the former, he would have spared the whole country in which it stands, and would not have answered, when requested to declare his opinion of the good people of Devon, that the further he travelled westward, the more persuaded he was that the wise men came from the east.

The angry decrees of renovated war had closed the gates of the south; the north alone lay expanded before me; if she is less enchanting, thought I perhaps she is the less known, and whereever [sic] man is, (women of course included) there must be variety: she has hitherto been contemplated, clad in fur, and gliding with the swiftness of a light cloud before the wind, upon her roads of shining snow. I will take a peep at her in her summer garb, and will endeavor to form a nosegay of polar flowers.

There is always a little bustle of action and confusion of ideas, when a man, about to slip from his friends, is in the agonies of packing up. My mind alternately darted from my portmanteau, to the political appearances with which I was surrounded; and, with all the vanity which generally belongs to a traveller, I resolved to commemorate the period of my flight, by a cursory comment upon the state of my country, which, by the time the last strap was buckled, was simply this: A great man had succeeded a good one in the direction of its august destinies, and another being who may be considered as the wonder of the west, was preparing amidst the blaze of brilliant novelties to mount the throne of a new dynasty; amongst them was a threat to cover the shores of England, with his hostile legions. Nine hundred and ninety-nine Englishmen, out of one thousand, had started into martial array, on the sound of the haughty menace—patriotism, with the bright velocity of a wild-fire, ran through the valley and over the mountain, till at last it was discovered that we might be invaded whenever we pleased. Ministers were more puzzled by their friends, than their enemies; where streams were expected to flow, torrents rolled headlong, and whatever may be our animosities, we are at least under an everlasting obligation to the French, for having enabled us to contemplate such a spectacle of loyalty. How I happened to leave my country at this time, it may be proper to explain: Devonshire offered, to her lasting honour, twenty thousand volunteer defenders of their homes and altars, nine thousand were only wanted or could be accepted; in the later, a spirited body of my fellow-townsmen, who honoured me by an election to command them, were not included; after encountering (and it was equal to a demi-campaign) the scrutinizing eye of militia-men, and the titter of nursery-maids, until awkwardness yielded to a good discipline, and improvement had taught our observers to respect us, we found that our intended services were superfluous, and I was at full liberty to go to any point of the compass; so, after the touching scene of bidding adieu to an aged and beloved mother, whilst she poured upon me many a half-stifled prayer and benediction, I hastened to the capital, where, having furnished myself with the necessary passports and letters of introduction to our embassadors [sic] from the minister of foreign affairs, a circular letter of credit and bills from the house of Ransom, Morland, and company, upon their foreign correspondents, and with a packet of very handsome letters of private introduction, which were swelled by the kindness of Mr. Gill, the Swedish consul, and a passport (indispensably necessary to the visitor of Sweden) from the baron Silverhjelm. the enlightened and amiable representative of a brave and generous nation, I proceeded to Harwich, and at midnight passed under the barrier arch of its watch-tower, which was thrown into strong picturesque varieties of shade, by the propitious light, which from the top flung its joyous lustre over many a distant wave, so gladdening to the heart of the homeward mariner. . . .

 

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Filed under 1800's, England, Europe, Great Britain, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Travel, Travel Literature

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