Category Archives: Travel

Item of the Day: A Gloomy Catastrophe (1805)

Found In: A Northern Summer; or Travels round the Baltic, through Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Prussia, and Part of Germany, in the Year 1804. By John Carr, Esq. London: Printed for Richard Phillips, No. 6, Bridge Street, Blackfriars, by T. Gillet, Salisbury square, 1805.

 

CHAP. XIV.

A GLOOMY CATASTROPHE.

IT is with deep regret that I approach the delicate and awful subject of this chapter. Humanity would gladly cover it with the pall of oblivion; but justice to the memory of an unhappy monarch, and to the chief of the august family of Russia, demand a candid though careful developement [sic] of the events which preceded the fall of the last Emperor. The original source of my information is from one who beheld the catastrophe which I am about to relate, whom I can neither name nor doubt; a catastrophe which is too near the period in which I write, not to render an unrestrained disclosure of all the particulars with which I  have been furnished, unfair if not imprudent. The causes that first created those well-known prejudices which Catherine II. cherished against her son, have perished with her; but all the world knows, that, during the many years which rolled away between the Grand Duke’s arrival at the age of maturity and his elevation to the throne, his august mother never admitted him to any participation of power, but kept him in a state of the most abject and mortifying separation from the court, and in almost total ignorance of the affairs of the empire. Although Paul, by his birth, was generalissimo of the armies, he never was permitted to head a regiment; and although, by the same right, grand admiral of the Baltic, he was interdicted from even visiting the fleet at Cronstadt. To these painful privations may be added, that when he was recommended, that is offered, to travel, during his absence Catherine seized and sent to Siberia one of his most cherished friends, because she discoverd that he had informed her son of some inconsiderble state affair. Thus Paul beheld himself not only severed from the being who gave him birth, but from all the ordinary felicities of life. The pressure of his hand excited suspicion; peril was in his attachment, and in his confidence guilt and treason. He could not have a friend, without furnishing a victim.

A gentleman nearly connected with me, now no more, a man of talent and acute observation and veracity, had several years since the honour of spending a short period at the little secluded court of Gatchina, upon which, as the dazzling beams of imperial favour never shone, the observer was left in the tranquillity of the shade, to make a more calm, steady, and undiverted survey. At this time, Paul displayed a mind very elegantly inclined, without being brilliant, highly cultivated, accomplished and informed, frank and generous, brave and magnanimous, a heart tender and affectionate, and a dispositon very sweet, though most acutely and poignantly susceptible: his person was not handsome, but his eye was penetrating, and his manners such as denoted the finished gentleman. In his youth he was seen by the bed-side of the dying Panin, the hoary and able minister of Catherine, and his tutor, kissing and bathing his hand with tears. As an evidence of his intellectual vigour, let the elaborate and able ukase, by which he settled the precedence and provision of the imperial family, unquestionably his own unassisted composition, be referred to. He loved his amiable princess, and his children, with the most ardent, the most indulgent fondness, and it was the labour of their love, as well as of his servants, who were devotedly attached to him, to requite his affections and graciousness, and to endeavour to fill up with every endearing, every studied attention, the gloomy chasm which had been formed by an unnatural and inexplicable neglect; but this chasm was a bottomless abyss, upon the brink of which his wounded spirit was ever wandering! Paul possessed a high martial inclination, and, reflecting that he might one day mount the throne of a military empire, he made the art of war the principal object of his studeis; but neither this pursuit, so copious, so interesting, nor the endearments of those who surrounded him, could expel from his mind the sense of his injuries. He beheld himself, the second personage the the destined ruler of the empire, postponed to the periodical favourite of his mother, the minister of her unbounded voluptiousness, not unfrequently elevated to the presidency of the Hermitage from the ranks, with no other pretensions than vigorous health and a mighty frame; whilst, on the other hand, the bleeding shade of his father was for ever, in his morbid imagination, pointing to his wound, and whispering revenge. Thus exiled from the heart of his mother, is it a matter of surprise that he should exclude her from his own?

Catherine more than once observed, that her son would not long occupy the throne after her decease; and it has been the fashion to say, that her alienation from him was justified by the events which succeeded her death. With this prophetic spirit, she devoted all her care to the education of her grandsons, Alexander and Constantine, and exercised all the powers she possessed towards the consummation of her prediciton. She foretold that the flower which she had planted would wither early: she shook it till every blossom fell, and shaded it so, that the dew of Heaven should never visit it more: she pressed and pierced the delicate and ardent mind of her son until she subverted it. Was it then a proof of inspiration, to prognosticate the brevity of his reign over an empire, the history of which has too often and fatally proved, that however despotic its government, and there is not one under heaven more absolute, a cautious and dexterous cultivation of the interest, feelings, prejudices, and affections of the people is inseparable from the safety of the ruler? . . .

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Europe, History, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Travel, Travel Literature

Item of the Day: Bougainville’s Voyage (1772)

Full Title:  A Voyage Round the World.  Performed by Order of His Most Christian Majesty, In the Years 1766, 1767, 1768, and 1769.  By Lewis De Bougainville, Colonel of Foot, and Commodore of the Expedition in the Frigate La Boudeuse, and the Store-ship L’Etoile.  Translated from the French by John Reinhold Forster, F. A. S.  Dublin:  Printed for J. Exshaw, H. Saunders, J. Potts, W. Sleater, D. Chamberlaine, E. Lynch, J. Williams, R. Moncrieffe, T. Walker, and C. Jenkins.  MDCCLXXII.

A Voyage Round the World.  Part the First.  Departure from France–clearing the Straits of Magalhaens. 

Chap. I.

Departure of the Boudeuse from Nantes; puts in at Brest; run from Brest to Montevideo; junction with the Spanish frigates, intended for taking possession of the Malouines, or Falkland’s islands.

In February 1764, France began to make a settlement on the Isles of Malouines.  Spain reclaimed these isles as belonging to the continent of South America; and her right to them having been acknowledged by the king, I received orders to deliver our settlement to the Spaniards, and to proceed to the East Indies by crossing the South Seas between the Tropics.  For this expedition I received the command of the frigate la Boudeuse, of twenty-six twelve pounders, and I was to be joined at the Malouines by the store-ship l’Etoile, which was intended to bring me the provisions necessary for a voyage of such length, and to follow me during the whole expedition.  Several circumstances retarded the junction of this store-vessel, and consequently made my whole voyage near eight months longer than it would otherwise have been. 

In the beginning of November, 1766, I went to Nantes, where the Boudeuse had just been built, and where M. Duclos Guyot, a captain of a fireship, my second officer was fitting her out.  The 5th of this month we came down from Painbeuf to Mindin, to finish the equipment of her; and on the 15th we sailed from this road for the river de la Plata.  There I was to find two Spanish frigates, called le Esmeralda and le Liebre, that had left Ferrol the 17th of October, and whose commander was ordered to receive the Isles Malouines, or Falkland’s islands, in the name of his Catholic majesty.

The 17th in the morning we suffered a sudden gust of wind from W. S. W. to N. W. it grew more violent in the night, which we passed under our bare poles, with our lower-yards lowered, the clue of the fore sail, under which we tried before, having been carried away.  The 18th, at four in the morning, our fore-top-mast broke about the middle of its height; the main-top-mast resisted till eight o-clock, when it broke in the cap, and carried away the head of the main mast.  This last event made it impossible to continue our voyage, and I determined to put into Brest, where we arrived the 21st of November.

This squall of wind, and the confusion it had occasioned, gave me room to make the following observation upon the state and qualities of the frigate which I commanded.

1. The prodigious tumbling home of her top-timbers, leaving too little open to the angles which the shrouds make with the masts, the latter were not sufficiently supported. 

2. The preceding fault became of more consequence by the nature of the ballast, which we had been obliged to take in, on account of the prodigious quantity of provisions we had stowed.  Forty tons of ballast, distibuted on both sides of the kelson, and at a short distance from it, and a dozen twelve-pounders placed at the bottom of the pump-well (we had only fourteen upon deck) added a considerable weight, which being much below the center of gravity, and almost entirely rested upon the kelson, put the masts in danger, if there had been any rolling.   

Leave a comment

Filed under 1770's, Explorations, France, Posted by Matthew Williams, South America, Travel, Travel Literature

Item of the Day: Commodore Byron’s An Account of a Voyage Round the World (1778)

 Full Title: An Account of a Voyage round the World, in the Years MDCCLXIV, MDCCLXV, and MDCCLXVI. By the Honourable Commodore Byron, in His Majesty’s Ship the Dolphin.

Found In: An Account of the Voyages Undertaken by the Order of His Present Majesty for Making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere, And successively performed by Commodore Byron, Captain Wallis, Captain Carteret, and Captain Cook, in the Dolphin, the Swallow, and the Endeavour: Drawn Up from the Journals which were kept by the several Commanders, and from the Papers of Joseph Banks, Esq; By John Hawkesworth, LL.D. In Three Volumes. Illustrated with Cuts, and a great Variety of Charts and Maps relative to Countries now first discovered, or hitherto but imperfectly known. Vol. I. London: Printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell in the Strand, MDCCLXXIII. [1778]

CHAP. I.

The Passage from the Downs to Rio de Janeiro.

(The longitude in this voyage is reckoned from the meridian of London, west to 180 degrees, and east afterwards.)

On the 21st of June 1764, I sailed from the Downs, with his Majesty’s ship the Dolphin, and the Tamar frigate, which I had received orders to take under my command: as I was coming down the river, the Dolphin got a-ground; I therefore put to Plymouth, where she was docked, but did not appear to have received any damage. At this place we changed some of our men, and having paid the people two months wages in advance, I hoisted the broad pendant, and sailed again on the 3d of July; on the 4th we were off the Lizard, and made the best our our way with a fine breeze, but had the mortification to find the Tamar a very heavy sailer. In the night of Friday the 6th, the officer of the first watch saw either a ship on fire, or an extraordinary phenomenon which greatly resembled it, at some distance: it continued to blaze for about half an hour, and then disappeared. In the evening of Thursday, July 12th, we saw the rocks near the island of Madeira, which our people call the Deserters; from desertes, a name which has been given them from their barren and desolate appearance: the next day we stood in for the road of Funchiale, where, about three o’clock in the afternoon, we came to an anchor. In the morning of Saturday the 14th, I waited upon the governor, who received me with great politeness, and saluted me with eleven guns, which I returned from the ship. The next day, he returned my visit at the house of the Consul, upon which I saluted him with eleven guns, which he returned from the fort. I found here his Majesty’s ship the Crown, and the Ferret sloop, who also saluted the broad pendant. Having completed our water, and procured all the refreshment I was able for the companies of both the ships, every man having twenty pounds weight of onions for his sea stock, we weighted anchor on Thursday the 19th, and proceeded on our voyage. On Saturday the 21st, we made the island of Palma, one of the Canaries, and soon after examining our water, we found it would be necessary to touch the whole of our course from the Lizard, we observed that no fish followed the ship, which I judged to be owing to her being sheathed with copper. By the 26th, our water was become foul, and stunk intolerably, but we purified it with a machine, which had been put on board for that purpose: it was a kind of ventilator, by which air forced through the water in a continued stream, as long as it was necessary.

In the morning of the 27th, we made the island of Sal, one of the Cape de Verds, and seeing several turtle upon the water, we hoisted out our jolly boat, and attempted to strike them, but they all went down before our people could come within reach of them. On the morning of the 28th, we were very near the island of Bona Vista, the next day off the Isle of May, and on Monday the 30th, we came to an anchor in Port Praya bay. The rainy season was already set in, which renders this place very unsafe; a large swell that rolls in from the southward, makes a frightful surf upon the shore, and there is reason every hour to expect a tornado, of which, as it is very violent, and blows directly in, the consequences are likely to be fatal; so that after the 15th of August no ship comes hither till the rainy season is over, which happens in November; for this reason I made all possible haste to fill my water and get away. I procured three bullocks for the people, but they were little better than carrion, and the weather was so hot, that the flesh stunk in a few hours after they were killed.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1770's, Explorations, Great Britain, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Travel

Item of the Day: Kalm’s Travels (1772)

Full Title:

Travels into North America; Containing Its Natural History, and a Circumstantial Account of its Plantations and Agriculture in General, With the Civil, Ecclesiastical and Commercial State of the Country, the Manners of the Inhabitants, and several curious and important Remarks on various subjects.  By Peter Kalm, Professor of Oeconomy in the University of Aobo in Swedish Finland, and Member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences.  Translated into English by John Reinhold Forster, F. A. S.  Enriched with a Map, several Cuts for the Illustration of Natural History, and some additional Notes.  The second edition.  In Two Volumes, Vol. I.  London: Printed for T. Lowndes, No. 77, in Fleet-street. 1772.

November 1748.  New York.

The port is a good one: ships of the greatest burthen can lie in it, quite close up to the bridge: but its water is very salt [sic], and the sea continually comes in upon it; and therefore is never frozen, except in extraordinary cold weather.  This is of great advantage to the city and its commerce; for many ships either come in or go out of the port at any time of the year, unless the winds be contrary; a convenience, which, as I have before observed, is wanting at Philadelphia.  It is secured from all violent hurricanes from the southeast by Long Island, which is situated just before the town: therefore only the storms from the south west are dangerous to the ships which ride at anchor here, because the port is open only on that side.  The entrance however has its faults; one of them is that no men of war can pass through it; for though the water is pretty deep , yet it is not sufficiently so for great ships.  Sometimes even merchant ships of a large size have, by the rolling of the waves and by sinking down between them, slightly touched the bottom, though without any bad consequences.  Besides this, the canal is narrow; and for this reason many ships have been lost here, because they may be easily cast upon a sand, if the ship is not well piloted.  Some old people, who had constantly been upon this canal, assured me, that it was neither deeper nor shallower at present, than in their youth.

The common difference between high and low water, at New York, amounts to about six feet, English measure.  But a certain time in every month, when the tide flows more than commonly, the difference in the height of the water is seven feet.

New York probably carries on a more extensive commerce, than any town in the English North American provinces; at least it may be said to equal them: Boston and Philadelphia however come very near up to it.  The trade of New Yok extends many places; and it is said they send more ships from thence to London, than they do from Philadelphia.  They export to that capital all the various sorts of skins which they buy of the Indians, sugar, logwood, and other dying woods, rum, mahogany, and many other goods which are the produce of the West Indies; together with all the specie which they get in the course of trade.  Every year they build several ships here, which are sent to London, and there sold; and of late years they have shipped a quantity of iron to England.  In return of these, they import from London stuffs, and every other article of English growth or manufacture, together with all sorts of foreign goods.  England, and especially London, profits immensely by its trade with the American colonies; for not only New York, but likewise all the other English towns on the continent, import so many articles from England, that all their specie, together with the goods which they get in other countries, must altogether go to Old England, in order to pay the amount, to which they are however insufficient.  From hence it appears how much a well-regulated colony contributes to the increase and welfare of its mother country.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1770's, Colonial America, Commerce, Eighteenth century, Geography, Posted by Matthew Williams, Travel, Travel Literature

Item of the Day: Lesseps’ Travels in Kamtschatka (1790)

Full Title:

Travels in Kamtschatka, During the Years 1787 and 1788.  Translated from the French of M. De Lesseps, Consul of France, and Interpreter to the Count de la Perouse, Now Engaged in a Voyage Round the World, By Command of His Most Christian Majesty.  In Two Volumes.  Volume I.  London: Printed For J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church-Yard.  1790.

Travels in Kamtschatka, &c.

I have scarcely completed my twenty-fifth year, and am arrived at the most memorable era of my life.  However long, or however happy may be my future career, I doubt whether it will ever be my fate to be employed in so glorious an expedition as that in which two French frigates, the Boussole, and the Astrolabe, are at this moment engaged; the first commanded by count de Perouse, chief of the expedition, and the second by viscount de Langle.

The report of this voyage round the world, created too general and lively an interest, for direct news of these illustrious navigators, reclaimed by their country and by all Europe from the seas they traverse, not to be expected with as much impatience as curiosity.

How flattering is it to my heart, after having obtained from count de la Perouse the advantage of accompanying him for more than two years, to be farther indebted to him for the honour of conveying his dispatches over land into France!  The more I reflect upon this additional proof of his confidence, the more I feel what such an embassy requires, and how far I am deficient; and I can only attribute his preference, to the necessity of choosing for this journey, a person who had resided in Russia, and could speak its language.

On the 6 September 1787, the king’s frigates entered the port of Avatscha, or Saint Peter and Saint Paul, at the southern extremity of the peninsula of Kamtschatka.  The 29, I was ordered to quit the Astrolabe; and the same day count de la Perouse gave me his dispatches and instructions.  His regard for me would not permit him to confine his cares to the most satisfactory arrangements for the safety and convenience of my journey; he went further, and gave me the affectionate counsels of a father, which will never be obliterated from my heart.  Viscount de Langle had the goodness to join his also, which proved equally beneficial to me.   

Let me permitted in this place to pay my just tribute of gratitude to the faithful companion of the dangers and the glory of count de la Perouse, and his rival in every other court, as well as that of France, for having acted towards me, upon all occasions, as a counsellor, a friend, and a father. 

In the evening I was to take my leave of the commander and his worthy colleague.  Judge what I suffered, when I conducted them back to the boats that waited for them.  I was incapable of speaking, or of quitting them; they embraced me in turns, and my tears too plainly told them the situation of my mind.  The officers who were on shore, received also my adieux: they were affected, offered prayers to heaven for my safety, and gave me every consolation and succour that their friendship could dictate.  My regret at leaving them cannot be described; I was torn from their arms, and found myself in those of colonel Kasloff-Ougrenin, governor general of Okotsk and Kamtschatka, to whom count de la Perouse had recommended me, more as his son, than an officer charged with his dispatches. 

At this moment commenced my obligations to the Russian governor.  I knew not then all the sweetness of his character, incessantly disposed to acts of kindness, and which I have since had so many reasons to admire.  He treated my feelings with the utmost address.  I saw the tear of sympathy in his eye upon the departure of the boats, which we followed as far out as our sight would permit; and in conducting me to his house, he spared no pains to divert me from my melancholy reflections.  To conceive the frightful void which my mind experienced at this moment, it is necessary to be in my situation, and left alone in these scarcely discovered regions, four thousand leagues from my native land: without calculating this enormous distance, the dreary aspect of the country sufficiently prognositicated what I should have to suffer during my long and perilous route; but the reception which I met with from the inhabitants, and the civilities of M. Kasloff and the other Russian officers, made me by degrees less sensible to the departure of my countrymen. 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1790's, Eighteenth century, Explorations, Posted by Matthew Williams, Travel, Travel Literature

Item of the Day: Travels through Syria and Egypt (1805)

Full Title: Travels through Syria and Egypt, in the Years 1783, 1784, and 1785. Containing the Present Natural and Political State of those Countries, Their Productions, Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce; with Observations on the Manners, Customs, and Government of the Turks and Arabs. By M. C-F. Volney. Translated from the French, and illustrated with Copper-plates. The Third Edition. Vol. I. London: Printed for g. Robinson, Paternoster-Row, 1805.

STATE OF EGYPT.

CHAP. I.

Of Egypt in general, and the City of Alexandria.

IT is in vain that we attempt to prepare ourselves, by the perusal of books, for a more intimate acquaintance with the customs and manners of nations; the effect of narratives upon the mind, will always be very different from that of objects upon the senses. The images the former present, have neither correctness in the design, nor liveliness in the colouring; they are always indistinct, and leave but a fugitive impression, very easily effaced. This we more particularly experience, when we are strangers to the objects to be laid before us; for the imagination, in that case, finding no terms of comparison ready formed, is compelled to collect and compose new ideas; and, in this operation, ill directed and hastily executed, it is difficult not to confound the traits, and disfigure the forms. Ought we then to be astonished, if, on beholding the things themselves, we are unable to discover any resemblance between the originals and the copies, and if every impression bears the character of novelty?

Such is the situation of a stranger who arrives, by sea, in Turkey. In vain has he read histories and travels; in vain has he, from their descriptions, endeavoured to represent to himself the aspect of the countries, the appearance of the cities, the dresses and manners of the inhabitants: he is new to all these objects, and dazzled with their variety: every idea he has formed to himself vanishes, and he remains absorbed in surprise and astonishment.

No place is more proper to produce this effect, and prove the truth of this remark, than Alexandria, Egypt. The name of this city, which recalls to memory the genius of one of the most wonderful of men; the name of the country, which reminds us of so many great events; the picturesque appearance of the place itself; the spreading palm-trees; the terraced houses, which seem to have no roof; the lofty slender minarets; all announce to the traveller that he is in another world. A variety of novel objects present themselves to every sense; he hears a language whose barbarous sounds, and sharp guttural accents, offend his ear; he sees dresses of the most unusual and whimsical kind, and figures of the strangest appearance. Instead of our smooth shaved faces, our side curls, our triangular hats, and our short and close dresses; he views with astonishment tanned visages, with beards and mustachios; large rolls of stuff wreathed round their bald heads; long garments, which, reaching from the neck to the feet, serve rather to veil than clothe the body; pipes of six feet long, which every one is provided; hideous camels, which carry water in leathern sacks; and asses, saddled and bridled, which lightly trip along with their riders in sloppers: he observes their markets ill supplied with dates, and round flat little loaves; a filthy drove of half starved dogs roaming through the streets; and a kind of wandering phantoms, which, under a long drapery of a single piece, discover nothing human but two eyes, which show that they are women. Amid this crowd of unusual objects, his mind is incapable of reflexion; nor is it until he has reached his place of residence, so desirable on landing after a long voyage, that, becoming more calm, he reflects on the narrow ill paved streets; the low houses, which, though not calculated to admit much light, are still more obscured by lattice work; the meagre and swarthy inhabitants, who walk bare-footed, without other clothing than a blue shirt fastened with a leathern girdle, or a red handkerchief; while the universal marks of misery, so manifest in all he meets, and the mystery which reigns around their houses, point out to him the rapacity of oppression, and the distrust attendant upon slavery.

But his whole attention is soon attracted by those vast ruins which appear on the land side of the city. In our countries, ruins are an object of curiosity. Scarcely can we discover, in unfrequented places, some ancient castle, whose decay announces rather the desertion of its master, than the wretchedness of the neighbourhood: in Alexandria, on the contrary, we no sooner leave the New Town, than we are astonished at the sight of an immense extent of ground overspread with ruins. During a walk of two hours, you follow a double line of walls and towers, which form the circumference of the ancient Alexandria. The earth is covered with the remains of lofty buildings destroyed; whole fronts crumbled down, roofs fallen i, battlements decayed, and the stones corroded and disfigured by saltpetre [sic]. The traveller passes over a vast plain, firrowed with trenches, pierced with wells, divided by walls in ruins, covered over with ancient columns and modern tombs, amid palm-trees and nopals, and where no living creature is to be met with but owls, bats, and jackalls [sic]. The inhabitants, accustomed to this scene, behold it without emotion; but the stranger, in whom the recollection of ancient ages is revived by the novelty of the objects around him, feels a sensation which not unfrequently [sic] dissolves him in tears, inspiring relexions which fill his heart with sadness, while his soul is elevated by their sublimity. . . .

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1780's, Culture, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Travel, Travel Literature

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. . . .

 

Leave a comment

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