Saturday, 7 February 2009

Letters from Portugal

Letters from Portugal

Broughton, Samuel Daniel, 1787–1837. Letters from Portugal, Spain, & France: Written during the Campaigns of 1812, 1813, & 1814, Addressed to a Friend in England. Describing the Leading Features of the Provinces Passed through and the State of Society, Manners, Habits &c. of the People. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1815. [15F; 15Po; 15Sp]; [8°; pp. vi. 412]; [Corvey; NSTC]; [Bodl; BrL; NRLF].

Cockburn, George, Sir, General, 1763–1847. A Voyage to Cadiz and Gibraltar up the Mediterranean to Sicily and Malta, in 1810, & 11. Including a Description of Sicily and the Lipari Islands, and an Excursion in Portugal. 2 vols. London: J. Harding, 1815

Cumberland, George, 1754–1848. Views in Spain and Portugal Taken during the Campaigns of His Grace the Duke of Wellington, By George Cumberland, Jr., only 30 Copies Printed. [nL], [?1815]. [15Po; 15Sp]; [2°]; [Hammond; NSTC]; [BrL].

Keating, Maurice Bagenal St. Leger, ?–1835. Travels in Europe and Africa: Comprising a Journey through France, Spain, and Portugal to Morocco, with a Particular Account of that Empire; also a Second Tour through France in 1814, in which a Comparison Is Drawn between the Present and Former State of that Country and Its Inhabitants. 2 vols in 1. London: H. Colburn, 1816.

Norie, John William, 1772–1843. The New Mediterranean Pilot, Containing Sailing Directions for the Coasts of France, Spain, and Portugal, from Ushant to Gibraltar; also […] for Navigating the Various Coasts […] and Harbours in the Mediterranean Sea. London, 1817.

Landmann, George, Colonel, 1780–1854. Historical, Military, and Picturesque Observations on Portugal, Illustrated by Seventy-five Plates, Including Authentic Plans of the Sieges and Battles Fought in the Peninsula during the Late War. 2 vols. London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1818.

The European Tour, 1814–1818 (excluding Britain and Ireland)

Benjamin Colbert

In 1826, Mary Shelley recalled the Summer of 1814 as ‘incarnate romance’, when ‘a new generation’ of youthful travellers with ‘time and money at command’, yet heedless of ‘dirty packets and wretched inns’, ‘poured, in one vast stream, across the Pas de Calais into France’. [1] Though this first rush was interrupted by Napoleon’s return from Elba, Waterloo signalled the start of an even more frenzied exodus of patriot tourists, eager to comb the battlefield for souvenirs or survey the spoils of empire in the French capital, now under allied control. [2] It is estimated that some 15,512 British tourists and residents were present in Paris alone during 1815, [3] while, at home, accounts began appearing in print. By 1817, the Edinburgh Review commented:

The restoration of peace has, as might have been foreseen, produced a vast number of Books of Travels. When our countrymen are pouring in swarms over every part of the Continent, carrying with them their sons fresh from College, and their daughters full of romance, and eager for composition—when countries which, two or three years ago, were wholly locked up from our inspection, or only accessible to persons of a more than ordinarily adventurous spirit, now lie as invitingly open to the sober citizen and his worthy family, as Margate or Brighton, it could not but follow that the press should groan with many a Tour—much Travel—and sundry masses of Letters that never paid postage. [4]
John Scott, editor of The Champion Magazine, whose A Visit to Paris in 1814: Being a Review of the Moral, Political, Intellectual and Social Condition of the French Capital (1815) quickly sold out five editions, argued that the English were distinguished by a ‘travelling propensity’, giving mobile expression to ‘a freedom and custom, as well as a power to think’. [5] Like other self-congratulatory travel books published in those early years, Scott’s celebrates the English tourist’s observing eye, penetrating, sifting, connecting, and calling attention to itself and its own hermeneutic virtuosity (in pointed contrast to French theatricality and love of surfaces that Scott observes everywhere in Paris ). According to Scott, this propensity explains why ‘the literature of Britain is richer than that of all other nations put together, in narratives of those excursions, that have had no other object but to gratify an elastic spirit […]. Our book-shelves groan with the travels of persons who have suddenly arisen from almost every class and profession of life, to go their ways into almost every other country, as well as into every parish of their own’. [6]

Not everyone was so sanguine about this reputed Malthusian increase of travellers and travel writers, especially those originating from every, or any ‘class and profession’, not to mention gender. A reviewer of Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley’s anonymous account of their continental pedestrian tours, History of a Six Weeks’ Tour (1817), lamented the demise of class certainties encoded in the eighteenth-century Grand Tour: ‘The dashing milords of the last age are now succeeded by a host of roturiers, who expatriate themselves for the sake of economy’. [7] William Jerdan wrote a cautionary roman-à-clef, aptly entitled Six Weeks’ in Paris; or, A Cure for the Gallomania (1817), arguing that the weak-minded and unwary could easily be drawn into a vortex of vice, tolerated by French moral passivity yet fatal to English ingenuousness. In Jerdan’s novel and other travel accounts of Paris, the Palais Royal embodies this fascinating, yet dissipating attraction—Edward Planta’s otherwise factual tone in his guidebook, A New Picture of Paris (1814), erupts into admonitions that the Palais Royal comprised ‘a little world […] every thing to inform the understanding, and every thing to corrupt the heart’. [8] The Reverend John Wilson Cunningham’s Cautions to Continental Travellers (1818) cries out against the travelling vogue as both a drain on the British economy and, more crucially, the means of undermining English national character through the importation of French manners, habits, and scepticism. Cunningham estimates that upwards of 90,000 men and women had departed England for continental destinations since 1814, induced by a vague desire to participate in the ‘advantages of travel’ ‘blazoned in volumes of all sizes and complexions […] traced in ink, sketched in mezzotinto […] painted in every hue’. [9] While Scott celebrated the travelling propensity of all classes, Cunningham urged that there was cause for alarm; the expanding profile of travellers ‘most susceptible’ to ‘new impressions’ include the indolent, the young, females, and ‘the subordinate classes of society’ (even the ‘middling classes’ might ‘transplant to the desk and the counting-house’ the ‘empty heads, and hollow hearts, and sceptical opinions’ that caused the excesses of the French Revolution). [10] The motives for travel, Cunningham argued, were no longer sufficiently serious, the moral and social consequences potentially devastating.

Taken together, such anecdotal accounts give the picture of a new continental travelling vogue, with groaning presses adding ever more titles to bookshelves already groaning under the weight of British travel writing. We might plausibly expect a spike in the proportion of new travel writings that concern continental destinations, with a disproportionate emphasis on the Low Countries and France in the aftermath of Waterloo; that author profiles might begin to reflect the class and gender diversity which so exercised commentators; or at least that travel writings would register growing awareness of the exigencies and pressures of mass tourism. Yet contemporary commentary raises as many questions as it purports to answer. What proportion of total book production can be accounted for by travel writing, and of this how much is comprised of continental tours (as opposed to domestic tours or accounts of other world regions)? Are there concentrations in or patterns of regional coverage? How popular is travel writing in comparison to other literary genres (and what is meant by ‘travel writing’ in the first place)? What sub-genres are there (e.g. letters, journals and diaries; agricultural, picturesque, geological tours) and what were the bestsellers? Who were the travel writers, and from what specific classes and professions do they ‘suddenly arise’? Who were the Chatwins and Rabans of the day, professional travel writers known as masters of the craft, as opposed to those whose productions in the genre were opportunistic or ephemeral? How much of an impact did translation have in the home marketplace; what titles were selected, by whom, and why? Who were the publishers of travel writing, and how did their lists respond to social trends and political events?

The burgeoning scholarship on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century travel writing has drawn attention to selected travel writers, genres, and the rhetorical structures of travel writing, while providing social, cultural, and political contexts for understanding the production of this work, but criticism remains sketchy on the bibliographical and statistical evidence that underpins ‘travel culture’. [11] As Nigel Leask has recently observed, ‘the popularity of travel books during the decades [from 1770 to 1840], although universally acknowledged, is hard to quantify’. [12] Charles L. Batten’s claim that travel writing ‘won a readership second only to novels by the end of the [eighteenth] century’, according to Leask, ‘seems credible’, though Batten’s conclusions are based on compelling anecdotal evidence (especially the comments of reviewers) and extrapolations from Paul Kaufman’s report on borrowing figures from the Bristol Library between 1773 and 1784. [13] Published bibliographical evidence is scanty and often inaccurate. Edward G. Cox’s A Reference Guide to the Literature of Travel (3 vols, 1935–49) remains the most comprehensive travel bibliography available, though one that antedates the powerful search engines provided by such electronic resources as the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC), the Nineteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue (NSTC), and the OCLS WorldCat on-line database. Cox gives a fair representation of travel-related books published in English since the dawn of printing, as well as many helpful textual annotations, yet his volume on Europe stops at 1800, his regional categories are often too inclusive for specialised use, nearly all his entries lack imprint details, and there are many errors and omissions. The third volume, devoted solely to Great Britain , neglects Ireland altogether. Travel bibliographers since Cox have focused on special topics, usually regional in focus. The best of these include Shirley Weber’s Voyages and Travels in Greece, the Near East and Adjacent Regions Made Previous to the Year 1801 (1953), Richard Sydney Pine-Coffin’s Bibliography of British and American Travel in Italy to 1860 (1974), and Peter Bicknell’s The Picturesque Scenery of the Lake District, 1752–1855 (1990). While adding pieces to the jigsaw, these studies cannot possibly provide a cumulative overview of travel writing trends. More promising is the catalogue accompanying the Corvey microfiche edition of travel writing, English Travel Literature in the Micro-Edition of the Fürstlichen Bibliothek Corvey (1998), though this listing reflects the strengths and weaknesses of the Corvey Library itself, a collection concentrated on the 1820s and early 1830s.

The checklist of ‘The European Tour, 1814–1818 (Excluding Britain and Ireland)’, presented here, offers for the first time a reasonably complete listing of all travel-related books concerning the continental tour, published in the British Isles between 1814 and 1818 (the only exceptions being books published in English abroad, but intended for British tourists). Comprising 180 first editions arranged by publication date, this bibliography can provide foundations from which to test the anecdotal information quoted above and can go some way towards answering the supplemental questions that I have posed. The checklist is drawn from a larger project now some ten years in development, Bibliography of British Travel Writing, 1780–1840 (BBTW), the identification phase of which is nearing completion. BBTW aims to provide the first reliable database of all travel books published in the British Isles during the years 1780–1840, with functions for categorising entries by author, chronology, regional coverage, publisher, and place of publication. BBTW will also include short biographical notices on each of its authors, together comprising a complementary database: A Biographical Dictionary of British Travel Writers and Translators, 1780–1840. The only other specialist dictionary of this kind is British Travel Writers, 1837–1875 (Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 166, 1997), with only three years of overlap. The aims and scope of the Biographical Dictionary are also different from the Encyclopedia of Travel and Exploration (3 vols, 2003), which concentrates on the best-known travellers and incorporates others into regional articles. Only about one hundred of the 2,260 authors identified by BBTW so far are given separate entries in the Encyclopedia, and these do not always include the period’s most successful writers.

Travel writing is notoriously difficult to define: Mary Campbell calls it ‘a genre composed of other genres’, while Jan Borm has more recently concluded that ‘it is not a genre, but a collective term for a variety of texts both predominantly fictional and non-fictional whose main theme is travel’. [14] Drawing on Hans Robert Jauss’s ideas about ‘dominant aspects’ of mixed genres, Borm goes on to define the travel book as ‘any narrative characterized by a non-fiction dominant that relates (almost always) in the first person a journey or journeys that the reader supposes to have taken place in reality while assuming or presupposing that author, narrator and principal character are but one or identical’. [15] While the majority of books in the present checklist, and in BBTW as a whole, conform to and confirm this definition, a great many titles have been included in which actual travel is presented in the third person (e.g. guidebooks and traveller’s aids) or organised in non-narrative forms (e.g. essays and viewbooks). I have also focused on non-fictional travel prose, excluding fictional works (e.g. Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage) and non-fictional travel verse (e.g. Moore’s Italy), though works like these form integral components for our understanding of the period’s culture of travel and were sometimes used as travel guides themselves. For the purposes of selecting titles for inspection, then, I have used the following criteria (listed in order of importance):

First-hand accounts of actual travels or residences abroad, including translations, new editions of older material, campaign journals, and shipwreck, castaway, and captivity narratives.
Travellers’ aids, including itineraries, guidebooks, ‘companions’, road manuals, regional descriptions, and atlases (when accompanied by letterpress).
Collections, anthologies, digests, abridgements, and histories of travel and exploration, including travel compendiums designed for children, and biographies of travellers.
View books (collections of engravings and etchings accompanied by letterpress).
‘Virtual’ tour books accompanying panoramas and exhibitions.
The Identification/Location phase of BBTW involves the identification and location of all possible titles, printings, and editions, ascertaining as much information as possible through secondary sources, principally the ESTC and NSTC, but supplemented by existing bibliographies, library databases, listings and reviews in periodicals, circulating library catalogues, and stack searches (thirteen titles derived from these sources but not in the NSTC appear in the checklist below). To date, the BBTW database contains 2,260 author entries, 3,742 title entries (i.e. first editions), and 5,811 text entries (i.e. inclusive of all editions and reprints). The next phase of the project will be to inspect each title entry in order to transcribe accurately the title page and imprint, and gather information on physical description and general content, particularly regional coverage. Non-extant entries will be corroborated against other secondary sources, such as circulating library catalogues, to prevent the inclusion of ghost titles.

The current checklist suggests a number of intriguing statistics when placed in the context of total travel book production in the years 1813–18 (see Table 1). As might be expected from contemporary commentary, there is a spike in book production for all regions (including extra-European travels) from a total of 61 in 1813 to 88 in 1814. Thereafter, total production continues evenly until 1817–18 when there is a second rise from 92 to 137. Surprisingly, the figure for books on continental travel (excluding Britain and Ireland ) actually declines slightly between 1814 and 1817 with only a modest recovery in 1818. During the same period titles concerning Britain and Ireland slowly but steadily increase their market share, and the spike in overall production registered in 1818 is largely accounted for by the dramatic increase in domestic and Irish titles from 37 in 1817 to 64 in 1818, and by a sharp increase of titles on extra-European regions from 24 to 39 (compare this to the very modest recovery of continental travels from 31 to 34, still substantially below the figures of 42 and 40 for 1814 and 1815 respectively). Thus, there is remarkable consistency in the period covered by the checklist in terms of the market share of travel writings when taken as a whole and when taken as a sub-unit measure of European travel writing including Britain and Ireland . Taken separately, however, the decreasing market share of continental travel books belies the impression among reviewers and travel writers that the opposite was the case. The reasons for this counter-intuitive result require more investigation. Perhaps there is some truth to one reviewer’s claim in 1821 that travellers ‘sent forth […] with the design of recording their adventures’ rarely ‘deviated from the most frequented routes’: ‘We hardly, indeed, can recollect above two or three who have written upon any thing beyond the limits of the Grand Tour’. [16] With travel writers (and readers) interested most in the remnants of the Grand Tour, we might expect a glut of writings on the most fashionable destinations, but correspondingly less emphasis on peripheral regions to take up the slack. As for the steady increase after 1814 of domestic and Irish travel books, we might surmise that increasing travel was partly a result of post-war economic reorganisation, or perhaps that foreign travel spurred the taste for travel closer to home, either from those who could not afford more distant destinations or those who returned from their experiences abroad reinvigorated with the urge to journey.

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