[Anon]. [Manuscript] One Month’s Tour thro Parts of The North of Ireland
...and Among the Scotch lakes in Aug.t 1836 By a Party consisting of a Man and His Wife who deserted their Children; A man in Love; A married woman who absconded from the Husband, and a Young Lady in search of one.1836.
8vo. 228pp. Contemporary brown diced calf, gilt to spine, twin brown title labels from which the gilt has either worn completely or was never actually present (oddly may have been titled in blind, which is a bold choice). Minor scuffing and edgewear, rubbed to front board and extremities, strong and durable, retaining a certain roguish charm. Marbled endpapers with Benson label to front pastedown, internally clean, sharp and in a legible hand. Clearly a tongue in cheek, rather picaresque exploit if the title is anything to go by, not to mention the opening passages: “The misfortunes and disappointments of some folk often contribute to the benefit or amusement others, however unintentional it may be on their part to draw their pleasures from such a source; an illustration of which I am now about to give, commenced in a disappointed love and ending in an agreeable tour to the Giant’s Causeway and the Scotch Lakes...”
It starts with doomed love and ends with basaltic expanses of natural wonder. I am in, and awaiting eagerly the movie with Colin Firth. The tone of the narrative is fairly rollicking, with a good deal of detail regarding the natives of various places visited, including the perils of travelling by Post coach in Donegal “In addition to the whips, we derived considerable benefit from the alternate assistance of the Post Office Inspector and guard, who belaboured the unfortunate horses from the ground with a stick to keep them from backing at the least ascent, and more than once saved us from an upset.” The perils in this case mostly being visited upon the poor horses. Chapters (the volume was clearly written with an eye to posterity and future entertainment) are headed with locations “Giant’s Causeway”, “Glasgow” etc. and beyond the pastoral observations there’s also some early 19th century industrial archaeology with a visit to a steam powered manufactory for tamboured muslins and cotton products which holds our intrepid travellers (possibly not the young lady in search of a husband) in rapt admiration: “One is at a loss which to admire most, the precision of the various machineries and their adaptation to the work they are designed for, or the mighty power of steam which puts them in operation. If they give the means of support to hundreds, it must be remembered they do the work of thousands.” This submersion into the dark, satanic mills is followed by a refreshing visit to Cooke’s Equestrian Exhibition and a musing on the fact that Glasgow has apparently grown more rapidly and successfully than any other city in the British Empire (capitals our author’s own) in recent years. Many of the anecdotes are informed and factually detailed, whilst also being somewhat comic in their delivery, or at least light-hearted. A rather choreographed, rollicking piece of memoir, somewhat distant from the usual tone and displaying an apparently vibrant and flourishing part of Britain to good effect.