Edwards, Henry, of Pye Nest, York. [MS] Travels to South America. 1827-1830 [app

Edwards, Henry, of Pye Nest, York. [MS] Travels to South America. 1827-1830 [app

8vo. 70pp. Approximately 20,250 words in an eminently legible miniscule hand. Bound in scuffed
red straight grain morocco, worn to spine and extremities, nevertheless strong and tight. Marbled
endpapers, Benson bookplate to front pastedown. Internally clean. Text occupies just over one third
of the notebook. An occasionally charming, often informative account of a journey in 1827 from
Falmouth aboard the HMS Frolic to Rio via Madeira, St. Vincent and what is now Salvador, before
the journey continues to Montevideo via Buenos Aires (HMS Hope), then Santiago, Valparaiso, La
Paz and Lima, rather a gruelling and inclusive series of voyages, ferry, coach and horseback
journeys across early 19th century South America. All the more surprising is the fact that at the time
of writing, Henry was 15 years of age, and had never left home before, (the volume has been
written up from notes later, it's very...assured, and large sections of time are dispensed with very
summarily) and travelling in the company of his elder brother John, who would have been 22 at the
time. Whilst it is true that still taking your laundry home from a college 10 miles distant is a fairly
modern pastime, the idea of embarking on a voyage of many months, if not years, at sea and
overland at the age of 15 would probably give many of us pause. Not Henry though, he is ostensibly
touring the family estates (including 12,000 head of cattle at Estancia in Brazil, where Henry
encountered Gauchos “The most Contented and Hardiest men in the World...” and was present for
the overthrow by military coup of Bolivar follower Manuel Dorrego, and includes an account of
Dorrego's escape into the countryside with his brother before his eventual capture and
execution...Dorrego's fall from grace was engendered at least partly by acceding to British
diplomatic control of the region.), inspecting commercial ventures, observing the techniques of
bolas hunting, getting kicked by a horse, losing a chunk of his cheek and several teeth in the
process, encountering a beautiful lady in an inn in Valparaiso who had cut her husbands throat, and
was on the lam to Santiago, and inviting her to share “a pretty strong glass of brandy and water.” (I
want HER diaries). Henry is quite taken with her, and this is a recurring theme with our narrator as he rampages acrossSouth America. His first order of business upon arrival anywhere is to seek out the “company ofyoung ladies”, apparently before he has eaten or washed; in Buenos Aires he makes note of headingdown to the Mole to “look at the fair sex”, he goes to dances and recounts “Very pleasant days withthose sweet little creatures.”, spies on women bathing in the sea (Bruh!) and recounts that he hasseveral times experienced “good fun getting unperceived amongst young damsels” at their bathing.On another occasion he rather excitedly recounts cutting open the dress and stays of a lady who hasfainted at a ball. Henry needs to check his privilege. Despite being something of a late Georgian fratbro where women are concerned; from a historical perspective Henry puts in the hours during his20,000 words, he recounts the Brazilian blockade of Buenos Aires (and its affect upon business), theDorrego affair, the experience of getting smallpox in Bolivia, being cheated in La Paz andencounters with the dignitaries, greater and lesser of the various regions he visits, there is also anoticeable amount of shipping information, which vessels plied which routes under which flags.Eventually Henry became a Baronet, a notable Member of Parliament and settled down with aChurchill; there's no doubt though, that Henry Edwards was once possessed of youth, and travelledSouth America looking for a place to misspend it. Fascinating, amusing and confounding by turns,occasionally puts one in mind of Harry Flashman on a school trip.


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