[MS] Journal of a Tour through France and Italy, by an Officer stationed with We
[MS] Journal of a Tour through France and Italy, by an Officer stationed with Wellington’s Army of Occupation at St. Pol, Pas de Calais, 1817.
8vo. 144pp. Bound in Full contemporary vellum. Somewhat soiled and scuffed, but solid and handsome. Edges marbled; in an eminently legible if somewhat miniscule hand. The author embarking on his post war Grand Tour, clearly a long cherished desire, displays the characteristic preoccupations of many of his contemporaries; a fetishisation of the bygone classical age still residually represented in many French and Italian towns, a tendency to be transported to lengthy quotation by striking views, an obsession with dirty streets, and a positive mania for commenting on how much everything costs. The hallmarks of a half pay British officer in the midst of a rather dull peace. Clearly an admirer of classical architecture, he makes careful note of remaining classical elements in towns like Avignon and Lyon (“The town of Lyon is by no means handsome. The houses are much crowded and the streets narrow, and dirtier if possible than those of Paris”), and appears very much more affectionate towards what was there, rather than what is. He is nevertheless much struck by the wonders of Florence as he travels towards what his conspicuous classical education clearly regards as the ultimate destination; the city of Rome. In a rather pleasing exhibition of mingled scholarship and military professionalism he spends a lot of time discussing the historical strategic qualities and shortfalls of many of his stopping points. Erudite, vigorous and detailed.