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Emily Sowden travel diary

Distant Views - Travel Diaries

I did not know till night that in the middle of the day a storm from the S.W. had
been fully expected. I was at that time asleep on the sofa, or I should been much
interested by the information, for a storm is what I have ever been anxious to see.
- Emily Shore (at Sea), 1838

Travel affords the diarist perspective to compare what is familiar and old with all that is different and new in experience and landscape. It often takes an outsider to observe, by such contrast, what is distinctively characteristic of a particular place. And because the ordinary is often overlooked by native inhabitants, the foreigner's account is often the most vivid recollection of what happened in a particular place or time. George Gray's "Voyage to China and Back" is an entertaining and informative narrative based on deliberate observations. It also reveals much about Gray and the nineteenth-century Yankee perspective with which he viewed China. J.C. Welsh and Arthur Darley also leave tales of travel progress and hardships which say something about their individual personalities and abilities to endure what is different.

The experience of the foreigner abroad in Europe in the nineteenth century yields particularly interesting diaries. Some tourists, such as American student William Ingrahm, American honeymooner Harriet Crothers, and Englishman Walter Pepys undertook "grand tours," seeing the great cultural monuments of their western civilization. The young Selina Washburn dutifully saw the sites but was most enthused about her trip as a bonnet-buying spree, and Louis Billing may have been the precursor of the ugly American. With arrogant interruptions, he made a habit of correcting tour guides in cathedrals in England. Many travel diaries are kept as memory aids for future recollections of enjoyable trips. The veteran foreign outsider, Paul Bowles, specifically made his 1966 trip to Thailand to observe and research for a writing project.

Emily Shore Journal Emily Shore, 1819-1839.
Journal [Vol. XII] December 16, 1838 - June 24, 1839.
1 volume (189 pp.)
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs

The twelfth and final volume of Emily Shore's diary begins on board the David Lyon, to Madeira: "Ill health has been the cause of almost all the rambles and travels of my short life, though they have hitherto extended little beyond the English shores; and the same is the case now also." Emily Shore, the prodigious (unpublished during her lifetime) writer and well-tutored daughter of a clergyman who taught and wrote educational works, was dying of consumption when she undertook this final voyage. Though she experienced some homesickness for England and suffered bouts of melancholy about her health, Shore's observations of new landscapes, people, and customs express her brilliantly inquisitive personality. As she becomes weaker and less active in March 1839, she complains "it is disagreeable to have one's intellect unexercised." Emily Shore broke a blood vessel on May 18, and knew at that point that her end was near. Her neat schoolgirl hand (so similar to that of the Brontes) deteriorates poignantly on June 24, only days before her death on July 7 at age nineteen.

Emily Shore's sisters published excerpts from her diaries in 1891, and a second edition appeared in 1898. Barbara Gates edited a centenary edition of the Journal of Emily Shore (University Press of Virginia, 1991) but volumes 7 and 12, both acquired by the University of Delaware Library since then, were not included in that project.

J.C. Welsh.
Journal, February 13, 1817 - May 5, 1819.
unbound leaves (133 pp.)
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs

J.C. Welsh's journal bears witness to the hardships of travel and the difficulties of being away from home. He and his father's departure from Boston on board the brig Halifax was delayed by ice, and they were violently ill throughout their sea voyage to Demerara, British Guyana, where they were destined to settle legal business. Once there, the coffee they consumed, served strong by Demerarean custom, was no easier upon their bowels, and they were constantly sick with headaches and other ailments. But their greatest trial in Demerara was the anxiety of "obstacles, disappointments, and delays" as they sought to settle the Lincoln estate in the Orphans Chamber. Welsh agonized over the "mud of the law," and as their legal entanglements dragged into a second year, prayed to God for grace to endure, but truly longed for nothing more than to "get away from this terrible place."

Demerara proved a cultural challenge as well. The Welshes boarded with missionaries, but found neither Mr. nor Mrs. Elliot took their sermons to heart. Welsh desired not to drink as much as his hosts, and pitied the "vassals of Satan" who partook of the races and balls which were common social events in Demerara. He was ashamed of Mrs. Elliot's treatment of her eight-year-old servant, horrified at the whipping of a runaway slave, remarked on the sale of a family with nine children for $15,000, and was particularly disturbed when he, as a white man, was the cause of a Creole's eviction from a church pew. Welsh arrived home in Boston on April 20, 1819, grateful to his Lord for his Yankee privileges.

Arthur Darley.
Journal, Captain Arthur Darley, R.N., 1842; January 1, 1842 - February 3, 1843.
1 volume (129 pp.)
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs

Captain Darley kept this journal on board the HMS Electra while serving in the West Indies and visiting Gulf ports. Though he reports weather, latitude, and longitude, the journal is a very personal account of official duties, fishing, life aboard ship, and aspects of ports visited including Bermuda, Jamaica, Honduras, Colombia, Havana, and Galveston, Texas.

Harriet S. Crothers.
Journal, August 18 - November 22, 1846.
1 volume (187 pp.)
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs

Harriet Crothers, apparently from Philadelphia, kept this detailed travel diary on a honeymoon tour of continental Europe with her "dear husband Willy." Their full travel itinerary included most major cities in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and Czechoslovakia. Crothers' lengthy daily entries reflect typical tourist activities such as visiting churches, galleries, and museums; but her accounts are rich with details including music heard, paintings seen, local histories summarized, plants and flowers described, clothes worn, and transportation used. In Baedeker-like detail, she regularly quotes dates, dimensions, populations, and distances.

William A. [Ingrahm?].
Diary of European Travel, March 15 - June 17, 1853.
1 volume (73 pp.)
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs

After a season of study in Heidelberg, William A. Ingrahm traveled in "bachelor society" with his friend John P.V. through Germany, Switzerland, and France for an extended visit to Italy, after which they returned via Austria to Germany. A month was spent in Rome, including Holy Week at the Vatican, with other stops in Naples, Florence, Bologna, Padua, Venice, etc. With only occasional distractions by notice of pretty women, Ingrahm filled his diary with detailed observations of landscapes, churches, scenic ruins, art galleries and museums, as well as characterizations of citizens of each locale. He was a dutiful traveler, conscientiously including sculptor's studios, a visit to Shelley's grave, and return trips to sites which most inspired him. Ingrahm's entries are historically thorough and often wry in summation.

Ingrahm noted in April that he had heard from home -- a veto of his "plans which were very well laid" to see Germany, the Low Countries, and England that fall, and a winter in Berlin "hearing law lectures, reading German, and studying French," followed by a final two months in the spring in Paris. Ingrahm's diary record supports his plaint that "I would not have been idle all this time but would have worked harder than I shall do at home."

Selina C. Washburn.
Diary, August 5 - October 13, 1854.
1 volume (84 pp.)
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs

Selina Washburn kept this diary when she accompanied her sister Sarah and their father, Cyrus Washburn, on a business trip from Boston to London and Paris. They were joined by another father, Captain Gardner, also traveling with his two daughters. Nearly five weeks were spent in crossing the Atlantic and once abroad, the young ladies occupied themselves with sightseeing and shopping. Upon arriving in Liverpool, from whence they sailed for home, tragedy struck when it was discovered that one of their trunks had been lost -- the one with the bonnets purchased in Paris.

Sarah Marks Stockton.
Diary, October 20, 1858 - August 26, 1859; June 21, 1860.
1 volume (184 pp.)
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs

Sarah Stockton's husband, John Potter Stockton, served as United States minister to the Papal States from 1858-1861. With a tourist's eye, Sara Stockton records her family's travel progress through Milano, Genoa, Pisa, and Florence before arrival at their post in Rome. Her accounts are detailed descriptions of walks through markets, visits to cathedrals, and museums. Once settled in Rome, her entries describe social calls and events, and developing friendships with several Italian princesses. Stockton was particularly fond of the Duchess de Poli and Cardinal Antonelli, whose jewels she admired. "What a pity he cannot marry and adorn his wife with his beautiful jewels." Stockton was equally impressed with the "truly magnificent diamonds" worn by the Queen of Spain and other women at the grand balls she attended.

Louis [Billing?].
Diary, August 24, 1865 - March 14, 1866.
1 volume (69 pp.)
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs

Louis [Billing?] departed from Philadelphia for New York, from whence he sailed on the steamship Scotland to Liverpool. In England, he traveled to Gloucester where he stayed with the family of his cousin William Mansell and other Billing relatives. Several short trips were taken over the year to Warwick, Stratford-on-Avon, London, Birmingham, Worcester, etc., before spending January and February of 1866 in France. Billing commented (often with arrogance) on relatives and his ancestral history, described architecture and cathedrals, and made strongly patriotic comparisons between England and America. A veteran of the Union Army, he mentioned English interest in the politics of abolition.

Gray's Voyage to China George Arthur Gray.
To China & Back, being a Journal of what occurred on board of the Barque Dorchester on the passage out, also giving an account of the manners and customs of the Chinese. A Description of the country, cities, &c. and the return passage on board Barque Nabob, a period of three years 1 month; March 29, 1863 - April 15, 1866.
4 volumes
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs

Gray's Journal The Chinese language... Chapter Six: Opium
Gray's title neatly summarizes his travel narrative, an illustrated two-volume journal which he hoped to publish. The four volumes here include a daily diary and two later narrative versions which were based on the diary. The title page of one of these volumes includes the intended publisher: Lee & Shepard of Boston. The Dorchester sailed around the Cape of Good Hope and carried a cargo of boxes, bales, lumber, coal, pickles, crackers, a cabinet-organ, and tea. Once in China, both ships on which Gray served traded goods such as sugar, preserved ginger, root licorice, stick cinnamon, and paper between several Chinese ports. Gray worked as captain's boy, seaman, steward, and boatswain on the ships. His nineteenth-century perspective on foot binding, opium smoking, and "bogus good work" of missionaries reveals as much about his Yankee self as it does about China. What Gray has to say about the life of a seaman is as interesting as his cultural commentary. A mutiny was attempted on the Dorchester on the way to China, he gained ownership of the steward's pet monkey by default of showing kindness to the animal, and trips made by the Nabob were through the pirate-infested waters of the Simoon Pass. Gray's departure from China was delayed because there were no homeward-bound American vessels "for fear of being taken by the Alabama, Florida, and other confederate privateers." When he finally returned home to Boston, he enjoyed the fun of not being immediately recognizable to his family.

Walter Courtenay Pepys, 1840-1914.
Diary, December 31, 1866 - January 13, 1868.
1 volume (118 pp.)
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs

Twenty-six-year-old Pepys traveled in bachelor company to Monaco and Italy before returning to London and a second departure for the Continent. His travels were recreational, visiting cathedrals and art galleries, climbing for views, and attending the ballet and races. Pepys' brief entries cover his daily agendas but also provide a glimpse of an impatient personality when he was overcharged by a landlord, nearly robbed, and showered with confetti by an Italian merry-maker. Pepys had deeply appreciative responses to paintings and he was fond of walks. On an outing to see Mt. Vesuvius, he remarked on the beautiful color of the "yellow sulphanated lava in the crater." Just before his birthday in November, a friend proposed a trip to Algeria, and Pepys decided "I rather take to it." But as it turned out, eating "white koos koos" while watching a scorpion-eating exhibition at an Arab-fete was perhaps too exotic for Pepys. His memoranda of "proposed trip for 1867" included more cities in Italy, as well as Switzerland, Austria, and Germany.

Ethel Carothers Ethel G. Carothers.
Diary, March 17, 1895 - January 1, 1897.
2 volumes
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs

Young American Ethel Carothers' diary reads like an Edith Wharton novel. She kept these two volumes while living with her mother and sisters Margie and Enid in Dresden. Carothers studied piano and took German lessons, but her main occupation was flirtation and amusement with a sizeable group of young adults, approximately eighteen to twenty-two years in age. Mrs. Carothers encouraged her daughters in their little romances, and entertained their circle of friends at home. Their parlor games included tableaux vivants, singing and music, dancing, word games ("new door, make one word out of it [one word]"), and euchre. They read "trashy" novels like Double Love and Only an Actress, and even church attendance became a social affair as they craned their necks to see who was there and what they were wearing. Carothers' own favorite costume was her "pink and grey."

Grand Hotel, Paris Emily Sowden.
Journals, 1933-1936, 1939.
2 volumes
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs

American Emily Sowden's travel diaries are itineraries with commentary, beautifully supplemented with postcards, photographs, small maps, and plant specimens. After a 1933 motor trip through Spain, Sowden traveled to Paris before returning to America. Her 1936 trip to Brittany and Normandy, touring with a group booked through the Bureau of University Travel, included return on the elegant steamer Normandie. A domestic excursion of 1935 included a train trip aboard the Asheville Limited to tour Pisgah National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In the mountains, she was driven up Mt. Mitchell in a Packard. In 1939, Sowden visited Charleston, South Carolina, and went on the Garden Tour of Historic Virginia. Plant specimens in the diaries include cypress from France, Galax leaves from Appalachia, and Spanish moss from South Carolina.

Smokey Mountains National Park

It's a calculated risk... Paul Bowles, 1910- .
Notes taken in Thailand [1966]
1 volume (100 pp.)
from Paul Bowles papers

The travel notes taken in Thailand were used by American composer and author Paul Bowles for "At the Krungthep Plaza," later published in Ontario Review (Princeton, Fall-Winter, 1980-1981). As an American expatriate living in Tangier who is visiting Bangkok, Bowles has a uniquely comparative viewpoint. His observations are efforts to characterize the people who live in Thailand and at the same time, to understand the situation of the foreigner. Restaurants...

Considering self works Creating self works Living & learning Domestic diaries
Business & adventure War diaries Keepsakes Word & deed
Inner journeys Travel diaries Professional writers Avocational efforts

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