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Journal of a Continental Tour through France...

 
Journal of a Continental Tour through France... by FITZCLARENCE, Frederick - Frederic [August Schlegel] (1835)

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Author: FITZCLARENCE, Frederick - Frederic [August Schlegel]
Title: Journal of a Continental Tour through France, Belgium, Prussia, Germany, Savoy and Switzerland
 
Year: 1835
Publisher: Unpublished
Place: France, Belgium, Prussia, Switzerland, Savoy
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: No
 
Price: £2000
 
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pp 76 Illustrated Grand Tour journal written by the illegitimate son of the reigning British monarch, William IV, which includes a near-death experience in a carriage crash and an escorted tour around Bonn University by August Wilhelm Schlegel. FitzClarence wrote in a small quarto notebook which was recently discovered concealed within its loose paper cover in the attic of a house in Kent. The journal is illustrated with a dozen miniature pen and wash sketches - many of soldiers - and three naively imposing full page sketches which include a vivid rendering of FitzClarence's carriage plummeting over a precipice in the Valley of Munster and a jolly image of a Regency walking tour in the Alps near Geneva. Additionally there are around 30 small engravings and lithographs tipped in. The paper stock is browned and early leaves show wear and soiling to page edges. There is no binding to the manuscript whose gatherings retain their sewing but are nearly detached one from another. FitzClarence's status as an illegitimate son of a reigning monarch (William IV and his mistress Dorothea Jordan) and his military career in the Coldstream Guards give this journal a particular piquancy with the writer in a constant state of curiosity about the garrisons and defensibility of European cities. Writing on the verso of the first leaf, FitzClarence promises a:'Journal of a Continental Tour through France, Belgium, Prussia, Germany, Savoy and Switzerland in the Summer of 1835 by the Hon.ble Frederick FitzClarence F.R.S. & A.S.S. of Several British & Foreign Literary Institutions xxxx (to be) Printed by John Murray Albemarle St. London 1836' - there is no record of such a publication, putative or otherwise. (The author's older brother George may have inspired Frederick FitzClarence's ambition with his own publication of his Journal of a route across India, through Egypt to England in 1818.) The journal is a contemporary diary of events written day by day, beginning with the Channel crossing and proceeding quickly through Calais and into the low countries via Aix La Chapelle, Cologne and onto Bonn where FitzClarence toured the university in the company of August Schlegel on June 30th 1835: 'Professor Schlegel... a very celebrated man in Oriental learning' who clearly lectured FitzClarence on religious tolerance and the range and quality of German universities: 'there are 60 Professor and it has been established only 17 years, that is to say since the French were driven out and the Prussians got possession of the Country. There are many Colleges in Germany and this one of the principal. Both the Catholic and Protestants are tolerated...' Continuing via Andernacht, Koblenz, Swalbach, Vesebaden - Wiesbaden - Carlsrugh and Basel, FitzClarence reached the Valley of Munster in modern-day Alsace where 'By the negligence of the Driver he drove the Carriage over a precipice... the carriage having completely turned over and we had all a very narrow escape... The Courier and Jane May were seriously hurt - but otherwise no great damage. The Carriage was greatly injured but having returned to this place we got into an Inn and had the Carriage repaired.' FitzClarence illustrates this incident with a naive but effective full page sketch of the 'Munster Upset in the valley of that Ilk'. Crossing the Jura via Neufchatel FitzClarence tries to convey the grandeur of the Alps and spectacular views of Mont Blanc: 'the early sun showed the form of the Mountain by throwing strong shadows and made clear the inclined ridge which Mr Saussure the Geologist, went up to reach the summit in the year 1785. [Saussure actually made the 3rd successful ascent of Mont Blanc the following year] Reaching the top is very dangerous for there are often precipices and holes covered with snow, which they are likely to fall into, unless they feel the way first with long Poles - He took up with him 18 guides some carrying possessions... they also tie themselves together with ropes...' In Geneva FitzClarence reports on an artifical panorama that he viewed which showed Switzerland in relief and a climb up to Monetier as well as the 'Illuminations in commemoration of the Reformation' and a long walk into the mountains complete with a sketch of the 'Descent from the Grand Salone [?] 21st August 1835' showing in pen and wash on blue paper a descent along a hairpin track of fashionably dressed men, women and children with a couple of large sledges to transport parasol-carrying women. Continuing their journey through the Alps FitzClarence descended finally to Chambery through a 'curious and picturesque [pass] - There is a cascade flowing from several hundred feet above and the water looked frothy and white...' and onwards north via Macon, Rochepot, Sens and on to Fontainebleau where the diary breaks off suddenly with, presumably, just a few pages absent from the conclusion of the journal. Throughout his trip FitzClarence the military man - and son of a king - is fascinated by the uniforms of the soldiers and officials he meets, noting 'the slovenly appearance of the French Military' in Calais and being surprised by the appearance of the postillion on his French coach 'dressed in the livery of the King, because the Horses and Post houses, are in the hands of Government and hence there are no Horses attached to the Inns as in England.' Garrisons and soldiery are always closely observed - as with the troops quartered in Lille where he paid a visit to the city's museum and saw 'a picture of the Siege of Lille [1792] by the Duke of York [the writer's uncle]... though he was repulsed' (p4). At Charleroi FitzClarence recounts the story of the near capture of 'Buonaparte' there and how 'his Carriage was taken by a Prussian officer - after the Battle of Waterloo - He came to this place in his Carriage and then mounted the Horse and galloped away - the Carriage was shown at London and Edinburgh by Mr Bullock' (the exhibition was promoted by the writer's uncle, the Prince Regent). Keenly interested in the defensibility of every city he visits, FitzClarence notes that the Citadel in Charleroi would need '4000 to defend it - there are only Barracks for a Battalion, but now there is only a company of Artillery - They are all Bombproof' - and Cologne which 'could not resist a strong force'. Among the miniature soldiers and officials pictured are the 'Sapeur of Pompiers at Mons' and the 'Pompier at Mons' as well as a 'Passage boat on the Meuse' and numerous other vignettes.
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