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Diary of a walking tour in the Ardennes.

Europe, 1898-1900.
Physical Description:
1 v. (circa 150 p.) : ill. ; 25 cm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
DH801.A74 D53 1898+ Oversize
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Archives & Manuscripts
Bound in contemporary half calf and black cloth. Affixed at front is a large stationer's ticket of W. Straker, steam printer, account book binder, and commercial stationer, Ludgate Hill, London.
Manuscript diary, by an unidentified British author, of two tours on the Continent, illustrated with numerous photographs. The first and more substantial part of the diary records a walking tour in the Ardennes, from 30 August to 12 September, 1898. The second part relates "Our attempts on the Matterhorn", from the 5th to the 11th of June, 1900. Writing is in pen and black ink throughout, in a single hand. Writing is generally on the recto only of each leaf, with photographs placed frequently on the verso of the pacing page.
The diarist, and one traveling companion, begin their Ardennes tour at Ostende, Belgium. They travel by train to Brussels and then to Namur, from whence they begin their travels in the Vallée de Meuse. The diarist remarks extensively upon the ugliness of the Belgian locomotive engine, as compared to the British counterpart. The writer's style is sophisticated and seems well-versed in contemporary travel narrative, with a sly introduction that quotes Sterne's A Sentimental Journey and a very authoritative, albeit rather flowery descriptive voice throughout. The journal is divided into chapters that cover specific legs of the walking excursion. It is not so much a personal record as it is almost a prototype or draft for a finished travel guide. The information recorded in it is mostly geographical and historical in nature, and written in a tone that suggests that the journal was meant for other readers. The diarist gives an exhaustive account of a visit to the world-renowned Caves of Han-sur-Lesse. The rest of the diary details various small villages in the Vallée de Meuse, with notes on the local hotels, inns, and restaurants. The theme of frugality is an important one for this traveler; he or she records high-quality, inexpensive, meals with great satisfaction and remarks upon costly hotels with some disappointment.
The Ardennes description is accompanied by 45 photographic images affixed to pages throughout. The photographs were produced by various processes but are predominantly albumen prints or lithographic reproductions. Few, if any, were taken by the diarist. Most were probably for sale to tourists, and many are postcards. The images show the various villages and attractions the travelers visited over the course of their trek. Between the two parts of the journal is a single unlabeled photograph of a young man and woman, who appear to be a couple and who are roughly in their thirties. Perhaps this photograph depicts the two travelers--they are dressed in fashionable but not ornate turn-of-the century garb, both wearing straw boaters.
The second part of this journal relates the attempt of the diarist (again with one traveling companion) to climb to the peak of the Matterhorn in June of 1900. To guide them to the summit, the travelers hire Adolf Schaller and Alois Biner (Schaller and Biner appear in many contemporary books on mountaineering in the Alps). With the help of their guides, and with a set of provisions that includes four pounds of beef, eighteen hard-boiled eggs, "four pounds of dried meat (genus & species unknown)," and ten bottles of white wine, the travelers set off for the peak. On their second attempt they ascend to an elevation of 14,000 feet, just 780 feet from the summit, before a violent storm drives them back down. The traveler notes that "next year we hope to go back and finish what we begun." A simple line drawing of the Matterhorn, noting the two cabins at which the travelers stop, the highest point reached, and the summit, is inserted into the journal, but no other photograph or illustration accompanies this portion of the diary.
It is possible that one of the two travelers mentioned in the present volume is Percy Lindley, English author of travel narratives in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including a work titled Walks in the Ardennes (London, circa 1888).
Subject Terms:
Ardennes -- Description and travel.
Belgium -- Description and travel.
Biner, Alois.
Han-sur-Lesse (Belgium)
Lindley, Percy, attributed name.
Matterhorn (Switzerland and Italy) -- Description and travel.
Meuse River Valley -- Description and travel.
Mountaineering -- Matterhorn (Switzerland and Italy)
Schaller, Adolf.
Steam locomotives.
Switzerland -- Description and travel.
Albumen prints.

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